Which Of Noah’s Family Members Were Invited On His Ark?

We all know the story of Noah’s ark: how he gathered animals two by two then saved humanity and all species of creatures by building an Ark at God’s request. If you put “Noah’s Ark Bible Story” into Google, there’s about four million websites that explore the topic, according to The International Bible Society. But what is known about the companions that joined this watery voyage?

Noah’s tale appears in the “Book of Genesis,” chapters five to nine, and, according to Biologos, the passages are some of the most known—and controversial—of the Bible. After all, the central plot element has God choosing to end the world after man becomes so evil no other recourse seemed reasonable. As Genesis 6:5-7 quoted God, “I will destroy from the earth the people I have created. And with them, the animals, birds, and creeping things.” Noah was the exception—a pious man who never questioned God’s wisdom when told, “I am going to destroy all flesh because the world is full of violence. Build an ark of gopherwood, with rooms inside, three decks, and a door. Cover it inside and out with pitch [Genesis 6:13-22]. (from Ark Encounter). 

Making the ark required a herculean effort and plenty of faith, as Heroes Bible Trivia pointed out. People laughed at Noah’s preaching and his pursuit to build the enormous boat. When the rain began, Noah and his family board the vessel and stayed safe and dry for 150 days, until the flood waters receded. 

Who actually boarded Noah's Ark?

At the time of the launch, Noah was 600 years old. Apparently, prior to the flood people had especially good genes and lived hundreds of years. The age-defying Methuselah—Noah’s grandfather—died before the big boat launch at 969 years young, according to The International Bible Society. Noah became a parent just after his 500th birthday. Soon after his sexacentennial, the flood appeared and Noah, his wife, his three sons—Shem, Ham, and Japheth—and their wives boarded the Ark. They stayed in the tight space with all the animals and waited for the waters to subside (via MIT). Thus, Noah’s family came out of the flood unscathed … or did they?

Some versions of this story talk about Canaan, another Noah relative, perhaps a fourth son or an offspring from one of his children. Genesis speaks about this individual’s identity in verse 9:22, Ham, the father of Canaan” casting Canaan as Noah’s grandson (from The Torah). Despite the linkage, Noah condemns him in verse 9:25 with “Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers” after the boy sees Noah naked, according to Bible Ref

The legacy of Noah and his family

Other stories circulate about Noah’s progeny — and how many children he had exactly before and after the flood. Some accounts say that one of his sons refused to join the family on the Ark, and chose to stay on a mountain. The Quran (Hud verse 42-43), for instance, includes a report of a male who drowned in the rising waters. Some have called him Yam or Kan’an (from Ecumenical Buddhism).

Another tale, this one coming from Irish mythology is written in the Annals of the Four Masters, a history of Ireland created by a Franciscan friar Mícheál Ó Cléirigh and  associates around 1632. It tells about another son of Noah’s, said Daily Scribbling. Bith was forbidden to enter the Ark; instead, he built his own vessel and sailed to Ireland where he tried to create a community with some 50 people who followed him. All eventually succumbed to the torrent except his friend, Fintan, who, through a curse, turned into a salmon.

How many children did Noah have? It’s hard to know. The Bible tells little about his family — none of the wives are named, for instance — and its verses can be interpreted in many ways. What is emphasized in the story, though, is everyone is related to Noah’s family. No matter how many iterations forward we are, all of us share some part of their DNA (from Ark Encounter). If only we could live hundreds of years like Noah.

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