Noach is introduced as a righteous man who “walked with God”. He had three sons, Shem, Cham and Yefet. The people have become thieving and corrupt. Noach is told by God that He will destroy the world with a flood and commands him to build a wooden Ark with specific dimensions. Noach and his family are to enter the Ark, as well as a male and female of every non-kosher species of animal and bird. In addition, seven males and females from each species of kosher animal and bird are to enter the Ark.
Noach is 600 years old when the Flood starts. The rain fell gently for the first seven days, then heavily for 40 days and nights. The rising Flood waters covered the highest mountains and wiped out every living creature. Ten months after the start of the Flood, the mountain tops became visible again. 40 days later, Noach sent out a raven and then a dove, to see if the Flood waters had receded.
Upon God’s command, Noach, his family and the animals left the Ark. Noach built an altar and brings one of every kosher animal and bird as an offering. God pledged never again to destroy life on Earth, with the rainbow as its sign. Whenever a rainbow appears, it is a ‘reminder to God’ to keep this promise.
Noach planted a vineyard, eventually drinking its wine and becoming drunk. Cham entered Noach’s tent and disgraces his father; Shem and Yefet then protect Noach’s dignity. After Noach wakes up, he realises what has happened and curses Cham and his descendants, but blesses Shem and Yefet. Noach died at the age of 950. Noach’s sons populate the world again and Cham and Yefet’s descendants are listed, including Nimrod, a mighty warrior and conqueror.
All people shared a common language at the time. They decide to build a city with a tower that can reach the heavens – the Tower of Babel. The Midrash says that, led by Nimrod, they wanted to wage war against God. However, God thwarts their plans, dispersing them around the world and introducing different languages so that they can no longer understand one another. Shem’s descendants are listed, up to the generation of Avram (later Avraham) and his nephew Lot. Avram marries his niece Sarai (later Sarah), who is not blessed with children.