In which the exiles are restored for the healing of the nations
And he sent out the dove to see whether the waters had abated from the surface of the ground. But the dove found no resting place for its foot and it returned to him in the ark, for the waters were over all the earth. And he reached out and took it and brought it back to him into the ark. Then he waited another seven days and again sent the dove out from the ark. And the dove came back to him at eventide and, look, a plucked olive leaf was in its bill, and Noah knew that the waters had abated from the earth.
And he brought me back to the entrance of the house, and, look, water was coming out from under the threshold…When the man came out to the east, there was a line in his hand, and he measured out a thousand cubits and made me cross through the water, ankle-deep water. And he measured out a thousand cubits and made me cross through the water, knee-deep water, and he measured out a thousand cubits and made me cross through waist-deep water. And he measured out a thousand cubits—a stream which I could not cross for the water was surging, water to swim in, a stream that could not be crossed…When I came back, look, on the bank of the stream were very many trees on both sides…
“And all that enters there in the stream shall live…And by the stream, on its bank, on both sides every fruit-bearing tree shall spring up. Their leaf shall not wither, their fruit shall not cease. They shall yield new fruit month after month, for their water comes out of the sanctuary, and their fruit shall be for eating and their leaf for healing.”
After the Flood, the floodwaters recede, until the earth—from which the human was fashioned by God—is dry again. The ark comes to rest on the foothills of Mount Ararat, the Temple rests on Zion, raised above all other hills. From the ark, Noah receives the consoling news of the olive branch, a new beginning, a tree associated with peace and producing oil associated with joy: here is the anointing ceremony of an heir to David’s throne. And yet again, we see the Temple as the epicentre of a renewed cosmos, for, from here flows another flood, not a destructive flood of judgement but a river bringing life to the dead places; trees springing up for the healing of the nations.
Noah must send out the dove multiple times before it is time for life to spread out once more on the face of the earth. Ezekiel must wade in the river many times before it is a stream that cannot be crossed, only swum in. Don’t give up hope. As we wait with longing for the new thing God has promised, test the waters on a regular basis, and record what you observe.
Biblical texts: Robert Alter, The Hebrew Bible: A Translation with Commentary