Sunday, October 19, 2008
Genesis 9, Noah invents slavery
We see some great family-friendly entertainment in this chapter.
God decides to make all animals afraid of humans, so that humans can eat them more easily. Violence, and the fear of violence, seems to be the main motivation for most of what happens in the Old Testament.
Apparently, God does postmortem interviews with all animals to find out how they were killed. If people eat animals that still has blood in them, it’s a big no-no (for some ungiven reason). And killing humans is right out. Genesis 9:6 (KJV) says:
"Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed "
This is probably how some people who are pro-capital punishment justify it. Problem is, there are many, many times that God commands people to kill other people for crimes less than murder. And times when people kill other people and aren’t put to death (Cain’s murder, for example). If God really wanted murderers killed, couldn’t he do so himself instead of letting imperfect humans decide who should and shouldn’t be put to death? Not to mention that God kills plenty of people himself, meaning he should kill himself (maybe that’s why we don’t hear from him much anymore?).
God also promises (again) not to flood the earth and kill everything again. How nice of him not to kill off his creation! Rainbows remind him not to kill everyone in a flood again. It would be better if the rainbows came BEFORE the rain, so maybe he would remember to spare people in the non-global but still lethal floods that are increasing around the globe.
Then, we have something funky going on between drunk Noah and his family (9:18-28). It’s not clear what on earth happened other than Noah got drunk, one of his sons (Ham) sees him naked, two of his other sons go in and cover him up, and then after Noah sobers up (and is probably hung over) he unilaterally curses Ham’s son Canaan slavery. Why would Noah curse Ham’s son because Ham saw Noah naked and told his brothers? You could argue that Noah would want to curse Ham for seeing him naked and spreading the word to his brothers without covering him up. But what does this have to do with Ham’s son?!?
If God disapproved of this behavior (both the lying around naked and the seemingly randomly making his grandson a slave), he certainly could have said or done something about it. But no such thing happens. Noah condemns his grandson to slavery. A "righteous" man (Genesis 7:1) indeed…
Christians tell their kids about how Noah built the ark, but never explain that he invented slavery.