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Noah and the Flood

Noah and the Flood


The Wickedness of the People

Methuselah’s wisdom and knowledge were inherited by his grandson Noah, the son of Lemech. Noah was a righteous and pious man.

When Noah was five hundred years old, he had three sons—Shem, Ham, and Japheth. They too were good and pious men, fearing and loving G‑d, and unlike all the other inhabitants of the earth, who had gradually become more and more depraved. Yet neither Noah nor Methuselah could change the evil ways of the people around them, in spite of the many warnings G‑d sent through them to their fellow-men. Everyone thought only of his own welfare and recognized only the laws that were in his own favor. Mutual respect and cooperation had given way to violence and sin.

Finally G‑d gave them a last chance. He ordered Noah to build an ark slowly, and to complete it in one hundred and twenty years. This was to be the last period of grace within which the people could change their evil ways. Time passed and yet the people had not repented. So fearful was the prevailing corruption that G‑d determined to destroy all life by a universal Deluge; not only the men but the beasts also were to perish, so that no trace might remain of that wicked age.

Only Noah found grace in the eyes of G‑d, and he was to be spared the fate of all the other living things, because he was the only pious person who had tried to arouse the conscience of the people and warn them of the punishment to come.

The Ark

G‑d told Noah to build his ark in public and to tell everyone its purpose: that it would save him from the coming Flood. The Ark was to be three hundred cubits in length, fifty in width, and thirty in height, and was to consist of three stories, divided into small rooms to hold people, animals, and food. Noah and his wife, their three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, and their wives were to live in it. Some animals of every kind in the world were to live in the Ark too. Noah’s family and the animals were to live in the Ark until the Flood ended. Noah did as G‑d commanded. His neighbors made fun of him for his faith, and they paid no attention to his warnings of the Flood that was to come.

The Flood

Noah was six hundred year old when G‑d told him to go into the Ark with his whole family, and to admit the animals which G‑d had selected.

The Flood commenced on the seventeenth day of the second month. The gates of heaven broke loose, and the depths of the earth opened to send forth streams of raging, boiling water, swallowing everything in its path. Rain fell for forty days and forty nights and the water which covered the earth rose higher and higher. It covered the peaks of the highest mountains. Every living thing died, and all growing things were destroyed. Amid this terrible scene of ruins and devastation the Ark, guided by G‑d, floated securely. But the ship was fiercely tossed about and shaken at the heights of the stormy flood, so that it seemed to Noah that it was about to break apart.

The Flood Recedes

Noah and his children prayed constantly, and at last the flood quieted down. A wind blew over the earth and the Ark came to rest upon the mountains of Ararat, after it had been afloat for seven months.

The Raven and the Dove

Gradually the water subsided; and on the first day of the tenth month the peaks of the mountains could be seen again. Noah, still imprisoned in the Ark, looked forth upon the wide spreading though decreasing waters; and after waiting forty days longer, he sent forth a raven from the Ark. This bird, glad to regain and to enjoy its liberty, returned to the Ark only to be fed, flying to and fro, until the waters had quite abated. Yet, Noah, anxiously hoping that the floods were disappearing from the land, sent out another bird, and this time a dove. But the dove, more delicate than the raven, found no resting place, and returned to the Ark. After seven days it was again sent forth, and now it returned at evening-time with a fresh olive leaf in its mouth. Then Noah knew that the earth was almost free from the flood, although still unfit for habitation.

After another seven days, the winged messenger was sent out again and returned no more. A feeling of gladness must in truth have filled Noah’s heart, for in the beginning of the first month, the surf ace of the earth was cleared from the waters, and three hundred and sixty-five days after the beginning of the Flood, the ground was perfectly dry.

The Flood had passed, but it had changed the appearance of the earth and of the entire universe. Everything, even the light of the sun, had lost some of its original strength and power, and the earth was barren and unyielding.

Noah Offering

Noah and his family spent a whole year in the Ark. Then G‑d ordered them to leave the Ark. Noah built an altar and brought an offering which G‑d accepted graciously. And G‑d promised that He would never again curse the earth because of man. Seasons, heat and cold, day and night, and all the other laws of nature would never again fail altogether, as they had done in the time of the Flood.

