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Parshat Noach - Genesis 6:9 - 11:31

Light At the End of the Tunnel

In last week’s parsha we were briefly introduced to a man named Noach — the light at the end of a very dark tunnel of spiritual darkness and depravity.

Noach is the last remaining Son of Light in the ancestral line of Seth, the third born son of Adam and Chavah.

We are told by HaShem that:

“Noach was a righteous man, he was blameless in his age; Noach walked with G-d.” Genesis 6:9

Notice it does not say that Noach was sinless. That would be impossible for, let’s be honest, compared to HaShem we are all sinful. No, he was not sinless but he was blameless (perfect) in the eyes of HaShem. Why? Because compared to the corruption of his generation Noach was perfect due to the fact that he was law abiding whereas the rest of humanity was filled with lawlessness. What laws of G-d were they guilty of violating? After all, the Torah to be given on Mount Horeb (Sinai) is still generations away.

In the pre-deluge era — from Adam to Noach — and afterward the peoples were governed by Seven Laws of HaShem that have become known as the Noachide Laws.

[1] Do not worship idols or profane the Oneness of G-d

[2] Do not murder

[3] Do not commit adultery

[4] Do not perform acts of sexual immorality

[5] Do not steal

[6] Do not eat the flesh of a living animal

[7] Do establish courts of justice

Noach and his family did their utmost to abide by these laws of HaShem passed down to then from their ancestor Seth. When they transgressed they repented and made sacrifice as learned from Adam and Abel, thereby making them in their generation righteous in the sight of Adonai and worthy of His special attention and deliverance for the sake of the future of all humanity on earth.

“G-d said to Noach, ‘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.’” Genesis 6:13

HaShem them proceeds to lay out His plan before Noach for the building of the Ark of Safety for him, his family and the animals destined to be saved from the massive destructive forces that will be unleashed upon the planet and its inhabitants within the next 120 years.

Why did it take 120 years to complete the Ark and gather the animals? Hashem could have created the Ark instantly from nothing. He could have “beamed in” all the animals and food requirements with the snap of his proverbial finger. Why didn’t He? One word — Mercy! HaShem is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance; return to Him. He gave humankind 120 years to repent, ask Noach questions about what he was building and why. 120 years to turn from lawlessness to obedience to HaShem’s life giving commandments.

Just as HaShem listened to the bargaining of Avraham (to be discussed in a later parsha) over saving the inhabitants of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah for the sake of as little as 10 righteous souls, so too HaShem has Noach take 120 years to build the Ark to give the people plenty of time to come to their senses, turn from their wicked lawless behavior and return to Him.

Sadly, no amount of time would be enough to turn their lives back to HaShem, so after 120 years of loving and merciful patience Adonai says to Noach:

“Go into the ark, with all your household for you alone have I found righteous before Me in this generation.” Genesis 7:1

“And on the Shabbat day the waters of the flood came upon the earth.” Genesis 7:10

The earth was given its day of rest from all the wickedness and lawlessness of humanity who HaShem had granted sovereignty over it but they abused that sovereignty with evil.

“All the foundations of the great deep burst apart, and the floodgates of the sky broke open. The rain fell on the earth 40 days and 40 nights.” Genesis 7:11

If anyone saw that film “2012” and the wholesale destruction that occurred over the planet — what was seen on that movie screen was child’s play compared to what happened during this devastation.

Not only did it rain horrendously for 40 full days and nights non-stop with a blinding downpour, but the tectonic plates of the earth literally tore themselves apart with such force causing the oceans to flip over making miles high tsunamis, the depths opening up huge fissures releasing billions of tons of trapped water, lava and gases. It was something that never happened before and thanks to the promise of HaShem will never happen again on a worldwide scale. [SEE: Genesis 9:8-17]

“All existence on the earth was blotted out — man, cattle, creeping things, and the birds of the sky; they were blotted out from the earth. Only Noach was left, and those with him in the ark.” Genesis 7:23

Noach and the Ark floated on the waters for 150 days after the destruction subsided. Eventually the waters diminished and found their way back to new boundaries, those that exist to this current day. The Ark, after a time came to rest on what is known today as Mount Ararat in modern day Turkey.

They disembarked, offered sacrifices to HaShem on an alter constructed by Noach. Settled down to a mean of meat for the first time since vegetation was yet to be seen. Until this time most of the Sons of Light were what we call vegetarians. Now HaShem allows them to eat meat but with the same restriction found in the Noachide Laws of not tearing and eating meat from an animal that is still alive. [SEE: Genesis 9:3]

Noach and his family begin farming anew, planting crops and vineyards. At some point Noach takes from his vineyard, ferments and makes wine, gets drunk and passes out ing his tent exposing his nakedness in his drunken stupor. One of his sons “Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father’s nakedness and told his two brothers outside.” (Genesis 9:22)

There has been a lot of speculation over the centuries about what occurred here. Suffice it to say that it is obvious from the Hebrew text and a study of the culture of the period, that Ham showed disrespect for his father by not covering up Noach’s exposed body parts and running out to tell his brother about it in jest. Shem and Japheth did the respectful thing and immediately upon hearing Ham joking about it covered their father’s nakedness with a blanket without looking at his genitals or making humorless comments about the incident.

If it was Ham that showed such disrespect why was it his son Canaan (who may not have even been born yet) that Noach cursed? While the Torah says he was cursed, the use of HaShem’s name (YHVH) shows that it isn’t a curse in the traditional sense of the word but a prophecy for the future descendants of Canaan, a peoples who would become the bane of Israel until they are finally wiped out by the descendants of Shem — the Children of Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya’akov — The House of Israel.

The remainder of Parshat Noach tells the rise of humankind post-deluge and the rebuilding of civilization beginning approximately 12 to 14 thousand years ago; beginning in the slopes and hill country of Anatolia (Turkey) and eventually migrating to the Fertile Crescent of Mesopotamia where a new rise in the City-State system of civilization began about 8 thousand years ago culminating into the first post-deluge empire called Shinar (Sumeria). This empire was ruled by a mighty king and hunter named Nimrod (Gilgamesh). It was at this time, several thousand years after Noach left the Ark, that the ugly head of darkness began to rear up again — from the land of Mizraim (Egypt) to Shinar (Sumeria) when the rule of men once again began to rebel against the Law of the One True G-d. This was highlighted perfectly by the example of the building of a tower that would reach to the stars in order to have humanity be like a god and reside on the throne of HaShem (so they thought).

Now known by all as the Tower of Babel it was here that HaShem in some way caused the people to disperse from their centralized habitation and begin spreading across the globe. Eventually these descendants of Shem, Ham and Japheth would create new dialects and languages throughout the planet. As described in the Torah these sons of Noach and their offspring began to inhabit different areas of earth after the tower fiasco creating their own civilizations, languages, customs, rituals and traditions.

Beginning in Chapter 11 HaShem narrows the focus of the story to just one of Noach’s sons — Shem, who would be the progenitor of a long list of descendants that would culminate with a man named Avram who lived in the kingdom of Shinar (Sumer) in the city of Ur, a prominent center of both religious and economic stature of the empire of that age.

Next week the parsha and all future parshat will deal almost exclusively with this man and his people that will eventually spring from his loins — a people destined to be guided and led by HaShem to literally change the world and creation.

Until then — Shabbat Shalom.

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