ALIVE: Chapter 18 - The Beginning of Now

Months of hard work building and planting transformed Noah and his family in a new way. They had evolved from being the Chosen Ones in a ghastly world, to fearful survivors of the greatest calamity the earth has ever known, to gradually becoming a small family of children of God. This new chapter in the life of earthbound humanity formed the new beginning that God wanted. Past the tree of the knowledge of good and evil there stood a place of quiet love and mercy, of falling down and getting back up to take two more continuous steps, and then three.

In these early days the family stayed in close proximity to each other, first helping their father with the farm to grow the fruits and vegetables that each family would need to stock a fresh larder that they could take with them to their own countries, to replenish their seed stock, and to multiply the animals for each of the sons' country.

Lazaria, Aurelia, and Coochie, as with most of the female mammals were with child almost constantly since the day they walked away from the mountain of Ararat. Each family gladly heeding the Lord's call to go forth and multiply. Mama Sha-me could not have been happier at the prospect of being surrounded by a flock of cheerful babies and little toddlers. Aurelia was the first to give birth to a healthy little boy whom she named Canaan. Canaan was the delight of the family.

The sun rose bright in the sky of their busy souls.

Noah, a man of the soil, was the first to plant a vineyard. Within a few years the vines produced enough succulent grapes that he could make wine! Noah's patience and hard work was about to pay off in the currency of sheer delight!

On that fine day Noah stole away from helping his sons to enjoy the fruit of his labor. Wine. He went into his own tent, his man cave, which Noah had erected for himself with the help of his son Shem to have a place of ultimate privacy. Noah was very pleased with himself. He wanted for nothing. The jug of wine was finally ready to meet out its pleasures. It promised to take him to a place in his mind away from chores and squabbles, away from duties and responsibilities, to a sleepy world of wakeful contentment. The wine was delicious! Each sip more admired than the previous one. Mysteriously the deep bloody round body of its flavor transported Noah to memories of his childhood. Of sitting under the broad sycamore tree with his grandfather listening to the old man's vivid stories about the day Enoch disappeared, and the years of waiting for his return. Noah believed that he tasted the smell of his grandfather in the wine and smiled. The sun had been beating down hard on the windowless tent, so hard that he removed his scratchy tunic. The jug was almost empty. "How could this be?" thought Noah to himself remembering the months of labor that led him to this happy place. Sleep stepped in quickly as a salve to Noah's disappointment that he couldn't consume his precious wine and still have it too. He had to say goodbye, never to be enjoyed again. This moment had to be savored for it would never ever return. In attempt to grasp the moment in his drunken mind, Noah curled up in a fetal position and drifted into a deep sleep.

"Father, father where are you?" shouted Ham to no avail. "I need your help. Lazaria, have you seen father?"

"No Ham. Not since this morning. Perhaps he is out in his vineyard. Have you checked there? Or maybe he is in his tent."

"Why would he be in his tent in the middle of the day?!" Ham was frustrated. "That man is always disappearing when we need him most!" Ham stormed over to the place where Noah pitched his tent away from the others. He barged in to find his naked father fast asleep. Ham looked at his wrinkly old father curled up like an infant in its mother's womb and laughed a hearty laugh. He ran out of the tent to find his brothers to show them this ridiculous sight before the old man woke up.

Ham ran back to the sheep coral where he last saw his brothers and spotting them in the distance he called out to them. "Shem, Japheth come here quickly. You have got to see this!"

"What is it Ham; we are busy. What do you want?"

"Just come here, you won't regret it." he called out jovially.

Reluctantly Shem and Japheth put down their tools and went over to see what Ham wanted. They caught up to him and Japheth asked. "Will you just tell us what is so important!"

Ham was chuckling. "Father is drunk and naked in his tent. He is curled up like an infant. It is the funniest sight I have ever seen! Really, you have to look."

"I'll be right with you." said Shem and broke off to find something to cover his father with. He spotted a garment hanging out to dry on the limb of a tree and grabbed it, then caught up with his brothers. "Japheth, here, take one side."

Ham looked at the garment and ridiculed his brothers saying, "What is your problem? Have you no sense of humor?!"

