Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Noah Noah

It has become a yearly tradition to look around during leining (if I make it on time, that is) and see who else follows the what is being read. Most of the time it turns out that no one is listening. No one stops the Ba'al Korah trying to understand why he keeps on repeating himself, and reads the story twice. I never see anyone turn the pages back and forth trying to understand the Torah. Well, not that I got it myself back in the day when I was still doing the שמו. Maximum, when a problem arose, I took a quick glimpse at Rashi and everything fell into place.

Let's take a look at the story:

And the LORD said: 'I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and creeping thing, and fowl of the air; for it repenteth Me that I have made them.' But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.

The 'Lord' (יְהוָה) takes a liking to Noah, but then 'GOD' (אֱלֹהִים) saw the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth. So God tells Noah Make thee an ark of gopher wood, do this and do that, and bring of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female. Of the fowl after their kind, and of the cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the ground after its kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive.

Noah is not the lazy type, Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.

Moving on - the LORD said unto Noah: 'Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before Me in this generation. Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee seven and seven, each with his mate; and of the beasts that are not clean two, each with his mate.

Ooops. Good thing he didn't do everything according to all that God commanded him, for now the Lord got involved too and he wants seven and seven of each. He's a good fellow Noah, so now he does according unto all that the LORD commanded him. It is hard blame him, poor Noah, I wouldn't argue with the deities myself. God commands I do, the Lord says and I listen. It's not smart to pick fights with the Almightys.

All Noah had to do now is wait and see which of the Gods is going to bring the flood. And so, in his 600th year the flood of waters was upon the earth. And Noah went in, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives with him, into the ark, because of the waters of the flood...here went in two and two unto Noah into the ark, male and female, as God commanded Noah. So God won. Nice. And it came to pass after the seven days, that the waters of the flood were upon the earth.

But wait, not so fast Noah. Suprise! In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. Again? Afraid so Noah, you've gotta cram up that boat again. Indeed, In the selfsame day entered Noah, and Shem, and Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah's wife, and the three wives of his sons with them, into the ark. This time the obedient man takes only two and two of all flesh. God is in the details.

Pity the man yet? Wait until he wants to get out. He sends the raven out and...well, no one knows what happened next. He had to send the dove the second attempt.

Noah has two gods, God forbid (יש מרבותינו דורשים אותו לשבח, ויש שדורשים אותו לגנאי). After leaving the ark he builds and alter to the Lord who likes the sweet savor and promises to not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done. As soon as the Lord is done talking Noah makes a convent with God who tells him something about the end of the rainbow.

Not one single person in shul looks astonished. Not one cares.

1 Thank God for Rashi. 2 Give thanks to the Lord for Rashi.


  1. The flood story actually reads like a continuous, coherent narrative. I think Wellhausen made a big deal out of nothing in this case.

  2. The flood story actually is what is called "tradition literature" joined together in a "zip technique" using the terminology of religious studies. It has got at least two sources, and since the editor who eventually combined the stories revered the tradition of both stories so highly that s/he wouldn't leave anything out, the two stories were merged, sections alternating, in a way that a zip closes, taking inconsistencies and contradictions into account.
    The Jahvist typically uses imagery to do with mountains, the Elohist typically uses imagery to do with the sea, and if it gets pompuous and ceremony like, it's Priestal Source, which developed in the aftermaths of the Babylonian Exile.

  3. א יונגערמאן10/20/2009 7:31 PM

    I am told, although I didn’t check it myself, that the Epic of Gilgamesh (which clearly pre-dates even Moses) also has Noah sending a raven AND a dove!
    If it’s true, it gives more thoughts to ponder.

  4. S

    As you were told by your grade 2 Rabbi, the chumash is not written in chronoligical order. This deals with some or your queries.

    The issue I want explained, as raised by DB, is how did the Kanagaroos get to Australia.


  5. J,
    How does "ein mikdem..." explain the duality of this story?

  6. Yarmulkah Juice said...

    I'm looking for a book or somthin, that has all the evidence etc. to prove the theory of Wellhausen, in 8th grade english (& in short if possible), does someone here know of something like that?

  7. א יונגערמאן10/21/2009 1:52 PM

    Read Who Wrote the Bible? by Richard Elliott Friedman

  8. "How to Read the Bible" By Marc Brettler.

    James Kugel wrote a book with the same title. Both authors are still frum!

    I liked Brettler for a few reasons. He's shorter, focused more on the different wording etc - the tangibles, and more importantly isn't apologetic, or doesn't come across as such. I had no clue that Brettler is frum until the last chapter whereas Kugel kind of warns frummies not to read the book at all.

    I LOVED Kugel's opening though:
    ווי אי גלינא ווי אי לא גלינא

    ״עת לעשות לה׳ הפרו תורתך״. אמאי עת. לעשות לה׳? — משום דהפרו תורתך

    It just fits the book and the hypothesis so well...

  9. The Epic of Gilgamesh: The flood story


  10. So how did the polar bear and the penguins survived in the ark,


  11. You're so lame.

  12. are you ok we didnt hear from you for some time.

  13. Besser azoi, not much toichen to this character anyway.

  14. Ouch.

    I'm working on another project with a lot of toichen. Prootim yuvoi'ie.


If you HAVE to post anonymously please sign off with a nickname. Thanks.