Questions and Concepts for Parsha Noah
(Genesis 6:9 - 11:32)

1. The parsha begins with the phrase, "These are the descendants of Noah," yet does not go on to list any people, but rather begins a discussion of Noah's attributes. This teaches us that what a person "leaves behind" in the world is not only children, but also the effects of his righteous deeds.

2. Noah is said to have been "perfect in his generation." Hebrew scholars point out that this is not necessarily a great compliment. The phrase "... in his generation" qualifies his "perfection" in that had Noah lived alongside someone like Abraham or Moses, he would not have been considered very righteous. However in Noah's generation the world had become so corrupt that a reasonably righteous man (such as Noah) would seem like a gem among coals. This teaches us that God takes two things into account with each person; a) what they were given (spiritually) at birth, and b) their environment. This parallels Paul's teachings in Romans where he speaks of the advantage Jews have since birth (having the Torah), yet stating that even those in the pagan world "are without excuse" as God will judge them according to what they have been given.

3. A person's level of righteousness corresponds to their level of relationship with God. Contrast Genesis 6:9, " fear of the Lord he (Noah) walked," with verses regarding the more righteous Abraham such as; 12:7 and 17:1, "The Lord appeared to Abraham," and 24:40, "... the Lord before whom I (Abraham) walk." Also compare to John 13:24 where a distinction is made regarding John and Yeshua ("Now there was leaning on Yeshua's bosom one of His disciples, whom Yeshua loved.")

4. Verse 6:11 states that mankind had become so corrupt that God decided to destroy them all. It is taught that this generation was guilty of the "three big sins," those being murder, idolatry and sexual immorality. (These are the three sins a Jew should give his life for rather than allow himself to commit. In other cases, the preservation of life take precedent.) However, the same sages teach that ultimately it was for the sin of robbery that this generation was destroyed. This is discussed in the following passages from the Talmud:

Talmud - Mas. Sanhedrin 108a - And God said unto Noah, the end of all flesh is come before me. R. Johanan said: Come and see how great is the power of robbery. For lo, though the generation of the flood transgressed all laws, their decree of punishment was sealed only because they stretched out their hands to rob, as it is written, for the earth is filled with violence through them, and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. And it is ‘also written, Violence [i.e., robbery] is risen up into a rod of wickedness: none of them shall remain, nor of their multitude, nor any of theirs: neither shall there be wailing for them.

Talmud - Mas. Baba Bathra 88b - Ordinary robbery is worse than the robbery of the Most High

Interestingly, the next time God comes "close" to allowing the entire earth to be destroyed, theft once again is counted among the most egregious sins:

Revelation 9:21 - yea they did not reform from their murders, nor from their sorceries, nor from their whoredoms, nor from their thefts.

Why does "theft" seem to be the proverbial "straw that breaks the camel's back" with regard to God's judgment?

5. Noah and his extended family had a difficult time while on the ark. Could this be considered part of their own atonement? The Hebrew word for "pitch" (which covered the ark) is from the same root that we get the word "kippur" meaning "atonement."

6. In verse 7:2 Noah is told to seven of the ritually pure animals. How did Noah know what animals were proper (kosher) for sacrificial purpose? Hebraic tradition states that God taught Torah to Adam who taught it to his son Seth and from him it was transmitted generation to generation to Noah.

7. Nimrod is the same person called Amrafel in verse 14:1. The Hebraic tradition speaks of Nimrod as having tried to kill Abraham by having him thrown into a fiery furnace. Abraham survived of course. Compare this attempt on the life of "God's chosen person" to that on Moses (via Pharaoh) and Yeshua (via Herod).

8. Nimrod is said to have been "a mighty hunter before the Lord." The sages point out that the context here is not one of hunting animals, but rather "spiritual hunting," i.e., leading people away from the true God.

Consider this concept:
In verse 9:12 God gives a "sign" for future generations. Is this necessarily a good thing? The Hebrew sages speak of certain righteous generations that did not require a sign. In the gospels, Yeshua goes as far as saying that only a wicked generation demands a sign from God. Between these statement we may consider three categories of people; a) the few very righteous, b) the few very wicked, and c) the majority "in between." Hebraic writings speak of three books being opened from which God judges:

Talmud - Mas. Rosh HaShana 16b - R. Kruspedai said in the name of R. Johanan: Three books are opened [in heaven] on New Year, one for the thoroughly wicked, one for the thoroughly righteous, and one for the intermediate. The thoroughly righteous are forthwith inscribed definitively in the book of life; the thoroughly wicked are forthwith inscribed definitively in the book of death; the doom of the intermediate is suspended from New Year till the Day of Atonement; if they deserve well, they are inscribed in the book of life; if they do not deserve well, they are inscribed in the book of death.