“And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle
that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind to pass over the
earth, and the waters assuaged.”
Don Isaac Abravanel (1437-1508) was a preeminent Jewish thinker, scholar, and prolific Biblical
commentator. In Genesis chapter 8, the Bible chronicles the conclusion of the great flood, replete with
an exact timeline of events. When the earth dried, the Noah’s ark came to a rest. He opened the ark’s
door in efforts to assess damage. Bleakly, devastation glared back at the ancient mariner.
Abravanel provides Bible students with four key takeaways from the Biblical blow that bashed the
world. They offer readers insights in religious creed, underscoring God’s hands-on interface with His
- God rewards and He punishes. The Almighty pays attention to His creations, and compensates
accordingly. God’s ways are trusted and perfect. Further, He communicates with man, informing
them of the future.
- God created a world from nothing, and if He so desires, He returns it back to nothingness. The
deluge proved how existence is putty in His hands. For Abravanel, the heavens and earth are
transitory, a subject he develops throughout his Bible commentaries.
- The propagation of any given species follows natural means – requiring a male and female.
Apropos, God commanded Noah to bring males and females into the ark for “the day after.”
- When God created the world, one of His creations was time. Time was, and always will be,
measured in terms of a solar calendar, consisting of 365 days a year, subdivided into twelve
lunar months, and further subdivided into thirty days per month. Noah’s ark floated, in cadence
with time as we know it. Noah’s sea sojourn lasted a year (plus ten days).
We have briefly summarized Abravanel’s four lessons in faith, a short primer in belief. It is one that he
derives from the denouement of the great flood’s account. For the fuller discussion, see Abravanel’s
World of Torah.