Noah. The New Creation.
Updated: Jan 19, 2020
For thousands of years mankind has told the story of Noah. Of God and of how man fell so far since Adam to a moment where our All Merciful Father deemed it necessary to end creation.
The story has been preserved and told in various ways. From the stories of Babylon and Greece, the memory of this event stands as an enduring scar on humanity. A reminder of the moment God taught us that there are limits to what He can tolerate. That we as humans can be so depraved and that God can be so moved.
Much can be said of the flood stories from the Ancient world. In Scripture, God discloses the truth of the matter. He really did flood the world and end ‘all flesh’. A man called Noah really did survive with his family and mankind didn’t warrant more than the 8 that were saved.
For the most part, our perspective today will be Yeshua’s words in John 5:39;
John 5:39 (NKJV)
9 You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.
How in so much death is it that this story can testify of Messiah?
Our portion begins with Noah.
Genesis 6:9 (NKJV)
9 This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God.
Before our portion we have mention of Noah in chapter 5. Noah was the son of Lamech. In calling him ‘Noah’ Lamech said ‘this one will comfort us concerning our work and the toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord has cursed.’
The saying of Lamech acts as an etymology for Noah’s name, it explains the meaning of the name and like names do in the Bible alludes to the purpose of Noah’s life. He is the one that will bring comfort.
Noah (Noach in Hebrew) is the word for ‘rest’ which can also be translated as comfort. Comfort is ‘yenachem’ in the verse describing the meaning of the name. Noah is the name, or the noun to rest, yenachem is the third person verb of the name Noah. Noah is comfort or rest, ‘yenachem’ is the action of comfort. He is called comfort, for He will bring comfort.
The giving of the name followed by its etymology is similar of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus is the Hebrew word salvation.
He is called salvation ‘for He will save His people.’
Matthew 1:21 (NKJV)
21 … and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
The designation for Noah, as comforter, is one that also belongs to the Messiah. In John 14:16 Yeshua says;
John 14:16 (NKJV)
16 … I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper (comforter), that He may abide with you forever—
Here Yeshua alludes to the giving of the Holy Spirit but as ‘another’ comforter. This informs us that He also fulfils the role of ‘comforter’ to humanity. Later, in the New Testament Yeshua is referred to as ‘comforter’ (1 John 2:1 where ‘advocate’ is the Greek equivalent to comforter in Hebrew.)
Perfect In His Generation
In the Torah, figures that prefigure Messiah don’t have to be exact for exact. Obviously, they are foreshadows of Him but in some cases they contrast Him and where they fell short, He succeeds.
In Noah’s case the sages were quite harsh. Noah is described as a ‘just man, perfect in his generation’. Given that his generation was consumed with violence the sages don’t consider that reference to Noah as much as a compliment. To be righteous amongst ‘that’ generation? Not such a big deal. In defence of the sages view, where other people are called righteous there isn’t the later qualifier of ‘in his generation’. Other people are just righteous.
In Hebraic thought Noah is compared to Moses and Abraham. Where, they say, is Noah pleading for his people to be saved like Abraham? Where is Noah preaching to anybody and where is Noah saving…anybody. The Midrash says;
‘Noah saved only himself, whereas Moses saved himself and his generation…’.
Traditions arose of Noah preaching, perhaps preserving truth or perhaps trying to give the guy a break. The same Midrash portrays people coming to Noah whilst building the ark and asking why? Noah faithfully tells them that a flood is coming but none join him. Another midrash says;
‘Noah took fifty two years to make the ark so that they would repent of their ways. But they did not repent.’
Pirke DeRabbi Eliezer 23
In the New Testament this view is preserved and we are told that Noah was a ‘preacher of righteousness’ (2 Peter 2:5) as was Messiah.
Here though Noah also prefigures Messiah by means of contrast.
Where Noah managed to only save His family, Messiah will bring salvation to the world.
The New Creation
So the flood comes.
Genesis 6:13 (NKJV)
13 And God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth.
Noah finishes his ark and when the time comes he, his family and the animals enter. The Lord himself seems to shut the door.
