GENESIS 8: Noach Builds an Altar
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
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Founder of the Beth Melekh International Messiah Following Jewish Community,