The Flood and the Tower of Babel

In the course of time, when there came to be more folks in the world, they grew fond of sin. They did not love God, or try to please him. And God was wroth with them, and said he would send a flood that would drown the world, and there should not be any dry land left for men, beasts, or birds to live on.

But though most of the folks at that time were as bad as they could be, there was one good man in their midst, and his name was Noah.

And God loved Noah and told him what he meant to do. And God bade Noah build an ark. This was a boat. It was to be made large, with rooms in it, and a great door on its side. And it was to be quite high, and to have a roof on top.

And God told Noah when the ark was done he and his sons and their wives should go in it.

And he told Noah to take in with him two of each kind of bird and of beast, and of bug, and of things that crept, and to take care of them in the ark so long as the flood should be on the earth; for all that were not in the ark would be sure to be drowned.

So Noah set out at once to build the ark; and it took him a great while to build it. When not at work on the ark, he would talk of God, and of his plan to send a flood to wash sin out of the world, and would urge the folks to give up their sins, and lead good lives. But they paid no heed to his words, and went from bad to worse all the time that Noah was at work on the ark.

When it was done God told Noah to come into the ark, for he saw he was a good man who had done his best to serve him, and to bring the birds and beasts with him. For in a few days he would send the rain on the earth, and all that was left on it would be drowned.

So Noah did as God told him. And when he and his wife, and his three sons and their wives, and the birds and the beasts, both small and great, had passed through the great door of the ark, God shut them in.

At the end of a week the rain set in, and did not stop for more than a month. The rain seemed to pour out of the sky, and all the springs, the large and small streams, and the great seas, rose up and swept through the length and breadth of the land. They came to where the ark was, and went round and round it, and rose so high that the ark was borne from its place and set afloat on the great wide sea.

Then those who had paid no heed to Noah, but had kept on in their sins, were in a sad plight. The flood had come, and they knew now that all that he had told them was true. How glad they would have been to go with him in the ark. But it was too late. They ran in wild haste to the tops of the hills in hopes to find there a safe place. But still the floods rose and rose till there was no place for them to go, and all those not in the ark were drowned, and there was not a bit of dry land in the whole wide world.

But God took care of Noah, and those who were with him, and kept them safe till the floods went down. At the end of five months the sea had gone down so much that the ark stood high and dry on a mount known as Ararat. It stood there for at least two months, and at the end of that time the sea had gone down so that tops of high hills could be seen here and there.

And Noah sent forth a raven, and the bird flew this way and that, but came not back to the ark.

Then Noah sent forth a dove, that he might find out if the ground was yet dry. And the dove flew here and there in search of green things, but found not a tree in sight, and naught but cold hard rock, and so she flew back to the ark and Noah put out his hand and took her in.

At the end of a week Noah sent out the dove once more, and at the close of the day she came back with a leaf in her mouth.

As soon as Noah saw the leaf he knew that the waves had gone down or the dove could not have found it. And he knew that God had sent the dove back to him that he might know the ground would soon be dry.

In a few days he sent the dove out for the third time, but she did not come back; and Noah was sure then that the ground was dry, and that God meant that for a sign that he should leave the ark in which he had been shut up so long.

And God spoke to Noah and told him to come out of the ark, and to bring out all that had been in there with him. And Noah did so, and he built up a heap of stones as Abel had done, on which he laid beasts and birds, and burnt them, which was the way in which man gave thanks to God in those days.

And Noah’s heart was full of praise to God, who had kept him, and those who were near and dear to him, safe from the flood, while all the rest of the world was drowned.

And God told Noah and his sons that they should rule on the earth, and might kill the beasts and use the flesh for food. Up to this time those who dwelt on the earth had lived on the fruits of trees and such things as grew out of the ground, and did not know the taste of meat.

And God told Noah that he would send no more floods to drown the world as this one had done. And he gave Noah a sign that he would keep his word, so that when Noah saw it he would have no fear of a flood. And this sign was the rainbow, which God set up in the sky as a bow of hope to Noah and to all the world.

Noah lived for years and years after the flood, and died at a ripe old age.

The tribes of Noah grew so fast that the world was quite well filled once more.

And you would think they would have been glad to serve God, and to do right in his sight. But their hearts were full of sin, and they went on as those had done who were drowned in the flood.

At this time all those who dwelt on the earth spoke but one tongue; that is, they used the same kind of speech.

Now these tribes did not stay in one spot all the time, but would pack up their tents and move from place to place as they chose.

And as they went to the east they came to a plain in the land of Shinar. And they said, Let us make brick and build a high tower that shall reach up to the sky. And let us make a name, so that when we go from this place it will be known what great men were here, and what great deeds they could do.

And they set to work to build it. God, who read their hearts, knew that sin was at work there, and that the tower they meant to build was not to serve him in, or to add to his praise. So he was not pleased with their work, and chose a strange way to stop them. He made them all at once speak in strange tongues. This one could not tell what that one said, and they made such a noise that it grew to be just a babel of sound. And that is why it was called the tower of Babel.

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