Noach - What the Wickedness?
Noach - What’d I Do?
And the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And it repented the LORD that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart. 7 And the LORD said: ‘I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and creeping thing, and fowl of the air; for it repenteth Me that I have made them.’ 8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. 9 These are the generations of Noah. Noah was in his generations a man righteous and wholehearted; Noah walked with God. 10 And Noah begot three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. 11 And the earth was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. 12 And God saw the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth. . 13 And God said unto Noah: ‘The end of all flesh is come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 14 Make thee an ark of gopher wood; with rooms shalt thou make the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. 15 And this is how thou shalt make it: the length of the ark three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits. 16 A light shalt thou make to the ark, and to a cubit shalt thou finish it upward; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it. 17 And I, behold, I do bring the flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; every thing that is in the earth shall perish. 18 But I will establish My covenant with thee; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons’ wives with thee. 19 And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female. 20 Of the fowl after their kind, and of the cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the ground after its kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive. 21 And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and gather it to thee; and it shall be for food for thee, and for them.’ 22 Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.
So, What are you Building?
Neighbor: . . . Listen, what is this thing for anyway?
Noah: I can't tell you. Ha, ha, ha!
Neighbor: Well, I mean, can't you give me a little hint?
Noah: You wanna a hint?
Neighbor: Yes, please.
Noah: How long can you tread water? Ha, ha, ha!
What is Wickedness?
Avraham Ibn Ezra, a 12th century Torah commentator gives two characterizations of the חמס-the lawlessness that filled the world. First, drawing on the midrash, he claims the lawlessness to be robbery – an earth filled with robbery everywhere. Another explanation, according to Ibn Ezra, is that the world was in total disorder. He claims that everything grew, behaved, and lived not in the way it was intended, but rather, plants mixed with other kinds, different species of beasts were intermingled.
Being Fruitful - Midrash Tanhuma 2
R. Tanhuma, the son of Abba began the discussion of this subject with the verse: The fruit fo the righteous is a tree of life; and he that is wise winneth souls (Prov. 11:30). R. Judah the Levite said: Whenever a man dies childless, he grieves and weeps. Thereupon the Holy One, blessed be God, consoles him with the words: “Wherefore do you weep over having left no fruit in this world? You have left fruit that is more desirable than children.” “Sovereign of the universe,” the man asks, “what fruit did I produce?” The Holy One, blessed be God, replies: “The Torah (you observed), concerning which it is written: the fruit of the righteous is a tree of life.” The verse does not say that children are a tree of life but that the fruit of the righteous is a tree of life. Accordingly, man’s most desirable offspring are his good works. Hence, it is written: These are the offspring of Noah. Noah was in his generation a man righteous and whole hearted. (Gen. 6:9)
Michael Fishbane, from the JPS Haftarah Commentary
Noah was the exact opposite of the generation of the flood. He had three sons. He cared for the animals and all of creation.
Not about THE Wickedness and Lawlessness
While these ideas may explain the חמס – the lawlessness, maybe that is not the point of this story. It wasn’t that God was a little off in creating the world so that everything was out of order. It was not the lack of the generation of the flood procreating. Nor was it the crime and the lawlessness of robbery as Ibn Ezra points out based on Rashi’s commentary. These were the explanations, the definitions of the חמס, but not necessarily the only reasons for the flood itself.