The Genesis flood narrative

This flood story is among the best-known stories of the Bible, found in chapters 6–9 in the Book of Genesis.  In this account, Noah labored faithfully to build an ark at God’s command, ultimately saving not only his own family from extinction during the great flood, but mankind itself with all kinds of land animals.  God created this flood after realizing that the world was full of sin. Afterwards, God made a covenant with Noah and promised never again to destroy all the earth’s creatures with a flood.  After this flood, God commanded Noah and his sons to “be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth”.  This story may have been two independent stories put together, since God is sometimes called Yahweh and other times just called Elohim.  This united narrative indicated that God intended to return the earth to its pre-creation state of watery chaos by flooding the earth, because of humanity’s misdeeds.  Then God was going to remake earth from those in Noah’s ark.  Thus, the flood was no ordinary overflow but a reversal of creation.  This narrative discussed the evil of mankind that moved God to destroy the world with a great big water flood.  Noah was to prepare the ark for certain animals.  Noah, and his family had God’s guarantee for a continued life existence, with the promise that God would never send another flood.  Scholars believe that the Noah flood myth originated in Mesopotamia during the Old Babylonian Period (1880-1595 BCE) and reached Syro-Palestine in the latter half of the 2nd millennium BCE.  Numerous and detailed parallels made clear that the Genesis flood narrative was dependent on the Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh, which is thought to date from 1300-1000 BCE.  The Mesopotamian gods decided to send a great flood to destroy mankind.  There are various other correlations between the stories of Noah and Gilgamesh, including the flood, the construction of the ark, the salvation of animals, and the release of birds following the flood.  The Hurrian people had a territory that included the city of Harran, where Abraham had his roots.  The Hurrians may have inherited the flood story from Babylon.  Gilgamesh’s historical reign is believed to have been approximately 2700 BCE, shortly before the earliest known written stories.  For Christians, Noah and his ark have become a figure or image of the Christian Church.  This was like the baptism of the world with all this water, that prepared the salvation of the world to come with Jesus Christ.  The family of Noah was saved by water and wood, just like how Jesus saved the world by the wood of the cross and Baptism.  All the animals saved were like precursors to the fact that the gospel word of Jesus was to spread to the whole world to save them.  There was a new creation after the flood like there is a new person after the Baptism of Jesus Christ.  At the conclusion of the flood, there was an agreement with Noah and God.  So too, there is the new covenant with Jesus Christ.  Thus, Noah and the flood was and is a very strong image for most Christians.  What do you know about Noah and his ark?


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