Articles Russell Crowe as Noah

Published on March 31st, 2014 | by Dr. Joel McDurmon


Aronofsky’s Noah: a panoply of Jewish paganism

Enough people have now reviewed Aronofsky’s Noah and given it the thrashing it deserves. I shall not attempt to add to the righteously angry and sometimes sarc-laden disgust penned by guys like Matt Walsh and Erick Erickson and Larry Stone. I agree with them. But as we rightly denounce just how far from the biblical account Aronofsky strayed, it is important that Christians realize more than just what it is not. We must also see just what some of his ideas are, and where they come from. They are not just wacky ideas from a spaced-out brain drunk from comic books; Aronofsky’s “Noah” bears concepts and imagery taken from Jewish occultism, mysticism, and paganism.

My friend Marcus Pittman noted that in his theater, after the movie was over, someone shouted out, “What Bible was he reading?”

I’ll tell you. It was the Jewish “bible” of Kabbalah called the Zohar. It was also Jewish Talmud. It was countless works of Jewish mysticism and esotericism. Don’t take my word, let them tell you themselves:

The writers filled in the blanks by interviewing scholars, reading and re-reading the book of Genesis, and by studying commentaries from the Jewish Theological Seminary and other sources, apocryphal books, Rabbi Geoffrey W. Dennis’ “The Encyclopedia of Jewish Myth, Magic and Mysticism” and even perusing parts of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

A lot of people both pre- and post-opening of the film noted that Aronofsky is an “atheist” and judged the film simply on those terms. But he is not just an atheist. He is a Jewish atheist, steeped in some of the peculiar religious perversions of the apostate Jewish world. According to Jewish Journal, Aronofsky and his partner Ari Handel “were raised as Conservative Jews but now identify as atheists.”

No matter how much they read and re-read Genesis, they decided not to stick with it much. The other readings dominate the movie in profound ways, at many points, consume much of the screen time, drive the narrative, and damage the true story of Noah irreparably.

What first leaped out to me during my viewing was the glowing crystal power source which in the movie is called “Zohar.” This is the same name as the book of Jewish Kabbalah (occultism)—Zohar. It is a Hebrew word which means “brightness” or “splendor.” It is used in the Bible only once: Ezekiel 8:2. It describes the brightness of a “vision of God”:

Then I looked, and behold, a form that had the appearance of a man. Below what appeared to be his waist was fire, and above his waist was something like the appearance of brightness, like gleaming metal.

So the brightness of God himself is described with the word zohar. This is “divine fire” or “divine light.” In various traditions of paganism and non-Christian thought, human beings are considered to be a combination of earthly bodies and “sparks” of this divine light. Nearly all dualistic traditions share in this belief in some form. Humans are not merely made in God’s image and alive due to His breath of life, but actually bear little sparks of The Divine itself in them, or are even considered “little gods” themselves. This is true in many places from ancient Stoicism to modern New Ageism (which draws heavily from Jewish Kabbalah).

In Aronofsky’s Noah, there is a glowing, crystal-like mineral called zohar used as a source of power, fire, etc. The cities of Cain mined it and used it as a source of political and technological power. Noah used it for fire as well. In the waste-landscapes of the movie, there are abandoned “Zohar mines” at the outskirts of Cain’s civilizations. Little “god crystals” powered everything.

The Zohar theme is especially true in Kabbalah of the Nephilim, and this features strongly in Aronofsky’s Noah. The “rock people” everyone has rightly lampooned are laughably transparent Kabbalistic dualism. In Kabbalah, the Nephilim were originally angels made of pure light. This is how they are portrayed in Noah. But for their fall, Aronofsky wanted somehow to show them as punished. The best he could do was to have their divine spark of light “trapped” in some kind of earthly bodies—thereby perpetuating the old platonic/gnostic/dualistic idea that the body is the prison house of the soul, and that having an earthly body is somehow “punishment.” These are his words:

“The idea that something that is ethereal, angelic, divine light trapped in a corporeal body of rock gets at their essential pain,” Aronofsky said.

And ours, apparently, too.

From this we are treated to not only a comical version of the old gnostic dualism, but a confusing spectacle of lumbering, crippled rock people that look like Claymation when jaggedly limping across the landscape, but suddenly leap to Transformers-level CGI battle action when defending the Ark.

But the ridiculous spectacles and senseless plot twists have been pointed out enough. I want to stick with the Jewishness that some others have not noticed, I don’t think. Aronofsky—whose name is a derivative of the biblical name “Aaron”—said himself he was “working in the tradition of Jewish midrash.” Midrash is Jewish commentary, often story-telling, and often very tall-tales on top of that, used to make points upon biblical texts. They are not exegetical, and often anything but. They are often fanciful and even filled with paganism in attempts to “make you think” or to “explore the possibilities,” etc.

