Bible stories : 04 A Little Flood, part 3.
Patience is such a beautiful attribute to teach and tell others to practice. It’s not near as enjoyable when you’re the one having to do it.
A few questions:
How much did Noah and his family know about what was coming?
How much did they even know about animals and creatures of the world?
What about fauna, like pear trees and tomatoes, did they build a greenhouse?
Did they have some sort of timeline of how long it would take to finish the boat, considering nothing like it had ever been built?
How much family arguing and squabbling did they do?
Who was the least patient? My bet’s on Japheth. Either Japheth or Ham’s wife Mabel.
So after days, or years, or however long, the boat is done. Time for the animals. And the animals start coming. Two by two, they come, in beautiful loving pairs. Except for the ones who will be eaten. They come in pairs of seven.
Cows, commonly known by Latin scientists as Bos taurus, were originally domesticated in Turkey a long time ago. A lot of people eat them, though vegetarians less so. Also, their dung can and is used as fuel. Some people ride them or keep them as pets. Their hides are sometimes used for leather, and they’re good at pulling things.
According to my friend Jimmy at Wikipedia, there are currently about 1.4 billion cows in the world, which seems a little low. Cow milk is drank - drunk? - by many people in the world, and is generally considered to be a pleasant mix of blood, pus, and urine, although that description is mostly not used on the packaging or marketing. Cows are generally well-tempered and pleasant to be around. So there were cows on the ark.
Also, there was every other kind of animal. I’ll try to add similiar descriptions of each to the footnotes at a later point.
So the rains fall. And fall and fall. At what point do others start to panic and realise that they made a mistake; that they should, in fact, have thrown their lot in with the weirdos? The weirdos are now being proven right?
Questions, and there are many:
What sort of emotions do Noah and family have about those outside? Sure, they’ve been mocked and abused for years over their little project, but there have to still be people they liked; a few they cared for and at the least don’t want to see die.
The children. There is no children’s story I’ve heard that is told with as much innocence and joy, yet that is so dark, as this one. But when we focus on Noah’s family, we do so because that’s the point of the story: they trusted God, they did the right thing, they survived. We don’t want to think about the children dying. And undoubtedly they did. Horrific.
The ark may have been waterproof, but it surely wasn’t soundproof. How did the family inside respond to the cries of those on the outside?
What did the family do after that initial feeling of exultation over being right? Realizing what’s coming next for everyone else?
What was the bathroom situation? Eight humans and thousands of animals...wow.
The waters rise. Buildings disappear. People began dying. Some try clinging to the ark, to trees, to mountains, scraps of anything for survival. The animals, what do they do?
The waters come down, a deluge, a flood, water from everywhere that covers everything, everything, soon, the highest mountains. The only life on earth is inside a big boat.
How about fish and creatures of the sea? How about winged creatures who flocked to the ark? Anyway.
Eventually the rains stop. I love the idea that everyone had a glorious time playing cards, making music, telling stories - remember that one guy, Elphis, the guy who borrowed your hammer and never returned it? Too bad for him, he’s dead now.
But animals take a bit of care, so they may have had their hands full. Those poor giraffes had to been so claustrophobic.
Giraffes, known simply to my scientist friends as Giraffa camelopardalis, originated in China and India, and eventually made their way to Africa. Many people, such as myself, do not drink giraffe milk. An interesting feature that many do not notice is that they have longer necks than other creatures. They typically reach 14-18 feet in height, which I have not translated into cubits yet. See the footnotes.
They are surprisingly fast, and as a rule do not eat cows. Sometimes people hunt them, and I admit I have feelings of peace concerning those people and their demise in a flood, or of anything. There are approximately a hundred thousand left in the wild, and two thousand or so in zoos.
I’ll return to more animal details later in the footnotes, but in the meantime, the boat’s rolling around in the sea for a long time. According to the Bible, God sends a big wind to help dry the earth, which I don’t completely understand, but eventually things dry up. Five months after the rains started, the ark settles on Mt. Ararat in what is now Armenia, setting off explorations and speculation for centuries to come of where it ended up.
But the ark is just setting there. The waters are down, tips of the mountains are above the oceans, but it’s not yet safe to come out. Wiseguy Noah sends out a raven. Doesn’t come back. Probably died. Apparently it wasn’t the only male. Week later he sends out a dove. Comes back the same day. Obviously no land or trees to land on.
So the fam practices patience. Again. Waits another week. Sends out another dove. They wait and wait and wait, and finally, late in the evening...it comes back. With a freshly-plucked olive branch. What does this mean? Noah knows. Trees poking out over the water, which means the waters are going down!
They wait another seven days and then exit the ark. Humans, animals, all of them. God tells them:
Go out and multiply.
Fill up the world with people again.
Make sure the animals reproduce as well,
and also, you can eat them if need be.
Noah thanks God and makes a promise. A promise to never again send a flood to destroy the planet. As a symbol of that promise, a rainbow appears in the sky. Pretty.
The earth is repopulated, Noah lives a while, his son Ham gets in big trouble and ends up with Cain’s mark and banishment, and later on, Abram, a descendant of Shem, gets born, and Noah lives long enough to meet him.
Giraffes are mainly vegetarian, though we cannot speak for every single one on earth.
It is believed by some to have taken place around 2300-ish BC. I have not confirmed.