Genesis 6:1-13

Noah vs. the Undead

As all good Bible reading zombie enthusiasts know, Abel is the first recorded zombie in scripture.  What the world was like (according to Genesis) in the days of Noah is a question that has fascinated commentators for literally 2,000 years.  What has particularly caught the imaginations of readers are these words:

That the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were fair; so they took them wives of all whom they chose. . . There were giants [Nephilim] on the earth in those days; and also after that, for the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bore children to them, and they became giants who in the olden days were mighty men of renown. (Gen 6:2, 4).

Interpretations of the days of the Nephilim (from the Hebrew root “to fall”) tend to fall into two categories: they are either the progeny of Seth or of angels.  The first school can be dated to the Dead Sea Scrolls in which the phrase “children of Seth” is attached with the understanding being that Seth’s children are condemned for their rebellion.  Variations on this theme are found in the comments of Shimon bar Yachai, Julius Africanus, Augustine of Hippo, and the Epistles of Clement of Rome.  Support for the other theory also goes back to the Dead Sea Scrolls, but also has the ancient testimony of the book of Jubilees, the Ge’ez manuscripts of I Enoch, and other Aramaic “folk” literature.  The source that seems the most reliable is that of the Targum of Pseudo-Jonathan.  A newer third view is that none of this is historical, but is mythological language with questionable application.

Zombie enthusiasts, though, have a fourth view of those days.  This fourth view is focused on the following verses:

And the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was evil continually.  And the LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him in his heart.  So the LORD said, I will destroy men whom I have created from the face of the earth; both men and animals, and the creeping things, and the fowls of the air; I am sorry that I have made them.  But Noah found mercy in the eyes of the LORD.  The earth was corrupt in the presence of God, and the earth was filled with wickedness. And God saw that the earth was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted its way upon the earth.  So God said to Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is full of wickedness through men; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. (Gen 6:5-8, 11-13).

God looks down and sees the entire wickedness of man, this all agree on.  What God sees, specifically is quite clearly a bronze age zombie uprising.  God states that all creatures, “man and animal” are to be “blotted out.”  The uniqueness of the situation, the reason for world-wide obliteration is the inability of human society to handle a zombie uprising.  Zombie enthusiasts are all aware that the best tools for dispatching a zombie are chainsaws and guns.  Zombie enthusiasts also know the importance of fortified shelter and safe transportation.  In the bronze age, these things would have been quite difficult without divine intervention.  Looking at the inclusion of animals in the pronouncement of God, it is clear that this zombie plague was full-blown and not isolated to the human species (cf. World War Z).

Cue verse 8: “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.”  Why did Noah find favor?  Noah and his sons are the first Biblical example of a zombie hunting team.  Beyond combatting the zombie horde, they also combatted the ensuing moral collapse (cf. v. 5) that so often follows a zombie uprising (hyper-indulgence as seen in Dawn of the Dead, psychopathic torture/experimentation in 28 Days Later and Day of the Dead, exploitation of the poor in Land of the Dead), hence the description of Noah as “blameless in his generation” (v. 9).  This zombie interpretation is further supported by verse 11’s description of the earth being simultaneously “corrupt” (survivor response & moral collapse) and “violent” (man vs. zombie and man vs. man).  The full extent of the zombie uprising reverberates in verse 13 wherein “all flesh” is blamed for filling the earth with violence.

The zombie interpretation of the days before the flood also explains another key question raised by the Zohar.  It is the typical pattern in the Old Testament that when God tells his faithful that a population is condemned for their wickedness that said faithful person either 1) intercedes for the population (cf. Abraham arguing on behalf of Sodom and Gomorrah) or 2) warns the populace and calls them to repentance (cf. Jonah in Nineveh).  Noah does neither of these things.  The reason Noah neither warns the people nor tries to talk God out of destroying them is that he was surrounding by the undead, which can be neither warned nor turned to repentance.  The only recourse for God and his righteous zombie-slayer was annihilation (the flood) and escape (the ark).


2 Responses to “Genesis 6:1-13”

  1. I had never quite understood why only Noah and fam were rescued from the flood, and we never hear of any other innocents. But it makes more sense if they were the last remnant of a zombie apocalypse. And as you point out, the lack of guns and chainsaws in those days would require some divine intervention. Once again, the zombie commentary sheds light on Scripture that no other commentary can provide.

  2. Zombie Bible Commentary Says:

    Indeed, can you imagine trying to fight off a zombie horde with a bronze short-sword, or worse, some wooden farming equipment?!?!

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