Podcast Episode

God’s Spirit in the Flood Narrative

When we think of God’s Spirit, judgment is probably not what comes to mind. But the biblical authors saw God’s Spirit as the one who gave life and took it away—the one who could create, de-create, and recreate. In this episode, Tim, Jon, and Carissa follow the theme of God’s Spirit through the second half of the first movement of Genesis.

Episode 2
Jan 10, 2022
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Show Notes


Outside the boat, the breath of life is going to be taken away, but inside the little ark, Eden, the breath of life will remain in the remnant. It’s the remnant that is sustained by the Spirit of God … God’s Spirit both de-created and recreated in the same event, in the same narrative. The flood, this undoing of creation, actually returned the Earth to the original Genesis 1:2 state—with God’s Spirit over the waters, ready to bring new creation.


  • The biblical authors had a deep reverence for the Spirit as the giver and sustainer of life. If God is the one who gives life-breath, he is also the one who can take it away.
  • In Genesis 6, spiritual beings try to restore eternal life to humans in their corrupt state. This is the origin of a theme we will see with more clarity in the story of Babylon, first named in Genesis 11.
  • The flood, an undoing of creation, returns the Earth to a state similar to Genesis 1:2, where God’s Spirit (ruakh) is hovering over the chaotic waters, ready to bring order to creation. The de-creation of the flood ends with a recreation story.

Storms of Judgment?

In part one (00:00-10:20), Tim, Jon, and Carissa pick up where we left off, tracking the theme of God’s ruakh through the first movement of Genesis. Ruakh refers to God’s Spirit, and it also carries the images of breath and wind. This definition means that our breath—as we inhale and exhale—and the wind that stirs the trees are God’s Spirit too.

In our last episode, we discussed two places where God’s ruakh appears in the first movement of Genesis.

  • God’s Spirit animates and orders all creation (Gen. 1:2).
  • God’s Spirit gives humans life (Gen. 2:7).

In this episode, we’ll turn our attention to God’s Spirit in Genesis 3 (after Adam and Eve sin) and the narratives that follow.

The biblical authors had a deep reverence for the Spirit as the giver and sustainer of life. If God is the one who gives life-breath, he is also the one who can take it away. After Adam and Eve sin in Genesis 3, God shows up in “the wind of the day,” and they expect that he has come in judgment. (The sound of his arrival is apparently stormy and terrifying.) The wind of the day in Genesis 3:8 foreshadows the storms of God’s justice when he shows up for the Day of the Lord.

God’s image bearers, Adam and Eve, sin by trying to become Elohim instead of just being images of Elohim. The next generation of humans replay their parents’ sins. Cain does what is good in his own eyes and murders his brother Abel, whose blood “cries out from the ground” (Gen. 4:10). Cain goes on to build a city, and one of his descendants who lives there (Lamech) becomes an even more vengeful murderer than his forefather Cain (Gen. 4:17-24). The narrator of Genesis is pointing our attention to this city built upon the blood of the innocent. Things reach a boiling point in Genesis 6, when humans and elohim rebel—an inversion of the Genesis 3 account.

The Sons of Elohim

In part two (10:20-29:00), Tim, Jon, and Carissa focus on Genesis 6.

Genesis 6:1-2
Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of Elohim saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose.

The narrator presents this story as another fall narrative. Humans are multiplying—this is a glimpse of something good, humanity fulfilling their calling as the image of God. But the narrator wastes no time in moving the plot from this glimpse of something good to the language of Genesis 3, “seeing” and “taking.” This time, the sons of Elohim are the ones in sin. “Sons of Elohim” refers to spiritual beings, not humans. These are spiritual beings created by God, like the serpent in the garden, and they are taking human women as their mates.

The parallel between Genesis 3 and 6 is important because of what happens next.

Genesis 6:3
And Yahweh said, “My Spirit/breath will not dwell with the human forever, because he too is flesh, and so his days will be one hundred and twenty years.”

This is another parallel with Genesis 3. In Genesis 3, a spiritual being tries to get humans to the realm of the divine on their own terms, and consequently, they lose access to the tree of life. Now, spiritual beings mate with humans, and it also results in the loss of eternal life. When we look at these two narratives together, what can we conclude the spiritual beings are after? In both stories, the elohim are trying to turn humans into elohim too. They are trying to restore eternal life to humans in their corrupt state. This is the origin of a theme we will see with more clarity in the story of Babylon, first named in Genesis 11.

After this point, many humans live to be older than 120, but it’s possible Yahweh means from this point, there are 120 years left before the flood.

A Floating Micro-Eden

In part three (29:00-35:00), the team moves ahead in Genesis to the next mention of God’s Ruakh in Genesis 6:17, when God announces that humanity has so corrupted his good world that he is deeply grieved by his decision to create them. As a result, all living creatures with the “breath of life” (ruakh) are about to be destroyed in the coming flood.

However, God finds one person who is righteous: Noah, whose name means “rest.” He walks with God just like Adam and Eve once did. This man will live at peace with a bunch of animals, that represent all of creation, on a wooden ark atop the chaotic waters—a floating micro-Eden.

De-Creation in the Chaotic Waters

In part four (35:00-43:30), Tim, Jon, and Carissa discuss God’s Spirit in the flood narrative.

In Genesis 7:15, the narrator specifically identifies that the animals on the ark have the “breath of life.” God has spared a remnant, and in doing so, God’s Spirit, his breath of life, has not fully departed from the Earth.

However, this is an exceptionally low moment. Genesis 7:21-22 describes the death of all creatures not aboard the ark. In verse 22, we see a connection back to God’s resolution in 6:1—that all living things, every creature “in whose nostrils was the breath of life,” would be destroyed in the flood. This phrasing also circles back to Genesis 2:7, when God formed Adam from the ground and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils. This is a de-creation narrative, the undoing of all of God’s creative work up until this point. This is all a result of humanity’s own destructive choices, to which God hands them over.

Recreation by God’s Spirit

In part five (43:30-end), the team explores the last mention of God’s ruakh in the first movement of Genesis.

In Genesis 8:1, ruakh appears as “wind,” an invisible, powerful energy. God sends this ruakh over the Earth, and the waters of the flood subside. The flood, an undoing of creation, returns the Earth to a state similar to Genesis 1:2, where God’s Spirit (Ruakh) is hovering over the chaotic waters, ready to bring order to creation.

The de-creation of the flood ends with a recreation story, and when Noah leaves the ark and makes a sacrifice, his surrender inspires God’s promise to never de-create the Earth in such an extreme way again.

Referenced Resources

Show Music

  • “Defender (Instrumental)” by TENTS
  • “Meraki” by Juan Rios

Show produced by Cooper Peltz. Edited by Dan Gummel and Zach McKinley. Show notes by Lindsey Ponder.

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Scripture References
Genesis 6
Genesis 1:2
Genesis 2:7
Genesis 3:8
Genesis 3:6
Genesis 8:21
Genesis 5
Isaiah 59:21
Genesis 10:8-12
Genesis 5:24
Genesis 4
Leviticus 9:3
Genesis 6:3-4
Ezekiel 32
Genesis 25:7
Genesis 6:17
Genesis 7:15
Genesis 7:21-22
Romans 7:25
Genesis 8:1
Exodus 14:21-22

God’s Spirit in the Flood Narrative

Series: Genesis Scroll E2

Podcast Date: January 10, 2022, 60:19

Speakers in the audio file: Jon Collins, Tim Mackie, Carissa Quinn


Jon: Hey, this is Jon at BibleProject. Before today's episode, I want to make sure that you know about something really exciting. And that is our brand new BibleProject app. On our app, you're going to find all of our videos and podcasts, but the app will also guide you on a reading journey through the Bible. 

