SDMB weekly Bible Study (SDMBWBS)-Week 5 Genesis 7-9:17

Welcome to the SDMB weekly Bible Study (SDMBWBS). This week we will be discussing Genesis 7-9:17. Since the discussion can turn into a very broad and hijackable thread, we would like the following rules to be adhered to:

  1. These SDMBWBS threads are to deal with the books and stories in the Bible as literature. What I’m hoping to achieve is an understanding of the stories, the time in which they were written, context, and possibly its cultural relevance.

  2. While it is up to the individual to choose to believe or disbelieve any portion, that is not to be the discussion of the thread. If you must, please choose to witness/anti-witness in Great Debates.

  3. The intention is to go through the Bible from front to back in order. While different books are needed to be referred to in order to understand context, please try and keep the focus on the thread’s selected chapter(s)/verse(s).

  4. Since different religions have chosen which books to include or omit, the threads will use the Catholic version of 46 Old Testament Books and 27 New Testament Books. It’s encouraged to discuss why a book was included/omitted during the applicable threads only. BibleHub, as far as I know, is a good resource that compiles many different versions of the verses into one page.(Also the SDMB Staff Reports on Who Wrote the Bible). Please feel free to use whatever source you want, including-and even more helpfully-the original language.

  5. Hopefully we can get through these threads with little to no moderation. A gentle reminder that if a poster comes in and ignores these rules, please use the “report post” function instead of responding.

Links to previous threads:
Genesis 1:1 to 2:25
Genesis 3
Genesis 4
Genesis 5-6

Translations from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Genesis 7

7 The Lord then said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation. 2 Take with you seven pairs of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and one pair of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, 3 and also seven pairs of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth. 4 Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made.”

5 And Noah did all that the Lord commanded him.

6 Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters came on the earth. 7 And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives entered the ark to escape the waters of the flood. 8 Pairs of clean and unclean animals, of birds and of all creatures that move along the ground, 9 male and female, came to Noah and entered the ark, as God had commanded Noah. 10 And after the seven days the floodwaters came on the earth.

11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month—on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. 12 And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.

13 On that very day Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, together with his wife and the wives of his three sons, entered the ark. 14 They had with them every wild animal according to its kind, all livestock according to their kinds, every creature that moves along the ground according to its kind and every bird according to its kind, everything with wings. 15 Pairs of all creatures that have the breath of life in them came to Noah and entered the ark. 16 The animals going in were male and female of every living thing, as God had commanded Noah. Then the Lord shut him in.

17 For forty days the flood kept coming on the earth, and as the waters increased they lifted the ark high above the earth. 18 The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. 19 They rose greatly on the earth, and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered. 20 The waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than fifteen cubits.[a]** 21 Every living thing that moved on land perished—birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind. 22 Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died. 23 Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; people and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark.

24 The waters flooded the earth for a hundred and fifty days.

Genesis 8
8 But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded. 2 Now the springs of the deep and the floodgates of the heavens had been closed, and the rain had stopped falling from the sky. 3 The water receded steadily from the earth. At the end of the hundred and fifty days the water had gone down, 4 and on the seventeenth day of the seventh month the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. 5 The waters continued to recede until the tenth month, and on the first day of the tenth month the tops of the mountains became visible.

6 After forty days Noah opened a window he had made in the ark 7 and sent out a raven, and it kept flying back and forth until the water had dried up from the earth. 8 Then he sent out a dove to see if the water had receded from the surface of the ground. 9 But the dove could find nowhere to perch because there was water over all the surface of the earth; so it returned to Noah in the ark. He reached out his hand and took the dove and brought it back to himself in the ark. 10 He waited seven more days and again sent out the dove from the ark. 11 When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth. 12 He waited seven more days and sent the dove out again, but this time it did not return to him.

13 By the first day of the first month of Noah’s six hundred and first year, the water had dried up from the earth. Noah then removed the covering from the ark and saw that the surface of the ground was dry. 14 By the twenty-seventh day of the second month the earth was completely dry.

15 Then God said to Noah, 16 “Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives. 17 Bring out every kind of living creature that is with you—the birds, the animals, and all the creatures that move along the ground—so they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number on it.”

