Parashat Noach – Erev Shabbat 23 October2020 –
Week 18-24 October 2020
Torah portion: Genesis 6:9-11:32 Haftarah: Isaiah 54:1-55:5
Theme: Noah, model for our walk with the LORD our God
The theme running through both the Parasha and Haftarah is “new beginnings”. The Haftarah is also about hope and new life after difficulties, often seen as storms (as in the Parasha), but underlying both the Parasha and Haftarah is not having or being able to have children. But the dawn of hope is: “Be fruitful and multiply” (Gen 9:1) and “For the children of the desolate woman will be more than the children of her that is married, says the Lord.” (Isa 54:1b) This Parasha begins with Noah and ends with an introduction to Abram soon to become Abraham, our father in faith for Jews, Muslims and Christians.
It is my intention to show Noah as a model of faith in his relationship with God. We are introduced to Noah as: “a righteous man, blameless in his generation; Noah walked with God”(6:9). We follow the narrative from here until 9:1.
Noah never speaks in this narrative: he just carries out the Lord’s commands to the letter. When the Lord shares with Noah his plan to destroy the earth, he does not try to intercede with the Lord as Abraham will do concerning Sodom and Gomorrah. According to this narrative only eight people are found to be blameless. The Lord answers Abraham after his last request: “For the sake of those ten, I will not destroy it.”(Gen 18:16-33)
The Lord wants to establish a covenant with Noah and his sons and their wives. This is the first mention of the Lord wanting to make a covenant with creation – a covenant with Noah, his descendants and all of creation. This further emphasizes the importance of this narrative in the God’s dealing with all of creation (6:18).
“ThisNoah did; he carried out all the commands that God gave him”(6:22) – unlike our first parents. In the Noah story we are not told of any specific temptation except, of course, that his faith is about his remaining blameless and keeping his family blameless while surrounded by people living corrupt and lawless lives.
Having built the ark, Noah is told by the LORD to enter the ark with his family and the animals: “Noah then did just as the LORD had commanded him” (7:1-5). Verse 16 of this same chapter tells us that male and female of the animals came into the ark “just as God had ordered him; then the LORD shut [the door] after him.”
When the water had subsided, Noah removed the covering of the ark and God told him to let his family out first and then the animals and then says: “let them be fruitful and multiply on the earth” (8:15-17). Noah does exactly as God had told him. Noah then builds an altar and offers whole burnt offerings and the LORD, smelling the sweet aroma, decides never to destroy the whole earth again because of the weak inclinations of human beings.
In 9:1 we read how God blesses Noah and his sons and tells them to: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.”
For Reflection and Discussion: 1. This narrative describes the spiritual path: living a good life and thus being prepared for the purpose God the LORD has for us; following that calling to the letter because of one’s close relationship to the LORD; responding further in worship and then receiving the reward for one’s actions not only for oneself but for the future of all of creation. Discuss this in Havrutah.
Bibliography: Eskenazi, T. C. Weiss, A.L. A Women’s Commentary (New York: 2008)
This week’s Parasha Commentary was prepared by
Bernadette Chellew, South Africa, Bat Kol Alumna: 2008