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There is a commandment given to Israel that once every 7 years, during the Festival of Sukkot, they should assemble ALL the people to hear the Torah read to them. (Deuteronomy 31:10-12). Chazal (a Hebrew acronym that means, “our sages of blessed memory”) instituted a continuous cycle of reading the Torah. They defined weekly sections so that Jews would be reading and hearing Torah every single week and complete the 5 Books of Moses in a set time. The teachers I learned under taught me to follow the yearly Torah cycle and I discovered that Chabad divides their Torah study into daily aliyot. When the Torah portion is read in its entirety on Shabbat in the synagogue, there are seven sections, seven aliyot. The Chabad tradition is to study one aliyah each day, starting Sunday and going through to Shabbat. One who does this can get a double dose of the same Torah Portion each week.
Below you will find my observations and questions sparked by Torah Portion Noach. I decided to work section by section and examine the Word aliyah by aliyah.
Before I get to the aliyot, I wanted to take a broader look at Noach and have more context on him. Outside of his story in this Torah portion, Noach is mentioned elsewhere in the Bible. These are all the references to Noach I found through a quick search:
““For me this is like Noach’s flood. Just as I swore that no flood like Noach’s would ever again cover the earth, so now I swear that never again will I be angry with you or rebuke you.”
“even if these three men were in it — Noach, Dani’el and Iyov — they would by their righteousness save only themselves,” says HaShem”
“For the Son of Man’s coming will be just as it was in the days of Noach.”
-Luke 3:36 – Yeshua’s genealogy
“of Keinan, of Arpakhshad, of Shem, of Noach, of Lemekh,”
“Also, at the time of the Son of Man, it will be just as it was at the time of Noach.”
“By trusting, Noach, after receiving divine warning about things as yet unseen, was filled with holy fear and built an ark to save his household. Through this trusting, he put the world under condemnation and received the righteousness that comes from trusting.”
-1 Peter 3:20
“to those who were disobedient long ago, in the days of Noach, when God waited patiently during the building of the ark, in which a few people — to be specific, eight — were delivered by means of water.”
-2 Peter 2:5
“And he did not spare the ancient world; on the contrary, he preserved Noach, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, and brought the Flood upon a world of ungodly people.”
NOACH – GENESIS 6:9-11:32
Aliyah 1 – Genesis 6:9-22
6:11 The earth was corrupt before G-d, the earth was filled with violence. 12 G-d saw the earth, and, yes, it was corrupt; for all living beings had corrupted their ways on the earth.
How? What was the corruption? Was the corruption the violence? Were these all-herbivore animals killing or attacking each other? Were people killing each other?
6:18 But I will establish my covenant with you; you will come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife and your sons’ wives with you.
They are segregated by sex, that is interesting.
6:20 Of each kind of bird, each kind of livestock, and each kind of animal creeping on the ground, two are to come to you, so that they can be kept alive.
The animals miraculously showed up to the Ark. That’s awesome!
Aliyah 2 – Genesis 7:1-16
7:2 Of every clean animal you are to take seven couples, and of the animals that are not clean, one couple;
From the beginning there was a distinction made between clean and unclean animals. Animals were not given for food until AFTER the flood and Noach sacrificed the other 6 pairs. What does that mean? HaShem made a provision and brought a deliverer to save the clean and the unclean alike. Only the clean were made as an offering to Him. Does this relate to Jew and Gentile?
13 On that same day Noach entered the ark with Shem, Ham and Yefet the sons of Noach, Noach’s wife and the three wives of his sons accompanying them;
The segregation of the men and women is mentioned again. Why twice?
15 They went in to Noach in the ark, couples from every kind of living thing that breathes.
16 Those that entered went in, male and female, from every kind of living being, as G-d had ordered him; and HaShem shut him inside.
HaShem shut him, Noach, inside. All the animals and the 7 other people are characterized as going into Noach. And once they have entered into Noach, then the Ark is closed by G-d himself, not Noach. Is this a type of Messiah. One man is raised up by G-d and works to save others by his labour. They are warned of coming judgment which they can escape by join him and entering into him. He is the only righteous man and G-d causes all life to be saved through him, despite the great destruction wrought on the earth. After which the earth is cleansed and ready for a new creation to fill it.
Aliyah 3 – Genesis 7:17-8:14
7:20 the water covered the mountains by more than twenty-two-and-a-half feet.
23 He wiped out every living thing on the surface of the ground — not only human beings, but livestock, creeping animals and birds in the air. They were wiped out from the earth; only Noach was left, along with those who were with him in the ark.
The Flood truly dominated the Earth. Our Heavenly Father really is the Almighty, nothing can escape his wrath and destruction when he wills it. Even birds of the air need some place to rest and the all consuming waters robbed them of that, so that they would indeed die.
12 He waited yet another seven days and sent out the dove, and she didn’t return to him any more.
It seems that Noach is seemingly relying on himself to know when to leave the Ark. That is strange because he has only listened to G-d and followed Him so far. Then again we just met Noach at 500 and have so little other information about him.
