Recently, I took the bible class to see “Noah” here in Tokyo, Japan. Opinions of the film have been mixed, to say the least, and so we agreed to pray together as the lights grew dim. When the last credit rolled and the lights came back on, I sat there a little confused, which was probably due to having to sit in the very first row as much as to the film’s alternate biblical views. Still, even with my issues with the movie, there was also great beauty to be found as well as chilling faithfulness to certain portions of the Genesis account.
The room was extraordinarily quiet, which one would expect at a Japanese cineplex, but it was a silence that reached this American as well. The story and look of the movie felt like something beyond ancient, as if a doorway had opened into a time that was alien yet elemental to us all. Every time Noah called to his sons by name I was reminded, as were some of the bible students, that these are who the nations sprang from. Ham, Shem, Japheth; Genesis 10-11 chronicles that each one fathered seeds that grew into clans in Africa, Europe, Asia and as far as the sea could carry man’s ambitious footsteps.
The families spread out and languages evolved, but the great deluge was not easily forgotten. With that, here is another list of flood stories joining the Sands of Time collection. Mind you, there are many, many of these in the world, and not all are the same. Still, a significant number have an unusual resemblance to the Genesis record: God is angry with an incredibly wicked generation of man and plans to end their days with a flood, He instructs a faithful family to build an ark that will protect them and a remnant of animal life, after the deluge a dove is released to look for land, and when found, a sacrifice is offered to God in thanks, with a rainbow as His sign of mercy to humanity. Now, without further adieu…
Tumbainot, a righteous man, had a wife named Naipande and three sons. When his brother died, Tumbainot, according to custom, married the widow who bore him three more sons, but they argued about her refusal to give him a drink of milk in the evening, and she set up her own homestead. The world was heavily populated in those days, but the people were sinful and not mindful of God. Finally, the first murder caused God to send a flood, so He commanded Tumbainot to build an ark of wood that would save his family and two animals of every sort. The ark drifted for a long time, and provisions began to run low. The rain finally stopped, and Tumbainot let loose a dove to ascertain the state of the flood. The dove returned tired, so Tumbainot knew it had found no place to rest. Several days later, he loosed a vulture, but first he attached an arrow to one of its tail feathers so that, if the bird landed, the arrow would hook on something and be lost. The vulture returned that evening without the arrow, so Tumbainot reasoned that it must have landed on carrion, and that the flood was receding. When the water ran away, the ark grounded on the steppe, and its occupants disembarked. Tumbainot saw four rainbows, one in each quarter of the sky, signifying that God’s wrath was over. [Frazer, pp. 330-331]
The god Zeus sent a flood to destroy man because they were exceedingly wicked, but Prometheus advised his son Deucalion to build a chest for a few to escape. He loaded his family and animals, the latter which divinely came to him and remained friendly in the chest. When the rains came and the fountains of the deep opened up, Deucalion and his wife Pyrrha floated in the chest for nine days and nights, after which they landed on Mt. Parnassus. When the rains ceased, he sacrificed to Zeus, the God of Escape. The god instructed Deucalion and his wife to throw stones over their heads; they became men and women. That is why people are called laoi, from laas, “a stone.” [Apollodorus, 1.7.2], [Frazer, pp. 153-154]
-Bay of Bengal
Some time after their creation, men grew disobedient. In anger, Puluga, the Creator, sent a flood which covered the whole land, except perhaps Saddle Peak where Puluga himself resided. Of all creatures, the only survivors were two men and two women who had the fortune to be in a canoe when the flood came. When the waters receded, strife brewed between the humans and Puluga to which Puluga explained that men had brought the flood on themselves by their disobedience, and that another such offense would likewise be met with punishment. That was the last time the Creator spoke with men face to face. [Gaster, pp. 104-105]
For more of these accounts, check out the links below as well as the past Sands of Time article, “The Myth of a Flood Myth”. Keep on digging!
– Collection of flood stories from around the world
-Flood stories: Who borrowed from whom?