Noah and Satan
Reading time: 2 minutes. Word count: 400 words.
Noah lost his epithet "the pious" when he began to occupy himself with the growing of the vine. He became a "man of the ground," and this first attempt to produce wine at the same time produced the first to drink to excess, the first to utter curses upon his associates, and the first to introduce slavery.
This is the way it all came about.
Noah found the vine which Adam had taken with him from Paradise, when he was driven forth. He tasted the grapes upon it, and, finding them palatable, he resolved to plant the vine and tend it. On the selfsame day on which he planted it, it bore fruit, he put it in the wine-press, drew off the juice, drank it, became drunken, and was dishonored--all on one day.
His assistant in the work of cultivating the vine was Satan, who had happened along at the very moment when he was engaged in planting the slip he had found.
Satan asked him: "What is it thou art planting here?"
Noah: "A vineyard."
Satan: "And what may be the qualities of what it produces?"
Noah: "The fruit it bears is sweet, be it dry or moist. It yields wine that rejoiceth the heart of man."
Satan: "Let us go into partnership in this business of planting a vineyard."
Satan thereupon slaughtered a lamb, and then, in succession, a lion, a pig, and a monkey. The blood of each as it was killed he made to flow under the vine. Thus he conveyed to Noah what the qualities of wine are: before man drinks of it, he is innocent as a lamb; if he drinks of it moderately, he feels as strong as a lion; if he drinks more of it than he can bear, he resembles the pig; and if he drinks to the point of intoxication, then he behaves like a monkey, he dances around, sings, talks obscenely, and knows not what he is doing.
This deterred Noah no more than did the example of Adam, whose fall had also been due to wine, for the forbidden fruit had been the grape, with which he had made himself drunk.
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Source: The Legends of the Jews by Louis Ginzberg (1909). Weblink. The material has been abbreviated and some sections have been omitted; you can read the complete version online at the weblink provided.
Languages / Anthropology 3043: Folklore & Mythology.
Laura Gibbs, Ph.D.
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