The Lion is Hungry, and the Chameleon does not Eat: Jewish Midrashic Traditions Concerning the Animals in Noah’s Ark

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Abstract

The Midrashic literature relates to several lacunae in the story of Noah’s ark in the biblical text and presents the reader with a wider narrative that includes educational and theological messages. The current study focuses on how the Midrashim combine various species of animals in the narrative of the flood. While the text does not note any of the animals by name, aside from the raven and the dove that have a role in the events, the Midrashic literature reports a list of animals that entered the ark. The animals are mentioned in the process of retelling the events, rather than in order to fill the zoological vacuum in the story. Aggadic homilies mention approximately fifteen animal species and they are documented in the context of each of the story’s stages: the preparations for living in the ark, the stage of entering the ark, and the life in the ark during the flood.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-65
Number of pages22
JournalReligious Studies and Theology
Volume40
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 14 May 2021

Keywords

  • Noah's ark
  • the flood
  • aggadic homilies
  • Pirkei de-Rabbi Eliezer
  • Midrashic literature
  • rabbinical literature
  • biblical animals
  • zikita
  • illustrated medieval sources
  • lions and bears

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