Bereshit Eight: A New World

Noah, his family, and the animals, have been on the ark for a while, and God finally stops the rains. The water, that by this time covers the entire earth, subsides over time, and finally, Noah decides to open the window of the ark to see if the world has recovered. First, he sends out a raven, but the raven comes back empty-handed (or beaked). Then, he sends out a dove. The first time, the dove too, returns without success. But Noah persists, and sends the dove again, with an olive branch, signifying to Noah that the waters have subsided enough that the earth is growing once again. Noah then sends the dove out a third time, and this time, the dove doesn’t return at all.

Noah, the protagonist who still doesn’t have a voice, shows himself to be resourceful and innovative, as well as persistent. Thinking about Noah’s position – being the leader of the only family left on earth, burdened with the knowledge that God is capable of destroying the world if He isn’t obeyed, I can honestly say that I’d probably be in the fetal position inside the ark. Unlike Adam, who had the burden of being the first man, Noah, the first man to step out into the new world, has the difficult position of all of the responsibilities of being the new first man, with all of the knowledge of the world that once was. If Noah was saved because he was comparatively better than the people he lived amongst. Now, there’s no one else to be judged against, meaning that Noah’s continued favor is completely dependent on his own actions, for the first time in his life. He knows about the world that existed before the flood, and now, as he steps out of the ark, he is completely responsible for how the new world will take shape.

“And Noah built an altar unto the Lord; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt-offerings on the altar. And the Lord smelled the sweet savor, and the Lord said in His heart: ‘I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth (Genesis 8:20-21).'”

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