Noah stood facing the dawning light, his beloved Naamah still resting in their tent behind him. He shuddered at the thought of what might have happened, giving silent thanks to God for her safe delivery and the safe arrival of the beautiful Bennai. He smiled as he remembered the look of pure devotion on the face of his second son as he listened to her story the night before. He sensed the arrival of his grandfather; it was clear that he too was remembering. ‘She will be a fine wife for Ham’, he stated as he shuffled forward to stand alongside his grandson. ‘But her arrival carries danger too, oh not from the village, but from within our family. Your other sons are also ready for wives, but there will be none to find here. It’s time to send them back to your father’s family, there they will find wives and whatever supplies you think you will need to complete the ARK. I will go with them. I long to see my children’s children one last time.’ Noah looked up sharply at that. ‘My grandson, I have seen many, many years, my body aches while my spirit soars. It will soon be time for me to go to my fathers. I will have no need of your ARK. I do not fear death, I embrace it. But don’t worry, you won’t be rid of me just yet. I will bring back your two sons and their new wives, and any who would come with me to join you. Send me with a blessing and a list of what you will need to finish this work.
Before his departure with Shem and Japheth, Methuselah performed the hand-fasting ceremony between Ham and Bennai, smiling wistfully at the joy, innocence and excitement of youth. Noah and Naamah created a brand-new tent for the newly wedded and left them to their youthful love as they went about their daily chores. For Noah, it was almost like a holiday, as it was not possible for him to work on the ARK without his sons. The rest gave aching muscles time to recover, but also gave more time for reflection and prayer. Each evening he and Naamah would walk among the fallen trees and try to envisage how a vessel of such size could be constructed, never mind floated. God had been very specific about the size and dimensions, the ARK was to be 300 cubits long (450 feet), fifty cubits wide (75 feet), and thirty cubits high (45 feet) *. This was a huge undertaking given that the tallest trees in the forest were over 50 cubits high. Noah spent endless hours trying to calculate how many trees would be needed to make even the shell of the ARK but invariably gave up as his head began to ache at the complexity. Naamah could see the anxiety growing in her husband as the days passed. Finally one evening, as the sun was falling rapidly, Noah broke down. It was too much, how on earth could he manage such a thing as had never been done before. All these years of toil and all they had achieved was a pile of felled trees. Ham and Bennai wisely took their food into their tent as Naamah tried to soothe her husband’s fears. ‘Noah, my heart, you are right, it is too much for one man, even if he has such a clever and beautiful wife!’ Noah smiled weakly at the teasing. ‘You are forgetting what God has actually told you’, she continued, as Noah looked up sharply at her words, ‘God has told you to build the ARK, Yes? To build it, not design it, surely he knows how it is to be done, all you need to do is listen and obey’. A tear gathered in the corner of his eye as he realised Naamah was right. He had lost sight of the bigger picture in the midst of a fallen forest. His breathing eased as he began to think back to what exactly he had heard God say. He could still remember the moment, as he stood on a rocky outcrop above his tents, looking over the vast forest beneath him. The words were so clear, and so filled with sadness. ‘Noah, I cannot ignore the wicked depravity that stalks my creation anymore. My children do unspeakable things to each other and to themselves, it breaks my heart to see their wickedness. I cannot abide it anymore. It is time to start again, to go back to the beginning, back to before your forefathers broke my laws and my heart. I have to put an end to this, I have to start again. I will destroy this race of men mixed with Nephilim (tallermen), I must wipe out such violent disobedience and callous indifference to the beauty which I have created. But you, my son, my favoured one, you have not bowed your need to Molech, the god who demands the sacrifice of children to appease his wrath. You and your family will be safe, you will build a huge boat, an ARK, you will make it out of the trees of this forest. This is how you will build it ; The Ark will be 300 cubits long 50 wide and 30 high. Make a roof for it to protect you and all whom I will send you from the falling rain and the burning sun. Leave below the roof an opening one cubit high all the way around. Put a door into the side of the ARK and make 3 levels…’ As Noah remembered a lightness crept into his soul. God had been so particular, so clear in its design and intent that that he must already know how Noah would make the vessel safe and durable. He felt a huge weight lifted off his shoulders, and he spent the evening picturing each part of the ARK as if God was showing him the future within his mind.
The next morning Noah rose early and began to walk the fallen forest one more time. His original plan had been to move all the trees into the Valley beside the forest where there would be room. Now he realized that the ARK would literally grow from where the trees now lay. He saw, for the first time, the significance of the placings of the trees he had yet to cut down. He realized that if he left some of them in place for now they would become pivotal posts to hold the rest of the logs together. This work would still be painfully slow but he now knew where to begin.
* Each cubit was measured by the distance of the arm from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger, roughly 18 inches, or one and a half feet.