The following verses discuss the time of the decree and punishment
of the flood
- Gn05-32a states
And Noah was 500 years old; and Noah fathered Shem, Ham, and Japheth...
- Gn06-01:03 states
And it came to pass, when men began ....
And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for he also is flesh; yet his days shall be a 120 years
- Gn07-06 states
And Noah was 600 years old when the flood of waters was upon the earth.
Notice that Noah had children at 500 and the flood came when he
was 600, a duration of 100 years. But God said yet his days shall be 120
years indicating that God would wait 120 years for man to repent. To account
for this discrepancy between 100 and 120 years Rashi offers the following
- Year 480 of Noah's life: Man is evil; God decrees destruction
but gives mankind 120 years to repent
- Year 500 of Noah's life: Noah has 3 children
- Year 600 of Noah's life: The 120 years grace period is up; man
does not repent; God brings the flood.
Advanced Rashi: Rashi, commenting on the 100-120 contradiction
states There is no early and late in the Torah by which Rashi meant
Biblical order is not chronological. Some students of Rashi capriciously
interpret this to mean that Biblical order is random. Actually however
the correct statement is There are several driving forces to Biblical order
such as chronology, context, causality, etc. In other words Rashi was not
seeking to indicate that the Biblical order arbitrary - rather he was trying to show
that chronology is not the only determinant of Biblical order.
The order of these verses can be explained as follows
- Gn05-01:32 describes the genealogies, lifespans and birthdates
of 10 generations. The chapter concludes with the time - age 500 - that Noah
gave birth to his children.
- Gn06-01:09 describes the corruption that had emerged in the world
and the facts that (a) God gave them a 120 year grace period to repent,
(b) God intended to destroy the world by flood if man does not repent and
(c) God would spare Noah who found grace in God's eyes.
- Gn06-10... describes God's order to Noach to build an ark and be
spared from the flood.
So we see that indeed the order is chronological! However it is
chronological on paragraphs not on verses. First the genealogies
(starting from Adam) are mentioned (Paragraph #1); then (paragraph #2) the
corruption of the world and the impending doom; finally (paragraph #3) we read
about Noah being saved by the ark.
We mention one more subtlety in the order. The last verse of paragraph #1,
discussing Noah's birth at 500, is, in the Biblical notation, the first verse
of paragraph #2, discussing how Noach would be saved from the corrupt world
despite its corruption. This phenomenon of a terminal verse of one paragraph
also functioning as the initial verse of a subsequent paragraph is called,
in music, syncopation and is yet another principle of order.
Syncopation is a powerful musical technique that tightly bounds a
piece of music and provides cohesiveness.
Finally we point out that Rashi introduces additional material to explain
the 480-500-600 year chronology. Pre-Torah people were not punished for
their sins till after age 100 (Post Torah the punishment age is 20). Applying
this to the 480-500-600 year chronology we see ....that Noah gave birth at age 500
while the flood came at age 600 implying that Noah's children were all age 100 or
less and hence would not be punished by the flood. However Rashi's main
point is that the warning to man came at Noah-age 480 while Noah's children
came at age 500.