Text One: Genesis 6:5 - 10 (Pshat)
The Lord saw how great was man's wickedness on earth, and how every plan devised by them was nothing but evil all the time. The Lord regretted that He had made man on earth, and His heart was saddened. The Lord said, "I will blot out from the earth the men I created, they together with beasts, creeping things and birds of the sky. I regret that I made them." But Noach found favor with the Lord. This is the line of Noach. Noach was a righteous man. He was blameless in his generation. Noach walked with God. Noach sired three sons: Shem, Cham and Yapheth.
1. What type of wickedness would cause God to regret creating mankind?
2. What does it mean that Noach was "blameless in his generation?"
3. What does it mean to "walk with God?"
4. Were Noach's sons righteous as well?
In this text, the Hebrew word for evil is "Chamas," which suggest sins involving sex. Another aspect of the text is that the evil was ongoing. There was evil "all the time." Questions #2 and #3 are not addressed by the text. The text only specifies that Noach was righteous. it does not mention his sons.
Text One: Genesis 6:5 - 10 (Drash)
The Lord saw how great was man's wickedness on earth, and how every plan devised by them was nothing but evil all the time. The Lord regretted that He had made man on earth, and His heart was saddened. The Lord said, "I will blot out from the earth the men I created, they together with beasts, creeping things and birds of the sky. I regret that I made them." But Noach found favor with the Lord. this is the line of Noach. Noach was a righteous man. he was blameless in his generation. Noach walked with God. Noach sired three sons: Shem, Cham and Yapheth.
All the time: So that they never had a moment to reflect, and repent (Sforno). His heart was saddened: It is wrong to ascribe human reactions to God. This phrase is used to show that what was happening was not what God would have wanted (Gur Aryeh). Noach: this is the story of Noach alone (Orach Chayim). Righteous man: In deeds (Sforno). Noach inherited his faith from his father, and it remained whole his entire life. However, he never made an effort to understand his belief, or to develop it (Akedat Yiztzchak).. Blameless: Noach was morally pure. It is incomparably more difficult to remain morally pure in an age of immorality (Hirsch). In his generation: Had Noach lived in the later, better generation, he would not have been considered righteous. There are those who say that had he lived in a later, better generation, he would have been even better (Rashi). The correct interpretation follows the Pshat. Noach was alone righteous in all the generations of his life (Ramban). For those who say Noach would not have amounted to anything in another generation, why did God save him? To show that he was judged by the actions of his generation, not future generations (Gur Aryeh). Walked with God: Alone. He did not teach his children about God and God's ways. Noach was saved because he walked with God, but did not teach anyone else to. like Avraham and Moshe would (Sforno). Noach needed God to hold him up. He could not walk in God's ways by himself (Rashi). Noach sired three sons: As Noach was a righteous man, undeserving of punishment, his sons and household were savid by his merit. If they had died, it would have been seen as punishment to Noach. Or it could be said that his sons ad household were righteous as well (Ramban). Shem, Cham and Yapheth: We will see that Yapheth is the eldest, but Shem is the most righteous (Ramban). Shem: His name means, "name." He will make a name for himself. Cham: Means "hot." He was hot-blooded and rash. Yaphet: Means, "pleasing." He will strive to please others (Akedat Yitzchak).
1. What was so bad about the "wickedness" of man, that God would want to destroy the world to get rid of it?
2. Why would the commentary contradict the Pshat in saying "God was saddened?"
3. What type of person was Noach?
4. What type of parent was Noach?
Issues in the Text:
5. Is it harder to be an "o.k." person in an evil society, or a good person in a good society?
6. Is it better to be an "o.k." person in an evil society, or a good person in a good society?
7. Is it easier or harder to live a Jewish life in a community where there are no Jews?
We see in the commentaries that it was not the wickedness alone that caused the flood. Rather, it was the extent of the wickedness that brought God to reevaluate creation. Yet how could God be sad? How could God "regret" doing anything? If God is all knowing, how can God make a mistake? The commentaries supply the explanation.
The interpretations concerning Noach differ. There is a real difference of opinion as to whether Noach was a aint or just not so bad a sinner. However, the commentaries agree that his children were not as righteous. They were saved because of Noach
Concerning the issues presented by the text, there are some points to consider:
a. It is harder to keep a to a higher standard than those around you. It's easier to be good in a good society.
b. Is it bettter to be one level above an evil society or an average person in a good society?
c. Examine examples of evil societies in our recent history. Was it better to be a "good person" in Nazi Germany?
d. There is a difference between living a harder life and a better life. Noach's life was harder. We give him credit for being who he was in the face of the obstacles he faced. But, was he a better person for it?