Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Did Noah Latch a Hatch?

When Noah opened the ark's window to send the dove out for a 3rd time, and this time the dove did not return, it says, "... and Noah removed the covering of the ark ....".
  ויסר נח את מכסה התבה (Gen.8:13)

Now I ask you, how could he manage that feat? The dimensions of this "covering of the ark" are colossal, and no few mortals together could accomplish this lift of so much timber. (This roof covered an area the size of one and a half soccer fields in length, and half a soccer field's width in width.)

Surely Noah had no hydraulic lift built in. Did he construct a release mechanism where the roof could just roll off the top? Anyone preoccupied 120 years building an ark surely becomes a master contractor.

We know that the huge giant, Og, was the sole survivor of the Great Flood (Rashi; Gen.14:13, Ba'al HaTurim 7:23) outside of Noah's family, probably by holding on to the ark. There were times, after all, when the waters reached 45 feet higher than the highest mountain tops. Maybe as a thank-you gesture he lifted off the ark's roof for Noah. But no doubt he took his leave well before that because he felt land long before they made for the exit.

Most likely a hatch comprised part of the roof. As Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan renders it in his translation, "Noah removed the ark's hatch". After all, the very next words say, "he saw", which implies he opened it to take a look. Why remove a roof anyhow, when entry and exit were accomplished through a door? "Covering" (מכסה), apparently, can also mean a "segment of roof". It's just that this hatch is never made mention of until now.

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