Genesis 9

The rules have changed

James Leroy Wilson

--

Welcome to the Daily Bible Chapter. My name is James Leroy Wilson and I invite you to join me as we discover new insights and new perspectives from a very old book.

Genesis 9

The post-flood world is apparently very different. The rules have changed. In a stark reversal from Chapter 1, God says “The fear and dread of you shall rest on every animal of the earth, and on every bird of the air, on everything that creeps on the ground, and on all the fish of the sea; into your hand they are delivered. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; and just as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.” (NRSV)

This doesn’t sound very nice to the animals. But maybe the animals have been eating each other already, so fair’s fair I guess.

In the old world, Cain and Lamech got away with murder. Maybe that was the problem with the old world: people began to know “good and evil’’ but there were no rules restraining them. And so, “Whoever sheds the blood of a human, by a human shall that person’s blood be shed; for in his own image God made humankind.”

We’d kill a dog who killed a human, and for the same reason it seems just that, in theory, a human who has killed another human should be killed, for the safety of the rest of us.

To those who believe this chapter refutes veganism, or condones the use of the death penalty as implemented by modern governments, you are getting way, way, way ahead of yourself.

This is a story. Not a legal code. At least, I’ve read nothing so far telling me it’s anything other than just a story.

Later in the chapter, when Ham, the father of Canaan, “saw the nakedness of his father,” I think we are to infer something more, perhaps that Ham mocked Noah or even raped him. Ham then must become a slave to his brothers.

This sounds like a metaphor. There’s a side of me that’s potentially capable of anything, no matter who is perverse or gross, but I also have a higher self, or higher selves, that subdue such impulses. The Ham in me, my impulses, must be a slave to better versions of me.

Pre-flood, Cain and Lamech could get away with murder; anyone could get away with anything. Maybe they…

--

--

James Leroy Wilson

Former activist. Writer with a range of interests from spirituality to sports.