18 So Noah came out, together with his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives. 19 All the animals and all the creatures that move along the ground and all the birds—everything that moves on land—came out of the ark, one kind after another.

20 Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. 21 The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though[a] every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.

22 “As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease.”

Genesis 9:1-9:17

9 Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. 2 The fear and dread of you will fall on all the beasts of the earth, and on all the birds in the sky, on every creature that moves along the ground, and on all the fish in the sea; they are given into your hands. 3 Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.

4 “But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it. 5 And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each human being, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being.

6 “Whoever sheds human blood,
by humans shall their blood be shed;
for in the image of God
has God made mankind.
7 As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it.”

8 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: 9 “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you 10 and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. 16 Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”

17 So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.”

Covering a little extra this week to keep the story from having another weird break in it (like last week).

More evidence of duplicate sources: in chapter 6 Noah is instructed to bring a pair of animals, here he is told to bring seven of each clean species. At one point the flood comes as rain, and at another it is from the waters above and below. Up to now the earth was watered by a mist coming up from the ground, so there had been no rain.

The animals and humans are still living in an arcadian state, and it isn’t until after the flood that meat enters man’s diet. The sheep Abel kept may have been for their wool.

There is archaeological evidence of a flood about 6000 BC that caused the Black Sea to overwhelm the Near East, and is probably the source of the Flood stories in the region. From Scientific American:

The early Christian scholar Origen thought the Ark was shaped like a truncated pyramid, rather than the shape(s) it’s usually thought of today.

For comparison with other Near Eastern religions:

The gods had decided to destroy mankind. The god Enlil warned the priest-king Ziusudra (“Long of Life”) of the coming flood by speaking to a wall while Ziusudra listened at the side. He was instructed to build a great ship and carry beasts and birds upon it. Violent winds came, and a flood of rain covered the earth for seven days and nights. Then Ziusudra opened a window in the large boat, allowing sunlight to enter, and he prostrated himself before the sun-god Utu. After landing, he sacrificed a sheep and an ox and bowed before Anu and Enlil. For protecting the animals and the seed of mankind, he was granted eternal life and taken to the country of Dilmun, where the sun rises. [Hammerly-Dupuy, p. 56; Heidel, pp. 102-106]

People have become rebellious. Atum said he will destroy all he made and return the earth to the Primordial Water which was its original state. Atum will remain, in the form of a serpent, with Osiris. [Faulkner, plate 30] (Unfortunately the version of the papyrus with the flood story is damaged and unclear. See also Budge, p. ccii.)

Three times (every 1200 years), the gods were distressed by the disturbance from human overpopulation. The gods dealt with the problem first by plague, then by famine. Both times, the god Enki advised men to bribe the god causing the problem. The third time, Enlil advised the gods to destroy all humans with a flood, but Enki had Atrahasis build an ark and so escape. Also on the boat were cattle, wild animals and birds, and Atrahasis’ family. When the storm came, Atrahasis sealed the door with bitumen and cut the boat’s rope. The storm god Adad raged, turning the day black. After the seven-day flood, the gods regretted their action. Atrahasis made an offering to them, at which the gods gathered like flies, and Enki established barren women and stillbirth to avoid the problem in the future. [Dalley, pp. 23-35]

The gods, led by Enlil, agreed to cleanse the earth of an overpopulated humanity, but Utnapishtim was warned by the god Ea in a dream. He and some craftsmen built a large boat (one acre in area, seven decks) in a week. He then loaded it with his family, the craftsmen, and “the seed of all living creatures.” The waters of the abyss rose up, and it stormed for six days. Even the gods were frightened by the flood’s fury. Upon seeing all the people killed, the gods repented and wept. The waters covered everything but the top of the mountain Nisur, where the boat landed. Seven days later, Utnapishtim released a dove, but it returned finding nowhere else to land. He next returned a sparrow, which also returned, and then a raven, which did not return. Thus he knew the waters had receded enough for the people to emerge. Utnapishtim made a sacrifice to the gods. He and his wife were given immortality and lived at the end of the earth. [Sandars, chpt. 5]

