Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah #2: Noach B’resheit (Genesis) 6:9-11:32
Haftarah: Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) 54:1-10
B’rit Chadashah: Mattityahu (Matthew) 24:36-44
Noach and the flood are introduced in this parashah. The Hebrew word for ark (teivah) has two meanings. It means both “ark” like the one in this parashah, and it means “word”.
The instructions which HaShem gave to Noach about the ark also teaches “bo el hateivah (come into the teivah)”. Similarly, we are to carry the words (our learning, the Torah, our witness) in everything we do no matter where the waters of life carry us; whether the “seas” are smooth or stormy. All the time spent on the water may also represent the contemplative stance we need to take as we study G-d’s Word, internalize it, and live it.
At the end of the narrative, Noach was commanded to leave the teivah and to repopulate the earth and to be fruitful. We too can be fruitful and multiply the witness of Yahshua and his talmidim with our teivot; living what we profess to believe.
When Yahshua returns, the lion and the lamb will live together just as they did in Noach’s teivah. As Noach uplifted YHVH then, so are we to do now. The time is coming soon. Let us get our priorities straight and learn to honor YHVH/Yahshua in all we think, say, and do.
This year, I want to focus on Chapter 11. We may know the general story of the Tower of Bavel, but like many Biblical stories, we may never have looked at the narratives in depth; beyond the English or whatever language we read, focusing on the Hebrew words and meanings. A careful reading of Genesis (11:1-8) should raise some questions.
“The whole world was of one language and of unified words. It was when they migrated from the east they found a valley in the land of Shinar and settled there. Each man said to each other, ‘Come, let’s make bricks and burn them in fire.’ The bricks served for them as stone and the mortar as clay. They said, ‘Come, let’s build a city and a tower with its top in the heavens and let’s make a name for ourselves, lest we become dispersed across the earth.’ G-d descended to see the city and tower which the sons of man built. G-d said, ‘Behold, they are one people with one language for all of them and this is what they begin to do? Now, nothing will remain unattainable to them, they will accomplish everything they have in mind to accomplish. Come, let us descend and confuse their language so that they won’t understand each other.’ G-d dispersed them from there over the face of the earth and they stopped building the city.”
First, some questions:
• What importance does traveling from the east have?
• Why must we know that they settled in a valley?
• Why did they choose brick and mortar rather than stone and clay, and why is this important enough to be mentioned in the Torah?
• What does it mean that G-d descends to the world?
• What were their plans for a city and tower and why was this a “bad” thing in the eyes of G-d?
• How does this narrative apply to our world today?
It is interesting to note that the people were once afraid of being dispersed across the earth, but this is exactly what G-d does to them; not because He is a “mean” G-d, but because he is a just G-d. What is so bad about having mankind spread out? The answer is a notion that our generation can appreciate perhaps more than any other. Yet, our world is once again forming a “Babylon” through the progress of technological advances and haSatan’s agenda for the One World Order.
Everything that happens in one part of the world ultimately affects everything else in some way. Nothing happens in a vacuum although some people still erroneously believe that what they don’t see or hear does not affect them or their surroundings.
The generation of the Tower of Bavel wanted to be the first global village where man was the head of everything because sharing information is knowledge and the plan was that man would be invincible. But knowledge without wisdom from above is useless. Man thought and still thinks they can out think G-d and come up with better ideas on how to relate to each other. Now, just as then, G-d has been taken out of the mix. With no authority, no Deity to whom man is accountable in their eyes, there can be no wrong.
This is why the generation of the Tower of Bavel desperately wanted to stay together. They knew that population would continually expand requiring more and more space, but they would at least have a unifying force — the tall tower. Although, they would populate the vast lands across the earth, they would still view themselves as one city. They would be a global village. In Biblical times, they had no issues with language or cultural differences. The unifying tower would prevent disputes among the people and mankind would be able to advance in technology without constraint or restraints. Today, the computer age unified mankind. Language differences are overcome with instant translatable software. Cultural differences are meshing with assimilation into a global secular lifestyle/culture at an extremely rapid pace. For example, bistros in France that have been considered one of the major attractions for tourists and natives alike are disappearing at an alarming rate because of the integration of major food chains such as Burger King and McDonald’s. In America, mom and pop stores that sell unique items of the local areas are shutting down in favor of the Internet options that sell some of the same products at a cheaper price because they are bought in such volume individual proprietors cannot compete. Today, when many people speak of Amazon, the first thought is of the corporate colossus, not the Amazon jungle. This is a worldwide phenomenon and a sad one at that.
