Environment: Noah's Park

For the Lord thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills . . .

—Deuteronomy 8: 7

In biblical times, Israel was indeed a good land. It had thick forests in the north, rich farm lands near the Dead Sea, and oases that dotted the desert in the south. An astonishing variety of animals thrived in these regions; archaeologists have unearthed elephant bones in the Jordan Valley, and the prophets wrote knowingly of stealthy bears, the light-footed roe and the wild ass that "snuffed up the...