We're going to read the Bible together in movements—these are larger sections of Scripture—and we're going to be tracing themes, developing skills for reading the Bible as a unified story that leads to Jesus. You can find out more about the app in the link to the download at Bibleproject.com/announce.

When you think of God's Spirit, what comes to mind? Maybe it's the story of Elijah who encounters God's still, small voice on Mount Horeb. Maybe it's the Spirit descending like a dove at Jesus' baptism, or Jesus promising the Spirit to his disciples before ascending to the skies. Perhaps even (00:01:00) it's the first mention of the Holy Spirit when God hovers over the darkness ready to bring order and life. Where God's Spirit is there is life. And so not many of us think about God’s Spirit related to judgments.

Tim: If all creation order is sustained by God's ruakh (his Spirit), it means that God has the prerogative to take it away if he deems it so.

Jon: This, at least in part, is why Adam and Eve were scared. After they ate of the tree of knowing good and bad, they heard God coming, and he came in the sound of a storm.

Tim: The wind of the day in Genesis 3:8 is foreshadowing the storms of God's justice when he shows up for the Day of the Lord. And the next one appears in just a really complicated story about the sons of God and daughters of women and giants and Nephilim. Oh my!

Jon: Today we're going to look at the role of God's Spirit in judgment. We're going to look at some fascinating stories like the Nephilim in Genesis 6, (00:02:00) where God makes this strange proclamation.

Tim: Yahweh said, "My ruakh will not dwell with humanity forever, because he also is flesh; and his days will be 120 years." Where have I gotten the idea that God's life might live with humans forever? The tree of life in the garden.

Jon: And we'll look at the flood story in Genesis 7 when God lets the Earth de-create, yet hope isn't lost. God finds one righteous person and creates a mini floating Eden.

Tim: So outside the boat, the breath of life is going to be taken away, but inside the breath of life remains in the remnant. It's the remnant that's sustained by the Spirit of God.

Carissa: The flood, this undoing of creation actually returned the Earth to the original Genesis 1:2 state with God's Spirit over the waters ready to bring new creation.

Jon: I'm Jon Collins, and this is BibleProject podcast. Today, Tim Mackie, (00:03:00) Carissa Quinn, and I trace the theme of God's Spirit, his ruakh, through the second half of the first movement of the Genesis scroll. Thanks for joining us. Here we go. 

All right, we, and by we I'm referring to myself, Tim Mackie, Carissa Quinn. Hello, we are walking through the first movement of Genesis tracking the theme of God's ruakh. Or in other words, God's Spirit. But we will call it God's ruakh often because embedded in this idea of ruakh is not just spirit but also breath and wind. And it's a very enchanted way of viewing the world, which is that the wind is God's Spirit, and our breath is God's Spirit. What a cool way to exist in the world!

Tim: Yeah, that's right. And also raises the possibility that if all created (00:04:00) order is sustained by God's ruakh (his Spirit), it means that God has the prerogative to take it away if he deems it so. And that's what we looked at as the last example, or at least where somebody thinks that God is showing up in the form of a wind. After Adam and Eve eat from the tree and disobey God's command, he shows up in the wind, and they're freaked out.

Carissa: “In the wind of the day” or sometimes translated "the cool of the day." But you're saying it's foreshadowing this idea of the Spirit being a force of de-creation. 

Tim: That's right. Yeah. Essentially a storm.

Jon: Storm of the day.

Tim: You can call it the Day of the Lord. “The wind of the day” in Genesis 3:8 is foreshadowing the storms of God's justice when he shows up for the Day of the Lord.

Jon: So real quick recap. Maybe Carissa, do you want to do the quick recap of the three hits?

Carissa: Yeah. So our first hit was Genesis 1:2, God's Spirit in creation where God's Spirit is hovering over (00:05:00) the waters and is about to animate life into all creation. The second hit is Genesis 2:7 that zooms in on humans. And there we see a synonym for ruakh. The breath of God. And it's the breath of God that goes into humans and gives humanity life in the same way that God gave life to all creation. 

And then the third hit is what we're talking about. It's after that humans eat from the tree, and they hear the sound of God in the ruakh of the day, it's this depiction of God's Spirit about to bring some kind of de-creation.

Tim: Yeah. Though, in that last case, that's what Adam thinks God's going to do. It's why he hides. It turns out God comes just asking questions and looking for a confession.

Jon: But he is going to exile them.

Tim: Oh, yeah, he does exile them, but—

Jon: Which is a type of de-creation. 

Tim: That's right. But he doesn't kill them.

Jon: He doesn't kill them.

Tim: And he doesn't even curse them. He curses the snake and he curses the ground, which will affect them negatively. (00:06:00) But—

Jon: You kind of get a sense that God's anger is slow. 

Tim: Yeah, that's right. 

Carissa: Yeah. And the only reason I'm using the word "de-creation" is because if Spirit is creation and light, then the opposite of that or another way the Spirit can function ... function?

Tim: Yeah.

Jon: I like that.

Tim: Yeah, that's good. 

Jon: Because when you say exile is a type of de-creation—

Tim: It is. Yeah. It's exiled from the place where eternal life is. Which means—

Carissa: De-creation is like the undoing of creation.

Tim: That's right. That's right. Yeah, de-creation can happen in many ways. It can be the undoing of the order, or it can be the undoing of my little personal order that exists in my life, in my community, or in my body, which means that I die. Which means death is the undoing of God’s creative purpose. 

So what we're going to look at is the force through the eighth appearance of God's ruakh in Genesis 1 through 11. And the next one appears in (00:07:00) just a really complicated story about the sons of God and daughters of women and giants and Nephilim. Oh, my!

Jon: Welcome to the Bible. 

Tim: Welcome to the Bible. So maybe just as a context here, let's back up and remember—

Jon: And where are we at in this movement?

Tim: Where are we at? I'm so glad you asked, Jon. 

Jon: All right. 

Tim: So where we're at is ... the hits that we've looked at so far, we've looked at God's ruakh here that brought about order in the course of the six days of God's working and then the culmination in the seventh day. And remember that was God creating by bringing land out of too much water. The Eden narrative picks up and it flips it over where God creates by bringing water to too much dry land. And what we found is right in the middle of this narrative here, Genesis chapter 2, the opening of the garden of Eden narrative, God's ruakh or God's breath appears to animate the dirt, like Carissa summarized. (00:08:00) 

So what happens is that you have two individual humans who break the divine command; they want to become Elohim instead of just being satisfied as the images of Elohim. So they're exiled from the garden. 

Jon: And that's where God's ruakh shows up like a storm.

Tim: Correct. So what the next narrative is about in Genesis 4 is about the next generation of Adam and Eve's—

Jon: Cain and Abel. 

Tim: About their sons, Cain and Abel. Cain replays his parents' failure but this time by doing what's good in his own eyes, which is murdering his brother, and the blood of his brother cries out from the ground. That happens in this narrative here.

Then Cain gives birth to a whole chain of descendants and he builds a city, and he calls it after his own name. And seven generations later ... This is what the next literary unit is about after Cain murders his brother. In Cain City, he has a descendant named Lamech, who murders flagrantly and says, "Man, if my ancestor Cain can murder and God (00:09:00) forgave him, oh then God is obligated to forgive me 70 times more than Cain." And it's—

Carissa: It's a downward spiral. 

