Genesis 8:21

Hebrew Bible

19 Every living creature, every creeping thing, every bird, and everything that moves on the earth went out of the ark in their groups. 20 Noah built an altar to the Lord. He then took some of every kind of clean animal and clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. 21 And the Lord smelled the soothing aroma and said to himself, “I will never again curse the ground because of humankind, even though the inclination of their minds is evil from childhood on. I will never again destroy everything that lives, as I have just done. 22 “While the earth continues to exist, planting time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night will not cease.”

Isaiah 11:3

Hebrew Bible

1 A shoot will grow out of Jesse’s root stock, a bud will sprout from his roots. 2 The Lord’s Spirit will rest on him—a Spirit that gives extraordinary wisdom, a Spirit that provides the ability to execute plans, a Spirit that produces absolute loyalty to the Lord. 3 His smelling is in the fear of the Lord7. He will not judge by mere appearances or make decisions on the basis of hearsay. 4 He will treat the poor fairly and make right decisions for the downtrodden of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth and order the wicked to be executed. 5 Justice will be like a belt around his waist, integrity will be like a belt around his hips.

 Notes and References

"... What is of interest to this thesis is the fact that the sense of smell is seen as so far superior to sight and hearing that it renders them unnecessary. Admittedly metaphor is being used, but it is the choice of metaphor that is striking to us in our culture ... Indeed, it could be argued that the "strangeness' of the metaphor accounts for much of the textual debate among scholars over this clause. The sense of smell was clearly understood by the Rabbis to be the referent in the text ... Although the historicity of this last statement is open to question, it is, nevertheless, a reflection of the Rabbinic understanding of Isaiah 11:3 ... Though 'smell' is not normally seen in our culture as a primary means of discernment, to the culture of the Bible and much of the world there was a recognition of its precision. As noted in chapter one, olfaction may be regarded in certain contexts as more discerning than either sight or sound and that, of all the senses, it is the most closely connected with memory. Thus, to a culture existing before or outside of the 'olfactory revolution' the sense of smell would carry a much greater metaphoric significance than in our own. In the Pentateuch, as it now stands, the first reference to the divine sense of smell is found in the conclusion of the Flood Narrative. This is actually the only reference in Genesis to the divine sense of smell. It introduces, however, some terminology which makes a frequent appearance in the Hebrew Bible ..."

Humphrey, Francis Sensory Language and the Divine-Human Relationship in the Tenak (pp. 65-68) McGill University Montreal, 1994

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