In Sunday School this week we covered the account of Noah in Genesis 6-9. And I was struck once again by the contrast between the ancient Near Eastern (ANE) accounts that parallel the Biblical Deluge/Noah account.
In the ANE accounts the gods destroy mankind with a flood because of their “noise”* which the gods find bothersome, there is one who escapes the deluge and once they have committed this atrocity they are upset that there are no humans left to feed them. Alas, there is one who survives (Utnapishtim) by use of an ark and upon his exiting the ark he offers a sacrifice. The gods “gathered like flies” to the feast and consider themselves fortunate that a human survived to feed and serve them.
The Bible, on the other hand, declares that God, that is Yahweh, intentionally preserves humankind via righteous Noah. This God even provides specifically for the food for Noah on the ark. Once the ark is opened and Noah exits, he offers a sacrifice to the LORD who is pleased by this. Noah and his descendants are themselves given food to eat by the LORD.
“Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.” (Gen.9:3 NIV2011)
This is the God we serve…not a capricious god, but the LORD who preserves and provides for His creation.
* To be fair, it is possible the ‘noise’ of humans in these ANE accounts actually parallel the biblical account of the LORD noting the din of human violence and depravity.