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Why is no one complaining about the incest in Noah?

imagesLike many people I saw Noah this weekend. It offered a middle ground somewhere between The Grand Budapest Hotel and Divergent and it seemed appropriate given the pouring rain.

The New York Times called Noah the “modernist rendering of the biblical flood.” Reviews are mixed (I love reading reviews and my personal favorite is “equal parts ridiculous and magnificent”) and some religious groups have their panties in a twist not so much over the cinematic liberties, but rather the sheer gall of including an environmental message and the fact the word “God” isn’t used in the film.

I did find it a little hard to suspend disbelief in the face of such impressive metallurgy just 10 generations from Adam. Also, the whole pregnancy test thing threw me. Noah’s wife is super alchemist who can diagnose pregnancy by pouring back wash from a cup over a leaf mixed with some kind of magical substance that might be gold (but it also seems to work as gunpowder, so that bit had me confused). Anyway, if the leaf turns into a ray of light you’re pregnant. No squinting for a blue line in the bronze age! I totally get they couldn’t sacrifice one of the two rabbits on board, but have the women tie reeds around their necks or something a little more bonze age than leaving viewers with the idea that there is enough hCG in spittle to transmutate a leaf.

I got past all the bizarre plot points (there are a lot, Aronofsky’s head must be a wild place) until they all hopped on the boat. There are 6 of them: Noah, his wife, his son Shem, Shem’s girlfriend, and Noah’s other two sons, Ham and Japheth. Yes, 4 men and 2 women are going to populate the world. This lack of a woman for Ham is a source of major friction throughout the movie and the poison comes to a head on the ark.

But just when you thought the reproductive math was creepy, it gets worse. Ila delivers twin girls during the 10 months or so they are at sea. Noah in a fit of madness or perhaps not understanding the Creator’s intent (open to interpretation) believes humanity should be wiped out so he must murder the two babies to end the lineage of man. No more women, no more babies. Noah’s wife tries to convince him otherwise, saying the Creator has provided what they “needed,” specifically two baby girls will marry their uncles and mankind will continue.

Yes, all the boys will have wives, it’s just two of the couples will be very closely related. And this is portrayed as the reasonable solution to sway a man from his madness.

Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.

I’m no biblical scholar, but there is nothing in the source material about Noah’s sons procreating with their nieces. I read several versions. In fact, in Genesis Noah’s sons had wives on the ark.

I get that family conflict was needed, but are ways to make a middle son hate his father and place every life at risk and not make incest part of the denouement especially if you’re imaginative enough to create angels who   come to earth to help mankind only to be trapped in rock and lava and devise mythical pregnancy tests. Incest is about as ugly as it gets and it takes the movie from a hot crazy mess to creepy.

It’s amazing to me that Paramount can be paranoid about what religious groups will think of the film, but show no concern about the implication of incest.

And it’s sad that all the people bitching about the so called anti-Christian agenda of the movie are fixated on Aranofsky’s atheism, his referencing a Creator instead of God, and the environmentalism but incest, meh, no worries.

Ugh indeed.

 

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Discussion

15 thoughts on “Why is no one complaining about the incest in Noah?

  1. I’ve not seen the film. I’m waiting for the one about Lot and his daughters. After they escape from the city, and Mrs Lot gets turned into salt, the daughters realise that their ol’ da is the only man left. So they do what any girl would, they get him drunk and rape him, one after the other.

    Posted by korhomme | March 31, 2014, 4:04 am
    • Interestingly, Abram (Abraham) and his nephew Lot were alive during the same time as Shem. Shem was their many-greats-grandfather, and the son of Noah. Lot’s daughters could (likely) have heard first-hand accounts of global destruction from Shem. They could also have heard from Arphaxad (Shem’s son) about the difficulties of having to marry near relatives due to there being nobody else in the world.
      Lot’s daughters lived in a world where global destruction is a definite possibility and reality. They did just witness actual fire and brimstone from heaven. They saw the wrath of God turn their disobedient mother into a pillar of salt. The very first command of God was to be fruitful and multiply.
      So, given Lot’s daughters’ history, situation, and knowledge, making babies with their father in a cave really is a pretty logical decision.

      Posted by Child of Noah | June 30, 2014, 11:06 pm
  2. Jen, you need to go back some time in that thar ol bible. Let’s venture to Genesis Chapter 4: “Adam[a] made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain.[b] She said, “With the help of the Lord I have brought forth[c] a man.” 2 Later she gave birth to his brother Abel.”

