"The Name produced light from His breast and the light produced new life. That new life lived in the region beyond."
This account is preceded by the Table of Nations—seventy in total (Genesis 10). This is where Judaism finds the basis for the symbolic interpretation of the number seventy as representing the nations. Thus, seventy elders in the Sanhedrin, seventy palm trees at the oasis on Israel’s journey in the desert, seventy disciples sent out by Yeshua, and so on.
It is interesting to note that while the nations as a whole are mentioned—out of chronology, obviously a literary tool--prior to Bavel, the descendants of Shem—Semites—are singled out after this event. Also, in the Table of nations, Shem, Noach’s first born, is listed last, so as to have his offspring named just prior to the story of the tower of Bavel. This lineage is continued onward from Peleg following the story of the tower.
In the previous chapter we were afforded a glimpse into the future, “by these were the nations divided in the earth after the flood.” In addition a specific reference is made to the origin of Bavel, a city built by the wicked warrior Nimrod (Rebellion) [Genesis 10:8-12].
The actions of humanity at Bavel echo through time until they find their counter point at the outpouring of the Ruach Ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit) [Acts 2]. Humanity seeks to usurp G-d while G-d acts to reconcile humanity to Himself. The account of Bavel affords us an opportunity to examine our motives and goals. When our vain efforts have come to nought, we may discover that letting go is the action that benefits us most.
“No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man.”
Gen 11:1 And it came to pass that in all the earth (khol ha-aretz) lips were one (echat) and words (d’varim) were one (echadiym).
If, as the Jewish sages suggest, the present narrative takes place in the year 1996 from Creation, 340 years after the flood. Then Noach and his children are still alive and Avraham would be 48 years old. This illuminates the remainder of the text in that it suggests that only B’nai Ha-adam (Children of man: idolaters) were involved in building the tower of Bavel (Confusion).
What Language did the whole earth speak? It is important to remember that this account takes place before the previous chapter’s lineage chronologically speaking. This event is post flood, when the population was beginning to re-emerge, so the number of people involved, while substantial, would not have been even remotely comparable to later world population estimates. Therefore it is more than reasonable to expect that they shared the same language or had a lingua franca—unifying language—spoken by everyone as a bridge between the various people groups and their unique tribal dialects—in much the same way English is used as a trade language today throughout the world.
There are many debates as to what the common language may have been. The Hebrew folk singer Ehud B’nai sings, “When the L-rd said, ‘Let there be light,’ it was in the language of the Hebrew man.” This view is shared by both Rashi, who calls Hebrew the Holy Tongue and Mizrachi, who claims that Hebrew is the language by which the world was created. While this may be overly optimistic, as a Jew I tend to want to agree with Rashi, Mizrachi, and Ehud B’nai. After all, the text of the Torah has been passed down to us in Ivrit—Hebrew. The truth is that there is no way to prove conclusively what that singular language might have been. In the end it is probably best not to claim ownership of something this mysterious, after all, “the hidden things are unto G-d alone.”(D’varim/Deuteronomy 29:29)
The additional statement of verse 1, “the same words,” may denote understanding. Meaning that they not only comprehended each other, but also understood each other and shared a common ethos. The Hebrew dvar—spoken word—may indicate the concept of a shared story or lineage, as in oral tradition. This corresponds to the flood narrative. The terms “Language” and “same words,” find their juxtaposition in verse 7. G-d takes away both their common language and their common purpose. Why? Because their speech and purpose were in opposition to the speech and purpose of G-d. Their (Humanity) word--dvar—sought, in pride to exalt itself. G-d’s Word--Dvar--came down, humbling Himself even unto death on a cross. (Yochannan/John 1:14)
Gen 11:2 And it came to pass, as they journeyed east, forward (meekedem), that they found a valley in the earth in Shinar (Casting Out, or Scattering In All Manner Of Ways) and dwelt there.
They journeyed east—that is from the area surrounding Ararat, where the ark rested and the sons of Noach began to repopulate the earth. Their journey took them from the vineyards of Noach (rest) to the plains of Shinar (scattering), in the region of Bavel (Confusion).
Gen 11:3 And said man to friend, “come, let’s make white bricks, and burn, burning them.” And they had the brick for stone, and pitch for cement.
The scribe of Genesis 11 Moses/Joshua—I see too many flaws in the redactive theory to give it any serious attention—is writing this for a Hebrew audience who are familiar with the concept of mud/clay and straw being used to construct bricks, given their history of slavery and brick making for Pharaoh in Egypt. In the Promised Land Israel used stone for altars and larger construction projects. Stone was readily available in Israel/Canaan, while clay was the predominant resource in Mesopotamia.
Why does the author detail the building materials and process used to build the Ziggurat—ancient pagan temple, usually associated with the worship of the heavens? It is more than likely that this description reminded Israel of her slavery. It is possible that slaves were used for the tower project. Or, with the future in view, perhaps the scribe was pointing to the Hebrew altars—method of worship—humble stone structures, standing in stark contrast to the majestic Ziggurat—pagan temple tower.
Gen 11:4 And they said, “Come, let’s build a city of anguish and terror (eey’r) and a tower, whose head reaches into the heavens; and let us fashion (v’naaseh: make from something) for ourselves a name (Shem: Figuratively, a G-d e.g. HaShem), lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of all the earth.”
“Let us build a city with a tower—Ziggurat, temple—that reaches the heavens.”
Jewish tradition suggests that these are the words of Nimrod (rebellion) to his people (Pirke Eliezer, c. 24.) A careful reading of the text alongside the knowledge that righteous men like Noach and Avraham were living at the time, confirms that Children of G-d (b’nai Elohim: G-d fearers) did not participate in the building of the tower.
The Targums of both Yonatan and Yerushalayim read:
"Let us build in the midst of it a temple of worship on the top of it, and let us put a sword into his (the idol's) hand.''
The Jewish sages explain that Nimrod was the primary instigator of this rebellion and that he planned to build a tower to the heavens and from it wage war against G-d. Thus the Midrashim perceive sinister motives in the building of the tower.
The prideful statement of 11:2 is echoed in Yeshiyahu/Isaiah 14:13-14, a passage, which speaks of the king of Babylon and is also understood to be an admonishment against ha-Satan—the adversary, the Devil, Satan.
“But you said in your heart,
‘I will ascend to heaven;
I will raise my throne above the stars of G-d,
And I will sit on the mount of assembly
In the recesses of the north.
‘I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.’”
Isaiah 14:13-14 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
“Otherwise we will be scattered over the whole earth.” The people saw safety in numbers, security in their own combined efforts. In their attempt to achieve their own security without G-d, they reaped the very thing they were most afraid of and were scattered throughout the earth. (V.8-9)
As we read of this tower to the heavens we are also reminded of Jacob’s dream at Bethel regarding the ladder or stairway to the heavens. (Genesis 28:17) Yeshua tells us that He is that ladder/stairway. (Yochannan/John 1:51) The anti-thesis to the tower of Bavel.
The phrase, “Let us fashion for ourselves a name” can be understood to mean either, “Let us fashion our own god” or, “Let us fashion an image of ourselves as god”. In each instance the Hebrew, “Shem” can be understood as representing of HaShem (The Name), which refers to the One G-d YHVH. In this case the intention is to usurp that Name and adopt it as their own. In other words this statement translates, “I am become god”.
Gen 11:5 And descending, HaShem (YHVH: Merciful) observed and considered (ra’ah) the city of anguish and terror (ha-ee’r) and the tower, which had been built by the children of the humanity (ha-adam).
It is worth noting that the proper Name HaShem (YHVH), which denotes mercy, is used throughout this account. G-d is acting here, not as judge but as Merciful Deliverer.
“The L-rd--HaShem—came down…”
In addition to the obvious anthropomorphism there is a literary irony here. G-d descends in order to see the highest of humanity’s achievements. This is also a beautiful type for Messiah, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (Yochannan/John 1:14)
“To see what the children of humanity—Hebrew B’nai ha-adam, sons of men, a juxtaposition to the Hebrew b’nai ha-Elohim (sons of G-d)--were building.” Sons of men means non G-d fearers or pagans: Sons of G-d is interpreted to mean G-d fearers or worshippers of YHVH.
We know that in Him—G-d—all things exist and have their being (Acts 17:28). G-d need not come down or see; this is an obvious use of anthropomorphism, both these terms are meant to convey to the reader the present and perpetual reality of a G-d who continues to participate in His creation. Yeshua said, “My Father is always at His work.”(Yochannan/John 5:17)
Gen 11:6 And said HaShem (YHVH: Merciful), “Behold, the people are one (echad: a complex unity), and their lips are one (achat); and all of them in this, begin to profane, defile, pollute and desecrate (ha-chelam): and accomplishing, now nothing will restrain them, which they have purposed to fashion (la’asot)…
“HaShem said, ‘Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they have begun to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them.”
Not, “nothing will be impossible for them” but “nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them.” The purposes of fallen humanity will never equate to the higher thoughts and purposes of G-d. We may achieve all that we set out to achieve, but in the end it will lead to death. G-d’s purpose here is not to stunt our growth, rather He works to protect us from growing in vain. A plant rooted in poisoned soil may grow for a time but eventually it will die, rotting away from the root. G-d would have us planted in good soil: sometimes that means He will turn over the field, replace the soil and start again with a new crop.
Gen 11:7 Come, let us descend, and there confuse their lips, so that they will not hear, perceive or understand, a man's lips to his friend.”
“Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”
Us? Some believe this refers to the Unity of G-d: Father, Son and Spirit. Others hold the view that G-d is speaking with the heavenly council of angels. Both interpretations are acceptable, there is no need to choose one over the other.
The terms: confuse, language and not understand, counter their positive forms in verse 1. It was Impossible for humanity in its fallen state to maintain a universal tongue, in light of the powerful work of G-d. The text doesn’t tell us how long the confusing of the language took, it may have happened instantaneously or over a period of time. Either way, the final result is the same.
