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Aronofsky’s ‘Noah’: And Why Christians Need To Relax

Noah

The story of Noah, as known by Christians, is told in the book of Genesis chapters six through nine. In the movie, Noah, there is absolutely no mention at all of the ‘Watchers’ (a term from the Book of Enoch that is not in the traditional King James Bible) taking the daughters of men as wives. There is also no mention at all of their progeny, which were called “giants in the Earth” or the Nephilim. In fact, according to the King James Bible, God was so angry because of the mating of the Sons of God and human women (not to mention the sins they were committing) ; and the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the Earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; it repenteth me that I have made them.

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This movie clearly draws upon Jewish tradition, versus Christian tradition. The story of Noah is only told in four chapters of the book of Genesis. Neither Noah’s wife, nor his three sons’ wives were named in the Bible. In the apocryphal text, namely the Book of Jubilees, these women are named. These women are also not named in the Koran. In fact, the flood story is slightly different in the Koran. In Noah’s story, one of his sons drowns in the flood; and Noah’s wife is compared to the wife of Lot due to her unrighteousness, and is condemned to hell. The particular offense of unrighteousness is not named. The Koran is slightly confusing, as to the point of whether Noah had four sons or just three, before the flood.

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According to Jewish tradition, Noah’s wife was named Naamah. She was supposedly a daughter of Enoch, coming through the line of Seth. However, she is also said to have been the sister of Tubal-Cain. This cannot be possible as Tubal-Cain came through the line of Cain. So either she was from the cursed line of Cain, or she was a cousin to Noah. According to the Book of Jubilees, her name was Emzara; who was a daughter of Methuselah. If this is true, she would have been Noah’s aunt. So, this presents a conundrum. If Noah’s wife was indeed from the line of Cain, that could have been the source of her “unrighteousness”part of the Koran; as stated previously, the line of Cain is cursed. If she was from the line of Seth, that makes her and Noah’s relationship incestuous. This of course was never brought into the movie.

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The three sons of Noah were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. According to Jewish tradition, and the Book of Jubilees, these three men all had wives aboard the ark. There is no mention of wives for Ham and Japheth in Noah. In fact, the twin daughters born to Shem and Ila (who has no historical context anywhere), as suggested by Noah’s wife, would become the wives of Ham and Japheth. Incest represents no moral issue for these characters. In the King James Bible there is no mention of this, at least the event of the birth of twins. There is also no evidence to be found of this birth in the Zohar, or the Koran. This is an instance of artistic liberties taken by the director. As is Noah’s homicidal tendencies. Not in any major religious Abrahamic work is it mentioned that Noah tried to murder his grandchildren.

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During the movie, we see the evilness of man. They are lecherous, lustful, greedy, murderous and dishonest. There seems to be no good in them at all. This brings up an interesting quandary. What about the children? What about the babies? What about the innocent? Surely among all those people, there were more innocent people than Noah and his family. This God of Noah doesn’t seem to be very discerning or merciful.

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In Noah, he receives a vision to find his grandfather Methuselah before receiving the vision to build the ark. Noah and his family begin the journey to the mountain where Methuselah lives. Along the way, they see the devastation of man. There are no forests, the land is barren, and there are empty villages with the dead everywhere.

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They find in one village a girl seriously injured, and Noah’s wife, Naamah, takes pity on the girl and applies the polstice to her wound. As she is treating the girl, marauders top of the hillside. Noah and his family are forced to flee, but they take the girl with them. The girl says her name is Ila. Is this girl also not a daughter of Cain?

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Her lineage is not explored in the movie. While fleeing the marauders, the family receives help from the Watchers. The Watchers are not portrayed as evil in this movie. The Watchers lead the family to the mountain Of Methuselah. Once they reach the destination; Noah and Shem go to speak to their ancestor. While there, Noah is given a tea that produces visions. While on his vision quest, Noah sees that he must build an ark. When Noah and Shem return to the family and the waiting Watchers, he tells them of his vision of the ark.

