Thursday, January 19, 2006

Genesis (Bereshit) - My Three Sons Part 3

Genesis Chapter Six is about the Flood.

Many different cultures have a story of a world-wide calamity that involves a significant rise in the sea water, horrendous winds and a deluge of rain that ancient man reckoned covered the entire known earth. The Judaic version agrees with other versions in that human sin caused The Flood. Mankind is eliminated due to immoral status. The Flood hero is elevated above those that are swept away. Truth is truth no matter what culture’s legend is told. There no doubt was a devastating flood.

I certainly do not want to equate God’s judgement by using the follow example, for I do not want to put God in a box. However, if we look at the devastation that recently befell New Orleans and southern Mississippi with Hurricanes Rita and Katrina and imagine what if time was different? What if we had no transportation? As poor as the Superdome turned out to be for lodging, what if there was no place of mass shelter? What if we had no public assistance?

The Katrina disaster may have been viewed by the survivors of that area as a similar disaster.

However I digress.

We see that Noah was a righteous and blameless man. He walked with God. The rest of the earth was corrupt and lawless (chamas which can be translated as violent). The Midrash speculates that it was affluence and the leisure time that came along with it that afforded men to become depraved. Hand in hand with prosperity and dependence on self went an attitude that man was his own god. Why should they need the one true God any longer?

God told Noah of his plan to end all flesh, including the beasts since they were subject to man. He directs Noah to build an ark and gives him the dimensions. I have to laugh here because it reminds me of the old Bill Cosby monologue on this subject.

God: "The ark shall be 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide and 30 cubits long."
Noah: "Uh...God....? What’s a cubit?"

(Incidently a cubit is approximately 18 inches long.)

The story continues to prescribe to Noah to take seven pairs of clean animals and only two of each unclean animal, a male and female. The Lord says that the rains will last seven days and nights and the Flood will last forty days. The pertinent point is that Noah did just as the Lord asked.

We are told that Noah was 600 hundred years old when the Flood came and that it was in the second month on the 17th day of the month. This would probably be in the fall during the rainy season.

The ancient Egyptian hierogriphs list only 3 seasons. Rain, flood and harvest.

Though the Flood and rain lasted forty-seven days, we are told that the waters covering the earth lasted one-hundred and fifty days before they diminished on the seventh month and once again on the 17th day. After almost a year had passed, 364 days, once again on the second month, the 17th day Noah and his sons remove the covering from the ark and the earth is once again dry.

Noah was a non-conformist in his age who opposed the value system of his own time. Whether this story is legend or truth is of no merit. Once again I believe that truth is truth and that in some form, this incident occurred. The chapter’s purpose was to provide ancient man with emphasis on God’s moral judgement. Noah's story, no God's story speaks to us across the centuries.

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