Tim: Yes, yeah. And you're left to imagine, man, if one person's innocent blood rises up to God and God hears it, imagine what happens when a whole city is built on the blood of the innocent. What's going to happen then? Then you're given a divided lineage. You get a lineage, a genealogy that goes from the line of Cain. And then the last line of Genesis 4 is, "But Adam and Eve had a third son that replaced the dead Abel." And then that's the son that you get a ten-generation genealogy in Genesis 5.

Jon: That's Seth.

Tim: And that's Seth. 

Jon: Okay. 

Tim: And that leads to a guy named Noach. Noah.

Jon: Ten generations from Seth is Noah. Noach.

Tim: So what's going to follow is a de-creation story. The outcry of innocent blood (00:10:00) and the rise of violence among the city of ‘adam, the city of humanity, is going to become—what do you say? Something that God can't ignore. But there is yet still one more thing that is going to go wrong with creation. These are all about human rebellions. Actually, Genesis 3 involves humans and a spiritual being.

Jon: The snake?

Tim: The snake. Genesis 6 is going to bring it together and show a mirror inversion of—(inaudible - 00:10:30)

Jon: Not only are the humans rebelling, but the spirit beings are rebelling. 

Tim: Yes. Welcome to the story we call Genesis 6:1-4. 

Jon: The rebellion of the Elohim.

Tim: Yeah, you got it.

Section break (00:10:41)

Tim: So here's the story. "And it came about when ‘adam (humanity) started or began to multiply on the land ..." And you're like, "Started? They've been multiplying for a while now." That's a little clue right there that we're going to be doing some kind of replay of a beginning narrative.

Carissa: A new section and a replay.

Tim: Humans multiplying—

Carissa: Sounds good.

Tim: Yeah. It sounds what God told him to do.

Jon: Be fruitful and multiply.

Tim: Be fruitful and multiply, fill the land. And so when humans multiply, you get sons and daughters born to them. But the daughters are going to play a role in the story, so we're going to highlight those daughters. "Now the (00:12:00) sons of Elohim saw the daughters of humanity that they were good. And they took wives for themselves whomever they chose.”

Jon: Dun dun dun. Sons of Elohim.

Tim: Sons of Elohim.

Jon: So, so far we've been talking about a Elohim, which is God—

Tim: Yeah, that's right.

Jon: So there's this phrase "the sons of Elohim."

Tim: The sons of Elohim. The phrase appears about half a dozen times in the Hebrew Bible. And it always has the same meaning. It refers to spiritual beings in God's heavenly court, heavenly realm. 

Jon: These are the hosts of heaven?

Tim: Yeah, they're called, in Genesis 1, the host of the skies. 

Carissa: Yeah, "the sons of" can just be referring to—

Jon: A kind?

Carissa: Yeah. Part of that group. Like a kind of Elohim, yeah. We saw it with goats in Leviticus. I think "take the son of a goat."

Tim: The son of a goat, yeah. 

Carissa: In other words, a goat.

Tim: The exact opposite of this phrase is the son of ‘adam, (00:13:00) the son of man, which means a member of the human kind.

Jon: Oh, right. Yes.

Tim: Son of man. So to be a son of man is to be a human. To be a son of Elohim is to be an Elohim. 

Carissa: An Elohim. 

Tim: An Elohim-like being. That is, a spiritual being. So that's one. It's a whole rabbit hole there. We have a past podcast on them. 

Jon: Yes.

Tim: Notice the wording of someone seeing that something is good and then taking it for themselves.

Jon: Yes, we've seen that before. 

Tim: This is mirroring the language of ... 

Jon: Genesis 3.

Tim: ... human failure.

Carissa: Yeah. So we'll actually talk about this exact design pattern in the next movement of Genesis.

Tim: Yeah, that's right. Or in the Jacob story. 

Carissa: In the Jacob story. That "saw it was good and took it." 

Tim: That's right. Eve saw that something's good and she took. Now, what's also significant here is the players in the story. (00:14:00) The reason the woman sees that this thing is good and then takes it is precisely because of a snake, that as you read through the Hebrew Bible you discover is the force of spiritual evil. So you have a spiritual being deceiving a woman so that she sees it as good and takes. And here it's exactly the inversion in Genesis 6. You have spiritual beings who see that ... 

Jon: Women are good. 

Tim: ... human women are good and they take them for themselves. So it's a good example of a mirror narrative or a way that the story is echoing and inverting. Just like all the way back to the ... When you have two parallel lines of Hebrew poetry, or like I use that analogy of the two plants or the multiple plants that my wife puts together on the shelf. Now you read Genesis 3 and this little narrative and you ponder how they help you understand each other better?

Carissa: So by activating this design pattern here, the author is portraying the sons of Elohim in (00:15:00) a really negative light. That they see the daughters and they take them.

Jon: This is a fall narrative. 

Carissa: Yeah, it's a fall narrative. And maybe if you weren't comparing to Genesis 3, you might not know that right away. You might have to assume that "Oh, is that bad? Were they not supposed to do that?" But "saw that it was good and took," we should know if we're looking back at Genesis 3 that this is not good.

Tim: Yeah, that's right. So Genesis 3 is about a failure of the human images of Elohim because of the instigation of spiritual beings. Here, it's the failure and rebellion of the sons of Elohim and the images of Elohim are the victim here. Okay. So let's just name ... we're just trying to act like this is all normal. This is very bizarre, especially to us.

Jon: Spiritual beings taking women as their—what? As their what?

Tim: As their mates. This is a very common motif in ancient literature, especially foundation (00:16:00) stories of the empires of the ancient world. 

Jon: Was humans that were a hybrid between the gods and humans. 

Tim: Yeah, divine humans. The most famous ones are the ones that live on in the Marvel movies still today. Thor and Loki. But yeah, Greek mythology is filled with Zeus and so on. But even before that, more in the ancient biblical context, the stories about the founders of Babylon, one of the founding kings of in the area that would become Babylon was a king named Gilgamesh who's part god and part human. He's the offspring of god and humans.

Jon: This is celebrated, then, in other cultures.

Tim: It was celebrated.

Jon: Gilgamesh like that gave him a status.

Tim: Yeah, that lets you know that this kingdom has the divine authority of the gods to conquer.

Carissa: They're called the giants or sometimes the men of renown. 

Tim: That's right. Yeah, yeah. Here that's what they're called later on in the story. So this is tapping into a motif that celebrated (00:17:00) these hybrid divine humans who built the kingdoms of this world and conquered in their name. 

Jon: And the biblical story is saying that's actually not a good thing. 

Tim: It represents everything that's wrong with the world. 

Jon: Humans combining with spiritual forces in an unnatural way.

Tim: Yeah. 

Carissa: Or even spiritual beings and humans going their own way apart from God, building cities apart from God and ruling apart from him maybe. 

Tim: Yeah. So this parallel with Genesis 3 is super important. In fact, the author is going to assume that you know the parallel in the next line that brings up our word "ruakh." This is Yahweh's response to what just happened. Genesis 6:3, "Yahweh said, 'My ruakh will not dwell with humanity forever, because this one also” or he also “is flesh, and his days will be 120 years." 

Jon: Okay. (00:18:00) 

Tim: Okay. And then you get the famous Nephilim. "The Nephilim were in the land in those days—and also long afterward ..." Because Joshua and Caleb, the spies, are going to meet a whole bunch in the land of Canaan. "When the sons of Elohim went in to the daughters of humanity and they bore children for them, these, that is the Nephilim, are the mighty warriors who are from ancient time, men of the name."