"We don't think our noble father's nakedness is cause for laughter, Ham. Our father should be respected as the patriarch he is and you are treating him like an animal!" barked Shem.

"Shame on you Ham!" added Japheth.

While Ham was turning his ridicule of his father's nakedness upon his brothers for their refusal to enjoy the hilarious sight, Shem and Japheth laid the garment on both their shoulders, and walked backward into the tent of their father and covered his nakedness. They refused to look upon him who had lead them from the clutches of death into this new land of the living. When they felt reasonably sure that he was covered, the men turned to see that he was decent and still at rest and they walked back out of the tent to tend the sheep while Ham stood in dismay watching them leave.

Within a hour, as the sun dropped gradually in the sky, and the cool air returned to the land, Noah surfaced from his deep sleep. He lay there for a while with eyes open thoughtfully assessing his situation. Noah was by then glad for the covering. While trying to remember why he wasn't wearing the garment that lay on top of him, a faint memory of Ham laughing at him struck Noah. "Could that be true?" he thought to himself. "Why would Ham barge into the privacy of his tent and laugh at him?" Anger welled up in Noah's heart as the memory of the event grew more and more vivid in his mind and he said aloud, "How dare Ham treat his father in such a disrespectful manner!" Then Noah stood up, and full of fury exited his tent and proclaimed for all to hear, "Cursed be Canaan; lowest of slaves shall he be to his brothers."

Ham, who had not gone far from the tent looked up at his father in fear and shame. "What was this man saying?" he thought and looked around to see if his child heard the words of his irate grandfather.

Japheth and Shem looked up too. It was less the volume of Noah's voice that propelled his words through the air, but the willfulness of them, the strength of the curse that magnified them throughout the valley. Even Sha-me looked up from her work at that moment and walked toward Noah's tent to see what was transpiring with her husband.

Noah continued. "Blessed by the Lord my God be Shem; and let Canaan be his slave."

"May God make space for Japheth, and let him live in the tents of Shem; and let Canaan be his slave."

Little Canaan heard his name and ran over to his grandfather. "Grandpa, did you call me?" Canaan's big round brown eyes looked innocently at his angry grandfather in confusion. He sensed the anger and began to cry, tears welling up from his heart and pouring out of his little innocent eyes.

Noah looked back at the balling child upon whom he placed the sin and disgrace of his father. Noah's dignity, his righteousness, his true worthiness as a man of God could not withstand such a demeaning response as he had received from Ham. For Noah knew that it was the reflection of God in Noah that Ham so foolishly disparaged. To the extent that Ham humiliated God, Ham and his children would forever be, should forever be lowered. Noah knew that the disgraceful attitude that caused Ham to disparage his father would surely be conveyed in hundreds of small ways to his son who would learn by them to demean God through the godly that he would encounter day by day. Such disrespect would forever make his tribe lower than the tribe of Shem.

If Noah had allowed Ham to get away with his prank, then it would be as if Noah too, participated in ridiculing himself and the God whom he reflected. After all they had been through, and all that God had done to save them from the grips of death, that was not possible. "May the moon turn black and the stars all fall from the skies before I treat God as an animal, as I was treated by Ham." said Noah to his wife.

The brothers regarded Noah's curses as the brief raving of an angry man. They looked at the child Canaan gleefully chasing chickens, oblivious of the fate his grandfather had just bestowed upon him and thought the child harmless enough. "Who would want to enslave this cherub?" thought his father Ham to himself while shrugging his shoulders and carrying on with his work, determined to distance himself from his father as soon as he could.

That awesome day ended. Nightfall covered man and beast in sleep, but the major event of the day, the curse, began its journey through the centuries.

As their population exploded, the brothers knew when the time had come to divide themselves, each man taking his family to the location that they had selected on the first day they descended Mount Ararat decades before.

After the flood Noah lived three hundred and fifty years. All the days of Noah were nine hundred fifty years; and he died.

After the flood the life span of humankind, except for Noah and his family became a fraction of what it had been before the flood. Shortening man's life was another benefit that God gained, despite His promise never again to destroy neither man nor animal by flood.