Catholicism in Genesis: Story of Noah
A critique of the story of Noah, specifically chapters 6,7,8
Chapters 6-9 of Genesis deal with the story of Noah and his sons; the end of the eighth chapter concludes with Noah offering the first, post-Flood sacrifice. Genesis is a treasure-trove of meditation, and a Catholic reading this book is easily able to find parallels to his Faith. More will be said of the latter chapters of Genesis, especially chapters 30-50, but that is for a future essay. This essay on Noah presumes that the reader accepts the divine authenticity of Genesis.
Genesis is chief book of the Old Testament, and it stands at the head of the Pentateuch; likewise we compare Genesis with the gospel of St. John, which is the chief book among the four Gospels. St. John, symbolized by the eagle, soars above the other three Gospels by virtue of its splendor. A chapter-by-chapter comparison of Genesis/St. John is deserving, but is a topic of future discussion.
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A preliminary look at numbers in the Bible and their significance:
number three - The divine Godhead, Perfection
number six - God the Father (his anger), Man, Fallen Humanity, the Devil, Imperfection
number seven - God the Son, the Church, the Seven Sacraments, Grace, Perfection
number eight - God the Holy Ghost, Mary (Mother of the Redeemer), Restoration
number fifteen - Mary, Rosary, Completion (as eight and seven = fifteen)
number thirty - Joseph of O.T. (ruled over Egypt at thirty) , St. Joseph (married to Blessed Virgin at thirty), Christ (began his public ministry at thirty)
Genesis and the Number Six
God the Father chapter: In the sixth chapter God the Father is growing weary of man’s sin. Gen 6:4 says that “giants were upon the earth,” and whether men were physically giants or were “giant sinners,” as St. Augustine maintains, it is hard to know. There are similar passages in Genesis in which the number six is meant to convey sin and man’s rebellion: Gen. 3:6, Eve eats the forbidden fruit; Gen. 4:6, God confronts Cain, “Why art thou angry?”; Gen. 6:6, God’s anger at man’s sin, “It repented him that he had made man on the earth.” Gen. 7:6, “And he was six hundred years old, when the waters of the flood overflowed the earth.” Six-hundred is the “filling up” of sin personified in Noah. And being touched inwardly with sorrow of heart, He said, I will destroy man…” Gen. 8:6, Noah “sent forth a raven,” which signifies sin, death and decay.
Genesis Chapter Seven
God the Son chapter: At the beginning God commands Noah and family, “Go in thou and all thy house into the ark.” We know that Noah “found Grace before God” (Gen. 6:8), and that he is divinely appointed, because his father, Lamech, came to 777 years. Remember that Mary “found grace with God” in Lk. 1:30. Gen. 7:7, Noah and his family enters the Ark, a figure of the Catholic Church. Gen. 7:10, “And after seven days were passed, the waters of the flood overflowed the earth.” For seven days Noah and his family were inside the Ark, while the skies were sunny and the people outside were conversing; the people outside the Ark were mocking Noah; but perhaps not all were mocking Noah, while Noah and his family were praying for their conversion. It is possible that during these seven days some of the people were converted and brought upon the Ark, for, as God says, “after seven days, I will rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights.” It is not unlikely that Noah preached to them, staff in hand, from atop the Ark during these days, and that Noah accepted a few converts into the Ark. Anne Catherine Emmerich says there were over a hundred people on the Ark, which does not deny the truth of Holy Scripture.
Mary in Genesis/Exodus
The first appearance of the name “Mary” in Holy Writ is Exodus 15:20, when we are told of the sister of Moses, “So Mary the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand: and all the women went forth after her with timbrels and with dances: And she began the song to them…” She sings of the Israelites, how they entered into the Promised Land and came to the bitter waters of Mara, waters which they refused. The Old Testament Jews did not drink the waters of Mara because they were bitter; but the Jews will, in the future, drink the waters of baptism which they find in Maria (the Church). “And the people murmured against Moses, saying: what shall we drink?” (Gen. 15:24) And in verse 25 (Christmas Day) Moses places a tree (the cross) into the bitter waters of Mara, making the waters sweet.
Mary appears mystically for the first time in Gen. 7:20, “The water was fifteen cubits higher than the mountains which it covered.” There are fifteen decades in the Rosary; each decade is ten Hail Mary’s, hence the entire Rosary consists of 150 Hail Mary’s. From time immemorial Christians were in the habit of saying 150 Our Fathers in imitation of the 150 Psalms of King David; this practice later morphed into the 150 Hail Mary’s preceded by an Our Father (the current modern-day rosary).
In order to measure the fifteen cubits, Noah must have made a rope, attached to which was an anchor. This rope probably had a knot every cubit (18 inches), appearing to be as a rosary. Noah would have hoisted this rosary (anchor) by grabbing hold of the knots. We are told in the last verse of the chapter, Gen. 7:24, “And the waters prevailed upon the earth a hundred and fifty days,” marking the second reference to the rosary.The third reference to the rosary occurs in the next chapter.
Genesis Chapter 8
God the Holy Ghost/Mary chapter Gen. 8:3, “And the waters returned from off the earth going and coming: and they began to be abated after a hundred and fifty days.” But Noah waited forty days before opening the window of the Ark and sending out a raven (Gen. 8:6). The raven is Lucifer, and God cast out Lucifer from heaven, just as Noah cast out the raven from the Ark. The raven fed on rotten flesh and did not return to Noah until “the waters were dried up.”
And the Ark rested in the seventh month, twenty-seventh day, the Jewish month of Tishrei which corresponds to September in the Gregorian calendar. September 8th celebrates the birth of the Blessed Virgin. The dove is sent from the Ark three times, and the dove is a female, Gen. 8:11, “And she came to him in the evening, carrying a bough of an olive tree, with green leaves, in her mouth.” Noah sends out the dove for the first time in Gen. 8:8, “He sent forth a dove after him, to see if the waters had now ceased upon the face of the earth.” The olive tree symbolizes Christ, as the olive is crushed to produce its marvelous oil. The dove brings a branch to Noah, reminding God the Father that God the Son must be crucified upon the tree. The dove does not return after leaving the Ark the third and final time, just as the Holy Ghost remains in the world to sanctify it until the end of time.
To be continued in a companion article
The late Pope John Paul II added the Luminous Mysteries to the rosary, an addition which most traditional Catholics reject. The average lay Catholic does his best to pray the entire fifteen decades of the rosary. In our estimation the pope did a disservice by adding to a devotion which was complete in itself. The fifteen-decade rosary dates to the Thirteenth Century, and besides, the very title ‘Luminous’ leaves a Masonic taste in our mouths.