|Exploring Ancient History - The First 2500 Years
PART 1: THE PRE-FLOOD WORLD
The Doom of Pre-Flood Society Lamech succeeded Cain, whom he killed, as the strongest leader of the pre-Flood society. He lived a very long time. Not only did his life parallel Cain's for about three centuries but he was also contemporary with Noah for some 300 years.
Lamech was a man of violence. He let his strength go to his head. He got rid of anyone who interfered with his plans. Not only did he bring about the death of Cain and Tubalcain, but he probably also martyred righteous Enoch.
Noah's Life Threatened Then, on to the world scene came Noah. Noah was the eighth preacher of righteousness since the time of Seth (II Pet. 2:5). He was both spiritually just and physically pure. Notice verse 9 of Genesis 6, "Noah was a just man and PERFECT in his generations." The word "perfect" here has to do with PHYSICAL perfection, rather than spiritual. The Hebrew word Moses used here is tamiym (pronounced taw-meen). The Companion Bible says this means "... without blemish as to breed or pedigree."
Noah was not only the last spiritually righteous man left on earth, but also the last human, along with his family, who was racially pure. Noah was the only man left on earth who had not racially intermarried!
Now who was it who had consummated the FIRST interracial marriage? It was Lamech! He had crossed racial bounds in marrying Adah. Lamech had begun the process. Now, within a century and a half before the Flood, ALL ON EARTH WERE RACIALLY MIXED EXCEPT NOAH, HIS WIFE AND SONS! Only Noah stood between Lamech and complete fruition of his aim of making the world racially one!!
Lamech knew that Noah was a completely dedicated servant of God and that he would not yield to the dictates of world society. There was only one thing to do:
Eliminate Noah as he had the others!!
Noah Forced to Flee Again it is Josephus who adds significance to the Biblical account. In Antiquities I, 3, 1 he says that Noah tried to turn the sinful people in his day from their gross misconduct: "but seeing they did not yield to him, but, were slaves to their wicked pleasures, HE WAS AFRAID THEY WOULD KILL HIM, together with his wife and children, and those they had married; So HE DEPARTED OUT OF THAT LAND."
Noah and his family had to flee for fear of their lives! Noah and his family had probably been living in the general area of Palestine and Mesopotamia. Where did they flee? This is not definitely answerable but there are indications in Josephus that they fled to that general area now known as Egypt. Egypt is always spoken of as an evil, sinful place in the Bible and yet God's servants often went there temporarily. Joseph was sold into Egypt; later Jacob (Israel) went there to join him. Abraham, earlier, had gone to Egypt because of famine in Canaan. When Jesus' life was threatened as a young child, his parents sought safety in Egypt.
Here, then, in the world about 120 years before the Flood, Noah was forced to flee from those who would take his life. And the indication is that Lamech was the one behind the danger because he was the individual in the family of Cain who was dominating the world! As stated above, Lamech had begun the practice of racial intermarriage years before. Now, as he reached the twilight of his long, disobedient life, everyone in that world's society had followed his example — except Noah. Noah refused to follow the dictates of men and disobey God! And because Noah preached strongly against Lamech's evil society, it is only logical that Lamech would try to silence his voice!
Apparently Noah and his family had to flee shortly before the time that Noah began his 120-year work of warning the world of its watery end and building the ark. Satan, when he learned what God was going to do, probably stirred up Lamech and others so they would kill Noah and thus cut off God's Work in that day before Noah could begin it. But Noah and his family, though having to flee, were protected and were able to perform all God commanded. It is possible that, Lamech, who was very old by this time, could have died, thus ending the threat to Noah and his family. Consequently they could have then gone back to where the ark was to be built. It is not known where Noah and his family built the ark. But it probably was somewhere in the general area of Mesopotamia if we consider that, after the Flood, the ark came to rest in the mountains of Ararat in Armenia.
Noah's Sons The Bible proves, as shown above, that Noah was racially unmixed. And he married a white woman from the line of Seth and Enos. Consequently his sons were also white and racially pure. But two of Noah's three sons did not follow his example! Ham and Japheth took wives of other races! Shem married a white person: He was the most obedient son (which is proven by his work after the Flood.) But Ham married a dark woman and Japheth a yellow one, both from branches of the non-white descendants of Cain!
The three basic races — white, black, and yellow — existed prior to the Flood. All three came through the Flood — and the black and yellow strains were carried by the wives of Ham and Japheth! Noah was righteous — but his sons obviously were not. However, when Noah had to flee, his sons and their wives were obedient to the extent that they were willing to follow him. They were still young enough to be in subjection to him. God saw to that because He wanted Noah's family to live on through the Flood and repopulate the world after the destruction of the earth.
