Torah Study Notes 11-5-16

November 5, 2016
Page 59- The story of Noah. In terms of authorship it appears to be a splicing together of J and P. You could lift the P part out and the remainder would make sense. There are two merged stories. The flood narrative is first which is common in early cultures – either there was an early flood or a prevalent notion that God saw man as evil and wanted to start over. In this the people were bad but in Gilgamesh the people were too loud and getting on the nerves of the gods. See A Wrinkle in Time – Many Waters https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Many_Waters where the brothers go back in time to the flood. LL In ancient Greek culture there was no sharp division between good and evil – which may account for the absence of a flood myth in that culture. The multiple Greek gods had human characteristics and human weaknesses such as lust and envy.
6:9 Noah was a righteous man… what does this mean in the sense that there is no Torah yet? RB: There is a suggestion of a preexisting set of laws or moral codes that formed a baseline for human behavior. See: 9:1 on page 63 which recites basic laws sometimes known as The “Noahide Laws” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Laws_of_Noah
See also Ch 2:16.
The seven Noahide laws as traditionally enumerated are:[7]
1. Do not deny God.
2. Do not blaspheme God.
3. Do not murder.
4. Do not engage in illicit sexual relations.
5. Do not steal.
6. Do not eat from a live animal.
7. Establish courts/legal system to ensure obedience to the law.
According to the Talmud,[7] the rabbis agree that the seven laws were given to the sons of Noah. However, they disagree on precisely which laws were given to Adam and Eve. Six of the seven laws are exegetically derived from passages in Genesis,[8] with the seventh being the establishing of courts.

The orthodox argue that these seven laws apply even if you are not part of the covenant. Question as to where the comma is in the first sentence. Was he singularly a righteous man or a righteous man only in his generation. See handout – What does it mean to be “blameless in his age.” Is he righteous only in comparison to the wicked people around him? “In a more respectable age perhaps he would have been no better than average.” What makes him righteous? He listens to God and thereafter he saves the animals. The concept of not bending to peer pressure is important for children and in a sense, the history of the Jews, is one of knowing the right path. See Subversive Sequels in the bible by Judy Kushner. LL Consider The Sixth Extinction. See rabbinical commentary distributed by RB:

Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 108a: These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man, and perfect in his generations (Bereshit 6:9, JPS translates as “blameless in his age”). R. Johanan said: In his generations, but not in other generations. Resh Lakish maintained: [Even] in his generations…how much more so in other generations. R. Hanina said: As an illustration of R. Johanan’s view, to what may this be compared? To a barrel of wine lying in a vault of acid: in its place, its odor is fragrant [by comparison with the acid]; elsewhere, its odor will not be fragrant. R. Oshaia said: As an illustration of Resh Lakish’s view, to what may this be compared? To a vial of spikenard oil lying amidst refuse: [if] it is fragrant where it is, how much more so amidst spices!

Etz Chayim p. 41: “Yohanan sees Noah as righteous only relatively, in contrast to the wicked people around him. In a more respectable age, he would have been no better than average. Resh Lakish, on the other hand, says that anyone who had the moral backbone to be a good person in an immoral society would have been an even better person in a generation that encouraged goodness. One emphasizes the power of society to shape the behavior of its members; the other champions the power of the individual to withstand the pressures of society…. In the face of universal corruption, he maintained civilized standards of behavior.”

6:11 An ark of gopher wood… construction is described in detail. Take seven pairs of every pure beast but only one pair of the impure.
7:6 Noah was six hundred years old…after seven days the flood waters covered the earth and after forty days… the water subsided. Note the poetic parallelism here. The floodgates opening is a symbol of chaos and is sometime considered a feminine opposite to God. Is this a continuation of creation? “And God remembered Noah” – also God remembered Rachel or God remembered the Israelites when they were in Egypt. “Remember” here could mean to focus or acting so as to interfere in human affairs. Also, God did not forget Noah. See Noah movie: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noah_(2014_film) Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, an orthodox Jewish rabbi leader, hailed Noah as “a valuable film, especially for our times.”[79] In order to create “a story that tries to explicate Noah’s relationship with God and God’s relationship with the world as it has become”, director of the film Darren Aronofsky himself stated that he was working in “the tradition of Jewish Midrash”.[80]

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