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Ch. 2: Parshat NOAḤ (Gen. 6:9 – 11:32)

Yitzḥaq Ḥayut-Man & Tirẓah Arzi 31.03.2010 03:48
Ch. 2: Parshat NOAḤ (Gen. 6:9 – 11:32)

Operation Re-GENESIS NOW, II: The Likely destruction of humankind in our times and its possible restitution by the Noahides.

                  Parshat Noaḥ (Gen. 6:9 – 11:32)
                        The Flood and the Tower of Babel

1. The Name of the Parashah and its opening sentence.
2. Overview: A Second Beginning for Humankind.
3. The Flood and Ark -Parallel ancient myths and contemporary stories.
4. The Number Seven in the story of Noah. 
5. The Sin of Adam, the Restitution of Noah and his Sin.
6. The contention between the Sons of Noah – the second division among brothers
7. The Character of the Ark.
8. The Ark of No’aḥ and the Ark of Moses
9. About the Ark and the Torah Scribes of the Temple.
10. Teachings of the Earth and the Esoteric Science of the Ark
11. The Inner Meaning of the Ark
12. Noah and “the Generation of the Separation” – the Great Builders
13. About the sins of the Generation of Division
14. The Confusion of Languages
15. The Academy of Shem and Ever
16. The Seventy Nations of the Descendants of No’aḥ. 
17. The Seven Noahide Commands – a New Ecological Dispensation.

Appendix A: About the names of Noah and his Sons.ḥ-and-his-sons
Appendix B: Some Secrets of the Ark and its Ẓohar.ẓohar 

Appendix C: The Ẓohar as window for renewed Vision. (not posted yet)
Appendix D: The Noahide Teachings’ Potential as “Torah of the Tree of Life”.  (not posted yet)


The Name of the Parashah and its Opening Sentence.

According to our approach, the name of a Parashah (weekly reading portion of the Torah) can give a key for understanding the ensemble of the issues and events discussed in it. According to a certain school of Qabbalah meditation,[1]  the names of the first Parashot (the plural form) can be read as a continuum that makes a statement. The words "Bereshit, Noaḥ, Lekh lekha" are instructions for guiding the contemplation: In the beginning get inside yourself, get into the passive relaxation – menuḥah or Mano'aḥ – and from that menuḥah get out and start going your own particular path.

After the fast flow of the acts of genesis and after the misdeeds of the first ten generations of humankind there comes an interval – mano'a - whose protagonist is No'a.

In addition to the motif of interval- mano'aḥ, the name No'a (נח) is also associated with its anagram, the concept of "en" (חן) – "And No'ah found en (Grace) in the eyes of the Lord" (6:8). This word is also used as an acronym for "okhmat haNistar" (חכמת הנסתר) – which is the more arcane teachings of the Torah. The Biblical arcane is named by the sages as learning "the Works of Genesis" (ma'ạse Bereshit) and "the Works of the Chariot/Assembly" (ma'ạse Merkavah). In our discussion of the Bereshit Portion we tried to comprehend a few of the secrets of "the Works of Bereshit", whereas from here on we'll try to glean some of the taste of "ma'ạse haMerkavah" – the secrets of the assembly and construction that are coded in the two tales of buildings of this portion – that of the Noah's Ark and the Tower of Babel.

Now here is the first verse of Parashat Noa'ḥ: These are the generations of noaḥ, noaḥ was a just man and perfect in his generations, and noaḥ walked with God".

The opening verse of this portion has three parts to it:

"These are the generations of noaḥ" - eleh toldot No'aḥ. Our world is the outcome of the actions of Noaḥ. In the preceding portion we have analyzed the word "Elohim" (God) as constituted of two words, Mi and Eleh, and associated the Mi (who) with the hidden and the Eleh ("these") with the manifest. Noaḥ is indeed the archetype of the manifested, as we shall presently see from the third part of the verse. (the value by Gematria of the three Hebrew words is 876 and equals 12 x 73, see the significance below).

"Noaḥ was a just man and perfect (tamim) in his generations" – The word Tamim means "whole". Noaḥ was taking care of the entire living world with all its details.

"And Noaḥ walked with God" – et haElohim hithalekh No'a. The unique Hebrew word "et" (את) (which appeared already twice in the first verse of the Book of Genesis), made of the first and last Hebrew letters, implies comprehensiveness and inclusion. Noaḥ was the carrier of the genetic code for all humankind and the biosphere, he was the new "Adam" from whom started the story of remaking the human race. In a slightly different reading: "et haElohim " can be read as "Atah Elohim" – "You are God" – denoting an I-Thou relationship, a life of relationship of continuing conversation with God.
The expression "walk with God" (hithalekh et haElohim) is used only one more time, before in relation to Enoch-anokh. Enoch merited to ascend and be a master of the higher world (the Mi), whereas Noaḥ, on the other hand, whose title is "the man (or husband) of the earth (Ish haAdamah)", merited to be appointed for saving the earth (Eleh).
Thus enfolded in this first sentence is a message of sustenance of a whole world of care for its detailed members and maintaining relationships of I-Thou. The sentence is made of 13 words and thus implies the sacred geometry of the 13, which is a "star number" ("Star of David or Hexagram). The name Noah repeats in this compact sentence three times, to emphasize its intrinsic meaning.

In the preceding chapter, we have dealt with the second star number, with 37 elements, and the third, with 73 elements, and associated them with Wisdom. In the final chapter, about Parashat vaYeḥi, we shall find that the Gematria value of Yisra'el/Israel is also a star number (the tenth star number – 541). Likewise 37 (the second star number) appears in the names of all the Tribes of Israel arrayed in the high priest's breastplate according to their order of birth (namely, without Levi but including Menashe and Ephraim). There the name of each tribe, whether alone or together with the name of the neighboring tribe name, produces a multiple of 37. Here is a hint to the most basic Star Number, that of 13, which has great significance in Judaism and symbolizes providence.

                      [chart of the first three star numbers appears in chapter
                       one in the discussion of the numbers 2701, 37 and 73]

As already noted – in this short sentence of 13 words the name of No'aḥ appears no less than three times. This hints that there is in this Torah portion special significance to issues of names, and the intricacies of semantics and language. The first Adam gave names to all the animals. Calling by names is the very basis for language and civilization. It is only through having a language that the great construction jobs – of Noaḥ's Ark and of the Tower of Babel.
The founder of the Hassidic movement, the Ba'ạl Shem tov ("master of the Good Name"), explained the command "Come thou… into the ark (Tevah)" (Gen. 7:1) not as meaning a physical vessel, but as a semantic ark, the Word (also Tevah in Hebrew). We shall follow his lead.

The Gematria of the name "Noaḥ" (נח) is 58. Noaḥ "walked with God" (hithalekh et haElohim) – talked with God as "thou – Atah. The deepest inter-subjective relationship is the Atah - "I-Thou" - relationship, as taught by the philosopher Martin Buber in his classical book "I and Thou", and God is essentially "the Eternal Thou". Atah (אתה) is the first Name of God, as is expressed in any Jewish benediction: "barukh Atah YHWH our God the Master of the Universe who… ". The most important divinity is "Atah", and the other Holy Names are just titles. And behold, the Gematria value of the word "Atah" is 406, that is seven times 58 (58 x 7 = 406).

