This section begins with a brief genealogy from Adam to Noah and closes with the narrative of the flood and the ark.
I’ve heard recently that the genealogy from Adam to Noah is not to be considered complete, and up until now I don’t recall ever putting to mind the fact the the genealogy given in today’s reading is quite brief and lacking a great amount of detail. It begins with Adam and then basically gives the name of one son that each of the father’s had and goes on to mention that each father had other sons and daughters and then tells at what age each father died. It’s very scant detail, but certainly each of these men, most having lived for literally hundreds of years–Enoch at 365 and Methuselah 969–would have fathered potentially hundreds of children. Why is it that literally only one son of each of these fathers is mentioned? I’m sure there’s an explanation to be had, but it seems a bit odd. What was of such great importance or significance of each of these men that they are mentioned? Were they the most righteous? The first born? The last born?
We then come to the telling of the story of Noah and the flood. Over the course of thousands of years, men had become exceptionally wicked and in God’s eyes, these men and all living things that crawled on the earth needed to be destroyed. God found only one righteous man and his family to carry on the heritage of mankind on the earth: Noah.
Imagine for a moment what it must have been like being Noah. The Bible implies that no such thing as rain even existed prior to the flood, and yet Noah was building a massive boat–450 feet long by 75 feet wide by 45 feet tall–on dry ground. The story of Noah doesn’t inform us of any violent action taken against Noah during this time, but certainly Noah experienced the full derision of those in his community. Imagine your next-door neighbor building a boat in their backyard the size of a football field, wouldn’t you be skeptical? Noah did not only have to deal with his neighbors and friends questioning his sanity, but certainly his family as well. Amazing, really, that he went through the whole process. Building anything in that epoch of time would have been a slow, labor-intensive task, much less building a 450 foot long boat. I would venture to say that the boat took years to build. Would I have had that kind of courage of conviction? That would’ve taken some faith.
Finally the time came for Noah, his family, and representatives from the entirety of land dwelling creation to convene at the ark and board. That would have been a wild scene. Certainly Noah hadn’t seen every variety of animal prior to this time and yet here they came, two by two, with an interesting exception.
I hadn’t ever taken note of the fact that God told Noah to bring seven pairs of all the clean animals. The ‘clean’ part referring to the animals that are acceptable for consumption and sacrifice. All of the unclean animals, there were only individual pairs, but of the clean animals, there were seven.
After all of the animals were gathered the flood came. The text mentions that the flood began in the six hundredth year of Noah’s life in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month. The flood lasted 40 days, but the flood prevailed for 150 days, and Noah and his family didn’t leave the ark until part way into his six hundred and second year. In fact Noah and his family stayed on the ark until the second month on the twenty-seventh day. An entire year was spent on the ark.
What was Noah’s first motivation after enduring his time on the ark? He sacrificed to God. It was during this sacrifice that God vowed to never again destroy mankind by way of flood. Making the promise:
“I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”
While the earth remains all those things that we take for granted in order to live our lives will remain. God has promised.