In our time, at the end of this world, no one will be spared or protected by the righteousness of another (Ezekiel 14:14-20). But, in the world before the Flood, God allowed Noah's sons to be saved because of Noah's righteousness. Noah's sons sinned in marrying women of other races but God permitted them to be saved because of Noah, and because they were to help fulfill God's purpose in preserving the races.
It is not known specifically who Japheth married. However, she was from the Mongoloid or yellow branch of the human family before the Flood.
This yellow branch was not a key factor in the world before the Flood. Orientals, in our world, have tended to remain separate and exclusive. It has been the blacks, not the yellow people, who have caused Israel the most trouble over the span of history. And so it was before the Flood, the black branch of the-human family led the plunge into sin, not the yellow.
Ham's Wife So we do not know which woman Japheth married. But Jewish tradition does tell us who Ham married! HAM MARRIED NAAMAH, THE DAUGHTER OF LAMECH BY ZILLAH! (See Jameison, Faucett, and Brown Commentary). Zillah, remember was the first truly black woman in history! And, quite late in Lamech's life, his black wife, Zillah, had a daughter named Naamah. Naamah became famous as a weaver of cloth — and this is who Ham married! Ham should not have married this beautiful and famous dark woman, a daughter of Lamech. But he could not resist her beauty and so he married her on impulse, against the wishes of others, particularly Noah. Ancient sources tell us that, after their marriage, an agreement was made whereby Naamah could spend some time with her family and some time with her husband's family. Remember that Noah had remained separate from the line of Cain — and he would insist on keeping his family separate, and so after Ham married this woman, a difficult situation had been created. A compromise was agreed upon whereby she could still spend time with her non-white relatives.
Naamah was a famous individual in the pre-Flood world. Her brother was Tubalcain, a great military leader, and she took on some of his war-like characteristics. The ancient Greeks, who applied to her the name Athena, pictured her brandishing a spear and regarded her as a goddess of war. She is said to have make a war on the giants during the lifetime of Tubalcain. She had an interesting variety of characteristics because she was also pictured as being a goddess of wisdom as well as of war, in addition to being especially famous as the goddess of weaving or womanly industry. In no connection is she ever pictured as a harlot of prostitution as was Venus of Aphrodite. This is the woman who Ham married. She is the one who carried the WAY OF CAIN THROUGH THE FLOOD! The line of Cain did not die with the Flood, as might easily be supposed! A descendant of Cain and Lamech lived on into the post-Flood world. It was none other than this Naamah to whom God calls our attention in Genesis 4:22. This is why her name is in the Bible! From Ham and Naamah came the Negroid stock after the Flood — the line of Cush (Gen. 10:6). With this background of Noah's family in mind, it is time to survey the condition of the society God had determined to drown!
Noah's Day Compared with Ours Jesus Christ, in the famous Olivet prophecy, compared Noah's world to this Present time:
"But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the Flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." (Matt. 24:37-39).(See also Luke 17:26-30.)
Jesus spoke of marriage. What was wrong with marriages before the Flood? As has already been shown, there was wholesale intermarriage between the races in that society! Only Noah, out of the entire human family, had not intermarried! Racial mixing led to race war, mob violence, hatred, ever-increasing strife — just as we observe in society at the present time!
Eating and drinking are not wrong. But people in that world were eating and drinking to excess! And they were eating the wrong kinds of food — just as today. They were drinking intoxicants. Tubalcain, in his world "culture campaigns", had made this popular. Drunkenness, gluttony, illicit and perverted sex (as in Sodom and Gomorrah — Luke 17:28-29), racial violence those qualities characterized that society. The same characteristics typify our society! This is what Christ prophesied! Sin leads to destruction. World-wide sin leads to world-wide destruction. Mankind has forgotten the Flood — and the lesson it teaches. Mankind must learn that lesson again — but this time it will not be forgotten God will see to it.
Criminals Who Lived Hundreds of Years! God did not step in and intervene as long as there was some slight hope of humanity being saved and spared. But finally it came to the point where God's only recourse was to exterminate mankind and start over with the one righteous man who was left! Notice Genesis 6:5-13. God saw that "every imagination (motivation) of his (man's) heart was ONLY EVIL CONTINUALLY"! (V. 5) This was no exaggeration! Every thought that popped into people's heads was moving in the wrong direction! Every idea had a wrong motive behind it! But this verse applies to our day also! The same thing characterizes the thinking of the average carnal person today! The intents and purposes of people in modern society are altogether selfish and sinful! And the older an individual gets the more this becomes true. Once a person starts out in the wrong direction he gets progressively worse and worse!
