Thursday 10 September 2015

Bible Book:

“ … and the dove came back to him in the evening, and there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf” (v. 11)

Genesis 8:6-13 Thursday 10 September 2015

Psalm: Psalm87


Following on from loading the ark in yesterday's passage[hyperlink] we are now looking at Noah preparing to leave the ark,having skipped the description of the flood itself (Genesis 7:11 - 8:5) . Beginning with thesymbolic "forty days" (v. 6), Noah sends out winged observers,which suggests that there was only limited visibility from the ark,or that it suited the writer to introduce birds into the story witha specific purpose. It may well be in our minds that the Spirit"swept over the face of the waters" like a bird in Genesis 1:2. Something similar happens here asthe birds fly over another watery chaos. There may be additionalsymbolism in the fact that the first bird Noah releases is black,it is still a dark time of chaos. It's also worth noting that theraven does not return (verse 7).

A dove is sent out next for another survey, returningempty-beaked (verses 8-9). The repeated sending of the birds is aliterary device highlighting both tension and meaning in the story.God's intervention and reconstruction requires patience andwaiting. It is on the third attempt that the dove returns with anolive leaf (verse 11), thus becoming an ongoing symbol ofpeace.  Noah is an extremely patient man, or prudent where mudis involved, and waits another seven days (verse 12). However, theauthor seems to have forgotten that the ark is on a mountaintop,nor do we have any idea about the logistics of releasing theanimals. But it is not that kind of story.

Our passage tells us that the day on which Noah, his family andall the animals leave the ark was the first day of his 601st year,it was both his birthday and a new year, the calendar seems to belinked to his own life. Thus we are told that those who were savedspent ten and a half months inside the ark with each other, we canonly imagine what that could have been like.

To Ponder

  • What's your response to 'chaos'?
  • How patient are you with God, yourself, other people?
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