Aliyah 4 – Genesis 8:15-9:7
8: 16“Go out from the ark, you, your wife, your sons and your son’s wives with you.”
18 So Noach went out with his sons, his wife and his sons’ wives; 19 every animal, every creeping thing and every bird, whatever moves on the earth, according to their families, went out of the ark.
There is this interesting reversal here, where G-d says to Noah that he and his wife are to come out of the Ark along with their sons and their wives. Then in verse 18, it is flipped again, where the men and women are kind of segregated. What is the reasoning behind that? HaShem makes the distinction first in 6:18, then He seemingly removes the segregation by calling the people out of the Ark in pairs in 8:16. Then, in 8:18, the people seem to be keeping up the segregation
22 “So long as the earth exists, sowing time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night will not cease.”
This is an interesting definition of seasons. There are 6 seasons listed here and I find it profound when there are godly definitions to things that don’t quite align with how Man sees things. I think we are wise to find out what He says about these things and learn to think about them the same way.
3 Every moving thing that lives will be food for you; just as I gave you green plants before, so now I give you everything — 4 only flesh with its life, which is its blood, you are not to eat.
Man had previously only eaten plants. He is given animals at this time, but the animals are made afraid of Man to aid them in survival, I would guess. However there is a restriction set with the availability of animals for food. Animals must be drained of blood, it seems to be eaten. Perhaps this means an animal should not be eaten until it has been killed.
9:1 G-d blessed Noach and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth.
9:7 And you people, be fruitful, multiply, swarm on the earth and multiply on it.”
Both Noach and his sons were commanded to have children to replenish the Earth after the Flood. They are given the same commandment within seven verses. Why? Were they reticent to populate the Earth again? Is that why they had segregated themselves? Were they afraid history would repeat itself?
Aliyah 5 – Genesis 9:8-17
9:16 The rainbow will be in the cloud; so that when I look at it, I will remember the everlasting covenant between G-d and every living creature of any kind on the earth.”
Fun Fact: Chazal says this is actually more of a threat and a warning than a warm and fuzzy thing. There is even a blessing upon seeing a rainbow. There is also legend that in the generation of, somebody, I don’t know who, there was never a rainbow because everyone was so righteous. Was that just Israel or was that the whole world? I couldn’t say. It is a fun fact though.
Aliyah 6 – Genesis 9:18-10:32
10:6 The sons of Ham were Kush, Mitzrayim, Put and Kena‘an.
21 Children were also born to Shem, ancestor of all the descendants of ‘Ever and older brother of Yefet.
It’s interesting that Avraham and Israel come out of Shem, while Kena’an and Mitzrayim, which is Egypt come out of Ham. I guess Shem and Ham really serve as prototypes for their peoples. Mitzrayim means opression and the Kena’anites kick Shem’s descendants out of their land and are destroyed… mostly by Joshua and the people of Israel when they are lead back to claim their inheritance by the Almighty.
28 After the flood Noach lived 350 years. 29 In all, Noach lived 950 years; then he died.
I find it odd that Noach had no more children, especially with 350 more years of life in him
Aliyah 7 – Genesis 11:1-32
1 The whole earth used the same language, the same words. 2 It came about that as they traveled from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shin‘ar and lived there. 3 They said to one another, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them in the fire.” So they had bricks for building-stone and clay for mortar. 4 Then they said, “Come, let’s build ourselves a city with a tower that has its top reaching up into heaven, so that we can make a name for ourselves and not be scattered all over the earth.”5 HaShem came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. 6 HaShem said, “Look, the people are united, they all have a single language, and see what they’re starting to do! At this rate, nothing they set out to accomplish will be impossible for them! 7 Come, let’s go down and confuse their language, so that they won’t understand each other’s speech.” 8 So from there HaShem scattered them all over the earth, and they stopped building the city. 9 For this reason it is called Bavel [confusion] — because there HaShem confused the language of the whole earth, and from there HaShem scattered them all over the earth.
I firmly believe that Hebrew was the original language. This feels like a proof text of it.
Also in GEN 9:7 Noach’s sons are commanded to swarm on the Earth. Later when Noach curses Ham and blesses Shem, he does suggest that Yefet be in Shem’s tent and that Ham’s descendants would be there as servants to them both. The trouble with Man that causes G-d to scatter and disperse them is that they stay together and seek to make a name for themselves. Why? What does that mean? Was this during Ever’s time? Did he participate? Did he abstain? Is that why he got to keep his language? Hebrew is Evreet in Hebrew.
31 Terach took his son Avram, his son Haran’s son Lot, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Avram’s wife; and they left Ur of the Kasdim to go to the land of Kena‘an. But when they came to Haran, they stayed there.
Terach left Ur first, but he stopped in Haran. That stands out to me. I wonder if he was originally called to leave and sojourn, but he failed for some reason. I noticed that he didn’t have any children until 70, where as multiple ancestors before him were having children starting in their 30s. It felt like a trend that abruptly stopped with him. Was that his will? Was he defying the Almighty? Was he married for much of those 70 years? Is it significant that Avram and Sarai were barren into his 70s? Is this meant to contrast that?