Another Hebrew Flood Story

20 February, 2008

RavenEl, the High God, was upset. He was strolling along with Noah, a most virtuous man, and saw that the world had become corrupted. It wasn’t clear what has caused this corruption but nonetheless El decided to destroy all of the living things since it had worked so well for some of the other Gods. He did have a thing for the unblemished Noah though, and thought he would spare this mortal. El gave Noah detailed instructions on how to build the Ark, how many cubits in length it should be (300), what wood to make it out of (gopher wood), how many people to bring (himself, his wife, his sons and their wives), how many animals to bring (two of each, male and female), how much food to bring (enough for everyone for an unspecified time), how many bathrooms to have (none, like the starship Enterprise), how much to charge at the breakfast bar (50 shekels, it’s a seller’s market), what colour to paint it (light blue) and how much to pay the contractors who did all the work (it didn’t matter, they’d all be dead soon enough).

All the animals and birds came, two by two, into the Ark. Seven days later El split open the fountains of the Deep, and opened the doors in the sky, and the waters flooded in. For forty days and forty nights it rained, and the waters grew strong. All the people and animals and birds died in the flood. After a hundred and fifty days El wondered why it was so quiet and suddenly remembered his favourite Noah. El ate some fibrous nourishment and then passed a wind over the Earth so that the waters decreased. He closed the fountains of the Deep and the trapdoors in the sky. Five months after the start of the destruction the Ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. The water kept receding, and three months later the tops of the mountains appeared. Noah let a raven go and it went back and forth until the water dried up. Nevermore would the raven return to Noah. Finally, a year after the start of the flood, the Earth was again dry and El told Noah to leave the Ark, since Noah couldn’t do anything without El’s say so, even though he knew it was safe from the whole raven incident a few months before.

The bewildered animals, birds and humans stepped out onto this newly devastated world and gave thanks to El for not killing every living thing. El said to Noah, “Be fruitful and multiply. I give you dominion over all living things, you can eat what you want as long as you don’t eat the blood. Oh, and if any human kills any other human then they shall be put to death since they killed something in my image. Let’s see, what else…”

“Oh mighty El, ” inquired Noah, “how can we be sure that you wont try to kill us all again with another flood? Or if you don’t, what about another of the Gods, because I’ve heard a lot of stories about how this sort of thing keeps happening.”

“Tell you what little favoured mortal, I shall establish a covenant with you and with all the creatures of the earth. I will put my rainbow in the clouds and whenever I, or anyone else, tries to flood the world we shall see the rainbow, and it will remind us of you and your campy ways. Thus we shall never again try to flood the world. It’s useful to have little reminders like that I find.”

And so the might El, king of all the Gods, finally managed to stop everyone from trying to flood the entire Earth.

Based on the P account contained in Genesis

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A Hebrew Flood Story

15 February, 2008

doveYahweh the storm God was upset. The humans had produced many fine women and the Sons of El, the high God, had descended from the sky to enjoy the delights of their flesh. These human women were very attractive to the Gods, mainly because they were the first females they had encountered that they weren’t related to. And so they frolicked, and played, and had fun, and due to having no contraception gave birth to the Nephilim, demigod heroes of renown. These heroes made a lot of noise and engaged in a lot of activity of dubious moral character. Much later people would think these Nephilim were hybrid space aliens, but this tale was long before that came fashionable. Yahweh looked down from the sky at what humanity had become, and he grieved. Their evil was filling the world, and quicker than he imagined possible thanks to the Sons of El and the Nephilim.

“I’ll wipe out these humans from the face of the earth because I regret that I made them.” With a tear in his eye he prepared to whip up a storm. Just then he saw Noah, one of Yahweh’s favourites. “Quickly, ” he said to Noah, “all of your household, get into an ark. And bring 7 pairs of every pure animal, you’ll need them later, and one pair of all the others. Bring the flying birds too.”

Noah did as Yahweh commanded, he brought everyone into the Ark, and Yahweh closed it for him. The flood came upon the earth for forty days, and the waters covered even the highest of mountains. All the animals on the ground died. Even the birds of the air died, the poor sparrow, and eagle, and hawk. Ducks survived of course and floated alongside the ark taunting their non-aquatic brethren. Then the rain was restrained and the flood waters went back from the earth. Noah opened a window and let go a dove which could not find a resting place and so returned. He waited a week and let it go again, and this time it returned with an olive branch in its mouth, and Noah was pleased. Noah hoped that a dove with an olive branch would become some sort of sign of peace after any maniacal genocide had happened. Finally after another week he released the dove again and it didn’t come back. It had either found land or just didn’t want the company of Noah any more and figured a slow lingering death was preferable to talking to the future father of humanity.

Eventually the ark came to rest on land and Noah built an alter to Yahweh. He took some of the pure animals and some of the pure birds of the air and offered sacrifices on the alter. And Yahweh smelled the pleasant smell and said “You know something, you humans are inclined to evil from when you’re young, and it’s not really your fault. Tell you what, I wont try kill all of you again in one big shot. I’ll just kill you in little doses.”

“Thank you oh mighty Yahweh!” said Noah, “and what about giving me the OK to be fruitful and multiply? And maybe show us a rainbow?”

“You’re probably thinking of another flood story to do with El.” said Yahweh. “After all, just because I have promised never again to kill everyone, doesn’t mean that some other God wont try to do just that…”

Based on the J version of the flood story contained in Genesis.