Sharur destroyed Asag, demon of sickness and disease, by flooding his abode. In the process, “The primeval waters of Kur rose to the surface, and as a result of their violence no fresh waters could reach the fields and gardens.” [Kramer, p. 105]

The god Chronos in a vision warned Xisuthrus, the tenth king of Babylon, of a flood coming on the fifteenth day of the month of Daesius. The god ordered him to write a history and bury it in Sippara, and told him to build and provision a vessel (5 stadia by 2 stadia) for himself, his friends and relations, and all kinds of animals. Xisuthrus asked where he should sail, and Chronos answered, “to the gods, but first pray for all good things to men.” Xisuthrus built a ship five furlongs by two furlongs and loaded it as ordered. After the flood had come and abated somewhat, he sent out some birds, which returned. Later, he tried again, and the birds returned with mud on their feet. On the third trial, the birds didn’t return. He saw that land had appeared above the waters, so he parted some seams of his ship, saw the shore, and drove his ship aground in the Corcyraean mountains in Armenia. He disembarked with his wife, daughter, and pilot, and offered sacrifices to the gods. Those four were translated to live with the gods. The others at first were grieved when they could not find the four, but they heard Xisuthrus’ voice in the air telling them to be pious and to seek his writings at Sippara. Part of the ship remains to this day, and some people make charms from its bitumen. [Frazer, pp. 108-110; G. Smith, pp. 42-43]

According to accounts attributed to Berosus, the antediluvians were giants who became impious and depraved, except one among them that reverenced the gods and was wise and prudent. His name was Noa, and he dwelt in Syria with his three sons Sem, Japet, Chem, and their wives Tidea, Pandora, Noela, and Noegla. From the stars, he foresaw destruction, and he began building an ark. 78 years after he began building, the oceans, inland seas, and rivers burst forth from beneath, attended by many days of violent rain. The waters overflowed all the mountains, and the human race was drowned except Noa and his family who survived on his ship. The ship came to rest at last on the top of the Gendyae or Mountain. Parts of it still remain, which men take bitumen from to make charms against evil. [H. Miller, pp. 291-292]

Allah sent Noah to warn the people to serve none but Allah, but most of them would not listen. They challenged Noah to make good his threats and mocked him when, under Allah’s inspiration, he built a ship. Allah told Noah not to speak to Him on behalf of wrongdoers; they would be drowned. In time, water gushed from underground and fell from the sky. Noah loaded onto his ship pairs of all kinds, his household, and those few who believed. One of Noah’s sons didn’t believe and said he would seek safety in the mountains. He was among the drowned. The ship sailed amid great waves. Allah commanded the earth to swallow the water and the sky to clear, and the ship came to rest on Al-Judi. Noah complained to Allah for taking his son. Allah admonished that the son was an evildoer and not of Noah’s household, and Noah prayed for forgiveness. Allah told Noah to go with blessings on him and on some nations that will arise from those with him. [Koran 11:25-48]

In early times, the earth was full of malign creatures fashioned by the evil Ahriman. The angel Tistar (the star Sirius) descended three times, in the form of man, horse, and bull respectively, causing ten days and nights of rain each time. Each rain drop became as big as a bowl, and the water rose the height of a man over the whole earth. The first flood drowned the creatures, but the dead noxious creatures went into holes in the earth. Before returning to cause the second flood, Tistar, in the form of a white horse, battled the demon Apaosha, who took the form of a black horse. Ormuzd blasted the demon with lightning, making the demon give a cry which can still be heard in thunderstorms, and Tistar prevailed and caused rivers to flow. The poison washed from the land by the second flood made the seas salty. The waters were driven to the ends of the earth by a great wind and became the sea Vourukasha (“Wide-Gulfed”). [Carnoy, p. 270; Vitaliano, pp. 161-162; H. Miller, p. 288]

Yima, under divine superintendence, reigned over the world for 900 years. As there was no disease or death, the population increased so that it was necessary to enlarge the earth after 300 years; Yima accomplished this with the help of a gold ring and gold-inlaid dagger he had received from Ahura Mazda, the Creator. Enlargement of the earth was necessary again after 600 years. When the population became too great after 900 years, Ahura Mazda warned Yima that destruction was coming in the form of winter, frost, and subsequent melting of the snow. He instructed Yima to build a vara, a large square enclosure, in which to keep specimens of small and large cattle, human beings, dogs, birds, red flaming fires, plants and foodstuffs, two of every kind. The men and cattle he brought in were to be the finest on earth. Within the enclosure, men passed the happiest of lives, with each year seeming like a day. [Frazer, pp. 180-182; Dresden, p. 344]

