Genesis 8:16-17 - "Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons ..."

"Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives. Bring out every kind of living creature that is with you - the birds, the animals, and all the creatures that move along the ground - so they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number upon it." (Genesis 8:16-17)

What is God instructing Noah and the animals to do?

Here the Supreme Being instructs to Noah after the flood waters abated and Noah could return to the land:
By the first day of the first month of Noah's six hundred and first year, the water had dried up from the earth. Noah then removed the covering from the ark and saw that the surface of the ground was dry. By the twenty-seventh day of the second month the earth was completely dry. (Gen. 8:13-14)
This text naturally brings up the element of age. Did humans really live to be hundreds of years old, just 4,000 years ago as ecclesiastical Christians and Hebrews contend?

But what about this verse in Genesis 6:3:
"My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years."
Does this mean that the first generations of humans, from Adam down to Noah, all lived these extended lives, and then afterward humans only lived 120 years max?

According to later texts of Genesis. After Noah, Shelah lived 403 years, Eber lived 430 years, Peleg lived 209 years, Reu lived 207 years, Serug lived 200 years and Amram lived 137 years.

These questions relate to the accuracy of Genesis in terms of being a historical record. If men were living nearly a thousand years prior to 4,000 years ago, we would find a completely different set of ancient bones at archaeological sites around the world. We would find human remains of people that, when carbon dated, would determine they lived lifespans of between 500 and 1,000 years. After all, Methuselah lived for 969 years according to Genesis 5:27, and Mahalalel lived for 895 years according to Genesis 5:17. And Seth lived 807 years, Adam lived 930 years according to Genesis. Adam and Enosh also apparently had children after they had lived 800 years according to Genesis.

Is the earth really 5,000 years old?

This does not even touch upon the real conflict with science here: The texts of the Bible indicate that humanity (and the entire planet) is merely 5,000 years old, while archaeologists have dated humanity and humanoids over two million years ago using carbon dating, and the planet to over a billion years old.

And this consideration does not include the feasibility of a normal human being and his family (Noah) being able to build by hand a boat large enough, and round up every wild animal and creature around the world and put them into such a boat that can survive such a deluge

These implausibilities and conflicts with time and science have been produced by progressive mistranslation and misinterpretation of scripture by various groups of ecclesiastical scribes over the centuries. Rather than providing focus on preserving their scriptural teachings, these scribes were ordered to produce a sort of proprietary history of the world by piecing together a myriad of sometimes unrelated manuscripts. These were attempts to produce a history of the world that established certain tribes race as the "chosen people of God" with ownership rights to their "promised land."

The fact is, the texts of Genesis and the rest of the Five Books of the Torah are consolidations of a huge collection of manuscripts that were largely unrelated to each other. These manuscripts reflected oral teachings of many great spiritual masters over the centuries, passed down from devoted teacher to devoted student for centuries prior to being recorded in written form. Evidence allows historians to now estimate that over a thousand different manuscripts were accepted by different sectarian groups as scripture and among the different libraries and temples throughout Judea, Greece, Rome, Egypt, and other Middle East regions.

Most of these manuscripts were eliminated from inclusion into the Five Books of the Torah and the first Bibles of the early Church. Why? Because they did not fit the agendas of those who governed the process: Emperors who sought to utilize a consolidation of scripture to shore up their power and authority over the people and their ownership rights to certain lands.

This brought on the unfortunate circumstance of many of these early scriptural manuscripts being destroyed by burning.

This also means that if one tries to use the Bible to recount the years, many texts (and years) will be missing.

Why did the Romans destroy much of the scriptures?

There were many other ancient scrolls besides the ones that ended up in the Bible. Where did they all go? After the books of the Bible were chosen and pieced together, the Romans and their Roman Catholic henchmen burnt most of the existing libraries of other scriptural texts, destroying any evidence of their existence. A few such manuscripts have surfaced, such as those found in the Judean deserts - dubbed the Dead Sea Scrolls. As historians piece together the historical record, it has become obvious that other emperors over the years have also attempted to destroy the existence of scriptures during consolidations in order to secure a version of history that supported their authority.

