NOAH – His forefathers, descendants, the ark and the flood.
The life of Noah, the building of the ark and the flood, must be considered among the most remarkable, stupendous and awesome accounts in the whole of Scripture.
Both our Lord in the gospels, and the writer of Hebrews, refer to the ark and the flood as certain facts, beyond any doubt, as does Peter in his two epistles. Also it is well known that in all the aboriginal tribes or people of the whole world, there has been the knowledge of a great deluge that took place in very ancient times and covered the whole earth.
Noah was the outstanding man of his time. His father Lamech was a God fearing man, who saw in his son’s birth a sign of God’s favour and comfort to come. He lived exactly 777 years – perfection three times – and died five years before the flood, at a much earlier age than his predecessors, except Enoch who was translated at 365.
His grandfather Methuselah – meaning when he is dead it shall be sent – was the man to live longest on earth – 969 years. However, considering that men were not really adults till much later in life than these days, it could well be argued that Adam lived as an adult more than him and any other.
Methuselah’s death the year of the flood, having been born 687 years from Adam’s creation, and lived 969 years to exactly l656 from Adam, the year of the flood, was indeed a special token of God’s mercy on him.
Finally, Noah’s great grandfather Enoch, outstanding for his righteous life, for walking with God and pleasing Him, and above all for his translation – by faith, as we are told in Hebrews 11: 5 – came to be, together with Elijah, the only two who have not known death, a pointer in a sense to the rapture of the church on the Lord’s second coming.
His 365 years (3+6+5=14) i.e. double perfection, point to a life perfectly timed, born, so to speak, on 1st January and translated on 31st. December. Significantly, Adam was the only one in this line not to be alive when Enoch was translated.
The word grace appears for the first time in the Bible in Genesis 6: 8, where we are told that “…Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” A true chip of the block, he walked with God just as his great grandfather Enoch had done, although he did not ever know or see him, Enoch having been translated in 987 from Adam, that is 69 years before Noah was born.
The meaning of his name – rest or comfort – enriches our understanding of his virtues as a man of comfort, after the nature of the God of all comfort. (2nd. Corinthians 1: 3)
The great magnitude of the task of building the ark can only be described as gigantic and colossal. For a structure of that size – 135 metres long, by 22.5 wide and 13.5 high, with ground floor, and first and second storeys, it must have been necessary to fell many hundreds of trees. Gopher wood, as per King James, is also rendered in other versions or marginal references as fir, cypress or cedar.
It is commonly accepted and held that it took him the best part of the hundred years running from his 500th. to his 600th. year.
In the early stages he was very likely helped by his father and grandfather, whilst later on his sons Shem, Ham and Japheth, as they grew up, would have given invaluable help to speed up the tremendous task.
The felling of trees would be followed by cutting off the unwanted smaller branches, and peeling off the bark. From Genesis 4: 22 we can safely assume that the use of saws was quite common; however, not by electric of fuel power, but by sheer muscle and brawn, with much sweat of the brow.
We may well imagine the hours, days, months and years Noah and his helpers must have spent levelling up, sawing away plank upon plank, all of the same thickness and width, but not necessarily of the same length.
Then they would also have to plain and smooth them meticulously in whatever way it was done, so as to get them exactly flush with each other, as the ark had to be absolutely waterproof.
The instructions Noah received for the construction of the ark are far less detailed than those Moses received for the tabernacle. We are not told how the planks or boards were fastened together, but it is likely that he used a method similar to that of Exodus 26: 15-28 for the tabernacle, but possibly less elaborate, i.e. cross bars running from end to end on bottom, sides and top, holding the planks or boards firmly together.
The thoroughness with which all this had to be done, in view of all the weight the ark would have to bear floating on the water, cannot be too strongly emphasised.
The space of nearly a hundred years spent on this formidable task, and the fact that the ark, with its amazing load, containing seven couples of every clean animal and bird, and one of every unclean, plus food enough for them and himself and his family, stood up to the test over the many days involved without springing a leak in the floor, which would have been fatal – that, indeed, was an astonishing achievement.
Also that nothing in the structure should shrink or crack in any way, and so much else that could be added, remains as a vivid testimony to his great perseverance, and remarkable skill as a carpenter in particular, but also as an accomplished craftsman in many other ways.