"For all flesh had corrupted its way upon the earth". According to Rashi (the major Torah commentator), "even animals and birds mated with other species". That is, there was a disintegration of the genetic codes, harmful mutations were produced, identity was lost and the global ecosystem was corrupted. It was humankind that was (would be) responsible to all these, since Adam was told, "cursed is the ground (Adamah – the living earth) for thy sake" (3:17). The remedy, in any case, involved much toil of building – the building of the Ark.
"Make thee an ark of Gofer wood": What Noah was to build is actually a multidimensional construction, not just a three-dimensional design of clearly specified length, width and height (5:15) as we'll examine shortly, but the building of a vehicle, a shuttle (ma'ạboret) through dimensions of time and soul. Noah's ark is the only object to make a transit (ma'ạvar, related to Ịvri - Hebrew) from the antediluvian world to the renewed world after the flood. The ark transports not only the natural ecosystem (Nefesh) but also the artificial-human culture based on language and memory.
In the Sefer Yeẓirah that we have already mentioned, the world maker formed his world by five dimensions, which include "the Sacred Shrine" (Heikhal haQodesh), which is a cubical prism of five dimensions. Here we have Noah forming and working like God and building a 5D prism to sustain and transfer all living souls from past to future. 
Overview: A Second Beginning for Humankind

After ten generations, which make a complete era, God could make a summary of the experiment with the human race, and the summary was negative: “And the Lord- YHWH saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that all the impulse (Yetser) of the thoughts of the heart was only evil. And the Lord repented that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at the heart. And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the Adamah… for I repent that I have made them” (6:5-7). Ostensibly – this was an “original sin”, where humans are evil from their basis. However, in fact – a new beginning, an opportunity for the restitution of what went wrong.[2]
Once more, human history starts from the beginning, but this time, instead of the contrived paradise formed by the creator, there was formed by the man who was selected “a just man (adiq) and perfect in his generations”, a new “artificial paradise”. The emphasis this time is not on the flora “every tree that is pleasant to the sight” (Gen. 2:9) – but upon the fauna “and of every living thing of all flesh...  to keep them alive with thee” (Gen. 6:19). Yet also the role of the Trees within the Garden – the Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life will not be absent in the following.
Both the Ark of Noaḥ and the Garden of Ẹden serve as environments – biospheres – given by God to man for custody. Both of them include a complete genetic reservoir.
The first Adam came into a ready thing, received a magnificent biosphere, where his sole role was “to till it and to keep it” (2:15), and he did not succeed in it for even a short period.
Noaḥ, on the other hand, was commanded to build the Ark – “a genetic bank” – to collect all the species, bring them into the Ark and then to pass an extended pregnancy-like process – of one year and ten days. This is the apprenticeship period, in which Noaḥ and his sons learnt a lesson of the maintenance of the inhabitable land - “and He destroyed every living substance (Yequm-Ecumene) which was upon the face of the Adamah (Living Earth-Gaia), both man, and cattle, and creeping things, and the birds of the heaven, they were destroyed from the earth (Gen. 7:23).

Here is how Midrash Tanḥuma describes this apprenticeship year:
    “For all the twelve months that Noaḥ stayed in the Ark, he knew no sleep. Neither he nor his sons, neither at day nor at night, as he was busy feeding the creatures that were with him. He would give each beast, animal or fowl their feed in their known time, the time they are used to eat. There is a beast that eats once a day and there are that eat twice and in the early night or at midnight, and some when the cock crows, and he would give each their food in their hour”. (Old Tanḥuma, 18).

The Flood and Ark - Parallel Ancient Myths and Contemporary Stories

The Bible is not the sole source that attributes the rescue of the divine creation from a flood to a hero/virtuous person. In the ancient Epic of Gilgamesh, Uttnapishti – the Sumerian parallel to Noaḥ – saves both all the animals and the human civilization: he takes with his in the Ark also the artisans and professionals. According to the Sumerian tradition of the Flood, the Books of Wisdom were hidden safely before the flood.
Particularly pertinent for our discussion is the declared reason for the flood according to the Babylonian tradition: Atra Hasis (“Noaḥ”) was asked to preserve his vessel, with the very symbolic name of “preserver of Life”, because the gods did not manage to control births, and there rose a concern of population explosion. The great message to humankind, as the flood subsided, was not a promise for regular world order such as “neither will I again smite any more everything living, as I have done. While the earth remains, seed time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease (Gen. 8:21-22), but finding less radical methods of handling the fear of overpopulation: barrenness, infant mortality, plagues and hunger.
It was Plato who added to human civilization the flood of Atlantis. The myth of the land that went astray and therefore got lost in the flood received in our times a new impetus: hundreds, probably thousands of books are being written about Atlantis, even though hardly any archeological evidence for the Platonic story has turned up. In the Chapter on “The Cities of Plato” (in his book “The Dimensions of Paradise”) John Michell makes a thorough analysis of the reasons for the creation of the myth of Atlantis: Plato planned a new ideal city, Magnesia, and even proposed its laws. The difference between the two cities, according to Plato, was in the pattern of the cities: Atlantis based itself upon the decimal system of ten, which Michell exposes as deficient, whereas Magnesia was intended to be based upon the Twelve. In the following, we shall see a great parallel between this approach of Plato and the Biblical approach, which also strives towards the restitution of human society based on pattern of the Twelve Tribes.

We may recall another ancient myth, a Biblical one, that even though it does not treat a flood, it deals with the great waters, a quasi-ark and its additional function, of metamorphosis and rebirth, which we shall discuss in the sequel. This is the story of Jonah the prophet and his journey inside the “great Fish” appointed by God. There, in the depth of the “ark” that was intended to save him from the raging waters of the sea, Jonah prayed and received a reprieve, and agreed to accept the prophetic mission for the city of Nineveh. The soul of Jonah underwent a metamorphosis and he became a prophet. He hoped that God would upturn Nineveh, just as he did to Sodom and Gomorrah, but the real turning was the moral turning that the citizens of Nineveh experienced as they repented.
In our generation, there are new myths that recall the image of the Ark: I refer to Science Fiction books, in which spaceship transfer humans, and the entire ecosphere, from our destroyed world towards new worlds. A case in point is Arthur C. Clark, with his series of “Space Odyssey” books: not only are the ship’s crew held frozen until their arrival at the goal, but also there appears a mysterious object, with a perfectly proportioned rectangular prism, the monolith, serves for creating the appropriate infrastructure for new human colonization in our solar system. Nowadays there is such a project in the research stage.[3]  In appendix 2-C we shall offer a parallel between the Ark and the refugee ships that led the remnant of the holocaust to the Old-New homeland.

The Number Seven in the story of Noaḥ.