    OK, there’s Eve and the 3 men folk. What happens next?

    Posted by rekster | March 31, 2014, 5:32 am
  3. With utmost respect to all : the Bible is written by men for men . Nothing to do with God .

    Posted by Jim | March 31, 2014, 6:30 am
    • Yes. They would never have offered two baby boys to be raped by their aunts in a mainstream film, but our cultural hatred of women is so extreme that it was fine to do this with two baby girls.

      Posted by B | April 15, 2014, 12:50 am
    • I just have to say that the Bible is meant to be an aid for mankind to live a peaceful life through the lessons/stories in the bible and an account of events witnessed by God deciples so we would have faith in the Lord in trying times. The Bible wasn’t written to be dissected it was to bring us together under one God and to love one another as we would want to be treated/loved.

      Posted by Megan | June 19, 2014, 11:06 pm
  4. Now, now…you know how it works in the monotheistically-(de)’ranged minds…it ain’t a sin if ‘god’ sets it in motion. I always thought, back when I read the Bible, that Noah sounded like a dumb-ass; and if that was who the divinity picked to survive divine genocide it couldn’t be a very bright deity. They don’t need no stinkin’ genetics…

    Posted by syrbal-labrys | March 31, 2014, 8:40 am
  5. So how is Noah’s sons having wives on the Ark less incesty in the long run? I mean each of Noah’s sons will have children with their wives and then with whom are Noah’s grandchildren going to have sex with but each other? Also how are the animals on the ark going to avoid in-breeding if there are only 2 of each and 14 of each birds and clean animals (I don’t remember what separated clean animals from the rest of the animal kingdom)?

    So I figured either the story of Noah was a metaphor like the rest of the Antediluvian period of the Bible or Noah’s descendents had in-breeding issues for the next couple of centuries.

    Posted by dmol8 | March 31, 2014, 9:06 am
  6. LOL!!! Yes you hit the nail on the head. And to add insult to injury, people are interested in this BS!! You have to give Hollywood credit for bringing this out during Lent, when the robots are all directed towards sacrificing and salvation. Let’s hear it for organized religion and the continued propaganda they continue to spew. I am so happy that someone had the courage to write about the truth about this garbage. It is insulting to one’s intelligence. If one where to have any intelligence that is.

    Posted by Antonia | March 31, 2014, 10:24 am
  7. It’s nice to see thoughtful analysis of the move rather than knee-jerk reactions from people who haven’t bothered to watch it. I think there are a couple of US states (including NY?) where an accommodation is made in the law for a man to marry his niece due to certain allowances and traditions in a branch of Judaism.

    Here’s an edited version of what I’d previously written about this general topic (incest in the Bible)…

    Considering the Bible as literature, which anyone can do whether they are a devout Christian, a Deist, a Hindu, an Atheist, or an Antitheist or take some other path, one can see that the Bible implies, outright portrays, and further addresses consanguineous sex.

    Frequently, someone will ask “Where did Cain get his wife?” or “Did Adam and Eve’s children have sex with each other?” or some variation. Whether someone considers this speculation about fanciful myths or actual history is irrelevant to analyzing what the text itself says.

    One common response says that there were other people aside from Adam and Eve, even claiming that Genesis 1:26-27 describes the creation of people other than Adam and Eve. That may work for someone who can find some other explanation for Genesis 3:20, which calls Eve the mother of all living, and other passages which indicate Adam and Eve were the parents of all humans.

    Romans 5 says that sin and death came into the world through one man, Adam, and 1 Corinthians 15 says that in Adam all die. These passages imply that the Bible portrays every human as a descendant of Adam. There’s a mention of Eve in the Apocrypha that agrees with this, in the prayer of Tobit (Tobit 8:6): “Thou madest Adam, and gavest him Eve his wife for a helper and a stay; of them came the seed of men…”

    That the Bible portrays Adam and Eve as the ancestors of all humans is the interpretation publicly affirmed by a diverse group of Bible enthusiasts, who often vehemently disagree with each other on other matters about what the Bible says. Some of those sources disagree very much on other aspects of Genesis, especially the first few chapters, but agree as to the Bible teaching that Adam and Eve are the ancestors of all humans (and please note that Genesis 5:4 says Adam, in addition to the named sons, had other sons and daughters), and so it appears that the Bible portrays the origin of human beings as the result of consanguineous (incestuous) sex. Adam and Eve’s children reproduced with each other, if not also Adam and Eve.