Gen 11:8 Scattering, HaShem (YHVH: Merciful), them there upon the face of all the earth: to stop them establishing the city of anguish and terror.
“The L-rd scattered them from there all over the earth and they stopped building the city.”
The very thing humanity sought to protect itself against was brought against her by G-d. The L-rd disturbed their security and pride, scattering them throughout the earth and leaving them vulnerable. G-d did this for the good of humanity, that we might seek out the security found in Him rather than pursue false security through our own efforts.
Gen 11:9 Accordingly it is called by the name Bavel (confusion); because there confusion was caused by HaShem (YHVH: Merciful), and the lips of all the earth from there were scattered by HaShem (YHVH: Merciful) upon the face of all the earth.
The word Bavel (Meaning confusion in Hebrew) is of Akkadian origin and in their language means “gateway to a god.” Bavel is also the Hebrew word for Babylon—the location of these events—this word probably had its inception at the time of this event in earth history. The Hebrew scribe—Moses/Joshua—clearly intends a word play with the similar Hebrew word balal, meaning “confusion.” Why then does the author, inspired by G-d, use Hebrew characters to name the city by transliterating an Akkadian word? Remembering that this is the first mention of the name of this city in the Scriptures. Should he not have simply used balal to name both the city and reflect the lesson of the story, thus avoiding confusion? Perhaps we should take note of the two clear meanings here and the chronology of the events of the text. We must remember that all the Nations spoke one tongue—possibly a lingua franca—and that the intent of their building was to reach G-d or a god, or to become gods through their own efforts, thus Bavel—gateway to a god—this they sought in accordance with their fallen pride. We call this idolatry—the root of all evil. Now, having failed—the scribe, writing this retrospectively—they have had their language confused (balal).
How does the scribe best show the reality of what has taken place? Perhaps he shows us by using the Akkadian word transliterated into Hebrew. Rashi in his famous commentary, did a similar thing with French words, transliterating the modern French into his own form of Hebrew. The author of Genesis is aware that a Hebrew reader will observe the word play—or miss-spelling as it were—and glean both meanings, having understood the story to teach a profound and pivotal spiritual truth. What is that truth? That humanity in its arrogance seeks to reach or become G-d by its own efforts (Bavel), and G-d, knowing that by trying to do this humanity will destroy itself, comes down and confuses (balal) their efforts; thus slowing humanity’s rapid journey toward its own extinction—both physical and spiritual, Hebrew thought does not separate the two.
In this account we learn that our own attempts to make a way to or become G-d will end in confusion. All that we do for G-d is sin, while all that we do from G-d is righteousness—right action born of the Spirit in Messiah—because of His blood sacrificed for us.
We are saved through G-d coming down, not by our going up.
“No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man.”
The Generations of Shem (Name)
Genesis 11:10-32 gives us the lineage from Shem to Avram/Avraham, who would be ha-Ivri—the Hebrew—grandfather of the nation of Israel (Jacob). It seems that the Author intends a type for the Gospel here; the efforts of humanity to reach deity are futile, G-d himself will use the weakest of nations, even a single man, to bring about His saving work, thus redeeming humanity and saving us from ourselves.
The genealogy of the previous chapter gives foundation to the fact that there are 10 generations between Noach and Avraham, indicating the completeness in Avraham’s calling and the mercy of G-d upon the rebellious acts of humanity. This genealogy differs in presentation from the genealogy of the previous chapter because its purpose is to show the connection between Shem and Avram (Ha-Ivri: The Hebrew). Thus the genealogy is listed through the line of Arfachshad (light trickles from the breast), indicating that this is a genealogy of light, born at the breast of HaShem.
As a remez (hint) of deeper meaning this genealogy also shows the link between The Shem (G-d) and Avram (Father of a people: Israel. Who will become the father of many peoples, Avraham, the father of all who will believe). A third reading will discover the sod (mystery), that reveals G-d (HaShem) as Av (Father), ra (Great: rabah), am (the people: Israel), and subsequently, “G-d of the peoples” Av-ra-h’-am.
Gen 11:10 These are the generations (Toldot) of Shem (Name): Shem was a hundred years old, and begat Arfachshad (light trickles from the breast) two years after the flood: Gen 11:11 And Shem (Name) lived after he begat Arfachshad (light trickles from the breast) five hundred years, and begat sons and daughters. Gen 11:12 And Arfachshad (light trickles from the breast) lived thirty five years, and begat Shalach (Sprout, go forth, new life): Gen 11:13 And Arfachshad (light trickles from the breast) lived after he begat Shalach (Sprout, go forth, new life) four hundred and three years, and begat sons and daughters. Gen 11:14 And Shalach (Sprout, go forth, new life) lived thirty years, and begat Ever (The region beyond): Gen 11:15 And Shalach (Sprout, go forth, new life) lived after he begat Ever (The region beyond) four hundred and three years, and begat sons and daughters.
The Name produced light from His breast and the light produced new life. That new life lived in the region beyond.
Gen 11:16 And Ever (The region beyond) lived thirty four years, and begat Peleg (division): Gen 11:17 And Ever (The region beyond) lived after he begat Peleg (division) four hundred and thirty years, and begat sons and daughters. Gen 11:18 And Peleg (division) lived thirty years, and begat Reu (Friend): Gen 11:19 And Peleg (division) lived after he begat Reu (Friend) two hundred and nine years, and begat sons and daughters.
Division was born from the region beyond and after some time a friend was born out of division.
Gen 11:20 And Reu (Friend) lived thirty two years, and begat Serug (branch): Gen 11:21 And Reu (Friend) lived after he begat Serug (branch) two hundred and seven years, and begat sons and daughters. Gen 11:22 And Serug (branch) lived thirty years, and begat Nachor (Snorting, Noble, Freeman): Gen 11:23 And Serug (branch) lived after he begat Nachor (Snorting, Noble, Freeman) two hundred years, and begat sons and daughters.
The friend gave birth to a branch and the branch gave birth to a freeman.
Gen 11:24 And Nachor (Snorting, Noble, Freeman) lived nine and twenty years, and begat Terach (Seek the Spirit: Tur-ruach): Gen 11:25 And Nachor (Snorting, Noble, Freeman) lived after he begat Terach (Seek the Spirit: Tur-ruach) an hundred and nineteen years, and begat sons and daughters. Gen 11:26 And Terach (Seek the Spirit: Tur-ruach) lived seventy years, and begat Avram (Father of a great people or, Great Father of a people), Nachor (Snorting, Noble, Freeman), and Haran (Mountain climber).
The freeman gave birth to those seeking the Spirit and those seeking the Spirit gave birth to the father of a great nation and to a freeman and one who ascended the mountain.
The Generations of Terach [Seek the Spirit]
Gen 11:27 Now these are the generations (Toldot) of Terach: Terach (Seek the Spirit: Tur-ruach) begat Avram (Father of a great people or, Great Father of a people), Nachor (Snorting, Noble, Freeman), and Haran (Mountain climber); and Haran (Mountain climber) begat Lot (covering).
These are the generations of those who sought the Spirit. Those who were seeking the Spirit gave birth to a father of a great people, who scaled a mountain and received a covering.
Gen 11:28 And Haran (Mountain climber) died before his father Terach (Seek the Spirit: Tur-ruach) in the land of his birth, in Oor (Flame, light) of the Casdim (Increasing ones: a plural form of kesed).
The one who climbed the mountain died in the presence of the one seeking the light in the land of his birth in the light of the increasing ones.
Gen 11:29 And Avram (Father of a great people or, Great Father of a people) and Nachor (Snorting, Noble, Freeman) took to themselves wives: the name of Avram’s (Father of a great people or, Great Father of a people) wife was Sarai (My Princess); and the name of Nachor’s (Snorting, Noble, Freeman) wife, Milkah (Queen), the daughter of Haran (Mountain climber), the father of Milkah (Queen), and the father of Yiskah (she will look out, she will see).
The father of a great people and a freeman took wives, the father of a great people married a Princess and the freeman married a Queen, the daughter of the one who ascended the mountain: he had also begotten she who will see.
Gen 11:30 But Sarai (My Princess) was barren; she had no child. Gen 11:31 And Terach (Seek the Spirit: Tur-ruach) took Avram (Father of a great people or, Great Father of a people) his son, and Lot (covering) the son of Haran (Mountain climber) his son's son, and Sarai (My Princess) his daughter in law, his son Avram’s (Father of a great people or, Great Father of a people) wife; and they went forth with them from Oor (Flame, light) of the Casdim (Increasing ones: a plural form of kesed), to go into the land of Kenaan (Lowland, Slave, Merchant, Servant); and they came unto Haran (Mountain climber), and dwelt there. Gen 11:32 And the days of Terach (Seek the Spirit: Tur-ruach) were two hundred and five years: and Terach (Seek the Spirit: Tur-ruach) died in (Mountain climber).
The princess was unable to have children so the one seeking the Spirit took her husband, the father of a great nation and the covering from the one who ascended the mountain and the princess; and went out from the light of the increasing ones to go into the land of slavery. And they came to the mountain of ascent and lived there. The one seeking the Spirit died on the mountain of ascent.
A Paraphrase of Genesis 11:10-32
Using the Meanings of the Genealogical Names
The following paraphrase should be treated as a remez (hint) based allegory which uses the p’shat (plain) meaning of the Hebrew names to generate a drash (comparative teaching) or mashal (parable) and nothing more. I am in no way suggesting that this is the p’shat (plain) meaning of the text, which is an historical, literal genealogy recording the link between Shem and Avram.
I have represented the meanings of the Hebrew names to the best of my understanding and where the names have multiple meanings I have chosen the meaning that I believe best fits the present text in light of the metanarrative of the Biblical Canon.
The Generations of the Name (Genesis 11:10-26)
The Name produced light from His breast and the light produced new life. That new life lived in the region beyond. Division was born from the region beyond and after some time a friend was born out of division. The friend gave birth to a branch and the branch gave birth to a freeman. The freeman gave birth to those seeking the Spirit and those seeking the Spirit gave birth to the father of a great nation and to a freeman and one who ascended the mountain.
