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Thread: Noah, the ark, and birds

  1. #1
    punk Guest

    Noah, the ark, and birds

    So here's something I've wondered.

    Why is it that Noah tosses birds out of the Ark to look for land, but doesn't seem to ever stick his head out of the Ark to viddy with his own two eyes whether there's dry land or no?

    There seems to be some subtext that no one is supposed to see the destruction wrought by the flood rather in the way that no one was supposed to look back when God was destroying Sodom and Gomorah.

  2. #2
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    At the end of forty days Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made, and sent forth a raven; and it went to and fro until the waters were dried up from the earth. Then he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters had subsided from the face of the ground; but the dove found no place to set her foot, and she returned to him to the ark, for the waters were still on the face of the whole earth. So he put forth his hand and took her and brought her into the ark with him. He waited another seven days, and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark; and the dove came back to him in the evening, and lo, in her mouth a freshly plucked olive leaf; so Noah knew that the waters had subsided from the earth. Then he waited another seven days, and sent forth the dove; and she did not return to him any more. (Genesis 8:6-12 RSV)






    What shall we make of this strange story of the raven and the dove? They are clearly symbolical, even though also historical:

    The raven is listed in Leviticus as one of the unclean birds, forbidden to the Jewish people to eat. It is the first bird that is released from the ark. According to the Hebrew it flew to and fro, never returning to the ark, evidently feeding upon carrion and resting upon floating carcasses that were there in abundance during the Flood.

    As the account makes clear, the raven is no help to Noah whatsoever. The release of the raven tells him nothing about the condition of earth. Noah sees it flying to and fro above the waters, seemingly quite satisfied with the conditions it finds. It does not return to the ark but rests upon floating carcasses and feeds upon them.

    The dove, on the other hand, is a clean bird. It did not fly abroad and remain, but returned to the ark. It rested only in the ark until a new world was ready for it: On its last return it brought an olive leaf in its bill as a symbol of life and peace.

    Now what does this all mean? It clearly pictures facts with which we daily must relate. In our present life, according to the Scriptures, though we are redeemed, there are two natures present within us. One is truly ours; the other is an imposter which is no longer ours, as Paul puts it in Romans 7, but with which we must contend until we are released from its presence by the resurrection of the body.

    One is called "the flesh" and the other "the spirit." The whole struggle of the spiritual life arises out of the conflict of the flesh with the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh. One is evil, unclean; the other is clean, and good. These are symbolized by these two birds. It is God's way of telling us that in the present age, like Noah, we must live with two natures: one which is truly ours, and one which is an imposter.

    One is like a raven: it rests and feeds on anything. It finds delight even in carrion, in foul and filthy things. But it is of no help to us. If we rely on it we will learn nothing worthwhile about ourselves or the world around us. It is useless, as far as any profit in life is concerned.

    That is the flesh. Scripture is utterly consistent in these things, teaching us all the way through of the worthlessness and emptiness of the flesh in its apparent ability to think, reason, and act. It is all worthless, and God pronounces it so in the cross.

    That is the offense of the cross. The natural man does not like to be told that all that he can do apart from God is useless, yet that is exactly what the Lord Jesus says. He told his disciples, "Without me, you can do nothing," (John 15:5b KJV). It is not that they would not be active, but there would be nothing worthwhile, nothing of any value, nothing that would enhance or bless or strengthen, or prove at last to be gold, silver, or precious stones. It would all be wood, hay, and stubble; an imposing facade, but nothing behind it.



    In contrast to that is the dove, our true nature which can only find rest in the ark, in Jesus Christ, until a new world is made ready for it. This is exactly the experience we are going through now, isn't it?

    We have a new nature within, a nature imparted by Jesus Christ; his life joined with our life, his Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are the children of God, born again, waiting in the ark for a new world to arise. That new spirit bears witness within of life and peace in Jesus Christ.

    It brings to us the olive leaf. This is truth we need to know to cope with the world in which we live, just as this was expressive of truth Noah needed to know to live in the world of his day.

  3. #3
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    In a more practical sense, birds can fly farther than can be seen to the horizon.


