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Noah and the Flood

Author: Scriptural Reasoning Society (scholarly interfaith discussion)

Members of the Scriptural Reasoning Society 1 (SR) use NowComment to contribute perspectives on the story of Noah and the Flood as told, in varying ways, in the Hebrew Bible (or the "Old Testament”), the New Testament, and the Qu'ran. Prof. Peter Ochs, University of Virginia, has added three discussion questions below their related passages. 2


[ begin Genesis 6 excerpt ]

6:5 And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

6:6 And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.

6:7 And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.

** Question 1: After this, rainbow covenant or not, why are we perplexed by subsequent destructions? **

6:8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.

6:9 These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.

6:10 And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

6:11 The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.

6:12 And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.

6:13 And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.

6:14 Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch.

6:15 And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits.

6:16 A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it.

6:17 And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and everything that is in the earth shall die.

6:18 But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons' wives with thee.

6:19 And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female.

6:20 Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive.

6:21 And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather it to thee; and it shall be for food for thee, and for them.

6:22 Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.

[end of Genesis excerpt]


[ begin Hebrews 11 Excerpt ]

11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

11:2 For by it the elders obtained a good report.

11:3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

11:4 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.

11:5 By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

11:7 By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

** Question 2: What righteousness, what faith is showed by one who acts with indifference to others than his household, even if commanded? **

[ end of Hebrews 11 excerpt ]

Sura 11 (HUD): 25-49

Revealed At: MAKKA

Translator: Abdullah Yusuf Ali

[ begin Sura 11 excerpt ]

11:25 We sent Noah to his people [with a mission]: "I have come to you with a Clear Warning:"

11:26 "That ye serve none but Allah: Verily I do fear for you the penalty of a grievous day."

11:27 But the chiefs of the Unbelievers among his people said: "We see [in] thee nothing but a man like ourselves: Nor do we see that any follow thee but the meanest among us, in judgment immature: Nor do we see in you [all] any merit above us: in fact we think ye are liars!"

11:28 He said: "O my people! See ye if [it be that] I have a Clear Sign from my Lord, and that He hath sent Mercy unto me from His own presence, but that the Mercy hath been obscured from your sight? Shall we compel you to accept it when ye are averse to it?"

11:29 "And O my people! I ask you for no wealth in return: my reward is from none but Allah: But I will not drive away [in contempt] those who believe: for verily they are to meet their Lord, and ye I see are the ignorant ones!"

11:30 "And O my people! who would help me against Allah if I drove them away? Will ye not then take heed?"

11:31 "I tell you not that with me are the treasures of Allah, nor do I know what is hidden, nor claim I to be an angel. Nor yet do I say, of those whom your eyes do despise that Allah will not grant them [all] that is good: Allah knoweth best what is in their souls: I should, if I did, indeed be a wrong-doer."

11:32 They said: "O Noah! thou hast disputed with us, and [much] hast thou prolonged the dispute with us: now bring upon us what thou threatenest us with, if thou speakest the truth!"

11:33 He said: "Truly, Allah will bring it on you if He wills, and then, ye will not be able to frustrate it!"

11:34 "Of no profit will be my counsel to you, much as I desire to give you [good] counsel, if it be that Allah willeth to leave you astray: He is your Lord! and to Him will ye return!"

11:35 Or do they say, "He has forged it"? Say: "If I had forged it, on me were my sins! and I am free of the sins of which ye are guilty!"

11:36 It was revealed to Noah: "None of thy people will believe except those who have believed already! So grieve no longer over their [evil] deeds."

11:37 "But construct an Ark under Our eyes and Our inspiration, and address Me no [further] on behalf of those who are in sin: for they are about to be overwhelmed [in the Flood]."

11:38 Forthwith he [started] constructing the Ark: Every time that the chiefs of his people passed by him, they threw ridicule on him. He said: "If ye ridicule us now, we [in our turn] can look down on you with ridicule likewise!"

11:39 "But soon will ye know who it is on whom will descend a penalty that will cover them with shame - on whom will be unloosed a penalty lasting:"

11:40 At length, behold! there came Our command, and the fountains of the earth gushed forth! We said: "Embark therein, of each kind two, male and female, and your family - except those against whom the word has already gone forth - and the Believers." but only a few believed with him.

11:41 So he said: "Embark ye on the Ark, In the name of Allah, whether it move or be at rest! For my Lord is, be sure, Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful!"

11:42 So the Ark floated with them on the waves [towering] like mountains, and Noah called out to his son, who had separated himself [from the rest]: "O my son! embark with us, and be not with the unbelievers!"

11:43 The son replied: "I will betake myself to some mountain: it will save me from the water." Noah said: "This day nothing can save, from the command of Allah, any but those on whom He hath mercy!" And the waves came between them, and the son was among those overwhelmed in the Flood.

** Question 3: What do you think about the relation between Noah and his son? **

11:44 Then the word went forth: "O earth! swallow up thy water, and O sky! Withhold [thy rain]!" and the water abated, and the matter was ended. The Ark rested on Mount Judi, and the word went forth: "Away with those who do wrong!"

11:45 And Noah called upon his Lord, and said: "O my Lord! surely my son is of my family! and Thy promise is true, and Thou art the Justest of Judges!"

11:46 He said: "O Noah! He is not of thy family: For his conduct is unrighteous. So ask not of Me that of which thou hast no knowledge! I give thee counsel, lest thou act like the ignorant!"

11:47 Noah said: "O my Lord! I do seek refuge with Thee, lest I ask Thee for that of which I have no knowledge. And unless thou forgive me and have Mercy on me, I should indeed be lost!"

11:48 The word came: "O Noah! Come down [from the Ark] with peace from Us, and blessing on thee and on some of the peoples [who will spring] from those with thee: but [there will be other] peoples to whom We shall grant their pleasures [for a time], but in the end will a grievous penalty reach them from Us."

11:49 Such are some of the stories of the unseen, which We have revealed unto thee: before this, neither thou nor thy people knew them. So persevere patiently: for the End is for those who are righteous.

[ end of Sura 11 excerpt ]

1 Scriptural Reasoning (SR) was first established as a method for shared scriptural study among a small group of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim scholars of religion---scholars of scripture, of the traditions for scriptural interpretation, of theology, and of philosophy…collaborative study invites people from different religious communities to open their texts and hearts around the study table an then to return home with renewed and deepened understanding of both their own and their neighbors’ scriptural traditions. [SR brochure excerpt]

DMU Timestamp: November 09, 2010 14:39

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