The Generations of those who seek the Spirit (Genesis 11:10-32)
These are the generations of those who sought the Spirit. Those who were seeking the Spirit gave birth to a father of a great people, who scaled a mountain and received a covering. The one who climbed the mountain died in the presence of the one seeking the light in the land of his birth in the light of the increasing ones. The father of a great people and a freeman took wives, the father of a great people married a Princess and the freeman married a Queen, the daughter of the one who ascended the mountain: he had also begotten she who will see. The princess was unable to have children so the one seeking the Spirit took her husband the father of a great nation and the covering from the one who ascended the mountain and the princess and went out from the light of the increasing ones to go into the land of slavery. And they came to the mountain of ascent and lived there. The one seeking the Spirit died on the mountain of ascent.
© 2016 Yaakov Brown
Why then in our attempt to reason away the beauty of G-d’s story, do we reduce to temporary myth that which is so clearly eternal design?... Like rocks at the bottom of a pond, we refuse to believe that the sky exists, despite the fact that the sun’s rays shine down through the water to touch us.
We tend to want to skip over genealogies when reading through the Scriptures. It is to our detriment that we fail to pause and ask, “What do these names mean? Why is G-d so concerned with listing the names of individuals?” There are of course a number of common answers to the latter question: “G-d treasures the nefesh (self) of every human being”, “G-d seems concerned to show us how our lives affect subsequent generations”, “Nations are often listed as the progeny of certain patriarchs, thus showing the redemptive plan of G-d and His calling of individuals in each generation”, “The listing of names is a solid proof of an historical document”, and so on.
We rarely take the time to consider each of the names and their Hebrew meanings individually. One great rabbi has said, “We should not seek meaning in every name”, however, If HaShem has ordered all things it stands to reason that all things have meaning. Each of the words and names of the Hebrew text possess a great depth of meaning, often conveying, at very least, a drash (comparative teaching) or remez, a hint at a less obvious allegorical interpretation. Therefore, in addition to the plain reading of the genealogy and the subsequent historical, spiritual meaning, we’re also able to dig a little deeper and glean a wider understanding of G-d’s design and His redemptive purpose for humanity.
There are those who have suggested that the continuity shown in the meanings of the names listed in Biblical genealogies, is proof of mythos, a literary device, a human author’s manipulation, an imagined history. But this is not the case. We know that G-d chose our names before we were born (Isaiah 49:1; Jeremiah 1:5; Psalm 139:16). Why then in our attempt to reason away the beauty of G-d’s story, do we reduce to temporary myth that which is so clearly eternal design? Yes, the design of an author, whose name is HaShem. Is it because we’ve become so certain that nothing exists outside of time and space? Like rocks at the bottom of a pond, we refuse to believe that the sky exists, despite the fact that the sun’s rays shine down through the water to touch us.
Throughout this Chapter we read the refrain, “after their languages, in their countries, and in their nations.” Which is an allusion to the coming events at Bavel (Babel: Confusion)
This chapter of Genesis lists 70 names representing the origin of the nations of the world. This is the multiple of 7 and 10, both numbers signifying completion and perfection. This is why Judaism sees the number 70 as a symbolic representation of humanity as a whole. Subsequently, this number is used many times throughout the TaNaKH (OT), both as an affirmation of Ethnic Israel (Genesis 46:27; Exodus 1:5; Deut. 32:8) and as a reminder of G-d’s redemptive purpose for all nations.
It’s important to note that the variations in the corresponding 1 Chronicles 1 genealogy are due to the purpose of each genealogy. The present text is recording the progeny of the new Adam, Noach, in order to set the stage for the unification and subsequent division of the nations of the world. Whereas the 1 Chronicles 1 genealogy is making a connection between Adam and the patriarch Avraham. Hebrew genealogies often consolidate names and skip generations in order to create a numerical symmetry with the intention of conveying G-d’s metanarrative rather than being scientifically precise in every detail. The composite identity of Hebrew names, which allows a name to refer to both an individual and a nation, is characteristic of the TaNakh (OT) and is particularly common in Genesis.
The purpose of this study is not to attempt to draw a connection between these ancient names and their modern descendants but rather to understand how this genealogy prepares us both for the following chapter and for understanding the nature of Israel’s calling as it pertains to her being predestined to be G-d’s chosen people. Additionally, within each set of names we find a redemptive story which conveys G-d’s desire to see all come to salvation through His Son Yeshua.
Gen 10:1 Now these are the generations (Toldot) of the sons of Noach (Comfort, rest), Shem (Name), Cham (Hot), and Yefet (open): and to them were sons born after the flood.
Gen 10:1 These are the generations of Comfort: Name, Hot, Open, and they had sons after the flood.
Gen 10:2 The sons of Yefet (open): Gomer (Complete, perfect), and Magog (From Gog [Roof], From the heights), and Madai (What is enough? Middle land: Middle Asia), and Yaven (Supple clay: Greece), and Tuval (Flowing forth: East Asia Minor), and Meshech (A sowing, a possession, a special price), and Tiras (Desire).
Gen 10:2 The sons of Open: Complete and perfect, From the heights, what is enough? Supple clay flowing forth and sowing seed, a possession, a special price and desire.
Gen 10:3 And the sons of Gomer (Complete, perfect); Ashkenaz (A man is sprinkled: fire is scattered), and Rifat (Spoken), and Togarmah (Bone breaker).
Gen 10:3 And the sons of Complete and perfect: a man sprinkled, fire scattered, Spoken, and Bone breaker.
Gen 10:4 And the sons of Yaven (Supple clay: Greece); Elishah (My G-d is Salvation), and Tarshish (Border of six: Search for alabaster: Jasper), Kittim (Beaters: Pulverisers), and Dodanim (Leaders).
Gen 10:4 And the sons of supple clay: My G-d is Salvation and Search for alabaster, Pulverisers and Leaders.
Gen 10:5 By these were the islands of the nations divided in their lands; every one after his language, after their families, in their nations.
Gen 10:5 By these were the islands of the nations divided in their lands; every one after his language, after their families, in their nations.
This refrain provides a geographic, ethnic, political and linguistic criteria for differentiating between various people groups.
Gen 10:6 And the sons of Cham (Hot); Cush (Black, Black Countenance, Full Of Darkness), and Mizraim (Egyptians, Double distress, double stronghold), and Put (A bow), and Kenaan (Lowland, Slave, Merchant, Servant).
Gen 10:6 And the sons of Hot: Black countenance, Full of darkness, and Double distress, and a bow, and a slave.
Gen 10:7 And the sons of Cush (Black, Black Countenance, Full of Darkness); Seba (He drank wine, Drunkard), and Havilah (Circle), and Sabtah (Strike), and Raamah (Horses mane), and Sabtecha (Striking): and the sons of Raamah (Horses mane); Sheba (Seven, Oath, Blessing), and Dedan (Leaning forward: Low Country).
Gen 10:7 And the sons of And Black countenance, Full of darkness: Drank wine and Circle, Strike, Horses mane, (Wiped in the face while riding into the wind) Striking: and the sons of Horses mane: Seven, Oath, Blessing and Leaning forward.
Gen 10:8 And Cush (Black, Black Countenance, Full Of Darkness) begat Nimrod (Rebellion): he began to profane, defile, pollute and desecrate (Heicheil) in order to become a powerful (mighty) one in the earth (ha-aretz).
Gen 10:8 And Black countenance, Full of darkness begat Rebellion: he began to profane, defile, pollute and desecrate in order to become a powerful one on the earth.
Gen 10:9 He was a mighty hunter before the face/faces (L’pneiy) of HaShem, Mercy (YHVH): wherefore it is said, “Like Nimrod (Rebellion) the mighty hunter before the face/faces (L’pneiy) HaShem (YHVH).
Gen 10:9 He was a mighty hunter before the face of Mercy: wherefore it is said, “Like Rebellion the mighty hunter before the face of Mercy.
Both the Rambam (Mamonides) and Radak (Rabbi David Kimchi) [12th Century CE] suggest that prior to Nimrod there were neither mass conflicts nor reigning monarchs. Nimrod is said to have subjugated the Babylonians until they crowned him, after which he invaded Assyria and built great cities.
The text calls Nimrod a, “Mighty hunter” which Rashi interprets figuratively, explaining that Nimrod captivated human beings with his words and incited them to rebel against G-d. Nimrod’s first conquest was that of Bavel, which later became the centre of the Babylonian empire. An empire that would in turn attack Jerusalem and take Israel captive. Thus the drashic interpretation that sees rebellion as the root of captivity.
Gen 10:10 As a result, the beginning of his kingdom was Bavel (Confusion), and Erech (long), and Akad (subtle), and Calneh (Fortress of Anu [answering]), in the land of Shinar (That which is young).
Gen 10:10 As a result, the beginning of his kingdom was Confusion, and long, and subtle, and Fortress of answering, in the land of that which is young.
Gen 10:11 From the earth the he (ha-hoo) went forth Asshur (a step: Assyria), and built, established Nin’veih (Abode of Ninus [an ancient king]), and the city Rechovot (Wide open streets/place), and Calah (vigour),
Gen 10:11 From the earth the he went forth a step, and built, established a place for an ancient king, and the city of Wide open streets, and vigour,
Gen 10:12 And Resen (Bridle) between Nin’veih (Abode of Ninus [an ancient king]) and Calah (vigour): it is a city of anguish, and great.
Gen 10:12 And Bridle between the place of an ancient king and vigour: it is a city of anguish, and great.
Gen 10:13 And Mizraim (Egyptians, Double distress, double stronghold) begat Ludeey (firebrands, travailings, descendants of lud), and Anamim (Answer the waters), and Lehavim (flames, blades), and Naftuchim (Opening),
Gen 10:13 And Double distress, begat firebrands, travailings, descendants of strife, and Answer the waters, and flames, blades, and opening
Gen 10:14 And Patrusim (See Pathros, South lands. Wet lands), and Casluhim (fortified), (out of whom came Philishtim [Immigrants, land of Sojourners]) and Caftorim (Cup, crown).
