Monday, April 15, 2013

The Fathomless Ark

Here is an interesting question: How did Noah ("rest") managed to save living creatures of the earth in a seemingly tiny Ark?

The answer to this question lies, in my opinion, in the verses of the text.

Let's take a look at Genesis 6:19-20:

‎19 ‏וּמִכָּל־הָ֠חַי מִֽכָּל־בָּשָׂ֞ר שְׁנַ֧יִם מִכֹּ֛ל תָּבִ֥יא אֶל־הַתֵּבָ֖ה לְהַחֲיֹ֣ת אִתָּ֑ךְ זָכָ֥ר וּנְקֵבָ֖ה יִֽהְיֽוּ׃

‎20 ‏מֵהָע֣וֹף לְמִינֵ֗הוּ וּמִן־הַבְּהֵמָה֙ לְמִינָ֔הּ מִכֹּ֛ל רֶ֥מֶשׂ הָֽאֲדָמָ֖ה לְמִינֵ֑הוּ שְׁנַ֧יִם מִכֹּ֛ל יָבֹ֥אוּ אֵלֶ֖יךָ לְהַֽחֲיֽוֹת׃
 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.
 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.
As you can see, even from this verse we can extract useful information. Take a look at the words "בשר" (basar) and "רמש" (remes). This means that only "flesh" was preserved, all "non-flesh" creatures (i.e. spiders, cockroaches, e.t.c) were not considered "flesh" and "moving animal" and thus were not included in the Ark. Only birds and animals (both clean and unclean) were included in the Ark. Sea animals were not included for obvious reasons. So how many were there?

The list of unclean birds and animals can be found in Leviticus 11. A rough count gives the following numbers:

1) Clean Animals - Goats, Cows, Sheep (7 each) = 7x3=21
2) Unclean Animals - Camel, Coney, Hare and Swine (2 each) = 4x2=8
3) Clean Birds - Chicken, Quails (7 each) = 2x7=14
4) Unclean Birds - Eagle, Ossifrage, Ospray, Vulture, Kite, Raven, Owl,  Night-hawk, Cuckoo, and the Hawk,  Little Owl, Cormorant, Great Owl, Swan, Pelican, Gier Eagle, Stork, Heron, Lapwing, and the Bat. (2 each) = 20x2=40
5) Clean Swarmers (?) - Locust, Bald Locust, Beetle and the Grasshopper (7 each) = 4x7=28
6) Unclean Swarmers - Weasel, Mouse,Tortoise, Ferret, Chameleon, Lizard, Snail and Mole (2 each) = 8x2=16

So Total of 127 living creatures were in the Ark, this is not conting Noah and his family. And since the Ark was 300x50x30 cubits (Genesis 6:15), in my opinion it was plenty to house all of these creatures and food supplies without any discomfort.

In other words, it is my opinion that the text only specifies Order or Class of the living creatures, not Family or Genus. This is why it was possible to repopulate the earth with the same diversity of the animals as there were before. I guess these particular animals carry enough genetic information to allow mutation into other animals over time. Same goes for birds - you get the idea!

What do you think?

Friday, April 5, 2013

Moses's Divorce?

This issue is something that I came across when I was translating my Samaritan Pentateuch. Let's take a look see complete variants here):

Exodus 18:2
‎2 ‏וַיִּקַּ֗ח יִתְרוֹ֙ חֹתֵ֣ן מֹשֶׁ֔ה אֶת־צִפֹּרָ֖ה אֵ֣שֶׁת מֹשֶׁ֑ה אַחַ֖ר שִׁלּוּחֶֽיהָ׃ 
2 Then Jethro, Moses' father in law, took Zipporah, Moses' wife, after he had sent her back,

Here, a rare word (שלוחיה / shilucheyha) is used, which may mean "send her back", yet at the same time it can also mean "her divorces". Either way, this word is only used in a sense of divorce between husband and wife. Good examples can be found in Isaiah 50:1 and Jeremiah 3:8.

We know from Exodus 2:21 that Moses had a wife in Midian that bore him two sons. We also know that she went to Egypt with him (Exodus 4:20). We also know that she and her sons did not leave Egypt with the rest of the Hebrew during the Exodus (Exodus 18:5).

This means, that Moses had to divorce his wife either to protect her and her sons and also because she was Midian (Numbers 25:17-18).

Thus, we now know that Moses was not officially married roughly from the time of Exodus from Egypt until the events of Numbers 12:1, from which we learn that he finally remarried some time during the desert journey. And thus, Moses only had 1 wife (at a time), total of two.

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