Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Quick! Hit the reset button!

The naming of Noah could indicate that he will be the one through whom order is preserved and restored in the aftermath of the insurgence of nonorder represented in the flood. Be that as it may, however, the text indicates that Noah would comfort us (presumably humankind) “from our labor and from the toil of our hands from the ground” (authors’ translation). The combination of the verb nhm with the preposition min (from) occurs three times in this verse and nowhere else in the Hebrew Bible. The combination does not suggest consolation or comfort concerning those things—that uses a different preposition. It can mean only that nonorder related to the labor, toil, and ground are going to be resolved and a greater semblance of order would be restored. It is difficult to deduce how that is taking place; what is important is that it is taking place. The vocabulary shows us how the flood is being interpreted—it is an order—bringing event. The connection of Noah’s name to the flood suggests that besides being presented as an act of judgment, grace, and deliverance, the narrator is recounting this event as a sort of order “reset button.” God uses nonorder (the waters) to eliminate disorder (pervasive violence) and then to reestablish optimal order (even as he recognizes that disorder remains [Gen 8:21]).—Lost World of the Flood, 118 (emphasis original)

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