Story of the Chosen People - Helene Guerber




The Deluge

Adam and Eve, in the meanwhile, continued to live alone, mourning the death of Abel and the departure of Cain. But when they were one hundred and thirty years old, a third son was born to them, and they called him Seth which means "the appointed," because they thought that it was surely the Redeemer who had come.

They were again disappointed, however; but Seth married, and Adam had many descendants, the sixth in direct line being Enoch. This man was very good and pious, and "walked with God." He was rewarded for his goodness; for God did not allow him to die like the rest of his race, but carried him off to heaven, so that "he should not see death."

Enochís son, Methuselah is noted as having reached the greatest age ever attained by man, nine hundred and sixty-nine years. He was two hundred and forty-three years old when Adam died, and. must often have heard him tell about the Garden of Eden, the eating of the forbidden fruit, and how he was driven out of Paradise.

Methuselahís grandson was Noah who was born six-hundred years before Methuselah died; and Noah no doubt often heard his grandfather relate the stories which Adam had told.

The world had grown very wicked during the fifteen hundred and fifty-six years which had passed by since the creation of Adam; for his numerous descendants had married daughters of Cain, and had learned to do many evil things.

When God saw that the people were growing so bad, he no longer allowed them to become as old as their fathers had lived to be. Instead of permitting men to live nearly a thousand years, like the good Methuselah, God shortened their lives.

Then, a little later, seeing that the "wickedness of man was great in the earth," God regretted having ever created man, and made up his mind to take the human race off the face of the earth, and completely destroy it. Only one family was to be spared, the family of Noah, because he was a truly good man, who thus "found grace in the eyes of the Lord."

Noah was the tenth patriarch, or father of a family, in Adamís race; and he was six hundred years old before the threatened destruction of mankind took place. God warned him that a great flood would visit the earth, and gave him directions how to build a large boat, or ark, in which he and his family could take refuge. This ark was at once begun, as God had commanded, although all Noahís neighbors laughed at him, and paid no heed when he begged them to turn from their wicked ways and repent.

At the end of one hundred and twenty years the ark was finished. In obedience to Godís command, Noah then entered into this ship, with his wife, his sons Shem. Ham, and Japheth, and their wives. There were, therefore, eight human beings in the ark, besides the animals which it contained. Of these Noah took with him one pair of every kind that was "unclean," or not fit for sacrifice; but of the "clean" animals he took seven of each kind, three pairs and an extra male for sacrifice.

So great was the throng of animals which pressed about the ark that it took them seven days to enter it. Then, when they were all safely housed, God shut Noah in. Next he allowed the waters of the deep to rise and overflow, and sent down torrents of rain, which fell for forty days and forty nights.

This great downpour is called the flood, or deluge, and in it perished every living creature that was left upon earth. The waters rose higher and higher, until they overtook and drowned the last fugitives. At the end of forty days, Noah alone remained alive, with his family and the animals which he had taken into the ark. All the wicked people had died, and a new record was about to begin.

The ark, with all its living freight, floated about for five months, before it ran aground upon the peak of Mount Ararat; but two more months passed by before the other mountain tops rose out of the waters.

Forty days later Noah opened the window of the ark, and sent out a raven. The bird flew to and fro, but did not come back to the boat. In the course of the next week Noah sent forth a dove, which flew back; and a few days later he sent it out again and it brought back an olive twig with young leaves.

Noah joyfully received this olive twig, because he knew it was a sign that the waters had gone down, and that even low trees were now entirely uncovered and were putting forth new leaves. Ever since then an olive branch has been considered an emblem of peace and good tidings.

After waiting another week, Noah came out of the ark; and he again set foot on dry ground when he was six hundred and one years old. He was followed by his family, and by all the animals and birds in the ark. Then the first thing that he did was to give thanks to God for saving him. He built an altar upon Mount Ararat, and there offered up a sacrifice of every kind of clean bird and beast.