Gen 10:14 And Wet lands, and fortified, out of whom came Immigrants, a land of Sojourners and Cup, crown.
Gen 10:15 And Kenaan (Lowland, Slave, Merchant, Servant) begat Tzidon (Hunting) his firstborn, and Cheit (Terror),
Gen 10:15 And Slave, Merchant, Servant begat Hunting his firstborn, and Terror,
Gen 10:16 And the Yevuseey (Jerusalem dweller: Rain of Peace), and the Amoreey (Sayer), and the Girgasheey (Dwelling on clay soil),
Gen 10:16 And the one dwelling in the Rain of Peace, and the Sayer/prophet, and the Dwelling on clay soil,
Gen 10:17 And the Hiveey (villager), and the Arkeey (gnawing), and the Sineey (thorn),
Gen 10:17 And the villager, and the gnawing, and the thorn, clay,
Gen 10:18 And the Arvadeey (I will break loose), and the Tzemareey (Two cuttings off, wooly boys), and the Chamateey (Fortress, water skin): and afterward were the families of the Kenaaneey (Lowland, Slave, Merchant, and Servant) spread abroad.
Gen 10:18 And I will break loose, and Two cuttings off, wooly boys, and the Fortress, water skin: and afterward were the families of the Lowland, Slave, Merchant, Servant spread abroad.
Gen 10:19 And the border of the Kenaaneey (Lowland, Slave, Merchant, and Servant) was from Tzidon (Hunting), as one reaches to Gerara (lodging place), unto Aza (Gaza, the strong); as you go, to Sedomah (Burning), and Amorah (Submersion), and Admah (Red earth), and Tzebeyim (Gazelles), even unto Lasha (Fissure).
Gen 10:19 And the border of Lowland, Slave, Merchant, Servant was from Hunting, as one reaches to lodging place, unto the strong; as you go, to Burning, and Submersion, and Red earth, and Gazelles, even unto Fissure.
Gen 10:20 These are the sons of Cham (Hot), after their families, after their languages, in their countries, and in their nations.
Gen 10:20 These are the sons of Hot, after their families, after their languages, in their countries, and in their nations.
Gen 10:21 Unto Shem (Name) children were born, also, he is the father of all the children of Ever (the region beyond), the brother of Yefet (opened) the great, numerous.
Gen 10:21 Unto Name children were born, also, he is the father of all the children of the region beyond, the brother of opened the great, numerous.
The name, “Ever” is the root for the word, “Evrit” meaning, “Hebrew”. Avraham is, “Ha-Evri” meaning, “The Hebrew”. Both the language and the father of the Judeo-Christian faiths have an intrinsic connection to the redemptive message of G-d’s salvation (Yeshua).
Gen 10:22 The children of Shem (Name); Eylam (Eternity), and Asshur (a step), and Arfachshad (light trickles from the breast), and Lud (strife), and Aram (exalted).
Gen 10:22 The children of Name; Eternity, and a step, and light trickles from the breast, and strife, and exalted.
Gen 10:23 And the children of Aram (exalted); Utz (soft sand), and Chul (Circle), and Geter (fear), and Mash (Drawn out).
Gen 10:23 And the children of exalted; soft sand, and Circle, and fear, and Drawn out.
Gen 10:24 And Arfachshad (light trickles from the breast) begat Shelah (Sprout, go forth); and Shelah (Sprout, go forth) begat Ever (The region beyond).
Gen 10:24 And light trickles from the breast begat Sprout, go forth; and Sprout, go forth begat The region beyond.
Gen 10:25 And unto Ever (The region beyond) were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg (division); for in his days was the earth divided; and his brother's name was Yoktan (smallness).
Gen 10:25 And unto The region beyond were born two sons: the name of one was division; for in his days was the earth divided; and his brother's name was smallness.
Gen 10:26 And Yoktan (smallness) begat Almodad (not measured), and Shalef (drawing forth), and Chatzarmavet (village of death), and Yerach (New moon),
Gen 10:26 And smallness begat not measured, and drawing forth, and village of death, and New moon,
Gen 10:27 And Hadoram (The noble honour), and Uzal (shall be flooded), and Diklah (Palm grove),
Gen 10:27 And The noble honour, and shall be flooded, and Palm grove,
Gen 10:28 And Oval (Stripped bare), and Avimael (My Father is G-d), and Sheva (Seven, oath, blessing),
Gen 10:28 And Stripped bare, and My Father is G-d, and Seven, oath, blessing,
Gen 10:29 And Ofir (Abundance), and Chavilah (Circle), and Yovav (Desert): all these were the sons of Yoktan (smallness).
Gen 10:29 And Abundance, and Circle, and Desert: all these were the sons of smallness.
Gen 10:30 And their dwelling was from Mesha (freedom), as you go unto Sephara (A numbering, census) a mountain forward (of the east).
Gen 10:30 And their dwelling was from freedom, as you go unto A numbering, census a mountain forward.
Gen 10:31 These are the sons of Shem (Name), after their families, after their languages, in their lands, after their nations.
Gen 10:31 These are the sons of Name, after their families, after their languages, in their lands, after their nations.
Gen 10:32 These are the families of the sons of Noach (Comfort, rest), after their generations (Toldot), in their nations: and by these were the nations divided in the earth after the flood.
Gen 10:32 These are the families of the sons of Comfort, rest, after their generations, in their nations: and by these were the nations divided in the earth after the flood.
A Paraphrase of Genesis 10:
Using the Meanings of the Genealogical Names
The following paraphrase should be treated as a remez (hint) based allegory which uses the p’shat (plain) meaning of the Hebrew names to generate a drash (comparative teaching) or mashal (parable) and nothing more. I am in no way suggesting that this is the p’shat (plain) meaning of the text, which is a historical, literal genealogy of post flood humanity.
I have represented the meanings of the Hebrew names to the best of my understanding and where the names have multiple meanings I have chosen the meaning that I believe best fits the present text in light of the metanarrative of the Biblical Canon.
Genesis 10: Drash
Gen 10:1 This is the story of the comfort of the Name, in the midst of searing heat, in the open after a great immersion.
The Sons of Openness (Yefet) [The Redeemed]
Gen 10:2 Openness gave birth to complete perfection from the heights, isn’t this enough? The supple clay (of humanity) flowed forth and sowing seed took possession for a special price and desire. Gen 10:3 And the sons of complete perfection: men sprinkled with scattered fire spoke against the bone breaker. Gen 10:4 And the sons of supple clay (of humanity) called out, “My G-d is salvation” in their search for purity, among destroyers. Gen 10:5 By these were the countries of the world divided in their lands; every one after his language, after their families, in their nations.
The Sons of Heat (Cham) [The Disobedient]
Gen 10:6 And the sons of heat with black countenance, full of darkness, and double distress, are enslaved with the bow. Gen 10:7 And the sons of black countenance, full of darkness drank wine perpetually, struck as if by a horses mane, and so they struck back: but the sons of the horses mane (wind that whips the face) are greatly blessed and Leaning forward. Gen 10:8 And black countenance, full of darkness gave birth to rebellion who began to profane, defile, pollute and desecrate in order to become a powerful one on the earth. Gen 10:9 He was a mighty hunter before the face of Mercy: that’s why people use the saying, “Like Rebellion the mighty hunter defiant in the face of Mercy”. Gen 10:10 As a result, the beginning of his kingdom was confusion that lasted a long time and was insidious dwelling in a fortress of false answers amongst the young. Gen 10:11 From the earth he went forward a further step and established a place for an ancient king, and a city of wide open streets, and vigour, Gen 10:12 And there was a bridle upon the ancient king and his vigour: his city is one of great anguish. Gen 10:13 And Double distress gave birth to revolution and turmoil, whose descendants were strife, which was answered by waters and flames in the open Gen 10:14 And wet lands that were fortified, produced a land of Sojourners, a cup and a crown. Gen 10:15 And the slave merchant first gave birth to hunters and terror, Gen 10:16 And then to one dwelling in the rain of peace, and the prophet, dwelling on clay soil (a man of the earth), Gen 10:17 And then the villager (the average man), and the one gnawing in suffering, and the one wearing thorns, Gen 10:18 And then I will break loose, and cut off twice the children of my sheep, and the fortress of the water skins: and afterward the families of the slave merchant were spread abroad. Gen 10:19 And the territory of the slave merchant covered hunting grounds and the dwelling place of the strong on the way to burning and submersion beneath the red earth, like Gazelles diving into a fissure. Gen 10:20 These were the sons of heat, after their families, after their languages, in their countries, and in their nations.
The Sons of The Name (Shem) [Redeemed Ethnic Israel]
Gen 10:21 Unto the Name children were born, He was also the Father (G-d) of all the children of the region beyond, the Brother (Yeshua) Who opened the way for a great number. Gen 10:22 The children of the Name are eternal, and step forth from light that trickles from their mother’s breast, and through strife they are exalted. Gen 10:23 And the children of the exalted walked the sand in a circle, and from fear were drawn out, delivered. Gen 10:24 And light trickles from the breast (the feminine nature of G-d) and gives birth to new life that goes forward and new life goes forward and is born again in the region beyond. Gen 10:25 And unto the region beyond (eternity past, present, future) were born two sons: the name of one was division (The first Adam); for in his days was the earth divided; and his brother's name was the least (The Last Adam: Yeshua the servant). Gen 10:26 And the least gave birth to that which can’t be measured, and drawn forth from the village of death is the Messiah (New moon), Gen 10:27 And the noble honourable one, shall bring a flood producing a fruitful garden,
Gen 10:28 And He was stripped bare, the one called My Father is G-d, and was blessed abundantly, Gen 10:29 And abundance encompassed the desert: all these were the sons of the least. Gen 10:30 And their dwelling was in freedom and numbers on a mountain they moved forward. Gen 10:31 These are the sons of the Name, after their families, after their languages, in their lands, after their nations.
