Preliminary Musings on Noah, the Movie

These preliminary thoughts are based almost entirely on the cast of characters because there is very little else available to me right now.  Viewers should be aware of two things about the flood story as they approach the film version.  First, there is very little in the biblical account in Genesis 6-8 from which to make a movie.  If anyone complains that something in the movie is not in the Bible, then I have no idea what they could possibly be thinking would be in the movie.  For example, there is no dialogue between human characters presented in Genesis 6-8.  If you want the characters in the movie to talk to each other, then the dialogue will have to be created for the movie.  If you want a major character like Noah’s wife even to have a name then it must come from outside the Bible, a fact that points to the second thing viewers should know.  There is a great deal about the flood story in ancient sources outside of the story.  Jewish writings from 2000-2500 years ago, like Jubilees, I Enoch, and Genesis Rabba added material to the story for some of the same reasons that Darren Aronofsky’s  movie will.  The biblical account simply leaves too much unsaid. Some clues about the movie might lie in the names of some of the characters:

1) Naameh:  While the character named Ila, who is described as Noah’s adopted daughter and played by Emma Watson, looks entirely created by the screenplay of the movie, the name of Noah’s wife, Naameh,  is not.  Naamah is a character mentioned one time in Genesis 4:22 as Cain’s great-great-great-great-granddaughter.  The ancient midrash called Genesis Rabbah identifies Naamah as Noah’s wife, but the slightly older work called Jubilees names her Emzara.

2) Tubal-Cain:  Genesis 4:22 identifies the Tubal-Cain as the brother of Naamah and the first metal-worker.  So, in the film, he will be Noah’s brother-in-law.  Tubal Cain is listed third in the cast on IMDB after only Noah and Naameh, and is played by prominent British actor, Ray Winstone, so it seems he will be a prominent character in the movie.

3) Samyaza:  The spelling of this character’s name varies in ancient sources, but he is portrayed in I Enoch and Jubilees as the leader of the angelic figures who come to earth to procreate with human women, and who are banished by God to continue to live on earth after the flood.  None of these beings are named in Genesis 6:1-4, which tells their story briefly.

4) Og/Azazel:  This character’s name drifts, depending upon which cast list we consult.  In the Bible, Azazel is named only in Leviticus 16, when the priests are instructed to send a goat into the desert on Yom Kippur as an offering to this supernatural  desert being.  In I Enoch Azazel is a being associated with Samyaza, and he teaches metal-working to humans, particularly the fashioning of weapons.

5) Magog and Javan Tabal:  These two characters are a mystery.  Magog, Javan, and Tabal are named in Genesis 10:2 as sons of Japheth, hence, grandsons of Noah, but none of the offspring of Noah’s more prominent sons, Shem and Ham, are listed as characters in the movie.  Magog appears prominently in the cast list, and Magog is also the name of a mythical figure in Ezekiel 38-39, who seems to represent Babylon there.  The combination of two names to make Javan Tabal seems odd, but his name looks tantalizingly like Tubal-Cain’s It appears that the movie is going to incorporate material from post-biblical Jewish sources.

Adam, Eve, Cain, and Abel are all listed as characters, so it is going to extend back ten generations from the flood, and it may give some attention to the descendants of those who were on the ark, but it is unclear how.  Most significantly, though, the descendants of Cain are going to survive the flood.  The appearance of Cain’s genealogy in Genesis 4:17-22 is puzzling, since it would seem that the flood exterminates his descendants, but they survive through Naameh in both ancient sources and the movie. I will revisit all of this after I see the movie on Friday.

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