In which the exiles are consoled
And Lamech lived a hundred and eighty-two years and he begot a son. And he called his name Noah, as to say, “This one will console us from the pain of our hands’ work from the soil which the LORD cursed.” And Lamech lived after he begot Noah five hundred and ninety-five years, and he begot sons and daughters. And all the days of Lamech were seven hundred and seventy-seven years. Then he died. And Noah was five hundred years old and he begot Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
Thus said the LORD: A voice in Ramah is heard, lament and bitter weeping. Rachel weeps for her sons She refuses to be comforted for her sons, for they are no more. Thus said the LORD: Hold back your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for there is a reward for your labor—said the LORD—and they shall come back from the enemy’s land, and there is hope for your future—said the LORD—and the sons shall come back to their place.
Noah is a consolation. A word that brings comfort for our pain and healing to our bones. Noah’s story will form the longest narrative arc in the Origins stories. Drawing on codified memories of a flood that covered what today we know as Iraq, Noah’s ark becomes for the exiles the ark of the covenant—symbol of the LORD sojourning with them wherever they go—and, for the waves who will return from exile, imagination for the (re)building of the Temple as a place of sacrificial worship and a house of prayer for the nations.
In a time when so many of our houses of God hold such small congregations, from where does our consolation come, and, how might we nurture God’s ‘Noah’ to us?
Biblical texts: Robert Alter, The Hebrew Bible: A Translation with Commentary