    It is also of note that the Bible portrays Noah, his wife, their three sons, and the sons’ wives were the only human beings left (at least in that part of the world) after The Flood. (Genesis 6:18, 7:7, 9:1,7,18-19). Whether or not the Bible allows for a “local” Flood and other human beings in other parts of the world, Genesis 6:19 portrays least the people in that part of the world as all descended from Noah’s family. That would mean that the area (or the entire world) was repopulated through pairing up people who were no more distant than first cousins, coming from a pool of no more than eight total ancestors (Noah, his wife, and the parents of each of Noah’s three sons.)

    In the Biblical narrative, it wasn’t until much later that the first prohibition was placed on incest, in Leviticus, along with many other prohibitions (prohibitions on mixing fabrics, for example) that may have been listed to distinguish Israel from the other nations/tribes surrounding it. The narrative describes tribes who have left Egypt, where incest was common and accepted, and surrounded by other nations/tribes where incest was common and accepted. These were laws for the ancient theocracy of Israel. Also of note is that the concept of rights for women and children was very different than it is now; same goes for protecting the elderly. There was no domestic violence shelter, no secular county or state department with social workers attempting to protect people against child abuse or elderly abuse. Children were literally the property of their parents to do with almost anything they wanted (note that the Torah says that parents must get permission from an authority to kill a disobedient child; presumably, there was no such requirement before.) As such, prohibitions on incest could have often been about preventing sexual assault or molestation.

    However, applying the Biblical prohibitions to consensual sex, very few people who consider the Bible as an authority in their lives actually live by Mosaic law, nor want Mosaic law as national or state/province law. Secular laws should not keep any consenting adults from having sex or getting married.

    Incest has always been a theme in literature and storytelling. See: Greek mythology. The fact is, incest has always been a part of life, in all socioeconomic and geographic areas. Even though a majority of people don’t get involved, enough people do get involved in consensual incest that you know people who are involved.

    Marrying a first cousin is legal and common in much of the world today, and for thousands of years most people married a first, second, or third cousin, once or twice removed or not.

    From the perspective of science, DNA reveals inbreeding, and thus incest, in our past. In some cases, it might have helped to spread helpful characteristics.

    Posted by Keith Pullman | April 1, 2014, 5:00 am
    • “…to spread helpful characteristics” Like what? Deformities, retardation?

      Posted by Freeda | April 3, 2014, 10:11 am
    • “Marrying a first cousin is legal and common in much of the world today…”

      It’s legal in the UK; and is, so I gather, common in Asian populations. The children of such marriages have a much higher incidence of genetic abnormalities; and because cousin marriage is frequent, the statistics are robust.

      Posted by korhomme | April 3, 2014, 2:11 pm
  8. I had no issue at all with the “environmentalist agenda” considering I am fairly certain that Noah was an environmentalist (with an agenda). My God is The Creator, so I have no problem with that.
    The rock-angel thing was a little weird, but I knew that was going to be there before I went to the movie so I didn’t let it bother me.
    The above items are not necessarily contrary to the bible. I have no problem with them.

    I don’t have a problem with the “incest” per se. Obviously, as pointed out by Mr. Pullman, there’s going to be some incest-ing going on to repopulate the earth.

    The major problem I had with the movie, the only thing I found contrary to the bible, was the people who got on the ark. The bible says that Noah and his wife, and his three sons and their wives got into the ark.
    I decided that maaaaaaaybe the movie stretched this. The three sons’ wives were all present, just inside one body at the time they boarded.
    I disagree, but I can almost swallow it.
    But then Tubal-Cain got on the ark. No. No he didn’t. The bible lists the eight people who got on the ark. Tubal-Cain is not one of them.

    Posted by Child of Noah | June 30, 2014, 11:30 pm
  9. Totaly agree with the OP.
    And here’s another one for you: How the hell are the animals supposed to reproduced in pairs when they obviously would have to eat one another to survive from the moment they are woken up. Food chain and all… Do they suddently decide to go vegan until the numbers become acceptable to begin lunchin? This would lead to serious species extinction from day1… Not everthinking it, it doesn’t take a genius to put 1+1.

    Posted by Yorick Nicholls | July 9, 2014, 4:53 am

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