Monday, October 04, 2010

Noach is the most difficult parsha: Questions

What is a believing Jew to do with Noach? The questions seem impossible to answer. In brief, they are:

(1) How did all the animals fit on the boat?
(2) Why does the story contradict itself? Was it seven animals or two? Did the windows of the sky open, or did the fountains of the deep erupt? And if it was both, why is it written like two different tales have been woven together?
(3) Why does the world show no geological or archeological evidence of a global flood?
(4) How did three men repopulate the world so quickly? And if evolution is false, why do the descendants of those three men have such different phenotypes?
(5) How did the kangaroo and platypus return to Australia?
(6) A verse in Noach seems to replicate a verse found in the much earlier Epic of Gilgamesh. In both flood stories, the hero sacrifices; afterwards, we're told that God/the gods smelled the sweet odor. The same information, indeed the same expression, appears in both works. The fact that God/the gods smelling a sacrifice is not an observable event suggests very strongly that the two  books depend on each other for the information. If Noach was the older story, we might say that God, for some reason, chose to use this vivid anthropomorphism to describe himself, and that the author of Gilgamesh copied it. Unfortunately, the dating does not support this interpretation.
(7) Submitted by a reader
...the answers... can be summed up in a word: Miracles. My question, however, cannot be answered by miracles, and it goes as follows: The earth was created in the year 3761 BCE. Noah, bless his soul, was born in the year 1056 BCE. At the age of 600 yrs, Noah and his entourage entered the ark and the flood began, wiping out all living things, as quoteth from the holy book. They all descended the following year, which would be the year 2104 BCE. According to the holy book, all life should have been annihilated globally at that moment. This was also the time of the First Intermediate Period, a well-documented era at the end of the Old Kingdom in Egypt. It was also the time when the 3000 yr old Sumerian culture was waning and the Akkadian kingdom was at it's peak, for just 50 yrs later would be the Third dynasty of Ur, or the "Sumerian Renaissance". Somehow, the news of the flood also failed to reach the Indus Valley in India where the Harappan Civilization was in the height of its mature phase. My final example, although there are more, is the Xia dynasty in China, which was the first dynasty in China to be established in historical documents. All of these civilizations are well documented and all show absolutely no evidence of a sudden cessation that could be attributed to a flood. In fact they all show excellent continuity with kingdoms and rulers who followed. The existence and continuity of these civilizations show there never was a global flood. Anyone who would try to explain this historical discrepancy to the biblical flood story by resorting to the word Miracle would have to be classified as 'delusional'.
Some answers later.

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