Tuesday, March 22, 2011

My Reading of Noah's Ark

6:1 And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, 6:2 That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.

In the beginning of Genesis Chapter 6, we see that man has begun to populate the Earth. Seeing that the women were “fair”, the sons of God took them as wives. First of all, how many sons does God have? Secondly, does “all which they chose” mean they took more than one wife? This perplexes me. In the New Testament, we are led to believe that Jesus is the only son of God. Why does Genesis 6:2 contradict this notion?

6:3 And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. 6:4 There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.

Here, we are told that humans shall now live only 120 years. Later, we see Noah lives to be much older than that. Also, why would an omniscience god shorten the lifespan if he knew that he was just going to drown everyone? Why does Noah live longer, much longer? The sons of God also bore children with the women of Earth. This created “mighty men” who, by my observation of the text, also had powerful fathers. Why aren’t these super-humans, who could live to be 120 years old, able to survive the flood?
*Note* 6:4 is the most used verse to say that the Bible is describing Dinosaurs or other large creatures. The main text speaks nothing of animals. It doesn’t make sense to me to describe humanity and then throw in a sentence about giant creatures. In fact, it seems to me, that this passage is describing giant humans.

6:5 And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6:6 And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. 6:7 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.

Did his sons coming down and impregnating the women have anything to do with this wickedness? What was being imagined that could warrant death? Wouldn’t an omniscience god know in advance what humans would do with free will? Why would this grieve him if he knew before Adam and Eve that this would happen? So, god gets made at his creation for doing something he should have foreseen. In the context of the real world, this would be the same as a robot-designer getting mad at the robot for failing to do the assigned task. Could the designer truly get mad at the robot? No, it was the designer that made the program.

6:8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. 6:9 These are the generations of Noah: Noah was ajust man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God. 6:10 And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. 6:11 The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. 6:12 And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. 6:13 And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.

How does Noah find “grace in the eyes of the Lord”? The all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving god just said that everything on Earth will parish. Is it graceful that god chose Noah and his sons for survival? “Noah was just man and perfect in his generations.” In a world filled with violence, how is that Noah and his generations stayed pure? Once again, I was taught that Jesus was the only perfect man. Like Jesus, Noah also walked with god. Should Noah be held to the same degree of godly-hood as Jesus?

6:14 Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. 6:15 And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits. 6:16 A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it.

Here, we are shown the exact measurements of the ark.  Cubits are not very accurate and can vary depending on culture. According to The Genesis Files, Moses is credited with writing Genesis. Since he was educated in Egypt, the Egyptian measurements are used to translate cubits into feet.  The Ark would have been approximately 516.25 X 86 X 51.6 feet, with an 18 inch window for ventilation.

6:17 And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die. 6:18 But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons' wives with thee. 6:19 And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female. 6:20 Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive. 6:21 And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather it to thee; and it shall be for food for thee, and for them. 6:22 Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.
This scenario of total destruction brings a few questions to my mind. Why does god kill all living creatures for the mistakes made by man? Why doesn’t an all-power god just wave his hand and destroy only those who were evil? Did all of the people who were killed by god go to hell? I would assume that if they were bad enough to be destroyed, they weren’t good enough to get into heaven.
 God commands Noah to take two of every kind, plus their food, onto the Ark. Taking the measurements given in the Bible, it would be impossible to fit every living creature and their food. Wouldn’t the weight of all of the animals (keep in mind that elephants alone can weight over 5k pounds) sink the ark? How would you keep the lions from eating the gazelles or the spider from eating the fly? What does Noah do with the waste that the animals create?
Taking the specific details of the Bible and adding common sense, Noah’s Ark seems like an improbable story.

7:1 And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seenrighteous before me in this generation. 7:2 Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female. 7:3 Of fowls also of the air by sevens, the male and the female; to keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth. 7:4 For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth. 7:5 And Noah did according unto all that the LORD commanded him. 7:6 And Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters was upon the earth.

*Note* “For thee have I seen righteous before me…” Keep this verse in mind.
What are “clean beasts”? Noah is now to take 7 of each of the clean beasts and only 2 of the unclean. He is also supposed to take 7 of each species of bird. Seven seems to be a commonly used number in the Bible.  Another question comes to mind. How did the animals get to Noah? In that time, the Americas had not been discovered (the Earth had 4 corners). So, how would animals that were not known to Noah make it to the ark? Are the species of the oceans not faced with any type of punishment?
We are also told that Noah is 600 years old. What happened to only living 120 years? The people that he commanded that to are now all dead?!

7:12 And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights. 7:13 In the selfsame day entered Noah, and Shem, and Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah's wife, and the three wives of his sons with them, into the ark; 7:14 They, and every beast after his kind, and all the cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind, and every fowl after his kind, every bird of every sort. 7:15 And they went in unto Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh, wherein is the breath of life. 7:16 And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the LORD shut him in. 7:17 And the flood was forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth. 7:18 And the waters prevailed, and were increased greatly upon the earth; and the ark went upon the face of the waters. 7:19 And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered. 7:20 Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered. 7:21 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: 7:22 All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died. 7:23 And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark. 7:24 And the waters prevailed upon the earth an hundred and fifty days.

