Parashat Noach (Genesis 6:9-11:32)
6:18 But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons’ wives with thee.
Comment: Men were mentioned together, and women were mentioned together separately from men. Rashi commented here, based on Talmud (Sanhedrin 108b), that they refrained from marital relations in the ark. This is probably because they were in the midst of a crisis, and many people died outside of the ark. Marital relations wouldn’t be so desirable or appropriate during danger or grief.
6:22 Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.
Comment: Noah is a man of faith who is saved by Gd’s grace. However, he also did a lot of work, in building the big ark, and in finding all kinds of animals. However, I believe even his works needed Gd’s help. For example, it would not be easy by human effort alone to catch all kinds of birds and to bring them to the ark.
7:22 All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died.
Comment: Rashi comments here that the fish in the sea were not wiped out, based on Talmud (Sanhedrin 108a). Fish are different in Jewish culture and they are not regarded as meat in dietary laws. https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/kosher-fish-list/
Animals can be drowned by water but fish live in water. Water can symbolize Gd’s word (e.g., Isaiah 55:10-11, John 4:14,7:38. See also https://www.openbible.info/topics/the_word_of_god_is_like_water)
Animals can represent one’s “old self” that disobeys Gd’s word. Fish can represent one’s “new self” that lives by obeying Gd’s word.
The New Testament uses fish to represent Christians, who are baptized in water to be “reborn”. See, e.g., https://www.christianitytoday.com/history/2008/august/what-is-origin-of-christian-fish-symbol.html
8:14 And in the second month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month, was the earth dried.
Comment: They entered the ark on the 17th of the 2nd month in the previous year. Now is 27th of the 2nd month, after one solar year (which is 11 days longer than the lunar year, see Rashi’s comment here), and Gd will command Noah to leave the ark (v.15-17). I don’t know the exact reason why a solar year is used here. It may be related to v.8:22 later that talks about the season and weather (“While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease”). The weather and season are determined by the solar year, not by the lunar year.
9:4 But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.
Comment: This is the only dietary law that all mankind (descendants of Noah) should observe. The New Testament did not waive this requirement (see Acts 15:29). I think by abstaining from eating blood, one can testify his belief that Gd alone is the LRD of life. Blood symbolizes life, and can only be offered in sacrifice to the LRD of all lives. Therefore, blood should not be consumed by human beings.
10:32 These are the families of the sons of Noah, after their generations, in their nations: and by these were the nations divided in the earth after the flood.
Comment: Being born in China, I naturally wondered from which son of Noah did the Chinese come. There is a theory by a Jewish Christian, Paul Phelps, that the Chinese came from Noah’s son Shem, whose Gd was blessed by Noah in 9:26. See http://www.eifiles.cn/oo-en.htm
On the other hand, Canaan’s son Sinite (“sini” in Hebrew) (in 10:17) may be related to Sina, Zhina, China, or Chinese. The same root ‘sin’ or “sini” is used in modern Hebrew to denote China or Chinese. Chinese Christians would not like this since Sinite’s dad Canaan was cursed by his grandpa Noah to be a servant of servants (9:25). In reality, since races migrated and intermarried, Chinese population could be a mixture of descendants of all three Noah’s sons. Even if one’s paternal ancestor were definitely Canaan, the curse would be turned into a blessing if he is reborn through Jesus Christ the Son of Gd. The old curse totally loses control because his “old self” died on cross together with Jesus. The curse of being a servant can be turned into the blessing of being a leader, since Jesus taught in Mark 10:44: “And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.”
11:4 And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.
Comment: “let us make us a name,” I regard this as the first attempt of atheist rebellion against Gd. Atheists often are really idol worshippers in a broader sense. Their idol is themselves, essentially. They believe that they themselves can save the world and should be glorified. For example, The communists’ anthem Internationale says “There are no supreme saviors. Neither God, nor Caesar, nor tribune. Producers, let us save ourselves”. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Internationale
11:9 Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.
Comment: The opposite thing will happen in the future in Jerusalem, during Pentecost (Acts 2:4 “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”) I may have noticed this contrast from The Emmanuel Community, a Chinese Christians’ online forum that was later closed by the Chinese government.
11:31 And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son’s son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram’s wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there.
Comment: When mankind rebels, Gd starts to give us a new hope. Abram will later become Abraham, the father of faithful ones from many nations, who will break away from their rebellious ancestors, families and cultures, to form a new people to follow Gd.