Noach

Noah's Ark, oil on canvas painting by Edward Hicks, 1846 Philadelphia Museum of Art

Noah’s Ark, oil on canvas painting by Edward Hicks, 1846 Philadelphia Museum of Art

Noach was righteous
But still he wasn’t chosen
To be the first Jew

Noach is called “Ish Tzadik” a righteous man, in his generation (Genesis 6:9). But it will be ten generations before God calls on Abraham to be the first monotheist (Genesis 12:1-3). At first glance it seems strange – we are told Noach is righteous but aren’t told anything about Abraham before God’s call.

So the Rabbis look to the text for clues.

A previous haiku focused on the importance of the “in his generation” characterization of Noach’s righteousness.

But there’s another clue in the different reactions of these Biblical All-Stars to the potential of harm to others.

When God told Noach about plans for the flood and told him to build the ark, “Noach did so; just as God commanded him, so he did” (Genesis 6:22). But when Abraham was told about God’s plans to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, he pleaded on behalf of the innocent (Genesis 18:20-32).

This concern for others is one aspect of Abraham’s character that distinguishes him from Noach and helps explain God’s choice of Abraham despite the righteousness attributed to Noach.

 

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