Last week, I asked What Do Orthodox People Really Believe? Several commenters argued that many Orthodox people believe that Noah's flood was merely a regional flood and not a global one and that certain Orthodox authorities have stated that this belief is acceptable within Orthodox Judaism.
This is what drives me nuts. The story is obviously mythological, so obvious that it's hard to believe anyone who has read it wouldn't immediately see that. It's also pretty obvious that the story comes from sources alien to Judaism. Let's look at some other parts of the story, all directly from the Torah:
- Noah was 600 years old.
- Beings called "the sons of gods" (בְנֵי־הָֽאֱלֹהִים֙) married "the daughters of men."
- God decides that from now on people would live only to a hundred and twenty.
- By the way, there were giants in those days.
- Also, there were giants later, when the "daughters of men" bore children to "the sons of gods."
- God became sorry and grieved that he had created men.
- So he decided to kill all of them except Noah -- and to kill all the land animals and birds, too.
- He tells Noah to build an ark, 300 x 50 x 30 cubits, with three levels.
- He declares that everything on Earth and under heaven shall die.
- He tells Noah to bring two of every kind (מִינָ֔הּ) of land animal and bird and enough food to feed them.
- He tells Noah to bring seven of every kind of pure animal and of all birds and two of the rest.
- The fountains of the deep and the "windows of heaven" (אֲרֻבֹּ֥ת הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם) opened.
- All the high hills under the entire heaven were covered. Then all the mountains.
- The water began to recede after 150 days.
- Noah opened the ark after 40 days.
- God promises never to do that again.
- Noah just happened to father the ancestor of all Canaanites, who he later cursed along with all of his descendents for "uncovering his nakedness."
- Noah died at 900.
- Noah's sons have sons who all formed their own peoples as well!
- Then we enter the story of the Tower of Babel.
For those Orthodox people who take the whole thing as a sort of parable or myth, I have no real problem, other than questions about how they know when not to take something in the Torah as parable or myth. (And why the precise measurements of the ark?) I'm mystified, though, about those people who take the story as more-or-less history, even if it's "really" talking only about a regional flood.
Have they never read the story? Did they just settle on the first pat answer to a troubling question? What do they make of all the great sages of old who obviously took the story as history? Do they just try not to think about this stuff too much? Again, I'm wondering about the educated, intelligent, "modern" Orthodox people. What do they really believe?
(Cartoon via Stardust Musings.)