Genesis 7:16 (NKJV)
16 So those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him; and the Lord shut him in.
And then the waters prevailed upon the earth;
Genesis 7:21 (NKJV)
21 And all flesh died that moved on the earth: birds and cattle and beasts and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, and every man.
We tend to take these events as a chronological story. The author though isn’t writing this as some sort of cause and effect narrative with just Genesis 6 and onwards in view. The author intentionally echoes the language of creation.
YHWH says ‘I will destroy man whom I have created’ and this is contrasted with Genesis 1:26-27 ‘let us make man in our image’. The deluge is contrasted with the creation of the waters and the firmament, the classifications of the animals in Noah’s narrative echo back to creation (6:20, 7:14 to 1:11-12, 21, 24 – 25), the divine blessing given to Noah corresponds to the blessing in the beginning and like the Garden of Eden, Noah lives in harmony with the animals where the wolf dwelt peacefully with the lamb (as in Isaiah 11:6).The connections include the spirit of God hovering over the waters of creation to the ‘spirit’ of God sweeping back the flood waters. The seasons are even reinstated in 8:22 connecting to their creation in 1:14.
Most notably, and according to the chronology of 5:28-29, Noah was the first man to be born following the death of Adam. In this, Noah is the new Adam of the new creation.
1 Corinthians 15:45 (NKJV)
45 And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
In this, Noah foretells of the Messiah.
This is prophecy in many ways. If one corresponds the days given in the flood narrative then the day Noah removed the covering from the ark corresponds to the Festival of Rosh Hoshanah. Rosh Hoshanah is day 1 of the calendar and is the memorial of creation. It just so happens to be the day when the Kings of Israel were crowned and the day which prophecies of the future coming of Messiah.
The ark itself is a powerful symbol.
In Hebrew it’s the word ‘tevah’. It can also be translated as the word for ‘casket’ (as in a casket that is buried at a funeral.)
As above, this alludes to the concept of a new creation and new life. Noah’s departure from the ark is a symbol of resurrection.
I actually find it quite interesting that God repeatedly refers to destroying ‘all flesh’. Whilst we think Noah might have been an exception, in a sense he wasn’t and was likewise put to death to emerge as a new creation.
1 Peter 3 corresponds this imagery to the process of baptism;
1 Peter 3:20–21
20 …the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. 21 There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
This line of thinking even finds its way into Hebraic thought. The Midrash says Moses saw a ‘new world’ when he looked out from the ark. The Lubavicher Rebbe nicely says;
Just as immersion in a mikveh is associated with re-experiencing the act of creation, so too the forty days and forty nights of rain brought about the dawning of a new age: ‘Noach saw a new world”.
Chassidic teaching notes that the word for ‘tevah’ can also be translated as ‘word’.
The sages say the ark, as it can also be understood as ‘word’, is symbolic of prayer (i.e. because of our words). They teach that in the face of life’s ‘floodwaters’ that prayer can be a refuge as the ark was.
That’s a worthy lesson. But I see something so much more in this.
Take Genesis 7:18 which states;
Genesis 7:18 (NKJV)
18 The waters prevailed and greatly increased on the earth, and the ark moved about on the surface of the waters.
The Hebrew for ‘moved’, as in ‘moved about on the surface of the waters’, is ‘telech’. Telech is derived from the word ‘halach’ which I’m sure you’ve heard of. It can be translated as ‘walk’, and not ‘float’.
Therefore, ‘the word walked about on the surface of the waters…’
This alludes to Messiah in a number of ways, most obviously because of Messiah’s actions in the Gospels.
Matthew 14:24–33 (NKJV)
24 But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary.
25 Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. 26 And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear.
27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.”
28 And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”
29 So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”
31 And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.
33 Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.”
The allusions to the Old Testament in this episode are quite vast. It obviously connects well with Noah but there are also deliberate connections to Moses and the Red Sea (another symbol of resurrection).
Rabbinic teaching was that Messiah would be far greater than Moses. Where Moses was drawn out of the water the sages note that the Spirit of Messiah, which is a Jewish reference to the spirit of God in Genesis 1, hovers above the water. This imagery and teaching informs that of the apostles and their view of Yeshua in the Gospel. He is filled with the Spirit of God, the agent of creation, which sits above the water.
