DISCOVERY OF ARK SCROLL
ANNOUNCED BY ISRAEL
By LARRY CENTOR
Writers Hood, October 2002JERUSALEM, August 16 – The Israel Archeological Ministry today announced it had completed translation of a scroll authored by a grandson of Noah over 4,300 years ago. The scroll, discovered by an Israeli soldier who entered a cave while on patrol in 1995, was found close to the Qumran site where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1947. The precise location has been classified by the Israeli government.“Because the ‘Ark Scroll’ predates the earliest of the Dead Sea Scrolls by at least 2,500 years, we wanted to be absolutely certain our dating and translation techniques were flawless,” said Dr. Simcha Eliezar, Director of the ministry’s Bureau of Antiquities, in explaining the cloak of secrecy that guarded the discovery for seven years. “This is quite the most remarkable scroll the world has ever seen,” he said.There can be little doubt the Ark Scroll is the oldest authenticated manuscript to have survived from Biblical times. The Dead Sea Scrolls have been dated from the third century BC to 68 AD. The Ark Scroll predates the Dead Sea Scrolls by at least 2,500 years.
Until the scroll’s discovery, the date for the great flood was broadly established as having occurred sometime between 4000 and 2350 BC. Since the Ark Scroll was written no later than 2300 BC, it would seem to narrow the date for the flood closer to 2350 BC,“ perhaps a few years earlier,” said Dr. Eliezar.
“It appears to have been written some forty to fifty years after the flood, two generations after Noah and his family had survived that Biblical calamity and resettled the land,” said Dr. Eliezar.“Our carbon dating tests indicate the grandson, Arpakhshad ben Shem, wrote down these conversations with his grandfather about 2300 BC. How many years had elapsed since the flood, or indeed had passed after he actually spoke to his grandfather, is a bit vague,” according to Dr. Eliezar.
“Incidentally, Arpakhshad is a direct lineal ancestor of Abraham, and so is a person of some importance in Biblical history.
“This is not a history, however. It is a personal account, a dialog or perhaps even a series of dialogs, between the family’s patriarch and one of his grandsons. There is much in the scroll that presents a quite human portrait of what life must have been like in the years following the flood. And what is most remarkable is that Noah despite his great age was quite an engaging fellow.”
The actual translation indicates that Arpakhshad ben Shem was in awe of Noah, but inquisitive enough to question some of the problems the ark’s passengers encountered.As his grandson relates, “Mostly, it was the animals,” according to Noah. “God told me, ‘And from all living things, from all flesh, you are to bring two from all into the Ark, to remain alive with you.’
"He also said, ‘From all pure animals you are to take seven and seven, a male and his mate, and from all animals that are not pure, two, a male and his mate, and also from the fowl of the heavens, seven and seven, male and female, to keep seed alive upon the face of the earth.’
“Now here is God, talking to me in vagaries,” Noah told his grandson. “Am I supposed to determine what’s pure and what’s unpure?”“My grandfather, who was then well into his seventh century, winked at me and said, ‘After all, your uncle was the first Ham. What are we to make of that?’”
The tone of the translation suggests that although Noah was nearing 700 years, he still had an agile mind and a wry wit. “It took over one hundred years to build the ark. Even with today’s advances I figure it would still have taken eighty-five years.“And we had problems with the animals from the beginning.” Here Arpakhshad ben Shem notes that his grandfather sighed, took a sip of wine from a rather large goblet that was never far from his hand, and went on to explain, “When you only take two of a kind, sometimes you make a mistake; every once in a while it happens. But when dealing with the threat of extinction, on occasion you have to improvise.
“What I’m telling you is that not all the males were attracted to the females. It took us weeks to figure it out. We had this lioness, a beautiful animal, sleek with a really sensuous gait. The lion, he couldn’t have cared less. We finally sheared a sheep, dyed the wool tan and fashioned a mane -- for the female. Then we tied a plantain around her lower waist. And before we knew it, she was pregnant.
“A few months later, when the cubs were born, we actually had the first gay pride.” Arpakhshad ben Shem noted parenthetically that his grandfather poured himself another goblet of wine as tears of laughter streaked his beard.“My grandfather seemed to find humor in the simplest of things,” wrote Arpakhshad ben Shem. “He laughed often, took joy in all his grandchildren and their children and their children’s children, in all the generations.”
“Still we lost quite a few species,” noted Noah. “The imglicks never did get together, a great misfortune. They were regal creatures, as big as a horse, but with six legs; they could walk forever since they could always rest two legs.
“Oddly it was the cats and dogs who mingled the most when it was raining those long days and nights. They mated with everything in sight, and look what you have today. For all the animals we lost, the cats and dogs made sure we had three new kinds of animals, at least.” Here Arpakhshad ben Shem observed that Noah quaffed another substantial sip from his goblet, and giggled a bit as he wiped his beard on his sleeve.“I must tell you that with your grandmother long gone, I was a lonely old man. Oh, there were the boys and the babies. Boy were there babies. Girls too.” Noah giggled again. “Some of the animals were beginning to look good. I briefly ruminated on the possibilities, but came to my senses when I slipped in some sheep dip.”
“My grandfather looked at me soberly for just an instant, then burst into laughter. ‘Sheep dip!’ he roared. ‘Sheep dip! Get it?’ I must admit I was perplexed, so he picked up his goblet, and said, ‘Arpakhshad, put down the quill. Have a goblet of wine. It was a good month. I’ll explain.’ He did, but since I hope these words will be read from generation to generation, I can’t.”
“The full text reveals that while Arpakhshad revered his grandfather, Noah displayed a singular fondness for his grandson, and delighted in trying to loosen up the reserved younger man,” said Dr. Eliezar. “This is clearly evidenced by the story of the sheep. Noah knew such activity was clearly an abomination, yet persisted in trying to shock his grandson, eventually concluding the anecdote with a pun.“This tendency on Noah’s part to mix fact with fiction makes it extremely difficult for Biblical scholars to separate the two, particularly since Arpakhshad is straightforward in depicting his grandfather as something of a wine aficionado.”Scholars will undoubtedly spend years analyzing the manuscript,” noted Dr. Eliezar. “While we are releasing a fully annotated translation at this time, we do not expect the Ark Scroll to be formally published until next summer.”©2002 Larry Centor