Jon: That's what you were referring to, Carissa. 

Carissa: Mm-hmm.

Jon: The mighty warriors, the men of the name.

Carissa: Renown or men of the name. 

Jon: These are the Nephilim.

Tim: Nephilim.

Carissa: This is one of those passages where I just realized, well, my lens is so different than the ancient authors.

Tim: Totally, in so many ways. So, Nephilim is one of the main Biblical words to talk about these hybrid-divine human, giant kings of old. It's a noun made up of a passive of the verb "to fall." That means "those who have fallen." (00:19:00) Which many Christians probably mean, they go, “Oh, yeah, like the fallen angels.” That's actually not the first and most primary reference. It means "fallen in battle."

Jon: Oh. 

Tim: Those who gain glory and fame by conquest on the battlefield. The fallen ones. And Ezekiel will pick this up. He has a whole poem about the fallen kings of old who claimed to be gods in Ezekiel 32. And he calls them the Nophilim. He makes a play on it. Those who have fallen in battle.

Carissa: That's why here they're even called the mighty warriors in parallel to the Nephilim.

Tim: Yeah, that's right. However, the idea of falling from the skies is a subtext here, because this is about a heavenly rebellion that comes down to the land, whereas Genesis 3 was about an earthly rebellion of humans trying to be Elohim to become higher than what they're supposed to be. So that's one thing going on here. But at the center here is Yahweh's interesting response. 

Jon: Center here.

Tim: Yeah. (00:20:00) 

Jon: And it is interesting, the center, because you can imagine it gone and this story would actually flow better.

Tim: The story would flow better if verse 3 came somewhere else—if it came later. So it's a good example of how the three-part kind of symmetrical design is meant for meditation, not for nice sequential storytelling. Does that make sense?

Carissa: Mm-hmm.

Jon: Yeah. 

Carissa: Because it starts with the sons of Elohim and the daughters of men. And then Yahweh speaks about how his breath won't dwell with humanity forever, his Spirit. And then it goes back to the Nephilim, the sons of Elohim, and the daughters of humanity. It feels very repetitive. So when that happens, there's probably an underlying structure and something being highlighted.

Tim: That's right. It's like three plants on my wife's shelf. And the outer plants are very similar. So one and three match in important ways. And two in the middle also links up with both parts, because both (00:21:00) have to do with something about humanity living and also about that the days of humanity will be limited. And what are those days? Well, those were the days when the giant hybrid warriors were cruising around.

Carissa: I see you have verse 3 highlighted. "And Yahweh said."

Tim: Oh, yes. This is part of a bigger parallel design with the opening to the flood narrative. Yahweh says two things in Genesis 6:1-12. And they're related. So the related thing was what God says in verse 7, which is "I'm going to wipe away humanity that I've created from the face of the ground." It's a reference to the flood, which is, I think, meant to illuminate what is going on here. But we'll get there in a second. 

So notice that what Yahweh says is in three bits. "My Spirit won't dwell with humanity forever because he also is flesh, and his days will be 120 years." So notice the opposition between "my Spirit" (00:22:00) and "the fleshy humanity."

Jon: This was the mud sculpture, this was God breathing in his life-giving force.

Tim: Right. Now, what's interesting is where have I gotten the idea that God's life might live with humans forever? Where did I come across that idea?

Jon: Tree of life. 

Tim: The tree of life in the garden. In the garden. Yeah. Now, let's see. How was it that the humans lost access to forever life?

Jon: That was their fall narrative that we looked at.

Tim: Their fall narrative. Because of a spiritual being. So you had a spiritual being that was trying to get humans to the realm of the divine—

Jon: On their own terms.

Tim: On their own terms. And it resulted in the loss of eternal life. Now you have spiritual beings mixing with humans, now also resulting in the loss of eternal life. That's interesting. So I think we're meant to infer here like, what's the goal here? 

Jon: Is this just kind of two sides of one coin in a way?

Tim: Yeah. What are the sons of Elohim (00:23:00) after here? Why are they trying to mix with humans in the first place?

Jon: Well, they saw that they were good. 

Tim: They saw that they were good. But man, if the sons of Elohim aren't mortal, they don't die, are we meant to infer that part of their motive here is this is plan number two to elevate humans to the divine by mixing with them?

Jon: Oh, interesting. The first plan was?

Tim: Get them to seize wisdom ... 

Jon: On their own terms.

Tim: ... on their own terms so that they can become Elohim. That's what the snake said. That didn't work. So God cut them off from eternal life.

Jon: This is plot number two? 

Tim: Correct.

Jon: Interesting. In other words ... And you wouldn't get there ... The story doesn't say, "You know what the sons of Elohim were trying to do?

Jon: Yeah, no, they came up next?

Tim: This is Plan B. They're trying to restore eternal life and turn humans into Elohim.

Jon: Yeah, because we already know that humans aren't going to live forever, right?

Tim: Yeah, that's right. 

Jon: They've already been dying outside the garden. So yeah, why bring up this?

Tim: Correct. Yahweh's response only makes sense if somehow (00:24:00) it's on the table yet again that humans are going to live forever. And what narrative do I have that would talk about another grab getting eternal life to humans? And what we have is Genesis 6:1-2.

Carissa: Well, that. And it's also weird that it seems like the sons of Elohim who are being implicated here is doing something bad. But in verse 3, it's Yahweh who says, "I won't dwell with humans forever.”

Jon: Right. He's not throwing down on Elohim.

Carissa: Yeah. So somehow what the sons of Elohim are doing is affecting humans.

Tim: Yeah. It's as if the sons of Elohim are trying to restore eternal life to humans but in their corrupt state. And it's as if saying, the only way that humanity is ever going to have life forever is for Yahweh's Spirit to be the one that recreates and brings about a new creation. And so this is a distorted grab for eternal life. 

Genesis 3 was a distorted grab for wisdom and Elohim-like status. And this is a distorted grab to restore eternal life to humans. And not only do they not get eternal life, what they get is a ticking clock, 120 years—we'll talk about that—but what also results is not human images of God, it's distorted humans who claim to be God and found the violent kings of our world. Ah, because who's the next mighty warrior that you're going to meet in the story?

Carissa: Nimrod.

Tim: A guy named Nimrod.

Carissa: Associated with Babel? 

Tim: He's the founder of Babylon and of Nineveh. So this is actually the origin story of Babylon. Right here. 

Jon: So again, when God says, "My Spirit, my breath, my ruakh, will not dwell on humanity," we're uploading what we've already talked about in Genesis 2 and 3, (00:26:00) that the reason why humanity has any life at all is because it's God's Spirit ... 

Tim: That's right.

Jon: ... that he blew into humanity. And so God will also take that away at some point. And what will remain is dust, is flesh.

Tim: That's right.

Jon: Tell me about the 120 years.

Tim: Okay. So there's two basic possibilities. One is it's saying there's a new cap on human lifespans, and it'll be 120 years. And the reason why some people think that is because in the previous chapter, it was a genealogy where people are living for centuries. Methuselah is almost a thousand years old. This kind of thing. So, you know, 120 to us sounds like a lot.

Carissa: It's a generous cap.

Tim: But, you know, compared to Methuselah, this is a real downgrade.

Jon: But after this, humans lived more than 120 years.