The Seven Laws

G‑d blessed Noah and his sons with the same blessing He had given Adam and Eve, giving them power over all living creatures. Before, they had been allowed to eat only herbs and plants. Now they were allowed to use meat for food, but only after the animal had been killed. To eat flesh torn from a living animal was forbidden. And stern was His decree against the shedder of human blood. Murder was to be punished by death; for could a greater crime be conceived than that of destroying a being created by G‑d in His own image? Other commandments were, the establishment of Courts of justice, the prohibition of blasphemy, indecency, idolatry, and stealing.

Covenant with Noah

These rules G‑d included in a treaty with Noah and Noah’s sons.

As a sign of the Covenant G‑d showed them a rainbow, up in the clouds, as a permanent record for all times to come.

From Our People by Jacob Isaacs published and copyrighted by Kehot Publication Society 1946-1948
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Anonymous October 5, 2016

Why did you replace the o's in God with hyphens? Reply

burtb santa ana April 19, 2017
in response to Anonymous:

Observant Jews should not casually write any Name of God.

Spelling G-d without the "o", is a common way of showing respect for G-d's name (even in the English)
Deuteronomy 12:3-4

Chabad article: search "Why Don't You Spell Out G-d's Name" Reply

Malkie Janowski for August 15, 2016

The ark did have a window or skylight (Genesis 6:16), and presumably Noah was able to have fresh air circulate when needed.

The water eventually drained into the earth itself. We can understand this better if we look at the timeline of events then. It rained for only 40 days and nights; however, Noah remained on the ark for an entire year until the water drained and the earth dried, so it took quite a while. Reply

trayec August 13, 2016

if the ark was seal for the water not to penetrate also air wouldn't be able to come in, so how did they breath? after the flood, if it was global where did the water drain to ? Reply

Floodguy February 4, 2016

The Flood account is mirrored in an ancient Chinese record that states "the earth fell to pieces and water rushed up from its bosom, overflowing the earth. The Sun, Moon and stars changed their place in the heavens". The Chinese, as well as the Koreans, trace their lineage back to Noah through Lo-Shen, or Shem. I think the Miao people of China trace theirs through Japheth. This was not a fanciful story, it was a major event in the earths history that is the source of all the layers of strata, fossils, mountain ranges, mid oceanic ridge, jigsaw fit of the continents, deep ocean trenches, earthquakes, etc. The earth is still feeling the effects, and so do we. Problem is, the overwhelming evidence is mistaken for evidence of great age, and evolution.
Dinosaurs died during the flood, not 75 million years ago. This is the reason why carbon 14 dating performed on soft tissue discovered in dinosaur bones is dating at less than 25000 years. Much closer the biblical timeline, wouldn't you say? Reply

John S United Kingdom May 31, 2017
in response to Floodguy:

A more accurate representation of the limitations and application of carbon dating vs alternative methods of radiometric dating Carbon dating of dinosaur bones is ultimately meaningless because Carbon-14 has a half life of around 5000 years. Samples older than 50,000 years will have, generally, not have any of their original carbon left in them due to the fossilisation process. For very old fossils radiometric testing IS used, but not based on Carbon, it's usually a radioactive isotope of an element with a much longer half life, something like Uranium 235. When coupled with relative dating of the surrounding rock strata (sedimentary layers) an age range of a fossil can be determined, but never a precise age.The radiometric analysis of layers surrounding a fossil determines that a fossil must have been laid down between the relative ages of those layers.

Carbon dating of dinosaur fossils is a meaningless endeavour.