The job of coating the ark with pitch to avoid leakages also had to be seen to most thoroughly – within and without – and probably two or even three coats would have been necessary. The bottom part one imagines he had to lift it up and make it rest on trestles or any other form of support, either wholly or in sections, for better access, since it was the part that was to be subject to the greatest weight and pressure,
The disposal of discharges both human and of all the animals and fowl on board – both liquids and solids – as well as the supply of water and ventilation for such a vast fauna, are points on which we have little or no light from the account given in Genesis.
Some have drawn pictures of the ark with plenty of windows for each storey. Although we only read of one window on the roof, it is conceivably possible that there were other windows as well, as an essential requirement to renew the air inside, where the animals must have been rather overcrowded for the long period of one year and seventeen days.
In Genesis 8: 13 we read that Noah removed the covering of the ark. This covering is not mentioned previously, but it could have been so made that whilst preventing rain getting in through the windows, if such windows did really exist, it would also allow a flow of air to go through and so renew the atmosphere within the ark. However, all this is a conjecture, since we have no clear indication from the narrative.
Another matter calling for attention is how all the animals – the entire range of species, both of beasts and fowl – made their way into the ark. It is inconceivable to think that Noah went about seeking and herding them into the ark. It seems more likely that the Lord Himself gave them a simple knowing that a great calamity was on its way, with an urge to get into the ark for safety.
It is also feasible to conclude that by an awareness that the whole world was under a dreadful judgement of God, they should be struck with a solemn awe that brought them into a state of passive hibernation all the time they were in the ark. This perhaps could have led to eating far less than usual, and refraining from attacking, or even interfering with one another.
It rained for 40 days and 40 nights, but at the same time the flood was accelerated by the breaking forth of the fountains of the deep, i.e. subterraneous fountains bursting forth and abundant cascades coming from the depth of the earth. This of course is confirmed by what we read in Genesis7: 11 – “In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the great fountains of the deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.”
It is also true that this breaking forth of the fountains of the deep has been known to occur, although to a far lesser degree, in contemporary regional floods.
The subsiding of the water, that had reached 6.75 metres above the highest peaks, was a much slower process – It wasn’t till the 17th day of the seventh month, that is 5 months or 150 days since rained started, and 110 since it ended, that the ark rested on Mount Ararat, generally held to be in Armenia at the time, but nowadays within Turkey, to the east of the country.
Even then it took a further seven months and ten days for the earth to be dry enough for Noah and his little family, and all the animals and birds to come out of the ark. Of course, we must note that the fish were not affected by the flood, and there is no hint of any been found in the ark!
The first thing Noah did was to make a great bonfire on an altar built unto Jehovah, on which he made a burnt offering of every clean beast and fowl. The Lord accepted his offering which He “… smelled a sweet savour…” as we are told in Genesis 8: 21.
One may well imagine his trembling gratitude to the great, awesome and omnipotent, but at the same time gracious and merciful God he had walked with for so long, for sparing him and his own, and for taking his father and grandfather shortly before that awesome judgement on the rest of mankind.
Doubtless Noah returned to an earth very different from what it had been before the flood.
Originally, as Adam and Even lived naked and in ease and comfort, it stands to reason that there must have been a very mild uniform temperature – which has been rightly estimated at between 22 and 24 degrees Celsius by day, and 18 to 20 by night.
Now however, we find in Genesis 8: 22 the first mention of cold, and from 9: 3 we learn that Jehovah now consents to man eating flesh in contrast to 1: 29-30 – the original condition in which herbs and plants were quite enough and adequate for man and beast. The simple reason was of course the need for a higher content of protein in colder and harsher conditions.
For those who argue unconditionally against eating meat and in favour of an exclusively vegetarian diet, whilst this may be so in certain cases and stages of life, apart from the clear statement of Genesis 9: 3 – “Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things,” we have further proof in the fact that the portion assigned to the priests in the levitical order from the sacrifices offered unto the Lord, was rich in meat content, which was to be eaten not only by the priests, but also by their sons and daughters. (See Numbers 18: 8-11)
Some years ago, excavations made in Siberia led to the discovery of many mammoths, buried some 400 or 500 metres below the surface, frozen in what might be called a subterraneous freezer of nature. Not only was the flesh of these animals found perfectly preserved, but it was also found that in their oesophagus there lay undigested leaves and stalks of what was recognised as tropical herbs. This can only point to two most striking facts:
- These mammoths had come to a sudden death which interrupted their digestion process.
