Darren’s Aronofksy’s new film Noah, which opens in theaters tomorrow, has been criticized for not being faithful to the biblical narrative. But how much of the story do most people remember? Here are nine things you should know about the story of Noah:
1. The story of Noah is told is chiastic parallelism (or chiasmus), a figure of speech in which the order of the terms in the first of two parallel clauses is reversed in the second. If you assign the letters A and B to the first appearance of the key words or phrases and A’ and B’ to their subsequent appearance, they follow what is commonly referred to as an A-B-B-A pattern.
A chiasm in the story of Noah and the flood (Genesis 6.10-9.19):
A Noah (10a)
B Shem, Ham, and Japheth (10b)
C Ark to be built (14-16)
D Flood announced (17)
E Covenant with Noah (18-20)
F Food in the Ark (21)
G Command to enter the Ark (7.1-3)
H 7 days waiting for flood (4-5)
I 7 days waiting for flood (7-10)
J Entry to ark (11-15)
K Yahweh shuts Noah in (16)
L 40 days flood (17a)
M Waters increase (17b-18)
N Mountains covered (18-20)
O 150 days waters prevail (21-24)
P GOD REMEMBERS NOAH (8.1)
O’ 150 days waters abate (3)
N’ Mountain tops become visible (4-5)
M’ Waters abate (6)
L’ 40 days (end of) (6a)
K’ Noah opens window of ark (6b)
J’ Raven and dove leave ark (7-9)
I’ 7 days waiting for waters to subside (10-11)
H’ 7 days waiting for waters to subside (12-13)
G’ Command to leave the ark (15-17)
F’ Food outside the ark (9.1-4)
E’ Covenant with all flesh (8-10)
D’ No flood in future (11-17)
C’ Ark (18a)
B’ Shem, Ham, Japheth (18b)
A’ Noah (19)
2. Based on 18 inches to a cubit, the total cubic volume of Noah’s ark would have been 1,518,000 cubic feet, the equivalent to 250 single-deck railroad stock cars. Since the average stock car can carry 80 180 lb. sheep or to 160 50 lb. sheep per deck (2.5 – 5 sq ft per animal), it’s estimated the ark could carry 20,000-40,000 sheep size animals.
3. From Ancient Near Eastern records to nautical practices as recent as the 19th century, sailors the world over used doves, ravens, and other birds to help them find and navigate toward land. A raven will fly directly toward land, so it’s line of flight can be used as a guide. Doves have a limited ability for sustained flight, so they can be used to determine the location of a landing site. As long as the dove returns, no landing site is in close range.
4. Noah and his family were on the ark for a total of 370 days. Noah’s first recorded act on leaving the ark is building an altar to the Lord (Gen. 8:20).
5. The Bible says the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat (a mountain range in Turkey) but does not specify which mountain.
6. Noah became the first drunk recorded in Scripture, resulting in immoral behavior and family troubles (Genesis 9:20-26).
7. The only time Noah is recorded as speaking is when he curses his grandson Canaan and blesses his sons Shem and Japeth. At all other points in his story, God does the talking and Noah does the listening.
8. At 950 years of age, Noah had the third longest life recorded in the Bible (after Methuselah (969) and Jared (962)).
9. Besides the book of Genesis, Noah is also mentioned in eight other books of the Bible (1st Chronicles 1:4, Isaiah 54:9, Ezekiel 14:14; 20, Matthew 24:37-38, Luke 3:36, 17:26-27,Hebrews 11:7, 1 Peter 3:20, and 2 Peter 2:5) as well as in the Book of Enoch (10:1-3) and the Qur’an (Sura 71).