The concluding words of last week’s Torah portion read “but Noah found grace in the eyes of Yahweh.” (Gen 6:8) We arrive this week at the building of the ark and the salvation of one family from a worldwide calamity. Encompassed in the “secret place of the Most High. . . in the shadow of the Almighty,” Noah’s family rode out the mother of all storms.
“… and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days…And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child… The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood… But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth. (see Rev. 12:6-16)
Yeshua identifies His family as those who DO the will of His Father: “For whoever does the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.” (Matthew 12:50). Psalm 91 declares the righteous will be protected, although, perhaps, in very uncomfortable, even dark and dangerous, circumstances. Though “ten thousand shall fall at [their] right hand; it shall not come near [them].” (Ps. 91:7) The obedient will be directed through the chaos, pestilence, terror, and death which shall most certainly threaten at every turn. Yet, it shall not come near them, for He will deliver the faithful “from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover them with His pinions, and under His wings they will find refuge. His faithfulness is their shield and buckler.”
Noah’s family is a picture of the faithful remnant, the Bride, who will be protected. Set apart from the wicked and perverse generation of their day, the grace of God was poured out upon Noah and his family.
“Noah walked with God.” (Gen 6:9)
We should stop to ponder what that means. This phrase is used twice in regard to Noah’s great-great grandfather, Enoch, of whom it is also written that he “walked with God…and then God took him” (Gen 5:24).
Enoch was the seventh generation of Adam. The number seven in Hebrew thought denotes perfection and completion, as in the seven days of Creation. Enoch, according to Jewish literature, set himself apart from the culture in seclusion for long years studying the Word of God. Finally, at God’s instruction and in His timing, Enoch went out into the world to teach others and was rewarded with a great harvest. Thus, in traditional Jewish thought, Enoch was the light of the world in his day, and, to the practicing Jew, is a type of Messiah.
Those of us who fully accept the writings of the apostles and disciples as Scripture, also see Enoch as a representation of Yeshua’s body, the Bride which has made herself ready for the return of the Bridegroom and the great harvest of the ages that is coming. Setting herself apart, this woman has wisely invested her time both studying and practicing Yahweh’s instructions in righteousness. She is storing the oil that she will need to be a light to the nations.
The Scripture declares “Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations.” The Hebrew word for “just” is tzaDEEK, which according to bible dictionaries, can be translated as both righteous and lawful. The word translated as “perfect” is tawMEEM, which means to be without spot, blameless, whole, undefiled, sound, and complete. This same word is used to describe the requirements for the Passover lamb (Exodus 12:5), as well as numerous offerings in the book of Leviticus (see: 1:3, 1:10, 3:1, 3:6, 3:9, 4:3, 4:23, 4:28, 4:32, 6:6, 9:2-3, 22:19-21,), all of which point to the sinless Yeshua. The idea of being blameless is what Paul means to convey when he exhorts us to be “living sacrifices.”
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1)
When we view the story of Noah only as a cute children’s bible story, we miss this important point altogether. In God’s eyes, Noah was just, righteous, lawful, without spot, blameless, whole and complete, in stark contrast to the rampant lawlessness of his day. God’s description of Noah is the polar opposite of “lawless,” which, as we concluded last week, is to live outside of Yahweh’s Torah (instruction) of life and blessing.
Luke points to the parents of John the Baptist as shining examples of people who understood how to please God. In Hebrew, they would have been described as tzadeek and tawmeem, just like Noah. Does it mean they were sinless? Certainly not! It means they were righteous because they, like Abraham before them, “believed God and it was counted to them as righteousness.” Further, also like Abraham, and Noah, they pursued holiness by “walking with God” a euphemism for keeping His commandments.
Let me quickly repeat from last week’s lesson, the commandments are not now, nor have ever been, for salvation. They are simply instructions in what is correct, just, and righteous in the eyes of God. To say it another way, the commandments show us how to be pleasing in the eyes of our Heavenly Father.