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The Watchers agree to help Noah build the ark. The only Watcher to really converse with Noah was Samyaza. According to the Book of the Enoch, he was the head of the Grigori or the ‘Watchers’. Also, it is told that Samayaza wanted to go alone to earth as he had lusted after human women, but 199 other angels entered into a pact with him hence the first fall. It says in the Book of Enoch, that he, Enoch, was asked to intercede on behalf of the Watchers to God for forgiveness. Enoch did as he was asked, but God had no mercy on the fallen. So, they were condemned for eternity. In Noah, it seems that the Watchers helped Noah to try to redeem themselves. And in the movie, they were released from their earthly prison and returned to the Creator. Also, it is of note, that Noah never refers to God as God or one of the various names mentioned in Christian or Judaic tradition. He is also not referred to as Allah in the Islamic tradition. Noah simply refers to the deity as “The Creator”, which does seem fitting.

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Of course when the rains start, there is an attack on the ark by the sons of Cain. The Watchers do their best to protect the ark, Noah and his family. They succeed and sacrifice themselves. However, the ark receives a stowaway; that stowaway is Tubal- Cain. If the ark is only for the righteous, how was a murderous, evil thug like this allowed on board? This brings up an interesting question, one that I brought up before: “Were there not innocents besides Noah and his family?” In fact, in Noah, Ham finds a girl in a open mass grave and befriends her. When the rain starts, Ham tells her they must flee to the ark. As they are running, she gets caught in a trap; Ham is unable to free her. At this time, Noah is trying to find his son and luckily finds them before the Sons of Cain. However, Noah chooses to not free the girl, and she is trampled in a stampede of those heading to the arc. So, in essence, Noah commits murder. So is he really righteous? This is the existential problem that Noah faces. Men can be good and men can be evil; so he decides that he and his family should be the last humans on earth and not to procreate.

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Meanwhile, it is thought that Ila is barren because of her wound as a child. She receives a blessing from Methusulah before the flood and becomes pregnant. Naamah, along with Shem and Ila, tell Noah the great news; which is received with anger and dismay. Noah decides that if the child is a boy, he may live to be the last man. However, if the child is a girl, Noah intends to kill the infant immediately after it is born. He does this because the girl can be a mother. Again, none of this textually supported, and is mere fantasy development by the screenwriters and director.

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Later, Tubal-Cain is being nursed back to health with the help of Ham and some of the smaller creatures on the ark; as these creatures are his food. This seems to be another major theme of the movie. Carnivores are clearly evil and vegans preferred. During the time Tubal-Cain is mending from a nasty blast from “killing” a Watcher, Ila is growing in size and the family grows in tension. At the time of the twins’ birth, and the dove returns with the olive branch. Before Noah can murder his granddaughters, Ham lures his father to where Tubal-Cain is hiding. A struggle ensues, while Shem shows up to also hurt his father. Noah fends off his son, but looks to be defeated by the evil Tubal-Cain. It is at this point where the ark runs aground, and Noah is saved. Ham actually strikes the fatal blow to Tubal-Cain where he is rewarded with the sacred snake skin handed down from Seth.

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This is of incredible esoteric significance as Seth, in Egyptian mythos, is the god of the desert, storms, disorder, violence and foreigners. All that seems to tie in the flood story rather well; a story full of storms disorder and violence. The snakeskin represents the cycle of death and rebirth. In the movie, it represents the passage of God’s promise and blessing from one generation to another; rebirthing the promise to each generation.

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Noah does not murder his granddaughters at the last minute, he chooses mercy. Which is quite another interesting dilemma that man chooses mercy while God did not. The movie does incorporate Noah being drunk and naked; his sons finding him and clothing him. At the end, Noah passes the blessing onto the granddaughters, and recites the famous passage, “Be fruitful and multiply”. According to Jewish and Islamic tradition, this “commandment” of fruitfulness and multiplication by God is passed to only males; not females. Yet another conundrum.

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The flood story is old, and predates any Abrahamic religion. It was told in Sumer, and
India; so, this seems to be yet another borrowed story. There is archaeological evidence to suggest major flooding did take place in old cities such as Sippar and other areas. So, for Christians to really be upset over this movie is quite laughable, once one has done the research. My advice is to go see the movie, research, and make up your own mind. Consider the existential debates the movie creates.

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