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Noah: The Flood and the Rainbow
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So let's just read through this, I'll read through it in Hebrew and in English together. Bereishis barah Elokim et hashomayim v'et ha'aretz - in the beginning G-d created the heavens and the earth. Veha'aretz haytah tohu vavohu - and the earth - over here they translate it as was unformed and void. In Hebrew those words are Tohu Vavohu. Difficult words to translate. The way Rashi, the grandfather of the Medieval Commentators translates that first word Tohu as an adjective meaning astonishingly. The way he interprets it is that the world was astonishingly chaotic, or astonishingly void. The Hebrew word over here Tohu is related, he wants to argue, to Toheh, which means to be astonished, to wonder. So the earth was astonishingly void, it was just very, very chaotic, there was no order.
Darkness was upon the face of the deep - V'choshech al pnei tehom. V'ruach Elokim merachephet al pnei hamayim - and the spirit of G-d was hovering over the face of the waters. Here you'll notice the translation the way they've translated is spirit. The Hebrew over here is Ruach. The word Ruach, if you look it up in the dictionary, can either be translated as spirit or it can be translated as wind. You just sort of know based on context probably what the best translation is. Over here the wind of G-d sounds a little awkward, so they translate it as the spirit of G-d hovered over the face of the waters.
Okay, so this is the beginning of Genesis, these couple of verses, and what I want to ask you to do is just to actually think about these words, almost play them over a few times in your mind and actually try to visualize them. This is something we rarely do. For those of you for whom these words are familiar, again, I want to bring you back to that - the lullaby effect, you almost have this lullaby effect working with these words, you've heard these words so many times, in the beginning G-d created the heavens and the earth, you don't even bother thinking about what it's actually portraying. What is it portraying? So for example, we often tend to think that creation is creation ex nihilo, which is just a fancy Latin way of saying creation of something from nothing, that the world was nothing beforehand. Well then it may be true if you look at this text, the world which we're talking about here seems to have some stuff in it. What are the characteristics of that pre-creation world? When the earth was unformed and void, darkness was upon the face of the deep, the spirit of G-d hovered on the face of the water, there was stuff here. What did it actually look like? Can we visualize it? If you just allow the words to paint a picture in your head, what is the picture that you're seeing?
So to see it, let's go through the elements one by one, let's just stack it up. What is in this world? Element number 1; it seems that there's water in the world. If there's one primary element that's there, it seems to be water. You see it over here in two things. First of all just this word over here; The spirit of G-d is hovering over what? The face of the waters. So it just sounds like it's water, water, everywhere, there's water everywhere. Plus, this word over here; darkness was where? Upon the face of the deep. In Hebrew, Al Pnei Tehom. That word Tehom or deep is a water word. Water is deep. These very, very deep fathoms of water. So it seems that two places in the verse that we're suggesting that if there's something that is everywhere, what is everywhere is water.
Well what else do we know about this world? We know it's dark; There was darkness upon the face of the deep. We know something else too, we know that the whole scene is very chaotic, as we talked about before, it was unformed and void.
Okay now I want you to take those three elements, one, two and three, and put them together in your head and add it all up, what would you have? You have a water world where there's water, water, everywhere, it's really dark, the whole scene is really chaotic, what would that actually look like?
Well if there's water, water, everywhere and it's really dark and it's chaotic, so chaotic waters looks like these storm-tossed waves all over the place. It looks like this big storm, it looks almost like - yes, you guessed it - a flood. We've heard of that before, haven't we? Eight chapters later in the story of Noah. There was a time when the world was destroyed, it was destroyed through water, water, everywhere. This water world, dark, chaotic, water splashing all over the place, it kind of sounds like the world which is being described over here, the world in which G-d steps in and actually creates our living earth as we know it. At least sounding from a literary standpoint, from a textual standpoint, something like this, this chaotic, destroyed water world.