The end result of all such commentary—whether mystical, occult, or just plain secularist—is the exaltation of man and the diminishing of God. All of these traditions are expressions of humanism: man’s exaltation of himself, the image of God, to the replacement of God. It is the ultimate idolatry: the ultimate worshipping of the ultimate image. The chief product of this idolatry is the replacement of God’s Word with man’s word.

With this comes the replacement of God’s wrath with man’s wrath, and God’s mercy with man’s mercy.

One of Aronofsky’s Midrash moments had the potential to be profound. Noah has a crisis of faith while on the boat. He realizes even he is not worthy to live. Theologically, but for the pure grace of God, this was true. And since the Bible says nothing about Noah’s thoughts during the year-long Ark encounter, it is at least a question worth considering.

In Aronofsky’s version, Noah’s crisis of faith leads to bad theology: there shall be no mankind in the new creation. This is not from Kabbalah so much, I admit. It is from Agenda 21. But that’s another story. So, Noah decides the female daughters soon-to-be-born to Shem’s wife shall be killed. He spends nine months in a dogmatic stubbornness, stomping around, yelling, throwing stuff, and giving Shem’s wife the stinkeye.

As the little judgment day arrives, Noah is distracted briefly by his son Ham, who lures him into a coup attempt led by Tubal-Cain, who had hidden on the Ark and turned Ham against Noah.

It is here that the influences—perhaps subconscious—of two other Jewish humanists and likely Kabbalists emerge. These two are Sigmund Freud and Alfred Adler, two powerful forces of humanistic psychology. The modernistic-humanistic psychological influences appear in portraying Ham as a classic “middle child”—complete with brooding jealousy over the favored positions of his older and younger brothers, including Shem’s having a wife. This attitude breeds self-pity and rebellion.

Then, once easily manipulated by Tubal-Cain, and angry with his father over several conflicts, Ham goes full-Freud and embraces the Oedipus complex. But at the last moment, with no explanation, Ham can’t bring himself to thrust the knife into his father, and instead kills Tubal-Cain.

Noah himself goes through bouts where Russell Crowe forgets he’s gentle vegan Noah, and plays Maximus Meridius until the fight is over. But here he leaps up and immediately returns to his infanticidal dogma. There he stands atop the Ark about to thrust a nine-inch knife blade into the forehead of a newborn, filled with fanatic, deluded, anti-human dogma, but just like Ham, inexplicably, at the last moment can’t bring himself to do it.

While I am obviously glad he didn’t, the story makes no sense like this—unless you see the God-diminishing humanism driving it. Noah is convinced for nine months that God’s Word is for all humanity to die. He is convinced this whole period that it is God’s will for these babies to die. Then at the last moment he can’t bring himself to do it. It’s a good thing Noah was Maximus and not Margaret Sanger.

Later in the movie, he says why: because when he looked at those babies, he couldn’t find anything in his heart but “love.” Shem’s wife then informs him that this was why God chose Noah: because God knew Noah would make the right choice.

Apparently, this is despite God’s will in which Noah was so convinced. Translation—and it is a translation that defines all of humanism, and infuses much of Christianity as well, particularly in regard to God’s Law—Noah is more merciful than God. And worse, God needs us to show mercy where He cannot.

All this wrangling with God, but of course, Aronofsky doesn’t even believe in God. For him and his partner, “God” is a literary construct used to explore the human condition. And thus, in the end, we find that all we have is our choices and our values and our mercy. And that’s what drives this apostate Jewish tradition, and what drives Aronofsky’s Noah.

And while they say they intended to stick to the text, they do with it what so many Talmudic, Kabbalistic, and/or Hasidic mystic Jews do: twist, torture, and turn the text a thousand ways but what it plainly says.

And the heart of this rebellion, Jewish or not, is humanism. We need to wake up to how deeply satanic and dangerous all these branches of humanism really are, and yet also how subtly they masquerade as profound religion and science in our age, deceiving many.

For all of the dark portrayal of Cainite civilization Aronofsky achieved, his own production Noah is of the same seed. And really, his portrayal is therefore flawed. The bad guys in the film are openly rogue: murderers, plunderers, robbers, rapists. But the truth is that the “violence” of that era was much more subtle and covered with masks of redemption and prosperity. They were not filthy barbarians: they were leftists and liberals. They were neoconservatives and establishment types. They were humanists of all stripes. They were respectable as leaders, governors, professors, rabbis, businessmen, captains of industry, actors, artists, musicians, directors, and Hollywood celebrities. They were slick, subtle, talented, rich, famous, persuasive, and beloved by many. And the satanic seed of Cain is no different today.