Paul’s letters are infused with the injunction for the former gentiles who have been grafted in to Israel to strive to be tawmeem or blameless. Writing to the churches of Corinth, Philipi, and Thessolonica, comprised of mostly new converts, Paul exhorts them to be blameless by walking in the Torah, which God declared to Moses is both “for the homeborn and the stranger.” (Num. 15:15,16)
“… that you may be blameless [tawmeem] in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ… (1 Cor. 1:4-9 NKJV)
Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life [Torah]…(Phil 2:14-16 KJV).
Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil. Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless [tawmeem] at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thess. 5:21-23)
Further, to be blameless was the highest quality that Paul instructed Timothy to seek as he established in the newly formed congregations:
And let them [overseers] also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. (I Timothy 3:10 NKJV)
Paul is NOT issuing new commandments. He, as Yeshua did, is magnifying the Torah,exactly as Isaiah declared, by illuminating God’s instructions to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves. Further, like Yeshua, he is teaching believers how to follow God’s commandments with the aid of the Holy Spirit. Paul describes the exemplary character that Noah must have had to be chosen as the progenitor of all who would be born after the flood.
Noah was 600 years old when he entered the ark. In Hebraic thought, numbers 1-7 correspond with the seven days of creation. We see this idea in Psalm 90:4, “For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night.” Peter illuminates this verse: ” But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” (2 Peter 3:8) The number 600 hints at the sixth millennium, where we now find ourselves, at the end of which “the woman” of Rev. 12 will be given a place of safety in the wilderness.
God instructed Noah to build a big rectangular box that would float on top of the waters. Without sail, rudder, or motor, Noah and his family and the animals inside would be utterly at the mercy of God. According to commentary, the capacity of the ark exceeded that of 500 railroad stock cars, providing ample room for its inhabitants and their food supply.
God told Noah to cover (Hebrew: kawfar) the ark inside and out (Gen 6:14). This is an interesting word, which also means to make atonement, to cover, to cleanse, to be merciful, and to pardon. Noah was to cover the ark with “pitch” or “bitumen” (Hebrew: kofer) which in addition to being a thick, waterproof glue-like substance, also means in Hebrew a ransom, cost of redemption, and satisfaction. The kofer enabled the ark to withstand the wrath of God that came upon the whole earth.
Most of us were taught in Sunday School that Noah brought two of every kind of animal into the ark. But, in fact, God commanded Noah to take two of the unclean animals, and seven pairs of the clean animals (Gen. 7:2-3). We have to ask, of course, how Noah knew the difference. The answer, most certainly, is that he was taught these things and much more by preceding generations. Adam lived until Noah’s father was 56 years old. Noah did not learn in a vacuum; he was groomed for 500 years for this preeminent assignment. Had he failed, you and I would not be alive today.
“Thus Noah did; according to all that God commanded him, so he did.” (Gen 6:22 KJV)
“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 ESV)
Approximately 1600 years after Creation the flood arrived with a vengeance. The sages of Israel teach that all of Noah’s relatives who were righteous, excluding his sons and their wives, died prior to the deluge so as not to suffer the knowledge of the fate of their unrighteous neighbors and loved ones.
It must have been a frightful thing. Some scholars believe that the flood was the first time in history that men had ever experienced rain, let alone a catastrophic storm; rather, that until then “a mist” (Gen. 2:6) still watered the earth. According to this theory, the entire atmosphere was violently rent by God’s wrath and has been greatly diminished ever since, much to the detriment of mankind. Certainly, man’s lifespan after the flood was dramatically reduced, though some attribute this shortening to God’s permission for man to consume animals.
God said, “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you.” (Gen. 9:3). But, I must hasten to insert that God who “change(s) not” (Malachi 3:6), surely did not imply that His people were to eat unclean animals. Just as Peter was repulsed at the thought of eating unclean animals when he saw the vision of the sheet let down from heaven (Acts 10:11), so I believe Noah also understood that to be pleasing to God, His children neither sacrifice nor consume what He calls unclean.