The imagery also comes back to ancient thought in general. Water in those days was the symbol of chaos. God in creation is understood to have dominion over chaos and to be the one to bring order as creator. Yeshua’s actions identify Him with the Creator.
The symbolism also makes this point by means of the Psalms and elsewhere in Tanach references.
In Psalms it says of God;
Psalm 77:19 (NKJV)
19 Your way was in the sea,
Your path in the great waters,
And Your footsteps were not known.
The incident with Peter also correlates to YHWH having dominion over water and helping His people.
Psalm 69:15 (NKJV)
15 Let not the floodwater overflow me,
Nor let the deep swallow me up;
And let not the pit shut its mouth on me.
And Psalm 18;
Psalm 18:16 (NKJV)
16 He sent from above, He took me;
He drew me out of many waters.
Job himself says;
Job 9:4–8 (NKJV)
4 God is wise in heart and mighty in strength.
Who has hardened himself against Him and prospered?
5 He removes the mountains, and they do not know
When He overturns them in His anger;
6 He shakes the earth out of its place,
And its pillars tremble;
7 He commands the sun, and it does not rise;
He seals off the stars;
8 He alone spreads out the heavens,
And treads on the waves of the sea;
The Olive Branch
Eventually, Noah comes to ground. When he does he sends the raven, which does not return, and then the dove. He sends the dove 3 times. At the first the dove returns with nothing, the second time the dove returns with an olive leaf, and at the third the dove does not return.
Symbolically, the raven is Satan who like the raven keeps going ‘to and fro’ about the earth.
The dove is a symbol of the holy spirit. We see this in the dove which rested on Messiah when baptised and in the name of Jonah. Yeshua says the only sign given to an adulterous and evil generation (Mat 12:39) will be the sign of Jonah. Jonah in Hebrew means ‘dove’.
The first going of the dove corresponds to the exile. In it, the Holy Spirit and Israel find no rest.
The second corresponds to Messiah. That the dove found an olive tree allegorically refers to the Holy Spirit resting on Messiah. Israel is referred to as the olive tree and Messiah is anointed from the olive tree.
The Hebrew of Genesis 8:11 indicates that the olive tree was ‘torn’. The word is ‘plucked’ but tarap in the Hebrew refers to something ‘freshly torn’. This alludes to the Messiah who was wounded and torn from Israel. The sages add that an olive leaf is bitter which foreshadows the bitter suffering of Messiah.
The sages connect the torn olive branch to the suffering of Joseph.
The Midrash says;
What does the word ‘torn’ mean? It means nothing but ‘killed’, as Jacob says (Gen 38:33), ‘Joseph has surely been ‘torn’ to pieces’.
In addition to Joseph, the rabbis connected the words ‘in her beak was a torn of olive leaf’ (Gen 8:11) to Hosea 6:1-2.
Hosea 6:1–2 (NKJV)
Come, and let us return to the Lord;
For He has torn, but He will heal us;
He has stricken, but He will bind us up.
2 After two days He will revive us;
On the third day He will raise us up,
That we may live in His sight.
One rabbinic commentary says this of the symbolism of the olive leaf;
In her beak was a torn olive leaf. The olive leaf symbolises the punishment of Israel (the olive tree), for it was torn. ‘He was torn, but he will heal’. This means that the affliction itself will bring the healing. By means of the affliction, He brings healing. The cure is in the coming of the Messiah. The torn olive leaf is the Messiah son of David.
The sages speculate as to where the dove retrieved the olive leaf. Various answers abound, yet the Targum records ‘she took it from the Mountain of Messiah’. The place where He was afflicted and ‘torn’.
The third time the dove departs it does not return, it finds sure footing on the ground. This alludes to the true third temple and the Messianic era when the Spirit of God will be poured out on all flesh.
Abraham and the Olive Tree
A passage from the Talmud highlights how Israel, as the olive tree, must be crushed through suffering.
