In the ancient Near East, there were loads of creation stories. It seems like every nation had one to explain where its people came from, who their enemies were, and what their gods were like.
The Assyrians, Babylonians, Akkadians, Sumerians, Egyptians – they all had these stories. And so did the Hebrews.
The Hebrew creation story had a lot in common with the stories their neighbors told. But there were many very important differences between them too. I’ll just mention one that seems particularly relevant right about now: The Hebrew creation story wasn’t only about the Hebrews.
The Hebrew creation story isn’t in Genesis 1 & 2. It’s the entire book of Genesis!
In that story, God creates a place where God can live with humans – protecting and providing for them. God made it by forming chaos (represented by water) into order God called “good” – as it should be.
But, you know the story; humans rebelled against God by defining “good” for themselves. God’s ordered and good world was dragged back into watery chaos once again…but not entirely.
God spared a man named Noah, and his family. The Hebrew story says Noah had boys named Ham, Shem, and Japheth.
•”Ham” means burnt or dark – he was the father of the African peoples.
•”Shem” means dusk or olive – he was the father of the Semitic and Asian peoples.
•”Japheth” means anemic or light – he was the father of the European peoples.
Then, in Genesis 10, we read about the descendants of these sons. Among them – in what’s called The Table of Nations – are ethnicities and civilizations that would one day worship false gods and war against the Hebrews.
This is revolutionary! The Hebrew creation story isn’t about God making one race or nation. It’s about God making all races and all nations…even enemies.
And, if we read the whole story all the way to the end, it’s about God pursuing all people to create from all races and nations one family. To drag them all from chaos back into good. To live with, protect, and provide for them once again in a world that’s as it should be.
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