We get ‘back to God’, as it were, in Chapter 15. Most of this chapter is a conversation between God and Abram, though it’s definitely more one-sided: the first sentence of this chapter describes how the “word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision” (1). While the disembodied voice isn’t new, this is the first time I can remember that the word “vision” being used to describe encounters with God. Case in point: there’s none of this with Adam and Eve — God just starts talking to them.
Depending on your previous beliefs, the explanation for this could range from “merely a translation issue” to “proof that religion is just people on drugs making stuff up.” Either way, the nature of this visitation shows that God seems increasingly mystical and abstract, as if he’s distancing himself from this own creation. Perhaps he’s discovering he can be more effective as a ‘mysterious power’ than a human-like entity, like when he caused those plagues in Egypt.
The post-flood reset of the Earth, as I discussed before, is heavy on allusions to the first time God created humans. This time, God seems to give humans more responsibility for their own actions, though he does impart a few rules. I’m imagining God like the parent of a reluctant teenager: “Okay, this is Earth 2.0, and I’m not starting over again. I’ll still intervene, but you all have to step up and take more responsibility around here.” We’ll see how well that works out.
Author’s Note: I decided to combine these chapters because they are part of the same story, and otherwise Chapter 7’s post would have been very short.
Perhaps not coincidentally, Genesis 7 shows the first indications of the importance of the number seven. The “clean beasts” and “fowls” are brought into the ark “by sevens,” as instructed by God, and it was “after seven days” that the floodwaters came upon the earth (7:8-10).
The number seven, of course, is already significant because that’s how many days it took for God to create the earth plus one day of rest. This motif of a single number is a classic literary technique, and I’m sure it’s why seven has been and still is an important number in Western culture. (Harry Potter, anyone?)
Remember earlier when I said that, since God promised a harsher punishment for Adam and Eve than he actually delivered, “the child’s respect for the parent’s word of law could erode”? Well, apparently that happened.