Sunday, January 3, 2010


Before I get to today's reading, I need to make an update to yesterday's. I misread my schedule, and instead of reading Genesis 3-4, I should have read Genesis 3-5.

So a quick comment on chapter 5.

Chapter 5 contains the first (but certainly not the last) extended genealogy in the Old Testament. It was previewed at the end of chapter four with a brief genealogy of Cain to Lamech and his sons. But chapter 5 makes it explicit up-front - "this is the book of the generations of Adam [KJV]." (Or "this is the written account of Adam's line [NIV].")

Clearly, this passage is historical in nature. There is no poetry, almost nothing that can be taken as prophecy, or metaphor, or wisdom. The lineage of Adam to Noah:

Adam->Seth->Enos[h]->Cainan (or Kenan)->Mahalale[e]l->Jared->Enoch->Methuselah->Lamech->Noah.

So there are a couple of interesting things in this genealogy:
  • In the line of Adam through Cain, back in chapter 4, we had Enoch and Methushael->Lamech. In the line of Adam through Seth, we have Enoch->Methuselah->Lamech. If we go to the Hebrew, names of Lamech's father are identical other than the last two characters. It may mean nothing, but it makes me wonder whether one of the lists might not be a corrupted version of the other.
  • Enoch "walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away." Literally1, "and-he-walked Enoch with the-God (elohim) then-he-was-not because he-took him God." So Enoch, alone of human beings recorded in the Bible, never died.
  • Adam lived 930 years. Jared lived 962 years. Methuselah, 969. The nine generations from the birth of Seth to the birth of Noah spans 1056 years. Either people were very different back then, or the world was very different, or something is wrong with the dating. I don't have any idea why that would be. Somewhere, I ran across the idea that mankind was fresh from Eden, and they lived a life closer to the natural life-span God intended. My inclination is to believe that the years referred to in the list are not the same 365 day years that we talk about today. I have no evidence for that, none whatsoever. It's just what occurs to me as a likely reason.

Not as quick a comment as I had intended. Ah, well...

Genesis 6-9

I wonder if there's any better known story from the Bible than the story of Noah and the flood. It's been told so many times in so many ways that I wouldn't even know where to begin to try to add anything to it, and it's one of the most straightforward stories in the Bible. God "saw how corrupt the earth had become" and said, "I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth." Noah was a righteous man, did what God asked, and he and his family were saved, as well as two of every animal, male and female.

This is not the only version of the flood story in the ancient near-east. It is likely, overwhelmingly likely, in my opinion, that this is based on a historical event. But it also reads as a theodicy, a meditation on the nature and behavior of God.

  • Who were the Nephilim?
  • What is the distinction between "sons of God" and "daughters of men?"
  • The covenant in chapter 9 is the first biblical covenant that we see. It won't be the last.
  • If he only took two of each animal, what species are we missing because of the sacrifice after they landed?
  • If I'd known that Ham was the father of Canaan (and I guess I must have, as I've read it before), I'd forgotten.

Proverbs 3

In some ways, Proverbs is a very easy book to read. It is filled with very short passages, one or two lines, that express an idea. Many are of the form, "do this and good things will happen," or, "do this and punishment will ensue." But it's hard to read as a book, or to summarize, because it seems to be very disjoint and repetitive. There is no narrative flow, and it is difficult to actually get anything out of more than a small chunk. Which is probably why the schedule only has one chapter of it every day. It's still almost too much.

In some places, I find it easier to deal with in paragraph form. Chapter three combines pretty nicely into five paragraphs2.

1-4: Imploring the reader not to forget the the teaching, for they will bring prosperity and help win favor in the sight of God and man.
5-12: Trust in the LORD, honor the LORD, fear the LORD and shun evil. Don't despise the LORD's discipline for he disciplines those he loves, "as a father the son he delights in."
13-20: Blessing for those who find wisdom, for "she" is "more precious than rubies," her ways are pleasant and her paths are peace. "By wisdom the LORD laid the earth's foundations."
21-26: Again, preserve the teaching of wisdom and it will benefit you in all you do.27-35: Negative recommendations - don't withhold good when it is in your power to act. The LORD "detests a perverse man but takes the upright into his confidence."
  • In Genesis, the LORD is Elohim. In Proverbs, the LORD is YHWH. (Yahweh, Jehovah - the tetragrammaton.)
  • Verse 13 is a beatitude. "Blessed is the man...for..." Jesus used this form in his teaching, most extensively in Matthew 5.

1 - The Interlinear NIV Hebrew-English Old Testament, John H. Kohlenberger III

2 -
My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine. My son, do not despise the LORD's discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father [b] the son he delights in.

Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who embrace her; those who lay hold of her will be blessed. By wisdom the LORD laid the earth's foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in place; by his knowledge the deeps were divided, and the clouds let drop the dew.

My son, preserve sound judgment and discernment, do not let them out of your sight; they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck. Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble; when you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared.

Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, "Come back later; I'll give it tomorrow"— when you now have it with you. Do not plot harm against your neighbor, who lives trustfully near you. Do not accuse a man for no reason when he has done you no harm. Do not envy a violent man or choose any of his ways, for the LORD detests a perverse man but takes the upright into his confidence. The LORD's curse is on the house of the wicked, but he blesses the home of the righteous. He mocks proud mockers but gives grace to the humble. The wise inherit honor, but fools he holds up to shame.

No comments:

Post a Comment