Genesis 9:1–7

[Note: I am finding the King James Version to not be doing what is needed here and I am switching to my own presentational pastiche. Time will tell if I will return to the KJV or stick with this mishmash.]

91 God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them,”Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth. 2 All the animals on earth shall dread and fear you—beasts of the field, foul of the heavens, crawling creatures, and fish of the sea. They are in your hand. 3 Every living thing that moves shall be your food, just as you were to eat green plant life. Everything is yours. 4 But, you shall not eat meat with its blood, its life, still in it. 5 I will require your blood for human blood you shed, animals blood for human blood, and your blood for your brother’s blood. I will demand satisfaction for the taking of human life.

6 The one who sheds human blood
will have their blood shed by humans,
for in the image of God
were humans made.

7 And you, be fruitful and multiply,
swarm through the earth and hold sway.”

In early creation stories ’adam is a vegetarian namer of animals. This next creation story has a second ’adam (Noah) authorized to be omnivore predator of animals who, at base, are fearful of humans (notwithstanding the domestication of some species for pets, food animals, and work animals.

Along with this shift in diet and violent dominion-ship, there is the introduction of retributive justice different than a protective mark for Cain. It suggests that murder is a too-easy choice for humans. Though Noah follows in the line of Seth, at the least there is a recessive Cain gene that is carried along upon which a propensity for murder is lodged within each person. If you want an “original sin,” murder, the first act in this world East of Eden, is as good a source as any. Thus a need for an external control mechanism on murders—the antithesis of “be fruitful and multiply.”

This controller of retributive justice is lined out by a poetic form that mirrors the content: spilled; blood; of a human; by a human; this human’s blood; shall be spilt.

Noting that humans are in the image of G*D, does not strengthen this rule of retribution. This rationale has never stopped a war. In war, those we are murdering are designated as the opposite of G*D’s image and therefore we are exempt from a rule to keep our inner-Cain contained.

Different versions of the Masoretic text conclude this poem differently. Some say, “holds sway over the earth” and some repeat the end of the previous phrase and say, “multiply.” The near relationship of these to concepts is very colonial in nature—to multiply is to hold sway or have dominion over. Pre-flood, indiscriminate multiplying (sons of god and daughters of humans) led to behavior worthy of destruction. Post-flood, the language of “be fruitful and multiply” feels more like a curse than those same words at the end of Day Six (Genesis 1:28), where it is a blessing.

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