To better understand ourselves and the world we live in, we want to know our history – where we came from; how we got here; who are ancestors were; what they believed in; and the important things that happened to them. This part of Genesis does that for us. In it, Moses focuses on one man, Noah, and his family. This is the account of Noah and his family. All of us are descendants of Noah. And all of us come from one of his three sons.
Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God. Noah was righteous: he was in a right relationship with God; and he consistently did the right things. He was blameless. His character and conduct were without fault. Like Enoch, Noah walked with God. He got up in the morning and spoke to Him and continued speaking to Him, and living for Him, throughout the day. Noah’s life inspires me to want to be righteous, blameless and walk faithfully with God. How about you?
Noah had three sons: Shem, Cham and Yafet. From these three, humanity will have a new beginning. Shem is mentioned first, because he is the father of the Shemites, and the Seed of the Woman, the Messiah, the Redeemer, the Savior, the Son of God, will come from him.
In contrast to this faithful remnant was the rest of a corrupt world. Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. As it was in the days of Noah … a faithful remnant and a corrupt majority. As we get closer to the Lord’s return, expect the majority to become very corrupt, and a remnant to remain faithful.
A holy God will only tolerate so much corruption. So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. So make yourself an ark.
Destruction was coming in the form of a world-wide flood, and the righteous remnant, and the animals needed to survive. The Lord gave Noah instructions to build an ark. It was made of wood. The wood was covered with pitch inside and out with pitch to make the ark waterproof. It was huge – 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. There was enough room in it for all the animals, Noah’s family, and food.
Chapters 7 and 8 tell us about one of the greatest events in the history of the planet – a devastating world-wide Flood. Moses gives us details about the Flood:
The length of the Flood: the initial phase of constant rain lasted for 40 days and nights. The Flood lasted over a year.
The depth of the Flood: all the high mountains were covered.
The forces at work during the Flood: the “waters above” the sky were released in a massive amount of rain, and huge subterranean waters emerged.
The devastation caused by the Flood: All the animals and people outside of the ark died.
This was a real, historical event. And there are many evidences for the Flood:
Other Biblical evidences: Isaiah: The Lord said: To me this is like the days of Noah, when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth (Isaiah 54:9). Peter: By God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed (2 Peter 3:5-6). And Yeshua the Messiah: Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all (Luke 17:26-27). If the sinless Messiah, the infallible Son of God, who is never wrong about anything, said there was a flood and Noah entered the ark and was saved, then there was a flood and Noah entered the ark and was saved.
Geological evidences: sedimentary rock is formed by water, and sedimentary rock covers most of the Earth’s surface. And there is evidence of rapid erosion, or even of no erosion, between sedimentary rock layers, like the rock layers of the Grand Canyon. This indicates continuous deposition of one layer after another, with no time for erosion. They layers were deposited at the same time.
In addition, there are oil, coal, and salt deposits around the world. Oil comes from buried plants and animals; coal comes from buried plants; salt deposits come from ocean water in which the salt quickly precipitated.
In addition, there are fossils all over the Earth. For fossils to form, animals and plants need to be rapidly buried by sediment. In places throughout the world there are fossil graveyards, where sometimes billions of animals were suddenly killed and buried under water in the same place at the same time.
Biological evidences: Frozen mammoth carcasses have been found in Siberia and Alaska with meat still on them. A mammoth found in 1901 had meat that the dogs of the expedition ate. When the stomach of the mammoth was opened, 24 pounds of vegetation was found in it, some in an excellently preserved state. For plants to be preserved in an elephant’s stomach, the temperature would have to have been lowered dramatically in a very short time. Otherwise the digestive juices in the stomach would dissolve them. This tells us that within hours, a mammoth that was grazing in a warm climate was frozen and remained frozen for thousands of years. What could do that? Only something like atmospheric changes caused by the Flood. This is covered extensively in the book, The Waters Above, by Joseph Dillow. [See also a more recent article, Fresh Mammoth Carcass from Siberia Holds Many Secrets published in Scientific American. scientificamerican.com/article/fresh-mammoth-carcass-from-siberia-holds-many-secrets/].
Cultural evidences: The following is taken from the Encyclopedia Of Bible Difficulties, p.83. Over 270 cultures retained a memory of the Flood. Flood sagas have been preserved among the most diverse tribes and nations all over the world. All these relate how a lone survivor, with perhaps his wife, children, and a friend or two was saved from the destruction of a world-wide flood and was then faced with the task of repopulating a devastated Earth after the flood waters receded.