Noah, and for that matter, Peter, far more than we who exist today, understood God’s purpose in creating unclean animals. Some are scavengers, the housekeepers of the earth and sea, so to speak, that continually consume carcasses and waste products. He made others to demonstrate characteristics such as laziness, deceitfulness, woeful neglect, fierce brutality, and unmitigated evil, which He uses in Scripture to picture unfaithful shepherds, greedy leaders, despotic rulers, and Satan.
Clean animals are generally those found in peaceful flocks, grazing on green grasses and chewing their cud, a picture of God’s sheep chewing the Word of God and meditating on it. The clean sea creatures,those with fins and scales, which portray putting on “the whole armor of God” (Eph. 6: 11-13) and, thus, being well able to dart quickly from temptation, as did Joseph when Potiphar’s wife attempted to seduce him.
The Father gave us these commands for good health, as well as for a spiritual picture. As one begins to obey out of love for God, the commandments are written on one’s heart and obedience becomes second nature–thus we are not “under the law;” but, led by the Spirit.
“And the LORD shut him in.” (Gen 7:16)
Can you imagine it? The animals entered the ark, then Noah and his family, and then the heavy door was closed from the outside and sealed. During the long years that the “preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5) had warned them and urged them to repent and to accept God’s salvation, the mockers and scoffers would not hear. Now, God would not hear—and Noah was helpless to intervene.
At once, “all the fountains of the great deep were broken up and the windows of Heaven were opened” (Gen 7:11). When the Heavens poured down and water spewed up from the earth there must have been a great panic outside the ark followed by a pounding at the door. Surely, the cries for mercy of the lost and doomed were heard by those inside the ark, along with the frantic and futile scratching at the door. Messiah warns us,
“Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.” (Luke 17:26-27)
“…He did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly. ” (2 Peter 2:5).
For forty days and forty nights it rained. To say that Noah and his family were sorely tested is obviously an understatement. The ark was lifted upon the waters, tossed this way and that. The inhabitants of the ark had no idea of its physical location or of how long it would be before they would see land or set foot on it. How was this family able to content themselves with being “in the secret place of the Most High?”
After the rains ceased, the ark drifted for five months with no land in sight, until the waters abated. The ark eventually landed on the mountains of Ararat (Gen 8:4) on the 17 day of Aviv, the very same day that Messiah would rise from the dead. Aviv was the seventh month until God instructed Moses that it would become the first month (Ex. 12:1-2). Interestingly enough, Ararat means “the curse reversed.”
When the ark settled on the mountain, Noah sent out a raven, an unclean bird, which eats dead flesh. The raven came back and forth to the ark until (Gen 8:7) the dead bodies were exposed. Then, Noah sent out a dove; picturing the Holy Spirit; but there was no place for her to rest, so he drew her back into the sanctuary of the ark.
After seven days, Noah sent the dove out again, and, this time, she returned with a fresh olive leaf in her beak. The olive tree was the supplier of oil for the lamps of the ancient world and is emblematic of the Torah, “the light unto my path” Psalm 119:105 KJV, of as well as the oil that that wise virgins are storing.
Before the destruction of the Northern Kingdom, Isaiah said of the formerly united kingdom of Israel: “The LORD once called you ‘a green olive tree, beautiful with good fruit.’ ” (Jer. 11:16)
Hosea promises a restored olive tree. “His shoots shall spread out; his beauty shall be like the olive, and his fragrance like Lebanon.” (Hosea 14:6).
Paul talks about the olive tree in Romans 11:
“…and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. (see Romans 11:17-25)
The freshly plucked olive leaf contained God’s promise to once again provide light (instruction in righteousness) for the inhabitants of the world. That it came directly into Noah’s hand, I believe, was God’s stamp of approval on the faithful tzadeek who would go forth from the ark to be the light of the world to a freshly cleansed earth. Noah lived for 350 years after the flood. Thank you, Noah! Thank you, God, for the man who set himself apart for Your sake.
