This week’s parasha (portion) of Torah brings us the familiar account of Noach (Noah), the Ark and the great flood which G-d brought upon the earth in judgement. There is so much here on so many deep levels but a few things jump out at me this year that I feel are important for us to understand and meditate upon.
The first thought is that we should remember that there were only ten generations from Adam to Noah. If you think about that for a moment, you realize how unbelievably quickly mankind had degenerated from a state of perfection to the horrifyingly wicked state that was upon the earth at this time. So wicked and corrupt had everything become that G-d, in fact, determined to destroy it all and start over.
Look at the final verses from Bereshit (Genesis) last week and you see some important facts about what lead us to this point. Genesis 6:1-7,”Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, 2 that the sons of G-d saw the daughters of men, that they [were] beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose. 3 And the L-RD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he [is] indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” 4 There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore [children] to them. Those [were] the mighty men who [were] of old, men of renown. 5 Then the L-RD saw that the wickedness of man [was] great in the earth, and [that] every intent of the thoughts of his heart [was] only evil continually. 6 And the L-RD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. 7 So the L-RD said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” (NKJV)
I am amazed at how fast we went from walking in the actual presence of Elohim to essentially wanting nothing to do with him. Messiah tells us that in the end it will be just like it was in the times of Noah. In what way are we not there now? I contend we are indeed at this place today and it is the mercy and grace that upholds us.
Let’s take a quick moment to look at the opening verse of this week’s parasha, Genesis 6:9, “This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with G-d.”
While Noah’s name is mentioned throughout the account of the flood, we find it repeated three times in this one verse. Always on the look out for patterns and asking the question, why? we will stop here to address this since we know G-d does not waste words. The sages address this question by saying that the repetition of the name Noah three times in this single verse connect to the idea that Noah saw the propagation of man on the earth, the destruction of man and removal of him from the earth and finally the re-establishing of man upon the earth.
Genesis 6:11-13,”The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. 12 So G-d looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way
on the earth. 13 And G-d said to Noah, “The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth.”
These verses give a look into the reason the Father decided to destroy the earth. Surely all the grievous sins came into play but G-d mentions a specific one that was the “nail in the coffin” so- to-speak. Depending on the version you read, you may see the word “robbery” or “violence.” Actually it would be correct to use both to mean “violent robbery.” The Hebrew word is Hamas. The sages say that this violent robbery at its core was about removing G-d and every good thing from the earth. Every imagination you could come up with related to violent robbery would also apply. When you consider that the two greatest mitzvot (commands) is to love the L-RD your G- d with all your heart, soul, and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself, it becomes clear that these two which all the others hang upon were dead to the people of that time. With the rise of terrorism around the world, it is another rude awakening for us to understand the growing hatred and disregard for G-d and His mitzvot that we see. Today is certainly paralleling the days of Noah. Also, it is no accident that one of the leading terrorist organizations and enemies of Israel today is named, Hamas.
In Genesis 6:9, the midst of such evil there was one who remained whom G-d would use to start over. There are different thoughts as to what it meant that he was righteous and blameless in his generation. On one level, it is said that he walked with G-d and followed His ways. Another line of thought is that he was righteous in the true sense of the word and was prone to acts of charity and kindness which certainly would have stood out in his day. Yet another view is that he was the only flesh that had not been contaminated by the interbreeding of the fallen angels and humans. So which view is correct? I believe they are all correct.
One final thought on this year’s look at Noah has to do with the level of trust and obedience Noah had in the construction of the Ark. 120 years is what we are told by the sages was the length of time to construct this massive Ark. Can you even imagine the ridicule and taunting he must have endured? It had not rained upon the earth and floods were unheard of then. Here this man was building a massive ship where there was no water to float it. In the midst of all the laughter and mocking surely he must have questioned the sanity of what he was doing. Have you ever experienced anything like this? Have you ever heard from the L-RD before regarding a matter? Have you ever stepped out in faith and took action to complete the work you were called to do? If so, then you have no doubt heard the critics and the doubters attack you. We struggle sometimes in the middle of such trials, but we are strengthened when we recall the deeds and stamina of such a great example as Noah.
Noah never wavered. He forged ahead and pressed onward towards the goal given him by G- d. He endured the race that was set before him, just as Rabbi Sha’ul (Paul) taught us in Romans. Heaven is not for the coward, nor the quitters but for those who overcome!