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Posts Tagged ‘table of nations’

This is one of those chapters that lists a bunch of names. In Matthew, it used to be known as the “begats” a King James word for breed, multiply, or father (as a verb). It was a list of descendants, who were in the line of Noah. Whereas Matthew’s genealogy [1:1-16] recites the names from Abraham to Jesus (through Mary), Luke’s genealogy [3:23-38] goes through Joseph.

Genesis 10:32
These are the clans of Noah’s sons, according to their lines of descent, within their nations. From these the nations spread out over the earth after the flood.

It is Matthew’s genealogy that lists not only the men, but five unique and controversial women: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary. They are suspect either by birth or by circumstances, Rahab who seduced her father-in-law; Rahab, a traitor, who helped the Israelites; Ruth, a Moabitess (a heathen religion that practiced human sacrifice); Bathsheba, an adulteress; and finally Mary, though holy to us, from the perspective of those around her, was pregnant out of wedlock. I discovered the richness of these stories many years ago and had a one-woman performance piece called Pente that I toured in Georgia and Mid-Atlantic for many years.

It is often difficult to discover something worthwhile in the seemingly didactic lists.

But in these I found some information through a commentary that I did not know before. Specifically, I didn’t know that the word “sons” as in the “sons of Shem, Ham & Japheth” could also be translated as “nations.” Therefore, the individual names listed could represent people groups. It’s a much bigger story then. This was the distribution of a civilization, a second time around, a re-do. And yet, this version was equally fraught with error through human foibles (the story of Noah being sexually exposed and mocked by his son, Ham). Eventually, it is the descendants of Ham who begat the notorious cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.

One of Newton’s laws of physics was that “every action has an equal and opposite reaction.” Like sowing and reaping, our actions produce reactions. The Bible takes it one step further to state that an action may have more than an equal reaction, but a 30, 60, or even a 100 times the initial action: not equal but multiplied.

My actions create a ripple effect in my children and undoubtedly in my children’s children.

I am living in many ways in response to my parents’ choices, attitudes, and influence. Some good and valuable: some not. I am still eating their fruit on one level or another. I am growing and producing fruit as well. A cycle. A genealogy. A table of nations, just as surely as Noah.

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