Parasha: Genesis 6.9— Genesis 11.32
Haftarah: Isaiah 54:1 – Isaiah 55:5
The ark has been seen as a symbol of the Messiah. Being in the ark is like being in the Messiah. Only those inside were saved.
“For Christ also died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit; in which he went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 3.18-21)
The ark tells us something about the days of the Messiah. Even though Noah had been warning people that the flood was coming, people were still not prepared.
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they did not know until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of man.” (Matthew 24.36-39) [BSI/rp]
Genesis 8.4: “In the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark came to rest upon the mountains of Ararat.”
The ark carried Noah and his family through the flood in which a whole world perished. This can be seen as a type of passing through death into a new life. The ark rested on Mount Ararat on the seventh month on the seventeenth day of the month. The seventh month was originally Aviv, but from the time of the first Passover it became the beginning of months, and “the first month of the year” (Exodus 12.2). The Passover lamb was killed on the fourteenth day of the same month, and the third day after this was the seventeenth, the day on which the ark came to rest. Many therefore think that it was actually the day of the resurrection of the Messiah. [SW]
Genesis 8.11: “The dove came back to him in the evening, and lo, in her mouth a freshly plucked olive leaf.”
The Zohar sees the “freshly plucked olive leaf” in the dove’s mouth as a representation of King Messiah (Zohar, Shlach Lecha, 165a). Concerning the dove itself, a commentary on the Zohar says that “The sages did not speak about or recognize that known dove” (Perush HaSullam, Shlach Lecha, 165a, 147). Without mentioning it specifically, the Zohar sees great significance in the fact that the dove (and turtledove) is the only kind of bird permitted for sacrifice. In this way, the mysterious legendary dove with an olive leaf in its mouth becomes a representation of King Messiah, depicted as both bird of peace and bird of prey—the latter suggested by the word “taraf” (devour) in our English translation, “freshly plucked.” [TS]
Genesis 9.27: “God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem; and let Canaan be his slave.”
The promise of Genesis 9.27 is a refining of what has already been promised in chapter 3. There God promised that the redeemer would be a human being, born of the seed of the woman. The promise in chapter 9 narrows this down to the descendants of Shem. This refining process will continue through Genesis and beyond. In some way, God will dwell among human beings, identifying with them while at the same time saving them from the effects of sin.
God promises to come in his advent in the line of a woman (Genesis 3.15), the human side of the messianic redemption, and as God on high to dwell among the people of Shem (Genesis 9.27), the divine side of the coming Messiah. [WK/bsi]
The prophetic declaration relating to Japheth comprises two parts: The first part is “God shall enlarge Japheth.” This prediction began to be fulfilled during his lifetime. Japheth had seven children, while Shem had five and Ham only four. The descendants of Japheth spread over the whole of Europe and a considerable part of Asia, and as some would have it, they probably crossed over to America by the Bering Strait.
The second part in this prophetic utterance is “And he shall dwell in the tents of Shem.” According to the Targum, this is to be consummated when the Messiah comes. Then the descendants of Japheth (the nations) will join Israel in the worship of the Almighty, and both will look upon Jerusalem as the spiritual center of all nations. Is this not in line with God’s plan for the world? Compare Psalms 22.28; Isaiah 2.2-4; Zephaniah 3.10; Zechariah 8.20-23; 14.16. At that time God will exclaim, “Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my inheritance” (Isaiah 19.25). “On that day,” you will note, the curse resting upon the descendants of Ham will be removed, and they, with the descendants of Japheth will bow down before the Lord. [AK]
Haftarah: Isaiah 54.1—Isaiah 55.5
Noah lived long before Abraham, and he became a symbol for the nations of the world. The haftarah reading is Isaiah 54.1—55.5. It was chosen because it mentions Noah: “For this is like the days of Noah to me: as I swore that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you and will not rebuke you.”
The verses that begin this haftarah have special meaning in the New Testament. Isaiah 54.1 is quoted by the apostle Paul when he is discussing the extension of the grace of God for salvation even to the gentiles. Noah, then, is already an indication that the Messiah will be for all.
But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. For it is written,
“Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and shout, you who are not in travail; for ‘the children of the desolate one are many more than the children of her that is married.’ (Isaiah 54.1) Now we, brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise.” (Galatians 4.26-28)
And what causes the prophet to say “Rejoice, daughter of Zion” at the beginning of this haftarah? These words follow directly from the revelation he has had of the death and resurrection of the Messiah in Isaiah 53, surely the greatest reason possible for rejoicing. [BSI/rp]