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Noah's Ark: The Novelization
by Eric Elfman
Based on the NBC-TV mini-series

Start at the Beginning | Start at Chapter Eight

Chapter 9

    "Now you pour the oil into the flour," Naamah said, "and then stir until you have a smooth paste."

    Ruth, Miriam and Esther did as Naamah directed. The older woman watched, and nodded, and clucked approvingly.

    The morning after the rescue at the Temple, the three young women came to Noah’s house, and asked how they could be of service. Naamah immediately took them under her charge, determined to turn the three girls into proper wives for her sons.

    After only a week and a half of daily visits, Naamah was happy to see the young women were showing remarkable progress.

    And Naamah was also pleased by the behavior of her boys, who were working harder than ever, apparently in an attempt to impress the girls. Ham organized the labor. Shem monitored the seedlings, pulling out the weaker plants to optimize the crop. Even Japheth, always more at home in the world of ideas than the world of labor, helped tend to the animals.

    The house had never run more smoothly, nor the farm been more productive.

    Everything would have been perfect, Naamah thought, except for one thing that rendered the rest of the improvements moot: a change had come over Noah. He hadn’t been the same since that night at the temple. Oh, he was able to hide it from the others, Naamah could see. He still went through all the appropriate motions, performing his chores and acting as the head of the household. But he couldn’t fool his own wife. Noah’s heart was no longer in anything he did, and his mind was miles away.

    Naamah was waiting for her husband to confide in her, and tell her what was wrong. But she also knew well enough that he would not speak until he was good and ready. And when that would be, only God knew.

    Near the end of the second week of visits by the girls, when the farm work was done and the sun hung low, the family gathered around the large dining room table for a meal that had been prepared from start to finish by the young women.

    Ham, Shem, and Japheth proclaimed it the best food they had ever eaten, much to the embarrassment of the young ladies.

    Naamah beamed at her fine young sons and their brides to be, but Noah, who had hardly eaten a bite, paid them no attention.

    After dinner, the young couples went outside to walk. Each pair, hand in hand, found what privacy they could.

    Ham took Ruth down toward the river.

    "You need me, Ruth," he said, earnestly. "If they try to take you again, you’ll need me."

    "Next time I’ll be ready," she replied, as she drew from her pocket an enormous carving knife.

    Ham smiled at her with admiration. She was a girl after his own heart.

    Miriam and Shem, meanwhile, were walking past the bales of hay.

    "I heard someone say what happened in the Temple was a miracle," Miriam said. "What is a miracle, really?"

    "The world works according to natural, physical laws," Shem answered. "Anything that violates those laws is a miracle."

    Miriam thought about this, and nodded. Then she suddenly asked, "Do you believe in free will, Shem?"

    "Of course," Shem answered, surprised. "I have no choice." He looked at her more closely. "Why all the questions?"

    Miriam smiled shyly. "I want to learn. I want to know so much more about the world we live in."

    Shem nodded at her and smiled. How could he have been so lucky, he wondered, to find someone who wanted exactly the same thing out of life that he did.

    The grass by the meadow was lush and deep. Japheth and Esther lay side by side, not touching, staring up at the blue sky.

    "Did God make animals or people first?" Japheth wondered aloud.

    "Why isn’t the sun out at night when we need it most?" asked Esther.

    Ever since the day they had first met, they had continued to play this game, asking questions that had no answers. It was something they never tired of.

    "If we had fur like the animals," Japheth pondered, "we wouldn’t need to wear clothes."

    "Why do we get colds?" Esther asked. "What good are they?"

    "I’ve often wondered the same thing," said Japheth, smiling at her.

    It was starting to get late. Naamah was boiling water for tea when the young couples came back to the table.

    Suddenly, Noah stood up. "Excuse me," he said. "Somebody wants to talk to me."

    Naamah watched him go, concerned. What is God going to tell him now" she wondered. But she passed the cups to the three young women. "Would you like some honey," she asked.

    Ruth watched Noah stride past. "Where is he going?" she asked.

    "Just to talk to God," Naamah answered, passing the honey.

    "Really?" asked Miriam. "Isn’t that odd?"

    Naamah shrugged. "Is it" I suppose it is. It seems normal to me."

    Her sons nodded in agreement, as they added honey to their tea.

    # # #

    Noah stood alone on a barren patch of earth, staring at the sky. For the first time since he had begun speaking directly to God, Noah was afraid of what he might hear.

    "Lord!" Noah cried. "It’s been so long since you spoke to me! And now you come when I knew you would. What do you want from me this time" No matter how great the task, I am ready!"

    "I want you to build a boat," said the Lord.

    This Noah did not expect to hear.

    "A boat?" Noah asked, puzzled. "That’s all?"

    "A big boat. An ark. And I want you to build it out of gopher wood."

    Noah shook his head, both surprised and disappointed by the task the Lord had set before him. "I’m no builder, Lord."

    Noah heard the distant reverberation of God’s laughter. "You’re no farmer either, yet I’ve made you prosper."

    Then God told Noah the size of the ark he wanted, and Noah let out a long, low whistle.

    "That is a big boat," Noah said, shocked. "It’s huge!"

    "I think big," God said. "I made the world in six days."

    Noah smiled wryly. "Perhaps you should have taken a little longer."

    "That’s easy to say in hindsight," God said, sounding almost regretful. "But it might have saved me some of these problems."

    "When do you want me to build this...ark?" Noah asked.

    "Now," said the Lord. "You won’t have much time. Pick up that stick."

    Noah looked at the ground. A long, pointed stick lay at his feet. "This one?" Noah asked, as he picked it up off the ground.

    "Yes," the Lord answered. "Now start drawing."

    Noah put the pointed end of the stick in the ground. He felt it start to move, as if under its own power, digging a deep groove in the hard dirt, making a visible line.

    "You’ll need plans," said God, by way of explanation.

    Noah started running as the stick began moving faster and faster. He soon had an enormous outline, which he then began filling in with details. He began to whoop in excitement.

    Across the field, Naamah saw her husband running to and fro. She stood up and watched for a moment, then ran to her husband. Her sons followed, followed by the young ladies.

    Noah ignored them. He was out of breath. His skin was glistening with sweat, and his eyes were glazed with excitement, but still the stick moved and he ran to keep up.

    Finally, the stick stopped moving. Noah stopped, and stood there, holding the pointed stick, taking deep breaths and staring at the outline he had drawn.

    The design stretched further than the eye could see. Perhaps if they were birds looking down at it from the sky they would have been able to make some sense of it.

    "What is it?" Naamah asked.

    "Something I have to build," said Noah, still trying to catch his breath.

    "What?" asked Japheth.

    "An ark."

    "What’s that?"

    "A boat."

    "A boat," repeated Ham.

    "A very big boat," said Noah.

    Naamah and her sons looked at each other, uncomfortable. The three young women looked at their future mates, concerned. Had Noah finally lost his mind, they all wondered in silence. They were hundreds of miles from any lake or ocean or any other body of water that could accommodate a very big boat.

    "What do we need a boat for?" asked Ham finally.

    Noah took a deep breath and let it out. "I don’t know," he answered, shaking his head. "It’s for the Lord."

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