Violence becomes the dominant post-creation culture and the reason God renews the earth by sending the flood (Gen 6:9-22; 9:1-7)
Steps to be followed:
Read Gen 6:1-22; 9:1-7 carefully (5 minutes)
Discuss the questions below (10 minutes)
Read the explanation (7 minutes)
End this Bible study with a discussion on the final summary (8 minutes)
1. Read Genesis 6:1-22; 9:1-7 (5 minutes)
2. Questions: (10 minutes)
What do you understand by violence?
Mention/ give some subjects and objects of violence that you are familiar with!
Why does violence arise?
3. Explanation (7 minutes)
The culture of peace that God has proposed in the beginning cannot be maintained any more after the disobedience of humans (Genesis 3). When humans start following their own way, God is not their creator anymore. As a result, they have to leave the garden that was prepared for them by God. Their disobedience not only breaks their relationship with the creator but also causes relationships between humans and among created things to be not harmonious anymore: there is always enmity between the snake and woman and her descendants (Gen 3: 15); humans have difficulties in harvesting the food from the land (Gen 3:17b-18); wowan has a difficulty in maintaining the generations (bearing children) and her subordinate status in relation to the man (Gen 3: ) there is jealousy between brothers (Gen 4:5) and resulting in killing (Gen 4:8, 23). There is a sense of violence[i] in all these activities and attitudes. Humanity and life are not honored anymore.
“Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence, and God saw that the earth was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted its ways upon the earth. And God says to Noah:
“I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence because of them; now I am going to destroy them along with the earth.”
P introduces God’s statement in v.13 by putting P’s own description first in v.11-12. Synthesis parallelism is used to explain the earth’situation: the earth was corrupt because it was filled with violence. P understood that violence is not supposed to exist on earth for in the beginning the earth and everything in it was good, even very good in God’s sight. [ii]
Scholars[iii] have different understanding of violence in Gen 6:11-13. However based on observing the use of the word hamas in Hebrew Bible[iv], it can be said that this noun form expresses several nuances, such as oppressions, injustice and unrighteousness[v]. Von Rad and Kittel state that hamas is one of the concepts that is used by Israel to express their understanding of sin.[vi]
Most of the time violence is done by the one who has more power than the object of violence. Therefore nuances of oppression, injustice and unrighteousness exist in the word and act of violence. However sometimes the objects of the violence change their position to become the subject of violence instead. Usually this happens when the object think that there is no way out except doing violence to its subject. The prominent example now a days is the suicide bomb that has been used by the Palestinians to face Israel.
I think that the violence stated in Gen 6:11-13 was done by the subject who has more power than the object, therefore P understood that they were corrupt.
Humans, who were supposed to be caretakers of the created things, now together with animals destroy the earth. [vii] Therefore there is no way out according to God except destroying them, though just [viii]for the sake of the continuation of life, God needs to preserve some of the living creatures to start afresh. There is no sign of hope in God[ix] to expect some change in the future after the flood era. God has anticipated already that violence will remain on the earth.[x] However created beings were created already[xi]- and have to be continued. Therefore the change is not expected come from the creatures, instead it has to come from God. Thus, God has to revise God’s criteria for God’s creatures (Gen 9:1-7) and God’s blessing has to give for them as God has been given it to the creatures in the beginning.[xii]
Originally humans and animals have consumed vegetation, but at the post-flood era, humans are permitted to kill animals for food, as long as the animal is not eaten with its blood. Because the blood is life and life belongs to God.
Since this period there has always been a tension between humans and animals. P explicitly states that animals have a fear (yare) and dread (hat, from hatat) of human beings. In the Hebrew Bible these two words are used in the sentences, which show a kind of fear of the subject who has strength and multiple powers.[xiii] Therefore violence is always present in the relationship between humans and animals and among humans themselves (Gen 9:5-6), even though P values life very highly as belonging to and created by God. This awareness prompted P to bind the living creatures in the covenant with God (Gen 9:8-17) to guarantee to them that whatever happens, God will never again cause the flood to destroy living beings. Now everything depends on how the living beings conduct themselves.
4. Final Summary (8 minutes):
Do you think violence can be stopped or removed altogether from the earth? If yes, explain how! If no, explain why!
[i] Von Rad says that the characteristics of the human’s condition after the flood is violence, see Von Rad, Old Testament Theology I, 157
[ii] Gen 1:12, 18, 25 and 31.
[iii] See Cassuto, Genesis 2:52; B. Jacob, Genesis, 48; Sarna, Genesis, 51; Leupold, Genesis, 266-7; Wenham, Genesis 1-15, 171.
[iv] See: Gen 49:5; Ex 23:1; Deut 19:16; Is 53:9; 59:6; 60:18; Jer 6:7; 20:8; Ezek 7:23; 8:17; 28:16; 45:9; Amos 3:10; 6:3; Mic 6:12; Hob 1:2; Zeph 1:9; Mal 2:16; Pss 11:5; 18:49; 25:19; 27:12; 35:11; 55:10; 73:6; 74:20; 140:12; Prov 3:31; 10:6, 11; 13: 2; 16:29; 26:6; Job 16:17; 19:7; 1 Chr 12:18
[v] To introduce Noah as a righteous person purposely aims to contrast his actions with the rest of the population, see: Gen 6:9; 7:1 (J).
[vi] See Von Rad, Old Testament Theology I, 263; Kittel, Bible Key Words, 15. See also Job 19:7 and Yehz 45:9.
[vii] P seems to add kol basar (all flesh) as a new character in the narrative in Gen 6:12, because P wants to say that humans and animals alike had corrupted the earth. If P wants to state that only humans were the cause of the corruption, P would have used adam instead of kol-basar, as P specifies adam in Gen 7:21 and 9:6. In Genesis 6-9 it is clear that if kol-basar stands by itself, the phrase points to all living being, that is, humans and animals, such as in Gen 6:12-13; 7:21-22 and 9:6, 11, 15-16. This view is also supported by God’s statements in Gen 9:2-6. Yes kol-basar used in certain special context, preceded by a preposition, or in the construct form (with another noun), refers to the animals only, as in Gen 6:19; 7:15, 16 and 9:15, 16. However J understood that human is the only creation who destroy the earth, see: Gen 6:5 and 8:21.
[viii] It seems that God has no high expectations for humans to live in God’s way, see: Gen 6:5 and 8:21.
[ix] There is no mandate anymore for humans to be caretakers of the earth when God has to revise God’s criteria for God’s created beings, however humans’ status as created in God’s image is maintained, see
Gen 9:1-7; cf: Gen 6:5 and 8:21 (J).
[x] See God’s revision of the interrelationships among creatures in Gen 9:1-7.
[xi] Cf. Gen 6: 6, 7: God is sorry that God has made them (humans).
[xii] God’s blessing which is revealed in the capability to multiply, given in the beginning of time (Gen 1:1-2:4a), the first thing commanded by God after the flood (Gen 8:17), and occurs twice as an inclusion in the post-flood story in Gen 9:1-7.
[xiii] Yare is found in Deut 11:25; Mal 2:5; Isa 8:12,13 and Ps 76:12. A noun form of yare refers to the fear of Yhwh. Hat is found only in Job 41:25.
Bahan PA UEM General Assembly di Yogjakarta