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Noah and the Flood

Authors: Jo Milgrom and Yoel Duman

Article Sources:

Genesis Rabba 17:4
R. Aha said: When the Holy One, blessed be He, came to create Adam, He took counsel with the ministering angels, saying to them, Let us make man (Gen. 1:26). `What will be the nature of this man?,` they inquired. `His wisdom will exceed yours,` He answered. What did the Lord do? He brought the animals, beast and birds before them and asked them, `What should be the name of this?` but they did not know; `of this?` and they did not know. Then He paraded them before Adam and asked him, `What is the name of this? `An ox.` `And of this?` `A camel.` `And of this?` `An ass.` `And of this?` `A horse.` Thus it is written, And the man gave names to all cattle, etc. (ibid., 2:20). Said He to him, `And what is your name?` `It is fitting that I be called Adam, because I was created from the ground (adamah),` he replied. `And what is My name?` `It is fitting for You to be called Adonai (Lord), since You are the Lord over all Your creatures,` was the answer. R. Hiyya said: Thus it is written, I am the Lord, that is my Name (Isa. 42:8), which means, that is My name by which Adam called Me. Then he paraded them again before him in pairs. Said he, `Every one has a partner, yet I have none`. Thus, But for Adam there was not found a help meet for him! (Gen. 2:20). And why did He not create her for him at the beginning? Because the Holy One, blessed be He, foresaw that he would bring charges against her, therefore He did not create her until he expressly demanded her. But as soon as he did, forthwith The Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept (ibid., 21).
Genesis Rabba 28:9
R. Johanan said: We learned: The judgment of the generation of the Flood lasted twelve months: having received their punishment, are they to enjoy a portion in the World to Come? Said R. Johanan: The Holy One, blessed be He, will boil up in Gehenna every single drop which He poured out on them, produce it and pour it down upon them. Thus it is written, When they wax hot, they vanish (Job 6:17), which means, they will be destroyed absolutely by scalding water. As well their love (Eccl. 9:6)-i.e. they loved idolatry; As their hatred (ib.): they hated the Holy One, blessed be He, and provoked His jealousy; Is long ago perished, neither have they any more a portion in the world [to come] on account of every­thing that was done [by them] under the sun (ib.).
For I regret, etc. R. Abba b. Kahana observed: For I regret that I have made them and Noah - surely not! Even Noah, however, was left not because be deserved it, but because he found grace: hence, but Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.

Genesis Rabba 30:  9 - 10
9.  In his generations.  R. Judah and R. Nehemiah differed.  R. Judah said:  Only in his generations was he a righteous man [by comparison]; had he flourished in the generation of Moses or Samuel, he would not have been called righteous: in the street of the totally blind, the one-eyed man is called clear-sighted, and the infant is called a scholar.  It is as if a man who had a wine vault opened one barrel and found it vinegar; another and found it vinegar, the third, however, he found turning sour.  `It is turning,` people said to him. `Is there any better here?` he retorted. Similarly in its generations he was a righteous man.  R. Nehemiah said:  If he was righteous man even in his generation, how much more so [had he lived] in the age of Moses.  He might be compared to a tightly closed phial lying in a graveyard, which nevertheless gave off a fragrant odor;  how much more than if it were outside the graveyard!
10. Noah walked with God. R. Judah said: This may be compared to a king who had two sons, one grown up and the other a child. To the child he said, `Walk with me,` but to the adult, `Walk before me.` Similarly, to Abraham, whose [moral] strength was great, [He said,] Walk before Me (Gen. 17:1); of Noah, whose strength was feeble [it says], Noah walked with god. R. Nehemiah said: He might be compared to a king`s friend who was plunging about in dark alleys, and when the king looked out and saw him sinking [in the mud], he said to him, `Instead of plunging about in dark alleys, come and walk with me.` But Abraham`s case is rather to be compared to that of a king who was sinking in dark alleys, and when his friend saw him he shone a light for him through the window. Said he to him, `Instead of lighting me through the window, come and show a light before me.` Even so did the Holy One, blessed be He, say to Abraham: `Instead of showing a light for Me from Mesopotamia and its environs, come and show one before Me in Eretz Israel.`
Similarly, it is written, And he blessed Joseph, and said.­ The God before whom the fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, etc. (Gen. 48:15). R. Berekiah in R.
Johanan`s name and Resh Lakish gave two illustrations of this. R. Johanan said: It was as if a shepherd stood and watched his flocks. Resh Lakish said: It was as if a prince walked along while the elders preceded him. In R. Johanan`s view: We need His proximity. In the view of Resh Lakish: He needs us to glorify Him.
Genesis Rabba 31: 13 - 14
13. And of every living thing, of all flesh, etc. (6:19). R. Hoshaya said: Even spirits entered the ark with Noah; hence it is written, And of every living thing, of all flesh: i.e. of those for whom souls [spirits] were created but not bodies.