But of all these accounts, only Genesis records with the exactitude of a diary or ship’s log the date of the inception of the Deluge (when Noah was exactly 600 years old, on the seventeenth day of the seventh month of that same year), the length of the actual downpour (40 days), the length of time that the water-depth remained at its maximum (150 days), the date at which the tops of the mountains became visible once more (on the first day of the tenth month), the length of time until the first evidence of new plant growth was brought to Noah in the beak of his dove (47 days, according to Gen. 8:6-9),
and the precise day of Noah’s emerging from the ark onto Mount Ararat (his 601st year, the first day of the first month). Here we have a personal record that apparently goes back to Noah himself.”
The lessons to be learned from the Flood:
Whenever you see sedimentary rock, layers of sedimentary rock like the Grand Canyon, or fossils; of when you use oil, natural gas, coal or salt that comes from a salt mine like the one under Detroit – remember that a holy God punishes sin. Therefore we need to turn away from anything that goes against the will of God.
God was able to save people and animals from a world-wide flood so they could repopulate the Earth. God is mighty to save. He is able to save from the most desperate circumstances.
The Flood ends one age and begins another. A new dispensation with new requirements was beginning.
The first thing that Noah did after the Lord saved him and his family was build an altar and sacrifice animals and burn their bodies on the altar. This teaches us that Noah accepted the Lord’s judgment. He was not angry with God for destroying the world. In the same way, when we experience loss, even great loss like the death of someone we love, we are to acknowledge that the Lord is a just Judge and accept His judgment. And like Noah, when the good Lord helps us out of a difficult circumstance, we thank the One who brought us though our difficulty.
This is the first mention of an altar, and also the first mention of a burnt offering. Noah knew the Eden principle that worship that is acceptable to God must include the death of an innocent animal. The burnt offering represents the dedication of the offerer. Just as the animal is killed and burnt up, so the worshiper is to give himself fully to the service of God. May our lives, like that of Noah, be like a burnt offering. Amen?
It was only clean animals that were killed and burned on the altar, which teaches us that Noah knew that certain animals were fit for sacrifice and others weren’t. Moses will elaborate on the distinction between clean and unclean animals later in the Torah.
The Lord saw this righteous remnant and the God-honoring sacrifices they offered, and was pleased with them; and promised: Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done. As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.
This was a new beginning for humanity, and as the Lord blessed Adam and Eve in the beginning, He blessed Noah and his sons. They were to be fruitful and multiply, fill the Earth and rule the other creatures. However, even though this was a new beginning for humanity with a righteous remnant, our fallen nature remained the same. The inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. It takes more than judgment, even one as devastating as a world-wide Flood, to change our sinful nature. It takes the transforming work of the Spirit of God. But, not all human beings will be saved and indwelt and transformed by the Spirit, so God implemented new measures to ensure that man’s evil nature is restrained.
And so in chapter 9, Moses records a covenant between God and Noah. This agreement is an everlasting covenant for all succeeding generations. This covenant includes everyone. This covenant is still in effect – so everyone should know it and obey it.
From this covenant, Jewish sages derived seven laws, called the seven laws of Noah. I don’t find seven laws. I will mention the laws I do find.
The law which establishes governments and capital punishment. Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind. Capital punishment is a deterrent. This law restrains sin and violence so that society won’t be as bad as it was before the Flood. Murder is not only a crime against the victim and those who care for the victim, it is also a crime against God, because fallen though we are, we still carry the image of God.
Also, note that murdering someone made in the image of God is a sin against God. Executing a murderer is a God-ordained law that has never been revoked. It is still in effect.
The law against idolatry. There is only one true and living God. He created us in His image, and provided atonement for us, and saved us from the Flood. He made this covenant with us. To worship, serve, give our love or devotion to any other thing is a violation of this covenant.
The law that allows us to kill and eat animals, but forbids us to eat their blood. Man’s original diet was vegetarian. This law changes that. We can kill and eat animals, but must not eat their blood. Blood is special and is to be used for special purposes like atonement.