Tim: Yes. Abraham goes on to live more than 100. Many biblical characters go on to live more than 120 years. So that's an interesting feature of the story. So is there another possibility? (00:27:00) So the problems with 120 years as a shortened lifespan, oh, yeah, it's because lots of biblical characters will live past it. Abraham lives 175 years; Isaac 180; Jacob 147. And this is in the same scroll. So it seems kind of—

Jon: They would have been aware of that.

Tim: Yeah, totally. Perhaps it refers to the number of years—this is the setting of a clock before the flood. 120 years until the flood. This is actually the oldest interpretation we know of in the history of Jewish literature. So in the Dead Sea Scrolls, there's a retelling of the flood story that gives you a detail that's not given in the biblical story that tells you that in the 480th year of Noah's life, when Noah reached the end of those years ... and then it quotes Genesis 6:3.

The flood story begins by saying in the 600th year of Noah's life, it began to flood. (00:28:00) You know how children's Bibles often rewrite biblical stories in light of their interpretation? So the Dead Sea Scrolls often do this. They have what's called rewritten Bible and they retell biblical stories but with their interpretations loaded in. So in the earliest Aramaic translations, they took this 120 years to be the little window of time before the flood. And then later Jewish scholars like Rashi.

Jon: Does that add up with how the genealogies work out? Because that would mean that Noah is already alive.

Tim: That Noah's already alive by now.

Carissa: Yeah.

Tim: Yep, that's right. And he appeared at the end of chapter 5. But the chronology is very interesting. The chronology and the literary sequence of these narratives, especially Genesis 1 to 11 is really tricky.

Carissa: Because they don't—

Tim: It's not straightforward. 

Carissa: Yeah, they don't always follow a linear chronology.

Tim: Yeah, that's right. So yeah, this presumes that Noah's already alive, and that totally jives with how the stories are put together.

Carissa: With us talking about the link of the Spirit, this 120 years as a narrative countdown to the beginning of the flood, (00:29:00) that seems compelling also because Yahweh says, "My Spirit will not dwell with humanity forever." And we're learning already that the Spirit is associated with undoing creation. So it seems like when he says, "It'll be 120 years," he's talking about undoing creation, which is later how we'll see the flood is described.

Tim: Actually, let's—

Carissa: Go to the next one?

Tim: Yeah, let's go to the next ones, which exactly follow the train of thought that you're putting out there. 

Section break (00:29:30) 

Tim: So after you walk away from the strange story about the sons of Elohim, daughters of humanity, and God's ruakh and so on, the next time you hear reference to God's ruakh is in Genesis 6:17. And it's an announcement that God makes to Noah about the coming of the flood. Hasn't come yet. It's about to come. 

And so he describes the flood as a flood of water, Genesis 6:17. A flood of water on the land. It's going to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life. So what's significant there is it's using the idea back from Genesis 2. But remember there it was that synonym for ruakh—

Carissa: The nishmat hayyim. 

Tim: Yeah. The nishmat hayyim or the neshama.

Jon: The exhalation of—

Tim: Exhalation. Yeah, yeah. But here it combines (00:31:00) the vocabulary of Genesis 1:2, the Ruakh Elohim, and then the image of Genesis 2:7. So everything that has the breath of life is going to perish. It's an undoing of Genesis 1. The waters that were separated are going to collapse back in on themselves. It's a tragic image.

But remember the reason for this ... Actually, I'm just going to back up. The reason for this is because the Earth became distorted or ruined in the eyes of Elohim and the land was filled ... Remember what God told humans: be fruitful and multiply and fill the land. And they fill the land all right with the blood of the innocent. 

Jon: Violence.

Tim: Yeah. And we already have two stories of that. Cain and then Cain's descend Lamech. “So God looked at the land and behold, it was ruined.” Everybody had ruined their way. “And so God said to Noah, "The end ...” Hmm, actually this word (00:32:00) "the end" (haqets) is spelled with three of the four letters of the word "outcry" of Cain's blood. So the outcry (the tse’aqah) of Abel's blood rose up to God. And then in the story, the haqets has come up before God.

Carissa: So it's a wordplay linking those two things. The end of all flesh is coming because of the outcry.

Tim: Because of the outcry. So it's not always because the Cain and Abel narrative is a couple of chapters away now. It's not always evident to readers that's what's happening. But it's the rebellion in the garden. Cain murdering, magnified by his descendant, magnified yet again by the sons of God and daughters of men, resulting in violent warriors who do more stuff that Lamech did. And all of a sudden, you got a blood-soaked land that needs to be purified and washed. So the flood is God's way of undoing the order that he did, it’s a de-creation, de-creation story.

Carissa: So just like in Genesis 1, (00:33:00) God's Spirit created the land and separated the waters and made the dry land appear, all of that creation that took place there, and then the Spirit going into humans and creating that life, now those things are being undone. So there—what does the verse say? That everything that has the spirit of life, the breath of life, under the heavens will perish.

Jon: Breath gets taken away, the land gets submerged by the water.

Carissa: The whole creation, that it's like the undoing of the Spirit’s work in creation and in humans.

Jon: Yeah.

Tim: But, but, my friends, because of God's commitment to his purpose to rule the world through humans, his eyes will survey the land and look to see if there's anybody who isn't going the way of corruption. And there is one guy and his family whom he saw and this guy's name is Rest (Noach). He's righteous, he's blameless, and he takes walks with God. (00:34:00) Remember that thing God showed up to do with Adam and Eve in the garden at the wind of the day?

Jon: Yeah, to walk with them.

Tim: To walk with them. And here's this guy. 

Jon: We've already met Enoch, right, in the genealogy?

Tim: Yeah. Enoch walked with God. And he was not—

Jon: And he was not. 

Tim: So in contrast to the generation of the flood Noah stands out, which is why God tells Noah, "Hey, I'm going to spare you and your family. So make for yourself a little wooden Eden, a little garden boat. And why am I calling it a garden boat? Because you're going to hang out with the animals there."

Carissa: And it's made of trees. 

Tim: It's made of trees. 

Carissa: Wood—same word. 

Tim: Yeah. "You're going to live there with all these different kinds of animals.” And the list of animals comes from Genesis 1. “And also, I'm just going to give you more food than you can imagine. Just take it all on board." So a little hiding place above the waters where you have enough food provided by God and you live at peace with the animals. 

Jon: That probably doesn't smell as good as the original Eden. 

Tim: I bet the flowers, the garden covered over a lot of them. But on the boat, not so much. So in contrast to the generation of the flood, they'll get washed away. You have a remnant who's spared on a little floating Eden on the waters.

Section break (00:35:22)

Tim: So after God announces the flood is coming to take away the breath of life from everything out there, you come across the narrative of that beginning to happen. And this is in Genesis 7:15. It's the next appearance of the phrase "breath of life." And here it's in the list of Noah going into the ark and then all of the animals two by two, in which is the breath of life.

Jon: And why call this out here, that the animals have the breath of life?

Carissa: It seems like though God is taking away his breath, his Spirit, from all the Earth, there's this remnant, Noah's family, and the animals where that Spirit isn't totally wiped out.

Jon: Yeah, yeah, yeah. 

Tim: That's right. Yeah, no, that's exactly. And the fact that it's mentioned that all by twos, male and female, it's recalling the one human that became two in Eden. And so now you have all these twos. Noah and his wife, his sons, and his sons' wives. When it starts listing the animals (00:37:00) I think it gets translated "each with its mate," but it's literally the word "each and its wife."

Jon: And it's isha?

Tim: Yes. It's a bunch of couples going onto the ark.

Carissa: So interesting. 

