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Parashat Noach - Quick Summary

Weekly Torah Reading

Parashat Noach ("Noah")

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(audio summary)




Brit Chadashah


Genesis 6:9-11:32

Isaiah 54:1-55:5

Matt. 24:36-46;
1 Pet. 3:18-22;
Heb. 11:7

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Secular scholars often scoff at the story of the Flood, suggesting it is a myth, but several ancient documents reveal striking parallels to the account given in the Torah (the most famous of these is the Babylonian "Gilgamesh Epic"). Moreover, sea archaeologists have discovered numerous ancient "submerged cities" throughout the world that lend credibility to the account in the Torah.

Torah Reading Snapshot:

Last week's parashah (Bereshit) showed how the Fall of Adam and Eve caused humanity to plunge into idolatrous chaos. The wicked generations of Cain (and the ungodly mixture of the human and the demonic through the "nephilim") caused the world to be entirely steeped in anarchy and bloodlust, so that "every intention of the thoughts of man's heart was only evil continually" (Gen. 6:5). After nine generations, the LORD "had enough" and was ready to wipe humanity from the face of the earth. However, God recognized Noah (from the godly line of Seth) as a tzaddik (צַדִּיק), a righteous man, and graciously made provision to save him from the wrath to come.

The parashah opens:

Gen. 6:9 (BHS)

These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man;
he was blameless in his generations, and he walked with God.

Noah's name comes from the Hebrew verb nu'ach (נוּחַ), meaning "to rest." He was so named by his father Lamech who said, "Out of the ground that the LORD has cursed this one shall bring us relief (rest) from our work and from the painful toil of our hands" (Gen. 5:29). As such, Noah is a type of Messiah who saves the world and gives comfort and rest.

In our Torah portion, God revealed to Noah his intention of destroying all the inhabitants of the earth with a great and worldwide flood (mabbul), and therefore instructed him to build a 450 foot long, three-tiered wooden teivah ("ark") and to daub or cover it (כָּפַר) both inside and out with pitch (i.e., resin).  Noah took his wife, his three sons (Shem, Ham, and Japheth) and their wives, and two (male and female) of every sort of unclean animal (and seven of every clean) into the ark to be sheltered from the coming deluge.

In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, on the 17th day of the month, all the "fountains of the great deep" burst forth, and the rain began to fall for 40 days and nights. The waters eventually covered the entire earth, overwhelming even the tops of the highest mountains. After 150 days, the water began to recede, and on the 17th day of the 7th month, the ark came to rest on Mount Ararat. From its perch, Noah dispatched a raven, and then a series of doves, "to see if the waters were abated from the face of the earth." In the six hundred and first year of Noah's life, in second month, on the 27th day of the month, after a stay of 1 year and 11 days (i.e., a complete solar year), the ground was finally dry.

Noah then removed the ark's covering (מִכְסֶה) and built an altar to offer sacrifices to God. The LORD then made covenant (בְּרִית) with Noah and his descendants never to destroy the earth with a flood, and gave the rainbow (i.e., keshet: קֶשֶׁת) as its sign. The specific commandments given to b'nei Noach (the sons of Noah) are detailed in Genesis chapter 9, but may be summarized as follows:

  1. The command to be fruitful and multiply (9:1, 7)
  2. The prohibition about eating blood (9:4)
  3. The prohibition of murder and the institution of capital punishment (9:6)

The parashah then explains the early life of the survivors. "Noah began to be a man of the soil, and he planted a vineyard. He drank of the wine and became drunk and lay uncovered in his tent. And Cham (Ham), the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brothers outside" (Gen 9:20-22).  According to various chazal, "Cham saw his father's nakedness," meant that Noah's son either sodomized or castrated him (Talmud - Sanhedrin 70a), rendering him impotent.  Because Ham stopped Noah from fathering a fourth son, Noah cursed Ham's son, Canaan (though he blessed Shem and Japheth, who "covered the nakedness of their father").

After this, the parashah describes how the earth was repopulated through Noah's three sons (as the founders of the "seventy nations" of the Gentiles - as described in the detailed genealogy of Genesis chapter 10).  The descendants of Noah remained a single people group with a single language (lashon hakodesh) for ten generations. However, they eventually returned to the evil ways of the "sons of Cain" by uniting in an idolatrous religion that led them to build a "tower with its top in the heavens."  God confounded their evil religion, however, by "confusing their speech" and thereby dispersed the people into the seventy nations of the earth (the abandoned tower was called Bavel (Babel) and is considered by many to be the origin of "Mystery Babylon").

The Parashah concludes with a genealogy of the generations from Noah to Terah, a Chaldean (Kasdim) who was the father of Abram, Nahor, and Haran. Now Haran died in the city of Ur but had a son named Lot, who was made part of Terah's extended family. Abram married Sarai and Nahor married Milcah.

Noah to Abram

Interestingly, Abram's father Terah may have originally been called by the LORD to inherit the Promised Land, since he took his son (and his grandson Lot) away from Ur of the Chaldeans to go into the land of Canaan. However, he appears to have lost the calling and settled instead in the city of Haran, where he eventually died.

Here we once again see the LORD preparing the lineage for the Promised Seed to come - the Mashiach and Savior of the world. Just as there were ten generations from Adam to Noah, so there were ten generations from Noah to Abram, the father of the Jewish people.

Haftarah Reading Snapshot:

The Haftarah for Noach comes from the prophet Isaiah.  God's promise of the redemption of Israel is based on the same covenantal strength as His promise to keep the earth from another worldwide flood. "This is like the days of Noah to me: as I swore that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you, and will not rebuke you. For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed, says the LORD, who has compassion on you" (Isaiah 54:9-10).

Just as the generation of the flood had sinned and yet a remnant was saved, so too God has preserved a remnant for Himself and will one day bring about the complete salvation of the nation of Israel (Romans 9-11).  The barren one will then bear innumerable children and will break forth in great singing and joy!

Brit Chadashah Snapshot:

In the Brit Chadashah, Noah is depicted as a hero of faith: "By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith" (Hebrews 11:7).

The "days of Noah" are a picture of the idolatrous conditions of the world that prevail just before the calling up of the followers of the Mashiach Yeshua before the time of Great Tribulation upon the earth:  "As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming" (Matt. 24:36-42).

Surely in our postmodern world, we are living in the "days of Noah." Idolatrous practices abound and by merely reading the daily news we can see that "every intention of the thoughts of man's heart is only evil continually." We live in a new pagan dark age that is centered upon selfishness and violence.

The coming of the LORD Yeshua will come suddenly - and without warning to an unwatching generation.  Indeed, it will come as "a thief in the night," and while people are saying, "There is peace and security," then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape (1 Thes. 5:2-3).

Since it is generally conceded that the time of the Great Tribulation will be anything but a time of "peace and security," the allusions made by the Master (and the Apostle Paul) point to something quite different than a post-tribulational appearance of Yeshua in Jerusalem at the end of worldwide chaos.

Just as God called righteous Noah into the ark and 7 days later the flood came, so he represents a type of the Rapture of the Church before the 7 year Tribulation.  By means of this incredible event those declared righteous by the grace of the LORD will be taken out of the wickedness of the surrounding world, and spared from the time of wrath.

Unlike those upon whom the day of the Lord comes like a thief, the LORD Yeshua stated there will be those who will escape the catastrophic events that precede the Great Tribulation. You can be one of them, if you put your complete trust in His sheltering love.


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