The Appointing of a Prophet

Noah instructing Household (Ancient Wisdom)

Noah Instructing his Household

The Basilica of San Marco in Venice is a fitting example of such an ‘Ark’. Its vestibule displays Old Testament mosaics, among which are episodes from the story of Noah. God appears to the prophet and conveys to him His anger with mankind and His intention to destroy it by flooding. He instructs Noah to build an Ark, with specific details of its materials and dimensions. Noah is given one week to follow these instructions lest he perish with the rest of mankind.

Laying religious connotations aside, nothing comes from nothing: the historic Arks we know–the myths and fairytales that form the fabric of our education, the cathedrals and temples that serve as foundations of architecture as we know it, the paintings, sculptures and music that inspire and uphold all subsequent artistic expressions–could only result from a unique spark of inspiration. Such a spark, received by a group of people sensitive enough to value it, may combust into extraordinary artistic expressions. Standing in the modern age, when we take a backward glance to history, we cannot perceive the spark, but we can sense that something infused these individuals with a strong enough sense of purpose to dedicate their life’s labor for an unusual end. We take this ‘something’ as the noble spark represented by divine intervention, the ‘God’ that appears to ‘Noah’ from thin air and commands him to action.

The prophet returns to his household and shares his inspiration with them. The household, from our point of view, represents those intimately connected to the lofty inspiration. Together, they set about constructing the ark, based on God’s instructions. Meanwhile, the neighbors of Noah and his family, doubtful of Noah’s vision and disrespectful of his prophecy, mock his bizarre enterprise of building a ship that would survive a non-existent flood. Nevertheless, Noah persists in following his inspiration and completes his appointed task on time.

Read on: Populating the Ark