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Archive for May, 2013

After the dove returned to the ark with an olive leaf in its beak, Noah yet waited around three months before releasing the animals. That would have given sprouting vegetation time to provide food for the animals. In the meantime Noah removed some sort of covering that perhaps protected the window area of the ark (Genesis 8:13).

I don’t think there’s much that we can say for certain about the cover of the ark. Some think the cover was some sort of hinged awning above a row of windows. The Hebrew language was originally written without vowels, and disregarding these vowel symbols which were added late in history, the word translated as “covering” was “mksh.” The Strong’s Concordance notes that a variation of “mksh” can be translated as “clothing,” and also means “omentum.” Thus the meaning of the Hebrew word links with the transparent membrane which lines the abdomen of animals. The windows of the ark could have been protected by this sort of material which would have admitted light but not water.

This is interesting to me because of something reported by Sergeant Ed Davis, an American soldier who claimed to have been guided to the ark in 1943 by a Kurdish family named Abas. Davis said that the patriarch of the family told him that animal stomachs sewn together had been used to store drinking water for the animals, and that many of them were inside the ark (more on the Ed Davis story later). I think I remember reading somewhere that some of them were said to have been folded up. If that is true, then it’s possible that some of what Abas saw could have served as the cover of the ark.

I don’t think the window openings would have been sealed completely because the ark would have needed plenty of ventilation with so many animals inside. Removing part of the overhead protection of the ark would let it air out somewhat better, and would perhaps be necessary for Noah to walk out onto the roof where he could actually see the ground around the ark (Genesis 8:13). From the window area, apparently visibility was restricted by the roof. That agrees with eyewitness claims of a low, narrow row of window openings running along the center of the roof.

In the centuries shortly after the flood, the landscape would have been dotted with many bodies of water trapped behind earthen dams. Some of them would have evaporated over time. Others would have breached their dams at some point causing much secondary flooding. Such floods left fossilized remains of many creatures that had repopulated these areas.

Within a few miles of my home, there are several such areas. There are swamps remaining in basins on top of some of the hills, and boulders washed down little hillside valleys below a break in the ridges above. Huge cone-shaped mounds of earth have been deposited in places where the valleys intersect with others. Lower ocean levels temporarily left land-bridges between continents after the flood. Scientists, regardless of their particular beliefs, acknowledge the existence of ancient land bridges between continents.

Vegetation was undoubtedly somewhat sparse for some time after the animals were released, and the animals would have spread out quickly as they multiplied. Large predators would have followed their favorite prey. Different kinds of animals didn’t just evolve, springing up from the earth in diverse places, but were isolated in those areas by rising ocean levels. Some particular environmental conditions probably led the ancestors of today’s creatures to take different paths in their search for food after the world-wide flood.

The same factors would have contributed to the movement of humans, perhaps from the landing of the ark into what is now Iran, and then westward into the plains of Mesopotamia. Archaeological history, for the main part, agrees with the Bible that civilization had its beginnings near the area where the ark is said to have landed.

That tells us a little bit more about the historical accuracy of the Bible. In time, according to most of the stories, radical changes in climate locked the ark in an ice cap on the mountain, leaving it visible only as the ice melted back in cycles of heat and drought.

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The dove has universally become known as a symbol of peace. I suspect that’s primarily because of the ancient influence of the writings of the Bible upon many nations, but also because of the dove’s gentle nature. Doves have long been sacrificed as food for man. Until I did some research on them, I had no idea that they were so often hunted for food and sport. Pigeons are of the dove family, and the Passenger Pigeon was hunted to extinction in the early 1900’s.

The scientific name for the dove family is Columbidae. Columbine, the Colorado community where several school children were shot and killed by two other students in 1999, is named after the Columbine flower. The flower in turn, received its name from the scientific name for the dove family. That apparently came about because the individual petals of the flower can resemble a dove when viewed from a certain angle.

I certainly don’t believe that our names, or the names of places, determine our fate. That would be contrary to the Bible’s call for us to have faith in God, but strange things do occur. I don’t believe that everything can be dismissed as coincidence. God knows beforehand that the freewill of man will lead to tragedy after tragedy (Matthew 18:6,7). It’s possible that God, foreseeing the Columbine tragedy, could have suggested the name for this flower and community. It’s even possible that he could have created this flower beforehand because of these children.

God is identified in the Bible with a gentle bird that is sacrificed by man, and the dove has become a symbol for the Spirit of God. When Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, the Spirit of God came down in the form of a dove and rested upon him (Matthew 3:16, John 1:32-33). Jesus is the resting place of the dove.

Incidentally, in the Old Testament sacrifice (Leviticus 1:17), after the dove was killed, its wings were pulled out of joint much as the arms of Jesus would have been on the cross. I believe that this Old Testament sacrifice offered a prophetic picture of the crucifixion of Jesus. At least the dove was killed before its wings were torn apart.

The Hebrew word for “dove” in Genesis 8:8-12 is “jonah.” Jonah means dove, though the biblical prophet Jonah wasn’t very dove-like. “Jonah,” is the English form, or transliteration, of the Hebrew word “yownah.” The Hebrews didn’t actually have a “j” in their alphabet. I intend to write more on the substitution of letters in the transliteration of words later.

In answer to demands by certain people for Jesus to prove by signs that he was the Messiah (Matthew 12:39,40), he said that no sign would be given except the sign of the prophet Jonah, “for as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly (or hollow) of the whale, so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

Both doves, and ravens are highly intelligent birds. I’ve never heard of a raven being awarded a war medal as homing pigeons have, but ravens are generally thought to possess greater intelligence. Ravens and crows are from the same family, and are among the birds that can imitate human speech. Ravens are more at home with the violence of this world than are doves. The old poem, “The Twa Corbies,” has two crows talking about a knight who has fallen in battle becoming their next meal.

The Hebrew name for a raven is “oreb.” There are several interesting words that come from this same word family. I mentioned in my last post that the name Noah (Noach) means “rest,” and that a similar Hebrew word was used for the resting place of Noah’s ark. “Arabets,” (compare to Ararat) is a word from the same family as “oreb” and also means “rest,” but in the darker sense of something lurking around. “Oreb,” also means “dusk,” or “dark.”

In myths, ravens have long been associated with the forces of darkness. Naturalists tend to look upon the ravens as simply performing a necessary function in the cycle of life. Superficially, the Bible sometimes seems to go along with this view, but at its core the Bible teaches that things are no longer as God created them to be. The Bible also teaches that one day God will restore nature to a state where nothing harmful exists ( Isaiah 65:25).

It’s interesting to me that it was orebs (ravens) that brought bread and meat twice a day to Elijah when he was hiding in the wilderness (1st.Kings 17:5,6). I would have been concerned about where the meat came from if it had been me. I’m thankful that I’ve never been in Elijah’s situation. A little later when Elijah was running from Queen Jezebel, he fled to Horeb (1st. Kings 19:5-8), the mountain where Moses saw the burning bush (Exodus 3:1-3) The name Horeb, means “desolate,” and is from the same word family as “Oreb.”

The type of information in my last post, and in this one, has sometimes been taken to be Bible trivia. I suppose it could be. I believe however, that the keys to unlocking great mysteries are sometimes hidden behind that which may seem trivial about the Bible. I don’t know if any of this is relevant to whether remains of Noah’s ark yet exist, or its location; I’m mainly taking note of some things that are interesting to me about the Hebrew names for ravens and doves, the birds that Noah released while the waters of the great flood were receding (Genesis 8:4-12).

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