When the olive leaf appeared, Noah knew that the waters had receded (Gen 8:11). Yet, even though he had been cooped up for more than a year, he waited patiently for God’s instructions:
“Go out from the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you. Bring out with you every living thing that is with you of all flesh—birds and animals and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth—that they may swarm on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.” So Noah went out, and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him. Every beast, every creeping thing, and every bird, everything that moves on the earth, went out by families from the ark. (Gen 8:16-19)
We must stop here to introduce the Hebrew word mishpachah [MISH paw kah], which means family. At this first mention in Scripture, we see God’s intent to build families comprised of men and women. Those who practice homosexual behavior fail to understand that God cannot bless what He calls an abomination (Lev. 18:22, 20:13). God designed earthly families to reflect His family: a man (Yeshua) and His Bride (Israel) who birth children who who bear much fruit and are the light of the world by keeping His commandments. This is holy matrimony.
Sexual activity was designed for the purpose of intimacy between husband and wife. Any other sexual conduct, whether sex outside of marriage (fornication), or adultery, or pornography, or pedophilia, or bestiality, or homosexuality is unholy, prohibited by Torah, because it does not match God’s pattern. Therefore, no matter that any earthly authority may sanction it, sex forbidden by Torah is an abomination to God; and, therefore, is cursed.
To my readers who are involved in illicit sexual activity of any nature, please know that while God hates the sin, He deeply loves and passionately wants to restore the sinner. I thank God for the blood of Jesus/ Yeshua that washed me white as snow and restored me to a virgin in His eyes. That is the beauty of justification by the blood of the Lamb. It washes away the sin, and, in God’s eyes, removes it as far as the east is from the west, leaving the sinner white as snow. This is grace, my friend, free for the asking. But, we must remember Yeshua’s warning, “Go, and sin no more!” (John 5:14, 8:11).
Once you have accepted Yeshua’s sacrifice for your sin, you are righteous in the sight of God. But, to keep yourself in that state, you must go and sin no more. “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.“ 1 John 3:4.
According to Paul, Jesus/Yeshua “gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” (Titus 2:14) The works that God calls “good” are deeds done in obedience to His instructions.
Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And…the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma… (Gen 8:20-21a)
Most assuredly, Noah was taught to offer clean animals by his father and grandfather. The LORD was very pleased. He blessed Noah and entered into covenant with him.
Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, “Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the livestock, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark; it is for every beast of the earth. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.” (Gen-9:1-17)
We come now to a very ugly and somewhat mysterious chapter of Noah’s life. With the wicked destroyed and no one left on the face of the earth except his own family, the tzadeek apparently let down his guard. Ah, but the enemy was prowling around like a roaring lion.
The account begins with the statement in our English bibles “Noah began to be a man of the soil, and he planted a vineyard.” (Gen 9:20 ESV) Some versions say he became a farmer. But, the Hebrew word translated as “began” is in Hebrew kawLAL, and actually means to wound, dissolve, to break one’s word, to profane, to pollute, to prostitute. The Stone Tanach renders this word debased. “Noah, the man of the earth, debased himself and planted a vineyard.”
He drank of the wine and became drunk and lay uncovered in his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brothers outside. Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned backward, and they did not see their father’s nakedness. When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, he said, “Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers.” He also said, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant. May God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem, and let Canaan be his servant” (Gen 9:21-27)
The exact nature of Ham’s sin is the subject of much commentary. Some think Ham mocked Noah’s drunken state and nakedness. Some are of the opinion that Ham had sex with Noah or even with Noah’s wife based on Lev. 20:11. Some even think it was Canaan who did these things, since he ended up with the curse. Whatever the case, it seems to me that instead of Noah cursing his grandson, as some teach, it is more likely that he woke up to find his house on fire, so to speak, and yelled, “Help! Canaan is cursed!”
The spiritual giant, who knew the Torah backward and forward, thanks to his righteous ancestors, most certainly understood the precept that the consequence of one’s sin will be felt by one’s offspring, to the fourth generation. “…for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.” (Exodus 20:6)
This principle has not been taught to modern believers. Most church-goers have no idea that when we lie, steal, commit sexual sin, or practice idolatry that our children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren will tend to follow in our footsteps and suffer as a result. They have no idea that “genetic” disease can be traced to the sin of parents and grandparents, etc. and would be shocked to learn that that a child’s propensity to addiction, abuse, and sexual sin can be traced to the sins of their parents, grandparents, etc.
