So begins the saga of Abram, the next big-hitter name in this book of all books. God tells Abram to “get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee” (12:1). This three-fold separation of Abram rhetorically singles him out for greatness as the chosen one, a parallel to Noah. Abram ‘hero’s journey’ is as old as storytelling itself, so we also know, at best, he will struggle greatly; at worst, it won’t end well.
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.
So Seth, Eve’s son who essentially replaced Abel, seems to be the true inheritor of Adam’s legacy. Seth is first described as “in his [Adam’s] own likeness, in his image.” This, of course, parallels Adam’s relationship to God, making Seth the most God-like of Adam’s sons. This cyclical relationship—and the whole chapter—reinforces the theme of lineage and paternalism, and that passing on one’s likeness is of critical importance. Otherwise, you break the seemingly-infinite chain that eventually leads back to God. So yeah, it’s not just a cliché: according to the Bible, we are all literally children of God (if you go back far enough).
This first chapter oversees the creation of many binaries—heaven and earth, light and darkness, morning and evening, moon and sun, etc. There is an overarching sense of progressive division—one becomes two. Even so, with the creation of division comes the creation of binaries, and we all know the problem with binaries. (They are sometimes arbitrary, and one side always ends up being the “better” one.)