Floods

*The last posting* ended with God deciding to wipe men off the face of the earth because they were behaving loathsomely and weren’t likely to change. Noah, however, was so innately righteous, and was therefore so much the opposite of the average loathsome man, that to wipe Noah out too, just wouldn’t be right. This put God in a pickle.

God had decided that the best way to rid the earth of loathsome men was to create huge floods everywhere, which would drown all men. But, how to save the righteous Noah from drowning; and how to save the animals, who, it appears, hadn’t behaved as loathsomely as men, and therefore merited saving.

Then, God thought of something – an ark that could float on the raging waters, and which Noah and as many animals as feasible, could clamber into and thereby not drown. The more God thought about an ark as a solution, the more He liked it.

So God said to Noah, “I think it only right tell you, Noah, that I plan to wipe out all men from the face of the earth because their loathsomeness has become a pain to me. Men have made the world full of violence, and I’m just not having it. They’re all going to drown through huge floods that I’ll unleash. But you, Noah, I want to save from drowning, because you’re different from other men, being righteous and therefore not loathsome.”

“I don’t know what to say”, said Noah, “except thank you. If you save me you won’t regret it, I promise.”

“I knew you’d see it that way” said God, “So here’s what you need to do. Make yourself an ark that floats on water, and make it with ribs of cypress. Then cover it with reeds and coat it inside and out with pitch.”

“How big should I make this ark?” said Noah.

“Make it four-hundred-and-seventy-five feet long”, said God, “and eighty feet across, and forty-eight feet high”.

“That’s some ark”, said Noah, “I just hope I can build it to your satisfaction”.

“No worries”, said God, “I’ll be here to give advice all along. Now, listen good. Make a roof for the ark, put a door in the side, then build three decks – upper, middle, and lower. Got that?”

“You bet”, said Noah.

“When the ark is finished”, said God, “not only you, but also your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives can come as well, and be saved.”

“I’m even more in your debt”, said Noah. “I wasn’t looking forward to having no-one to speak with for the rest of my life, well, except with You. Now, I’ll still have all my nearest and dearest. I’m truly blessed.”

“Here’s more”, said God, “I want you to bring living creatures of every kind into the ark and to keep them alive. There must be two of each kind, a male and a female. And when I say every kind of living creature, I mean every kind. This means birds beasts snakes, and the creepy-crawly things. There will be no exceptions. And another thing, take and store every kind of food that can be eaten. This shall be food for you and for them. Now, go to it”.

Noah did all that God ordered. When the ark was finished, Noah and his nearest and dearest, and two of every kind of beast, bird, snake, and creepy-crawly thing, both clean and unclean, entered the ark and the doors were closed. Noah was now six-hundred years old. What he was about to undergo was not what an old man of six-hundred should be expected to undergo. In reality, though, what other choice did Noah have?

After seven days the rains began, and came down for forty days and nights non-stop. The waters swelled and lifted the ark which rose high above the ground. Soon, everything was submerged in water. Mountains, deserts, forests, valleys, you name it, they were all submerged. All men, and all living creatures, including living creepy-crawlies, drowned.

Although the rain stopped after forty days and nights, Noah and his nearest and dearest, and the other creatures in the ark, couldn’t now just leave, because there was all that water outside which would have to subside. This wasn’t going to happen overnight.

After sending out a raven and a dove each seven days to see how things were, water-wise, the time eventually came when God could tell Noah, “Come out of the ark, you and your wife, your sons and their wives. Bring out every living creature that is with you, live things of every kind, bird and beast and every reptile that moves on the ground, and let them swarm over the earth and be fruitful and multiply.”

In gratitude, Noah built an altar to God. This moved God sufficiently to say, “Never again will I curse the ground because of man, however evil his inclinations may be from his youth upwards. I will never again kill every living creature, as I have just done.”

Noah, feeling a great weight lifted from his shoulders, and with the sense of a meaningful future, began planting vineyards. This being hot and thirsty work, Noah drank some of the wine, became drunk, and lay naked inside his tent. When Noah’s youngest son, Ham, saw his father in this state, he said “Eeeeeww gross”, and turned his face away, so shielding his gaze from the unedifying sight.

When Noah awoke from his drunken sleep and learned what Ham had done, he felt insulted. Oddly though, instead of cursing Ham, Noah cursed Ham’s son, Canaan. Noah should be forgiven this, because, being six hundred, he may simply have been a little confused, in the way that any six-hundred year-old might.

Source: Genesis 6, 7, 8, 9

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One Response to Floods

  1. Transferred Comments says:

    jenny said…

    From this story of Ham, the Russians created a verb (hamit’) that means to behave insolently. It is very commonly used and few Russians know its origin.

    I’m pleased that you have adopted the midrashic tradition. 🙂
    5:07 AM, March 04, 2011

    Christopher said…

    “…I’m pleased that you have adopted the midrashic tradition…..”

    I would hope that any Hasidic scholar reading these posts would nod in approval.
    9:56 AM, March 04, 2011

    dafna said…

    we are all nodding in approval 🙂

    i don’t think you need to be hassidic to offer commentary?
    2:22 PM, March 04, 2011

    Christopher said…

    @Dafna, Jenny – I’ve just discovered in my spam box, comments from both of you (one each).

    Yours, Dafna, was the one to my previous posting to this one, that you mentioned had disappeared, but which you re-posted successfully.

    Yours, Jenny, was a comment you left on my posting on Woody Allen of last November, where I’ve just left a reply.
    2:49 AM, March 05, 2011

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