The Names of God: Poetic Readings in Biblical Beginnings

By Herbert Chanan Brichto | Go to book overview
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FIVE
FROM NOAH TO ABRAM

Two stories complete the narratives of chapters 1-11, which in modern scholarship is often labeled the Primeval History. Chapter 12, beginning the story of the patriarch Abram, first ancestor of the people of Israel, begins the History of Israel; and the setting for this history is thus provided by the Primeval History. This setting consists then of the genealogies, which we treat under chapter 7, "Structures", and five narratives. The first three (Creation, Eden, Flood) have each required a separate chapter. The last two are treated in this one. The first, 9:18-27, features Noah, three sons, and one grandson in a story somehow portentous for later history, but strangely murky as to plot and character motivation, and ambiguous as to the very identities of the personae. The second, 11:1-9, tells how the unity of Noah's descendants came to be disrupted.


THE DRUNKENNESS OF NOAH

(18) The sons of Noah, those who came out of the ark, were Shem, Ham, and Japheth, ( Ham being the father of Canaan). (19) These three the Sons of Noah, from these all earth['s population] branched out. (20) Noah, tiller of the soil, was the first to plant a vineyard. (21) Drinking of the wine, he fell drunk, and lay exposed in his tent. (22) Ham--Canaan's father--beheld his father's nakedness, and told his two brothers outside. (23) Shem and Japheth took a robe, held it extended from both their shoulders, and--walking in backward--they covered up their father's nakedness; with their faces

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