Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What About the Ark?

Billaad and I slept long and hard that night.  When we woke up we were surprised to find that the men had decided we all would stay a whole day at this sight.  We would rest and fish and give the horses a break.  One of them seemed a bit lame.  Grip thought a day would help it recover.  It’s funny.  With all Grip knew and could figure out you might pick him to be your leader.  But as smart as he was, decision time was never a comfortable moment for him.  In fact it was always more then a moment.  He was one to analyze analyze and analyze and never act.  My dad was a man of action.  Grip would say: That’s the kind of man you need as a leader; the one who can decide.

After breakfast Billaad and I found Grip mixing a bunch of barriers together with a stick.  He had a feather and an old piece of animal hide as well.  “What are you doing Grip?”  Billaad asked as he set down on the ground next to Grip who was sitting against a tree.  “Well, I am trying to devise a system of characters we could use to represent the words we use as we speak to each other.”  “Why?”  I asked.  “Suppose you want to tell your uncle Macedon something; something that is important and complicated.  It needs explaining.  But, you can’t go and see him; for whatever reason.  If you could record your words using these characters painted in these colored barriers on this animal skin, then you could send the skin with the message to your uncle and he would then know the important thing.”  “Couldn’t Crill just tell me and then I could go and tell Macedon?”  “Sure but you might not remember it right.  This is a complicated message and even one item out of place would destroy its meaning.”  “What if Macedon came to me?”  “Macedon is very busy what with leading his village and all.  Do you think he has the time to travel all the way here to receive the message?”  Kimeril leads a village and we are all having a swell time tromping around the woods with him and we are not looking for anything; except fish.  But we have those at our village?”  Billaad had a way of rambling on.  “If it takes so much time to lead a village how can Kimeril take days to look for something we already have at our village?”

“Ok, ok, how about I put away the barriers and hide and you guys tell me what you are up to?”  Grip rubbed his scalp back and forth with both hands as he spoke these words and then stowed his work.  I can only guess that we convinced him his new invention was unnecessary.

Billaad then just spit it out: “We want to know how Noah got all the animals onto one boat.”  “Why?  Do you think that is a huge problem for God?”  We looked at each other for a moment and then turned back to Grip and spoke in unison: “Yea, there are a lot of different kinds of animals.”  Then Grip asked some things we had not thought to ask.  “”So, are you telling me that the God who created all the kinds of animals would not know to tell Noah and his sons to build a boat big enough to hold two of each kind?”  Before we could respond he continued.

How big was the boat?  How many kinds are there?  How much room does each kind require?  How big were the ones he took, I mean did he take baby animals, young animals, or adult animals?  How much food do they need to survive?  How long were they on the ark?

I jumped in here: “The Guslar said they were on the ark for over a year!”  “Alright, good, can you answer any of the other questions?”  We could not.  “Ok then before we can conclude this as a huge problem for God, let’s get an idea of what sort of problem we have here.  Then we will see if God, the Almighty, could have handled it.”

Grip began:

The account of the flood and the ark as I heard from my father and he from his tells us that the ark was as tall as one of these very large trees or 30 cubits.  It was 50 cubits high and 300 cubits long.  So, if the ark were the shape of a box then its volume or amount of space it took up, would have been 450,000 cubic cubits.  But of course, the ark was probably not in the shape of a box.  The sides would have been curved and the ends tapered at least to some degree.  Also, they would have lost some space due to the inner construction of floors, it had three levels, walls, and supports.  We will have to make a guess at how much space in the boat was lost due to these factors.  Let’s say that they lost a third of the total rectangular volume due to the factors mentioned.  So, now they have 300,000 cubic cubits.  How much is that?  Well, that would be box 67 cubits high, 67 cubits wide, and 67 cubits long.  Yea, that’s kinda big.

Tiras told your dad, before the tower mind you, that there were about 12,000 kinds of animals on the ark.  Now, it might seem that there might be more than that; just think about how many different types of birds there are.  But, there all birds right?  Of course they are all birds.  Some of the types of birds are very similar.  Some are quite different.  I think we can all agree that some of the different types are the same “kind”, say ducks and some of the different types might in fact be different kinds of animals.  With this in mind, 12,000 kinds seems reasonable.

This would give the average pair of animals a space of 25 cubic cubits.  Now, if we allow 5 of those to store food, water, and hay for the pair, then the average pair would get a space that was 2x2.5x4.  If we take a ram and a ewe as the average pair, this space seems ample for their needs.

