Noah: One of the Most Moral Stories Ever Told
Modern audiences misunderstand the lessons and importance of the story.


Dennis Prager

Next week, the film Noah opens.

Having taught the Torah (the Five Books of Moses) from the Hebrew for more than 40 years (hundreds of hours are available by download through my website), I consider the Biblical flood story one of the world’s most profound moral teachings. As I will show, it means that God cares about goodness more than anything else.

Let me explain by answering the most frequent challenges to the story.

Q: Why did God destroy the world?

A: Because “the Lord saw how great was man’s wickedness on earth. . . . And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth and His heart was saddened” (Genesis 6:5–6).

When God created the world, He announced after each day’s creations that “it was good.” But only after His final creation — the human being — on the sixth day, did God say that “it was very good.” God was particularly pleased with, and had the highest hopes for, this creation, the only one created “in His image.” This is not about man having God’s physical attributes (God is not physical). It is about humans’ being infinitely more precious than all other creations. Only man, like God, has moral knowledge and therefore moral free will.

When God saw how cruelly human beings treated one another, He decided that He would start over. Once people reach a certain level of widespread evil, life is pointless.

Q: Why did God destroy animals as well?

A: In the Biblical worldview, the purpose of all creation is to benefit man. This anthropocentric view of nature and indeed of the whole universe is completely at odds with the current secular idealization of nature. This secular view posits that nature has its own intrinsic meaning and purpose, independent of man.

All of creation, in the Biblical view, was to ultimately prepare the way for the creation of man. But one does not need the Bible alone to hold this view. A purely scientific reading of the universe is entirely in keeping with this view. Everything — every natural and physical law — is exquisitely tuned to produce life, and ultimately man, on earth.

Bible Movies
Hollywood is getting religion in 2014 with the release of several big-budget movies based on Bible stories. While not quite a return to the golden era of religion on the big screen, it’s a start. Here’s a look.
While Biblical and religious stories have found a growing audience on television, big-screen versions have been rare over the last several decades. In their day, biblical films were solidly mainstream fare. Pictured, Max von Sydow as Jesus in 1965’s The Greatest Story Ever Told.
Director Cecil B. DeMille’s massive 1956 film The Ten Commandments set the standard for big-scale Hollywood cinema, and watching Heston’s towering performance as Moses every Easter was a veritable national holiday before the age of cable TV and home video.
Even after Mel Gibson struck a strong chord with viewers with his very successful 2004 film The Passion of the Christ (pictured), Hollywood has been slow to bring more religious fare to the multiplex. But a new batch of big-budget releases featuring big-name stars may mark a new chapter.
Noah: Russell Crowe stars in director Darren Aronofsky’s big-budget story about the man who builds a giant ark to escape a massive flood. Emma Watson (the Harry Potter films) plays his daughter. Release Date: March 28
As in every Bible adaptation, the chief concern for many is how far the film will depart from or embellish the original story. Aronofsky, whose previous credits include Black Swan, raised eyebrows with comments suggesting a secular take on the story, at one point calling Noah “the first environmentalist.”
Test screenings of the $150 million effects-laden film held last fall for faith-based audiences produced what The Hollywood Reporter called “troubling reactions,” prompting a spat between Aronofsky and the studio. And commentary on an early version of the script that was leaked online called Aronofsky an “Environmentalist Wacko.”
Aronofsky told the Los Angeles Times: “We completely wanted to respect the text, and build a story out of what the text was saying.” Pictured, the film’s version of Noah’s ark.
Exodus: Christian Bale trades in Batman’s cape for the robes of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt. The film, directed by Ridley Scott, also stars Joel Edgerton as the Egyptian king Ramesses II and Aaron Paul as Joshua. Release Date: December 12
The film is expected to include all the famous Moses scenes covered in the Charlton Heston film The Ten Commandments, including the parting of the Red Sea.
Director Ridley Scott (pictured at left on the set with star Bale) set his 2005 film Kingdom of Heaven in Jerusalem during the Crusades.
Son of God: This film, starring Diogo Moragado as Jesus, is derived from parts of the highly successful History Channel miniseries The Bible. Release Date: February 28
The Bible drew strong ratings across its run, and the final episode, which aired on Easter Sunday, was watched by more than 11 million viewers. (It also gained some notoriety for a demon character some thought resembled President Obama).
Other big-budget movie projects with biblical connections are in various phases of development, and though they may never see the light to day, it is interesting to see the level of celebrity talent circling these projects. (Pictured, Son of God)
Pontius Pilate: Brad Pitt is in talks for the lead role in this story focusing on the military career of the Roman prefect in strife-torn Judea who presides over the trial and crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
The Redemption of Cain: A variation on the tale of Cain and Abel, being developed for Will Smith to direct. reports that the big-budget tale of sibling rivalry comes with “a vampiric twist.”
Gods and Kings: This big-budget Moses tale was in development with filmmaker Steven Spielberg before he dropped out. describes the film as “a Braveheart-style telling of the story of Moses from birth to death.” Life of Pi director Ang Lee (pictured) is now reportedly onboard to direct.
Mary: This film — starring Israeli actress Odeya Rush (pictured) — reportedly explores the life of Mary and Joseph as they struggle to raise their infant son Jesus under Herod’s rule, and was written by the screenwriter of The Passion of the Christ.
Updated: Jan. 24, 2014