A Summation of all Sons [Humanity]
Gen 10:32 These are the families of the sons of Comfort, rest, after their generations, in their nations: and by these were the nations divided in the earth after the flood.
© 2016 Yaakov Brown
"This is the sign of the covenant in which I have risen." -Genesis 9:17
Having rescued Noach and his family from the flood G-d now makes a covenant with them and with all humanity. A covenant that is entirely reliant on G-d. In the days to come He will do something similar for Israel following her deliverance through the waters of the Red Sea [Sea of Reeds] (Exodus 14-15, 19). However the closer parallel to the present text is the covenant made with Avraham (Genesis 17). Both the Genesis 9 and Genesis 17 covenants are everlasting, each being memorialized by a distinctive sign. In the case of Noach the sign is the rainbow (9:12, 13, 17) and in the case of Avraham and the Jewish people, circumcision (17:11).
It’s important to note that both the covenant of Noach and the covenant of Avraham are unconditional royal grants that are entirely reliant on G-d’s mercy, love and compassion.
Gen 9:1 And blessed Elohim, Noach (Comfort, Rest) and his sons, and said unto them, be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the earth (ha-aretz).
We first notice that G-d is blessing both Noach and his progeny. Prior to this G-d has communicated intimately to and through Noach, now He blesses the new beginning of humanity, thus we read, “Noach and his sons”, who represent the subsequent generations of humanity.
The instruction that follows is familiar:
“And Elohim blessed them, and Elohim said unto them, be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the earth (ha-aretz).” –Genesis 1:28
It is suggested by Isaac ben Judah Abarbanel (15th Century CE), that when Noach left the vessel he saw that the world had been made desolate and that only four human couples remained. As a result Noach became fearful and was dismayed. Thus G-d allayed his concerns by giving him the blessing that the world would become repopulated.
Gen 9:2 And awe, reverence, fear (Oomora’akhem) of you and the fear, terror, dread (Cheet’chem) of you shall be upon every living thing of the earth (ha-aretz), and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moves upon the ground (ha-adamah), and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they given (Neetanu).
Isaac ben Judah Abarbanel wisely observes that Noach and his family may well have had concerns about the possibility of being overrun by wild life, some of which could have potentially attacked and harmed them. Again, the blessing of G-d that imposes a fearful weariness of humanity upon all animal life is a comfort and a protection for the persons He has created in His image and likeness. What is very clear is that G-d sets humanity apart from the animals as His unique and precious possession.
Gen 9:3 Every moving thing that lives shall be food (lachem: lechem) for you; for eating, the green vegetation and herbs I have given you for food, all things. Gen 9:4 But flesh with the soul, life, self (b’nafsho: nefesh) blood (damo), don’t eat.
While some suggest that the consuming of animal flesh is implicit in Genesis 1:29-30, I see no evidence supporting this assumption. It seems clear that the eating of animal flesh is newly conceded. The important part of this concession is the reference to the life being in the blood. Flesh with the life still in it is a clear reference to the pagan practise of cutting flesh from a living animal and eating it in order to obtain some occult power by means of the animal’s life force. This was also a means of keeping meat fresh in times when refrigeration and other means of preservation where not available.
Rashi (11th Century CE) explains that this text illuminates the instruction, “Ach-basar b’naf’sho” (It is forbidden to eat a limb taken from a living animal). Accordingly, Genesis 9:3 states that flesh is prohibited while life remains in the animal. Thus the limitation imposed on the consuming of animal flesh, like so many of the later instructions of the Torah, is concerned with setting the people of G-d apart from idolatrous practises.
It is from this verse and those of the remainder of the Torah that support it (Leviticus 3: 17; 17:11, 14; Deuteronomy 12: 15, 16, 23), that Jewish law rightly requires the meat of slaughtered kosher animals to be drained of blood. However, it is not a violation of this instruction to eat ones steak rare etc. The kashering practise of salting meat finds its origin in such verses, however this practise is neither implicit nor explicit in the instruction itself.
More important than any of the dietary aspects of this verse, are the spiritual implications. When HaShem reminds Israel that, “the life is in the blood” (Leviticus 17:11; Hebrews 9:22) He is affirming the need for blood atonement as a means of covering sin.
We see that G-d has given the animal flesh for food: the life that is in the animals is His to give, therefore the life that is in the blood that will cover our sins upon the altar is provided by G-d for our redemption and not of ourselves. Our atoning sacrifices are His gift to us, and not our gift to Him (Leviticus 17:11).
Gen 9:5 And surely your blood (deem’chem)of your soul, lives, self, person (l’nafsheeteiychem: nefesh) will I seek, require, care for (ed’rosh); at the hand of every living thing (Chaiyah) will I seek, require, care for (ed’roshenu) it, at the hand of the man, human beings (ha-adam); at the hand of every man's brother (ish-acheen) will I seek, require, care for (ed’rosh) the soul, self, person, life (nefesh) of the man, human beings (ha-adam). Gen 9:6 Whoever spills (sheds) the blood of a human being, by a human being that person’s blood is to be spilled (shed): for in the image, likeness, semblance (b’tzelem) of Elohim (Judge, Ruler) made He the man, humanity (ha-adam).
The overarching theme of these verses is the sanctity of human life and to a lesser extent, life in general. Derek Kidner writes, “If life is G-d’s, human life is supremely so.”
Human life is sharply distinguished from animal life by the phrase, “for in the image, likeness, semblance (b’tzelem) of Elohim (Judge, Ruler) made He the man, humanity (ha-adam) [Genesis 1:26-27].”
The Talmud interprets verse 5 as a prohibition of killing oneself (b. B.K. 91b). Verse 6 is cited as a prohibition of abortion (b. Sanh. 57b). Jewish Law forbids suicide and allows abortion only under extreme circumstances and never for the purpose of birth control.
Gen 9:7 And you (plural), be fruitful, become great and multiply in the earth (ba-aretz), and become great in it. Gen 9:8 And spoke Elohim (Judge, Ruler) to Noach (Comfort, rest), and to his sons with him, saying,
It’s important to note again that this covenant is being made with Noach and his sons and by inference, with the generations of humanity that will proceed from them.
Gen 9:9 “And I, behold, I will arise (meikeeym: kum) in covenant (b’ritee) with you, and with your seed (plural) after you; Gen 9:10 And with every soul, self (nefesh), living creature (ha-chaiyah) that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of all that is living (Chaiyat) on the earth (ha-aretz) with you; from all that go out of the vessel, to every living (Chaiyat) thing of the earth. Gen 9:11 And I will arise (root: kum) in my covenant (B’riteey) with you (plural); and not cut off all flesh by the waters flowing continually in a flood; neither shall there be waters flowing continually in a flood to destroy the earth (ha-aretz).
The Hebrew, “meikeeym” from the root, “kum” meaning to rise, is an interesting choice of terms. Its literal meaning, that is, the p’shat (plain meaning) is in fact a remez (hint) at the very essence of the covenant itself. The word means, “To stand up, arise, come on the scene, establish, confirm, endure, and persist”. While this can be understood as a figure of speech conveying the confirmation of an agreement, it is not entirely accurate to use it that way here because, while Noach and his sons may agree that this is a good covenant, they are not offering anything of themselves in order to confirm it; rather they are tasked with either accepting or rejecting the gift of its confirmation from G-d. It is G-d alone, Who swears by Himself, that He will be faithful to this covenant. Therefore the remez (hint) points us to the truth of a much greater p’shat (plain) understanding. Read on and find out what sod (mystery) the remez is revealing.
We also notice that all of creation will benefit from the covenant that follows.
Gen 9:12 And spoke Elohim, “This is the sign, mark, banner, warning (Ot) of the covenant (ha-b’rit) which I give between Me and you (plural) and between every soul, self (nefesh) living creature (chaiyah) that is with you, for generations perpetually: Gen 9:13 My bow (strength) I give in the cloud, and it shall be a sign, mark, banner, warning (l’ot) of the covenant (ha-b’rit) between Me and the earth (ha-aretz).
A feature of all covenants, is the sign or seal that identifies them. The sign acts as a seal of an accomplished fact. Something that has already (past tense) been firmly decided and accomplished by G-d.
“And Avraham received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the trust which he had while uncircumcised, so that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be credited to them,” –Romans 4:11
The Rainbow is symbolic of the very present k’vod (glory) of G-d (Ezekiel 1:28; Revelation 4:3; 10:1) and is used by the Apostle Yochanan (Scribe of the Revelation of Yeshua) to connect the fullness of G-d’s justice, love and mercy to the beginning of all things. The seven colours, born of refracted white light, convey the days of creation and the progression of G-d’s revelation to humanity.
The text simply describes it as, “Kashti”, My bow. The bow is arched to point away from the earth, showing that the destructive arrows of HaShem are no longer directed at creation (Psalm 7:12; Habakkuk 3:9).
The rainbow is one of the most powerful covenant symbols of the Tanakh. It is significant because it is a covenant symbol given to all humanity prior to the giving of the Torah at Sinai. The rainbow is seen by some as a symbol of the bridge between G-d and humanity, made possible by sacrifice, cleansing and rebirth. It appears in the clouds (A symbol of the Divine presence) and is a refraction of pure white light, which represents the immutable holiness of HaShem.
The general moral obligation of all humanity is found in the story of humanity’s rebirth through the flood. The seven colours of the rainbow correspond to the seven Noachide laws (Talmud b. Sanh. 56a) incumbent upon every human being. They also reflect the attributes of the Spirit of G-d and the unity of the sevenfold light of G-d, keeping in mind that all the colours of the rainbow are the result of refracted white light.
“The children of Noah were commanded with seven commandments: [to establish] laws, and [to prohibit] cursing G-d, idolatry, illicit sexuality, bloodshed, robbery, and eating flesh from a living animal (Sanhedrin 56a; cf. Tosefta Avodah Zarah 8:4 and Genesis Rabbah 34:8).”
