Parashat Noach (Gen. 6:9-11:32)

This week’s parasha is Noah and describes the widely known story of the ark, the flood and those who were saved.  The parasha describes Noah as “a righteous man; he was blameless in his age; Noah walked with God” (Genesis 6:9).  The rest of humanity was known to be corrupt and evil.  God is distraught over the decision to create human beings and decides to start anew.

God commands Noah to build an ark and to bring seven pairs of all of the clean animals and one pair of all of the unclean animals found on earth. God also commands Noah to bring along his wife, his three sons (Shem, Ham and Japheth), and their wives.  Noah follows God’s command without hesitation.

God could have saved Noah in many ways.  Why did God burden Noah with the construction of an ark?  Rashi states that the construction of the ark was designed to arouse curiosity among the people.  Upon seeing the ark in its various stages of construction, the people would be prompted to ask Noah, “Why are you building an ark?” to which Noah would reply, “Due to the corrupt manner in which people relate to each other, God has chosen to destroy the earth, with a flood,” – providing the people with an opportunity to repent.

I think we can look at the length of time it took to build the ark not as an opportunity for the people walking by the ark to ask about it and repent, but rather as an opportunity for Noah to reach beyond himself.  I think God was testing Noah and his leadership abilities.  God wanted to see if Noah would question God about destroying humanity.  Would he demand to know how God could do this or would he just be concerned about his own welfare and the welfare of his family.

Noah was not quite there, but his descendant Abram would have the guts and courage to call out God on God.  Tune in next week for a continuation of the story.