Think of the daily examples we read about in our newspapers. In our society juvenile delinquents are full-fledged criminals BEFORE THEY REACH THE AGE OF 25! And such individuals, released by easy court sentences, go from bad to worse to terrible to ghastly! But now imagine, if possible, the people of the pre-Flood society! They were not old by age 60 or 70. At that age they were just coming to maturity! IMAGINE BEING A FULL-FLEDGED CRIMINAL AT AGE ONE HUNDRED AND THEN LIVING FOR SEVEN OR EIGHT HUNDRED YEARS AFTER THAT!
Here was a society with people living hundreds of years venting their crime and perversion on one another! HERE WAS A SOCIETY FULL OF HARDENED CRIMINALS PREYING ON EACH OTHER! This horrendous society was doomed to die of its own evil fruits. God was absolutely MERCIFUL in cutting it short! There was ABSOLUTELY NO HOPE FOR IT!
All society had become absolutely corrupt — corrupt in its thinking, corrupt in its theological understanding, corrupt in its morals, corrupt in every facet of human thinking and endeavor!! This is the full import of verses 11 and 12 of Genesis 6. All society, except for Noah, had gone completely BERSERK physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually!!
THIS IS THE FRUIT OF RACIAL MIXING! And all this evil could spread most rapidly because there was no language barrier! Not until God confused the language of man at the Tower of Babel did the different languages originate. Before the Flood there was just one universal language.
Probably THE MOST APPALLING FACTOR OF ALL about this sickening pre-Flood society was that people KNEW WHAT WOULD HAPPEN TO THEM IF THEY CONTINUED IN THEIR SINFUL WAYS! Josephus records that Adam had already predicted that the world would be destroyed by water — and that Lamech knew by divine revelation that he would be punished for sin! (Antiquities I, ii, 3, 2). Despite this no one would repent. This illustrates just how absolutely perverse human nature can be!
Mankind Could Have Been Better Notice verse 6 of this same sixth chapter. God "repented" that He had placed man on the earth. In other words, this means that the God Family had REGRETS about the human race. God was literally sick and tired of the human beings He had made! Yes, God has feelings and emotions.
MAN DID NOT HAVE TO TURN OUT THIS WAY. It is probably often assumed that all the evil extant in society in this world, and that before the Flood, was and is inevitable. But this is not the case at all! Man did not have to turn out this way! Man is a free moral agent with a mind and a will to resist evil and get help from God to succeed. Man has a potential for good as well as for evil.
God had told Cain that centuries before as recorded in Genesis 4:7. Notice the last portion of this verse. The Revised Standard Version makes it clearer, saying in effect: "sin's desire will be to pull you down, but YOU MUST MASTER IT!" YES, Cain knew about OVERCOMING — but he rejected this knowledge to the detriment of himself and his children!
Thus the implication of God's feeling of deep regret is that man turned out a lot worse than he should have! The human race could have come out a whole lot better. The Flood should not have been necessary! But man had become so irreparably perverted in every way that there was no other solution to the problem! The only way left for the human race to learn was through suffering and death!
The hardest thing for God to do IS TO CHANGE A HUMAN BEING'S MIND — because God has purposefully created man with a mind of his own. Man is not a puppet on a string. He is a separate being with his own will. And God gives man the freedom of his mind to do with his existence what he pleases within physical limits. When man can no longer be reached by methods such as preaching, teaching, warning, calamity, and so on, God must absolutely terrify him with actual DEATH itself! Then, when such persons are brought up in a resurrection in another life and another world, they will be humbled enough to be teachable. When every other method fails in turning man to God, there is only one way left — death! This is what God had to do then. And that is what He will do today.
Noah and the Work of God God gave the pre-Flood society 120 years to repent (Gen. 6:3). That was the duration of Noah's ministry of warning — the duration of the Work of God in that day — before the final destruction came. In our day the period needs to be only about one-third as long because modern means of mass-communication are available.
God never does anything of major world significance unless He first makes it universally known through His servants (Amos 3:7). The pre-Flood world was no exception. NOAH DID NOT CARRY OUT GOD'S WORK IN A CORNER! After 120 long years everyone had heard Noah's warning message — and all had rejected it!
There were definite reasons why Noah was able to witness so effectively to his society! The truth about Noah is that he was a great, wealthy and influential leader in his time Noah did not live in a mud hut. He was not a strange little man out in a corn field with an adobe and a few timbers!