In the first chapter, Parashat Bereshit, we noticed the significance of the number seven, which appears in the primordial Seven Days of Creation and the principle of the seventh day, which is the day of rest (Menuah). Also in the portion of Noaḥ (whose name is connected with Menuah) the number seven is mentioned in connection with rest: "And the Ark rested (vatana) in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat" (8:4). The dove that Noaḥ sent to check if the water were abated, returned because "the dove found no rest (mano'a) for the sole of her foot" and then, "And he waited yet another seven days, and again he set forth the dove out of the ark" (8:10), and then "And he waited yet another seven days, and again he set forth the dove, which returned not again to him any more" (8:12). The dove that hovers and finds no rest for her feet reminds of the verse "And wind/spirit (Ru'aḥ) from God hovered over the face of the waters", and in the Midrash of the Sages it is explained by Resh laqish "And wind/spirit (Ru'aḥ) from God hovered over the face of the waters, this is the spirit of the King Messiah" (Bereshit Raba 8a, vayirra Raba 14a). We know from Isaiah (11:1-2) that the Spirit of the Messiah is sevenfold: "And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Yishay, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. And the spirit of the Lord (1) shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom (2) and understanding (3), the spirit of counsel (4) and might (5), the spirit of knowledge (6) and awe of the Lord (7)".[4]  The number seven appears two more times in the portion, once explicitly – Noah was commanded, seven days before the onset of the flood, to bring seven pairs of the clean (tahor) beasts and birds – and once implicitly in a way that needed deciphering, in the later expression of "The Seven Noahide commandments", which we shall discuss below.

The Sin of Adam, the Restitution of Noaḥ and his Sin

We have already mentioned in the former chapter (Bereshit) that after Adam ate of the Tree of Knowledge, God withheld from him the Tree of Life.
Noaḥ is the representative of the Tree of Life, even though the genetic pool in the Ark was no longer a natural genetic pool, but one involved with human intervention: Noaḥ was commanded to take seven from each type of the “clean beasts”, which gave advantage for the domesticated animals.
Adam, as we recall, was the first commanded for the care of the earth: “Be fruitful and multiply, replenish the earth, and subdue her”. Noaḥ, the second inheritor of the earth – was no longer commanded to subdue the earth. He was appointed to recover the curse of the earth, the “cursed is the ground (Adamah – the Living Earth) for thy sake”. He was appointed to treat the earth with compassion after the flood. In return, God-Elohim – who, we recall, is equal with “The Nature” – promised that there will be no more floods upon earth.
Nevertheless, Noaḥ too did not meet all the expectations. He was “Ish ha’Adamah” – “the husband of the Living Earth” – and knew the nature of each plant. But instead of returning to cultivate the trees that would bear fruits for his descendents, he hurried to gratify his immediate desires. Right upon leaving the Ark, Noaḥ planted a vine, in order to become intoxicated with its fruit as quickly as possible, from a short range economic-hedonistic consideration (to act only for the sake of the Fruits of the Action) – and to bring to self-forgetting (it was for a reason that the traditional interpreters were divided into those who identified the Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge with wheat, and those who identified it with grapes). Abraham, who came to restore that which Noaḥ failed to, was tried repeatedly by trials that required patience.
Yet there is advantage in the restoration that Noaḥ effected over the action of Adam. Noaḥ yielded to the temptation of the fruit of the earth only after he completed successfully his initiation in the guardianship and maintenance of the earth and after he learnt to respect the identity of every species, and to help safeguard the biodiversity.
His descendents, the protagonists of the other part of the portion, the builders of the Tower of Babel, would try to overturn this balance.

The contention between the Sons of Noah
- The Second division among brothers

The survey of the Book of Genesis reveals six acts of struggle among brothers, and in the Book of Exodus appears another, seventh act of reconciliation and completion/ complementarity – a pattern that largely parallels the six stages of the creation and the completion of the seventh, the Sabbath. There is an interesting association between the set of brotherly struggles and questions of attire, of cloth – Hebrew Beged – and betrayal – Hebrew Begidah, the feminine form of Beged – of trust. In the 1st portion of Genesis we came upon the issue of nakedness – after Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, "And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves loincloth" (3:7), and also "I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked" (3:10) – which leads to the result that: "For the man also and his wife did the Lord God made coats of skins, and clothed them" (3:21). There was a guilt feeling and that there was something to hide. It is possible to say that the struggle between Qayin-Cain and Hevel-Abel was about exposure and hiding of face.
When Jacob went to receive the blessing of his father by cheating, he took his cheated brother's cloths, whereas Joseph wore "a long sleeve coat" as a sign of his being preferable to his brothers. The envious brothers caught Joseph, stripped him of the coat and used it to cover their sin.
In the tale of completion, in the seventh act of the relationship of Moses and Aaron, we shall see (Exodus, 28) how Moses prepared the most glorious cloths in order to cloteh his brother Aaron.

In any case, the division among the brothers here is about respect to the common father – which is the basis for brotherhood. When brothers respect their father and their common heritage, there is a chance for a certain reconciliation and complementarity between them. This we shall see in the next case, when Ishmael and Isaac together buried their father. Ham tried to make a mockery of their common father, whereas Shem and Yefet cooperated in maintaining the father's respectability.
The names of the sons of Noah, which denote recognized human races, can also be explained as verbal symbols, names (shemot) that carry meaning (mashm'ut) – which do not necessarily parallel the racial divisions, but relate to levels of the soul. Shem is a representation of lam habri'ah, the soul level of Neshamah and the meaning - mashm'ut – of words and forms. Japhet-Yefet is a representation of lam haYeirah and the soul level of Spirit, characterized by magnificence and beauty – Yofi. am is a representation of lam hassiyah, the World of Action and of Matter – in Hebre omer (the word "chemistry was derived originally from the name am, the knowledge that developed in the land of the Children of am – Egypt).

Jews are used to call the Torah "Torat haShem", which means literally "The Teaching of the Name". We saw in the last chapter that there is a cognitive meaning to the names of the protagonists of the tale of the Tree of Knowledge, and that their names represent kinds of knowing – guesswork, experiment and metaphoric imagination. Also with the sons of Noaḥ there are three types of knowledge that constitute the language of human communications.[5]  Shem (literally "name") has to do with speech and naming – Semantics; Yefet (a name related to beauty – yofi) represents the vision of structure, the aesthetician-grammarian – Syntax; whereas am is the actor – man of pragmatics. When the pragmatic and intention of communication hold no respect to the father, namely the culture that one springs from, trouble is likely. The rectification would come through the choice of an "Av-ram" – an ideal father figure for guiding the offspring.

The Nature and Character of the Ark

The ark – Tevah – safeguarded and saved nature - haTeva. Noting the precise terms, Noah was not commanded to build the ark but to “make thee an ark” (Gen. 5:14). Only later, upon his exit from the ark, he built: “And Noah built an altar to the Lord”. In Hebrew, the ark is not a house, which is in the masculine gender, but is of the feminine gender. The ark is a womb in which the world would be made anew.[6]

The Zohar goes far in this direction, and sees No’aḥ’s entry into the Ark a sexual union – the union of the Sefirah of Yesod-Foundation (which is called “adiq”, namely “righteous”, as referred to No’aḥ) with the Sefirah of Malkhuth-Kingdom. “For the Adamah (Living Earth/”Gaia”) is Malkhuth, and the Yesod is the male partner of the Malkhuth, in order to connect with her and to maintain the seed of the whole world…” (Zohar for No’aḥ, 5, my translation).
However, even if there was no real coitus involved, there is no doubt that No’aḥ was appointed guardian of the seed: with the help of a hard “shell” – the walls of the Ark – he guarded the nucleus that contained the genetic endowment needed for the renewal of the biosphere. This is much like the modern imitations of that Ark, the attempts to build artificial biospheres that may conserve whole ecosystems on Days of Ire of ecological holocaust 

About the Ark of No’aḥ and of Moses

The next appearance of an ark (Tevah) in the Torah comes with the birth of Moses-Moshe and hiding him from the edict against the children of Israel: "Every son that is born you shall cast into the river" – here too this entails destruction by water. When Moshe was three months old – "And when she could no longer hide him, she took for him a Tevah made of papyrus, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child in it; and she laid it in the rushes by the river's brink" (Exodus 2:3). There is a similarity between the preparation of Moses' ark and the making of Noah's ark, where it was commanded: "Make thee an ark of gofer wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shall pitch it within and without with pitch" (Gen. 6.14).

