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Old Testament >> Genesis
story of Noah, Noahs myth, great flood, deluge

Noah's Ark

Author: Lena Santos

Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are united regarding the story of Noah’s Ark. Though there are slight variations in each religion’s details, the story has one encompassing theme: the destruction of a sinful world and the deliverance of the righteous ones, “clean” and “unclean” animals included. What child grew up without hearing the story of Noah? The story (or myth? ) of Noah and his ark full of animals is told from the accounts in the Hebraic Bible, from the Christian’s Book of Genesis in the Old Testament Bible and from the Muslim’s Qur’an. It is interesting to note though that several other non-Abrahamic religions have its own version of “The Great Flood” or “Deluge” story too.

Traditional Version

According to the Book of Genesis (chapters 6-9) Noah was the son of Lamech and was so named because he will bring deliverance to the land that God cursed. On his 600th birthday, God decided to send a great deluge to wipe away all sinners. In God’s eyes Noah was a righteous man. God gave Noah instructions to build a large ark, gather all his family and a pair of all types of animals to save them from the great Flood thereby eventually repopulating the earth. Shem, Ham and Japheth were the sons of Noah and together they built the ark according to God’s instructions.

According to the Biblical account the ark was 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide and had a height of 30 cubits. As interpreted in modern day’s measurement the ark was a huge 135 meters by 22.50 meter teak boat with a height of 13.50 meters.

It rained for 40 days and 40 nights. The earth was wiped clean of the unrighteous. The rain stopped and the flood eventually subsided. On the 7th month the ark was near the top of Mount Ararat. On the 10th month mountains were visible. It was about this time that Noah sent forth a dove to see if the great flood had truly subsided. The dove came back with a fresh olive leaf. After another 7 days, a dove was let out again and this time it did not come back. The land was dry and God told Noah and his family to leave the ark and start anew. A covenant was made between God and Noah.

Noah and his sons became the first ones to till the soil. He lived up to the ripe old age of 950 years making him the last antediluvian patriarchs of the old testament who lived that long. Based on the Old Testament, after the great flood, a human’s lifespan considerably diminished. Moses himself lived up to 120 years only!

Rabbinic Version

The Jew’s version is almost synonymous with that of the Christians. The story of Noah is in the Hebraic Bible but with modifications when compared to the Christian’s version. It is written in Hebraic bible that it was God and His angels who gathered all the animals and placed them in the ark. As it was written that there was no way then to distinguish between clean and unclean animals, it was said that the clean animals bowed before Noah as they entered the ark! The ending was pretty much parallel with the Christian version except for minor details.

Islam Version

The Islamic version has some parallelism with the other two Abrahamic versions but not in complete synch with the other two versions. For one, the Islamic Noah is one of the top five prophets of Islam. That after the rain and flooding, God commanded the earth to “swallow” the water and in parts where the absorption was not fast enough, the water turned salty as punishment. The Muslim’s Noah’s Ark docked at Mount Judi. At its foot Noah and his family built a town and a mosque. The Qur’an says that the ark was locked and its key given to Shem, Noah’s son.

True or False?

Advancement in science and technology in the past centuries put the story of Noah’s Ark in scrutiny. The “enlightened” ones thought the event could not have been possible as the idea of a water vessel large enough to do what it was that it did and accommodate what was said it accommodated was inconceivable. As more centuries pass and more scientific minds converge, it was proven in a sense that the concept of Noah’s ark was possible.

The advent of Industrial Revolution brought together many great minds. Biblical scholars started to examine the origin of the Bible itself, the story of Noah in particular. Scholars found that there are two separate stories of Noah’s Ark that are parallel but have different details. In one version, there were single pairs of animals and in another version there were 7 pairs of animals per specie. One version said it rained for 40 days and nights while in the same breath it was stated that it rained for 150 days.

Scholars came to the conclusion that the first five books of the Old Testament called the Pentateuch were written by several authors in the course of many centuries. Therefore it was understandable that several sources were combined into a one and details were mixed but were still quite cohesive.

There are those who believe that the story of the Biblical Great Flood was just a myth and that the story itself ran parallel to the different versions of the Deluge myth of non-Abrahamic religions. There are those who believe that the Biblical Great Flood was just another presentation of the Book of Genesis’s Creation. Still there are those who believe in the literal story of Noah’s Ark as part of their religious indoctrination.

Noah’s Ark was said to have docked on the mountain of Ararat. Some scholars and Biblical literalists believe that the Biblical Mt. Ararat is in Turkey. There are probably thousands of searches conducted for Noah’s Ark over the last hundreds centuries and none was truly successful.

The Ararat anomaly is believed by some Biblical literalists to be the relic of Noah’s Ark. The Ararat anomaly is an object that appeared in photos taken by the U.S. Air Force during one of their missions in 1949. Since then, numerous photos were taken using modern technology. The latest photo was taken by IKONOS satellite in 2000. Though the “anomaly” could be manmade, upon closer scrutiny, there seems to be linear impressions under the ice.

Do you believe in Noah’s Ark?

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