Tim: Just like—

Jon: And they all have God's Spirit. 

Tim: Into Eden. And they have the breath of life just like Adam and Eve in the garden who are sustained by the breath of life so that they can be fruitful and multiply. But here it's a remnant.

Jon: It's a little seed of the ordering that the Spirit did originally going into the micro Eden, the floating Eden, in order to then be able to ... 

Tim: Become many.

Jon: ... continue the work of the Spirit after that. 

Tim: Yeah, yeah. So outside the boat, the breath of life is going to be taken away. But inside the little ark Eden ... 

Carissa: Refuge place.

Tim: ... the breath of life ... 

Jon: Remains.

Tim: ... remains in the remnant. It's the remnant that's sustained by the Spirit of God. This is so important for the book of Isaiah.

Carissa: That's cool.

Tim: Whole book of Isaiah, so rad. Anyway, so good. (00:38:00) Isaiah 59:21. Just tuck that one away. Okay. So that's the next appearance. We're cruising now. We're making a lot of progress. So God announced to Noah that a flood was coming to take away life. You had a narrative of Noah and the animals going into the boat, God was going to preserve their breath of life. Then when the flood actually comes after they get onto the boat—this is in Genesis 7:22—it literally repeats in narrative form what God said to Noah in his speech.

Carissa: It's like the fulfillment of it. 

Tim: That's right. Actually, a part of the repetition seems unnecessary, but it's a part of the literary design. It's creating a gigantic symmetry in panels as you go through the story. So you read that all flesh—Genesis 7:21—all—

Jon: We've been using this word a lot, "all flesh."

Tim: Oh, yeah.

Jon: It's not a typical way of talking. 

Tim: Oh, got it.

Jon: All what?

Tim: It's the main (00:39:00) biblical word to talk about—

Carissa: Meat.

Tim: Yeah, it's the word "meat." 

Jon: And how is that different than your nephesh?

Tim: Your nephesh refers to you as a whole integrated living being, body and energizing life, body and ruakh.

Jon: Okay. But if you took the spirit away from your meat case, you're just flesh.

Tim: Exactly. Remember back up in Genesis 6:3, "spirit" was contrasted with "flesh." My spirit won't dwell with humanity forever because he is flesh. So it’s ... 

Jon: Matter.

Tim: ... matter. It's a synonym to the "dirt" in Genesis 2. Dirt plus divine breath equals living creature, living nephesh.

Carissa: So it's a way of describing a creature but it is emphasizing—

Jon: Temporal nature?

Carissa: Yeah, the created, temporal nature.

Tim: That's right. And in the physical, material nature.

Carissa: Your mortal nature?

Tim: Yeah. 

Jon: And the creature with just flesh (00:40:00) is going to be dead.

Tim: Correct.

Jon: It needs spirit, which is God's breath.

Tim: Which is God's breath.

Carissa: And flesh could refer to humans, or here in this verse, 7:21, it's birds, cattle, beasts, everything swarming, and all mankind.

Tim: Yeah, that's right. So in the Hebrew Bible, it mainly refers to the material, mortal, frail, slowly aging, and dying aspect of the human being. In the New Testament, it'll gain an additional layer of meaning in Jewish Greek for the appetites that come from our material nature. Hunger, pleasure, sex, all these kinds of things, those can be called just desires of the flesh or the flesh.

Jon: It's kind of similar how, too, spirit can be used even though it just means your animated life force comes to be talked about often in the New Testament as also your will or mind. 

Tim: Yeah, your mind. 

Jon: It's a type of animation.

Tim: Yeah. 

Jon: There seems to be a similarity there too of like (00:41:00) flesh, which just literally means like your atoms, the dirt that you are, can then be used as a way to talk about the desires that you have that drive you towards the dirt.

Tim: Yeah, that's right. And that come from the meat nature. 

Jon: Or comes from the fact that you are dirt.

Tim: Totally. 

Jon: The dirt needs to process dirt.

Tim: It's a big term in Apostle Paul's writings. The flesh.

Jon: The flesh.

Tim: The flesh. Yeah. He'll say, "In my spirit I want to obey the Torah of God, but in my flesh I want to break the commands."

Carissa: So it can be a neutral term, but it can also be contrasted with spirit. 

Tim: That's right. Yeah, that's right. So back to Genesis 7:21, all flesh that moved about on the land perished in the flood. And then it gives the same list from Genesis chapter 1 of creatures. “Everything that was on the dry land, in whose nostrils was the ...” Ooh, here it uses all the terms together. “The breath of the spirit of life.” (00:42:00)

Jon: Exhalation of the breath of life.

Tim: Exhalation of the ruakh.

Carissa: And nostrils. 

Jon: And nostrils, yeah. 

Carissa: So recalling when God breathed into the nostrils the breath of life, yeah, but then spirit's mixed in here, too.

Tim: This is exactly the phrase used in Genesis 2:7 where God breathed into the dust, into the nostrils the breath of life. 

Jon: And that was just about humans. Here it's talking about all creatures. 

Tim: Yeah, that's right. 

Carissa: So in a way, it's recalling Genesis 1, the creation of the whole ordered world and the animals and the Spirit that was breathed in or that was hovering and creating, and then breathing in the breath of life to the humans in Genesis 2. It's like recalling—

Tim: It's like a snowball when you are tracing a theme; the vocabulary will be introduced like one at a time in a story. But then in later stories that will just start picking up all the preceding terms and start using them and connecting them interchangeably. This is a great example. It's using (00:43:00) the language of flesh versus spirit, that's from Genesis 6:3, nostrils and the breath, that's Genesis 2:7 and then the ruakh, which is from Genesis 1. I'm just noticing that right now. That's so cool. 

Carissa: So by recalling all of that, it's like these couple verses are saying all of that is undone. 

Tim: Yes, that's right. Yeah. The whole sequence of creation up to this point is undone. 

Jon: It's a low moment. 

Tim: It's a low moment. Yeah, it is. It's terrible. It's God handing creation over to its own violent death-dealing tendencies. And he allows the created order to collapse in on itself. But there is a remnant that survives. Because of the righteousness of that remnant, God spares them, which opens up a window for the future. And that is what happens with the last appearance of ruakh in the section. 

Section break (00:43:54)

Tim: So the last appearance of ruakh in Genesis 1 through 11 and it kind of both culminates and restarts this whole narrative cycle is in Genesis 8:1. So the picture, the floodwaters have risen and the boat is just floating there, and everything's undone, de-created. And we read this little line, "But God remembered Noah and all the animals and all the cattle that were with him in the ark and God caused a ruakh to blow over the land and those waters begin to subside.”

Jon: Which is exactly what happened in Genesis 1.

Tim: Genesis 1:2. And then look at this. "All the fountains of the deep ..." These are the waters under the land.

Carissa: The tehom.

Tim: The tehom. Yeah, this is the tehom, the deep abyss of Genesis 1:2. This is the New American Standard. "The floodgates of the sky" is literally "the windows of the skies."

Jon: This is where the rain comes from in the ancient imagination. 

Tim: So these are the waters above and the waters below. So they were separated on day two. The flood began by—

Jon: Sorry, yeah, God's Spirit shows up over the chaos when the chaos is just watery chaos. And then day one ... or sorry—

Carissa: Day two.

Tim: Day one (00:46:00) is light and dark. 

Jon: Oh, light and dark. Day two is separating the waters above from the waters below, which was a form of creation and ordering. And then that collapses in the flood. The waters from below and the waters from above, it rains, bubbles up, earth is destroyed. And then here we're seeing God say let's close that back off. 