In other words, the Bible is not a "book," and the "books" of the Bible are not each a whole "book." They are consolidated compilations of selected manuscripts to provide a particular scenario. This piecing together of the Torah and later the Bible was governed by those who sought to control the population by creating a single interpretation of history. This effectively organized the respective populations into one institution that could be managed and governed by a particular ruler or emperor.

In the business world, we call this consolidation. When there are various businesses or splinter groups in a marketplace, a larger enterprise can eliminate competition and consolidate the market by eliminating the competition. This can be done by buying out competing companies or eliminating them through other strategies.

Consolidation among religious institutions is done to consolidate power and authority. One might say that consolidation helps make sure that everyone is hearing the same interpretation, but this again is driven by the desire for control. Because spiritual life is a personal journey, and each person must ultimately choose who and what they want to follow, consolidation among religious institutions provides the function of removing the freedom to choose. Religious consolidation only seeks to impersonalize the process (and God) while creating an all-power institution that governs and dictates peoples' choices.

The bottom line is that the consolidations of religious institutions that have occurred through the centuries have not taken place to benefit the personal experience of a person regaining their relationship with the Supreme Being. They were instituted to benefit those kings and emperors who have sought to exert control over the population.

What about modern compilations?

These collections of scriptures - accumulated into the Holy Bible. The Bible is a consolidation. They were consolidated to achieve many purposes. But what they are not is a chronology of the history of the world.

EWe know this for a fact as we can see so many divergent histories among Asia, Northern Europe, the Islands of the Pacific and other regions of the world were not included in these supposed histories.

Furthermore, these supposed histories do not even trace through all of the events that took place among the Israelites over these few thousand years.

In other words, the Bible is not even a complete history of Israel. Rather, it is a loose consolidation of a collection of events.

We might compare this to an English teacher who asked all her students to each write a paper about something that occurred in their lives at some point. When the teacher collects all the papers, she sorts together the papers into what appears to be chronological order - starting with the events that occurred in younger years among her students and ending with events that occurred in their older years. The teacher also eliminates some of the papers that seem to conflict. The teacher then binds together the papers into a book, and then claims the book is a history of the students in her school.

Would this be a correct interpretation of those papers? No, because the papers were each discussing individual events that seemed important to them. The collection of papers does not provide enough data to be a historical record, as the focus is on particular events that were important to each student.

In the same way, the thousands of scriptural texts that were among the libraries of Judea, Greece, Rome and the rest of the Middle East were largely unrelated to each other, as they were the recordings of lessons taught by spiritual teachers who described a particular event in order to teach a spiritual lesson.

Some of the events pieced together from different manuscripts were parables deep in symbolism. Others were loosely described events that had been passed down for many centuries with the mixing of some detail with dialogue. Some of these illustrate symbolic meanings together with events illustrating devotion and commitment. In some cases, the actual event was expanded or contracted to emphasize or illustrate the takeaway points.

The scribes working under consolidation-oriented emperors were commanded to piece together dates and events into what appears to be a chronological historical record. And those texts that did not support such a theoretical historical record were discarded.

It worked. These consolidated scriptures, together with ecclesiastical and government-controlled clergy, brought the various unmanaged groups under one institution. (With the exception of some devoted individuals guided by individual teachers, such as we find among the Essenes and Jesus himself, who rejected such consolidated institutions.)

This is also why the dates and chronologies in the Bible are all over the place. If this was a true historical record, each event would start with something like: "In 3500 B.C. there was a great flood."

Is this a collection of family history?

The Old Testament contains a collection of loose family histories pieced together into a possible chronology to provide an illusion of historical context. And the reason the world has been aged at 5,000 years old by these institutional teachers is that this is what the ages and family lineages among the fathers and sons of the Bible add up to.