These laws were condensed by the early Jewish Church fathers in Jerusalem, who sent them via Shaul/Paul the apostle as instructions for new Gentile believers (Acts 15:29; 21:25).
Each of the colours of the rainbow are made up of the three primary colours: a. Red (Redeemer: Father) b. Yellow (Life Giver: Son) c. Blue (Heavenly Comforter: Holy Spirit), and have illuminating symbolic significance:
The spirit of wisdom (2) and understanding (3),
The spirit of counsel (4) and strength (5),
The spirit of knowledge (6) and the Awe (7) of HaShem.” –Yishaiyahu/Isaiah 11:2
Gen 9:14 And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth (ha-aretz), that seen, considered, perceived will be the bow in the cloud: Gen 9:15 And I will remember, bring to mind, be faithful to (v’zakhoreetee: zakhor) my covenant (b’ritee), which is between me and you (plural) and every soul, self (nefesh) living creature (chaiyah) of all flesh; and neither shall there be waters flowing continually in a flood to destroy all flesh. Gen 9:16 And it will come to pass that the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember, bring to mind, be faithful to (leezkor: zakhor) the covenant (B’rit) eternal (olam) covenant between Elohim (Judge, Ruler) between every soul, self (nefesh) living creature (chaiyah) of all flesh that is upon the earth (ha-aretz).
Not all covenants are eternal, and yet this one is. It is more than a simple fairy tale to explain rainbows. After all, the properties need to form a rainbow already existed prior to the flood. When the text says, “This is the sign” it means just that, “This rainbow which you’ve seen before, has now become a sign of hope”. This is a sign that foreshadows the greatest of covenants, one that is reliant on G-d. A royal grant to top all royal grants. The New Covenant that the prophet Jeremiah would speak to Israel (Jeremiah 31:31-34).
Gen 9:17 And spoke Elohim (Judge, Ruler) to Noach (Comfort, Rest), “This is the sign, mark, banner, warning (Ot) of the covenant (ha-b’rit), in which I have risen, it’s between me and all flesh that is upon the earth (ha-aretz).
Here we’re able to listen to the voice (ha-kol) of Yeshua saying, “The covenant, in which I have risen.” The remez, “kum” risen, is revealed in Yeshua’s resurrection, and the sign and seal of that covenant is the dove (Ruach Ha-Kodesh), the Holy Spirit, Who was poured out upon the Jewish believers during Shavuot (Acts 2, during the celebration of the giving of the Torah at Sinai), all of which occurred at the same time of year as the events recorded in Genesis 9.
Thus these three covenants in particular, all of which are connected by the feast of Shavuot, convey the unity of the G-d-head and the intrinsic value of signs and seals in relationship to the Royal grants of HaShem. The second of the three is a conditional covenant, whereas the first and third are unconditional royal grants. This is because the second was on an aspect of the fullness of The Word of Truth Yeshua. This was filled with the New Covenant of Jeremiah 31, when Yeshua the Living Word was born into time and space as the Messiah of Israel. Therefore, Yeshua is the goal of the Torah.
When the rainbow is seen today, devote Jews pray the following blessing:
“Baruch ata Ado-Shem, Elo-kaynu Melekh ha-olam,
Zocheir ha-b’reet v’ne’eman beev’rito v’kayamb’ma’amaro”
“All blessing comes from You O L-rd our G-d, King of the universe
Who remembers [is faithful to] His covenant, is trustworthy in His covenant,
And fulfils His Word”
–Orach Chayim 229:1 [Yosef Karo 16th Century]
The rainbow is thus a sign of both redemptive security and dire warning. In every generation the rainbow reminds us of the flood and our need to repent. If we repent we’re able to look anew upon the sign that has been in the skies from before we were born and see it as the hope of glory, HaShem’s glory. However, if we refuse to repent, if we take that precious symbol and misuse it, as many in our generation have, we can expect only judgement.
“To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task?” –2 Corinthians 2:16 (NIV)
Gen 9:18 And the sons of Noach, that went forth out of the vessel, were Shem (name), and Cham (hot), and Yafet (opened): and Cham is the father of Kena’an (Lowland). Gen 9:19 These are the three sons of Noach (rest): and these shattered, beat to pieces, scattered and spread out (naf’ah) over the whole earth (ha-aretz).
Verse 19 introduces the subsequent Toldot (generations) expounded upon in Chapter 10, whereas the remaining verses, in particular verses 20-27 prepare the reader for the election of G-d’s holy people Israel.
It is interesting to note the wider meaning of the Hebrew, “naf’ah”, to spread out. It seems that in humanity’s spreading out it has a habit of shattering and scattering. A habit that will return to humanity at Bavel (Babel) as a just discipline for its idolatrous unity.
Gen 9:20 And profaning himself (vaiychel: chalal) Noach (Comfort, Rest) a man of the ground (ha-adamah) planted a vineyard:
The Hebrew text allows for this reading, translating the word, “vaiychel” to represent its primary meaning, “profanity”, which gives us a clearer indication of the motivation that brought Noach to a place of shame. It’s foolish to suggest, as some have, that Noach was the first man to plant a vineyard. There is nothing in the text to suggest that this was the case.
The Tanakh (OT) has no problem with exposing the flaws of her heroes. The only flawless Character in the Tanakh is the Author of it. Noach, a man, is not immune to humanity’s depravity, nor is he devoid of a fallen nature (yetzer ha-ra). This story is all too familiar to those of us who having walked faithfully with G-d and experienced great heights of revelation and good work, have non the less found ourselves failing in a moment of weakness and falling into disrepute. No one is infallible but G-d. This should give us comfort, to know that our eternal destiny is not reliant on our own fallible humanity.
Gen 9:21 And he drank of the wine (yayin), and became drunk; and he was uncovered within his tent.
Two things are clear from the text. 1.) The Hebrew, “yayin” meaning, effervescent, describes fermented grapes in the form of wine. This is qualified by the subsequent clause, “and became drunk”. It is foolish therefore to attempt, as some have, to suggest that the wine of the Bible is simply grape juice. 2.) Drunkenness is sin, it results in the loss of, self-control (a fruit of the Spirit), moral awareness and a lack of social etiquette. It is warned against in Scripture (Proverbs 31:4-5; 23:29-35). However, wine is not the problem, drunkenness is (Deuteronomy 14:26).
Gen 9:22 And Cham (hot), the father of Kena’an (Lowland), saw the nakedness of his father, and announced it to his two brothers outside (publically).
“Woe to you who make your neighbours drink,
Who mix in your venom even to make them drunk
So as to look on their nakedness!” –Habakkuk 2:15
While Noach’s drunkenness is proof of his flawed humanity, it is not the point of the story. It is not his father’s nakedness that proves Cham’s character but his response to it.
In the p’shat (plain) meaning of the text we read that Noach’s drunkenness resulted in him lying naked in his tent and that Cham walked in and seeing his father naked proceeded to mock and humiliate Noach by publically proclaiming what he’d seen to the rest of the family outside the tent. This in and of itself is disgraceful behaviour but it also has spiritual ramifications because G-d commands, “Honour your father and mother” (Exodus 20:12). The father is also a symbolic representation of the G-d-head and therefore holds a sacred position in the family as a representative of G-d’s Kingship.
Some have suggested that the phrase, “saw the nakedness” is used in a similar way to a similar phrase in Leviticus 20:17, where it is used figuratively to refer to the sex act, however this seems unlikely, given that the phrase is rarely used in this way and in the present text there are no qualifying terms, one can only conclude that the p’shat (plain) meaning is the intended one.
Gen 9:23 And took, Shem (name) and Yafet (opened) a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness. Gen 9:24 And Noach (Comfort, Rest) awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done to him.
In stark contrast to their foolish brother, Shem and Yafet act righteously, averting their eyes and placing a garment over their father’s disgrace in a redemptive act of covering.
Gen 9:25 And he said, Cursed be Kena’an (Lowland); a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers. Gen 9:26
In order to understand the cursing of Kena’an (who was not directly involved in this incident but is a fourth generation descendant of Cham), we must first understand blessing and cursing.
Where G-d is concerned blessing is the consequence of His righteousness at work in us whereas cursing is the consequence of us rejecting His righteousness. Because G-d sees the end from the beginning, when He speaks these consequences into the chronology of time and space they appear to be predictions of the future, when in fact, from His perspective they are observations of the eternal present.
It is also important to understand that the curse to the fourth generation as described in Exodus 20:5, refers to the chosen rebellion of each subsequent generation. Those who accept the misdeeds of their forebears as being their destiny will as a result be cursed. This is the case with Kena’an, a descendant of Cham who lived as Cham lived, in rebellion to G-d. Keep in mind also, that the people of Kena’an rejected the G-d of Israel and resisted His people as Israel sought to occupy the land G-d had promised them. The current record, written down by Moses after being passed on to him as an oral tradition from his forebears, is being given to Israel after her escape from Egypt and as a warning concerning the people whom she must one day fight against in order to receive the promised land.
And he said, all blessing comes from HaShem (YHVH: Merciful) Elohim (Judge, Ruler) of Shem (name); and Kena’an (Lowland) shall be his servant. Gen 9:27 Opening wide Elohim shall make space for Yaret (opened), and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem (name); and Kena’an (Lowland) shall be his servant.
G-d is the G-d of Shem Who also provides for Yafet. Shem’s line will produce Avraham, Yitzack and Yaakov/Israel, through whom G-d will reveal His redemptive plan to all humanity. Therefore Shem is seen here to be set apart, one who is in relationship with HaShem (YHVH). G-d, Who is The Name (HaShem) has named (Shem) His servant. This is a counterpoint to the servitude of Cham’s punishment which makes him the slave of slaves. The punishment of Kena’an is historically contextual and does not advocate for slavery of any kind but is an observation (Of G-d) of the future consequences of Kena’an’s sin.
