Bereshit Seven: 40 Days of Rain

Noah obeys God, and enters the ark with his family and the animals – not through the two by two model that many of us learned in Hebrew School, but rather seven and seven, with unclean animals going two by two. Once he, his family, and all the creatures of the world enter the ark and shut the doors, it begins to rain on the world. The rains last for forty days, and covers the entire world, from the sea floor to the top of the tallest mountain peak.

As a result of the rising waters, “All flesh perished that moved upon the earth, both fowl, and cattle, and beast, and every swarming thing that swarms upon the earth, and every man; all in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, whatsoever was in the dry land, died (Genesis 7:21-22).”

I have to say, this seems harsh.

The people in the world are evil? I get that. They’re evil enough that God regrets creating humanity, and therefore chooses to wipe them out? OK. God is still merciful in the end and preserves humanity? Great. But God destroying all of His creation? Animals and birds suffering on account of the evil of humanity? God regretting the whole world? How does this make sense? We’re still very early in the Torah itself (understatement), but also in Bereshit. We’ve barely finished the creation story, and already it seems like God is going back on the idea of having the world.

This is a story of a volatile God. The God of Tanakh isn’t always the God that I feel as present in my life. I experience God as the inner voice that speaks in the soul of every human being, not as the angry creator and destroyer of worlds. In some ways, this version of God seems almost immature – he doesn’t like what he sees, and so lashes out and gets rid of it. Once again, I must ask what the people were doing that lead to this need to destroy the world? There’s no evidence that they had received any laws yet, especially not the Torah itself, therefore I ask, did they know that they were wrong? Were they warned?

It’s more than slightly radical to say, but from this chapter alone, I don’t know that I like the God of Torah. Looking forward to the rainbow and make-up between God and humanity!

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