Reprinted with permission from Who’s Who in the Hebrew Bible (The Jewish Publication Society).
Noah son of Lamech was a righteous man, a man “who walked with God (Genesis 6:9).” He was blameless in a generation whose wickedness and corruption were so great that God was sorry he had created man.
Build an Ark
One day, God said to Noah, “I have decided to put an end to all flesh, for the earth is filled with lawlessness because of them: I am about to destroy them with the earth. Make yourself an ark of gopher wood; make it an ark with compartments, and cover it inside and out with pitch. This is how you shall make it: the length of the ark shall be 300 cubits, its width 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits. Make an opening for daylight in the ark, and terminate it within a cubit of the top. Put the entrance to the ark in its side; make it with bottom, second, and third decks (Genesis 6:13–17).”
“I will establish My covenant with you,” He added, “and you shall enter the ark, with your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives. And of all that lives, of all flesh, you shall take two of each into the ark to keep alive with you; they shall be male and female. From birds of every kind, cattle of every kind, every kind of creeping thing on earth, two of each shall come to you to stay alive. For your part, take of everything that is eaten and store it away, to serve as food for you and for them (Genesis 6:18–21).”
Noah did as he was told and built the ark. When the ark was finished, God said to Noah, “Go into the ark, with all your household, for you alone have I found righteous before Me in this generation. Of every clean animal you shall take seven pairs, males and their mates, and of every animal that is not clean, two, a male and its mate; of the birds of the sky also, seven pairs, male and female, to keep seed alive upon all the earth. For in seven days’ time I will make it rain upon the earth, forty days and forty nights, and I will blot out from the earth all existence that I created (Genesis 7:1–4).”
Noah, his family, and all the living things that he had chosen went into the ark. This happened on the 17th day of the second month, at a time when Noah was 600 years old. The rain continued for 40 days, and the waters increased and bore up the ark. Every living creature died, and even the highest mountains were submerged.
After the Flood
After 40 days, the rain stopped; and for 150 days, the waters receded continually, until the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat, in what is today Turkey. Then, 40 days later, Noah opened the window of the ark and sent forth a raven, which went to and fro.
Then he sent a dove, which did not find a place to set its foot and returned to the ark. Noah waited another seven days, and again, he sent forth the dove. The bird came back in the evening, carrying in its mouth a freshly plucked olive leaf.
Noah again waited seven days and sent forth the dove a third time. This time the dove did not return. Noah looked and saw that the surface of the ground was dry. Several weeks later when the earth was dry, God told Noah that they should all go out: he, his family, and all the living creatures. Noah built an altar to God and offered a thanksgiving sacrifice.
God said to Noah, “I will maintain My covenant with you: never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.”
God further said, “This is the sign that I set for the covenant between Me and you, and every living creature with you, for all ages to come. I have set My bow in the clouds, and it shall serve as a sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth, and the bow appears in the clouds, I will remember My covenant between Me and you and every living creature among all flesh, so that the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh (Genesis 9:11–15).”
Noah became a tiller of the soil, and he planted a vineyard. He drank the wine that he made from the grapes, until he lay uncovered in his tent, totally intoxicated.
Ham went into the tent and saw his father naked. He went outside and told his brothers; Shem and Japheth took a cloth, and walking backward, entered the tent, and covered their father, taking care to turn their faces the other way so as not to see his nakedness.
Noah woke up and, realizing that Ham had treated him disrespectfully, he cursed Canaan, Ham’s son, condemning him to be a slave to his father’s brothers. Noah lived 350 years after the flood and died at the age of 950.
Pronounced: ark, Origin: English, the place in the synagogue where the Torah scrolls are stored, also known as the aron kodesh, or holy cabinet.
Pronounced: moe-SHEH, Origin: Hebrew, Moses, whom God chooses to lead the Jews out of Egypt.