A sod (allegorical mystery) interpretation of these verses sees Shem (Name) as being in the dwelling place of The Name, HaShem (YHVH) and His Torah ha-Emet (Word of Truth) and Yafet (Open space/ freedom) as the righteous among the nations who will enter into the tents of Israel and dwell with her as she surrounds the Mishkan (Tent of Meeting), where HaShem (YHVH: Merciful) resides. This places Cham (Hot), the wicked, outside the camp in darkness, where there will be perpetual weeping and gnashing of teeth.
It’s interesting to note that based on the understanding that the Greeks were descended from Yafet, an early rabbi cites verse 27 in defence of his ruling that Scriptural scrolls may be written in only one language other than Hebrew, that being the Greek language. Thus he interprets the beauty of Yafet as being the Greek language and the tents of Shem (Israel) as the seat of the Torah (Talmud b. Meg. 9b).
Gen 9:28 And it came to pass that Noach (Comfort, Rest) after the flood, lived three hundred and fifty years. Gen 9:29 And all the days of Noach (Comfort, Rest) were nine hundred and fifty years: and he died.
Noach was born in the year 1056 from Creation, the flood occurred in 1656, and he died in 2006, ten years after the tower of Bavel and the dispersion of humanity (Genesis 11). Avraham was born in the year 1948 from Creation, thus he knew Noach and was 58 years old when Noach died. It is important to note that from Adam to Abraham there was an oral tradition that spanned only four people: Adam, Lemech, Noach and Avraham. Similarly, Moses, through whom G-d gave the Torah, was connected to Kehat, who knew Yaakov, who knew Avraham. Therefore, Isaac ben Judah Abarbanel has observed, there were not more than seven people who carried the oral tradition of these events first hand from Adam to the generation that received the Torah at Sinai. (Adapted from the Stone Edition Chumash 1998, Mesorah publications Ltd.)
© 2016 Yaakov Brown
When G-d remembers His people, He is recalling, “re – calling” or, “calling again”. Not because He needs to remind Himself of His merciful nature but because we are in need of reminding.
Gen 8:1 And thought of, remembered, brought to mind, (vayizcor) Elohim (Judge, ruler), Noach (Rest, Comfort), and every living thing (col-hachaiyah), and all the beasts (beheimot) that were together in the vessel: and passing over (v’yaaveir) Elohim spirit, wind (ruach) upon the earth (ha-aretz), and subsided, the waters;
The opening verse of this chapter can sometimes cause confusion for the English reader who may understand the word, “remembered” as a recollection of something forgotten. This is not what the Hebrew root, “zachor” means. G-d exists outside the bonds of time and space and He knows the end from the beginning, therefore He is incapable of forgetting. The Hebrew, “zachor” carries the meaning of fulfilment, faithfulness, special attention. It is meant to convey the chronology of G-d’s redemptive participation in time from His position outside of all things.
The phrase, “G-d remembered” calls to mind other instances in the Torah where G-d remembers [is faithful] and rescues [redeems]:
G-d is being faithful to His covenant promise to Noach (Gen 6:18), which He had promised to establish beforehand.
We could paraphrase this verse to say, “Elohim drew attention to the fulfilment of His covenant promise to Noach.” Or, “G-d was faithful to Noach.” This remembering marks the turning point of the flood story and the triumph of mercy over judgement. We note that Elohim, the Ruler/Judge is acting in mercy.
When G-d remembers His people He is recalling, “re – calling” or, “calling again”. Not because He needs to remind Himself of His merciful nature but because we are in need of reminding.
“He has given help to Israel His servant, recalling His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and his seed forever.” –Luke 1:54-55
The latter part of verse one recalls the creative brooding of the Spirit over the primordial earth (Gen. 1:2).
Both the Jonathan and Jerusalem Targums call it, "a wind of mercies", or a, “merciful wind” or a, “wind of comforts”.
We are being reminded that this is a type of new creation, and Noach is a type for Adam. As followers of Yeshua we are able to see Noach as a foreshadowing of the Messiah, Who is called, “the last Adam”.
Just as it was in the beginning, it is the brooding Spirit that acts as the catalyst for transforming the face of the earth. The mikveh (gathering together of waters) of Genesis 1:10, has been emulated here as an immersion (baptism) that delivers from death. This same mikveh will reoccur at the Red Sea when Israel is delivered through the waters from certain death and is seen again when Israel crosses the Jordan into the promised land under the leadership of Joshua, who is a foreshadow of the Messiah Yeshua/Joshua. This redemptive immersion is given to all who will believe and are immersed in the name of The Father, and of The Son, and of The Holy spirit.
Gen 8:2 And shut up the springs of the deep and the windows of heavens (sky waters) and held back the rain from the heavens;
“And made Elohim the expanse, and separated the waters which were below the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so.” –Genesis 1:7
Gen 8:3 And returned the waters from upon the earth walking and returning, and decreased the waters to the outskirts on the hundred and fiftieth day.
The one hundred and fiftieth day is counted from when the flood began on the seventeenth day of Iyar (second month) Genesis 7:11. The 4o days of the Cataclysmic outpouring of the waters recorded in Genesis 7:12 are part of the 150 days. This is the same 150 days mentioned in Genesis 7:24. Thus the sum total of the days to this point is 150, which brings the reader to the seventeenth of Tishri (seventh month), five lunar months after the flood began.
Gen 8:4 And resting (v’tanakh: noach), the vessel in the month the seventh (Tishri), on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains (range-plural) of Ararat (a curse and a panic caused suddenly).
The language of this verse shows great care for the narrative. The vessel rested (v’tanakh : the root being noach) from the outer turmoil that had buffeted it, while Rest (Noach) himself remained within.
The vessel comes to rest in the seventh month (Tishri), which represents completion. This is also the month that would later become the Sabbath month containing the high holy days: Yom Teruah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot.
Although the language origin and meaning of the name of the mountain range of Ararat (Occupying parts of modern Turkey, Iraq, Armenia, and Iran) is unknown, it is possibly a composite of the following Hebrew words:
Gen 8:5 And the waters walked and decreased continually until the month the tenth (Tevet): on the first of the month, seen, were the tops of the mountains.
“Then said Elohim, ‘Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear’; and it was so.” –Genesis 1:9
It took almost three more months for the waters to recede enough for the mountains to be fully exposed.
Gen 8:6 And it came to pass at the end of the fortieth day, that opened Noach (Rest, Comfort) the window of the vessel which he had made (asah):
The reference to the tenth month in the previous verse is an overview: the writer now returns us to the reference point of the seventeenth of Tishri (seventh month) as the starting point for counting 4o days, which brings us to the end of the eighth month, Cheshvan.
Therefore, Noach waited forty days after the vessel came to rest before opening the window of the vessel. While this is literally true, it is also symbolic of the convergence of the completion of one aspect of Noach’s journey and the beginning of another.
Gen 8:7 And he sent forth the raven (ha-oreiv: root: arav/erev), which went forth to go out and return continually, until dried up were the waters from off the earth.
“Then said Elohim, ‘Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens.” –Genesis 1:20
The raven is the largest bird of the crow family: it is twice as heavy as the common crow at 1.3 kg, being 60 cm long, with a wingspan of almost 1 m. Ravens can live 40 years in the wild.
The raven is a significant choice because in many ancient cultures, including Chinese, Egyptian, Greek, Semitic and Siberian, the raven is seen as a messenger of storms and bad weather.
It is no coincidence that the raven is black and acts as the counterpoint to the white dove that follows. The Hebrew, “Oreiv” shares the root, “arav” with the Hebrew, “erev” which means evening. Perhaps the raven was sent out in the evening and the dove in the morning, linking the final stages of Noach’s deliverance with the creation narrative yet again.
The raven feeds on fruits, seeds, nuts, fish, carrion, small animals, food remains and garbage. Thus it seems that Noach’s intention was to use the raven to find out if the water had receded enough to have left body remnants and perhaps rotting debris for the raven’s food. However, the raven found no such evidence and so continued to fly out and return continually until the waters had dried up from the earth.
Gen 8:8 Also he sent forth the dove (ha-yonah) from him, to see if the waters had abated from off the face of the ground (ha-adamah);
It seems that Noach sent both the raven and the dove to perform the same task. They were forerunners sent to scout out the land. The mention of the raven and the dove in this account is the first mention of specific bird types in the Bible. This is significant and offers a symbolic foreshadowing regarding the opposing natures of the two types of bird.
Both birds are sent out as messengers and each acts according to its nature, the raven, a carnivore, returns fruitless and goes out and back until it returns no more, on the other hand the dove, a strict vegetarian, returns fruitful holding the leaf of an olive tree. The former in darkness, the latter in light.
The dove is an important bird with regard to spiritual symbolism. It is a symbol of purity (Song of Songs 5:2), rest (Psalm 55:6), security (Song of Songs 2:14), innocence (Hosea 7:11; Matthew 10:16), and of course the Holy Spirit (Luke 3:22: John 1:32; Mark 1:10).
Doves and pigeons are so closely related that they are often mistaken for one another, However, there is an important distinction doves migrate, but the pigeons remain in their chosen haunts all year. Doves are known to be docile and tender by nature, which explains their having been chosen to represent so many of the characteristics of the Spirit of G-d.
Doves are strict vegetarians and exclusively seed eaters, with 99 percent of their diet being seeds. They rarely feed on insects, an unusual practice among birds, who usually eat high-protein foods such as insects, at least while they are young. Doves prefer a wide range of seeds.
Doves were offered for sacrifice by Israelites both prior to and in keeping with the Instruction of the Torah (Genesis 15:9; Leviticus 1:14; 5:8-10; 12:6-8). Their use is always specified in preference to pigeons if only one bird were to be used; if both, the dove is frequently mentioned first. In total the dove is specifically mentioned approximately twenty times in the Bible: in the history of the flood, in sacrifice and poetry.
Gen 8:9 And not finding, the dove a resting place (manoach) for the sole of her foot, and she returned to the vessel, for the waters were on the face of the whole earth (ha-aretz): then he put forth his hand, and received her, and pulled her in unto him into the vessel.