R. Judah said: The re` em did not enter the Ark, but his whelps did. R. Nehemiah said: Neither he nor his whelps, but Noah tied him to the Ark, and he ploughed furrows [in the water] as great as from Tiberias to Susita, as it is written, Can you bind the wild-ox with his hand in the furrow, or will he harrow the valleys after you (Job 39:10)? In the days of R. Hiyya b. Abba a re`em`s whelp invaded Eretz Israel and did not leave a single tree which it did not uproot. A fast was proclaimed and R. Hiyya prayed, whereupon its mother bellowed from the desert and it [the whelp] went down [to the desert] at her voice.
They shall be male and female. [God in­structed Noah]: `If you see a male pursuing a female, accept him; a female pursuing a male, do not accept him.`
14. and take yourself of all food that is eaten. R. Abba b. Kahana said: He took in pressed figs with him.  It was taught in R. Nehemiah`s name: The greater part of his provisions consisted of pressed figs. R. Abba b. Kahana said: He took in branches for the elephants, hazubah for the deer, and glass for the ostriches. R. Levi said: Vine-shoots for vine plantings, fig-shoots for fig trees, and olive-shoots for olive trees.
In the view of R. Abba b. Kahana And it shall be for you, and for them implies something that is for you and for them. In the view of R. Levi And it shall be for you, and for them implies, You are the principal and they are of secondary importance; And gather it to you: a man does not gather [store] anything unless he needs it [for later).
Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he (6:22). This text refers to the construction of the Ark.  
Genesis Rabba 32:8
8. In the selfsame day Noah entered (7:13). R. Johanan said, Had Noah entered the Ark at night his whole generation would have said, `We did not know what he was doing, but had we known we would not have permitted him to enter.` Hence he entered in the selfsame day [with the challenge], `Let him who objects speak out!`
They and every beast after its kind, etc.(7:14). They were the principals and all others were secondary.
Every bird of every wing. R. Eleazar said, R. Jose interpreted this to his colleagues: This excludes those which were molting or maimed as unfit for the sacrifices of the Noachides. 
And they entered, male and female of all flesh (7:16). Said he to Him: `Am I a hunter?` `Does that matter to you?` he retorted; `It is not written `and they were brought,` but and they that went in—of their own accord. R. Johanan quoted: Seek out the book of the Lord and read (Isa. 34:16): if they came of their own accord in order to be shut up twelve months in the Ark, how much the more [will they come] to gorge on the flesh of the tyrants! Hence it is written, And you, son of man, thus says the Lord God: Speak unto the birds of every sort and to every beast of the field: Assemble yourselves and come; gather yourselves on every side to My feast that I do prepare for you, even a great feast, upon the mountains of Israel, that you may eat flesh and drink blood. The flesh of the mighty shall you eat, and the blood of the princes of the earth shall you drink, etc. (Ezek. 39:17f.)
Genesis Rabba 33:5 - 6
5. And it came to pass at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the halon [`window`] of the ark (7:6). This supports the view that it was a window [trapdoor].
And he sent forth a raven (7: 7): thus it is written, He sent darkness, and it was dark (Ps. 105:28).
And it went forth to and fro (yazo wa­shob). R. Judan said in the name of R. Judah b. R. Simon: It began arguing with him: `Of all the birds that you have here you send none but me!` What need then has the world of you?` he retorted; for food? for a sacrifice?` R. Berekiah said in R. Abba`s name: The Holy One, blessed be He, said to him [Noah]: `Take it back, because the world will need it in the future.` When?` he asked.`When the waters dry off from off the earth` (ib.). He replied: `A righteous man will arise and dry up the world, and I will cause him to have need of them [the ravens],` as it is written, And the ravens (`orbim) brought him bread and flesh, etc. (I Kings 17:6). R. Judah said: It refers to a town within the borders of Bashan called Arbo. R. Nehemiah said: Ravens literally are meant, and whence did they bring him [food]? From Jehoshaphat`s table.
R. Akiba preached in Ginzak on the theme of the Flood, and the audience did not weep, but when he mentioned the story of the raven they wept. He then quoted this verse: The womb (rehem) forgets him, the worm feeds sweetly on him, he shall be no more remembered, and un­righteousness is broken as a tree (Job 24: 20). `Rehem forgets` : They [the generation of the Flood] forgot to be merciful to their fellow men, therefore the Holy One, blessed be He, made His mercy forget them .. The worm feeds sweetly on him`: the worm became sweet through [feeding on] them. `He shall be no more remembered, and unrighteousness is broken as a tree`: R. Aibu said: It is not written, is uprooted,` but `is broken`: i.e. like some­thing which is broken, yet produces another stock in exchange; and to what does that allude? To the generation of the Separation [of races].
6. And he sent forth a dove ... But the dove found no rest, etc. (8 8 f.): R. Judah b. Nahman said in the name of Resh Lakish: Had it found a place of rest, it would not have returned. Similarly, She dwells among the nations, she finds no rest (Lam. 1:3): but had she [the nation] found rest, they would not have returned [to God]. Again, And among these nations shall you have no repose, and there shall be no rest for the sole of your foot (Deut. 28: 65): but had they found it, they would not have returned`!
And he stayed yet another seven days (8: 10f.). R. Jose b. R. Hanina said: There were three periods of seven days in all.