Yet we know humans are not 5,000 years old. We know this from archaeological digs and carbon dating systems. Humans and their humanoid ancestors are well over 2 million years old according to carbon-dated remains.

So what about the Great Flood of Noah? There is certainly some archaeological evidence that at one time - millions of years ago - the entire earth or most of it was covered with water. This does not mean this is the time of the flood, but there is some scientific basis for a flooded planet.

But what about the ages of Noah and others, and these extraordinary events? Could a human and his family single-handedly build such a large boat and personally go out and gather up couples of every wild creature around the whole planet?

There is another text to consider carefully amidst this notion of Noah's extraordinary abilities:
The Nephilim were on the earth in those days--and also afterward--when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown. (Genesis 6:4)
We discussed this verse previously with re-translation/interpretation, but this does indicate at the minimum that there were differences between the Nephilim and humans. This and other verses also indicate that Noah was a Nephilim, and the Nephilim more decidedly more devoted to the Supreme Being than humans who were becoming increasingly degraded.

Who were the Nephilim?

The question this brings up is whether the Nephilim were indeed more advanced and powerful than humans of today. We also understand from these texts that their power was accompanied by great devotion the Supreme Being.

Persons having greater power than we display are also discussed elsewhere in the scriptures. Some are spoken simply as angels, which others are decidedly physical in appearance.

The bottom line is that the Bible simply does not adequately provide enough detail about Noah and the Nephilim, and when this event occurred in time. This is quite simply because it was not intended to be communicated as part of a historical record. It was intended to provide a teaching moment.

Did God allow scripture to be manipulated?

The question that some people of faith like to ask and answer: Does the Supreme Being allow scripture to be tainted like this? And if so, why?

Certainly, this illustrates that we are given the choice of either honoring and preserving scriptural texts or damaging them with misinterpretation and mistranslation. Scripture is pure as it is handed down from God and through His devoted representatives. But once out of their hands, 'pearls before swine' is often the situation.

This does not mean that the Supreme Being doesn't manage scripture at the end of the day. He is still the Supreme Being and the Controller of all. This means that ultimately He can control His message.

But He also grants us the freedom to abuse those vehicles (be they written works or otherwise) for that message, and corrupt them with greed. These corruptions, however, are still ultimately controlled by the Supreme Being. In the end, they produce results that allow us to make choices regarding our faith. They create situations for each of us that require us to look within and decide which way we want to turn - towards God or away from Him.

This is a constant in the physical world. We are constantly being offered choices. The choices we make lead us to new choices, and the succession of our choices creates a path for us. When we choose to trust in God, regardless of the squabbling of power-hungry institutions, we are led to new avenues and new choices that draw us closer and closer to God personally.

The present state of the Holy Bible is that it constantly presents choices to us. We might compare this to a test.

Let's say that a driving instructor is giving a student driver a driving test. During the first part of the test, the instructor will be testing the basics, to see if the student driver is ready to move on to the driving part of the test. So the instructor might ask the driver to prepare to drive. The instructor follows the student to the car, and the student gets into the passenger seat. Will the instructor feel confident about the student driver after this? No, because the student didn't even get into the right seat. Then say the instructor tells the student to get into the driver's seat. The first thing he notices is that the driver decides to start the car before fastening his seat belts. Or perhaps the driver starts up the car and immediately drives too fast or takes off on the wrong side of the road.

With any of these actions, the instructor is likely to cancel the driving test and tell the student to study the driving manual again before taking another driving test. This is because the student did not make the right choices. The student may know where the driver's seat is and may know to buckle up, but the choices the student made indicates there are some basic problems that need to be fixed, including having a little respect for the rules of the road.

Reading scripture engages a similar process of testing before the scriptures are opened up to that person. The first test is humility - not feeling we know it all - as we read about things we've never heard of or don't make sense at first. The next test is what we do about this humility. Do we just start speculating on their meaning? Do we try to make up our own interpretation? Do we make up our own new religion, as so many have among ecclesiastical Christianity over the centuries?

