October 13, 2014
This semester we have read about many historical figures, from heroes like Gilgamesh, to philosophers like Plato, and even adventurers like Gilgamesh. Although every single one of these people is fascinating, the most interesting historical or fictional figure that has been encountered this semester happens to be God. Those who have prior knowledge to God know that he is seen as a powerful and merciful God, and while this seems to be true, the God in the Old Testament seems to be a God of wrath, with stricter punishments. It is mentioned in Humanities in the Western Tradition, “In the Hebrew Scriptures, God’s justice and mercy always temper the theme of human sinfulness,” (Perry 42). God loves; however, in the books we’ve read, he seems to give out very harsh punishments for those who disobey him.
In the first few chapters of Genesis, it is obvious that God is very powerful, but the act of sin made him very angry, and many of the examples of his acts of retribution were shown in Genesis. With the creation of light, the earth, all the animals that walk among it, and creating humans in his image and likeness, it is clear that he has a lot of power. He told the first humans, Adam and Eve, they could eat any of the fruits, besides the fruit from the tree of knowledge, but a serpent tempted Eve and convinced her it would be beneficial for her to eat the fruit. Not only did she eat from the fruit, but she made Adam do it as well. With God’s power, he gave them plenty of food to eat, but they disobeyed the one rule he gave them. He punished each of them; Eve with the pain of childbirth, Adam with having to work very hard for food, and even the serpent, and in the end concluding with, “By the sweat of your face, you shall eat bread, until you return to the ground, for out if it you are taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19), and then he forced them out of the Garden of Eden. God did have a lot of power, and was angry and disappointed at Adam and Eve for disobeying him. He did punish them, but with his power he did not choose to kill them.
Another instance where the sins of mankind caused God to be vengeful is in the story of Cain and Abel. When both Cain and Abel brought gifts to God, he accepted only Abel’s and not Cain’s. Angered by this, Cain brought his brother into a field and killed him. When God found out about what he had done, he was quick to punish him. He said, “when you till the ground, it will no longer yield you its strength; you will be a fugitive and wanderer of this earth” (Genesis 4:12). Because Cain was a farmer, God’s punishment to him was that if he tried to work the ground, he would not get good crops anymore. God was angry with Cain for what he had done, and rebuked him, but God did not take away his life. When Cain said he would just have someone kill him, God said, “not so! If anyone kills Cain they will suffer a sevenfold vengeance” (Genesis 4:15). This was the first murder that had ever happened in the bible, and although God was angry with Cain, he was also merciful, and would not allow him to die.
There was a point in time, were God thought that all human beings became evil. The New Oxford Annotated Bible says, “The Lord saw that the wickedness of humankind was great in the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually,” (Genesis 6:5). God saw that the humans on earth were wicked and that they only thought about evil things. He then made the decision to wipe out all of mankind, besides Noah, who God found favor in. Because God found that he was one of the most “righteous” men during that time, he chose him to build an ark to save two of every living thing, as well as his family. While God’s act seemed to have been a very dramatic act of retribution, he still chose to save some of mankind, as well as many of the animals. He also chose to rebuild mankind,...
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