It was common for a king to establish a code of law for his peoples. After Noah makes a sacrifice to God, we see God’s covenant and the second laws to man.
The first law was at creation:
And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: bit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shall not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surly die.Genesis 2:16-17
But now, after Noah has shown his submission to God, a new, clearer set of laws and conditions are laid down:
- Man’s dominion over animals – Gen 9:2
- Animals are there for meat – Gen 9:3
- No cannibalism – Gen 9:4
- All living things belong to God – Gen 9:5
- No murder or face the death penalty – Gen 9:6
- Be fruitful and multiply – Gen 9:7
Law 1: Man’s dominion over animals sets man distinctly apart from the animal kingdom. The was already established when Adam named the animals.
Law 2: Noteworthy because there is no distinction between clean and unclean animals.
Law 3: Laws are generally no established unless there’s a problem. There is plenty of evidence of cannibalism in Neanderthal and early Neolithic man. So it’s not implausible that this needed to be called out as a no-no if man was going to advance.
Law 4: It’s worth noting that much of the bible was codified by 12th and 13th-century monks when feudalism was already in place. While Mesopotamian kings surly saw their subjects and the beasts within their domain as property, a hierarchy is established here. This will be elaborated further with the sons of Noah.
Law 5: Many people use “Thou shalt not kill” to criticize the death penalty. Here, we clearly see that murder is punishable by death.
And what does God promise in return for obeying his laws?
He will not destroy the earth, man, his descendants of the animals of the earth with another flood. As a token of his covenant, when it rains, God will put a bow in the sky as a reminder to stop the rains before the earth is wiped out. God emphasizes that the rainbow is there to remind him. Just in case man pisses him off at some point in the future.
Noah plants a vineyard, gets drunk on his wine and passes out naked in his tent.
Ham, father of the Canaanites, sees Noah naked and runs to tell his brother. Shem and Japheth do an elaborate maneuver where they walk backwards carrying a blanket toss it over the old man.
The result of this incident? Noah curses and entire tribe of the new world:
And he said, Curse be Canaan; servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.Genesis 9:25
Notable as the passages used to justify slavery in the 1800s.
Shem is blessed and he gets the Canaanites as servants while the sons of Japheth are fruitful and multiply and live in the tents of Shem – sort of tenants – with the Canaanites as their servants.
Then Noah lives another 350 years and dies at the ripe age of 950. If we go back to the theory where “year” means phases of the moon, Noah dies at age 79.