SECTION TWO - NOAH
THE FLOOD UPON
A MESOPOTAMIAN FLOOD STORY AS TRANSLATED BY BARTON
Pull down thy house, build a ship, leave thy possessions, take thought for thy life, Leave thy gods, thy life save! Embark seed of life of all kinds on a ship! The ship which thou shalt build, Measure well its dimensions, Make to correspond its breadth and its length; Upon the ocean thou shalt launch it. I embarked on the ship all my family and kindred. Cattle of the field, beasts of the field, craftsmen, all, I embarked. A fixed time Shamash had appointed, (saying): "When the senders of rain shall rain upon you a mighty rainstorm at evening, Embark upon the ship and close thy door." The gods were frightened at the deluge, They fled, they climbed to the highest heaven; The gods crouched like dogs, they lay down by the walls. Ishtar cried like a woman in travail, Wailed the queen of the gods with her beautiful voice: "Those creatures are turned to clay." The sea calmed, the destruction abated, the flood ceased. I looked upon the sea, the roaring was stilled And all mankind was turned to clay; Like logs all were floating about. I opened the window, the light fell on my cheek. I brought out a dove and let her go; The dove went out and returned; There was no resting-place and she came back. I brought out a raven and let it go; The raven went out, the dininution of the waters it saw; It alighted, it waded about, it croaked, it did not come back. I disembarked (all); to the four winds I poured a libation. I appointed a sacrifice on the top of the mountain peak; The gods smelled the sweet savor. The gods above the sacrificer collected like flies.
We see a number of striking similarities between the Bible and Mesopotamian myths:
The sin-disease, which began so innocuously when Eve was tempted to doubt the word of God, which then began to show its true ugliness of character in the life of Cain, which came to maturity in the godless civilization developed by his descendants, finally descended into such a terrible morass of wickedness and corruption that only a global bath of water from the windows of heaven could purge and cleanse the fevered earth. The characteristics of those awful and tragic day, strange as they may seem to our enlightened culture today, are nevertheless to be repeated in the last days of this present age. It is urgently important, from the standpoint of both understanding past history and seeking guidance for the future, that we understand the events which took place in the days of Noah.
The Bible has a pattern through out which we call Structures.
FILLED WITH VIOLENCE
Just as world conditions in the days before the Flood presaged a coming catastrophe, so will world conditions in the last days of this age foreshadow an even greater catastrophe. Some of these characteristics are summarized as follows:
These conditions prevailed in the days of Noah and they are all rapidly growing again today. There is good reason, therefore, to believe that these present times are those which immediately precede the return of the Lord Jesus Christ.
"And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord." Genesis 6:7,8
Note the consistent Biblical order here:
Noah was above all a man of great faith. Among the heroes of faith recorded in Hebrews 11, it is only Noah whose description both begins and ends with the phrase "by faith" (Hebrews 11:7).
Some references concerning Noah:
In the New Testament, the apostle Peter twice mentions Noah, both times obviously regarding him as a strategic figure of history (I Peter 3:20; II Peter 2:5). Most importantly, the Lord Jesus Christ accepted the story of Noah and the ark as a real event (Matthew 24:37-39; Luke 17:26).
God told Noah He would destroy man with the earth. Those who have advocated either a local flood or a tranquil flood are forced to read this verse as God destroying man from the earth. However, the preposition is the Hebrew eth, which means "with," not "from." Like it or not, the Bible does teach that the Flood was a world-destroying cataclysm. As Peter says: "The world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished" (II Peter 3:6).
IN HIS GENERATIONS
The Rabbis point out that these words may be understood as stating that, despite the depravity which raged around him, he remained unspotted and untainted by corruption.
NOAH WALKED WITH GOD
But Abraham, Scripture tells us, walked before God. A father takes his young child by the hand so that the latter walks with him, but he allows an older, matured child to walk before him, In moral strength, Abraham was the superior of Noah. Reference Midrash
A resinous wood, which would not admit the water; probably the cypress.
The unusual word here used for light means in the plural (dual) noon Legend relates that it was a precious stone, which illuminated the whole interior of the Ark.
The question is: how long is a cubit? The Babylonians had a royal cubit of about 19,8 inches; the Egyptians had a longer and a shorter cubit of about 20.65 and 17.6 inches, respectively; and the Hebrews apparently had a long cubit of 20.4 inches (Ezekiel 40:5) and a common cubit of about 17.5 inches. Another common cubit of antiquity was 24 inches. Most writers believe the Biblical cubit to be 18 inches.
To be very conservative, assume the cubit to have been only 17.5 inches, the shortest of all cubits, so far as is known. In that case, the Ark would have been 438 feet long, 72.9 feet wide, and 43.8 feet high. It can be shown hydrodynamically that a gigantic box of such dimensions would be exceedingly stable, almost impossible to capsize. Even in a sea of gigantic waves, the ark could be tilted through any angle up to just short of 90 degrees and would immediately thereafter right itself again. Furthermore, it would tend to align itself parallel with the direction of major wave advance and thus be subject to minimum pitching most of the time.
With the dimensions as calculated, the total volumetric capacity of the Ark was approximately 1,400,000 cubic feet, which is equal to the volumetric capacity of 522 standard livestock cars such as used on modern American railroads. Since it is known that about 240 sheep can be transported in one stock car, a total of over 125,000 sheep could have been carried in the Ark.
A few other details of the Arks construction are given. It was to have three stories, each ten cubits high; and each of these "decks" was to be divided into various "rooms" (literally "nests"-thus apparently each of appropriate size for the individual animals to rest in). It was to be made waterproof and resistant to decay by impregnation with "pitch," inside and outside.
The word for "pitch" (Hebrew kopher) is different from that used in other places in the Old Testament. It is equivalent to the Hebrew kaphar ("to cover") and, in the noun form, means simply a "covering." However, it is also the regular Hebrew word for "atonement," as in Leviticus 17:11, for example. In essence, therefore, this is the first mention of "atonement" in the Bible. It sufficed as a perfect covering for the Ark, to keep out the waters of judgment, just as the blood of the Lamb provides a perfect atonement for the soul.
The Ark also have a "window" (Hebrew tsohar), which probably means, literally, an "opening for daylight." Most authorities understand that this "window" was to consist of a one-cubit opening extending all around the Arks circumference, near the roof, as provision for light and ventilation. Presumably there was also a parapet provided to keep out the rain.
Finally the Ark was to have a door in its side. There was only to be one door, and all must enter and leave by the same door. Jesus Christ is the one way (John 14:6) to the Fathers house. He is the one "Door" (John 10:7-9) to the resting-place for His sheep, through which the sheep must both enter for safety and rest and go out later for service.
We are not told exactly when Gods instructions to Noah were given, though it was obviously sometime after (probably soon after) His prophetic warning that man would have only 120 more years before judgment would come (Genesis 6:3).
For the first time God here (Genesis 6:17) tells Noah exactly what form the coming destruction would take, though it may already have been implied from His instructions concerning the Ark. It would be a mighty flood of waters (mabbul mayim). The word for "flood" (mabbul), used here for the first time, applies only to the Noahic Flood; other floods are denoted by various other words in the original. This was the "mabbul," unique in all history. This word is related to an Assyrian word meaning "destruction." The phrase "a flood of waters" could thus well be translated by "the hydraulic cataclysm." Since mabbul is used only in Psalm 29:10, outside of Genesis 6-9, the cataclysmic activity poetically described in Psalm 29 must also refer to the Noachian Deluge.
Similarly, when the Genesis Flood is referred to in the New Testament, the Greek term kataklusmos is uniquely employed (Matthew 24:39; Luke 17:27; II Peter 2:5; 3:6) instead of the usual Greek word for "flood." This Flood was not to be comparable to other later local floods; it was to be absolutely unique in all history.
A covenant means an agreement or compact between two parties, for the observance of which pledges are given. There are 15 great covenants of Scripture:
THE LAST DAYS OF THE OLD WORLD
Finally, the Ark was completed and all the animals were assembling. The 120 years would be up in a few day, and Grandfather Methuselah, who had served the Lord longer than any man who ever lived, was on his deathbed.
Then it was, after a century of silence, that God once again spoke to Noah. Noah had indeed prepared an ark "to the saving of his house" (Hebrews 11:7).
The Lord said to Noah: "Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation." Because Noah had exercised faith (Hebrews 11:7) in Gods word, demonstrating his faith through unwavering obedience to His commandments, God saw (accounted) him as righteous, and saved both him and his house. This is Gods gracious provision and promise to the one who is head of the house. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved, and thy house" (Acts 16:31).
It is significant, too, that the Lord said "Come into the Ark," not "Go." God would be in the Ark with them, and although the Flood would soon be unleashed in devastating fury, they were all safe with Him.
God next made the rather unexpected statement that it would still be seven days before the Flood would actually come on the earth. This was no doubt primarily for all of Noahs last-minute preparations- the installation of the animals "in their stalls," feeding them,and so on, and perhaps for one last warning to the world of the ungodly. Perhaps it was also the period of mourning after the burial of Methuselah (Compare Genesis 50:10).
A worldwide rain lasting forty days would be quite impossible under present atmospheric conditions; so this phenomenon required an utterly different source of atmospheric waters than now obtains. This we have already seen to be the "waters above the firmament," the vast thermal blanket of invisible water vapor that maintained the greenhouse effect in the antediluvian world. These waters somehow were to condense and fall on the earth.
We find the following theory in 70 AD by Josephus in Book I Page 25 "He also placed a crystalline [firmament] round it, and put together in a manner agreeable to the earth, and fitted it for giving moisture and rain, and for affording the advantage of dews."
The antediluvian hydrologic cycle was sharply different from that of the present day. It seems to have been controlled by the two great reservoirs of water resulting from the primeval separation of the waters of the primordial "deep" (Hebrew them, Genesis 1:2) on the second day of Creation into "waters above the firmament" and "waters below the firmament," the firmament in this case consisting of the atmospheric heavens.
The "waters above the firmament" (also called "waters above the heavens" in Psalm 148:4) constituted the vast vaporous canopy which maintained the earth as a beautiful greenhouse, preventing cold temperatures and therefore preventing wind and rain storms. Being in the vapor state, it was invisible and fully transparent, but nevertheless contained vast quantities of water extending far out into space.
The "waters below the firmament" became what is referred to as "the great deep" or "the great depths" of water. This was water in the liquid state, visible especially to the first man in the form of the antediluvian seas (Genesis 1:10) and rivers (Genesis 2:10-14). These rivers were not produced by run-off from rainfall (Genesis 2:5), but emerged through controlled fountains or springs, evidently from deep seated sources in or below the earths crust. There is an interesting reference to the abundant supplies of water pouring forth from these fountains of the great depths in Proverbs 8:24, and probably another in Job 38:16.
Such subterranean reservoirs were apparently all interconnected with each other, as well as with the surface seas into which the rivers drained, so that the entire complex constituted one "great deep." The energy for repressurizing and recycling the waters must have come from the earths own subterranean heat implanted there at Creation. This entire system must have been a marvelous heat engine, which would have operated with wonderful effectiveness indefinitely, as long as the earths internal heat endured and as long as the system of reservoirs, valves, governors, and conduits maintained their structure.
POSSIBLY HOW THE FLOOD CAME TO BE
The breaking up (literally "cleaving open") of the fountains of the great deep is mentioned first and so evidently was the initial action which triggered the rest. These conduits somehow all developed uncontrollable fractures on the same day. For such a remarkable world wide phenomenon, there must have been a worldwide cause.
The most likely cause would seem to have been a rapid buildup and surge of intense pressure throughout the underground system, and this in turn would presumably require a rapid rise in temperature throughout the system.
Once the postulated pressure rise caused the first "fountain" to crack open, the pressurized fluid would surge through at this point and further weaken nearby boundaries, until soon a worldwide chain reaction would develop, cleaving open all the fountains of the great deep throughout the world.
The volcanic explosions and eruptions which would have accompanied these fractures would have poured great quantities of magma up from the earths mantle along with the waters.
Furthermore, immense quantities of volcanic dust would have been blown skyward, along with gigantic sprays of water and turbulent surges of the atmosphere. The combination of atmospheric turbulence, expanding and cooling gases, and a vast supply of dust and other particles to serve as nuclei of condensation would suffice to penetrate the upper canopy of water vapor and trigger another chain reaction there, causing its waters to begin to condense and coalesce and soon to start moving earthward as a torrential global downpour of rain.
The phrase "windows" of heaven is very graphic, many translators rendering it by "floodgates" or "sluiceways". In any case, it certainly is intended to convey the idea of great quantities of water, formerly restrained in the sky, suddenly released to deluge the earth. The downpour continued at full intensity-exactly as God had predicted (verse 4)- for forty days and forty nights.
Once all were inside, Noah evidently being last, a remarkable thing took place. "The Lord shut him in" How He did this is not recorded, but somehow the door to the Ark was shut and sealed, without the help of any human hands. This provided a final assurance to the occupants that they were in the will of God and under His protection.
The old world was forever dead to them from that moment on. Their life was henceforth a new life and they were to live in a new world. The Ark of safety endured the battering of the Flood for them, as the Flood destroyed the world of the ungodly which would otherwise soon have destroyed them. So Christ, in dying for our sins, triumphed over sin "that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father" (Galatians 1:4).
As the waters raged over the surface, gradually rising to destroy and bury the old world, the same waters bore the Ark and its occupants far above the destruction experienced in the depth below. Thus the waters of judgment and death were also waters of cleansing and deliverance. In a "like figure" to this first great baptism, our baptismal waters now are said to "save" us (I Peter 3:20,21), setting forth in a most striking figure the destruction of the old life and elevation to a new life, delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
All the mountains "under the whole heaven" were inundated under at least fifteen cubits of water (half the height of the Ark, probably representing its depth of submergence), telling us that the Ark could float freely over all the mountains. These would patently include at least the mountains of Ararat, the highest peak of which reaches 17000 feet. A 17,000-foot Flood is not a local flood!
"All flesh died that moved upon the earth." In a local flood, most of the fauna can escape death by fleeing the rising waters or by swimming to dry ground if necessary (or by flying away, in the case of birds); but this would be impossible in a universal Flood.
It was not until 150 days past that the "fountains of the deep" and the "windows of heaven" were shut (Genesis 8:2) and then the waters began to retreat. Then even after the waters began to abate, and the Ark was grounded on the highest of the mountains of Ararat (Genesis 8:4), it was another 2 and a half months before the tops of other mountains could be seen (Genesis 8:5).
Even after four months of receding flood waters, the dove sent out by Noah could find no dry land on which to light (Genesis 8:9). It was over an entire year (Genesis 7:11; 8:13) before enough land had been exposed to permit the occupants to leave the Ark.
Such a Flood would have destroyed every earlier physiographic feature on or near the earths surface, redepositing the eroded materials all over the world in stratified sedimentary rocks of the earths crust. Not only do such sedimentary rocks abound all over the world, but they give much evidence of having been formed by rapid and continuous depositional processes. Each individual stratum is a distinct sedimentary unit and, in most formations, can be shown by hydraulic analysis to have been formed with a few minutes time.
THE DIMINUTION OF WATERS
His covenanted promise to Noah that He would preserve him, and all that were with him in the ark. The animals are expressly included in the kindly thought of God. As there is no forgetfulness with God, so we cannot really apply the term remembrance to him.
The Hebrew verb is used of anger being calmed down (Esther 2:1). The waters grew calm after the fury of the storm.
THE MOUNTAINS OF ARARAT
Ararat is the name of a country; See Isaiah 37:38, where the Septuagint (LXX) translates Ararat by Armenia. "And as he was worshipping, in his house, Nasarach his ancestor; Adramelech and Sarousar his sons smote him with their swords; and, they having made their escape to Armenia, Asardan his son reigned in his stead." Assyrian inscriptions also speak of Armenia as Urartu, Mount Ararat is 17000 feet high.
THE RAVEN AND THE DOVE
He selected the raven because, as a bird of prey, the raven would sustain itself by feeding on carrion which would abound if the earth were dry.
SENT FORTH A DOVE
Between the sending forth of the raven and the sending forth of the dove there was an interval of seven days, since in v. 10 it is stated he stayed yet another seven days, Noah changed his scout, because the action of the dove would give more reliable information. The dove fed on vegetation; and should it find food, Noah would have the sign for which he was waiting.
Noah had presumably let the dove out in the morning. It must therefore have flown a considerable distance if it did not return until the evening. The inference was that the earth all around was covered by water.
Since the olive tree grew to no great height, Noah understood that the waters had almost disappeared, though not completely. He, therefore, waited another week.
THE GROUND WAS DRIED
In other words the water had drained away from the surface of the ground; but the surrounding earth must have been a mass of marsh and bog, and it was unsafe to step upon the ground.