Finally, Aronofsky’s midrash sticks very closely to the text in one particular area. It departs in the wildest and even most blasphemous ways imaginable on important and clear points in the text, but on this one it would not budge. Indeed, Aronofsky not only was faithful to it, but highlighted it, and did so over and over. Here is the one biblical point Aronofsky wanted everyone to get:

Ham is the bad guy. Ham is jealous. Ham is corrupt. Ham is equivocal. Ham is impetuous. Ham is the outcast, the loner, the rebel. Ham is the bad guy.

Now that is biblical. It is true. And it is a peculiar point to highlight and drive home constantly while trampling nearly all others. Peculiar, for it is the driving biblical justification for the Israelite genocides of the Canaanites. It is Ham’s rebellion for which his child, Canaan, is cursed. And it is Canaan’s children whom the Israelites later have to destroy utterly when taking the land as their possession.

For all the biblical points which Aronofsky and Handel flagrantly and cavalierly tossed aside and rewrote based on Kabbalah, Gnosticism, and comic books, one wonders why they so strenuously kept this one so simple and literal, and yet so prominent in the narrative. Wonder.


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About the Author

Dr. Joel McDurmon

Joel McDurmon, Ph.D. in Theology from Pretoria University, is the Director of Research for American Vision. He has authored seven books and also serves as a lecturer and regular contributor to the American Vision website. He joined American Vision's staff in the June of 2008. Joel and his wife and four sons live in Dallas, Georgia.

21 Responses to Aronofsky’s Noah: a panoply of Jewish paganism

  1. John says:

    Hitler called. He wants his Final Solution back.

  2. John tashjian says:

    A Jewish atheist? I NEVER would have guessed. Then again, I should have expected something like this when, viewing the trailer for this “film” (allegedly, so called), one clip is where one of Noah’s “mockers” shouts the order “TAKE THE ARK!” I guess some individuals just never learn.

  3. Devasahayam says:

    Did Aronofsky get the idea of butchering the “Biblically themed” film from the planned 1989 Doordarshan (at that time Indian TV wasn’t privatised) serial Bible ka Taniyaan? (note: this serial never got off the ground — you won’t even find it looking at filmographies of some of the actors involved, as I tried doing with Shammi Kapoor who was supposed to be cast in it as Nimrod)

  4. Believer says:

    Mr. McDurmon, I read your article, and yes, the movie is trash, I agree-For the future I would you like to be more careful about your words, because I sense there is an anti semitism tone in your article. Not all Jews believe in paganism, what is rightly understood in Kabbalah, but would you please also look in Christianity’s paganism. Can you explain why you celebrate Jesus’s birthday in December, when he is not born in December, or why you celebrate Easter. Can you count, Jesus is cruzified on Friday and resurrected on Sunday morning, how does it make 3 days? I could go on and on. You see, we should never point with our fingers, it might come back to yourself. Let’s examin ourselves first.
    Anti Semitism is on the rise, so please be careful.

    • Sam'son says:

      I celebrate Christmas on Dec 25, if I celebrate it at, because that is the day he most likely was born. I think the most consistent understanding of the gospel accounts indicate Jesus was crucified on Thursday, the day of preparation before the Passover. John 12:1; 13:1-2; 18:28; 19:14.

      • Twitch says:

        Go back and reread the Gospels. It was tax season, therefore Jesus was actually born in the spring. The reason we celebrate it on December 25th is to spite the Mithraists, who had their most sacred holiday on that day and who frequently tried to poach believers.

    • Twitch says:

      Jesus was actually born in the spring, because he was born during tax season. But we started celebrating it on December as a way to spite the Mithraists.

      As for the Passion, remember that Jesus was arrested on Thursday evening, tried in the middle of the night, and then taken away to be crucified on Friday morning, so it does count as three days.

    • Devasahayam says:

      “Jesus is crucified on Friday and resurrected on Sunday morning, how does it make 3 days?” — you have heard of calendar days right? Rather simple, both in “modern” measurement (00:00 – 23:59) or ancient Jewish measurement (sunset to sunset):
      (a) modern — time from 23:59 Friday to 00:01 Sunday counts as…3 days
      (b) ancient/traditional — He was crucified at “9′th hour” (15:00 — about 3 hours prior to sunset). Time to 11′th hour (17:00 Saturday) = 2 calendar days. Time to cockcrow (06:00) Sunday = …. 3 calendar days.

  5. Steve says:

    My goodness people. What did you expect?