“Wait a minute!”; Billaad had a question.  “Five cubic cubits does not seem like enough to store enough food and water to last a year for two animals.  I think that is a problem.”  “Billaad, do you see bear during the season of white?”  This question was Grip’s retort.  “Well, no, not really, maybe once in a great while.  What does ..”  Grip jumped back in here with: “Where are they then in the season of white?”  Billaad replied, “Well, my dad told me that they go into a cave and go into a deep sleep for long periods of time because there isn’t enough food during that time.”  “Did you know that all animals are capable of these long periods of deep sleep?”  Grip really seemed to be enjoying the back and forth.  “No, really?  All animals?”  Billaad was starting to see where Grip was going with his questions.  “Yes boys, and that is just what the animals on the ark did.  They went into a deep sleep for long periods of time during the year on the ark.  They were in dark cozy spaces and they just slept the time away.  They did not need much to eat or drink.  They did not need much care at all.

“So, you can see that the size of the boat described by the Guslar, the number of kinds of animals that exist and the amount of food needed for the reported time all lead us to conclude that the ark was big enough for the job assigned to it.  Really not a problem at all for the Creator.”

“Ok, but, how did Noah get all the kinds to the ark?”  “Why?  Do you think that is a huge problem for God?”  Grip was having some fun with us now.  “How long was it after Noah was warned that the flood occurred?  Would animals have been afraid and run from Noah and his sons?  Has God no say over the affairs of His creation?”  “We don’t know these things; that is why we ask?”

“Let me ask you:  Do you like watermelons?”  Grip queried.  “Yes.”  Was our reply.  “Well, how do you get watermelons?”  “They grow in the garden.”  “How did you get the plants in the garden?”  “We planted a seed.”  “Is that all?  How does the seed grow into the plant and how does the plant grow the melon?”  We did not know.  “Do you think it is easier for God to get a couple animals in a boat or to grow melons from a seed?”  “Animals in a boat I guess.”  I said.  “But the melon from a seed is natural.  It happens all the time.  How often do you see a deer just walk into a boat because some old guy with a beard tells it to?”  “Yea, my dad said that God put the fear and dread of man into the animals.  They would run away from Noah and the boat not go into it.”

“You both are correct.  Suppose, “… 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.  Of fowls after their dind, 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.” It is not now the design of God that animals would just go into the ark at the beckoning of man.  Now they would have to be trapped or trained to do such a thing.  Crill when did your dad say that God put the dread of man in the heart of the animals?”  “He did not say.”  “Well, what did the Guslar say was the relationship between animals and man before the flood?”  “He said they were at peace.”  “Would we have been at peace if man was going around killing and eating animals?  Would they dread us if there was peace?”  “No, I guess not.”  “It was after the flood that God gave the animals as meat to us.  That is why they dread us now.  That is why we would have to work hard to get them in a boat now.  But before the flood, when there was peace between man and animals it would have been nothing for Noah to get them in the boat.  It would have been as natural as planting a seed in the garden, watering it, taking care of it, and watching it grow.  In fact Noah probably just watched the animals go on the ark and then tended to their needs.”

“Wow, when you put it like that it sounds so easy.”  Billaad proclaimed.  “I don’t know about easy.  Noah and his family had to tend to many animals for over a year.  I would not say easy.  But I would say that, with God’s provision, it was not a huge problem.”

“There you guys are!”  My father had approached us from the river.  “I have been looking for you; it’s time to fish.  Who’s ready?”  Billaad and I sprang up with excitement as we both shouted; “I am!”  And, we ran down to the river.

That night after dinner we packed up our gear so that all we had to do in the morning was roll up our beds, have a bite for breakfast and load up the horses before we headed up river again deeper into the forest.  It was a great night under the stars.  We could see them through the gap in the canopy made by the breadth of the river.  My roll was next to my dad’s.  Billaad’s was in between his uncles’.  My dad and I talked for some time before I fell asleep.  We talked about the stars.  We talked about the trip.  He even admitted that the Guslar and Grip were probably right about the flood.  We talked about grandpa.  I had not realized before that night how much my dad respected and admired his dad.  He said that if it had not been for Tiras many more would have died at the Istranca Daglar.

I could not get any more details about the Istranca Daglar that night.  None of them would ever talk about it.  All I ever found out was that Billaad’s grandfather Ashkenaz betrayed our whole family and his own three sons that went with us.  We talked about mom and my baby brother Nike.  To hear my dad talk it’s as though Nike thinks more of me than anyone else in the world.  I don’t know about that but we do have good times together.  I told my dad that I loved him and mom and Nike and our whole family.  And then I told my dad that I loved him again and I thanked him for taking me on the fishing trip.  He did not have to you know.  I am sure it would have been an easier more relaxing trip without a 12-year-old kid to worry about.  He told me he loved me.  He told me that having me with him was the best part of the trip and he would not even have wanted to go without me.  But he also told me that there was one who loved me more than he did.  I asked him who that was.  He said that father God loved me more than any human could and that I should always trust in and look to Him in good times and in troubles.  We prayed together.  We both cried a little too but it was ok; everyone else was asleep.

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