Aprocryphal scripture tells that Adam directed that his body, together with gold, incense, and myrrh, should be taken aboard the Ark and, after the flood, should be laid in the middle of the earth. God would come from thence and save mankind. [Platt, p. 66, 80 (2 Adam 8:9-18, 21:7-11)]

Richard Friedman, in his excellent (and easily understood by ordinary readers) Who Wrote the Bible uses the Noah flood story as evidence of multiple authors, with two different stories being skillfully woven together. When read as a whole as we now have it, modern readers find confusion because of time shifts, repetitions, number inconsistency (40 days vs 150 days; number of animals), raven vs doves, etc. But when separated out, each story is a consistent whole. I find this a compelling argument. Those who think that there is only one Author have complicated explanations, of course.

The J-text always uses the name YHVH for the deity (usually translated “The Lord”). God can regret, be grieved, smell a sacrifice, and is much more anthropomorphic (older text). It goes as follows:
Gen 6: 5 – 8: The Lord looks upon the evil of humans, regrets that He had made them, decides to wipe them out, but Noah found favor in the Lord’s eyes.
Gen 7: 1- 5: The Lord tells Noah to take his household and animals (seven of each clean type, two of each other type), flood will come in seven days and last 40 days; Noah obeys.
Gen 7:7: Noah and his family go into ark
Gen 7: 10: Seven days later, flood waters come
Gen 7:12: Rain lasts 40 days and 40 nights.
Gen 7:16(b) - 20: The Lord closes ark, Flood covers earth, ark lifted up, waters cover mountains
Gen 7:22 – 23: Everything not on ark perishes.
Gen 8: 2(b)-3: Rain is restrained, waters recede.
Gen 8:6: After 40 days, Noah opens window in ark
Gen 8:8 -12: Noah sends out dove, it comes back; seven days later, sends out another dove, it comes back with olive branch; waits another seven days, sends another dove, it doesn’t come back.
Gen 8:13(b): Noah opens ark, sees land is dried.
Gen 8:20 - 22: Noah builds altar, sacrifices, the Lord smells the odor and promises no repeat.

The P-version uses Elohim (“translated “God”) goes as follows:
Gen 6:9 -22: The generations of Noah, Noah is righteous in his generation, earth is corrupted, God warns Noah and gives detailed instructions for ark (size, material, etc), says He’ll bring flood and establish covenant with Noah, bring two of each animal, male and female. Noah follows instructions.

Gen 7:6: Noah was 600 years old, flood comes.
Gen 7:8-9: Two of each kind of animal (both clean and non-clean) come to Noah
Gen 7:11: In 600th year of Noah’s life, exact date given, fountains of deep and windows of heaven opened.
Gen 7:13: On that same day, Noah and family and animals go into ark.
Gen 7:21: Everything not in ark perishes
Gen 7:24 – 8:2(a): Waters grew strong on earth for 150 days, God remembers Noah, sends wind and waters recede, fountains of deep and windows of heaven are shut.
Gen 8:3(b) – 5: Waters abate after 150 days, ark comes to rest on mountain, dates given
Gen 8:7: Noah sends out raven, it went back and forth until waters dried up
Gen 8: 13(a): Exact dates that waters dried up
Gen 8:14 – 19: God tells Noah all is well, go out of ark

The differences are interesting and striking. Not just raven/dove, 40/150, vocabulary, but the role of God. Note that in J, it’s a huge rain; in P, it’s almost mystic “fountains of deep and windows of heaven.”

In either case, how much time was given Noah to build the Ark?

Since Genesis doesn’t specifically say, it’s completely a matter of conjecture. Most estimates are between 20 and 120 years, so there’s considerable leeway.