The laws of this covenant are reaffirmed in the New Testament. The First Jerusalem Council was convened to decide what relationship the new Gentile Christians have to the laws of the Sinai Covenant. The Apostles and the Elders of the Jerusalem Congregation, under the direction of the Holy Spirit decided that Gentiles weren’t obligated to follow all the laws of the Sinai Covenant. Along with faith in God they need only to abstain from eating things sacrificed to idols and from eating blood and from eating things strangled and from fornication (see Acts 15:28-29). The decision of the Jerusalem Council is a reaffirmation of the covenant made with Noah.
The rainbow is the sign of this covenant. While bows are often used to kill, the rainbow is a sign of peace. The rainbow touches the Earth, goes up toward Heaven, and then comes down and touches the Earth again. It’s a bridge joining Heaven and Earth. It’s a sevenfold radiance of light. Three is the number of God and four is the number of the world. The rainbow with its sevenfold light is a sign of covenant and peace between Heaven and Earth.
Whenever we see a rainbow, we are to remember that humanity has a covenant with God and we are to live by the laws of that covenant. Whenever the Lord sees a rainbow, it reminds Him that no matter how wicked we become, He has promised not to destroy the Earth by a flood.
The last part of chapter 9 describes a horrible event and an amazing prophetic blessing and curse. Noah planted a vineyard, made wine, drank too much and became drunk. While he was drunk, he uncovered himself inside his tent. Cham, the father of Canaan, saw his father naked and instead of immediately covering him, told his two brothers. Shem and Yafet took a garment, walked backward and covered their father, refusing to see him naked. Noah was honored by Shem and Yafet and dishonored by Cham.
When he woke up Noah found out he had been dishonored by Cham. He then uttered inspired blessings and a curse that give us the outline of God’s plan for the peoples. Noah said: “Cursed be Canaan, a servant of servants he shall be to his brothers.” He also said, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant. May God enlarge Yafet, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant.”
The following comes from The Dawn Of World Redemption, by Erich Sauer: For 4,500 years world history has demonstrated the accuracy of this amazing prophecy. This prophecy started with Cham, which means hot, and his son, Canaan. The Chamites generally settled in the hot lands like Egypt, Africa, and Phoenicia, as the name Cham implies. Cham was the father of Canaan, who became the father of the Phoenicians and Canaanites. It’s not surprising that a wicked people like the Canaanites came from a father who acted indecently like Cham.
Canaan was cursed with being a servant of servants. His descendants would be the lowest of peoples. The Canaanites did became servants to Israel starting in the time of Joshua. However, becoming servants to the Chosen People was both a curse and a blessing. The blessing was that Joshua made them wood-cutters to provide wood for the altar. Serving at the Tabernacle enabled the Canaanites to learn about God and atonement and redemption.
This curse does not refer to modern Africans or African-Americans like some racists have claimed. This curse is not directed towards all Chamites but only to the Canaanites, who died out long ago. The other Chamites were not cursed, nor were they blessed – although they prospered immediately following the Flood.
Next comes the greatest blessing. It was given to Shem, whose name means “name.” Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant. Shem is the father of the Shemites, also known as Semites. They include the Jewish people, the Arabs and the Chaldeans and others. In this blessing God associates Himself with Shem. He is the God of Shem.
This blessing was fulfilled through the Jewish people, those special Shemites chosen to bring the spiritual blessings of “HaShem” which means “the Name” – which is another name for God Himself – to the other peoples. From Israel came the Torah, the Prophets and the Writings; and the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament. From Israel came the Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the prophets, priests and kings; from Israel came Yeshua the Messiah, who is the ultimate Shemite and the perfect manifestation of “HaShem.”
Messiah affirmed this special blessing given to the Shemites. Salvation is from the Jews He declared. Therefore, for anyone to be anti-Semitic – to be against the Jewish people, is to rebel against the will of God.
Finally comes the blessing to Yafet who name means Enlarged One. He is the father of the Indo-European peoples. May God enlarge Yafet (the Enlarged One) and let him dwell in the tents of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant. The greatest enlargement of physical, political and intellectual influence was given to the Yafetic peoples.
Yafet was the father of the Indo-European peoples – the Greeks, Romans, Medes, Persians, Indians and Germans and others. World history has brought about the fulfillment of this prophecy in an overwhelming manner. For centuries after this prophecy was given the ruling peoples in the Middle East were the Chamites and the Shemites, not the Yafetites. In the Nile Valley the Chamitic Egyptians ruled. In ancient Mesopotamia Nimrod, a descendant of Cham, whose name means rebel, started an empire.
