There is Truth, and There Are Lies
According to the first eleven chapters of Genesis, the early history of humanity was filled with trauma: exile (The Garden of Eden), murder (Cain and Abel), natural disaster (The Flood), and technological catastrophe (The Tower of Babel). Humankind learned early in its history that it could not take its existence in the world for granted: Creation can be revoked.
True, the first chapters of the Book of Genesis deal with topics about which there were numerous sagas in the ancient East. Nevertheless, the compilers of the first book of the TaNaKh did their best to frame a coherent account of human origins from available myths and legends. They sought to address questions such as what is primordial, elemental, principal, and essential in human beings. Theirs is an invitation to reflect on how human beings stand in relation to the whole, what is to act well, and what badly.
Genesis explains the origins of the human condition through the idea of human rebelliousness. In this book and all of Israel’s Foundational Literature, the history of humanity and Israel, in particular, is depicted as defying God. Yet, in difference from the non-Jewish sagas, the tragic hero in the TaNaKh is not destroyed by gods but by his peers directly or by the dynamics between them.
Starting with Noah in Genesis, Chapter 6, the TaNaKh becomes, in the words of Norbert M. Samuelson, a scholar of Jewish philosophy at Arizona State University, a blueprint or program for human behavior whose goal is to bring about a perfection which, in some sense, God cannot bring about without human help. Hence, whatever the view of God in this tradition, it must make sense of a God who desires something to be that the deity alone cannot bring about.
Robert Gordis- a leading Conservative rabbi who founded the first Conservative Jewish day school and served as President of the Rabbinical Assembly- summed up the TaNaKh’s meaning by saying that The TaNaKh “is an indispensable element in the religious and moral education of the human race.
This depressing picture of humanity thousands of years ago is eerie as it could easily be a description of today’s world.
Psalm 14 was supposedly written after Genesis Chapter 6, Verses 11to 13;
And then came the flood…
We are not talking here about cultic transgressions- there was no cult, no religion at the time.
As Martin Sicker, a writer and lecturer on the Middle East and Jewish history and religion understands it
The astonishing phenomenon is that the more violence spreads worldwide, the more exculpatory explanations for the perpetrators increase. And, even worse, those in power situations, presumably in a position to take immediate actions and effect changes to correct the course the world is taking don’t act. This is because they don’t feel the pressure of those who care.
One of the voices of conscience is, of course, the TaNaKh. As Martin Buber said years ago: