Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Rain, Rain Go Away (Noah's Ark Part II)

(Noah's Ark - Part 2 of 2)

In Part One we left Noah after God had instructed the poor old guy to build an ark to ride out a global flood, making it of such length that it would not be seaworthy, using an unknown wood, and then filling it with two of every beast, fowl and creeping thing on the earth, all within seven days. Would this be a problem for a 600 year old man with no shipbuilding experience? Apparently not, for in Genesis 7:5 we read:

And Noah did according unto all that the LORD commanded him.

Probably the thought of drowning gave Noah a pretty strong incentive. Then in Genesis 7:7-9 we are told:

7 And Noah went in, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives with him, into the ark, because of the waters of the flood.

8 Of clean beasts, and of beasts that are not clean, and of fowls, and of every thing that creepeth upon the earth,

9 There went in two and two unto Noah into the ark, the male and the female, as God had commanded Noah.

So how did the animals make it from the far reaches of the globe to Noah in only seven days? How could a pair of sloths or a pair of koalas travel trough the jungles unmolested? What did Noah do if only one showed up? Or three? And what about Noah's neighbors? Would they not get suspicious when Noah, who was always walking around with God, builds this massive ship in only seven days, and then starts taking a bunch of animals on board? Did they not ask questions? Did they not figure out what was going on when God stopped his walks with Noah and the rains came? If these people were wicked and with evil thoughts, why did they not swamp the ark? Did they just stand there, thinking evil thoughts and scratching their heads as the ark floated away? Did Noah have no compassion for his friends and neighbors who were destined to drown?

Whatever the case, the rains did come and we are told in Genesis 7:20-21 how great and devastating the flood was:

20 Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered.

21 And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man:

Is this a misprint or were mountains smaller in those days? Is 15 cubits not only around 23 feet (7 meters). Couldn't people survive on the roofs of their houses in only 15 cubits of water? If the ark was only 30meters high, would the bottom not be scrapping on the mountains? And what about the birds? Once all the land was covered and the ark was the only thing to rest on, would not every bird in a 10 mile radius swamp it? Did Noah have to continuously shoo them away? Did he have scarecrows on deck?

Genesis 8:3-5 says:

3 And the waters returned from off the earth continually: and after the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters were abated.

4 And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat.

5 And the waters decreased continually until the tenth month: in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, were the tops of the mountains seen.

Where did Noah get fresh water from once the rains stopped? Did he bring enough with him for all the animals for ten full months? And had any consideration been given to the mess that tens of thousands of animals must have created during that ten months? Noah and his sons, when not shooing birds, must have worked 24/7 shoveling shit overboard. And even if the crap could be disposed of, how could they survive with the stench, not to mention the smell of urine. With tens of thousands of animals pissing everyday, would not the entire hold of the ark be filled with urine? Were the wives bailing out the hold while the men were working the shovels? What did PETA and the SPCA think of animals being kept in such appalling conditions? Could there not have been an easier way to do this mass smiting?

Finally in Genesis 8:13 it looks like Noah's nightmare might be coming to an end:

And it came to pass in the six hundredth and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried up from off the earth: and Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and, behold, the face of the ground was dry.

But did Noah rush from the ark? Did he and his family burst forth, gasping for fresh air after being cooped up with smelly animals and creepy things for so long? Apparently not, for in the next verse we read:

And in the second month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month, was the earth dried.

Now what the hell was Noah thinking? If the water was gone the first time he looked, why did he stay on board for another seven weeks, shoveling shit and bailing out piss? Had the animals caused him to lose his mind? Was he really surprised after finding the land dry, that it was still dry seven weeks later. Did he think that maybe God had missed a creeping thing or two, and was going to flood the planet again for their sake?

Perhaps Noah was just waiting for the order to disembark, for in Genesis 8:17 God finally say:

Bring forth with thee every living thing that is with thee, of all flesh, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth; that they may breed abundantly in the earth, and be fruitful, and multiply upon the earth.

So how did all those fowl things and creeping things that creepeth upon the earth make it back home? Could Noah not have made some stops as the waters were receding, and dropped the beasts off in their natural habitats? What protection did they have on their return journey? Were some eaten into extinction during that time? Is this what happened to the giant sloth? And unicorns?

But other animals weren't the only thing that the survivors of the ark had to worry about. Despite God's command that the animals be fruitful and multiply upon the earth, Noah apparently had a score to settle with some. In Genesis 8:24 we're told:

And Noah builded an altar unto the Lord; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar

Were these clean beasts the ones who fouled the ship the most? Did he get carried away and burn some into extinction? How big a fire did Noah make to burn of every species? And where did he find enough dry wood?

Fortunately for Noah, God liked a good barbecue and He wasn't pissed. In fact, in Genesis 8:21 we read:

And the Lord smelled a sweet savour; and the Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.

So what the hell is the point of this story? Is it that God made a colossal mistake that took the lives of almost every living creature on the planet, and only when it was too late did He regret it? Is there any comfort in that for us? How should we react? Should we too burn some animals to make a smell pleasing to the Lord? In that way, will He also forgive our evil ways? What would PETA say about this? What can I do if my community has regulations restricting open fires? Can I make any other smells that would be pleasing to the Lord?

And what ever became of Noah? How did he deal with his house full of mud, and dead and decomposing bodies of men, beasts, and even creeping things all over the land? Well, in Genesis 9:20-21 we're told:

20 And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard:

21 And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.

Should we emulate Noah in this sense too. After a stressful task, should we too become intoxicated and lay around naked? Is this the true secret to finding grace in the eyes of God?

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