And again he sent forth the dove ... And the dove came in to him ... And lo in her mouth an olive-leaf freshly plucked (taraf). What does taraf` mean? Killed [slain], as you read, Joseph is without doubt torn in pieces-tarof toraf (Gen. 37:33). He said to her: `Had you left it, it would have grown into a great tree.`
Whence did she bring it? R. Abba said: She brought it from the young shoots of Eretz Israel. R. Levi said: She brought it from the Mount of Olives, for Eretz Israel was not submerged by the Flood. Thus the Holy One, blessed be He, said to Ezekiel: Son of man, say unto her: You art a land that is not cleansed, nor rained upon in the day of indignation (Ezek. 22:24). R. Birai said: The gates of the Garden of Eden were opened for her, and from there she brought it. Said R. Abbahu: Had she brought it from the Garden of Eden, should she have not brought something better, e.g. cinnamon or the balsam leaf? But in fact she gave him a hint, saying to him [in effect]: `Noah, better is bitterness from this source [God], than sweetness from your hand.`
And he stayed yet another seven days, etc. (8:12ff.). This supports what R. Jose b. R. Hanina said: [He waited] three seven-day periods in all.
Midrash Tanhuma Bereshit, 7
And God remembered Noah (Gen. 8:1).
Scripture says elsewhere in reference to this verse: A righ­teous man regards the life of his beasts; but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel (Prov.12:10). The Righteous One of the world, however, regards the life even of a beast, even when He is angered, for His ways are not the ways of man.
Normally, if the inhabitants of a province rebel against a king, the king dispatches his legionaries to subdue them, and they destroy the wicked and innocent alike. After all, the king knows not know who was rebellious and who was loyal, The Holy One, blessed be He, however, does not behave in that fashion. Though an entire generation should anger Him, He will save a single righteous man among them. Therefore, it is written: A righteous man regards the life of his beasts (ibid.). And it says elsewhere: the Lord is good, a strong­hold in the day of trouble, and He know those that take refuge in Him (Nahum 1:7).
But the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel (Prov.12:10). This verse alludes to the men of the generation of the Flood, who were extremely cruel. Our rabbis of blessed memory posed the query: What did they do when the Holy One, blessed be He, brought the waters of the deep upon them and they saw the waters beginning to gush over them? They had given birth to many children, as it is written: Their seed is established (nakhon) in their sight with them, and their offspring before their eyes (Job 21:8). In fact, this verse implies that the women would conceive at night and give birth (nakhon) the next morning, as it is said: And be ready (nakhon) by morning (Exod. 34:2), And their offspring before their eyes (Job 21:8) indi­cates that they lived to see their great-grandchildren. Some of them took their children and stuffed them unmercifully into the crevices through which the waters gushed. Hence it is said: The mercies of the wicked are cruel. How do we know that they actually did that? Job declared: the womb forgets him; the worm feed sweetly on him; he shall be no more remembered, unrighteousness is broken as a tree (ibid. 24:20). The womb for­gets him…he shall be no more remembered signifies that they pressed their own offspring into these crevices. What did the Holy One, blessed be He, do to them after that? He brought the flood down upon them and destroyed them, as it is said: Unrighteousness is broken as a tree.
R. Berechiah said: The men of the generation of the flood were exceedingly strong and tall, as it is written: These same were the mighty men (Gen. 6:4), and if He had not punished them with fire that descended from above, nothing would have been able to destroy them. Hence Job said: Surely their substance is cut off, and their abundance the fire has consumed (Job 22:20). After the Holy One, blessed be He, realized that they would not be drowned by the waters that gushed forth from the deep because of their height, He sent the fire upon them from above, as it is said: And their abundance the fire has con­sumed. Furthermore, He turned the birds, the wild beasts, and the animals against them to reduce their numbers, as it says: And all flesh perished that moved upon the earth, the birds, the animals, and the beasts, etc. (Gen. 7:21). How did they perish? It was through the birds, the beasts, and the animals.
When at long last they realized that they were about to be destroyed, they attempted to overturn the ark. What did the Holy One, blessed be He, do? He surrounded the ark with lions, as it is said: The Lord shut them in (Gen. 7: 16). The word "shut in" alludes to lions. How do we know this? We know it from the verse My God hath sent His angels and hath shut the lion`s mouth (Dan, 6:23).
Deuteronomy Rabba 11
3. And this is the blessing…Another explanation: Noah said to Moses: `I am greater than you because I was delivered from the generation of the Flood.` Whereupon Moses replied: `I am far superior to you; you saved yourself, but you had no strength to deliver your generation; but I saved both myself and my generation when they were condemned to destruction at the time of the Golden Calf.` Whence this? For it is said, And the Lord repented of the evil which He said He would do unto His people (Ex. 32:14). It is as if there were two ships in danger on the high seas, on board of which were two pilots; one saved himself but not his ship, and the other saved both himself and his ship. Who received the praise? Surely the one who saved both himself and his ship. Similarly, Noah saved himself only, whereas Moses saved himself and his generation. Hence, And you excel them all (Prov. 31:29).