Carissa: Recreating.

Tim: Yeah. This is a replay of day two of the creation story in Genesis 1. Then the waters receded from the land. 

Jon: Day three. 

Tim: And that's the replay of day three. 

Carissa: Yeah. Where the waters recede and the dry land appears.

Tim: Then check this out. “In the seventh month, on the 10 and seventh day of the month, the ark found rest.” Do you get it? 

Jon: The ark noached.

Tim: Yeah. So what God did on the seventh day now the ark is doing on the seventh month on the plus seventh day. (00:47:00) 

Jon: Is the 10 the words of God? 

Carissa: Yeah, 10 speeches of God and 10—

Jon: The 10 days?

Tim: Yeah, 10 plus seven. 

Carissa: And God said, "Let there be light."

Tim: Yeah, totally. And it gets even better because you get a little story here about the emergence of plants. That he sends out the birds and the birds can't find any plants until one finally ... and so on. 

Jon: Not only does it feel like a random story, but then it feels like it's repeated so much about these birds and those plants.

Carissa: Like why is he still sending out the birds?

Tim: He sends out a raven and then he sends out a dove three times. So the three plus one sending out of the birds. Four times total. And it's a testing to see if the waters have lightened from upon the land. And then when he finds it, he gets off the boat.

Carissa: Yeah. By itself, that passage about the dove and the raven kind of make a little bit of sense, but seem repetitive. But reading it in light of Genesis 1, that makes a lot more sense that we're waiting for the shrubs to appear. (00:48:00) The birds are mentioned—

Jon: Which is day five, right?

Tim: The shrubs appear on day three ... 

Jon: Oh, right. 

Tim: ... and then the birds appear on day five. And then the land animals appear on day six. But the bonus on day six is God gives the shrubs and the plants to humans and the animals. Oh, and so it's a combining of all ... This story is so awesome. Mixing together all these imagery from the days of creation to depict Noah getting off the boat. 

Another thing—this is a rabbit trail—but in the other ancient Near Eastern parallels to the flood story, the Epic of Atra-Hasis and the one found in the Gilgamesh Epic, they have very detailed parallels to the scene of after the hero gets off the boat, or excuse me, after the flood is over, the hero sends out birds to find out when the waters have receded. And it's both a raven and then a dove. It's paralleled. (00:49:00) 

So what's great is the biblical authors are taking up the traditional motif from other ancient parallels, but then totally transforming its purpose in the story by adding all these hyperlinks to the days of creation so that it becomes a recreation story. This is a really cool example of like the repurposing of a traditional story but to a new agenda. 

Carissa: So in this verse, ruakh is translated as “wind” usually.

Tim: Oh, yeah. Good. 

Carissa: That is like this invisible, powerful energy and it would dry up the waters. Like you feel that image. But should we also be thinking of God's Spirit here reading in parallel to Genesis 1?

Tim: Yeah, exactly. On the narrative level, a wind pushing back water that makes sense. But the parallel to Genesis 1:2 makes you know that this is not just ... It's like a deeper meaning or a deeper layer to that wind because that wind is that energizing presence (00:50:00) of God that will bring about new creation. 

Jon: Tell me about this translation "God caused a wind." Because if in the Hebrew imagination, the wind is God's breath, what does it mean for God to cause the wind? Why wouldn't you just say “God breathed the wind” or “God winded a wind?” 

Tim: Yeah, God winded a wind. There's just multiple layers of meaning to this image. So in Genesis 1:2, it was God's own ruakh that was hovering. Here, God sends a ruakh over the waters. The ruakh comes from God. God sent it. So I think it's like a double meaning or double layers of meaning. 

The same thing is going to happen in the Exodus story with the parting of the waters. It's the same vocabulary. God causes a wind to go over the waters. In that case, split them in half.

Carissa: This is almost a bridging passage between the original creation with God's Spirit hovering and the exodus where God's wind (00:51:00) parts the waters or pushes them back. It's kind of, I guess, the difference between saying, "Where do you put the separation between the flame and the light that emerges from it?" This is a famous puzzle that early Christians used to—

Jon: Interesting. 

Tim: Or image they used to talk about the Father and the Son. And there isn't, you know, there's no separation. They're both one, but yet they're distinct because the light that comes from the flame is distinct from the flame, but they're also one. And so in the similar way here, God's ruakh that goes out and passes over comes from Elohim. So it's Elohim's ruakh, but yet it's a—

Jon: You get the Trinity beginning to form in a way. 

Tim: Yeah, totally. Yeah, that's right. 

Jon: Not that the Hebrew authors talked about the Trinity but—

Tim: They talked about God in a way that God is both simple one and also complex. 

Jon: More than one. 

Tim: Yeah. 

Carissa: So here we saw that God's Spirit both de-created (00:52:00) and recreated in the same event or in the same narrative. That the flood, this undoing of creation, actually returned the Earth to the original Genesis 1:2 state with God's Spirit over the waters ready to bring new creation.

Tim: Yeah, that's right. So the new creation starts with God's wind. And then it's going to culminate in Noah getting off the boat and offering a sacrifice and that utter surrender of Noah compels God to say, "You know what I'm never going to do again, even though I know humans are no different, they're going to be as violent as they ever were, but I'm never going to undo creation like I've done." And so Noah—the obedient surrender of the spared remnant—compels God to promise to carry out his new creation purposes into the future of the story. But the hinge on the (00:53:00) narrative all was with the appearance of God's ruakh. These narratives are so rich. 

Carissa: Yeah. 

Tim: There's so much to talk about and think about here. 

Carissa: Okay, you know, what's so interesting is I just used Bible software to search the root of ruakh in these chapters, Genesis 1 through 11. So just the root, resh, vav, chet. So that could bring up a noun or a verb. So all the hits are what we talked about, the ruakh, the Spirit. But the only other hit is this one, 8:21. “The Lord smelled.” It's wayyarakh. (00:53:29). It's like he breathed in or smelled the soothing aroma.

Tim: That's right. 

Jon: It's the same root as—

Carissa: And that makes sense because to smell is like to breathe in. 

Tim: And the word "aroma" is the word "reyach."

Carissa: Yeah, I saw “smelled” come up but for some reason—

Jon: Oh, he smelled.

Carissa: That's a related word too. 

Tim: It's a related word. So God's ruakh is invisible life presence. And then there's related noun "reyach," which is a “smell,” which is, again, very clearly something's going into your nose when you smell it, but you don't see anything. (00:54:00) 

Jon: What is it? Yeah.

Tim: It's the reyach. Just like ruakh.

Jon: The aroma. 

Tim: Wow, good call. 

Carissa: Well, yeah, I'm trying to connect that. Even more—

Tim: I's wonderful.

Carissa: God’s Spirit creates, de-creates, and then he recreates by his Spirit or his breath. And then in response to Noah's sacrifice, he breathes in the smell. And that is related to this covenant promise. 

Tim: Okay, so yeah. He breathed out exhalation into the nostrils of the human the breath of life. Here he breathes in Noah's sacrifice and he says, "I'm never going to destroy all life like I just did." So it's actually God inhaling the obedient surrender of the chosen one that compels God to make a promise that he will preserve life from this point on.

Carissa: Yeah, I like that because—

Tim: Wow, good call. That's great—

Carissa: No, that surprised me too. That's really cool. But the idea that God smells a soothing aroma, and it's like, “Oh, that's great, I'm going to make a promise," that's kind of weird to me. (00:55:00) 

Jon: "Oh, that's smells good. Okay, humans." 

