Hey folks. Sorry about the long hiatus. I've been feeling a bit funny about religion lately, but I think I'm mostly over that.
So... first off, a general update to the OP. Still coming at this from a basically agnostic perspective, although I went through a period of deism between my last update and now. I still have my Good News Bible
with me and I will still be principally using that, but I'm at university accomodation, and the only other edition I have immediate access to in this room is a Gideon Revised Standard Edition
On another note, I'd like to add to my previous updates by noting a couple of interesting things which I overlooked before in Genesis 4-6.
Firstly, those "living creatures" in Genesis 4, a.k.a. the Cherubim. They're actually fairly well known legendary entities, and I figured a description might be appreciated. According to legend, they have four wings, covered with eyes. They have the feet of oxen, and four heads, those of a man, an ox, an eagle and a lion. They are not to be confused with putti, which are those little winged Cupid-like angels that crop up a lot in European religious artwork from the Renaissance onwards. Cherubim are traditionally guardians, and were originally believed to lack humanlike emotions. Putti are traditionally Valentine's card decorations.
Secondly, on the subject of both Noah's ancestors and of the heavenly beings otherwise known as the Grigori, both are important elements of a work called the Book of Enoch, which was once controversial but is now commonly regarded as apocryphal. The Enoch in this instance is Noah's great-grandfather, not Cain's son. He was a pious, holy man.
His book contains a great deal of information about angels, and goes into more detail about the "Watchers", the Grigori, and their chidren the Nephilim.
The Book of Enoch was followed by two sequels of even more dubious canonicity. The second of these, the Third Book of Enoch, claims that Enoch ascended to Heaven where he became Metatron, an extremely important angel in the apocrypha.
Enoch is a figure of some prominence in various Kabbalistic works, and is referenced several times in the New Testament. The Book of Enoch is part of the canonical scripture of the Beta Israel and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, and Enoch is a prophet in Islam, in which he is called Idris. He is also held in high esteem by the LDS movement.
So anyway, after that tangent, onwards to Genesis 15
Heading in the Good News Bible: "God's Covenant with Abram".
After the events of the previous chapter, the Lord
tells Abram not to be afraid; the Lord
shall shield him from danger and give him a great reward.
Abram answers that he has no children, and his only heir is his slave, Eliezer of Damascus.
replies that Eliezer will not be Abram's heir; Abram will have as many descendants as there are stars in the sky.
Abram puts his trust in the Lord
. This pleases the Lord
, who accepts him and says, "I am the Lord
, who led you out of Ur in Babylonia, to give you this land as your own."
Abram asks how he will know that the land will be his, and the Lord
replies by demanding to be brought a cow, a goat, a ram (all of them three years old), a dove and a pigeon. Abram does so, cutting the larger animals in halves, arranging them in rows, and driving off some hungry vultures.
The idea of bringing something to an omnipresent deity seems strange, but perhaps the Lord
means to bring them to that exact spot?
Abram falls into a deep sleep as the sun descends. Fear and terror come over him, for reasons which aren't specified. Awe of the Lord
, perhaps? The Lord
talks to him, possibly in his sleep.
informs Abram that his descendants will be slaves in a foreign land (Egypt, presumably) for four hundred years, where they will be treated cruelly. The enslaving nation will be punished and Abram's descendants will leave with great wealth.
Abram himself will live a ripe old age, die in peace and be buried. Four generations will pass before his descendants return (to Shaveh, maybe? Or is Abram back in Hebron? It's not clear), because the Lord
will not drive out the Amorites (amirite?) until they become so wicked that they must be punished. Interesting here that the Lord
is able to predict future events, but still appears reluctant to interfere immediately.
That night, oddly enough, a smoking fire-pot and a flaming torch appear and pass between the pieces of animals. Spooky. Divine power, perhaps?
Then the Lord
makes a covenant with Abram, promising his descendants all the land from the border of Egypt to the river Euphrates (in Mesopotamia, remember), including the lands of the Kenites, the Kezzinites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites (amirite?
), the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites.
Verily! So much for all that.
Next time: Hagar and Ishmael. Not that one
edited 20th Oct '10 11:50:06 AM by BobbyG