Historical Genesis

From Adam To Abraham

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Chapter 15 - Surviving the Great Flood

In pointing to His Second Coming, Jesus referred to the days of Noah. "For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark ..." (Matt. 24:38).

In Atrahasis, we have a glimpse of a possible connotation of "eating and drinking." Although there are pieces missing out of the account, enough has been recovered to show us the overwhelming compassion and sorrow he must have felt in the waning hours before the rain began to fall. After the birds, cattle, and wild animals were put aboard, Atrahasis turned to his people for whom there was no provision.

He invited his people < ] < ] to a feast. < ] he put his family on board. They were eating, they were drinking. But he went in and out, Could not stay still or rest on his haunches, His heart was breaking and he was vomiting bile.

For the Sumerians, "drinking" had a further connotation. Although some wheat was grown in Sumer, the salty, alkaline soil was friendlier to growing barley. Some forty per cent of the barley grown was used to produce ale. The inebriated ways of the Sumerians were so notorious, the Greeks chided that one of their pagan gods, Dionysus (god of wine), fled from Sumer in revulsion.

Slavery, divorce, and polygamy were practiced in ancient Sumer. The Sumerians worshipped well over 3,000 gods, and brought food offerings to them. As populations grew, appetites for more grain for food and drink put increased demands on the scarce water supply. When they dug irrigation canals upstream, it would deprive farmers living in settlements farther downstream. Cities waged war on neighboring cities over land and water rights.

Often the Sumerian king list concludes a list of kings at cities with an ominous phrase, "Uruk was smitten with weapons"; "Ur was smitten with weapons"; "Kish was smitten with weapons." Although the Sumerians committed acts of aggression, murdering and enslaving their victims, the question remains, were they accountable?

A command was given to Adam that was disobeyed, and he was punished. When "men began to call upon the name of the Lord" (Gen 4:26), the knowledge of both good and evil passed to Adam's offspring. When Abraham made his appeal to God to withhold His judgment against the condemned city of Sodom if only ten righteous people were found, he started with this question in Genesis 18:23, "Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?"

If God could confirm for Abraham that His judgment would not extend to punish the righteous few for the many wicked, then He merely read into the record what had already established at the time of the flood. Was moral corruption prevalent among those who had yet to learn of sin and disobedience, who were not answerable, who had not been given a commandment? Probably so. Immorality - yes, judgment - no.