The Noah Assignment (Bob Dungavell)

  (09 May 09)

The Noah Assignment




By Bob Dungavell




This article was prompted by a report that kangaroos must have lived in the Middle East at the time the animals were loaded into the Ark.


Planning and logistics for the Noah Assignment would have been of monumental proportions. The broad aim seemed to be to kill off all but the chosen few inhabitants of Earth (humans and animals, reptiles, birds etc) by drowning.


Let’s start with Noah and his family, who must have been multi-skilled in animal husbandry, veterinarian skills, medical skills, excellent drovers and providers, fertility testing experts and boat builders. Unfortunately, they would have thought the earth was flat, had no knowledge of geography beyond a very limited area in the Middle East. Genesis 8:20 states “Fifteen cubits (3) upward did the waters prevail; and all the mountains were covered”.


Drowning all but the chosen few presupposes that the water had to cover Mt Everest – unless it had not been formed at that time - and didn’t all drain off into the sea before wholesale drowning occurred – after 150days. Perhaps the polar icecaps melted to speed the process.


The “40 days and 40 nights of rain” uses a period often quoted in the Bible and perhaps we have to discount the accuracy of the length of the period of rain. If the period afloat was longer than the biblical 150 days, the difficulties faced on board would have increased significantly for family Noah. Unless the selection process was extremely clever, births would have occurred on board to increase the congestion, food requirements, testiness of humans and animals, ability to live together etc.


In spite of their lack of education in matters which are taken for granted by children today, let us begin the planning process.


The passengers

So, how did they know to pick up the polar bears, bison, grizzly bears, and rattle snakes from North America, the pandas from China, the kangaroos from Australia and so on? Alternatively, how did all of these animals exist in proximity to Noah, given the weather conditions and environment of the Middle East. We can only assume that God’s vengeance didn’t go so far afield, that only the humans in the immediate area were to be punished and the animals had to suffer death for no good reason. Killing off the animals because of the transgressions of the humans seems a bit harsh. Killing off the humans as some people would drown unwanted kittens is hard to understand from a God of love. Having narrowed down the field to a manageable (?) size, if the overall plan of survival of the species was to succeed, the Noahs could only pick fertile animals and people. No point in taking on two donkeys if one of the donkeys was infertile.


This had to be a very special boat. During the tremendous downpour, the Noahs and a lot of the animals would have to be housed below decks. Two elephants and two giraffes would have required a deep hold and increased the weight being carried. It is not difficult to think of other animals that would have created problems. Sanitary arrangements would need to be tight or disease would wipe out some of the elite passengers.



Food requirements must have been a nightmare. All passengers had to be kept alive until the waters receded. Caging would have been necessary to keep the lions, snakes etc from killing the other passengers. What were the dietary requirements of such a motley lot? Although Noah was ordered to take on food to satisfy all the passengers, how do you convince a lion to eat chaff? How many thousand passengers?


The Ark

A ship the size of a modern oil tanker would not have been sufficient for the task, but Noah had to build a wooden boat in his own back yard. The specifications listed in the Bible were a bit scarce on detail.


But eventually, we had an ark. Now, the loading. I recently visited a dairy and marveled at the way the cows jostled each other to get into the milking machines. When they had delivered their milk, they backed out, turned and set off back to the field. Were all the animals so well trained, or did Noah simply stand at the loading ramp and say “Come in”. He must have had a gate where he could select the right ones and reject the others. The more difficult problem would have been the reptiles, insects, birds. However he and his family obviously managed the droving, selection process and we now have them on board and the rain starts in earnest.


We have liftoff. Perhaps the most difficult part is yet to come.



Such a tremendous quantity of water didn’t evaporate overnight. So the dove brought back a leaf! One tree at least has survived. The vegetarians on board would have been sorely pressed to find a meal until the devastation by flood damage was overcome. Couldn’t kill the animals for food until they bred up again.


Watch out for all the rotting corpses and the cholera etc. The Survivors may have wished they had been drowned, and it is difficult to imagine that some of the passengers didn’t die once on hostile land again, but we know enough humans and animals survived, because here we are. Hold on, I hear some saying! This is a myth, not a true story. But how many believe it is Gospel Truth. “This is the Word of the Lord, I used to say as I was rostered on to read the Bible from the pulpit”. The person who says that two kangaroos made it on board, the people who have spent considerable sums of money on expeditions to find the Ark, those who implicitly believe whatever is written in the Bible, they apparently don’t accept it was a myth.


To quote from Val Webb: “Some GOD-images created in tribal or medieval times are not only outdated or irrelevant, but have become downright dangerous in the hands of religious fanatics, and we need to remove such weaponry from them” (2)


If the statute books contain bad laws, they can be repealed. How do you disabuse believers of blind faith? Seventeen centuries ago, significant deletions and rewrites of the Bible occurred. Are we due for another massive editing to make the Bible more believable to today’s populations?



1. Genesis, Chapters 6-8.

2. Val Webb Like Catching Water in a Net p.44

3. The length of a cubit depends on the period and the country, but could average about half a metre in our measurements today. ………




Edit the Bible? Whatever next? It sounds like censorship to me. Who wants to read the expurgated edition anyhow? It is a magnificent saga of our human struggle with our passionate selves, as individuals and as groups.

Even if we don’t read the story of Noah as a spiritual struggle surely the story marks a significant attainment in human thinking when in the face of impending disaster our evolving ancestor took stock and was able to plan for survival. Surely this is what we are trying to do now!!!

Noah’s is a significant story, a form of which is found in many traditions around the world, even land-locked ones.

Posted by Judith Bore

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