In the history of the people of Israel, there is a place of great respect to various items called "Tevah" (ark). We take the Torah scrolls from a "Tevah", and Moses himself is the prime example of extracting Torah from the Tevah: at the beginning of his life the "Tevah" saved him from drowning (Tvi'ạh), and in the prime of his life he received the Torah and wrote it, and it was placed in the Aron hadut  (Ark of the Covenant) in the Tabernacle and later in the First Temple – and till today we put the Torah scrolls in a "Tevah" and the common expression for the leader of the community prayer is "he who goes in front of the Tevah".

About the Ark and the Torah Scribes of the Temple.

There are evident connections, both geometrical-symbolic and functional, between the pattern of No’aḥ’s Ark and the Tabernacle and Temple, connections that are supported by the calculations given in appendix 2-B.

Let us assume for now that one of the suppositions we raised in the introduction chapter – that the scribes of the First Temple were those who wrote or edited the Torah – is valid. The priests of the First Temple lived with the knowledge – derived from the prophets of their time – that the Temple was due to be destroyed by invaders from the North, and that the Torah will become a testament for assuring the restoration of the Temple in the future. Tor this end, it would be required to preserve the people through the interim period, from destruction until restoration, and this is actually the allegorical contents of the story of the flood and the Ark.
The formative experience of Israel and of the Jewish people is that of exile and return. Survival in the flood was an allegory for Life in the exile, and the story of Noah is a story of exile and return to the beloved earth. The threat of the destruction of the People of Israel became in the Biblical narrative the destruction of all humankind. "No’aḥ and his sons" are those of the people of Israel who would remain connected to the Torah and would assure the preservation and the restoration of the nation. It is possible to go further with the allegory and regard the temple's scribes as identifying themselves with “No’aḥ and his sons”, who build the Ark and preserve all those within it. Who was the enemy who destroyed the temple and sent the (prime part of the) people on exile? This was "the evil Babel", there is thus no wonder that the characterization of "the axis of evil" in this tale was put on Babel whose people wanted to make a name for themselves, showed impudence towards heaven and confused the language.
The earth became corrupt (vatishaḥet haAreẓ) before God, and the earth was filled with violence (Ḥamas)… (5:11). Do we not recognize these words from the prophecies of wrath of the prophets anticipating the destruction? For example, the prophet Jeremiah threatens “Behold, I am against thee, O destroying mountain (Har haMashḥit), says the Lord, which destroyest all the earth” (Jer. 51:25), or Ezekiel, who was brought to the company of the elders of Israel who “have filled the land with violence  (Ḥamas) (8:17). (and in our times, has there not risen the organization of the  Ḥamas as adversary (Satan) against us?)

The Ark is thus a kind of ferryboat between “the old world” that was destroyed and wiped out, and “the new world”. The Ark passes the codes of two genetic pools – the physical and the cultural – so that they can set root and bear fruit in the new world.

Also the second story of the Parashah of No’aḥ – the story of the Tower of Babel – fits in with this description, which returns us to the story of Babylon and of the Diaspora, that is the exiles. It pertains to many diasporas, Tefuot, which means that the role of the Ark does not end with the terra firma of the Second Temple, but must still carry the seed along “the Exiles of Edom and of Ishmael” (Christianity and Islam), till our own times.

Teachings of the Earth and the Esoteric Science of the Ark

Unlike Jewish clerics for whom the Torah is their trade, we may say about No’aḥ and his sons, that their work was their Torah. The building of an Ark of such gigantic size must have required decades of work. Midrash Tanḥuma amplifies even more the construction process and tells that No’aḥ and his sons planted and grew the cedar trees for the Ark. The construction required complete comprehension of the requirements of all living creatures, and their gathering two by two required even more.

Then they toiled for exactly one year in order to maintain the whole biosphere, the “Genetic Bank” of the whole settled earth, the Ecumene. From the entry into the Ark on the 17th of the Second Month, until the exit from it on the 27th of the Second Month (of the next lunar year) there passed exactly one solar year of 365 days. Why did the stay in the Ark last so long when the actual flood itself lasted for “only” 40 days and 40 nights? Because the sons of No’aḥ had to exercise the upkeep of the biosphere for a whole solar year - which is the minimal whole period, “one day” from the perspective of the whole earth.
Therefore, the major instruction to the sons of No’aḥ is, in the overt sense, in the settling of the world (Yishuvo shel Ọlam). We may see in this their toil at the two lower levels of the Ark – of the food stores (the “belly”) and of the cells/cages of the various animals (the “chest”). But as we’ve drawn a parallel between the Ark and the Tabernacle and the worship in it, we shall describe here also a possible hidden aspect of the instruction of the Ark, as is implied by the literary and Gematric connections of the Ark of No’a with the N - acronym for okhmat haNista – the Arcane Wisdom of the Torah.

The Inner Meaning of the Ark

The verse “And No’ah found Grace in the Eyes of the Lord” is said in Hebrew “veNo’aḥ maẓa Ḥen be’Ẹyne YHWH”. In the same sentence we find two hints to the esoteric wisdom. The entry into the Ark is like the entry into the PaRDeS[7]:  The Pshat, or ordinary meaning, is the very toil in the preservation of the fauna and flora, as well as the skills for agricultural work. The Remez – hint – is given in the dimensions of the Ark, that comprise, as shown in appendix 2-B, a tripling of the dimensions of the Tabernacle; the Drash – exegesis - is in the allegory we drew between the story of the flood and the story of the destruction and restoration of the Temple; whereas the Sod – secret – is given in the linguistic parallel between the dimensions of the Ark to the names of YHWH.
The command “enter thee into the Tevah-Ark” explained the founder of Hassidut, Rabbi Yisrael Ba’al Shem Tov - in a mystical manner – relates to the Tevah, namely the Word uttered in the prayer. This is true about any word in the prayer, but especially true of the essence of the prayer, the Name of the receiver of the prayer: namely, one should express correctly the name of the Lord - “the expressed name” (haShem haMeforash) of YHWH. As we know, for very long time already the Jews have not been uttering the name of YHWH, but only the name “Adonay” (and those who still dare and try still to express the name of the Lord in their prayer, do so through combinations of the two names, such as YaHdoWnaHy). “The Entry into the Tevah” is what still allows connection with the Name of HaWaYaH (Being).

