Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Blogging the Bible part 9

OK, so on to Genesis chapter 9, and there's not much going on here I'll be honest.

God blesses Noah and his sons (why not the wives? Can anyone say "ancient patriarchal society"?) and tells them to be fruitful and increase in numbers and fill the earth. (GEN 9:1) Then he tells Noah and his sons that he has put the fear of man into all animals and gives them all to Noah and his boys. Then God says that "Everything that lives and moves will be food for you." (GEN 9:3) So, God condones cannibalism. Interesting that Christian missionaries used to get so wound up about it then, really.

But wait, God then says:
But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it. (GEN 9:4)
Which is a curious phrase - does this mean we can't eat animals that are still alive? Does this mean we can't kill animals to eat? Does this mean we have to wait for animals to die before turning them into food? Does this mean we can't eat a rare steak? Does this mean we have to ensure all meat has been hung long enough to ensure there is no more blood in it? Does this mean I can't eat Black Pudding? If I can't then frankly, God's version of an English breakfast must suck.

Then we have some stuff about God demanding an accounting for everyone's blood which finishes with :
"Whoever sheds the blood of man,
by man shall his blood be shed;
for in the image of God
has God made man. (GEN 9:6)
Did you get that? It is not wrong to kill because it is almost always morally wrong to do so, but because we look like God. Indeed religion and in particular the Bible, must be the source of all morality...

Then there is some more about being fruitful and multiplying. Which makes you wonder why Christians are so obsessed with preventing people having sex. (GEN (9:7)

Then we get to God's covenant with Noah. Which is certainly presented here as God doing us all a big favour. And what is this covenant? Oh, nothing more than God promising not to drown everything again. Well gee, thanks a bunch. What a prick. Isn't that the very least he could do for his creations? (GEN 9:8-11) Of course, like all good contracts it does you good to read the small print here. God doesn't say he will not destroy the world in other ways, just that he won't use a flood to do it (GEN 9:11). So everything else is still on the table here. It's like signing a contract with a security firm who promise that they will be able to protect you from one very dangerous crook, but no guarantees about every other one. Even though they all work for the security firm anyway. Great, thanks a bunch. Definitely getting the moneys worth. But it gets better, what he is really promising is that he won't use floods to kill everything. Which he never did in the first place. So killing almost everything is OK. So really he hasn't promised to stop doing anything.

The devil is in the details. Always read the small print, even if it is your creator. See, the Bible does have some useful lessons in it after all.

But, not only does God make a basically worthless covenant and expect us all to be happy about it, because he is apparently a doddering old fool he also has to make a sign to remind him that he has promised not to drown everybody again. This, we learn, is the rainbow. (GEN 9:12-17) See now, you all thought that rainbows were a thing of natural beauty to do with refraction and water droplets and viewing angles etc, when in fact what you are seeing is a godly Post-It note reminding the Almighty not to drown all life on the planet. And that sucked the life out of that particular natural wonder for you.

Rainbows are there to remind God to turn the tap off. You shouldn't appreciate their beauty, you should reach for the water wings. Just in case. I mean, we are made in God's image after all and how many times have you lost a Post-It note with something important on it?

Then we find that we are all descended from Noah's three sons, and this, coupled with the coming verses, nicely sets the scene for subsequent racism. (GEN 9:18-19) Source of all morality...

We have some bizarre stuff now about Noah sleeping commando and his youngest seeing the family jewels and his offspring being cursed for it. (GEN 9:20-29). Noah is a man of the soil, and proceeded (this can, according to the footnotes, be translated as 'was the first'. Which is an entirely different meaning - any Biblical literalists like to explain?) to plant a vineyard. Where did he get the seeds, by the way? Anyone?

Now, presumably some time later, Noah then drinks some wine from this vineyard and gets drunk and passes out in his tent, in the altogether. Ham, who is father of Canaan, sees Noah's meat and two veg and (because clearly it is hilarious when some drunken fool passes out naked) tells his brothers. His brothers then take a garment and lay it across their shoulders, then back into the tent to cover Noah's sweaty bits. They make a point of ensuring they don't see Noah's johnson. (GEN 9:20-23)

When Noah wakes up, he finds out what Ham had done to him. Wait, what Ham did to him? Ham did nothing apart from stumble upon the old drunken fool passed out naked on his bed. And as a result, since God has already promoted the idea that if you fuck up it is OK to blame everyone else and punish them for it, Noah curses Canaan. Wait, what now? Ham finds Noah naked because Noah got drunk and passed out naked, and as a result Noah thinks Ham did something to Noah and so curses Canaan, Ham's son.

Dude, that is fucked up right there. Source of all morality you say...

Noah says (of his own GRANDSON remember):
"Cursed be Canaan!
The lowest of slaves
will he be to his brothers."

He also said,

"Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem!
May Canaan be the slave of Shem.
May God extend the territory of
may Japheth live in the tents of Shem,
and may Canaan be his slave." (GEN 9:24-27)
What a colossal dick. He cursed his own grandson for something his son saw because he got drunk! Don't ever fucking dare tell me this trash is the source of modern morality unless you want me to tear off an arm and beat you to death with the soggy end.

Still insist on telling us there is morality in these tales? Maybe you should understand exactly what the Curse of Ham has been used to justify over the centuries then.

Thankfully, before the end of the chapter, that old drunken son of a bitch Noah dies.

I mean, really?


  1. Good to see you blogging the Bible again Jimmy.

    Having a brief look around, there seems to be agreement among Christian commentators that it is indeed a strange story, then come the "but I believe..."-statements, whereby they interpret everything to confirm their personal wishes. Yet even that is a little tricky with this weird episode. Rather than just admitting that the story was probably incompletely transcribed and misses essential details, they do their best to interpert.

    This person argues that Noah cursed his grandson because he saw prophetically that his son's lineage would be no good - as evidenced by the archeological evidence of sexual depravity of Canaanite societies.

    Sadly, we must realize that Israel failed to fully apply the teaching of this passage. They did not completely destroy the Canaanites and they sometimes intermarried, to their own detriment.

    Interesting to see how comfortably the Bible sits with the concept that a "people" can be defective. Dovetails nicely with the concept of collective guilt.

    Morality? This meat head who I've quoted before as a kind of liberal Christian poses a question:

    Does God approve of slavery? That's a tough question that has been struggled with for a long, long time...

    So God's position on slavery is unclear at best. There's a nice indicator of the Bible's value as a source of moral teaching.

  2. Yakaru:

    Thanks again for wading through the murk of christian apologetics for this!

    This person argues that Noah cursed his grandson because he saw prophetically that his son's lineage would be no good - as evidenced by the archeological evidence of sexual depravity of Canaanite societies.

    This begs the question that I saw first in the Dune books - if you see the future does that lock you into that future or can it be changed? Is it God's fault that Canaan's descendants would go bad? Did God's curse make them go bad?

    So God's position on slavery is unclear at best. There's a nice indicator of the Bible's value as a source of moral teaching.

    Precisely. Of what moral value is a book that can't decide whether owning human beings and treating them as property for labour etc is wrong or not?