Just as every other group in the ancient middle east had folklore surrounding a “world wide flood,” so did the Jews. As a matter of fact they had two!
Both the nor the/ kingdom (Israel)and the Southern kingdom (Judah) had stories that, while similar in important issues, are somewhat different in the details.
During the time of the Babylonian Exile, and upon the Jews’ turn to their homeland, the Priests and Scribes took on this project if collecting the ancient stories and weaving them into what we now know as the Book of Genesis (the focus of our summer series).
In their final form, these two flood stories are woven together, piece by piece (rather than version following version as with the Creation story).
As a supplement to our sermon this past Sunday, we’re providing two summaries of the different flood stories. Many of the”priestly” details are referred to, but have been omitted.
Israel (North Kingdom)
In God’s sight, the earth had become corrupt and was filled with violence. God saw that the earth was corrupt, because all creatures behaved corruptly on the earth.
God said to Noah (a moral and exemplary man who walked with God), “The end has come for all creatures, since they have filled the earth with violence. I am now about to destroy them along with the earth, so make a wooden ark.
(Priestly insert about details of the ark)
“I am now bringing the flood waters over the earth to destroy everything under the sky that breathes. Everything on earth is about to take its last breath. But I will set up my covenant with you.
“You will go into the ark together with your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives. From all living things – from all creatures – you are to bring a pair, mail and female, into the ark with you to keep them alive. From each kind of bird, from each kind of livestock, and from each kind of everything that crawls on the ground – a pair from each will go in with you to stay alive. Take some from every kind of food and stow it as food for you the animals.”
Noah did everything exactly as God commanded him.
(Priestly insert about details of the flood)
God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fertile, multiply, and fill the earth. All of the animals on the earth will fear you and dread you – all the birds in the skies, everything crawling on the ground, and all of the sea’s fish. They are in your power. Everything that lives and moves will be your food. Just as I fave you the green grasses, I know give you everything. However, you must not eat meat with it life, its blood, in it.
“I will surely demand your blood for a human life, from every living thing I will demand it. From humans, from a man for his brother, I will demand something for a human life.
“Whoever sheds human blood by a human his blood will be shed; for in the divine image God made human beings.”
God said to Noah and to his sons with him, “I am now setting up my covenant with you, with your descendants, and with you so that never again will all life be cut off by floodwaters. There will never again be a flood to destroy the earth.”
God said, “This is the symbol of the covenant that I am drawing up between me and you and every living thing with you, on behalf of every future generation. I have placed my bow in the clouds, and upon seeing it I will remember the enduring covenant between God and every living being of all the earth’s creatures.” God said to Noah, “This is the symbol of the covenant that I have set up between me and all creatures on earth.”