A different Hebrew word from that used in the previous verse. It denotes that the ground had become hard, and could bear the weight of the inhabitants of the ark.
LEAVING THE ARK, AND BUILDING AN ALTAR
BUILDED AN ALTAR.
Noah feels moved to express his gratitude to God. He is the pioneer of all the altar-builders of the Bible.
THE SWEET SAVOUR
The sacrifice offered by Noah was as agreeable to the Deity, humanly speaking, as sweet odors are to a man. To avoid the anthropomorphism, the Targum renders And the Lord accepted with pleasure the sweet savor.
THE COVENANT WITH NOAH. THE SEVEN
COMMANDMENTS OF MAN
The blessing which was bestowed on Adam (Genesis 1:28) is now repeated (except dominion is replaced by fear) since Noah and his sons were the heads of a new race. The Divine benediction would hearten them to undertake the task of rebuilding a ruined world. See 2 Peter 3:5-7
EVERY MOVING THING
The term is here used in a wide sense to include fish, fowl and beast.
AS THE GREEN HERB
The meaning is that just as the green herb was granted to man as food by God (Genesis 1:29), so now permission is now given for him to partake of the flesh of animals.
In the Biblical conception, the blood is identified with the life; See Deuteronomy 12:23, for the blood is the life, This thought was the obvious deduction from the fact that as the blood is drained from the body, the vitality weakens until it ceases altogether. Life, in every form, has in it an element of holiness, since God is the source of all life. Therefore, although permission was given to eat the flesh of an animal, this was done with one special restriction; the life must altogether have departed from the animal before man partakes of its flesh.
According to Jewish authorities (Rashi), the restriction was of a twofold nature:
This double prohibition of cruelty to animals and the partaking of blood, is the basis of most of the rules of the Jewish slaughter of animals (SHECHITAH) and of the preparation (KOSHERING) of meats, that have been observed by Jews from time immemorial.
FOR IN THE IMAGE OF GOD
We have here a declaration of the native dignity of man, irrespective of his race or creed. Because man is created in the image of God, he can never be reduced to the level of a thing or chattel; he remains a Personality, with inalienable rights. To rob a man of these inalienable rights constitutes an outrage against God. It is upon this thought that the Jewish conception of Justice, as respect for human personality rests; see Deuteronomy 16:20.
This verse is not a superfluous repetition of verse 1. It gives a further reason why God holds bloodshed in such abhorrence. It is His desire that life should be multiplied, and not diminished through murder. Rabbinic interpretation of these verses deduced Seven Fundamental Laws from them:
The Rabbis called these seven laws the Seven Commandments given to the descendants of Noah . These constitute what we might call Natural Religion, as they are vital to the existence of human society. Whereas an Israelite was to carry out all the precepts of the Torah, obedience to these Seven Commandments alone was in ancient times required of non-Jews living among Israelites, or attaching themselves to the Jewish community. (The Acts 15:20)
PLANTING A VINEYARD
This is mentioned because of the narrative which follows. From a father showing such a fundamental lack of moral sense as Ham, it is not surprising that a wicked people like the Canaanites sprang.
The Hebrew word has also the meaning of being profane . Hence, Rashis comment: - Noah made himself profane, degraded himself. He should have planted anything but the vine, which is the source of so much sin and crime among the children of men.
Scripture shows in this narrative what shame and evil can through drunkenness befall even a man like Noah who was otherwise found righteous and blameless before God. Some commentators, however, explain that as Noah was the first to cultivate the vine, he was ignorant of the intoxicating effect of its fruit. What happened to him is therefore a warning to mankind
CURSED BE CANAAN
It was firmly held in ancient times (compare Genesis 48,49) that the blessing or curse which a father pronounced upon a child affected the latters descendants. We therefore, have here in effect a forecast of the future, that the Canaanites would be a servile and degraded race.
Japheths seven sons are listed as Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras. Allowing for the gradual modifications in form that always occur in such names with the passage of time, and noting pertinent references in both Scripture and early secular historical writings and on excavated archaeological monuments, we can trace most of these names and recognize them as ancestors of the Indo-European peoples.
The name of Japheth himself, for example, is found in the literature as Iapetos, the legendary father of the Greeks, and Iyapeti, the reputed ancestor of the Aryans in India.