The next test is whether we ask for guidance. When we get confused, we have the choice to begin speculating or turn to God for guidance. If we choose the latter, the Supreme Being will indeed guide us. This guidance comes in the form of the Supreme Being from within, and in the form of the living spiritual teacher, God's representative. Without these two forms of guidance, scripture is not understood. The student will either be left with speculative interpretation or a lack of understanding.

When the student humbly requests and accepts this guidance offered by the Supreme Being, they begin the devotional path. As they travel that path, they will be able to see and understand the true meaning of scripture, assuming the guidance received is coming from the Supreme Being. Receiving guidance from a teacher who is not linked with the Supreme Being will not create a clear understanding of scripture. Such teachings will conflict with scripture and will be confusing. Such a teacher draws upon speculative mental interpretations rather than upon the Supreme Being.

A teacher who is not making up their own speculative interpretations is known when they pass down teachings given to them by another teacher linked with the Supreme Being. They are not speculating, and their teacher is not speculating. This is the humble path. This succession of humility produces a lineage of teachers, each passing down the same information about the Supreme Being, ultimately given by the Supreme Being.

Does God need scripture to prove His existence?

Ultimately, the Supreme Being does not need scripture or any other tool to prove His existence. He could appear before any of us at any time. He has complete authority over the physical world.

But the Supreme Being does not appear before our physical eyes for a reason. The reason is that we wanted to run away from Him. We rejected our relationship with Him as one of His loving caregivers. We decided we didn't want to love and serve the Supreme Being. We decided we wanted others to love us and others to serve us. We wanted the Supreme Being's position.

So He sent us away from the spiritual realm - our original home - to this physical world. Here we can pretend He doesn't exist. Here we can pretend that the world revolves around us. Here we can pretend that we are the most important person in existence, and everyone should be loving and serving us. This illusion has been created by the Supreme Being through the elements of the physical world, and our occupancy of these temporary physical bodies.

The arrangement of the physical world gives us the ability to exercise our quest for freedom from Him. The Supreme Being gives us the freedom to love Him or not, and for those who want authority are given an illusion of authority within the physical world.

This authority is not real, however. It is like having play authority. We really have no real control over the physical universe. Our bodies are subject to disease, old age, and death. We lose whatever authority we think we have. Even the greatest emperors laid on their deathbeds helpless in the end.

Consider this analogy: Let's say that some parents have two small children who no longer want to play with their parents. They want to play on their own. They want to be independent. Say they are five years old, however, and they could not possibly be trusted to play on their own. What do the parents do? They set up a sandbox in the back yard where the children can play. They put the kids in the sandbox and they go in the house so that the kids cannot see them from the sandbox. Then they watch the kids to make sure the kids don't choke on sand or otherwise get hurt.

While the kids might think for a few minutes that they are playing "on their own," they are not. They are always under the supervision of their parents. And while the parents will let the kids play whatever game they want to play in the sandbox, ultimately they set the limits of the play, and when playtime is over, they pull the kids out of the sandbox.

This is analogous to where we are. We wanted independence from God. So He gave us an illusion of independence. We can never be truly independent of God, however. Because we are connected to Him by an eternal relationship of love.

So while we may mess up the teachings of His ancient representatives who taught their students spiritual lessons utilizing a blend of parable and history of previous devoted persons, the Supreme Being always provides to us an ultimate pathway back to Him for those who are ready to return to His loving arms.

The Supreme Being thus allows some scriptures to be tainted and mistranslated and misinterpreted to provide the continued illusion for those who want to utilize anything - even God's words - for their own self-centered purposes. These scriptures give those looking to achieve the illusion of authority and power over others by becoming a priest or minister without having to commit their lives to the Supreme Being. Those mistranslations of scripture allow those who want the acclaim of others to offer speculative interpretations based upon their own mental concoctions.

