Be Fruitful, and Multiply

Scenes from the Chapter House at Salisbury Cathedral depicting Noah, circa HE 11284.

Be Fruitful, and Multiply

The rain comes down and the flood breaks free
And ev’ryone dies, from Atlas to Russia
In the year 2348 BC –
Or so says Bishop Ussher.
And after the waters dissipate
Noah and sons and wives make eight.

The empty land is beckoning them –
Europe to Japheth, Egypt to Ham –
And Asia becomes the realm of Shem,
From Turkey to Vietnam.
So now that the land’s no longer wet,
Just how many kin will they beget ?

Well see, the Bible clearly lists out
Sixteen grandsons, twenty-seven greats –
And these all boys (the girls are missed out),
To found the known-world’s states.
But such expansion cannot last long
Till plague and war and famine are strong.

So let’s say from here, things settle down
And nat’ral attrition soon appears,
And the time it takes to double a town
Is a hundred-and-fifty years –
In Ussher’s time, with coal and machine,
That’s the highest the world had ever seen.

So, taking his dating of when things happen
And taking that girls are as common as boys,
So fifty years later we’ll start our mapping
And tease some facts from the noise –
We’ve roughly a hundred, in all events,
And spread across three continents.

A cent’ry post-flood, or so James willed it,
The Tower of Babel raises its steeple –
But only forty-odd folks can build it –
That’s all of Asia’s people,
Including elders and babes-in-arms,
With no-one fishing or tending the farms.

Then Abraham hears God Almighty,
Telling him that he is chosen
Out of a pool of a hundred and ninety –
And yet his wife is frozen…
The Lord, though, promises a son
To make it a hundred and ninety-one.

In time, when Jacob’s family go
To Egypt – well, the dates allow
For Asia to have two-thirty-or-so
(Though down a dozen now.)
See, that’s how exponentials grow –
They end up big but they start off low.

Exodus – 1491,
(A shorter sojourn than modern lights),
As a third of the world is on the run –
Fourteen-hundred Israelites.
A count of six-hundred-thousand men ?
I think you’d better check it agen.

For those of us who prefer our dates to be logical, 2348 BC is HE 7653, and 1491 BC is HE 8510.

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