by John Thomas Lowe
Most people probably thought Noah was crazy. Why would anyone build a great ship in the desert? And How about all those animals. What does he plan to do with them?
Noah and His Family
Venerated in Judaism
Noah is the tenth and last of the pre-Flood patriarchs in the traditions of Abrahamic religions. His story appears in the Hebrew Bible (Book of Genesis, chapters 5–9), the Quran, and Baha'i writings. Noah is referenced in various other books of the Bible, including the New Testament, and in associated deuterocanonical books.
The Genesis flood narrative is among the best-known stories in the Bible. In this account, Noah labored faithfully to build the Ark at God's command, ultimately saving his own family and humanity itself, and all land animals from extinction during the Flood. Afterward, God made a covenant with Noah and promised never again to destroy all the Earth's creatures with a flood. Noah is also portrayed as a "tiller of the soil" and a drinker of wine.
Noah is the tenth and final pre-Flood (antediluvian - of or belonging to the time before the biblical Flood) Patriarch, son of Lamech and an unnamed mother, Noah is 500 years old before his sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth are born.
Genesis flood narrative
The Genesis flood narrative is encompassed within chapters 6–9 in the Book of Genesis in the Bible. The narrative discusses the evil of humanity that moved God to destroy the world by way of the Flood, the preparation of the Ark for certain animals, Noah, and his family, and God's guarantee (the Noahic Covenant) for the continued existence of life under the promise that he would never send another flood. The narrative indicates that God intended to return the Earth to its pre-creation state of watery chaos by flooding the Earth because of humanity's misdeeds and then remaking it using the microcosm of Noah's Ark. Thus, the Flood was no normal overflow but a reversal of Creation.
After the Flood
A 12th-Century Depiction Of Noah Sending The Dove
After the Flood, Noah offered burnt offerings to God. God accepted the sacrifice and made a covenant with Noah, and through him with all humankind, he would not waste the Earth or destroy man by another deluge.
"And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, multiply, and replenish the Earth. "As a pledge of this gracious covenant with man and the beast, the rainbow was set in the clouds (viii. 15-22, 8-17). Noah laid two injunctions: While the eating of animal food was permitted, abstinence from blood was strictly admonished; and the shedding of the blood of man by man was made a crime punishable by death at man's hands.
Noah died 350 years after the Flood, at the age of 950, the last of the extremely long-lived Antediluvianiii patriarchs. As depicted by the Bible, the maximum human lifespan gradually diminishes from almost 1,000 years to the 120 years of Moses.
After the Flood, the Bible says that Noah became a farmer and he planted a vineyard. He drank wine made from this vineyard and got drunk and lay "uncovered" within his tent. Noah's son Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father naked and told his brothers, which led to Ham's son Canaan being cursed by Noah.
In Jewish tradition and rabbinic literature on Noah, rabbis blame Satan for the intoxicating properties of the wine. As early as the Classical era, commentators on Genesis 9:20–21 have excused Noah's excessive drinking because he was considered the first wine drinker, the first person to discover the effects of wine. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople, and a Church Father, wrote in the 4th century that Noah's behavior is defensible: as the first human to taste wine, he would not know its effects: "Through ignorance and inexperience of the proper amount to drink, fell into a drunken stupor." Philo, a Hellenistic Jewish philosopher, also excused Noah by noting that one can drink in two different manners: (1) to drink wine in excess, a peculiar sin to the vicious evil man, or (2) to partake of wine as the wise man, Noah being the latter.
Noah curses Ham
In the context of Noah's drunkenness, relates two facts: (1) Noah became drunken and "he was uncovered within his tent," and (2) Ham "saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without."
Because of its brevity and textual inconsistencies, it has been suggested that this narrative is a "splinter from a more substantial tale." A fuller account would explain what Ham had done to his father, why Noah directed a curse at Canaan for Ham's misdeed, or how Noah knew what occurred. In biblical psychological criticism, J. H. Ellens and W. G. Rollins have analyzed the unconventional behavior between Noah and Ham as revolving around sexuality and the exposure of genitalia compared with other Hebrew Bible texts, such as Habakkuk 2:15 and Lamentations 4:21.
Other commentaries mention that "uncovering someone's nakedness" could mean having sexual intercourse with that person or that person's spouse, as quoted in Leviticus 18:7-8 and 20. From this interpretation, it can be deduced that Ham was guilty of engaging in incest and raping Noah or his mother. The latter interpretation would clarify why Canaan, as the product of this illicit union, was cursed by Noah. Alternatively, Canaan could be the perpetrator himself, as the Bible describes the illicit deed being committed by Noah's "youngest son," with Ham being consistently described as the middle son in other verses.
According to the documentary hypothesis, the first five books of the Bible (Pentateuch/Torah), including Genesis, were collated during the 5th century BC from four primary sources, dating from no earlier than the 10th century BC. The Jahwist, composed in the 10th century BC, and the Priestly source, from the late 7th century BC, make up the chapters of Genesis that concern Noah. The attempt by the 5th-century editor to accommodate two independent and sometimes conflicting sources accounts for the confusion over such matters as how many of each animal Noah took and how long the Flood lasted.
The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Books of the Bible notes that this story echoes parts of the Garden of Eden story: Noah is the first vintner (vinedresser), while Adam is the first farmer; both have problems with their products; both stories involve nakedness, and both involve a division between brothers leading to a curse. However, after the Flood, the stories differ. Noah plants the vineyard and utters the curse, not God, so "God is less involved."
The Book of Jubilees refers to Noah and says that he was taught the arts of healing by an angel so that his children could overcome "the offspring of the Watchers."
In 10:1–3 of the Book of Enoch (which is part of the Orthodox Tewahedo biblical canon) and canonical for Beta Israel, Uriel was dispatched by "the Most High" to inform Noah of the approaching "deluge."
Dead Sea scrolls
Genesis Apocryphon, a portion of the Dead Sea Scrolls that features Noah
There are 20 or so fragments of the Dead Sea scrolls that refer to Noah. Lawrence Schiffman writes, "Among the Dead Sea Scrolls, at least three different versions of this legend are preserved." In particular, "The Genesis Apocryphon devotes considerable space to Noah." However, "The material seems to have little in common with Genesis 5, which reports the birth of Noah." Also, Noah's father is reported as worrying that his son was fathered by one of the Watchers.
Indian and Greek flood myths also exist, although there is little evidence that they were derived from the Mesopotamian flood myth that underlies the biblical account.
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