The dove, being a bird that eats seed from the ground, found neither nesting place nor food while the waters still covered the earth. While the earth was uninhabitable, the dove sought rest with Noach (rest) because she had found no other manoach (resting place).
Gen 8:10 And trembling, going round continually seven days in addition to; and again he sent forth the dove out of the vessel;
The seven additional days are possibly representative of the seven days of creation and emphasize the completion of this new creation.
Gen 8:11 And entering in the dove came to him in the evening; and, behold, a leaf of the olive, freshly picked was in her mouth: and knowing Noach (Rest, Comfort) that the waters were abated from off the earth.
Unlike the raven, the dove returns with good news that will comfort and direct Noach as he awaits G-d’s instruction to leave the vessel. The olive branch is representative of the olive tree and its oil. Combined with the imagery of the dove we see two obvious symbols of the Holy Spirit. In fact, the follower of Messiah Yeshua must try very hard in order to avoid the clear correlation between the events unfolding in the story of Noach and the events which took place during the immersion (Baptism) of Yeshua (Luke 3:22: John 1:32; Mark 1:10).
“The Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of the heavens, ‘You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.’” –Luke 3:22
Noach, being a type for Messiah (the last Adam) and having undergone the immersion (Baptism) of the flood, is now empowered by the dove (messenger bringing the symbol of the olive tree/oil: Holy Spirit) through hope, to act on the instruction of G-d for the future of humanity. Yeshua, having been acknowledged as the rightful Cohen ha-gadol (High Priest) through His cousin Yochanan’s anointing, has gone through the symbolic waters of immersion (Baptism) and receives the sign of the dove as the manifest presence of the Holy Spirit.
The Brit Ha-chadashah (NT) sees both the flood of Noach and the immersion (Baptism) of the believer as twin expressions of a way through death to life.
“For Messiah also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to Elohim, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the Spirit; in Whom also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, who once were disobedient, when the patience of Elohim kept waiting in the days of Noach, during the construction of the vessel, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. Corresponding to the, immersion (baptism) that now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to Elohim for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Yeshua Ha-Mashiyach, Who is at the right hand of Elohim, having gone into the heavens, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him.” –1 Peter 3:18-22
Gen 8:12 And in expectation, going round continually seven more days; and sent forth the dove; which did not again return unto him, going round continually.
These final seven days probably represent the Sabbath (Shabbat: from the root sheva 7), the promise of rest and security. Both Noach and Yeshua thus send out the dove (Holy Spirit) to empower all who will believe.
Gen 8:13 And it came to pass in the six hundred and first year, in the first day of the first month (Nisan), the waters were dried up from off the earth: and turning aside Noach the covering of the vessel, and looked, and, behold, the face of the ground (ha-adamah) was dry. Gen 8:14 And in the month, the second, on the twenty seventh day of the month, was dried, the earth (ha-aretz).
Twelve months after the flood began the earth is dry once again and on the 27th of Iyar, the second month, 10 days after the date that the flood had begun (Genesis 7:11), the earth was ready to receive redeemed humanity.
Gen 8:15 And spoke Elohim (Judge, ruler) unto Noach (Rest, Comfort), saying,
Gen 8:16 “Go forth of the vessel, you, and your wife, and your sons, and your sons' wives with you. Gen 8:17 All the living who are together, along with all flesh, flying creatures and the beasts, and of every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth; send out to go out together and multiply in the earth, and be fruitful, and increase upon the earth.” Gen 8:18 And went out Noach (Rest, Comfort) and his sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives together: Gen 8:19 All the living, every creeping thing, and every winged creature, everything that creeps upon the earth, and their kinds (l’mishp’choteym: families), went forth out of the vessel.
Notice that Noach has been true to his name and calling, resting in G-d and waiting for G-d’s direction rather than acting on his own to leave the vessel. It is not until the Ruler of the Universe instructs Noach to leave that he leaves along with all those who are with him, both human and animal. We should also pay attention to the fact that the animals are spoken of in terms of families (kinds) of creatures. All creation is founded on the unity of the family in the G-d head.
“Elohim made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind; and Elohim saw that it was good.” –Genesis 1:25
Gen 8:20 And built Noach (Rest, Comfort) an altar unto HaShem (YHVH: Merciful); and took of all the beasts, the clean, and of all the fowl, the clean, and ascended, whole burnt offerings from the altar.
The first thing we should notice is the fact that offering sacrifices is the role of a priest. Noach therefore represents the priesthood of all believers. Being a type for Mashiyach he is participating in a priesthood that is both before and beyond that of the Levitical priesthood (Hebrews 7).
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to Elohim, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” –1 Peter 2:9
“If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood—and indeed the Torah given to the people established that priesthood—why was there still need for another priest to come, one in the order of Malki-Tzedek, not in the order of Aaron?” –Hebrews 7:11
Second, it’s worth noting that the timing of these sacrifices is highly likely to be in line with the giving of the Torah (Exodus 19) and the Ruach Ha-Kodesh (Acts 2). This calculation can be made by adding the six days (a week minus the Shabbat) to the date of the drying of the earth on the 27th of Iyar (Second month). This brings us to the date of Shavuot (3rd day of the third month), which is 3 Sivan.
It seems reasonable to assume that the disembarking of the animals was a process that took a number of days. Add to this the setting up of lodgings and preparation for planting etc. and we are well within logical parameters for estimating an additional six days, giving us a 3 Sivan dating for the sacrifices of Noach. If this is accurate, then the sacrifices of Noach (Who represents the priesthood of all believers) and the sign of G-d, the rainbow, occurred on the same date as the giving of the Torah at Sinai and the giving of the Ruach Ha-Kodesh during Shavuot 33 CE (approx.).
Finally there is a common flaw in the majority rabbinical Jewish understanding, which claims that the offerings of Noach are an act of worship, thanksgiving and peace alone, without any atoning significance. The same also suggest that Messianic Judaism teaches sacrifice as appeasement. This is simply not the case. They mistake the righteous requirements of G-d’s judgement for the appeasement of a punitive deity.
Blood sacrifice is a tragic necessity (Leviticus 17:11; Hebrews 9:22), a covering for the sin which humanity invited into this world. It is a means of redemption given by G-d for the purpose of reconciliation. It is ludicrous to claim, as many of our modern rabbis have, that blood sacrifice is simply an act of worship for the purpose of intimate connection to G-d, based on the merits of the one who sacrifices. While blood sacrifice is an act of worship and a means for intimacy, it is also a requirement of justice and right standing with G-d. Furthermore, no one, based on his own merit, will enter the kingdom of G-d. Unless we see the need for the blood covering of our sin we will never enter the kingdom of G-d.
The Hebrew text clearly states that Noach took from all the clean animals (1.) to make, “Olah” whole burnt offerings (2.). This Hebrew word is used to describe whole burnt animal offerings made on the altar (Leviticus 17:11; Hebrews 9:22). When we combine these two facts we see that at least one of the offerings made here is an atoning (Kippur: covering) sin offering, “chata’ah” (Exodus 29; 30; Leviticus 1-7 etc.) It is interesting to note that a poor Israelite who couldn’t afford a lamb for a trespass offering was instructed to bring two doves as an Olah (Burnt offering) [Leviticus 5:7]. Thus it is clear that the offerings made here were most likely a combination of atonement, peace and thank offerings and that the atonement offerings were an affirmation of the atoning nature of the flood.
We note that the animals Noach offered were given to him by G-d in the first place, meaning that G-d provided the means for Noach’s atonement. Noach, as righteous as he was, could not claim to have received favour and redemption from G-d based on his own merits.
The sacrifices of Noach are the basis for the covenant promise that follows.
Gen 8:21 And the aroma came up to (vayirach: ruach) HaShem (YHVH: Merciful) the scent, fragrance (et-reiyach: ruach) the restful, soothing (ha-neeychoach: noach);
The phrase, “a pleasing aroma” is similar to the repeated phrases of Leviticus 1:9, 13, 17; Numbers 15:24; 28:6, where, “a sweet fragrance unto HaShem” refers to the aroma of the sin offering.
This is not an allusion to G-d’s hunger (Psalm 50:8-15) but a figurative way of explaining G-d’s delight in the provision He’s made for humanity’s redemption.
“Walk in love, just as Messiah also loved each of you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to Elohim, as a fragrant aroma.” –Ephesians 5:2
and said HaShem (YHVH: Merciful) in His core being, heart, “Not again will I curse continually the ground on account of the humanity; for the inclination (yetzer) of the core being, heart of the human being is evil, wicked, disagreeable, unkind, displeasing (rah) from infancy; neither will I again strike, smite continually, all life, which has been made (asah).
Gen 8:22 Continually all the days of the earth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease, stop (yeeshbotu: Shabbat).
G-d’s acceptance of Noach’s offering in spite of the unchanged nature of humanity doesn’t negate the fact that the sacrifices of the Torah were never able to take away sin. Through the account of Noach, HaShem is giving us a glimpse of the redemptive work of Yeshua, which is already in effect outside of time and space and will provide for the eternal removal of sin for those who enter into His covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34).
“Being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Mashiyach Yeshua; Whom Elohim displayed publicly as a conciliatory offering in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of Elohim He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has trust in Yeshua.” –Romans 3:24-26
The covenant of HaShem is one of royal decree that has no conditions. He will never again destroy all living creatures with a global catastrophe for as long as the earth endures.
The final Shabbat (ceasing) will come about at the end of the age in the form of the Olam Habah (World to come).
“For your Maker is your husband; HaShem of hosts is His name; and your Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The Elohim of the whole earth shall He be called. For HaShem has called you as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when were refused, says your Elohim. For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather you. In a little anger I hid my face from you for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on you, says HaShem your Redeemer. For this is as the waters of Noach unto Me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noach should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you. For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from you, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, says HaShem Who has mercy on you.” –Isaiah 54:5-10
© 2016 Yaakov Brown
Spiritual leader of Beth Melekh Community, Auckland, Aotearoa, N.Z.