never again

Genesis 8

13 By the first day of the first month of Noah’s six hundred and first year, the water had dried up from the earth. Noah then removed the covering from the ark and saw that the surface of the ground was dry. 14 By the twenty-seventh day of the second month the earth was completely dry.
 15 Then God said to Noah, 16 “Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives. 17 Bring out every kind of living creature that is with you—the birds, the animals, and all the creatures that move along the ground—so they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number on it.”
 18 So Noah came out, together with his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives. 19 All the animals and all the creatures that move along the ground and all the birds—everything that moves on land—came out of the ark, one kind after another.
 20 Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. 21 The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.
 22 “As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease.”
The water takes a long time to recede, as well it may.  And God once again calls to Noah, saying ‘Come out!’  Everything waits for God’s command.

Remember the power of God’s words in Genesis 1 – God spoke and it was so?

There is a reiteration too of God’s command to be fruitful and multiply…the events of the flood have not changed this prerogative.

And they all processed out of the ark – each by their kinds.  A symphonic, choreographed moment.  Or, a whole lot of moo-ing and screeching.

Here Noah takes a decisive action – he responds to God by building an altar,  and sacrificing burnt offerings.  Yahweh ‘smells the pleasing aroma’.  Such human language!  Are we to imagine that God has a nose?  Personally I would take this as an anthropomorphism; I don’t envisage God having a nose.1    It’s an interesting one though – if God invented smell, than does this mean he too has a sense of smell?  Is it possible to create smell without having the ability to do the smelling?

But I digress.  

And Yahweh comes to a decision ‘in his heart’ – again God is cast as the main character.  We are told the thoughts and feelings of Yahweh, not of Noah.  He is the subject of the narrative, the one whose thoughts are described to us.

The human heart has not changed, nor its inclination to evil.  Nevertheless, God will never again curse the ground – again, the ground – keeps popping up in these chapters.  And never again will he destroy all living creatures.  Ground and life.  Ground and breath.  Never again.

That lovely little poem at the end – that reaffirmation of cycle and season, of rhythm and remembrance.  As long as the earth endures.

1 This reminds me a little of what I’ve been talking about over at my main blog ( here and here) about using human language to talk about the ‘feelings’ of God.  I don’t discuss nostrils, however.

2 thoughts on “never again

  1. jben425 says:

    I have been meaning to leave a comment on your site for a while now, so let me just say that I love how you have kept noticing that God is the main character. I forget that sometimes. I also like the brevity of your posts. Sometimes doing a whole chapter ends up giving me WAY too much to think about. I am really enjoying following along!


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