Let us examine the inner meanings (Kawanot) of these words and letters. Through them, we shall try to understand how is it possible to make a connection between this mystical interpretation and the physical Ark built by No’aḥ.
According to the mystical teachings, a person does not fulfill the commandment “to know the Name of the Lord” without intention – Kawannah – of conjoining (Zivug) and unification (Yiḥud) between the Divine Names. All the workings of the Ark, as we already said, have been acts of conjunction between No’aḥ and the Ark.
Recall that the Ark is female, and thus corresponds to the “Sefirah of Malkhut”, the only one Sefirah that is always feminine. She is represented by the name that the one who prays actually utters – Adonay. Whereas No’aḥ, who is the male in the workings of the Ark “et haElohim hit’halekh no’aḥ” – Noah walked with God (Gen. 5:9) (which has strong sexual connotations), he therefore represents the Name Y-H-W-H, the Name that is written in the prayer books but is not pronounced, according to the pronouncement “Y-H-W-H hu haElohim” – the Lord is God – made at the conclusion of the Day of Atonement.

Now let us “conjoin” these two Divine Names, namely multiply them by each other:
    The letter Y’od (י) equals 10 (by Gematria), whereas A’leph (א) = 1. The sum of their multiplication (which is the Qabbalah practice of their conjunction) is 10. This is the basic unit, or module, of the Ark, as well as the dimension of the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle. The letter H’e (ה) = 5 and D’alet (ד) = 4, and their multiplication is 20, and
 this the length (in cubits) of the Heikhal in the Tabernacle. The two measures together (10+20) give 30, the height of the Ark, as is the length of the Tabernacle, which was built of two parts – 10 of the Holy of Holies, and 20 of the Heikhal). The conjoining-multiplication of the 3rd letter in the Name of YHWH, namely W’aw (ו) = 6, with the 3rd letter in the name Adonay (אדני) – N’un (נ; Gematria value 50) – is 300, which is the length of the Ark. The fourth letter H’eh, when multiplied by the 4th letter of Adonay (אדני), Y’od – give the value of 50, which is the width of the Ark. Therefore, according to the hint of the Ba’l Shem Tov  (the Master of the Good Name), the commandment “Come into the Ark” gives instruction how to make the inner orientation in prayer. This means how to pronounce “the expressed Name”, so that it will not be forgotten from Israel even after the destruction of the Temple (in which the Holy Name used to be announced by the High Priest), and to preserve Israel as “The nation of those who know the Name” even through the exile that brings amnesia.

The entry into the ark for the purpose of passing over from an old world to a new one is also allegorical to the states of cocoon and metamorphosis in biology. The caterpillar (which moves two-dimensionally upon surfaces) enters into the shell of the cocoon and into a static state of sleep (where perhaps it dreams of its transformation to a winged being), to emerge eventually as a winged creature that can fly freely in a three-dimensional space.

It is also possible to see a parallel between Noah's ark and the vision of the future temple in Ezekiel. The ark is built of small spaces – Qinim – which we can call cells. But the word "cells" (Ta'im) first appears in Ezekiel's temple vision. It can be shown that, compared with the few cells that were in the temple that got destroyed, the temple that Ezekiel envisages will contain thousands of cells, whose function is not specified. The pattern of cells that fill the ark recalls the closely packed cells of a beehive in which the bees undergo their metamorphosis. It is thus possible to understand that the function of the temple cells in the vision of Ezekiel is to facilitate entry into the experience of spiritual transformation and revelation of the Neshamah (over-soul).

Noah and “the Generation of the Separation” – the Great Builders.

Two canonical building efforts are found at the core of this Parasha, one opposite to the other: the Building of the Ark, and the Building of “a tower, whose top may reach to heaven” in Babel.

Noaḥ gathered in one structure the whole of the creation - the ecosystem –with a clear objective to spread it later, a spreading intended to guard and fortify it; the people of the Tower of Babel aspired to unify all the human endeavor and gather it in one man-made structure, and were punished by spreading abroad, a spreading aimed to confuse and weaken them, but essentially to regain the diversity.
In order to distinguish between these two types of building acts, we may turn to one of the seminal Christian thinkers, to St. Augustine, who distinguished two types of cities: the material city – with examples by the city of Qayin-Cain and later the city of Babel which desired a tower that reaches to heaven, and opposite it the spiritual city – like Noaḥ’s Ark and later also Shalem, the city of Malkiẓedeq (Melchizedek, literally Ki
ng of justice). 

The whole of human history, claimed Augustine, is the struggle between the two types of cities: between the sinful City of Man and the just City of God. In our terms, between Babel and Jerusalem, between corruption and restitution.
The construction of the Ark is the third building act reported in the Bible. God built the rib He took from Adam into a woman (Gen. 2:22), Qayin built a city (4:17), and Noaḥ was commanded to construct an ark. This was actually the first “condominium”, shared by all living creatures - the Ecumene or the ecosystem. It was also the home of the renewed humankind – from Noaḥ and his sons omwards. The ark was intended to conserve the ecumene from the impending flood, which was threatening to annihilate the order of the creation in which “let there be a firmament… and let it divide water from water” (Gen. 1:6), and “let the water under the heaven be gathered together to one place, and let the dry land appear” (1:9).
Because “all flesh had corrupted its way upon the earth” (Gen. 6:12) – all flesh was punished by being swept by the waters.

About the sins of the Generation of Division

The figure that characterizes "the generation of the division" (Dor haPalaga) is that of Nimrod, whose name means "let us rebel (against God)". In the Midrashim, Nimrod is regarded as the absolute king of that generation and as the antagonist of Abraham. But all that is written about him in the Torah is "And Kush begot Nimrod; he began to be a mighty hunter before the Lord; wherefore it is said, Like Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord" (Gen. 10:8-9). The Gematria gives us an additional clue: the Gematric value of this name is 294,[8] which is the multiplication of 7x7x6 = 294.[6] That is almost a complete cube of seven to the 3rd power – but in one direction, presumably the vertical, he lacks the principle of seven – the principle of the Sabbath, of completion and the observance of God's commands. Nimrod the hero operates in a thorough manner and is not ready to let his technology and construction to rest for a moment. With his name being so close to a perfect cube, and yet missing a basic component, there may be a clue that Nimrod succeeded in gathering all the people under his banner of "Let us build us a city… and let us make us a name" (11:4), but in reality there ruled but one will – Nimrod's will, as noted "And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech" (11:1; Koren Bible translation) – and not the pluralism that characterizes the Jerusalem Temple, which is the place of pilgrimage from the whole world and meeting of the twelve tribes that are distinct from each other.
The people of “The Generation of Division” (Dor haPalga), whose story is also given in this portion-Parashah, insisted on preserving their complete, man-made technical unification – “the whole earth was of one language, and of few issues” (my translation of “Devarim Aḥadim”). The whole purpose of building the Tower of Babel was just “lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth” (11:4). The production of bricks for uniform building stones characterizes the nature of their striving for unity: the builders of the Tower of Babel who build themselves a Temple of Uniformity “lest we be scattered”, are the antithesis of the genetic diversity preserved by Noah. The bricks are uniform – produced in the same mold - and so were the builders: “one language and few issues”. Therefore their punishment was through scattering and diversity: “so the Lord-YHWH scattered them abroad from there upon the face of the whole earth (11:8).
The people of the Generation of Division, the representatives of the Tree of Knowledge, have forfeited the covenant between the divinity and Noah. There is no more extreme way for "and subdue her", of subduing the earth, as to take the most fertile land and make it into bricks, to burn them (her) in fire, and to cover with them all the fertile ground – namely the very Adamah-Living Earth-(Gaia) – with cities and roads. (Incidentally, the word Adamah parallels the Latin word Homus; its counterpart – the word “Adam” parallels the Latin “Homo”).
Thus after No’aḥ Ish haAdamah, the husbandman of the Living Earth, the man of plowing and sowing, there rose the Generation of the Division, the builders of the Tower, and chose a still more difficult toil: “let us make brick and burn them thoroughly, and they had brick for stone and slime had they for mortar (11:3). Just like the work of the slaves, the builders of the pyramids of Egypt “in mortar and in bricks” (Exodus 1:14). However, for the builders of the Tower of Babel their choice is emphasized: “And they said to one another, Come, let us make bricks… And they said, Come, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach to heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth”.
So what underlies their proclamation? In what does their construction differ from Noaḥ’s?

