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Midrash on Noah and Og

"As the floodwaters swelled, Og, king of Bashan, sat himself on one of the rungs of the ark's ladders and swore to Noah and to his sons that he would be their slave forever. What did Noah do? He punched a hole in the ark, and through it he handed out food to Og every day. Og's survival is hinted at in the verse 'Only Og remained of the remnant of the Rephaim' (Deut 3:11)." (From Pirkei D'Rebbe Eliezer 23 as quoted in The Book of Legends edited by Hayim Nahman Bialik.)
Debate the following interpretations of the midrash and/or come up with your own:
  • The writer feels uncomfortable with God's choice to thoroughly destroy the inhabitants of the world, save those on the ark. So Noah subtly rebels against God's command by saving someone who desired life strongly. Here the midrash argues for compassion as an important element in renewal, not just simple destruction.

  • Noah saves Og solely for selfish reasons connected to Og's promise to serve Noah as a slave for eternity. Noah, like other biblical characters who don't follow God's instructions to the letter, has become lower in God's eyes due to this act.
Type: Text Study

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