“Human history is the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.” — CS Lewis
Here are my Bible in a Year notes on podcast Days 3–4:
Genesis 5 walks us through Noah’s genealogy, which will come across as fanciful to us today. For example, did Adam really live until the age of 930? What could the explanations be for the ridiculously long lifespan of early Old Testament figures?
Everything before Gen 12 is, in the technical sense of the word, prehistoric, because history begins with the call of Abram who becomes Abraham and Sarai who becomes Sarah, and the covenant that God makes with his chosen people. The consensus is that Gn 1–11 is not history or science, rather, it is a theological vision of the human person.
That aside, remember that the original plan was that Adam and Eve were not meant to die like we do, ever. With original sin, came original death. It’s almost as if Adam’s body was still striving for immortality, only to fall short of this effort 930 years later, thereby reinforcing the reality of the Fall.
The point of detailing Noah’s genealogy is to contrast the Cainite line, the daughters of men, from the Sethite line, the sons of God. That is, to emphasise in Gn 6 that the Sethites were born in Adam’s image and likeness. Gn 4 was not so generous towards the Cainite line including polygamists and murderers, and those who married them. Noah is a Sethite, giving birth to the events surrounding Noah’s Ark.
Who you choose to marry can determine the trajectory of your life and your family’s life. Some Sethites turned their backs on the Lord and intermarried in the Cainite line. It goes without saying that to say that the Sethites were the goodies and the Cainites were the baddies is too simplistic. The point however is that life-changing choices have consequences, good and bad, and Noah is a model to look up to. How can we be like Noah?
If Gn 1–2 is Creation, then Gn 6–9 (The Flood) is re-Creation. I note that not only was the Flood for forty days and forty nights, but the number 40 recurs throughout the Bible. Is it literally 40, or figuratively what feels like a long time, like “a million”? In any case, I found it interesting that the first literary occurrence of a rainbow is this story, where it was a sign of God’s covenant (putting down his rain-bow) to never flood the Earth ever again.
Whilst there is no scientific evidence to suggest it happened, from the perspective of the Flood storytellers from thousands of years ago, how could they have known that the Earth was that big and round? In any case, post-Flood, God permitted Noah and his people to both respectfully consume animals and explicitly prohibited murder (finally!) as part of re-Creation, putting down his rain-bow.
However, this is not the Garden of Eden where there is no shame to nakedness. Despite Ham’s best intentions, after Noah sobered up, he cursed Canaan (Ham’s son) instead. It is still not clear why, only that the Biblical spiral of family and relationship breakdowns continue.