We have emphasized the feminine image of the Ark. It is even more evident that the Tower is a phallic, masculine statement, an attempt of domination and conquest.[9]  To emphasize more the masculine motive of the Tower, we may note that the architectural form used by those people is called “Ziggurat”, a Semitic word meaning in Hebrew “Erection” and related to Zakhar – masculine – and Zakhrut – penis. We shall presently return to analyze this architectural conception.
According to the Biblical narrative, all the people of that generation gathered together, in order to build “A World Order” in one global city, a city that would contain them all. This is a human creation, which to some extent parallels Noah’s Ark. But whereas “the sanctuary city” that Noah made functioned according to the laws of nature, something like a living cell, whose membrane protects the incredible variety within it from external threats, there came the Tower-City that wanted to base itself upon the man-made laws of human civilization – to make an artificial environment that is divorced from the laws of nature and based upon few uniform principles “Devarim Aḥadim”. The agriculturist must have some consideration of the natural environment, both local and global - "While the earth remains, seed time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease" (Gen 8:22). The city and its inhabitants are committed only to the man-made laws, with the meanings and values imputed to them by humans. If the builders of the tower had dispersed upon the face of the whole earth, they would have had to adapt themselves the local qualities of each disparate habitation, and would have been, no doubt, forced to develop in each a local culture that suited the condition of the new habitation. They preferred to dominate nature, rather than be ruled by it – to impose upon nature a uniform and artificial human order. The prospects of such an enterprise are enormous, and so are the risks. When one vital component fails in the great artificial system, this may lead to its total collapse, compared with natural systems, which contain much more redundancies and resilience.
Here we can again realize the validity of the Torah as a vision for our times. For today we are faced with the building of such a Tower of Babel, of global urbanization and of distancing humankind from the need to daily consider the natural conditions. The developing communications media, the computerized communications systems, may turn us again into “one language and few issues” – and with them the dangers of technological breakdowns, ecological catastrophe and environmental destruction. We must therefore beware of the “Tower of Babel Syndrome”. (The destruction of the World Trade Center towers was not accidental, because these towers symbolized to the terrorists – and to many others – the “Tower of Babel” of our times, “The New World Order” that threatens all those whose local order is different).

At the middle of the world-city that was built by the people of Babel – they erected a man-made mountain. Not a Temple that maintains good connection between heaven and earth, not a garden that may enable connection between humankind-Adam and the Living Earth-Adamah, but a mountain of burnt bricks, which has no interiority and no center, but is only a call of challenge against heaven.
Most painters who imaged the Tower of Babel, pictured it as an enormous phallic element, tall and narrow. From archeological excavations it emerges that in ancient Babel it was customary to build Ziggurats. The Ziggurat is a stepped pyramid, built as cube upon cube – customarily seven cubes - where each cube is smaller than the lower one, until at the top there is only a small cell where one may stay.
In contrast with the lightweight portable Tabernacle, of the Israelites in the desert; in contrast with the Temple of Solomon, where most of the worship was done in its large courtyard; in contrast with thoee light-filled Gothic Cathedrals; and in contrast with many of the ancient temples, the Ziggurat does not attempt to allow flows from below to above, or from above to below. Some ancient temples served as lightening rods, which were supposed to transfer heavenly affluence for the fertility of the soil. In Babel there was no need of all these. The very intention of the Tower's 
 builders that “its top may reach to heaven”, namely above the clouds, above the need to be alert to the changes of weather – indicates their attitude. On the top of the Tower, there stood most likely the leader – the priest, the astrologer, whose role was to observe the stars and contend with the gods.

What, then, are the connections between the Cube – which served as template for the Tabernacle and the Temple – and the stepped pyramids – the Ziggurats – that apparently served as template for the Tower of Babel?

Not only was the connection with the heavens not an open one, but the fact that there is no interior space to speak of indicates that only 
one person - the leader – could stand at the top of the tower, the top of the pyramid.

Perhaps the chief problematic idea was the endeavor to focus on the external side of the structure “”let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach to heaven”. This tower is not inspired by architecture that seeks to gather the community inside – it has no consideration of community needs.
The Ziggurat parallels thus the Egyptian Pyramids in its external splendor, and it might have stood for even greater height. The pyramids, too, was not intended to serve any real functional needs but to stand up for ever, at the cost of countless human lives. The terrible slavery of the Children of Israel was “in bricks and mortar”, just like the work of the builders of the Tower of Babel.

There is  a further common, and yet distinguishing feature between the work of Noah and the work of the generation of the division – which is the word "Shem", namely "Name". Noah called his firstborn son "Shem", whereas the motivation of the builders of the Tower of Babel was "Let us make us a Shem (Name)".

The confusion of the Languages

Let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech (Gen. 11:7).

We have already mentioned that the two construction projects of Parashat No’a represent two conceptions – a feminine and masculine ones – one that creates a living space, the other all focused upon the top.

The punishment meted upon the builders of the tower stands in dramatic contrast to their deeds – and especially their intention. The attempt at ultimate unification was countered by ultimate dispersal, by the severance of communications.
We have already brought the explanation of the Ba’l Shem Tov  to the term Tevah-Ark, as representing a word of speech. Let us momentarily assume that all the deeds of the Flood and the salvaging of the Ark are not just an ecological narrative, but also a description of the development of human language and communication. Who came into the Ark? Shem, am and Yefet. Each one of the three Sons of Noah represents a certain facet of humankind. They represent not just the forefathers of the races of humankind, the Semitic, Ḥamitic (African) and Yefet (Indo-European) people, but also, to a large extent, three distinct “cognitive types”: the “Sons of Shem” (the Hebrew word “Shem” means “Name” and is related to Shemiạh-Hearing) emphasize Hearing, “the Sons of Yefet” emphasize Beauty – Yofi – and the “Sons of am” express themselves well by bodily movement and gestures. These are the three Cognitive Types and Learning Styles used by educational scientists today.

Let us examine through this cognitive system the three aspects of human language.
The sciences of Language (Linguistics, Semiotics) delineate three aspects to language – the Semantic (word meaning) aspect, the syntactic (grammar) aspect and the pragmatic (usage) aspect. Each one of the three Sons of Noah represents by his special approach one aspect of the language: the sons of Shem know the meanings – Mashma'yot – of the Language of the Torah, the Sons of Yefet can paint it in its Beauty – Yofi, “to bring the Beauty of Yefet to the tents of Shem” – whereas the Sons of am can animate and dance it. 

