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eTeacherBiblical Official Newsletter
Issue #125 - 04/13
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Eli Dahan

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The world before and after the flood

During our last Webinar, which was about the sin of Achan, (Webinar 117) I was asked by one of my students to write about the world before and after the flood story. I promised her that her identity would remain anonymous since she’s rather shy, so with that in mind, let’s call her Suzan.

The creation of the animals

Well, dear Suzan, the question that you've asked me can be answered by many books and articles that deal exclusively with this subject. In the short time we have together here, I've decided to choose one explanation from the many out there- the blessings for heroes.

The world of Genesis 1 is an ideal world - both man and woman were created in the image of God -צֶלֶם- and they were essentially in charge of the planet - both he and she. Let's see what the blessing for them was:

 

"God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”(Genesis 1:28)

"וַיְבָרֶךְ אֹתָם אֱלֹהִים וַיֹּאמֶר לָהֶם אֱלֹהִים פְּרוּ וּרְבוּ וּמִלְאוּ אֶת-הָאָרֶץ וְכִבְשֻׁהָ; וּרְדוּ בִּדְגַת הַיָּם וּבְעוֹף הַשָּׁמַיִם וּבְכָל-חַיָּה הָרֹמֶשֶׂת עַל-הָאָרֶץ".

It's so beautiful and lovely to see how the first chapter of the Bible shows us how relationships- זוּגִיּוּת- can and should be, and not just in our eyes today but also in the eyes of the author of this chapter, whoever you believe that to be. I wish that more people would keep this chapter in mind rather than the following one when the power balance changes, but this is a subject for another time.

In Genesis 9, after the flood, or what people call the first re-start, we observe a blessing that relates to fertility and reproduction. In fact, there are actually two, but the wording for the “first” (See verses 1, 7) is gentler. The second reads as follows:

"The fear of you and the terror of you will be on every beast of the earth and on every bird of the sky; with everything that creeps on the ground, and all the fish of the sea, into your hand they are given."(Genesis 9:2)

"וּמוֹרַאֲכֶם וְחִתְּכֶם יִהְיֶה עַל כָּל-  

 חַיַּת  הָאָרֶץ וְעַל כָּל-עוֹף הַשָּׁמָיִם;

בְּכֹל אֲשֶׁר תִּרְמֹשׂ הָאֲדָמָה 

 וּבְכָל-דְּגֵי הַיָּם בְּיֶדְכֶם נִתָּנוּ"

Before the flood, it’s been suggested that there was tension between humans one particular animal, the serpent in Genesis 3. Some claim that he wasn't really an animal, but rather an angel, possibly an incarnation of Satan. In Genesis 9 the animals are commanded to fear the eight people that survived the flood – each and every one of them. Suddenly, the humans and animals who beforehand lived in harmony, are separated into ruling and subordinate classes. These days should end, according to the Biblical account of the end of days-(see Isaiah 11:6, 8).

Another important thing to discuss is the menu- תַּפְרִיט. Since moments after the flood right through to today, it has been normal for people to be carnivores, meat eaters - אוֹכְלֵי בָּשָׂר och’lei basar. In Genesis 1, man and woman only ate the fruits and seeds of the land – the world before the flood was vegatarian. However, after the flood, it's written:

"Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant.  Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood." (Genesis 9:3-4)

"כָּל-רֶמֶשׂ אֲשֶׁר הוּא-חַי לָכֶם יִהְיֶה לְאָכְלָהכְּיֶרֶק עֵשֶׂב נָתַתִּי לָכֶם אֶת-כֹּל. אַךְ-בָּשָׂר בְּנַפְשׁוֹ דָמוֹ לֹא תֹאכֵלוּ."

The menu has changed, as have the values it seems, since the option to eat more doesn’t mean that you have to change your behavior. On the contrary, God had commanded Noah and his sons not to kill in order not to be killed in the flood. They were also instructed to avoid the blood of animals, as it was considered a sign for the soul, as written later on in Deuteronomy 12: 23- כִּי הַדָּם הוּא הַנָּפֶשׁ""- "for the blood is the life".

I wonder, dear friends, which world would be the best for you- the one of Genesis 1, a naïve but equal world, or the world of Genesis 9, the world after the first re-start?

I would love to read what you have to say and maybe Suzan and others will get the clarity on this issue that they seek!

Have a blessed week,

Eli

 
Main phrases of the post + transcription + translation

 

English

Transliteration

Hebrew

The blood

haddām

הַדָּם

Flesh

bāśār

בָּשָׂר

To them

lāhem

לָהֶם

Alive

chay

חַי

But

'ach

אַךְ

All

Kol

כָּל

Relations

zûgîyût

זוּגִיּוּת

 
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