Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Noah's Coda (Genesis 9:20-29)

It is a bit of a shock that the only recorded words of Noah are a curse. Add to that the highly confusing and difficult nature of this text, and we are again reminded that we need to take care in our interpretation of Genesis. Especially this early portion, pre-Abraham.

However, while Genesis 1-11 are a clear block of the very early, distant and distinct past, here we have a shift. Everything before the flood was a story of creation seen in a universal perspective. There was a mere ten generations of what was largely a single family of humanity—filling the earth with violence. There was a single culture of sin.

After the flood we see that there is a closer look at families and individuals. Going forward we will see a multiplicity of families and cultures. This is seen right away as the focus is not on Noah, but on his three sons. And we quickly see that the three sons will give rise to distinct lines of humanity, as Noah’s prophetic curse makes evident. Evident, but not clear. Why is Canaan cursed and not Ham? No one really knows.

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