Genesis 8:15–22

815 And God spake unto Noah, saying, Go forth of the ark, thou, and thy wife, and thy sons, and thy sons’ wives with thee. Bring forth with thee every living thing that is with thee, of all flesh, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth; that they may breed abundantly in the earth, and be fruitful, and multiply upon the earth.

18 And Noah went forth, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons’ wives with him: Every beast, every creeping thing, and every fowl, and whatsoever creepeth upon the earth, after their kinds, went forth out of the ark.

20 And Noah builded an altar unto the Lord; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.

21 And the Lord smelled a sweet savour; and the Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.

22 While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.

Even though the waters receded and the ground was dry, yet Noah waited until there was direction given to exit the ark. What G*D saw in Noah as “blameless in his time” does not seem to include a direct relationship. There is revelation given and response made, but no conversation. The new creation does not have a “cool of the evening” aspect to it.

What is now said to Noah is an announcement of a time of re-seeding the earth (land and water) with what had been stored on the ark, including all that is not mentioned—seeds and aquariums (freshwater and saltwater).

There is no mention of what may be Noah’s first independent action—building an altar and presenting burnt offerings. The last mention of an offering to G*D did not include an altar, nor was burning mentioned—just an “offering” by Cain and Abel.

As one who does appreciate the burnt edges of casseroles and ribs, I can understand a resultant sense of beneficence from just the odor of burnt food—flavor is on its way. Even so, it is a significant jump from regret and flood to an aromatic offering and a pledge of allegiance.

A connection between these responses is marked by the same formula of “the Lord” and “heart.” In the first instance, G*D’s heart was grieved. That grief is now assuaged by the odor of a burnt offering? Overeaters Anonymous may be a helpful interpretive tool. Using food as a response to grief or loss is both very much of the earth (human) and suspect as motivation for change.

One learning is to recognize that a ritual offering is not a place for thoughtful decision-making. Its opposite impulse of relief cannot offset the impulse of grief.

A jaded thought raised: if G*D’s not going to be responsible for the equivalent of a next flood, G()D will also not keep such from occurring at the hand of Noah’s descendants. Seedtime and harvest may yet cease, and G*D’s heart again be grieved at the personal and environmental pollution of a profit-driven economic system such as capitalism.

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