It rained for forty days and forty nights. This powerful global rain storm covered every mountain on Earth. Knowing that Mount Everest is 29,000 feet, it is safe to say, from Bible texts, that the Ark would have at least been above that mark. How were the animals able to breathe and keep warm in such altitude? Also, that much rain would have a desalinization effect to the oceans. How are ocean creatures going to survive in fresh water conditions? It is also safe to assume that there were babies on Earth when the floods rained down. Is god so cruel that he would kill innocent children who were not able to commit the evil acts? This is where the omniscience of god comes in- God knew the babies would grow up to commit sins, even though ALL humans are inevitably “sinful”.

The waters stayed for 150 days. Noah, his family of 7, two of every unclean creature, and seven of every clean creature were able to stay alive on a tiny boat (tiny compared to the amount of animals on the boat) for 150 days without any land in sight. What a miraculous-improbable-claim!
*Note* Most people believe that only 2 of each kind of animal was put on the boat. My reading of the Bible leads me to believe that there were 2 of only the unclean animals and 7 of the clean.

8:1And God remembered Noah (Author’s Note: Does god have the ability to forget?), and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him in the ark: and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters assuaged;  2The fountains also of the deep and the windows of heaven were stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained;  3And the waters returned from off the earth continually: and after the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters were abated.  4And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat.  5And 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.  6And it came to pass at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made:  7And he sent forth a raven, which went forth to and fro, until the waters were dried up from off the earth.  8Also he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters were abated from off the face of the ground;  9But the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot, and she returned unto him into the ark, for the waters were on the face of the whole earth: then he put forth his hand, and took her, and pulled her in unto him into the ark.  10And he stayed yet other seven days; and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark;  11And the dove came in to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf pluckt off: so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth.  12And he stayed yet other seven days; and sent forth the dove; which returned not again unto him any more.  13And 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.  14And in the second month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month, was the earth dried.  15And God spake unto Noah, saying,  16Go forth of the ark, thou, and thy wife, and thy sons, and thy sons' wives with thee.  17Bring 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. 18And Noah went forth, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives with him:  19Every beast, every creeping thing, and every fowl, and whatsoever creepeth upon the earth, after their kinds, went forth out of the ark. 20And Noah built an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.  21And 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.  22While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.

We see a lot of “sevens” show up in the Bible. Is that god’s favorite number? After multiple 7-day periods, a dove finally brings back an olive leaf. How does a drought-tolerant olive tree survive an Earth-wide flood of such great magnitude? After unloading all of the animals on the boat, Noah builds an altar and sacrifices every clean beast and fowl. For those that believe that Noah took only 2 of every creature, this would mean extinction for these creatures. This part confuses me. Why go through all the trouble of keeping these animals alive for 150+ days and then killing them immediately after getting off the boat? Then, god smells “a sweet savour,” undoubtedly from the burning corpses of animals. This causes god to have some empathy toward humanity. God creates a pact with mankind, saying that he will never again create mass destruction for “the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” Did this omniscience god not see thisbefore killing off humanity? (Why didn’t god just create a good society in the beginning if he was so much against evil acts?) Why did it take Noah to make him see this?

1And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.  2And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. 3Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. 4But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat. 5And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man. 6Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man. 7And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein. 8And God spake unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying, 9And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you; 10And with every living creature that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth. 11And I will establish my covenant with you, neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.12And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: 13I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.14And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: 15And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth. 17And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth. 18And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan. 19These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth overspread.

This is where we see an explanation of the origins of the rainbow. The rainbow is a sign of god’s covenant with humans. This type of mythology has been found in many other cultures. The Greek saw the rainbow as a message from their gods sent via the goddess Iris, who dresses in rainbow colors and flies down with golden wings. Norse mythology views the rainbow as the pathway to the heavens.
Note: This is where the story usually ends with Noah, both in Sunday school and in books featuring Noah’s Ark. However, the story of Noah continues. The following is unknown to most Christians today but it found readily in the Bible:

 20And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: 21And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.  22And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without.  23And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness. 24And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. 25And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. 26And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. 27God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. 28And Noah lived after the flood three hundred and fifty years. 29And all the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years: and he died.

Soon after the flood, Noah and his family began to settle down. Noah plants a vineyard and drinks of the wine. Noah becomes so drunk that he passes out, naked within his tent. Is this the type of righteousness we expect to see from Noah? (see Genesis 7:1) Noah’s son Ham see his father naked and told his brothers of their father’s drunken nakedness. The other brothers slyly cover their father. Ok, let’s stop here. In today’s society, a son would be appalled to find their father drunk and naked. It would seem that the father had some sort of problem with alcohol. However, in the bible, it isHam is who is going to be punished. Noah wakes up (I assume he’s going to feel a bit hung over) and is extremely angry with Ham for seeing him naked. Noah, who apparently has the power to curse people in god’s name, sentences Ham andall of his descendants to servitude. This is the Bible condoning slavery, which was a much used practice during these times.
Noah lives 950 years, 350 years after the flood. Again, where is the 120 years that god speaks of in the beginning of Genesis chapter 6?

In conclusion, this story is simply a myth. Just like the Greek, the Norse, the Egyptians, and the Pagans, the stories of the Bible are exaggerated tales of the mysticism in real life. One must ask their self if it is possible for humans to live well over 500 years. Has there even been a documented case of someone living to 150 years old? Is there geological evidence of a great flood that cover the entire Earth at one time?

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