Parashat Noach / פרשת נֹחַ

Noah was an obedient servant of God amidst a sinful world. He is most well-known for building an ark that preserved himself and his family, as well as representatives of every land animal, from a great flood that God unleashed in judgment upon the earth.

In the previous parashah, Bereishit, we saw how God created the world and gave
humanity the mission of transforming it into His home, and how humanity then
spurned that mission, abandoning it en masse.

This being the case, we would expect the next act in this Divine drama to be the incep–
tion of the Jewish people, the nation designated to cultivate Divine consciousness and
steer humanity back onto the course of living life in God’s presence. The time is seem–
ingly ripe: the stage is set; all the props are in place; there even appears to be a suitable
candidate for the protagonist who will serve as the progenitor of this new people: parashat Bereishit ends teasingly with the words, “Noah found favor in the eyes of God.”

Yet the Torah keeps us in suspense, postponing the genesis of the Jewish people until
the next parashah. Evidently, some additional groundwork needs to be laid before the
world will be ready for the advent of a chosen people. The detailed description of this
groundwork is the subject of Parashat Noach was the man whom God singled out to build the ark, through which human and animal life would be spared from the Flood that would wipe out the incorrigibly iniquitous human race, allowing it to begin anew.
What was this groundwork? What additional steps had to be taken before the world
could begin its upward climb toward the birth of the Jewish people and the giving of the
name of this parashah, since, as we have already pointed out, the names of the parashiot disclose their essential message and lesson.

The word (in this case, the name) Noach means “rest” and “tranquility.” Yet the events
in this parashah and indiscriminately destroys all life on earth is certainly the epitome of upheaval and parashah: the cursing of Ham and the forced dispersion of humanity from the Tower of Babel.

Noah was an obedient servant of God in the Old Testament who found favor with God amidst a sinful world. He is most well-known for building an ark that preserved himself and his family, as well as representatives of every land animal, from a great flood that God unleashed in judgment upon the earth.

What Is the Story of Noah?
When God saw how wicked and corrupt man had become, He regretted creating them and decided to destroy all of mankind (Genesis 6:7). However, God gave Noah favor because he saw that he was righteous (Genesis 6:8). God commanded Noah to build an ark to house and preserve his family, as well as every male and female species of land animal, from His punishment of a flood on the earth (Genesis 6:14-21).

The rain fell and the floodwaters rose around the ark for 40 days, however, Noah and the other inhabitants remained safe (Genesis 7:17-18).

After a dove that Noah had sent out returned with an olive leaf (Genesis 8:11), these sole survivors of the flood disembarked where God blessed Noah and his children, encouraging them to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 9:1). He also commanded them to not eat flesh which still has blood in it (Genesis 9:4), nor to spill the lifeblood of their fellow man (Genesis 9:5-6).

Additionally, God made a covenant with Noah and his sons, promising to never destroy them, their descendants, nor any living creatures through a flood ever again (Genesis 9:9-11). As a token of His covenant, God set a rainbow in the clouds to serve as a reminder of His pledge to all living creatures on earth (Genesis 9:12-17).

What Else Does the Bible Say about Noah?
Noah is first mentioned in the Bible when his father Lamech predicted the upcoming destruction of the earth and Noah’s role in restoring mankind: “He will comfort us in the labor and painful toil of our hands caused by the ground the LORD has cursed.” (Genesis 5:29).

Noah had unwavering faith and godly fear to build an ark when God warned him about a flood he had not yet seen:

“By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith, he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith” (Hebrews 11:7).

Noah is numbered as being among three of the most righteous men in the book of Ezekiel, alongside Job, and Daniel:

“As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, even if Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, they could save neither son nor daughter. They would save only themselves by their righteousness” (Ezekiel 14:20).

Interesting Facts about Noah
Noah is the tenth generation descendant of Adam; Noah’s grandfather was Methuselah, who is the oldest man recorded in the Bible (Genesis 5:27). He lived to be 969 years old.
Noah himself was 500 years old when he had his sons Japheth, Shem, and Ham; At the time of the flood, Noah was 600 years old (Genesis 7:6).
Upon stepping on dry land after the flood, Noah first built an altar to God (Genesis 8:20); Noah planted the first vineyard after the flood, and he is the first drunk recorded in the Bible (Genesis 9:20-21).
When Noah’s youngest son Ham found his father drunk and naked in his tent, he went and told his brothers, instead of covering him. For this transgression, Noah cursed Ham’s son Canaan to be the lowliest of servants to his brethren (Genesis 9:22-26); After the flood, Noah lived another 350 years, dying at the age of 950 years.