REPLENISH THE EARTH Biblical fiction
Volume Three of The Generations series
Main Characters : Noah, his wife Hattimas, Shem and Jemri, Japheth and Varsi, and Ham and Myelin, Canaan
Setting : In the ark on the flood waters, Mt. Arafat, Paradise, Second and Third Heaven
Premise : God always has a plan for the righteous. He is the Lord of provision.
Sin fills the world with violence, but faith carries Noah and his family above the flood through the storm. In the harshness of Mount Ararat where they disembark, nothing compares to the lushness of Adam’s Valley—their home left behind. And troubles surviving the thirteen months on the Ark can’t match the struggles they face to forge new lives in a hard land where the mist no longer rises up every evening…where instead of a protective covering cloud of water above, the brutal sun beats down and unpredictable storms batter the inhabitants. Still, the Lord has given the sons of Noah a mandate. REPLENISH THE EARTH
Cover art by Judy Downs Levine (lovely prints and canvas available)
Read Chapter One:
From above, the ladies screamed as the ark rocked. Just outside, the sound of the brace poles cracking shot through the walls. The force slammed Noah and his sons into the door. But it held fast. No water seeped around the edges. Animal trumpets, roars, and squawks echoed in the cavernous ark. But not loud enough to hide the sound of the groaning timbers.
“We’re going to die!”
“We did all this to perish? God, save us!”
Noah grabbed Ham as the boat rolled back the other way. “No! We will not depart life in this flood.” He stepped back. “Stand still and see the Lord’s salvation! He told me a hundred years ago to build this ark for this very day. For this time. We will not die, but ride above the troubled waters safe and dry with all His creatures.”
The ark stopped its lurch, paused, then reversed itself. But that time without the force of the first. “Father, what happened? All this because the rain started?”
I EVEN I OPENED THE FOUNTAINS OF THE DEEP
Noah fell to his knees then pressed his forehead to the second story’s plank floor and worshiped. A peace settled over his heart. He and his were safe, but the whole world was going to drown. Every other soul would perish. He hated the realization, hated that God had repented Himself from making man.
What would be left of the valley after forty days of rain? He pushed himself up. The fullness of time would reveal that. Right then, he had a boat full of animals to tend.
He faced his sons. “See to your wives, then we must feed and water the Lord’s creations entrusted to our care.”
With each step up the stairs leading to the ark’s third floor, Noah wondered at the marvel the Lord had done. Nine hundred sixty-nine years ago, He told Father Enoch to name his son when he dies, the deluge comes. And now here Noah was—on the ark God instructed him to build—one week after Grandfather Methuselah passed.
What were the fountains of the deep?
How wondrous are Your ways, Lord.
Would he ever understand the mystery of Adam’s God?
Once inside his quarters, he blessed his sons and their wives as they took their leave. He’d spotted the sadness in Hattimas’ eyes, but waited until he closed their door. He held out his arms, and she hurried into his embrace. “Bless the Lord, Wife. The ark held.”
“Yes, I never doubted that it wouldn’t. You do all things well, Husband.” She laid her face on his shoulder. A sob escaped, then she wept bitterly. “Oh, Noah…it’s gone…all of it…our –”
She sniffed then leaned back. “Our home.”
“Gone? What are you talking about? Gone where?”
She pushed herself away, grabbed his hand, and dragged him to the window. “I saw it with my own eyes. Water poured out of all the windows and doors. It…it just…exploded. The wave that slammed the ark and rocked it so bad—it tore our home to pieces before it hit us.”
He heard her words, but they made no sense. Stepping to the window, he lifted the latch and opened it a crack. Waters fell from the skies in slanted sheets. The wind howled. But he could still make out where the house Adam had started so long ago should have been. Only a few splintered tree trunks remained. No orchard. No garden. No home to return to.
“Oh, Lord.” As he stared, hardly believing what he saw with his own eyes, the boat lurched to the right. A gust of wind brought the rain in. He closed the window and turned. “Bless God. His mercy endures forever.”
Hattimas glared. “How can we…what are we going to do without our home?”
With both arms flung out to his sides, he walked toward her. “This.” He turned half circles in both directions. “Is our home. The Almighty provided for us.” He leaned in close, putting his lips softly on hers. She hesitated then kissed and embraced him. He smiled. “We will endure, Wife.”
She closed her eyes, shook her head, then filled her lungs. “Yes, I suppose we will, but I’ll miss the home of my birth, and yours, and my sons. I want it back.” She walked away from him then whirled. “Did you know? I never dreamed it would be like this.”
“How could I, my love?”
Her hands went to her hips, and she gave him the look.
“No, dear. Abba did not tell me any specifics that I withheld. I knew nothing of this except what we’ve all known for years. When Grandfather Methuselah passed, then the deluge comes.” The ark rolled a bit. He stuck out his hand and steadied her. “Forty days and forty nights, then the rain will stop. We’ll live here in the ark while we rebuild.”
“In Adam’s Valley?”