  6. James Z. says:

    Anti-Semite! Anti Semite! Joel McDurmon has revealed his hatred for God’s real people (because we all know that Christians are merely part of the “parenthesis” or “plan b”).

    Ok, I’m kidding, and actually, I am amazed at your courage in confronting one of the great taboos of modern humanism — criticizing pagan Judaism. Score another point for McDurmon.

    • Eric says:

      You (and the author of this post) might want to be a little more careful with your accusations of paganism. Isn’t it Christianity that says that God has a son?

      • CM says:

        Nope. It’s God Himself who says that: “I will proclaim the LORD’s decree: He said to me, ‘You are my son; today I have become your father.’ – Psalm 2:7

        • mgoldberg says:

          That’s David, and no, he did not mean anything like you change it to mean about the nazarean.

      • CM says:

        FYI, the idea of God having a son isn’t “pagan” (especially in the Old Testament and Ancient Near Eastern world). After all, in addition to the scripture I quoted above, regarding God making Israel’s King David his Son by bestowing on him the Holy Spirit, throughout the Jewish Old Testament, angelic beings are called “sons of God” as are human beings, since they were said to be made into the image of God. And there is even something called “the council of the gods (or the Elohim)” in the OT which was said to meet in the realm of Heaven, and over which the true God, Yahweh, is King. Paganism is the worship and service of other gods, other than the one true God, not necessarily whether those other gods may exist in some form, or whether the one true God has children.

      • Tom says:

        Proverbs 30:4 (This is also part of the Jewish Torah)
        New King James Version (NKJV)

        4 Who has ascended into heaven, or descended?
        Who has gathered the wind in His fists?
        Who has bound the waters in a garment?
        Who has established all the ends of the earth?
        What is His name, and what is His Son’s name,
        If you know?

        • mgoldberg says:

          From authentic Jewish Commentary:
          Who ascended to heaven: like Moses?
          Who gathered wind: The soot of the furnace.
          Who wrapped the waters: (Ex. 15:8): “The depths were congealed” ; (ad loc.): “The floods stood upright like a heap,” through Moses’s prayer.
          Who established: the Tabernacle, through whose establishment all the ends of the earth were firmly established. In this way, it is expounded in the Pesikta.
          What is his name and what is the name of his son: If you say that there already was one like him, tell me what his son’s name is; i.e., what family is descended from him, and we will know who he is.
          if you know: if you know who he is. Now how did you not fear to transgress His words?
          PS: has nothing to do with the person your referring too.

  7. Jose Sanchez says:

    When I left the movie theater my first thought was “Gnosticism”. The teaching that the God is a cruel God, like the teachings of the Marcionites. The rules of what is Good and what is Evil are inverted. So that Noah is only “good” because he submitted to the will of this “cruel” God. But he failed because the will of a Higher God compelled him to show love. Some would say that the Higher God is the Ultimate Self. Either way the God of the Bible is evil and the Snake was sent by the Higher God in order to save man…

    But you can go around in circles with Gnosticism. Underneath it all is just chaos.

    • SouthernPatriot says:

      In college my major professor was the president of an international association of gnostics. I heard him explain Noah and the Great Flood similarly. I don’t remember him inserting giant stone creatures, but that may be explained by Jewish fables.

      “Underneath it is all just chaos.” …..and deception to distract from The Truth.

  8. Ducky says:

    I think Christians missed an opportunity. As Joel said, they were neocons/progressives/esoteric/celebrated, but thought nothing of it because their way was based on a generally accepted ideas. As Joel said, they were regular folk not barbarians, but that’s their and popular idealists of today downfall. They, ones who decry what is tragic and tout what is right by their definition, can’t see that it is them that are looking in the mirror and seeing the devil. They don’t know it because they aren’t the barbarians.

    Perhaps that’s the most tragic thing of this movie. The movie makers and actors think they’re good because they’re not the barbarians. Perhaps this is the #1 thing Christians ought to point out.

    • Ducky says:

      Imagine how controversial (because Hollywood likes controversy?) to have a movie that portrays all the self-declared enlightened ones running a Keynesian-like system getting wiped out. Christians are always told that they’re wrong, but nobody has told the masses that adhere to the usual ideas that their world is to be wiped out, that they’re wrong, in such a portrayal. Maybe because Christians are busy looking at the barbarians (and other things) themselves.

  9. Ducky says:

    Yeah, it’s getting a bit boring with all of the New Agie stuff. Just about every movie, almost, that comes out is based on tarot cards or some New Age theme, especially, the sci-fi/fantasy. So, it’s not surprising to see this happening to Bible themed movies.

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