Who Am I? Noah!


I’m Noah!

Noah was the tenth of the pre-Flood Patriarchs, something I didn’t even know was a thing!  But his great- great- great- great- great- great- great-grandfather was said to be ADAM, and all of the Antediluvian (pre-Flood) patriarchs were extremely long-lived.  Noah died 350 years after the flood, at the age of 950,[7] the last of the extremely long-lived Antediluvian patriarchs. The maximum human lifespan, as depicted by the Bible, gradually diminishes thereafter, from almost 1,000 years to the 120 years of Moses.  The idea of 120 doesn’t seem so far-fetched anymore, but 950 seems figurative…

 Noah is honoured in all the Abrahamic traditions,  mentioned in the Quaran, Bible, Torah.  He’s seen as one of the most important prophets in Islam, and focuses more on his preaching than simply on the Deluge.  Speaking of that, the Flood story shows up all around the world, not just in Mesopotamia, or the Middle East, but India, China, Scandanavian countries, Maya in Mexico and Ojibwa in North America and the Aboriginal Tribes in Australia, although Noah’s Ark is the most well-knows of all of them.  It’s a very muddy morass to wade into, timing these mythologies with the scientific knowledge of ice ages and rising sea levels. 

Thomas Cole, The Subsiding of the Waters of the Deluge, 1829, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Katie Dean in memory of Minnibel S. and James Wallace Dean and museum purchase through the Smithsonian Institution Collections Acquisition Program, 1983.40

I have to say that I chuckle at the idea of Noah being the first husbandman, who planted for the first time, because … well, who else was going to do it?  But the Bible does say that he planted a vineyard and commentators in the 4th and 5th centuries and forever afterwards say Noah was the first human to taste wine.  This, of course, contradicts the whole Biblical reason for the flood, drunkenness and lust and the evil of mankind, but again, the relationship of God to creation and God husbanding the whole over the individuals is an important lesson to think upon.  And Noah learned to partake of wine as a wise man, rather than as a ignorant one.

But we want to know about the Ark, right?   Well, I do, because all of the animals.  Some stories talk of the animals all sleeping. Ancient Aliens, a delightfully conspiracy minded program that began on the History Channel, talks about cryogenic sleep, or even a DNA bank of plants and animals.  It is wonderful fodder for curiosity and imagination, and if it was as big as described, COULD hold all of the plants and animals and insects and fish of the world (but would fish and sea mammals need to be there, or just the ones that eat land things?).  The structure of the Ark is similar to a Jewish Temple, so there is a question of metaphor to be considered.  Or is that allegory? Basically, it is a microcosm of the universe (as it was seen then): three internal divisions (heaven, earth and the underworld) being three decks, with the appropriate numerological characteristics. 

So many interesting currents to surf in this story.  Where would you go with it?  

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I’m Jealous of Noah

The Saint of Zookeepers

I’m a little jealous of Noah. No, I am a LOT jealous of Noah. 

He and his family were the Irwins of the Bible; one family running a zoo.  On WATER.  In the rain.  There’s so much going on in this story and I, as usual, only see the animals.

I know that this this story is not LITERAL (for a whole slew of reasons, starting with physics and engineering and going on to hydrology and geometry), it is wonderful fodder for fiction.  I remember reading Biblical archaeology books where they find it, alien interference with it, all kinds of fun.  There are all kinds of flood myths, across cultures from China to the edge of Europe.

But that is not why I’m jealous of Noah.

I used to work at a zoo.  It was one of the few times in my life where I woke up EARLY in the morning, happily. One of my most favourite times was that time just after the keepers arrived, the animals had been woken up and moved to their enclosures.  In the zoo I was in, the lions were at the bottom of the hill and would roar their salute to the sun, which is a build up, a crescendo that will make your liver vibrate if you are in line of the sound (take a listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OS0pZDPZWc8 or here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rf4LGT_GMg ) .  The howler monkeys would pick up the calls (you can hear that here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYar0dkZ6v8 ), and and on up the hill.  The last animals, at the top of hill, by the main road was the New Guinea Singing Dog : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwxV1wbBrfU.   It was glorious, and occurred an hour or so before any humans (besides keepers, and truly they’re not entirely human) entered the grounds. 

That wasn’t my most favourite time though.  It moved me to tears of joy to park as far away from the big cats, at the bottom of the hill, and walk through the early morning nautical twilight, particularly in the rain, mist, or fog.  It was so silent, except for the animals who were already out, just beginning to move around.  The absolute one-ness of that moment in time is what I imagine it would have been like for Noah and his family – suspended in the centre of God’s created beings, one of them, with them, all connected. 

Here’s the theological twist. 
We are all Noah and his family. 

All of us.

We are responsible for caring for the creation around us, not just humans. 

We need to care for them with what we plant around us, so the native birds, animals and insects have habitat and food.  We need to support conservation, contain our cats, be their voices because in a world filled with the cacophony of human voices, they have no one to speak for them, no one to scoop them up and take them away to safety.

Support your local animal shelter, make a donation to your local zoo; they’re hurting right now with volunteers and visitors curtailed.  If you do pictures with wildlife, make it from an ethical organisation, that works hard for conservation and habitat both.  And enjoy your neighbours, they’re fascinating.

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