For the next 2,000 years the Middle East continued to be ruled by Chamites and Shemites. The decisive hour of the sons of Yafet came in 538 B.C. Under Cyrus the Persian the sons of Yafet conquered Shemitic Babylon and became the lords of the Middle East. Since that time no Shemitic or Chamitic people has succeeded in overcoming the supremacy of the Yafetites. The Persian world empire was followed by the Greek, then by the Roman – all sons of Yafet.
Another decisive hour for the Yafetites came in 202 B.C. The Phoenicians were Canaanites. They founded colonies around the Mediterranean, especially in Carthage in North Africa. At the same time Yafetic Rome was flourishing. Collision between these two powers was unavoidable. There was war between them until 202 B.C. when their armies met and Rome vanquished Carthage. The Romans became the lords of the Mediterranean world and Carthage became Rome’s servant – in fulfillment of this prophetic blessing: May God enlarge Yafet and let Canaan be his servant.
The sons of Yafet have been enlarged physically and politically and intellectually. Their culture has dominated the world. And they have been enlarged spiritually. Spiritual blessings would come to the sons of Yafet through association with the Shemites. May God enlarge Yafet and let him dwell in the tents of Shem. The spread of the knowledge of the One True and Living God to the Yafetic peoples took place throughout Israel’s history, but dramatically increased when Cornelius, a Roman, became the first to accept the Good News about the Jewish Messiah. Another milestone was Paul’s missionary journeys, and his vision in Troas when he saw a man of Macedonia who called him to come over to Macedonia and help us. This great Jewish man helped to establish the knowledge of the God of Shem to the Greeks and Romans and the peoples under their rule.
The world is destined to remain under Yafetic influence until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. Then the ultimate son of Shem will return to Earth and rule the nations from Israel. Then, all the nations will dwell in the tents of Shem.
Chapter 10 gives us the beginning of the fulfillment of the blessing and cursing given to the three sons of Noah. 70 nations came from Shem, Yafet and Cham.
In Chapter 11, Moses informs us that humanity was united. Everyone spoke a common language. Everyone was journeying together toward the east. When they came to a plain in Babylon they decided to build a city with a tower that reached to the heavens so they could make a name for themselves, and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth. It’s possible that Nimrod was the leader. They wanted a one world government that would rule over all. The city and tower were to be a monument to their greatness, a power-center to their fame, glory and ambition.
Nation states can fight other nation states. Nationalism has its problems. However, internationalism, globalism, a one world government – is even more dangerous.
The Lord was displeased with what was happening. Instead of having one language so we could work together, He gave us many languages so we couldn’t understand each other and work together. Instead of being united, we were scattered.
History will once again repeat itself. In the Last Days a new Babylon will rise, a one world government which will unite humanity, and glorify humanity in the person of the Anti-Christ, while dishonoring God.
Another thought: God confused the one language and scattered mankind so we couldn’t unite in evil. He intends to reverse this. We see the beginning of this in Acts 2. Instead of being in rebellion against God, speaking different languages and divided from one another, people end their rebellion against God, are able to understand one another and work together in a new, united humanity.
Chapter 11 concludes with the descendants of Shem. From Shem to Abraham, ten generation are recorded, covering a period of some 400 years, and bringing us to approximately 2000 BC.
The life spans of people after the Flood were shorter than before the Flood, indicating that conditions on Earth were different.
Moses ends this parasha focused on Abraham, whom the Lord will use to begin a special Shemitic nation that would know Him and bring the knowledge of Him and salvation to the other nations, who were now in deep darkness.
Lord, thank you for Beresheet, this divinely inspired book of beginnings, which helps us better understand where we came from; how we got here; who are ancestors were; what they believed in; and the important things that happened to them.
Help us to be like Noah, who was righteous, blameless and walked faithfully with God.
Thank You for the many evidences You have given us for the Flood. Those evidences strengthen our faith.
Thank You for the lessons we learn from the Flood: That You are a holy God who punishes sin; that You are mighty to save.
Thank You for the covenant You made with Noah. Thank You for the rainbow. We when see we it, may we remember that humanity has a covenant with You and we are to live by the laws of that covenant; and thank You for Your promise not destroy the Earth by a flood.
Lord, I am amazed by Noah’s prophetic blessing and curse that give us the outline of Your plan for the peoples, which we see unfolding for the 4500 years. Lord, You are so cool!