Reflections on Scripture, Spiritual Growth, and Personal Transformation
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Morning Reading - Genesis 9-11
Evening Reading - Matthew 4
Today's reading from Genesis concludes what is referred to as the "primordial history," which is contained in the first 11 chapters of Genesis. These chapters provide "stories of origin," stories that describe the origin of the world and human civilization as well as the origin of sin and brokenness within creation. Consequently, these chapters are not meant to be understood as recorded history, but rather as theological commentary on God and his work of creation. Taken as a whole, these chapters present a vision of a world lovingly fashioned by God the Creator and yet in turmoil due to human sin and pride.
More genealogies! In today's reading, we are provided with a list of the descendants of Noah's three sons (Ham, Japheth, and Shem). This list demonstrates how the descendants of Noah multiplied and populated the various regions of the earth. Again, this is a "story of origin," because it shows how the various enemies of Israel's came into existence. For example, Ham is referred to as the "the father of Canaan," a foreshadowing of the future struggle between the Israelites and Canaanites over the Promised Land. Also, the Egyptians, Babylonians, and Philistines, all future enemies of Israel, are also descendants of Ham.
At the conclusion of chapter 11, we are given a listing of Shem's descendants. This list is important because it demonstrates that Abraham was a descendant of Shem. The term Semitic comes from the Greek derivative of the Hebrew name Shem. Therefore, Semitic peoples are those who trace their ancestry back to Shem. The lineage of Shem provides a narrative bridge from the primordial history (Genesis 1-11) to the patriarchal history (beginning in Genesis 12).
NOTE: I realize that I have been focusing most of my blog entries on the Old Testament readings, so later today I will be posting some information regarding Matthew's gospel.