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By persevera All Rights Reserved ©

Other / Drama


The tragedy of Noah’s Ark didn’t end with the Flood, nor was coupling confined to the animals. OBEDIENCE goes beyond the familiar Sunday School tale, to one of the oldest, most complicated stories of family dynamics. Ham’s been accused of everything from simple tattling to mutilation and incest, but in this telling, his great sin lies somewhere between those extremes, and he’s revealed as a man of passions and questions. He confides his doubts about the Ark enterprise only in his adored wife, Lita. He impregnates her on the Ark, despite an order for abstinence, and, when she's killed by a bear, defies his father again by hunting and slaying a creature saved from the Deluge. The prophet warns his son he must yield his will, lest there be even graver consequences, something a grief-stricken and lonely Ham can't imagine, as he careens down a path that's made his name synonymous with depravity, harsh judgment and slavery.

To Obey Is Better Than Sacrifice

“I have been called by El,” Noah announced at the evening meal, taken outside with his kinsmen in the verdant fields of his farm. The thatch cottage, large enough for his sons and their families, sat behind them among the groves. The perfume of the trees, heady with apples, olives, figs and lemons, acted as a natural sedative after a hard day’s labor.

His statement on this night roused the men from their usual fatigue. His youngest son, Ham, looked up from the lamb and figs that lay before him to give his father his rapt attention. Noah believed he had a special relationship with their God. His updates on what El was thinking and doing were often amusing.

With the setting sun behind him giving the appearance of a celestial aura, Noah continued. “He has said that he is going to open the heavens and bring a great flood.” Ham stared, wondering if that sheen in the leathery face, to say nothing for his story, had more to do with the wineskin in front of his father, than an encounter with the divine. He chastised himself for his disrespect, but still wondered.

“I am to build a great Ark...” the patriarch elaborated, casting his eyes beyond the area where he and his male progeny were gathered, past the plots of grains, onions, and beans, as if he could already see the ship, and smiled, “...large enough for all of us and some of every creature that walks or flies over the earth.”

He is serious, Ham said to himself in disbelief. He looked at his brothers, Shem and Japheth, seated to their father’s immediate right and left. The small lamps filled with olive oil, placed in the open area of the eating circle, lit the looks of dogged devotion on their faces—the result of being eldest and heir and the other, simply the favorite.

From his position at about the forty-fifth degree in the circle of brothers, sons and nephews, Ham usually had more questions he longed to ask...but never did.

Listening to his father expound, for instance, he puzzled on the requirement of only a pair of unclean animals. What if one should die? Would that mean there would be no more snails? What do some of these creatures eat, besides each other?

He looked around, as he often did when disturbed, for sight of his wife or mother. He twitched when he felt the reassuring touch on his broad shoulder, as his mother, Naamah, replenished the cups of wine for the men in her household.

“Of course, Father,” Shem spoke for his brothers, lowering his head in reverence. “We will all do as El commands.”

Ham sighed and his mother’s touch became a squeeze of understanding and support. He watched as she moved away from him to continue around the circle, her dyed robe of sky blue, greying brunette tresses and wisdom all flowing around her.

We are farmers, he said to himself, with another unasked question. What do we know about building a boat?

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