Those mistranslations of scripture also allow institutions to reign over their followers or subjects by bending history and the teachings of the prophets to fit their purposes of retaining that power and authority.

But through it all, for those who truly want to return home to the Supreme Being, there is an avenue to do so. Within even these mistranslated and misinterpreted scriptures lies the very hidden jewels that may be accessed by those who sincerely want to know more about the Supreme Being.

Those gems lie not within the mapping out of supposed chronologies or created histories. Rather, they lie within the various devotional relationships the scriptures reveal between God and some of His loving servants. It is these tender relationships that are retained through the tainting and mistranslations of scriptures. These relationships, such as the one existing between Noah and the Supreme Being here, tell of a loving God who watches over and protects Noah and His family. These texts tell of a devoted servant of God who will follow every instruction of his Beloved God. Why was Noah so devoted to God? Why did he trust God? Because he loved God.

This is illustrated by the Hebrew word עשה (`asah), translated to "did" in the verse:
And Noah did all that the LORD commanded him. (Gen. 7:5)
While "did" is not incorrect, the word עשה (`asah) indicates not just doing something, but doing something as a gift or offering. It is a devotional activity.

These scriptures are full of discussions of such devotional activities. The relationship between Abraham and God, Moses and God, Job and God, David and God, Solomon and God, Eli and God, Samuel and God and so many others all tell not of relationships of anger and vengeance. But rather, relationships of devotion, commitment, and dedication. They tell of loving relationships between God and His loving caregivers.

What is the covenant?

This devotional state has been described in some texts as a "covenant." What is this "covenant" between God and His loving devotees? Many would say it is a matter of some tribal people being the "chosen people." This view, however, is tainted by greed and the desire for ownership. It is the desire to be special. This is self-centeredness.

The real "covenant" being spoken of in the texts of the Bible and Torah between God and His beloved devoted servants is a relationship of love. The "covenant" is love. It is caring. Both parties care about each other. Both parties are committed to each other. This is love, and this is the stuff of the spiritual realm.

The rest of the details swirling around these various relationships and events describing these relationships between God and His devotees are simply that: Details. Does it matter whether Noah built the ark with his bare hands or whether he had legions of helpers? Does it matter whether the ark was a wooden watercraft or a type of spaceship? Does it matter whether Noah was a typical man who happened to live almost a thousand years or whether he was a superhuman? It matters not.

What matters is that Noah did whatever God asked of him because Noah was dedicated to God. And what matters is that God wanted to take care of Noah and wanted Noah to lead the new society. Why? Because God wanted Noah to be an example for others. He wanted others to see how loving God is done. He wanted to show us how fulfilling it can be to be one of the Supreme Being's devoted servants. He wanted to show us how He supports and lifts up those who follow Him.

The story of Noah and the flood provides more than a glimpse into the fabulous loving relationships between God and His caregivers. It also provides symbolism that we can apply to our personal lives. In addition to its event just consider its symbolism:

The floodwaters symbolize the waters of the material world that can drown us with their depth and ferocity of waves, currents, and undertow. This material physical world can swallow us up with treacherous waves and currents that sweep us around and eventually take us down with their undertow. We get pulled into the illusory promises of the physical world in the same way, and it pulls us down just as an undertow does.

Noah's ark symbolizes the vessel provided by following the instructions of God's representatives and scripture, which provides protection against the floodwaters of the physical world.

When the waters abate, the vessel arrives at its destination - dry land - which symbolizes our return to the spiritual world. The dry land symbolizes a place protected from the flood of desires and self-centeredness that currently are drowning our consciousness. This is the place of love and devotional activity to our Best Friend.

And Noah and his family's being "fruitful and increase in number" symbolizes the effects of love for the Supreme Being. Love for God becomes fruitful for us as we have eternal life through it.

This is the nature of scripture. It is deep, meaningful and practical all at the same time. And its overall instruction is consistent with the specific instructions of all the great representatives of God:
“ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matt. 22:37-38 and Deut. 6:5)