We must realize that Noah was actually A GREAT RULER. Josephus indicates this when he refers to "NOAH'S GOVERNMENT" (Antiquities I, iii, 3)! This means patriarchal government. Noah was the eighth preacher of righteousness in the line of Seth! He held the same rank as Enos, Enoch, and the others before him. Noah was the Great Patriarch for all the children of Seth. If they had remained obedient, Noah would have ruled over this vast segment of the human race! Noah's patriarchal rule continued for 350 years after the Flood (2369-2019) when he was Patriarch of the whole human family. But there were other reasons why Noah could have such a great impact on his society. These reasons centered around the ARK! Noah had to be a man of tremendous wealth to carry out such a gigantic project. No ship of such size was again built until the 19th century A.D.! In addition to wealth and resources Noah had to be an engineer and an architect to direct the building of this enormous vessel. And he also had to employ thousands of servants — architects, carpenters, craftsmen, contractors, and sub-contractors (to use modern terminology) — to fulfill all the details of this fantastic work!
And then there was the task of gathering all the animals! Collecting all of these creatures as well as well as the provisions for sustaining them and Noah and his family took decades of planning and preparation. All the zoological and botanical knowledge necessary to carry this out took highly technical understanding and information.
The Work of God today is a vast undertaking. The work of God through Noah was a type of what God is carrying out through His Church today before the end of this world!
A final major point will emphasize the great significance of Noah and his work. Notice Genesis 6:7-8: "And the Eternal said, "I will destroy Man ... From the face of the earth ... "But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Eternal". These verses actually say that if Noah had not been righteous THE WHOLE HUMAN RACE WOULD HAVE CEASED TO EXIST! Similarly, if there were no work of God today "to prepare a people for the Lord" — if there were no true Christians who are willing to obey God — the earth and human race would come to utter destruction! Mal. 4:6; Matt. 26:22.
When Jesus compared our "time of the end" to the days of Noah He actually had reference to more than just the exile in the two societies. The parallel also includes the Work of God in each period.
Beginning of Technology Before Flood One final point should be made clear. When the Bible says "as the days of Noah were, so shall the coming of the Son of man be," this does not mean that the statement of Dan. 12:4 ("knowledge shall be increased" at "the time of the end") is untrue of our world. The human family, in that era, could have destroyed itself — but not anywhere nearly as quickly as now! In other words, that society did not have atomic and hydrogen bombs, airplanes, jet planes, rockets, or atomic-powered submarines.
Neither did it have mass means of communication. If it had, Noah would not have been given twelve decades in which to do God's work. These technical developments are strictly the product of our society with its specialized skills, economic structure, and immense governmental organization. That society was not economically developed to the extent that it could have ever produced what we have in our world.
This is further proven by the way God chose to eliminate the pre-Flood population. He DROWNED them! This method would not be possible in our world because we have submarines that could stay in the water for a year or longer. We have the means to defy that kind of universal destruction. This shows that pre-Flood man did not have these highly technical inventions.
Undoubtedly men had large boats, but it seems obvious from the Bible account that the largest vessel ever built up to that time was the ark. If such ships had been in existence God would not have had to tell Noah how to build one! The building of such a gigantic sea craft presumes a knowledge of workmanship with brass and iron — showing that all the fundamental crafts of culture and society were known in that day. But no one had come anywhere near acquiring the technological skills our scientific society has developed.
The Deluged Noah's work and preaching were not the only witnesses that doom was a approaching a totally corrupt society. Ancient records indicate that there were increasing numbers of natural catastrophes which also should have served as a warning to that world. Earthquakes, volcanoes, tidal waves, and related calamities added to the chaos of a scene already filled with strife and violence!
But the hardened hearts and seared consciences of those unrepentant people were beyond reach. Consider that not even one person out of the thousands that worked with Noah on the ark came to repentance over those 120 years! They all perished too!
Realize also that Shem, Ham, and Japheth were the three sons of Noah born to him only later in life. Certainly Noah had had other children. People in this early time, as we know, were having families of as many as fifty children or more! What became of Noah's many other children? Yes, they too disregarded the warning message — they too had gone the way of Cain — and they drowned with all the rest of the earth's population! Noah had the severest of trials in remaining faithful to God!
At the conclusion of the 120 years, Noah gathered the last of the necessary animals and supplies into the ark (Gent 7:1-3). He had also stored away the historical documents from which Moses would later write the first portions of the Book of Genesis! Then God announced that seven final days would elapse before the beginning of the Flood (verse 4).
Noah and his family entered the ark — AND THE ETERNAL HIMSELF LOCKED THEM IN! (verse 16). No one could get out, and no one — no matter how desperately he or she wanted to — could get in! Finally the rain began to fall. However, the waters came not only down from the skies BUT ALSO UP FROM BELOW THE EARTH! "The same day WERE ALL THE FOUNTAINS OF THE GREAT DEEP BROKEN UP" (verse 11) God caused the sub-structures — the foundations — of the continents to buckle and collapse! Water gushed up from below the earth in gigantic quantities! The geography of the earth was altered! Terrifying subterranean noises and convulsions echoed the doom of that unutterably wicked world!
One world had ended — but the story of human experience was far from being over!