Another ancient portrayal of the rainbow is given in the Epic of Gilgamesh: the rainbow is the “jewelled necklace of the Great Mother Ishtar” that she lifts into the sky as a promise that she “will never forget these days of the great flood” that destroyed her children. (The Epic of Gilgamesh, Tablet Eleven)

Then Ishtar arrived. She lifted up the necklace of great jewels that her father, Anu, had created to please her and said, "Heavenly gods, as surely as this jewelled necklace hangs upon my neck, I will never forget these days of the great flood. Let all of the gods except Enlil come to the offering. Enlil may not come, for without reason he brought forth the flood that destroyed my people.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints founder and prophet Joseph Smith stated that the second coming of the Christ would not occur in any year in which a rainbow is seen.


According to Jewish tradition, 120 years. This is (according to this tradition) the meaning of verse 6:3 - mankind would have only 120 more years to clean up their act. Once the decision was made that mankind would be wiped out, Noah was commanded to build the ark.

Professor Pepperwinkle:

I assume you’re getting this from Genesis 2, but I don’t see how that follows. All that indicates is that there was no rain up to that point (before Adam’s creation), not that there was no rain all the way until Noah.

CK Dexter Haven:

There’s plenty in the Bible for which the explanations are complicated, but the above examples are neither inconsistent nor complicated to explain as long as you read the text carefully:

40 days is how long rain fell; 150 days is how long the earth remained completely covered in water that did not recede.
One pair of animals of every kind would come to Noah on their own (by G-d’s direction); it Noah’s personal obligation to gather seven pairs of the clean animals (for sacrificial purposes over and above simply perpetuating the species on Earth).
The raven (note: a bird considered not-Kosher in Jewish law, hence “bad guy”) was sent first, didn’t do its duty, the dove (note: a Kosher bird, also usable for Temple sacrifices, hence “good guy”) was sent subsequently, and faithfully fulfilled its duty.

It’s a fairly common interpretation, at least among the more literalist Christian commentators. The mist is mentioned (often thought to relate to a river’s swelling, such as the Nile), no mention of any rain between, rain mentioned here for the first time, and the creation of the rainbow, all of which lead a number of scholars to the conclusion there was no rain before the Flood. As always, YMMV.

NOTE: Next week’s discussion will be slightly hampered (perhaps) by the Jewish holidays which will limit observant (or even semi-observant, like myself) Jewish posters.

BACK TO TOPIC: The word “ark” is T-V-H and appears seven times in the text prior to the Flood, and seven times after. The same word is used later in Exodus, referring to Moses’ famous basket of bullrushes. Similarly, the words “make” (as in “make yourself an ark of gopher wood”) appear seven times. The number seven is, of course, important in the Creation story. Noah is given seven days to gather animals (Gen 7:4).

I think this is also the first occurence of 40, a number that implies generational change. Similarly, Moses is on the mountain for 40 days and 40 nights, the Israelites wander in the desert for 40 years, 40 years appears often in the book of Judges, etc. The implication is that there is a new generation (or new “world”) after the mention of 40. The New Testament follows this, and Jesus goes up on a mountain also for 40 d and 40 n.

Note that Gen 6:21 (technically part of last week’s discussion, but…) implies vegetarianism: “take everything that is eaten and store it away to serve as food…” Note the permission to eat meat, in the first sentences of Gen 9.

This is the first mention of a covenant. The term implies a legal contractual agreement.

The “fountains of the deep” are a reference back to Gen 1:2, there is a “darkness over the surface of the deep.” The poetry here is that there is more going on than just a huge rainstorm; this is an unleashing of primordial raging waters.

On the time-sequence (assuming a single narrative), after the construction of the ark:

  • gathering animals, hearing instructions: 7 days
  • Rain/flood: 40 days
  • Evaporation period: 150 days
  • Diminishing of waters: 40 days
  • Sending of doves: 7 days
    Neat, eh? Regardless of whether one thinks of one Author, or of multiple authors edited by a Redactor, the final work has some pretty interesting literary devices.

Is the same word as in Gen. 1:2 – tehom – used here as well?

And, at the risk of going slightly off-topic, is there a scholarly consensus with regards to the “Yahweh-Tehom Myth”, which connects tehom, “the deep”, with Tiamat, the Babylonian goddess of chaos?