G-d was not pleased with the plans of the people to build a tower and become a global village of sorts. He says, ‘Now nothing will remain unattainable to them. They will accomplish all that they have in mind to accomplish. What is so bad about that? The problem is, when man thinks he can accomplish everything he desires, he feels there is no need for G-d, our very Creator and Sustainer. Man begins to think mankind is an invincible force. This is the agenda of human secularism today, just as in the city of Bavel.
Notice that they left ‘from the east.’ The previous reference to ‘the east’ was to the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:8). They wished to leave the closest possible place to G-d that existed then and wanted to forge their own destiny without G-d’s assistance. They wished to build a unifying city and tower but specifically wanted to begin the building in a valley. Although the usage of a hill or mountain would facilitate making the tower as high as possible, they didn’t want to use anything natural or ‘G-d-made’. There was no room for G-d’s involvement. He did not fit into their agenda.
Thus, their choice to use their own man made building materials of bricks and mortar. They reject using natural ‘G-d-made’ materials like stone or clay and choose to create their own inventions for building.
G-d descends into the world to make sure that man does not claim the world as his own without G-d’s involvement in it. He must make sure that man does not only make a name for himself (as the verse states) without G-d giving His stamp of approval and direction. So, G-d disperses man into many languages and nations thwarting the global village concept until its re-emergence in the last 200 years or so. As sad as it is to see, G-d knew this would happen again. He knows haSatan’s plan as he did from the beginning. Although it may seem that evil is out of control, G-d has a handle on it and it will only go so far before He returns. Not because He is a “mean” G-d, but because he is just and true. He has been warning mankind of the blessings of Torah observance out of love for Him and the curses for those who choose to go their own way since the creation of Adam and Eve. But now, like then, man thinks there is a better way to do everything and without G-d.
True believers have a very different outlook. We are not afraid of technology. In fact, we embrace it, but we must always keep it in perspective. G-d has given us the ability to master the world in ways that our ancestors never dreamed of. Technology has made life easier in a host of ways and modern medicine has resulted in ever-increasing options for improved function and well-being.
But man has not accomplished all this on his own. G-d has opened the vistas of modern discovery for us. We must constantly keep this in mind whenever we benefit from modern discoveries, thanking G-d for all that He has given us. We are to remain a separate people spiritually, setting the example G-d set for us when He shared a part of Himself on earth as Yahshua (G-d saves).
Haftarah: Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) 54:1-10
G-d assures Israel that He will restore her, forgive her, and redeem her through Yahshua who is G-d. Although the Torah prohibits a divorced man to remarry the same wife, it was G-d who divorced Israel and Yahshua who will take her as His bride. Therefore, the Torah regulations will not be violated. G-d describes his compassion toward Israel, who in this context is all true believers according to Yahshua’s definition in the Seven-fold witness in the book of Revelation and John Chapter 14, and Rom. 2-3.
G-d assures Israel she will never be ashamed and that her descendants will spread out to possess the nations. Her sin will be forgotten by her Maker, Adonai-Tzva’ot; Yahshua; our Cohen hagadol, El Gibor; El Elyon. Amein!
B’rit Chadashah: Mattityahu (Matthew) 24:36-44
This narrative reminds us that NOONE knows the day or hour of Yahshua’s return. He will return just as in the days of Noach; no one will have time to change their ways at the last minute. The evil we see in our world today will be even worse but is will seem “business as usual” until He appears. Those who are chosen will be taken from among those who will be left behind. There will be no time for bargaining with G-d. We are told to be vigilant for His return. How do we do that? We can only ready ourselves by hearing, internalizing, and acting on the Word of G-d every day. Running the race to win the prize. What a “prize” awaits those who love the L-rd our G-d. Going two verses beyond this designated narrative we see who is the good and faithful servant “it will go well with that servant if he is found doing his job when his master comes” (Matt.24:46)
May we be found to be good and faithful servants when our time on this earth is finished or if we are alive when Yahshua returns. Let us be ready for our Bridegroom with our lamps full of oil.
R. Tamah Davis