Noah and his sons were pacing out the dimensions of the ARK a few days later when they heard a commotion trundling towards them. It was Noah’s nephew Shamar, leading 7 teams of oxen, each team pulling a wooden cart which was ladened with supplies. Noah rushed to greet his kinsman but it was immediately clear that Shamar had no interest whatsoever in catching up. His tone was terse and brittle, and Noah could hear his servants sniggering as they gazed upon the fallen woodland. Every attempt of Noah to engage his nephew was met with arrogant contempt. Methuselah bristled with indignation at the slights and blatant insults but he had expected no better. As Shamar’s servants rounded up Noah’s herds, making sure to leave the weaker 7 pairs behind, Shamar glared at his uncle, ‘Your folly shames us Noah, we are the laughing stock of the peoples who have heard of your madness. My father would urge you to stop this stupidity and return to your family, but he knows your stubbornness of old, he knows you will persevere with this…this insanity. He advises you to never come near him again. And you can keep the old fool Methuselah with you, we have no need of his presence nor his long-winded words. He turned to leave, his seething contempt settling on all who heard him, ‘Oh, we met the brother of your scarred woman, he insisted we bring you a cartload of iron spikes, they are coming behind us, he said they are a gift of repentance, whatever that means’. A shrewd look came over Shamar’s face, ‘I think you will like the bearers of this cartload, they are creatures of immense size and strength, but slow, ridiculously slow’. With that, he and his servants swept out of the valley to begin their long journey home.
A heavy silence hung over Noah and his family as they began to unpack the carts and tend the oxen who had obviously been badly treated for years. They had expected no better but had hoped against hope for some connection, some opportunity to convince Noah’s family to join them. A strange eerie wail broke their silence. It was loud, sharp and echoed across the valley. The whole family rushed to see what it was, stopping deep in their tracks as the most wonderous sight met them. They were beasts, the like of which they had never seen before, one male, one female. Even the smaller female dwarfed the oxen who quaked and trembled at their arrival. The huge male, with his long horns coming out of his mouth, rather than the tip of his head like the oxen, had long leathery noses that seemed to trail on the dry earth constantly searching for food and water. Attached to both beasts was one of the largest carts any of them had ever seen, several wooden wheels on each side with a huge pile of iron spikes piled neatly in rows upon it. The servant who led them was a cheerful chap, who obviously enjoyed the look on their faces as they struggled to take in the enormity of the load and the beasts of burden who drew it without effort. ‘Greetings my Lord Noah’, exclaimed the servant. ‘I bring you a mighty gift from the brother of your beautiful wife. Tubal Cain specifically asked me to remember this moment of my arrival, and to tell him all on my way back!’ He bowed low to the ground before them. ‘I am Gomer, servant of Shamar, I bring you greetings and blessings. There are many along the road I have travelled who have heard of my Lord Noah, many laugh, many speak with contempt but I am overjoyed to meet a man who has courage and vision’.
Gomer’s arrival and greeting lifted all their spirits, and they readied a feast for their surprising guest. Gomer took great delight in everything he saw and heard, his enthusiasm was infectious, and laughter rang across the valley once more. As he prepared to leave the next morning, Noah tried to urge him to stay. ‘I will pay you well, Gomer,’ he declared, ‘I will send a bond price to my nephew’. But Gomer shook his head, sadness filling his face for the first time since his arrival. ‘I must return to my master, he has my family held as surety of my return. He is a harsh master, but I dare not defy him. I wish you well Noah, you and your beautiful family. Some of us are born to a great destiny like yours, most of us are born to be beasts of burden. Do not forget me when you emerge from your ARK after this flood that is surely coming. May your God bless you’.
With that, he was gone, the heavy silence returning over the camp. Noah and his family walked towards the fallen forest, the enormity of their task sinking in as they gazed upon the endless rows of felled trees, and the piles of metal spikes and ropes that towered over them in the morning light.
Methuselah moved in front of them, and prayed a prayer of thanksgiving and surrender. His words captured the enormous need they had for God’s wisdom and strength for the task that still lay ahead. The stillness of the moment was shattered by the wailing of the giant male beast. Japheth laughed and ran back to where the two beasts were tethered. ‘Don’t you see, Father?’ he cried, ‘God has delivered to us the means of moving these vast trees into place. As the noble male wrapped his trunk playfully around Japheth’s shoulders, everyone laughed; of course, they now had fourteen oxen and two giant beasts to help them with their work.