(In the sequel, the torah actually deals almost only with the sons of Shem. The legendry Midrashim made shem, the son of Noah, into a quasi immortal who maintains "the Academy of Shem and Ever" (see below), who participated in the feast that Abraham held and at Abraham's funeral and who taught Jacob. According to the Midrashim and Rashi, Shem is also "Malki-edeq king of Shalem" who blessed Abraham (14:18). In this there is a certainparallel between Shem and Ḥanokh (Enoch) son of Yered, whose death was not mentioned - hnce the legend that he, like Elijah, went alive to Heaven. This partiality of the sages towards Shem shows the attraction of Torah learners to names and to the mysteries of Hebrew semantics. The expectation for the future is, as noted, "to bring the beauty of Yefet to the Tents of Shem".  

In parallel with the genetic diversity that the Ark carries, it carries thus diversity in the styles of learning and speech, not only in the words themselves. The whole Ark was built three levels of cells, which parallel the roots of Semitic words, the majority of which have three-consonant roots.[10]

This was the world into which the builders of the Tower were born, “one language and few issues”, uniformity constructed to replace diversity. The punishment for the removal of diversity and for the desire to unify the Ark into a structure that becomes ever narrower for making “a top that may reach heaven”; the punishment for the fear from the blessed diversity, through the claim of “lest we be dispersed” is total chaos – “that they may not understand each other’s speech. So the Lord scattered them abroad from there…” (Gen. 11:7-8).

The restitution for this chaos is held again in the hands of “The Sons of Noah” – Shem, Ḥam and Yefet. The Torah will be whole only in the Temple of the Time to Come, where people of all the nations will be represented there, as the prophets said: “And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s House shall be established at the top of the mountains…   and all the nations shall flow unto it” (Isaiah 2:2), and there “For then I will convert the peoples to a purer language, that they may all call upon the Name of the YHWH” (Ẓefania 3:9).

The Ark and the Tower are thus not just physical constructions, but also linguistic allegories. In the threefold template of the Stories of Genesis: of Bri’ah, Yeẓirahssiyah (Creation, Formation, Making) – or in a more familiar terms: Thought, Speech and Action – Parashat No’aḥ tells about experiences that correspond with the level of Yeẓirah. Not only “since the impulse – Yeẓer – of man’s heart is evil from his youth (Gen. 8:21), but because human creation is mainly verbal. The entry into the Ark is an allegory for immersion into language, for the transformation of speech into a holy language - whereas the story of the Tower is the story of the decay and loss of the common language of humankind.

The Academy of Shem and Ẹver

The Torah does not inform us what the language of the first Adam had been, the language that apparently served all humankind until the confusion of languages in Babel. Nevertheless, since the narrative of the Torah comes in Hebrew, it follows that Hebrew must have been the first language. And even if the science of the history of languages may disagree, still in our reading of the book of Genesis as a multidimensional, timeless and prophetic vision, this concept of Hebrew usage is a guidance for the future. The prophet is speaking about the future: “For then I will convert the peoples to a purer language, that they may all call upon the Name of the YHWH” (Ẓefania 3:9).

It thus appears that the future language is the Hebrew language, when it is focused upon the Name of YHWH, and this would be the remedy for the division of languages of the Tower of Babel. 

The sages told about "Beit haMidrash ("House of Exegesis", a Hebrew Academy) of Shem and Ẹver", where the patriarch Jacob also studied. What was taught and learnt there? Most plausibly, that would have been a school for discovering the secrets embedded in the Holy Names (Shemot, connected with Shem) and in the Hebrew language (Ịvrit, connected to Ẹver) in general.

Assuming that the story of Noah's Ark and the flood symbolizes the long exile of the peoples of Israel, Jews have kept connected to the Hebrew language throughout the exile through the reading of the Torah. But the external circumstances brought them to use foreign languages and also the usage of the Hebrew language was also impaired because of the mixture of languages and foreign pronunciations and became confused till each group has its own differences and own mistakes. The Zionist period is involved with the resuscitation of the Hebrew language (the best known chapter in this process is the work of Eli'ẹzer ben Yehuda). The Theme of "the Academy of shem vaẸver" and the positive experience in the resurrection of the Hebrew language raise future possibilities of developing a universal communications language based on the Biblical Hebrew – at least for subjects of spirituality and divinity.

The Seventy Nations of the Descendants of Noaḥ

Chapter 10 Genesis begins with “Now these are the generations of the sons of No’aḥ” and gives a survey about the development and division of humankind. The Biblical account gives 70 nations. This number and its multiples recur a lot in the scriptures and express completion. We shall find the number 70 again in the Book of Genesis, when Jacob and his sons descended to Egypt “all the souls of the house of Ya’aqov who came into Miẓrayim were seventy (Gen. 46:27). The parallel is not accidental. After it is found in the portion of No’aḥ that even the second experiment of/with humankind did not augur so well, there will start in the next Parasha – Lekh Lekha – the story of the third experiment, whose protagonists are Abraham and his progeny. This story will be detailed in the next ten portions of the Book of Genesis, until the establishment of the Twelve Tribes. The full count of the Children of Israel is 70 – matching the 70 nations.

The Seven Noahide Commands – a New Ecological Dispensation

“The Waters of Noah” (Mey No’aḥ, Isaiah 54:9), which came to annihilate everything, to cause to forget everything, at the beginning of the process of human choice – stand as an antithesis to the “Final Waters” (Mayim aḥaronim), as described by the prophet Isaiah “for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea (Isaiah 11:9). All of human history is thus necessary to turn the waters from a forgetful and obliterating medium, to a preserving environment, into a “Noosphere”, namely a layer of Knowledge that covers the whole earth. 

In our times, there rises the threat of the impending flood. Scientists are predicting that “The Greenhouse Effect” of global warming, apparently precipitated by human actions through a careless use of technological resources, will bring about melting of the polar icecaps and in sequence flooding of the coastal cities, cities full of human inhabitants and cultural treasures. Already now, some environmentalists are preparing rescue craft – from boats at mountaintops to whole biospheres that emulate the terrestrial ecosystem. Both means are attempts to reproduce Noah’s Ark. The fear of the approaching flood is just one expression to the worries that the enormous technological advance, managed by an exploitative economic system – something like a modern Tower of Babel – is liable to bring to catastrophes and to the destruction of the entire global biosphere. These worries breed new belief systems and religions, many of which emphasize the commands for environmental preservation and biosphere preservation. Among these, there appears the religion of the Noahides, “The Sons of Noah”.
The concept from which draw the Noahides, about whom we will soon expound, is not new. The Talmud, and in its wake several Jewish philosophers and scripture interpreters, have treated extensively the Seven Commands that would be practiced also by those who are not among The Children of Abraham. 

