Commentary on Parashat Noach, Genesis 6:9 - 11:32
Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.
God said to Noah, “Because the earth is filled with wrongdoing and corruption and robbery I am going to destroy it. Make yourself an ark of wood with enclosures for animals and gather food for all aboard. I shall bring a flood through the water upon the earth and destroy all that has the spirit of life.”
God said, “It is with you, your wives and sons, I will maintain My Covenant. It is you who have been righteous before Me in this corrupt age. Now go and get for the ark seven pairs of all the clean animals and two pairs of animals who are unclean. Each pair, male and female, is to be taken according to their species. In seven days, I will blot out everything in existence that I have made.”
Noah did everything according to what God had commanded. And in seven days flood waters came upon the earth. All the fountains of the great deep were torn apart and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. On that very day Noah and his family came to the ark. And all living creatures, two by two, male and female, came to Noah. When they were all on the ark God shut the door on their behalf.
And the rain came upon the earth for 40 days and 40 nights, covering the highest mountains and blotting out all living things. So for 150 days and nights the waters stormed and swelled over all the land. Only Noah and those who were with him in the ark were left unharmed.
God remembered Noah and the Ark and caused a wind to pass over the earth and the waters began to subside. After 40 days Noah opened a window and sent out a raven but it returned for lack of a place to land. After seven more days Noah sent out a dove but it too returned from flying over the waters. After seven more days Noah sent out a dove. This time the dove returned with a freshly plucked olive leaf in its beak. Noah waited seven more days before sending the dove out again. This time the dove did not return and Noah knew that the waters had subsided and the land had dried.
Then God said to Noah, “Go now from the ark with your family and let all the animals and living things go out with you. The time has come that you move freely upon the earth. Be fruitful and multiply.” So all the living beings, human and animal, birds and creeping thing, all that moves upon the earth went in their pairs out of the Ark.
Noah built an altar to God then took of every clean animal and clean bird and made an offering to God upon the Altar.
God smelled the pleasing Alter offerings and God said to God’s Almighty Self, “I will no longer curse the soil because of man, for the inclination of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Nor will I ever again destroy every living thing as I have done. The days of the earth shall forever exist – sowing and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night shall never cease.”
Then God blessed Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. All living animals and birds and fish, all moving things shall fear you, for like the plant vegetation, they are food to you. Never eat the flesh or blood of a creature while it is still alive. Only the blood of man and his soul shall I demand. I will demand the soul of humans for humans are made in the image of God. Whoever sheds the blood of a human, by a human his or her blood shall be shed.
God said to Noah and his sons, “As for Me, I will establish My everlasting Covenant with you and your descendants after you and with every living creature on the earth. There will never again be a flood to destroy the earth.
God said, “I have set My Rainbow in the cloud and it is the sign of the Covenant that I give between Me and you and every living being with you for all time and all generations. When I see My rainbow in the clouds I will recall the Covenant that exists between Me, you and every living soul on earth.”
Noah became a man of the soil and planted a vineyard. He drank of the wine and became drunk and he uncovered himself within his tent. One son, Ham saw his father’s nakedness and told his two brothers outside. His brothers Shem and Japeth took the garment and laid it upon both their shoulders and walked backwards and covered their father’s nakedness. They faced away from him and did not see their father naked.
When Noah awoke from his wine, he learned what his small son Ham had done to him. Noah said, “Cursed be Canaan, son of Ham, a slave of slaves shall he be to his brothers. Blessed be God, the God of Shem and may God extend Japeth to live in Shem’s tents. And to them both, Canaan shall be a slave.”
Noah lived after the flood for 350 years and died when he was 950 years and he had many descendents.
Now, the whole earth was of one language and unified purposes. And it came to pass as they migrated from the east that they found a plain and settled there. And one human said to another, “Come, let us make bricks and build ourselves a city and a tower whose top shall reach to the heaven. Let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered all over the earth.”
God came down to see the city and the tower that the sons of men were building. God said, “Lo! They are now one people and they have all one language and this is the first thing they undertake!”
So God made their language wither away so that the one no longer understood the language of the other. Then God scattered them across the earth and they stopped building the city. Therefore, God named the city Babel, for there God had confused the language of all the earth and from there God scattered humans over the face of all the earth.
The descendants of Shem are listed, including Terah, father of Abram. Abram is married to Sarai who has never given birth to a child.
Discussion Questions for Parashat Noach
1) Does God still destroy?
2) Have you ever felt “heaven on earth”?
3) What confuses you?
Reprinted with permission from Jewish Family & Life!
Pronounced: ark, Origin: English, the place in the synagogue where the Torah scrolls are stored, also known as the aron kodesh, or holy cabinet.