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Noah's Ark

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The story of Noah and his Ark are recorded in Genesis, the first book of the Bible. It says that as God looked upon the earth, He saw only wickedness and corruption. Unhappy with the way mankind had turned out, He decided to destroy the earth. He went to a righteous man named Noah and ordered him to build an ark, "the length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits."

(A cubit has generally been described as the distance between the point of a man's elbow and the tip of his middle finger, which seems to have been standardized at 17.72 inches, although another common linear unit was the royal cubit at 20.72 inches.)

Noah was to populate the Ark with two of each animal on earth. It then rained forty days and forty nights, but the waters remained on the earth for more than a year. When the Great Flood finally receded, the Ark came to rest on the mountains of Uratu, today known at Ararat---and historians have been searching ever since for the Great Boat.

Contrary to popular belief, the Bible was not the originator of the story of Noah and the Great Flood. In ancient Babylonia---and even more ancient Sumeria---the same story was recorded thousands of years before the Bible was written. The Babylonian poem, The Epic of Gilgamesh, has Utnapishtim acting on the instructions of his god, Ea, and building an ark of "seven stories" with "nine chambers" in each story. Utnapishtim then went into the ark with his sons, and his wife, and his wife's sons, before the waters of the flood. "All that I had, I caused to be put on board, the seed of many kinds of living creatures. I brought into the ship my family and all my kindred, herds and flocks of the fields, wild beast of the fields...."

The earlier Sumerian epic recorded that the god, Eki, warned the hero, Ziusudra, that the gods were angry with the people of the earth and were planning to destroy it in a flood. Ziusudra wisely began to build his ark. This tale is somewhat different from the Babylonian and Biblical accounts in that Eki did not warn Ziusudra directly. Since it was forbidden by the other gods for Eki to warn any mortal of the impending disaster, Eki bent the rules a little bit. He ordered Ziusudra to a nearby wall and spoke as the wall:

"O Ziusudra, man of Shurrupak



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