Now at this point it's really only a hunch and you have to ask is this for real? Just because you've got this little piece of text over here, two verses long, that's reminding you a little bit of the flood, doesn't necessarily mean you're onto something real. How do you know if it's real? Well to - here I take you to a different field, kind of paleontology. Let's say you're a paleontologist and you're an archeologist and you're looking for dinosaur skeletons. So you see this ribcage over here, you find a ribcage in the sand - here's your primitive view of a dinosaur ribcage, these are all ribs if you can imagine that, and you dusted this off. Now if it's a real ribcage what are you likely to find? You're likely to find the rest of the dinosaur; the neck and the head, and you're likely to find the tailbone somewhere over here, and maybe you'd like the feet bones. If you keep on looking you're going to find the rest of the skeleton. So too it is with us. When you're doing this kind of work in text, kind of playing where have we heard these words before, if there's a real connection between Genesis Chapter 1 and Genesis Chapter 8, if it's for real, it's probably going to be bigger than just these two verses. You're going to be able to find the rest of the skeleton.
So the next challenge you have is, as you keep on reading Genesis Chapter 1, does it keep on reminding you in point, after point, after point - does it keep on reminding you of things that you're going to find over here in Genesis Chapter 8? That's the only way you know if you're looking at something real, if you find the rest of the skeleton, as it were.
Now one thing which might be a little intriguing in this direction is if you keep on reading Genesis Chapter 1 in connection with Genesis Chapter 8 you see this. Remember how in Genesis Chapter 1 we had talked about the spirit of G-d that was hovering over the face of the waters? We pointed out in Hebrew that word is Ruach Elokim - the word for G-d over here is Elokim, the word for spirit is Ruach. I mentioned to you that Ruach can mean more than one thing, it can mean not just spirit but it can also mean wind. Well look at Genesis Chapter 8 which talks about the world's recovery from the flood. Vayizkor Elokim et Noach, v'et kol hachayah v'et kol habeheima asher ito bateivah - G-d remembered Noach - Noah - and all the animals that were in the ark, and look at the first thing that happens as the world begins to recover from the flood; Vaya'aver Elokim ruach al ha'aretz. There's these words again, there's a wind of G-d, in this case a wind of G-d, a spirit of G-d - not a spirit of G-d, a wind of G-d. A wind that G-d makes that passes over the earth.
Right here in this verse which is reminding us so much of the flood, a verse which describes a water world that's chaotic, that's dark, that's all flood-like, the first semblance of order that you get in our creation world is this spirit of G-d that's just hovering and blowing over the waters. So too here in Chapter 8 we've got this wind of G-d, another Ruach Elokim, that's blowing over the waters. It's suggestive. Maybe it's for real. There's the fourth element - we talked about three elements; darkness, water everywhere, chaos, that seems to link these two, here's a fourth element; the wind of G-d.
My challenge to you is do these elements continue? Keep on reading Genesis Chapter 1, keep on reading Genesis Chapter 8, do you continue to see things that tie one story to the other? Are there more aspects of the skeleton? Can you continue playing; Where Have We Heard These Words Before? See what you find, I'll share with you my thoughts.
1. Water, Water Everywhere
2. Parallel Universes
4. The Sixth Day
5. Brave New World
6. Noah's World
7. Is There a 'Sabbath' in Noah's World?
8. Sabbath Echoes
9. Rainbows Have Seven Colors
10. A Bow In the Clouds
12. Chiasms: More Than Just a Pretty Face
13. Colors of the Rainbow
14. Numeric Centers; Thematic Centers
15. Taking Stock: Where Are We Now?
16. Sabbath's Center
17. How Tiring Was It To Create a World?
18. Rest As the Purpose of Work?
19. Positive Rest
20. What If a Parent Never Lets Go?
21. Conclusion: Two Ways to Destoy a World
22. Epilogue: Why the Rainbow Covenant is a Two-Way Street (Premium)
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