Naamah

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That day stands unforgettable.

I was out, washing my sons' clothing in the stream. It was a moment of silence for me in the midst of the chaos brought about by a husband and three sons.

Scrubbing the clothing in the water. Thwack! Slapping it against the stones to clean it. The current gurgled and slurped, dancing around the rocks.

The sun rose high across the horizon, beating down on the back of my head as I knelt by the water. Drops of sweat clung to my forehead and the back of my neck, but who was I to complain?

The winter had been long and harsh. Only Yahveh could be praised for the fact that we yet lived.

Our home sat on the other side of the small creek, across the stepping-stones and up a small ridge. Shouts rang out from beyond it. "Naamah!"

Noah, back from the fields already? I wrung out Japheth's deep blue tunic and dropped it into the willow basket. I heaved the basket to my hip. The five stepping-stones across the creek never seemed so many as that moment.

"Naamah!" Noah shouted again. He stood just outside the door of our mud-brown home, pacing back and forth, hands trembling. I dropped the basket to the ground.

"What is it, Noah?"

My husband turned and faced me, his eyes wild. "The end of the world."

****

So began the story of our family.

When I married Noah, I married into a respectable family. After this one day - "the end of the world" - this changed. My husband, our sons, even I myself became the fools of the town.

"Build an ark, Noah?" People would shout after him. "What water will you sail it on? Your tears?"

Far worse names than fool were given him, but I will not repeat them here.

The name-calling did not bother me, nor did it hinder my three sons from finding good, loyal, Yahveh-fearing wives. They came, in faith, to Shem and Ham and Japheth. Our family stood complete.

No, the name-calling harmed us little. What harmed me were those who passed by the building of the ark, and only shook their heads. These lingered between doubt and absolute belief in Yahveh's message.

Some shook their heads. Others refused to acknowledge that we existed any longer. Among them was my father.

Yahveh said a flood would destroy the earth, and we were given the task of rescuing the animals. What should I have done, then? Begged my father to remember me? Wept for the loss of his friendship, his love? Gone forth with the determination to accomplish Yahveh's will?

I did all these things during the years that my husband built up the ark.

****

Forty days and forty nights of constant rain. Forty days and forty nights of the ground shifting beneath my every step.

I remember those days on the ark well, the perpetual smell of the animals sticking to my skin and clothing and hair. I remember the exhaustion when Shem and Japheth fought, and there was no way for them to escape one another.

I remember the final day, when Noah sent out the dove for the third time, and I nearly fainted on the ground from relief.

So much to be remembered of that journey of faith.

I remember leaving the ark, as the animals scattered in all directions, free to run at last.

I remember the cadavers of the people who died before us. Every year, as we planted the crops, one of my grandchildren would find teeth, and ask whether they came from human or from beast. At times, it was full human skulls, and I had to wonder whose they were.

But thanks to Yahveh, we were saved.

****

Noah comes up behind me even now, as I sit in the vineyard. The smell of wet earth clings to the air, and dark thunderclouds roll over the horizon.

Noah is an old man, but hale and hearty still. He bends over and wraps his arms around mine. "Naamah, love. Are you remembering again?"

"It is hard to forget," I rest my hands atop his, on my shoulders. Strong hands, used by Yahveh. Strong hands, that held me up all this time. "Even after so many years."

"Do you regret it?" Noah sits beside me on the bench, his hand dropping to my lower arm. His eyes meet mine. The past flashes before my eyes as I consider all that we have suffered - and all that we have gained.

"No." I shake my head, and Noah wraps me in his arms.

I regret nothing.

I do not regret marrying my husband.

I do not regret the lives of our sons.

I do not regret even the Flood.

Thanks be to Yahveh.

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Naamah's story is part of a larger series, telling the stories of all the unnamed women in the Bible. I'd love your feedback! What works, what doesn't, what could be improved?

Carpe diem!

Rebekah

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