Amongst scholars who agree that there is a connection between the origin story in Genesis and Babylonian religion, yes, there is consensus, or as much of one as anyone can reasonably expect. A number of the more fundamentalist Bible scholars consider the Babylonian myths to be a perversion of the Genesis story, and would disagree.

From Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible:

I. Tehom, usually translated “the deep” occurs in Gen 1:2 as a designation of the primeval sea, and is frequently used in the aT to denote the cosmic -sea (Yam) on
which the world rests, and from which all water comes, as well as any large body of
water, including rivers, and the depth of the sea and the earth.

Heb Tehom is etymologically related to Akk Titimat, which derives from an older
Semitic root, thm, known in Ugaritic and other semitic languages as a designation of
the sea. In Arabic Tihiimat denotes the coastal plain along the southwestern and
southern shores of the Arabian peninsula. In Akkadian the root is known in the female
form, titimtu, or tamtu, ·sea’. The divine name Tiamat, especially well-known from
the Babylonian Creation Myth Enuma elis, is the absolute state of the noun.
To the deification of Tiamat in Mesopotamian texts corresponds the deification of
thmt in the divine pair gnn wthmt (‘mountains and deep waters’) in Ugaritic texts.

ll. In the Babylonian creation epic Enuma elif, Tiamat (also called Mummu) is the personified primeval ocean that was defeated by Marduk, whose supremacy
over the Babylonian pantheon was established through battle.

In Assyriological literature Tiamat is usually understood as the salt water ocean,
in opposition to Apsu, which is supposed to represent the subterranean fresh water
sources. However, the text itself makes no distinction between salt water and fresh
water. Emima elis, V 52-66, considers Tiamat to be the source of all fresh water,
not only the Euphrates and the Tigris, but also other sources of water supply, as well
as· fog, .mist, and snow. The place of these sources is clearly thought to be under the
ground or a mountain, whereas older concept has it that Apsu represented the subterranean fresh water supply. Apsu, on the other hand, appears in Enuma elis IV 144145 to represent the lower part of the cosmos; the sky (here called Esharra) is
established as a celestial counterpart to Apsu or the lower world. The significant opposi·
tion between Tiamat and Apsu is thus that of feminine and masculine principles, rather
than salt water versus fresh water.
This may have been more than you wanted to know.

Also no sacrifice in P which is why only pairs were needed. Noah might have been the ancestor of all priests but he wasn’t one himself and the tabernacle was not yet built. An important theme for P was that priests have the exclusive right to the sacrificing franchise.

Then there’s the “firmament”. I’ve heard some stuff (and apparently Josephus even explained it) that the “Firmament” was actually a physical, material sphere that encircled the earth. Basically, it had the effect of a terrarium, making the earth humid enough to support plant life. When the Flood came, part of the deal was that the Firmament came crashing down All that moisture that had previously been contained in the “terrarium” turned into clouds that then rained down on the earth. I’m afraid I can’t provide cites for this, as it’s stuff I heard long before the Internet.

I found it interesting that, in my reading on Sumerian religion (the Sumerians being the oldest civilization for which we have records), the gods “spoke” the world into existence, the same way that the God of Genesis spoke the world into existence.

Of course, as a lover of beer, I also found the Sumerian explanation of disabled people interesting. It seems that, after creating Man, the gods threw a party and got drunk on beer, and while they were drunk they created some more people. Those people they created while drunk were the blind, the lame, and the otherwise disabled.

The Talmud speaks of multiple spheres, which is the probably source of the expression “seven heavens”. In fact, there was significant discussion in the midrashes about just how many spheres there are. The Hebrew word “shamayim” is plural, which contributes to this. There were certainly considered at least three: the first is the sky, the second is outer space, and the third where God holds court.

This was my bar mitzvah Torah portion. I just wanted to add that “gopher” has nothing to do with the furry creature. Rather it is a transliteration of the original Hebrew גֹפֶר

Right. It’s often translated as “cypress wood” but that’s really just a guess.

It’s AMAZING to me that after years of religious education as a kid, how much stuff like this went right over my head and I didn’t think to question it. Gopher wood - that’s something you should be asking about, right? I think that early on, I just started chalking everything up to the mysteries of the ancient Hebrews.