- They belonged to a tropical region, which by a very remarkable and sudden cause was changed into an extremely cold region with temperatures well below freezing point.
Rather than accepting the evolutionist theory of the ice age having come many millions of years ago, one favours the view that the most likely explanation is that the great cataclysmal disorders obviously brought about by the flood, produced a sudden imbalance in the forces governing climate and temperature, so as to bring cold and heat extremes. These, which in some cases are unhealthy or else very hard to bear indeed, clearly did not obtain in the beginning, when Adam and Eve did not need clothing, and it is said distinctly that “God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good.” (Genesis 1: 31)
Evolution also holds that dinosaurs preceded man on our planet by many thousands of years. Yet this has been utterly disproved by the finding of fossils of both human beings and dinosaurs side by side or very close to each other.
It seems quite reasonable to state that, as the flood kept rising, both human beings and animals climbed as high as they could to escape death, but were finally overtaken by the rising waters, and drowned and buried eventually in the mud and silt of the flood.
Spiritually, the ark and the flood have a lot to say to us, both through the facts and in type.
“The end of all flesh is come before me” (Genesis 6: 13) clearly points to God’s death sentence upon all the Adamic nature pronounced on Calvary. In Romans 6 Paul brings forth this truth in compelling manner, connecting both the Cross and baptism in relation to this.
Also in 1st. Peter 3: 20 we read of the ark and the flood as a type of baptism – for which the Greek word is the antitype – and salvation – “the answer of a good conscience toward God,” adding the further ingredient of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
This widens our allegorical scope, and it goes with the promise that no further judgement through a flood shall ever be. This was to be confirmed by the appearing of the beautiful colouring of the rainbow in the sky. Thus we can visualise a blessed hereafter, with all flesh, sin and evil judged and swallowed up, and the certain resurrection into a newness of life in bliss and glory unspeakable, which are to endure forever.
Noah, we are told in 2nd. Peter 2: 5, was a preacher of righteousness: “…the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah when the ark was a preparing.”
The working site, with the strange structure slowly and gradually taking shape, with lots of boards piled up and more trees being felled, must have become an attraction to all, making them stand and watch, asking themselves what on earth was Noah up to, working at it year after year.
This no doubt must have given him his opportunity to rise and come into his own as that preacher of righteousness Peter tells us he was.
But we must not fail to point out that, apart from a preacher of righteousness, Noah was an intercessor, and had the high distinction of being named in the Scriptures as one of the five outstanding intercessors of Old Testament times, the other four being Moses and Samuel, as per Jeremiah 15: 1, and Daniel and Job, named in Ezekiel 14: 14.
Our Lord tells us in Matthew 24: 29 that “…they knew not.” (Spanish “…they understood not.” This was not from lack of mental ability, but from their minds being darkened by sin and evil.
He also warns us that it shall be so when He comes again, which brings a solemn reminder that we are to take no liberties, pandering to the flesh or self in any way, but instead watch and pray, and abide in Him always.
Of his three sons, Shem and Japheth were different from Ham in that they were very careful not to dishonour their father as he did. This brought a curse on Canaan his son, who was to be a servant of servants to his brethren. To Ham were also born Cush – from which the Ethiopians came, Phut, and Mizraim (Egyptians). Canaan’s descendants included the Phoenicians too.
It is commonly accepted that from Japheth came the Arian race, which peopled Asia Minor and Europe, namely Gaelic, Britons, Germanic, Russians, Medes, Iberians, Romans, Greek and Thracians.
From Shem came the Semitic race – Chaldeans, Persians, Assyrians, Armenians and Syrians. From the Chaldeans came Abraham, the father of the people of Israel.
Hebrews 11: 7 describes him as “…heir of the righteousness which is of faith.” From his distinguished lineage, going back to Lamech, Methuselah and Enoch, he had already received a righteous heritage, but from walking with God by faith he was able to obey Him and see through such an incredible and amazing enterprise. So he became heir of that blessed righteousness of God, which, side by side with many fellow heirs, he is enjoying in blessed array and splendour – for ever and ever. AMEN!