    So, Noah was using the birds as a comunication device.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Duane Morse View Post
    In a more practical sense, birds can fly farther than can be seen to the horizon.
    True. Also from a height one can see much further than on ground level. Also pigeons/doves will go home - so a dove could be relied on to return.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lars777 View Post
    At the end of forty days Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made, and sent forth a raven; and it went to and fro until the waters were dried up from the earth. Then he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters had subsided from the face of the ground; but the dove found no place to set her foot, and she returned to him to the ark, for the waters were still on the face of the whole earth. So he put forth his hand and took her and brought her into the ark with him. He waited another seven days, and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark; and the dove came back to him in the evening, and lo, in her mouth a freshly plucked olive leaf; so Noah knew that the waters had subsided from the earth. Then he waited another seven days, and sent forth the dove; and she did not return to him any more. (Genesis 8:6-12 RSV)
    Sorry to go off the subject a bit, but where does it say that the birds are female? Just curious.
    .................The message of the cross divides the human race." ~MW~

    ........ ... " LORD, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant..."
    .................................................. .................................................. ...Nehemiah 1:11a




  6. #6
    I always thought it was curious that it was after the dove did not return Noah did not at first venture forth. It was then that the Lord told him to leave the ark with all the animals. Why did the Lord use the birds at all? I take it as a sign that every living thiing serves God and His purposes.

    The ark would have served as kind of a protective barrier to Noah and his animals on board who were waking for their new life. Would you want your family in a ballpark with all these hungry animals or would you have wanted a larger area where these animals could leave so as not to threaten you?

    I think this is the wisdom of God in directing Noah. The dove was to give Noah and his wife more than likely that things were drying up. It is amazing how a simple question can begin one thinking.

    Good question.

  7. #7
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    Upon re-reading the story, I discovered we have been speaking from a false pretense.

    The false pretense is that the birds were used to find land, when in fact, when Noah sent forth the birds the ark had been grounded on the mountains of Ararat for several months.

    It was 40 days after seeing the tops of other mountains, that Noah sent forth the raven and first dove.

    The date was 07-17 when the ark came to rest on Ararat, 10-01 the tops of the mountains were seen, 40 days later (so ~11-11) Noah sends out a raven and a dove, 7 days later (11-18) he sends out the dove the second time - which returns that evening with the olive branch, 7 days later (11-25) he sends out the dove the third time - which does not return, 01-01 (New Years Day - fireworks, sparklers...) is when Noah uncovered the ark and saw that the ground was dry, and it was 02-27 that the Lord instructed Noah to leave the ark.


    The female birds?
    Ge 8:9 But the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot, and she returned unto him into the ark, for the waters were on the face of the whole earth: then he put forth his hand, and took her, and pulled her in unto him into the ark.

    Ge 8:11 And the dove came in to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf plucked off: so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth.

    The terms 'she', 'her foot' and 'her mouth' would seem to indicate that the dove was female. (Only a single dove was sent out, three different times)

    The raven is not identified as either male or female.

  8. #8
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    I wrote this up in another thread about something totally different.
    But I thought it would be good to post it here as well, since I referred to this thread in that one, and I think it is relevant in both.

    *

    I will attempt to make an association:

    The players are Noah, a raven, a dove, The Father, Jesus, and Satan.

    Noah plays the Father.
    The dove plays Jesus.
    The raven plays Satan.

    Noah/The Father first releases the raven/Satan:
    Ge 8:6 And it came to pass at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made:
    Ge 8:7 And he sent forth a raven, which went forth to and fro, until the waters were dried up from off the earth.

    Job 1:6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.
    Job 1:7 And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.


    Noah/The Father then releases the dove/Jesus for the first time:
    Ge 8:8 Also he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters were abated from off the face of the ground;
    Ge 8:9 But the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot, and she returned unto him into the ark, for the waters were on the face of the whole earth: then he put forth his hand, and took her, and pulled her in unto him into the ark.

    Mt 3:16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:
    Mt 3:17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

    Mt 8:20 And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.

    The dove/Jesus had no place to rest, and in the end returned to Noah/The Father:
    John 20:17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

    And then the dove is released a second time:
    Ge 8:10 And he stayed yet other seven days; and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark;
    Ge 8:11 And the dove came in to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf plucked off: so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth.

    The second time the dove was released it carried back a symbol for peace.
    Jesus came the first time, not to bring peace, but a sword.
    But the second time He comes, it is to bring peace - a 1000 year long peace which will only end with the release of Satan from the bottomless pit.