There was no soft tissue found, not in the sense as implied. What was found appears to be fossilised blood and tissue that retained its original shape. As such carbon dating is useless there too. Reply Staff via March 2, 2015

To Steve This is a summary which includes a translation of the text combined with commentaries from our Sages. Reply

steve Nigeria February 19, 2015

Please is this an exact translation from the Torah....or a summary? Reply

Yehuda Shurpin for January 6, 2015

Re: Karl Like many of the stories in the Torah, the flood story is both a true event and at the same time a story with a very important lesson. It is, however, important to keep in mind, as the commentators point out, that the flood and the entire experience in the ark was considered miraculous and supernatural event. For more on this see Fitting All those Animals in the Ark. Reply

Karl California December 25, 2014

I am really interested to know if judaism takes the story of Noah and the flood as a literal event or just a story with great lessons?. I have heard both so I am confused.
I just can't understand how could anybody believe in that actually happening. Reply

Shaul Wolf August 13, 2014

Re: Noah and Gilgamesh As accurate as academic scholars can be in their estimates regarding time, their conclusions remain no more than that; estimations. In Jewish belief, the Torah is accepted to be the word of God, and therefore bears more significance than a rough estimation of the scientific community.
Regardless, the earliest source for any part of the Epic is dated to around 2100 BC, and Noahs flood according to the Torah is dated to 2105 BCE. With these dates being so close, and given the room for error that dating so far back inevitably has, it would appear that the Flood preceded the Epic, and if anything the Epic was a record of the Flood of Noah. Reply

Anonymous August 10, 2014

Noah and Gilgamesh Academic scholars place the Gilgamesh epic of ancient Mesopotamia as occurring prior to the Flood. These two stories have striking similarities. With no disrespect intended I am wondering how Judaism accounts for this? I would love some clarity. Thank you Reply

Yehuda Shurpin for April 28, 2014

Re: flood duration For the chronology of the flood as explained by Rashi see Chronology of the Flood. Reply

Anonymous Philadelphia, PA April 27, 2014

Flood duration? Can someone help me understand the actual duration of the flood and the numerous discrepancies? Thanks. Reply

Colette Connor Tri state November 20, 2013

I feel this part of the bible is very important. There are many things hidden between the lines of the Noah story. For instance... Only allowing them to eat meat if it had been killed first. Tells me that at the time of Noah people were eating the legs of an animal, one by one, until the animal died.

Also, telling him to build the Ark slowly, must have a significant meaning, along with the specific size given by G-d for building the Ark.

Raging boiling water also signifies volcanic activity.
I see no reference to dinosaurs in religious writings, so I assume they lived before man existed. Either way, a tremendous change took place on Earth. There were dinosaurs, and then there were none. Such an intriguing part of the Bible.

Are there any Jewish texts that may have more information and detail about the Ark? Reply

Bertski N.Chas. October 4, 2017
in response to Colette Connor:

Evidently you don't know Hebrew not do I, but knowledge of the English is much more than you think. As me for example, prophecy of end times, there'll be earthquakes in divers places. Well, where do divers go? The ocean. Which being tsunamis come from earthquakes in the ocean, made sense to me. Then years later, it dawned on me, they didn't have scuba gear back then. So I looked divers up and it meant diverse, different.
Which the Torah has a lot more meaning than the English as I understand it. But I mention my view so you don't feel alone but can see the significance of language knowledge. As is recognizing figures of speech, metaphors, etc.
Noah Webster 1828 Dictionary coincides with the KJV, to the best of my knowledge. Old definitions before words evolved. Reply

Rhonda Vista, CA June 14, 2013

Sometimes I think the dinosaurs perished in the flood. Just a random thought, not necessarily true or whatever. Just for fun. Reply

chloe delaney ireland February 17, 2013

flood this helped me complete a project for school thank you ! Reply

Anonymous Lincoln, NE August 24, 2010

Raven and the Dove I can't help but think we are supposed to learn something from the Raven and the Dove...but what??? Reply

Bertski N.Chas. October 4, 2017
in response to Anonymous:

I question specification of the olive branch. The dove is a very pleasant bird, attractive, etc.
So I'd like to know too. Reply

Lucy September 1, 2009

epic flood what don't you understand? there was a flood. Reply

blondpirate Ash Grove, Missouri September 1, 2009

does this mean there was no Epic flood? i don't fully understand Reply