Straight reading of the Bible reveals several divine commands that were given already before there appeared the nation of Israel, which are: Adam was commanded “Be fruitful, and multiply, replenish the earth, and subdue her, and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth (Gen 1:28), but with only vegetarian nutrition: “Of every tree of the garden thou mayst freely eat" (Gen 2:16). The prohibition at that stage focused on: "but of the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, thou shalt not eat of it” (2:17). Whereas Noaḥ was commanded: “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every bird of the air…  Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you, even as the green herb have I given thee all things. But flesh with its life, which is its blood, you shall not eat. And surely the blood of your lives shall I require; at the hand of every beast shall I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother shall I require the life of man. Whoso sheds man’s blood by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God did make He man (Gen. 9:1-6).

Tractate Ḥulin of the Talmud detailed seven implied commands that are learnt from these: 1) To appoint courts of law to settle disputes; 2) Not to curse the Name of God; 3) Avoidance of Idolatry; 4) Prohibition of Incest; 5) Prohibition of shedding blood; 6) Prohibition of theft/exploitation (Gezel), and 7) Prohibition of eating a member of a living being – Ever min haay. All these prohibitions, apart from the last, are basic rules of human society. Maimonides (the Rambam) even distinguishes between the righteous gentiles (aside Umot halam) who keep the Noahide commands because they read the Torah, and the sages of the gentiles – who keep them out of their own reflection.

The exception here is, as we noted, the prohibition of eating a living limb. On the face of it, eating a living limb is extremely rare in our times, and it does not seem to provide a basis for a new global culture. However, since this command was given to “No’aḥ Ish haAdamah” – which means literally “Noah the husband of the Living Earth”, it is very likely that its meaning encompasses also a limb of the Living Earth – the Adamah

With this, we return to our times and to the environmental concerns. The ancient concept, that the earth is a living being, is becoming accepted among adherents of “Deep Ecology” (thus, for example” in “The Gaia Theory” of James Lovelock[11]). Now to the extent that the Adamah-Earth is a living being, then the meaning of the prohibition of eating a limb from the living – Ever min haay – is that there should be constraints on activities that maim the Adamah, such as construction, mining and agriculture in ways that damage the earth – and this has global significance.[12] 

In our days, there has started to grow a new universal religion, based on the seven Noahide co commandments. This religion is spreading nowadays in the USA and the Western countries, and in the process, it is also improving and getting deeper insights. There are thus those who present the seven Noahide commandments as generic ones, from which derive additional commands, and there are those who draw a parallel between the seven commandments and the seven Sefirot (the divine attributes that the Zohar relates to the seven Days of Genesis, see chapter 1).

A union between environmentalists and Noahides is really called for. Together, they would be able to conclude that any human activity that disturbs the ecological cycles of the earth-Adamah should be prohibited through the rule of “Limb from a Living Being” (Evver min haay)[13].  This would affirm most of the demands of the adherents of the environmentalists, and the Noahide religion would be able to become a significant world movement. 

There are environmentalists who attack “The Judeo- Christian Tradition” as if it were largely responsible for the contemporary degradation of the environment. A prevalent claim is that the Biblical attitude towards the earth is exploitative, since in His first command to Adam, God said “Be fruitful, and multiply, replenish the earth, and subdue her”. However, according to our understanding of the Torah as a narrative of sequential restitution (Tiqqun), this command has already been changed and corrected. In His blessing-command to Noah and his sons upon their exit from the Ark, God again says, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth”. However, the added command “and subdue her” is no longer there. “Noah the husbandman of the earth” (No’aḥ Ish haAdamah) is the New Adam, who is appointed to rectify that which was spoiled by the first Adam, on whose account the Adamah became cursed, and he was to renew the diadic relationship of “Adam vaAdamah”. 

Yet, as we shall still see, this was not enough. The problem with the religious conception of “Gaia” is that it is a pagan conception , symbolized in the Torah by the Bacchanalian figure of the drunken Noah, who loses his consciousness in copulation with the earth powers. There would be required, therefore, an additional restoration, which would be effected by the Children of Abraham.

[1] According to the tradition of Max Theon that was practiced in "the Purple Circles" (ḥuge Argaman).
[2] It is legitimate to see in the story of Noah a proposed restitution of the transgression with the Tree of Knowledge. Science tells us of an ecological disaster that destroyed the dinosaurs (the great reptiles devoid of emotions that do not nurse their offspring), and opened a new world for development of the mammals and the ascendancy of humankind. In Parashat Bereshit the world got corrupted for the sake of the serpent – the unfeeling reptile – and in the flood this corrupted world was erased.
[3] Bob Krone, Editor. "Beyond  Earth: The Future  of  Humans  in  Space"  (Apogee Space Press,  2006)
[4] Christianity used these images when describing the descent of the Holy Ghost to their Messiah in the form of a dove.
[5] This is the scheme of the science of Semiotics, which distinguishes between Semantics, Syntax and Pragmatics – see below the discussion of the confusion of language in Babel.
[6] There is a certain charm in the story of the Ark, which keeps it alive all over the world. The picture of the animals entering the ark is drawn by children countless times. The story of Noah makes a seminal story for ecological education. Recently (May 2009) we heard of a full-size replica of the ark in Hong Kong
[7] Pardes is a Persian word that entered Hebrew. It means a watered grove, and from it came the word “Paradise”. “Entering the Pardes" referred to entering the secrets of the torah or of higher worlds. In Tractate Hagigah of the Talmud (Bavli 14:2, Yerushalmi 77), there is an enigmatic story about “The Four who entered the Pardes”, meaning some secret and mysterious domain. The common Jewish interpretation from Medieval time onwards, was that this PaRDeS is an acronyme for the four levels of interpretation of the Torah – Pshat, the plain interpretation; Remez - a hint; Drash an exegesis, or allegorical meaning; and Sod – secret – the mystical meaning. In our book “Let the Old be Renewed and the New Sanctified – Insights about the Meaning of the Temple”, Ohad Ezraḥi shows quite conclusively that the original meaning must have referred to the Holy of Holies in the Temple, into which the prophets and the mystical sages entered in ecstatic contemplation.
[8] The same Gematria value, 294, belongs also to MalkiZedeq (Melchizedek) King of Shalem - the city which is the contrast of Babel. We shall discuss this in the next chapter.
[9] See, for example, Rianne Eisler: "The Chalice and the Blade".
[10] Sefer Yeẓirah deals with roots of two letters, but later the concept of three-letter roots became the accepted one. The very salvation/sparing – ḤaNiNah - of NoaḤ from the fate of the rest of his generations is noted by, perhaps even derives from, the addition of a third root letter to the two consonants of his name. This letter – Nun – means “Fish” – a creature not subject to perishing in the flood.
[11] According to this cybernetic theory, the Earth has many diverse circuits, connected and integrated in homeostatic feedback loops, which maintain specific levels of vital components, like the percentage of oxygen in the air and the salinity of the oceans. These are specifically the characteristic of living systems – where the various living creatures that live upon the earth are integrated within the overall cycles of life. The theory was first proposed in the book of James Lovelock (1979): “Gaia – A New Look at Life on Earth”. Oxford University Press.
[12] See also my article “World, Humankind and Living Earth” (Olam, Adam va’Adamah) in the Intrnet.
[13] Lovelock:'s “Gaia theory" (see comment [11]) had been expounded in many other books. Some even claim that the earth has “sense organs” and even a degree of consciousness.


Appendix A: About the names of Noah and his Sons.ḥ-and-his-sons
Appendix B: Some Secrets of the Ark and its Ẓohar.ẓohar 

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