    And then the dove is released a third and final time:
    Ge 8:12 And he stayed yet other seven days; and sent forth the dove; which returned not again unto him any more.

    The wording in the next couple verses is interesting:
    Ge 8:13 And it came to pass in the six hundredth and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried up from off the earth: and Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and, behold, the face of the ground was dry.
    Ge 8:14 And in the second month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month, was the earth dried.

    First, the face of the ground was dry.
    Then, the earth was dried.

    I find it interesting wording because just after His third coming, which also brings the White Throne Judgement, the new heaven and earth appear:
    Re 21:1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.

    An earth with no more sea - was the earth dried. The whole earth, not just the ground.

    And the dove/Jesus did not have to return again to Noah/The Father, because:
    Re 21:2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
    Re 21:3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

    Because Jesus, God, and us are all in the same place, there is no place to return to.


    Do you like my little association?
    I could probably find more scriptural associations, but it's getting late.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by punk View Post
    So here's something I've wondered.

    Why is it that Noah tosses birds out of the Ark to look for land, but doesn't seem to ever stick his head out of the Ark to viddy with his own two eyes whether there's dry land or no?

    There seems to be some subtext that no one is supposed to see the destruction wrought by the flood rather in the way that no one was supposed to look back when God was destroying Sodom and Gomorah.

    Ah, it's an old story of all cultures (the flood).
    This one is the Hebrew version from a priestly perspective. Everything mentioned in relation to Noah is also priestly related.

    Some one else mentioned the birds to me lately. So I was looking to see if there were any threads on it, and found this one. The person I mention and I were speaking of the archeology on the ark.

    Here is a snip from a website with info from the archaeological site.

    <snip>
    The Durupinar site is located at 6300 feet. It is shaped like a ship and is 500 feet long as measured from the ground and from the air. This area is also included in the biblical "mountains of Ararat". There is , however, no trace of wood on the site. It is mud and clay and a central rock ridge. That has led to the interpretation of those who favor the site in our group as a mold of the hull of the ark but is not the Ark itself.<snip>

    <snip>The other observation of significance, probably the most important in my opinion, is that I found an ostracon just outside of the midships of the formation as I was walking down to it. The ostracon is about 3 x 3 inches so that it is good size. It is a body sherd from a medium sized pot so that it has some curve to it. On the outer sides there were some figures incised and blackened (with carbon black ink?). In the left upper corner there is a rather clear picture of a bird. It is flying up to the left. Below it is the figure of another bird, also flying up to the left. Down in the right hand corner is the head of a man. The picture obviously is that of a man releasing two birds, which brings to mind Noah releasing the raven and the dove. It looks as if the three figures are labeled in an alphabetic script related to Proto-Sinaitic, like the inscriptions from Korhan that I have been working on since the spring of 1996. The labels of the three figures are the Hebrew words for raven (oreb), dove (yonah) and Noah. There is writing incised on the backside but with no covering ink and the writing there is even smaller than the labels on the front side, which makes them even more difficult to read and it will take some time and magnification before it can be made out. For the time being I am calling this sherd The Noah Ostracon. <snip>

    Bill Shea

    http://www.noahsarksearch.com/shea98summary.htm
    It's hard to tell what the birds could mean. They likely had a meaning that a priest like Noah would have known. I just take them as his winged emissaries. Birds before angels came to mind in progressing thought.... A winged messenger bringing tidings.

    Bear in mind, "It looks as if the three figures are labeled in an alphabetic script
    related to Proto-Sinaitic, like the inscriptions from Korhan ". I'd speculate the three together have a meaning we don't know yet.
    (Look at Proto-Sinaitic writing)

    The reason he didn't come out of the ark was because he wasn't told to yet. Wouldn't have mattered how many birds he sent to bring news, he still couldn't come out until God said the coast was clear. Obedience to God's command is stressed, as you related like with Sodom and Gomorrah.

  10. #10
    Just wanted to say, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post. Very insightful.
    I was unable to give you a rep...so I give you a big AMEN
    Hebrews 11:25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season

  11. #11
    Is not the church also referred to as female? In a sense it could reflect the church being sent forth...just a thought
    Hebrews 11:25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lars777 View Post
    According to the Hebrew it flew to and fro, never returning to the ark, .........
    Actually most scholars see the raven as a priestly image of the Spirit moving to and fro on the waters. IOW the Holy Spirit is causing the abasing of the water.

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