Shabbat-Reading and Commentary
Noach Noah: Genesis 6:9 – 11:32; Isaiah 54:1 – 55:5
By Michael Schneider
In this week’s portion we meet one of the first righteous men, Noah. Through the righteousness of one person all of mankind was saved. That was always the case in history, through the few and the remnant, God was gracious and restrained from destroying all of Israel.
Noah’s time was one of great evil when the ‘fallen angels’ ruled over man. “The LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart” (6:6), because “it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth.” (6:12) Unfortunately, we are approaching this situation today and God probably feels the same today!
But Noah found favor (grace) in the eyes of the Lord! He and his three sons saved mankind from total destruction. The saving instrument was an ark that was “covered inside and out with pitch.” The Hebrew term of covering here is kaphar, which comes from the word for atonement, kappara. That is what we have through the Lamb of God, Yeshua our Messiah, as our atonement today, protecting us from God’s judgment and consuming fire.
The building of the ark is parallel to our calling today to build the kingdom of God. God gave the people of Noah’s time 120 years to repent while Noah built the ark. But instead the people insulted and mocked Noah while he built the ark. In chapter 7 the “door of the ark” was closed and the judgment of heaven fell.
We read in Luke 17 that the end times will be the same as the days of Noah and then suddenly the floods will come! (verses 26-27; 1 Thessalonians 5:3). Noah was in the ark seven days until the rains began on the 17th day of the second month, Iyyar.
Forty days and nights, rain fell until everything on earth was destroyed – man and animals. Only those in the ark survived. Noah was in the ark 365 days until the 27th of Iyyar (a Biblical year is 355 days).
First he sent a raven out, then a dove. The second time the dove brought an olive branch, which has become the symbol of peace in our days.
God made a covenant with Noah and his descendants using the rainbow as a sign that he would never again use a flood to destroy mankind even though God knew that “…for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (8:21; 6:5)
After the flood, God gave commandments, like multiplication and forbidding the eating blood. Noah cursed his son Ham, the father of Canaan, to “be the slave of his brothers.”
In chapter 10, the descendants of Noah’s three sons are listed. According to the Bible we have 70 original nations. Japheth became the father of the European nations, Ham became the father of the African nations and Shem became the father of the Semitic nations including the descendants of Ishmael, the Arab nations. One interesting point: the Canaanites and Philistines are not Semites, but Hamites!
Some 300 years after the flood, a man named Nimrod arose and was the first ruler who arose against God the Creator! Nimrod means “we will resist.” Nimrod tried to replace God by building a high tower, known as the Tower of Babel. Babel, or Babylon, became the city of evil. God’s punishment was to confuse the people by having them speak in languages, that they couldn’t understand (11:9). Until today we bear the consequence of this sin. But there will come a day, as the prophet Zephaniah writes, “For then I will give to the people a clear language (that’s the right translation and not purified lips), that all of them may call on the name of the Lord to serve Him as one shoulder.” (3:9)
In conclusion, in our prophet portion, in Isaiah 54 we read about the scattering of the people of Israel among the nations, but we find comfort in the Lord’s words: “For a brief moment I forsook you, but with great compassion I will gather you. In an outburst of anger I hid My face from you for a moment, but with everlasting loving kindness I will have compassion on you (Israel).” (verses 7-8)