Noah let fly a raven through an access hatch, but the waters continued to swell for another five months. Finding no place to land, it returned to Noah.
Seven months later, the mammoth vessel and its living cargo lodged itself in a cleft on Mount Ararat, and for three months the waters continued to drain outward into the seas.
After spending almost a year on the boat, Noah released a dove, but it too returned. He released the dove again seven days later, this time with an olive leaf in its beak. After another seven days, he released the dove for a third time, the last Noah saw of the dove.
Noah and his family decided it was safe to disembark. They had lived in the floating house for a year and two months, and their claustrophobia was full blown.
Noah gathered the seven pairs of split-hooved animals, as well as the seven pairs of birds. Instead of using them for clothing or some other resource, he built an altar and incinerated them as a sacrifice.
This gesture so pleased God that he said, “I’ll never again curse the earth or destroy all creatures because of humankind. The human heart is hell bent from an early age and needs saving. May the seasons endure indefinitely. I’ll provide a way of promise, hope, and salvation.”
Then God made a new promise between himself and humankind. “Multiply yourselves and populate the whole earth. From this day, the animal kingdom will fear you, for they are now yours for food. I gave Adam and Eve the gardens; I now give you everything. However, don’t eat the blood of animals. Blood is life. For that matter, whoever causes human bloodshed will pay with his own blood. A life for a life. The image of God is encoded in human blood.”
Then God ordained a sign of his promise. “Whenever you see a rainbow,” he said, “remember that I’ll never again destroy the earth because of human evil.”
Inspiration: Genesis 7-9