Up to the time of our great grandparents, several generations ago, most people lived on farms and raised large families to help in the work. It would have been no different with Noah. God commanded him to be fruitful and multiply and to fill the earth, which was empty of people after the Flood. According to our calculations in article 26, the first generation could have grown to 53 people (see chart below), but how much impact could they have had on the world around them? Probably more than we can imagine.
The first generation, abbreviated G1, would have begun after the Flood, around 2348 BC, and ended in 2333 BC. The population would have grown from 8 people who were in the Ark to 53 people, mostly children.
I played pickleball last week with a team having a young lady who looked like she was nine months pregnant. She wasn’t special. She was just used to being active. Many women have historically worked until they gave birth. My father, who was a medical doctor, liked to say that pregnancy was considered natural until we made a disease out of it. In the first generation after the Flood, pregnancy would have been the highest honor, and mothers would have been esteemed at least as much as men. Having children was more important than crops, animals, or even gold. Sure, the first years would have been overwhelming until the first toddlers could grow up enough to help raising the small ones. But children were not spoiled brats like so many today.
Today we have labor laws to prevent parents from exploiting their children, who should be in school. Back then, all of life was school. Children were naturally home-schooled. For most of the first century (shown in chart), people were healthy, happy, peaceful, and cooperative in trade. There is no reason to feel sorry for children who were loved by their parents and on the adventure of a lifetime. The Future Farmers of the Fertile Crescent were exposed to animals from before they could walk. It was a privilege for them to help in the fields or in the home, and their cooperation probably started as soon as they could walk.
Farmers Before Hunters
Noah was a farmer, according to Genesis 20:9. Some settlements, such as Çayönü, began with farming, while others, such as Jerf el-Ahmar, began with hunting. True hunting would not have preceded farming, because herds of large animals, such as deer and antelope, did not grow fast enough. It would have taken many years for herds to form, and they would have been hard to find. On the other hand, game animals could have been kept close by feeding them, as we do today with deer feeders. Deer were used to being fed on the Ark. We have evidence that the earliest hunters chose carefully from the herds, rather than decimating them like easterners did to the buffalo. Fish were abundant because they survived the Flood in large numbers. Many kinds of nuts, berries, herbs, and fruits have been identified for these people. Early people are known to have had a varied and healthy diet, better than the generations that followed them.
Houses or tents?
Nothing can be identified from the first generation after the Flood. They were too few and left too little behind. There is a good chance that they were nomads, living in tents, following herds on the plain that lay west of Mount Karacadag. We know from the story of Jacob that he became rich just by retaining the spotted sheep of Laban. The herds of Abraham and Lot grew so large in their lifetimes that they couldn’t live in the same country. Such would have been the herds of Noah and his children. Eventually, houses in the Fertile Crescent were built out of rocks. Çayönü was situated on a hill where it looked down on farms and herds on the plains around Mount Karacadag (see image below). There is a good chance that the first generation was both nomadic and also had a settlement built with stone walls.
In 1910, Louis and Temple Abernathy rode horses about 1,600 miles from Fredrick, Oklahoma, to New York City. Louis was 9 years old and Temple was 5. They made the trip alone, but obviously got food and directions along the way. The Google Earth map below shows what 1,600 miles looks like in the Near East. The distance to Cairo is 936 miles, to Mosul is 268 miles, to Istanbul is 796 miles, and to Tehran is 912 miles. If two boys could travel that far alone in less than two months, then Central Asia, Europe, and Africa could all be reached within a year by Shem, Ham, and Japheth, accompanied by their sons.
Exploration was certainly high on the priority list for the first generation, which needed to get a layout of the land that had been radically transformed by the Flood. The continents didn’t even exist before the Flood. Neither did the mountains. The landscape was completely new. Maps were not written down at that time. Explorers memorized the rivers and trails. Imagine boys making a long trip every summer with their fathers, from the time they were Temple’s age, which was 5 years old. By the end of the first generation, which this model sets at 15 years, 15 boys would have made an exploratory trip and be on their way to going out on their own. The first generation opened up the land and paved the way to multiple settlements.
Noah, preacher of Righteousness
According to 2 Peter 2:5, Noah was a preacher [one who proclaims] of righteousness. That was his calling, both before and after the Flood. What he preached to a wicked generation, he also preached to his children, because of the wicked generation from which they had escaped. Religion did not evolve from superstitions, but rather people “fell away” from righteousness. Society can dramatically change, even within one generation, but we can easily believe that most people had a fear of God for the first century and only slowly left the faith. A century is a long time, and the Babel event took place just after a century. Archeology supports this position of a righteous first century, since we only find evidence of polytheism and decadence after Babel and after the first century.
What would have happened in the second generation, which ended with 244 people spreading out over the land? Was today’s land of Israel the earliest destination? Let’s look at the Natufians next time.