At the time of the destruction of the Temple, the Holy One, blessed be He, found Abraham standing in the ruins. He asked him, ‘What has my beloved to do in my house? (Jer 11:15). Abraham replied, ‘I have come concerning the fate of my children.’ He said, ‘they have sinned and gone into exile’…when Abraham heard this, he put his head in his hands and wept bitterly, crying, ‘perhaps, God forbid, there is no hope left for them’. Then a voice from heaven went forth and said ‘the Lord called your name, ‘a green olive tree, beautiful in fruit and form’ (Jeremiah 11:16). Just as the olive tree produces its best only at the end of the process (of crushing), so Israel will flourish at the end’.
In the midst of the flood the Torah says something interesting. It states that ‘God remembered Noah’ and that He then caused the ‘wind to pass over the earth’ which caused the waters to subside.
Remembering in the Bible is not a cognitive thing. It’s a remembrance of one’s relationship, of covenant, of responsibility, or obligation etc. It’s far more than what the surface suggests.
This verse has some serious importance to it.
If you take the story of the flood from Genesis 6 to 9 it follows a very large and impressive chiastic structure.
It goes a little like this;
A Noah (6:10a) __B Shem, Ham, and Japheth (6:10b) ___C Ark to be built (6:14-16) ____D Flood announced (6:17) _____E Covenant with Noah (6:18-20) ______F Food in the ark (6:21) _______G Command to enter the ark (7:1-3) ________H 7 days waiting for flood (7:4-5) _________I 7 days waiting for flood (7:7-10) __________J Entry to ark (7:11-15) ___________K The LORD (YHWH) shuts Noah in (7:16) ____________L 40 days of flood (7:17a) _____________M Waters increase (7:17b-18) ______________N Mountains covered (7:19-20) _______________O 150 days: water prevail (7:21-24) ________________P GOD REMEMBERS NOAH (8:1) _______________O’ 150 days: waters abate (8:3) ______________N’ Mountain tops visible (8:4-5) _____________M’ Waters abate (8:5) ____________L’ 40 days (end of) (8:6a) ___________K’ Noah opens window of ark (8:6b) __________J’ Raven and dove leave ark (8:7-9) _________I’ 7 days waiting for waters to subside (8:10-11) ________H’ 7 days waiting for waters to subside (8:12-13) _______G’ Command to leave ark (8:15-17 ) ______F’ Food outside ark (9:1-4) _____E’ Covenant with all flesh (9:8-10) ____D’ No flood in the future (9:11-17) ___C’ Ark left (9:18a) __B’ Shem, Ham and Japheth (9:18b) A’ Noah (9:19)
Every statement of the story has a corresponding statement on its opposite half of the narrative.
The peak of the story however, being the point of the story which everything else refers to, does not have a corresponding statement. It stands alone and is emphasised by everything else.
The peak of the story of Noah is chapter 8:1. God remembered Noah.
Unfortunately the focus when studying the flood is elsewhere and we miss the point.
The point is that God saves. He drew Noah out from death itself and gave him life. Later, God will remember Israel, He remembers his prophets, the patriarchs, and one day, God willing, He will remember you.
YHWH says, following the flood;
Genesis 9:16 (NKJV)
16 The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.”
Ezekiel illuminates the imagery of the rainbow for us.
Ezekiel 1:26–28 (NKJV)
26 And above the firmament over their heads was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like a sapphire stone; on the likeness of the throne was a likeness with the appearance of a man high above it. 27 Also from the appearance of His waist and upward I saw, as it were, the color of amber with the appearance of fire all around within it; and from the appearance of His waist and downward I saw, as it were, the appearance of fire with brightness all around. 28 Like the appearance of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the brightness all around it. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.
Yeshua is the Glory of God, the rainbow, as described in Ezekiel.
So it shall be in the end that the Messiah – the likeness and glory of God – shall be seen in the cloud.
Matthew 24:30 (NKJV)
30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
Noah, the ‘second Adam’, foreshadows the coming Messiah.
1 Corinthians 15:47 (NKJV)
47 The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven.
‘This one (i.e. Messiah) does comfort us concerning the work and toil of our hands...’ (Genesis 5:29).
Come soon Messiah.