Tim: Yeah, totally. 

Carissa: It feels fickle, but the idea that it's connected to his Spirit and his life, there's maybe a more symbiotic connection. 

Tim: It's loaded with wordplays. Because the word "soothing" is the wordplay on Noah's name. 

Carissa: Oh, yeah.

Tim: Soothing means to give rest. So Noah's name is Noach, the word “soothing” is "nuwach." So God's spirits a Noah-like spirit smell. 

Carissa: I mean, that actually makes more sense to my mind than God smelt this soothing aroma.

Jon: God was happy with all the obedience.

Tim: The point is Noah surrendered everything and God smells that. Noah like surrender and says, "I'm going to—"

Jon: All God needs is one person to surrender.

Tim: Totally. 

Jon: That's what the story is showing us.

Tim: What the humans didn't do in Eden is surrender their desires to God. 

Jon: And he just needs one.

Tim: He just needs one. God could just have one righteous to (00:56:00) to surrender ... 

Jon: And here he is. Noah. 

Tim: ... he would give life to the many.

Carissa: If the Bible ended right here!

Jon: If the Bible ended right here. But then what does Noah do? 

Tim: He gets off the boat and blows it. And then the story continues. There you go. 

Jon: So that's the Holy Spirit and movement one of the first scroll of the first section of the Bible, the Torah, which is the first collection of books that we call the Hebrew Bible. I just wanted to say one more thing about that, because we started with 120 years as a countdown clock. And it hit me too as we're talking about God kind of de-creating, kind of being done with the violence, like, "Let's just get rid of the violence, wash it clean," the countdown clock seems connected to also when God says, "I need to get the humans out of the garden or otherwise they'll live forever."

Tim: Oh, yeah, sure.

Jon: Right?

Tim: Yeah. 

Jon: “So that's why I'm going to exile them.” So in that story, it's interesting that God's saying, "If they stay here, (00:57:00) they're going to live forever in the state of corruption and it's just going to be bad. So I'm actually going to get him out of here." And it's that same kind of idea of, you know, “If I'm going to let humans propagate on the Earth with all this violence, this is going to be nuts. So 120 years, and then I'm going to wash it clean."

Tim: Yeah, we're going to be done. The problematic human, in that case, is these Gibborim, these violent warrior kings. And so they represent everything that's wrong with humanity. And that's why as you read throughout the rest of the biblical story, you're going to meet more giants, but they're always called, like, the remnant of the giants or the last of the giants. And so you're going to keep having to kill off the giants, you know, and iterations throughout the rest of the biblical story. But the whole thing is because those later stories are being patterned as little local floods of God's justice that will have to be brought about to do away finally with that violence, that the corrupted land. (00:58:00) Anyhow.

Jon: So that was movement one with the Holy Spirit. We're going to then come to movement two, which is the stories of Abraham, and we're going to trace a new theme in those stories. And we'll introduce that theme when we get to movement two. 

Thanks for listening to this episode of BibleProject podcast. Next week, we're going to look at the second movement of the Genesis scroll. It's the narratives of Abraham. And we're going to trace through this movement the theme of trees. 

Tim: The tree is right on pages one and two in the opening literary units of Genesis. And then that image gets picked up and employed and developed in really neat ways throughout the story of Abraham, because Abraham and Sarah are depicted as a new Adam and Eve, who God has called him to return to the garden so he can bless all the nations through them. 

Jon: Today's show is produced by Cooper Peltz, Dan Gummel and Zach McKinley are the editors, and Lindsey Ponder with the show notes. BibleProject is a crowdfunded (00:59:00) nonprofit. We exist to experience the Bible as a unified story that leads to Jesus. One way that we're doing that this year is reading through the Bible movement by movement, tracing themes. This is to develop two really important skills for how to read the Bible.

As you follow along with this podcast, you could actually read the Bible yourself, tracing these things in our BibleProject app. It's available and free on iOS and Android. Everything that we make is free because of the generous support of many people just like you. So thank you so much for being a part of this with us.

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9 Episodes

Episode 9
Why Can’t Jacob and Esau Both Be Blessed?
How is Jesus the firstborn of creation and the "second Adam"? Why are the biblical authors so obsessed with the east? And why can’t Jacob and Esau both be blessed? In this episode, Tim and Jon tackle your questions about the Genesis scroll.
1hr 2m • Mar 7, 2022
Episode 8
Joseph the Suffering Servant
He lays down his life to save a remnant of God’s people, he brings God’s blessing to all nations, he forgives those who tried to kill him, and his name is … Joseph? In this episode, Tim and Jon conclude our study of the Genesis scroll with a final look at the theme of exile. See how Joseph’s story becomes an important part of the Bible’s depiction of the ultimate suffering servant, Jesus the Messiah.
45m • Feb 28, 2022
Episode 7
Joseph the Exile
Joseph is one of the Bible’s most famous characters, and in the Genesis scroll, his story is a climactic moment in the theme of exile that spans the whole book. In this episode, Tim and Jon dive into the fourth and final movement of Genesis, a narrative rich with patterns, repeated words, and the presence of God even in the pit.
42m • Feb 21, 2022
Episode 6
Wrestling God for a Blessing
Throughout the story of the Bible, God singles out different people, like Jacob, to be the conduit of his blessing to all humanity. But from birth, Jacob consistently acts more like the snake from the garden of Eden than a righteous chosen one of God. He lies his way into blessings that God had intended for him all along. So what will God do? In this episode, Tim and Jon discuss the theme of blessing and curse in the life of Jacob.
1hr 6m • Feb 14, 2022
Episode 5
Great Blessing and Great Responsibility
The word “blessing” brings to mind a variety of images for all of us. But what exactly does it mean when God blesses someone? And where did the curse come from? In this episode, Tim and Jon start exploring the third movement of Genesis, tracing the theme of blessing and curse.
1hr 3m • Feb 7, 2022
Episode 4
Trees of Testing and Blessing
The family of Abraham is chosen by God. But despite God’s promises to them, they continually act out of greed, division, fear, deception, and lack of trust in Yahweh. How does God respond to this? What will he do to make sure his blessing comes to all nations? Join Tim, Jon, and Carissa as they continue tracing the theme of the tree of life in the second movement of Genesis.
1hr 6m • Jan 24, 2022
Episode 3
Under the Trees with Yahweh
Blessing, testing, failure, success, God’s plan for the nations—you’ll find all these themes woven through the story of the Bible, often accompanied by … trees? While it might not seem obvious, trees play an important role in the Bible and, notably, in the life of Abraham. In this episode, join Tim, Jon, and Carissa as they dive into the second movement of Genesis and trace the theme of trees through the story of Abraham.
51m • Jan 17, 2022
Episode 2
God’s Spirit in the Flood Narrative
When we think of God’s Spirit, judgment is probably not what comes to mind. But the biblical authors saw God’s Spirit as the one who gave life and took it away—the one who could create, de-create, and recreate. In this episode, Tim, Jon, and Carissa follow the theme of God’s Spirit through the second half of the first movement of Genesis.
1hr • Jan 10, 2022
Episode 1
God’s Spirit in Creation
Why does the author of Genesis make a point to name God’s Spirit in Genesis 1 and 2? In this week’s episode, Tim, Jon, and Carissa embark on a new journey for the BibleProject podcast—reading the Torah in thematic movements, starting with a close look at the Holy Spirit’s role in the book of Genesis.
57m • Jan 3, 2022
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