When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.Genesis 9:16
With God’s words of love and encouragement, commission and covenant, ringing in their ears, their hearts warmed, and their souls filled with a wordless joy, Noah and his family set about the business of living.
Considerable time transpired. A vineyard was planted, matured, and gave forth its abundance with rich fruit in its season, and casks of wine for the cool winters to come. It takes a vineyard from three to five years to begin bearing fruit. At long last, perhaps after another five years, Noah was able to harvest a crop large enough to extract the juice from the grapes. More time was given to allow the juices to ferment into wine.
What else had the families been doing? Surely planks and supplies from the ark were converted into homes and workshops. They had to start from nothing, after all, to build up all the household goods they would need. If cloth, then they had to craft the spindles and looms first, if leather, then they had to fashion racks and awls, scrapers and stretchers, and knives. Somewhere they found piles of flint and agate to chip into tools. Somewhere they found flax, or other grasses, to weave into cloth and baskets. They dug for clay to mold into vessels, they salvaged wood to carve into utensils and implements.
Precious seeds, perhaps carefully harvested before the Great Flood, were now planted, one by one, and tenderly nurtured into seedlings, then garden plots, and finally a full harvest.
Perhaps they gathered together at regular intervals to sit by a fire and sing songs and tell stories, or remember together their ordeal, or the time before the ordeal. Surely they repeated to each other the words of the Lord, and memorialized them in some way.
“This was His covenant with us,” one of them might have begun, then recited a poem, a mnemonic to remember each part.
“I remember the Lord commissioned us with these words,” another might have said, as they drew their robes around themselves, against the cool night air. “God began and ended with fruitfulness and increase. See how the Lord has blessed us!”
These stories, these remembrances, would become the ancient foundation for the world’s myths and legends one day. Were they self-conscious about that? Do the redactors give us any sense Noah’s new humanity were intentional and mindful about establishing the cultures of earth?
Maybe it was on just such a night, with the families gathered together, the young ones playing with sticks, poking the fire, the older ones laughing and reminiscing, and Noah and his wife basking in the warmth of hearth and home.
“The wine, I think, is matured.”
Perhaps that’s how it began. Perhaps Noah rubbed his hands with anticipation, eager to see how his long years of patience and careful tending had turned out. His wife would have crafted beautiful goblets, engraved, rubbed, and burnished till they glowed. Perhaps she now brought them out, this time to be filled with rich red wine rather than the water they usually drank.
Each one would have received their goblet, the little ones furnished with small mugs, fit for their slight hands. Surely it would have been Noah to lift the clay stopper from its amphora, and dip the measuring ladle into its scented contents. For each cup he poured there would have been lips smacking and murmuring,
“Oh yes, this wine is fine indeed, father,” and “I can taste the sunlight and warm earth,” and “it has the scent of summer.”
“Blessed are You, LORD our God, King of the universe, Who creates the fruit of the vine,” Noah might have replied, each time.
And so, sipping their wine, glowing from within from its warmth, warming themselves by the fire, telling stories, singing songs, the family must have felt as though life itself was, after all, quite beautiful.
The children would have grown drowsy in the glow of the hearth, the parents readying for bed, and so, each family would have drifted in twos and threes and fours, off to their nearby homes, just a few paces away. Perhaps Noah and his wife would have been left, themselves sleepy with wine and warmth, watching the fire burn softly into embers.
Where did it go wrong? How did Noah end up in his tent, alone, passed out in an inebriated stupor one fateful night? Where had his wife been? Was this the first time Noah had ever become so intoxicated?
But this is where we will find him next. Whether for the first time, or whether Noah had been abusing alcohol for a while, he would now be lying naked, drunk, and presumably alone in his tent.
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