“Of course. We can use some of the same rocks, and the quarry will still be there. We’ll replant the orchards. We are not that old, and we have our sons. Ten—fifteen years at most, and everything will be the same.”
* * * * *
Hattimas wanted to believe him, but how could it? There’d be so much to do. How could he spend any time working on rebuilding the house? Probably more like a hundred years. That’s what it took him to build the ark. She wanted to cry some more until all her tears were spent. Or slap him.
Or maybe go to bed and sleep. Refuse to get up until it was all over. But she couldn’t do any of that. Her husband needed to see to the animals, and she needed to kindle a fire, get to cooking. At least she had her stove. Praise the Lord, Noah had coaxed her to bring it. Some things could remain the same.
Her sons and daughters would all put their feet under her table that even, and if the ark would only quit its rocking long enough, she would serve supper. That would remain, her family would eat together. It could be worse. She never cared much for swimming. She moved to him, kissed him again, then pushed him toward his closet.
“Put on some dry clothes and go feed all your new pets. I must get to cooking.”
He hesitated, like he wanted to say more, but instead, changed his tunic and marched out.
That even while her children gathered around the very table Father Adam had built over sixteen hundred years ago, her husband took his place at its head. They all appeared used up, as though they wanted nothing more than to crawl into bed; all save Ham’s wife. Myelin wore a bemused expression that belied the grimness of the day.
But of the three daughters Father Lamech had brought her from Nod, the youngest had surprised her most.
While her family ate in silence, Hattimas could not resist. “Myelin, what has you tickled on this horrible day?”
The young lady grinned. “Oh, it was Lion. Feeding the big cats fell to me when we drew lots. And oh, Mother! I never dreamed…he’s so loving. His mate is shy, but Lion licked my fingers—his tongue is so rough—then pushed his head against me until I rubbed and scratched him good behind his ears.” She scrunched her shoulders, almost looking like a six-year-old again. “He’s as friendly as an orphan goat kid.”
The young lady’s narrative reminded Hattimas of the stories of Adam in the Garden with the big cat’s ancestor. She still had pieces of the Lion skin robe Abba made the first man the day he fell from grace. That’s what this was. A new beginning, except she would not be Eve. After she had Seth, she birthed a baby almost every decade for two centuries.
No, the role of repopulating the earth would fall to the three young ladies sitting at her table. Hattimas studied each in turn then stopped at Jemri, Shem’s wife. The young lady caught her staring and offered a weak smile.
“What lot did you draw, Daughter?”
Jemri shrugged. “Shem and I have the whole first floor. Fewer beasts, but the size of some of them.” The beautiful girl grinned bigger. “I never dreamed an elephant was so big, or a giraffe so tall. And they eat…” She closed her eyes and cringed.
Shaking her head, she wiped her brow. “Oh, I was just thinking about the dung they’ll produce.” She looked to Noah. “The way you laid out the ark, Father, is exceptional. The water system alone is fantastic. I never realized until today how it was going to work.”
“Praise be to the Lord. He’s the One who showed me the vision. And yes, indeed. I, too, have marveled at its design on numerous occasions.”
* * * * *
Nodding, Jemri agreed. The last fifteen years had all been so amazing. From the day the giant visited her grandmother’s tent until this, the Lord’s hand had been so apparent on her life. Perhaps even before, if she thought about it. Just like Shem trading away his first choice of the women for Japheth’s birthright, And that again confirmed to her that she was the true firstborn.
After a bit of talk regarding the next morning’s duties, and an after-supper cup of wine, her husband stood and nodded toward the dining room’s door. “Are you ready, dear? You must be tired.”
“Weary I surely am, but so very blessed, too.” She extended her hand, and he pulled her up, keeping it in his. Her husband tugged gently then led her to the end of the hall, not letting go of her hand until he reached the rooms he’d prepared. A wave of respect for him washed over her. He’d taken such care and thought of so many sweet details.
The storm’s roar never abated from its start, but after the ark had obviously been lifted onto the waters, the rolling had lessened, and though it surely pitched, not as violently as in the beginning.
She slipped into her sleeping gown, and Shem unwound her braids and brushed her hair. “Did you have any idea it was going to be like this?”
“No, the water’s fury and strength surprised me the most.”
“I know. Why I thought it would be gentle is a mystery, but I’ve ridden in a boat before on the lake near my home with my father and uncles. Skimming over the shimmering surface…not frightening at all. I quite enjoyed it.”
He climbed into bed and held the covers open for her. She slipped in and snuggled next to her husband, pressing in tight. “I’m most shocked by the number and diversity of the animals. How they all journeyed to Adam’s Valley and filed onto the ark. Did you see? Each knew exactly where its place was.”
She kissed him. “I think we should celebrate our first night in the ark.”
He grinned then blew out the oil lamp.
Weary and sated, Jemri laid her head on his chest and listened to his heartbeat. In no time, his breathing leveled out, and he made his sounds of slumber she’d come to know. How did he do it? Though not as fast as her husband, sleep found her, too, and all those thoughts of what needed doing the next day faded away into sweet dreams.
