Sunday, April 4, 2010

Noah's Birds

Alice C. Linsley

The historicity of Noah’s great flood is supported by findings in many disciplines. There are two birds in the story: a dove and a raven. The birds provide a clue as to the location and also suggest a cultural context consistent with the other anthropological and linguistic findings concerning Noah and the other Nilo-Saharan rulers named in Genesis 4-12.

In Africa the dove is a symbol of prophetic discernment so sending out a dove was Noah’s way of seeking guidance. The most common dove in the part of Africa where the flood occured is the Pink-bellied Dove. This species is abundant near water and would have been associated with shrines which were located at rivers, springs and wells. The pink belly is suggestive of blood sacrifice which made peace between the penitent and God.  This peace is symbolized by the olive branch which the dove brought to Noah.

The raven mentioned in Genesis is the Fan-tailed Raven, in the crow family. Its habitat extends across North Africa, Arabia, Sudan and Kenya. It also ranges across the Air Massif in Niger where it nests in crags. The red area shows the Fan-Tailed Raven’s habitat. This is exactly the location of Noah’s flood.

This is the natural habitat of both the Pink-bellied Dove and the Fan-tailed Raven, the birds that Noah might have released. It is also the heart of the ancient Afro-Asiatic Dominion.

In the ancient Afro-Asiatic world the dove represented heavenly confirmation. Noah sent out a dove to determine whether the waters had subsided and it returned with an olive branch. In many paintings of the Annunciation, the dove is portrayed as descending from the Father to Mary as confirmation.

In the ancient world, doves hovered near water shrines and sacred wells, so the idea of the Spirit hovering over the waters at the beginning of creation is consistent with Afro-Asiatic belief.

The dove seems a fitting symbol for the Spirit of God, just as the Sun is a fitting symbol for the Father. What then is the symbol for the Son? It is the veil that hides the most holy. Jesus is both the veil and the veiled or hidden Son. This is why the veil concealing the most Holy Place was torn from top to bottom when Jesus was crucified. At Calvary the Son was revealed fully. The veil was pulled away. At the Orthodox Paschal liturgy this is symbolized by the opening of all the doors of the iconostasis. This happens only on Pascha.

Likewise the crow or raven was a symbol of the Creator and his son Horus. The root of the word is ḱoro- and corresponds to the Sanskrit śāri and the Nilo-Saharan sarki (also reflected in the Lithuanian šarka). Sar means king. Koro is a variant of Horo or Horus. Koro is also an ancient term for war, suggesting a scavenger bird, similar to the falcon (Horus' totem) and the Egyptian vulture, both significant birds in the Bible.

The vulture, scorpion, horse and lion are found on stone pillars at the Gobekli Tepe site in Turkey which dates to about 9000 B.C. Here they appear to correspond to constellations at a time when Thuban was the pole star and they are likely clan totems. These creatures are commonly found on African images, which suggests that the structure at Gobekli Tepe was influenced by priests whose origins were in Africa. The vulture is especially important totem among the Nubians.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Beautiful, just beautiful.