Article - Noah's Ark Souvenir Sheet
The story of the Great Flood, as related in the book of Genesis, is one of the Bible's best-known narratives. The Lord, having repented that He had made man on the earth, whose heart was only evil continually, decided to put an end to all flesh. He commanded Noah, a just man and perfect, to build a huge wooden ark, and gather into it his family, as well as two of every living thing, and take in all the food needed for a lengthy voyage.
Hebrew legend tells how Noah's neighbors laughed at his na?vet? for believing in God's command, but Noah would not listen to them. He kept on working hard, with his sons, on the construction of the Ark. When it was finished, the Lord told him to go into the ark, and seven days later the flood began.
It was a horrendous catastrophe. Torrential rain kept pouring down for forty days and forty nights. The water prevailed exceedingly upon the earth, and all the high hills were covered, and all flesh died. For one hundred and fifty days the world was covered with water, and throughout all this, Noah remained in his ark, with his family and the animals he had salvaged. This was no pleasure cruise. Legends describe how Noah and his sons worked relentlessly to feed all those numerous animals in the ark.
When it all ended, the ark rested upon the mountains of Ararat, but the voyage was not over yet. A few more months went by while water levels kept going down, and it was only then that Noah dared open the ark's window. He sent out the raven, then the dove, to see if the water had abated, but once the dove returned to him with a leaf of olive plucked off, Noah realized that the flood was over.
The Lord then commanded Noah to go forth of the ark, and to let loose his floating zoo. It must have been a very happy moment for all these creatures, crowded together in the ark as they were for nearly a year, and one can only imagine the spectacular sight of thousands of animals pouring out of the ark to repopulate a desolate world.
Noah, grateful for his salvation, immediately made a sacrifice to God. The Great Flood story ends with the Lord's promise to Noah and his sons that there shall never be any more flood to destroy the earth, and with the appearance of God's bow in the cloud, as a token of the covenant between Him and every living creature.
Thus the Great Flood story established a number of symbols, now enshrined in our cultural heritage. For instance, the rainbow is an expression of hope and promise for a better future, and the dove with its olive leaf has become a symbol of peace.