Is it possible to break such a curse? All things are possible with God! Remember, the purpose of Torah is to RESTORE! The God of Creation, as we saw in last week’s lesson, thanks to Rav Waxman, wants us to understand Him as Redeemer and Conqueror of Chaos even more He wants us to see Him as the All-Powerful, All Knowing, Most High God who created everything from nothing. In the same way that the Holy Spirit brooded over the dark and formless depths of the earth (Gen. 1:1), so He broods today over every soul in darkness.
Noah apparently woke from his drunken stupor to find his spiritual house in flames. Ham’s name means “hot” and “to enflame self.” Too late, Noah saw that Ham’s descendants down to the third and fourth generation would feel the searing heat of the day’s evil events, and, further, that this iniquity, would conceive and give birth to even greater wickedness, as in the days before the flood.
Can you imagine Noah’s great regret? Pandora’s Box was re-opened upon the cleansed earth. Canaan’s descendants would become guilty of every type of sexual perversion known to man and, even worse, would sacrifice their children to idols. That is the very reason the Canaanites were ultimately expelled from the land promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
The only remedy for the curse, Noah knew, was to learn and practice Torah.
According to Hebrew tradition, Shem, Noah’s son, maintained yeshivas (tent schools) in which he taught the ways of God, as did his great-grandfather Enoch. Surely, Noah was Shem’s foremost teacher. Foreseeing the tragic repercussions to his grandson and future descendants, Noah apparently quickly regained his senses and moved to counteract the curse.
Gathering the family together, Noah blessed God for the righteousness with which Shem had behaved by moving quickly, along with Japheth to cover Noah, thereby picturing atonement. Noah then prayed that Canaan would likewise also become God’s servant by serving in the tents of Shem. “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem! May Canaan be His servant.” (Gen 9:27)
Then, as I see it, Noah prayed that God would enlarge Japheth’s righteousness by giving him opportunity to also dwell in Shem’s tent (school). May God enlarge Japheth, and may he dwell in the tents of Shem; and may Canaan be his [Shem’s] servant. (Gen 9:27)
Noah’s great desire was that all of his offspring would come to study Torah! Noah saw that Shem was predisposed to righteousness and asked God to use him to proclaim the restoration available for any who would believe God. We must remember that everyone who lived after the flood are the offspring of Noah and that … God…. so loved the WORLD!
Noah must have invested his remaining 350 years in teaching and praying. And God mightily answered Noah’s prayer. Shem lived 502 years after the flood, until Jacob and Esau were 52 years old. According to tradition, Jacob studied in the tents of Shem while Esau chose to entertain himself with hunting. It is from the lineage of Jacob that we received the Scriptures. And it is from the lineage of Jacob that Messiah came.
No doubt, Shem also influenced Jacob’s grandfather, Abraham, whom we will study for the next several weeks. It is written, “…Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws” (Gen. 26:5). It is also written that God said of Abram, before God changed his name, “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him” (Gen. 18:19). “The way” is a euphemism for Torah [as is “the truth”, and “the light.” Sound familiar”]
A very interesting question to consider as we begin to look at the life of Abraham is how could he keep God’s commandments, statutes, and laws unless someone had taught him?
In closing, Yeshua warned us that the day of His return will be as the day of the flood. (Mat. 24:37-38). Peter exhorts us to be blameless in preparation for that day:
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner [of persons] ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness..? Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless. (2 Peter 3:10-14).
To live without God’s instructions is to be lawless. To practice God’s instructions is to be blameless. Never forget that we who have multiple copies of multiple translations of the Bible, along with a variety of Bible software, and more leisure time than any previous generation to make use of these things, are the most blessed people who have ever lived on this planet! Remember, dear children, to whom much is given, much is required. Therefore, study to show yourselves approved!
Until next week, shalom!