She sat up in the darkness. Her heart raced. What was that noise? Where was she?
A hand touched her back. “Sweetheart? What’s wrong?”
The sound of her husband’s voice brought understanding and comfort.
“Has the cock crowed?”
“No, what woke you?”
“I…I…it was so real. I couldn’t stand it anymore. When I opened my eyes, I couldn’t figure out where I was or what made that horrible noise.” She turned to him and lay back down. “But then you touched me, and spoke, and I knew I was safe. Finally realized where we were.”
“So a dream, then? A bad one? Tell me what you could no longer stand.”
“Somehow, it seemed more real than a dream. Like I was there.” She exhaled, her pulse still raced, but no longer pounded like before.
He rolled out of bed, fiddled with the flint until a spark caught the kindling, then lit the oil lamp. “Come on. We’ll make tea, and you can tell me of your night vision.”
Jemri joined him. “You think that’s what it was?”
“Sounds like it, but….” He wrapped an arm around her shoulder. “Who knows other than God?”
While he lit more lamps, she built a small fire in the stove of her own smaller kitchen and put on a pot of water. Bless God, he’d brought it to surprise her. She loved having Grandmother Laurel’s own cookstove and was thankful it belonged to her now. She still missed the old dear, but nothing like Grandfather Lamech.
Shem slipped into his seat at the little table. “So tell me your dream.”
“You remember the giant who saved Varsi and me?”
He grinned. “I’ve heard you talk of him, but I never knew the man you call Friend.”
She pursed her lips, but refrained from getting physical. No telling where that would lead, and she, for one, needed all the energy she could muster to face the new morn. Would she know when it began? With no windows, would anyone? Praise God Noah put so many lamps on the hall walls, or she’d be working in the dark even if the day did dawn.
“Anyway, I dreamed of that day again like I have so many times, but when we met up with Grandfather Lamech, instead of getting in the wagon as I really did that morning, I went with Friend.” She faced him and held his eyes. “He isn’t a man though.”
“No? Then what?”
“An Angel. Of the host.”
“The host you say? What is that?”
“I’m unsure. It’s what he said. On his back, he’s got big wings like a bird. And I flew with him. There’s an army of the winged men. At first in my dream, we ran through the forest going really fast, so swiftly that it blurred my vision. Maybe a furlong or two, then he looked back and we stopped.”
The steam’s whistle brought her out of her remembrance. She hurried over and scooted the pot to the side, dropped in the dried tea leaves, then sat back down.
“Anyway, he threw off his coat, folded it into a hand-sized bundle, then stuffed it into a hip pocket; except the tunic he wore…it wasn’t of fabric…not as we know. I know it sounds strange, but it was more like…made out of light. I don’t know exactly, but it’s shimmery, like a dull shine. But then he unfolded his giant wings, grabbed my hand, and we flew.”
Shem jumped up. “In the air? Wow, what was it like? Go on, I’ll pour us a cup.”
“Wait on mine. I like it to steep longer.”
“Do we have any cream?”
“No, Mother might.”
He filled his cup and sat back down. “Go on. What happened then?”
“He sang three sharp notes, and a little blue circle in the sky opened before us. It went to sparking as it expanded, and we flew right through it. That’s when I saw all the rest. As though there were more winged men than grapes on the summer vine, he explained what I witnessed was called a legion.”
“I would love to behold a legion of angels of the host. But why…?”
She reached over and covered his hand with hers. “Only God knows. Then he told me that they war with each other.”
“With songs. Their weapons are new songs.”
“Did you hear them sing?”
“Oh, Shem, it was awesome at first when Centurion’s –”
“Is that the giant’s name?”
“No, he told me it’s what he is. Of yet, he has no name. Hasn’t allowed himself to be named.”
“That’s odd.” He pondered, looking off toward the stove. “Jemri, this has to be a vision. There’s no way you could make all this up. Winged men who fight with songs. What exactly is a centurion? Do you know?”
“He didn’t say, and I didn’t ask. But when Centurion’s angels sang…it was so beautiful. Then the others came, evil ones who also fly. Their song had a…” She stood and hugged herself. “In a way, they sort of sounded good on the surface. Some of the songs. But the beat, their rhythm…it hurt my heart, made me want to plug my ears.”
“So how do they fight each other by just singing?”
“I don’t know. The whole legion soared in huge slow circles. The enemy, too, but in the opposite direction. Then when two or three of one side would fly out to the middle with their new song, the others would match them in the center of those flying rings, and the battle was on. Soon, feathers fell, only a few at first, then more and more, so many it looked like autumn leaves dancing on the wind, dropping, falling, and the angels losing the most withdrew.”
“That sounds so interesting. And beautiful. Sounds like a prophetic vision, not merely a dream. But what frightened you?”
She closed her eyes. The image still clear in her mind’s eye, just as horrible as before. “I looked down. It…what I saw….” She gulped and went to pour herself a cup of tea. When she turned back, her eyes filled. “I couldn’t stand it. Praise God, I woke.”