This week’s Parasha starts out with God saying these words: “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God and had three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.”
This was the time before Moses had given the law, so Noah does not have the standard of what would be righteous on his own accord. So, when God says Noah was a righteous man, what He is referring to is Noah’s righteousness is due to his faithfulness; he seeks after God. So this is, in fact, God’s righteousness imputed to Noah for his faithfulness, just as it is today for you and me.
God is telling us that the earth’s inhabitants are evil all the time, with the exception of Noah. God does not say that Noah’s sons and his wife are righteous but that Noah is righteous. This reminds me of when the Lord visits Abraham and tells him that He is going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah because there are not even ten righteous people in their land when, in fact, the only one who was considered righteous was Lot; and God spared Lot’s family, just as He spares Noah and his family. God comes to Noah and tells him that He decided to make an end of all flesh with the flood; and He instructs Noah to build a boat, specifically an Ark. He gives Noah the dimensions it should be – 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high, roughly 1-½ times larger than a football field. I am confident that Noah had never built a boat before being where he was located – not exactly next to any water. So the Lord obviously gave him skills of a craftsman to be a boat builder. I am quite sure that the people who lived in the area, where Noah was going to build this ark, thought he was quite a fool to be building a boat or ark in an area where there was no water. At some point, when they realized the size and magnitude of this ark, this was a great feat.
When God gave Noah these instructions, He said He would not contend with man for more than 120 years. I have heard many people tell me the meaning of this is that man would not live more than 120 years of age from that point forward. This is simply not true. As we read through these chapters and look at the genealogy, men live longer than 120 years for numerous generations. The truth of this is that the 120 years means that God would no longer contend with man for exactly the amount of time it took Noah to build the ark. Think about any project that you have started that took you longer than a couple of years to finish, and think how this was for Noah who did this day in and day out for 120 years. Noah was 480 years old when he started the ark and 600 years old when he entered the ark.
It is also important that we realize that it is not Noah who gathers the animals but the Lord calls the animals two by two, two of each kind. To make sure we understand, we use an example of a dog. This does not mean that there were two German shepherds, two Dobermans, and two Chihuahuas; this simply means that there were two dogs. Later in history, variations of dogs occurred through in-breeding. This would be true for cats, horses, and all other animals and birds. There would also be clean animals and birds that were brought on to the ark that would be used for sacrifice.
When all the animals are on the ark and Noah and his family inside as well, El Gabor – Mighty God – closes the door for them. When the rain came, it lasted 40 days and 40 nights. After 150 days total, the water began to abate. To test the land, Noah sends out a raven. The raven does not return. Noah waits for a time and sends out a dove, and the dove returns with an olive branch in its mouth. Noah again sends out the dove, but the dove does not return. Noah has been in the ark with his family and the animals for one year by the time he exits the Ark. The first act of obedience Noah does is build an altar to the Lord and sacrifices some of the clean animals that God put on the Ark.
In Chapter 9, God gives Noah and his sons a blessing to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. God tells Noah and his family that they will have dominion over the earth and the animals and that some creatures now are good for eating. There is a warning: “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for God made man in His image”. The result is capital punishment for murder. In Chapter 9, we have the sin of Noah and the sin of his son Ham. Noah’s sin is that he drank too much wine, and Ham’s is that he gossiped to his brothers about his father’s nakedness. God will put a curse on Ham’s son, Canaan, but only on Canaan, not on Ham or his sons. There are some theologians who say this curse falls on Ham’s descendants and that they are dark skinned and they would be slaves as a reason to enslave the black Africans and take them as a possession; but this is untrue. At that time in history, more nations would come out of Ham’s genealogy, 30 in total. These nations would rule for a long period of time. I believe the reason God uses Canaan for the curse is that this will be the land that the Jewish nations will go into as the Promised Land and remove the Canaanites from it.
In Chapter 11, Abram is introduced; and he comes from the line of Shem, who, incidentally, was alive when Abram was born.
Some applications to think about:
When we think about Noah taking 120 years to build this ark, every day going to work, and the people who lived in his region laughing at him and calling him names, he continued to do his work every day. He was faithful to what God required him to perform. In addition, Noah and his family are in the Ark for seven days before the rains come. You can imagine the people out there continued to make fun of Noah and his family. This is faith! The rain came, and it rained hard for 40 days and 40 nights.
A few weeks ago, the city of Houston had floodwaters that were more than 4 feet in less than 24 hours. You can imagine the panic from people who were trying to find shelter.
Some theologians claim that the flood was local, not over all the earth. There is sufficient proof that the flood covered the entire earth. Scientists have uncovered fossils of sea urchins on the top of the Adirondacks in New York State. This is a long distance from the ocean and above sea level for fossils to be located; thus, proof that ocean water covered the earth.
After the first 11 chapters of Genesis, there will be a turning point. The first 11 chapters involved different nations. The remaining Torah chapters will concentrate on the Jewish nation as God’s chosen people. It is good to remember that as God used the Hebrews for His purpose. He also grafted in the Gentiles in these nations, who walked with Him.