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Religion
Parashot

Noach (Noah)

Genesis 6:9 to 11:32, Isaiah 54:1 to 55:5

Notes

Note that verse 7:12 expressly says that the earth is corrupt because of human corruption.

In verse 8:1 the creation story's imagery is repeated, with the ruach of God again passing over the waters.

Noach waits for God, even to leave the ark.

Something to check: Noach's genealogy shows that the following could have happened: Avraham was 58 years old when Noach died, and they could have talked—then Noach could have told Avraham about Noach's father Lamech, who could have seen and spoken with Adam. Also, Avraham's children could have met with and spoken with Shem.

Traditional Jewish Commentary

The sages have differing opinions about the phrase "in his generations" (verse 6:9). Some argue that Noach was righteous even among sinners, and would sure have been even more righteous if he was among other righteous men. Others argue that Noach was not as righteous as Avraham, but that Noach's lesser purity was counted as of extra worth because he was surrounded by sinners.

The text uses three terms to describe Noach's purity in verse 6:9. He was "righteous" (tzaddik), "whole/flawless" (tamim), and he "walked with God". But when God addresses Noach in person (verse 7:1), the only term used is tzaddik. The Rabbis say this teaches us to not praise someone fully in their presence, to prevent them from becoming proud.

Unlike Avraham or the later prophets, Noach does not pray for the people he know will be destroyed. Tradition considers this a flaw in Noach's character, and suggests he either believed the flood was a bluff or that during the 120 years of ark construction Noach grew weary of people he talked to not being willing to repent.

The Tz'enah Ur'enah suggests that God's three promises of safety in verses 9:1-16 (safety from animals, safety from murder, safety from another flood) were responses to three fears Noach had: that the animals would attack his family once they left the ark, that his sons would kill each other in a repeating of what happened with Cain and Abel, and that his line would be cut off when his descendents died in another flood.

Notice that Noach curses Kenaan, not Ham. God had recently blessed the people who were in the ark, which included Ham. Noach did not try to curse someone whom God had blessed, and instead blessed Ham's youngest son.

Why do only the antediluvian genealogies say when each person died? One traditional explanation is that the flood was the first mass judgment, and the messiah will perform the second (see Psalm 21). Since Psalm 21:5 says that the messiah will live forever, then after the flood how long people live is less important. [Yeah, that train of thought is not quite coherent.]

Zepheniah 3:9 tells of a time when the curse of Babel will be undone, and a universal, pure language will be restored to humankind. Pentecost had this happen in part.

"Behold I will set up My covenant with you (with No'ach and his sons)" 9:9. The last letters of the words "set up My covenant with you (Meikim es b'risi itchem)" spell 'meisim'. A hint, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, that Techiyas ha'Meisim is destined to take place, and that even gentiles will arise when the dead come back to life.

From the Yom Kippur machzor:

After the flood, Noah lopened the ark and looked out. He saw the earth desolate, forests and gardens uprooted, corpses visible everywhere. There was no grass, no vegetation; the world was a wasteland.

In pain and dismay, he cried out to his Master, "Sovereign of all creation! In six days You made the earth and all that grows in it: it was like a graden, like a table prepared for a feast; now You Yourself have brought the work of your hands to nought, uprooting all that You have planted, tearing down all that You built. Why did you not show compassion for Your creatures?"

God then replied, "O faithless shepherd! Now, after the destruction, You come to Me and complain. But when I said to you, 'Make and ark for yourself, for I am going to flood the earth to destroy all flesh,' you did not plead for your neighbors! How differently Abraham will act: he will pray on behalf of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. And Moses, when his people anger Me with their calf of gold, will offer his life for them. But you -- when you saw that judgment was about to strike the world -- you thought only of yourself and your household, while all else perished by fire and water!"

Then Noah understood that he had sinned.