- The Rainbow
- Moshe Ben-Chaim
- If Noah was promised by God that He wouldn't again engage floods
to destroy the world and all flesh, what purpose was there for the
rainbow to act as a sign? God's word to Noah should have been
- Upon examination of the passages, we notice that there are a few
- 1) If God already addressed Noah, Gen. 9:8. "And God said to
Noah and to his sons with him saying", who then is God
addressing in 9:12, "and God said this the sign of the
treaty........."? If God is already speaking to Noah, He need
not repeat in the middle of His conversation, "And God said to
Noah". It's superfluous.
- 2) During God's first address, He mentions nothing about the
rainbow, nor the later on mentioned "(future) generations of
the world", (Gen. 9:12)
- 3) In His first address, why does God keep repeating "your
sons with you" (9:8), "I establish my treaty
with you" (9:9), "and all the beasts of the
land with you" (9:10)
- 4) Why does God only introduce the rainbow and "future
generations" in His second address?
- I believe the answer to be as follows: The first address repeatedly
mentions "with you" to indicate that the first address was
directed solely towards Noah and his sons. This being the case, they
did not need anything but God's word. That was in fact sufficient for
them. This is why there is no mention of the rainbow or "future
generations" in that first address to Noah and his sons. They
were completely reassured by God's word alone and needed no additional
sign. "Future" generations is omitted as this first address
was only to Noah and his sons with him.
- The reason why we find God addressing a second time is to indicate
there is a new party to whom He is addressing. God was now addressing
the "future generations", those of us after Noah who are in
desperate need of assurance that God's oath remains in effect. This is
alluded to by God saying a second time in 9:12, "and God
said". Here, God is redirecting His speech to us. Not Noah.
Therefore, God only commences mention of "future
generations" and the rainbow in this second address, directed to
those of us who need the assurance that the original oath is firm.
- The concept of an "os", a sign, means that the very
rainbow which served to signify the commencement of the oath
immediately subsequent to the flood, is still visible to us. The fact
that it is still an intact heavenly phenomena, serves to prove to us
that God's oath to never again destroy all flesh or the Earth is as
real now, as when He declared it. This aberration in nature remains,
teaching that God's oath remains.
- We also notice that when God says in 9:15 that He will remember His
oath, no mention of "seeing it" is necessary, as God needs
no visual cues to keep a promise. Man however needs a security
blanket, therefore in 9:16, it makes mention that it will be seen, as
this passage refers to man's need.
- Why was the oath signified by a rainbow in particular? I believe the
Radak alludes to the answer when he recalls that during the flood
itself there were no rainbows as there was complete cloud cover. No
sun shone through. Perhaps what the Radak teaches is when we see a
rainbow today, we realize that this is only possible if the cloud
cover is incomplete, and allows the sun to shine through on the
clouds, the moisture thereby refracting the peeking sunlight into its
seven component hues - forming the rainbow. We are thereby assured
that although based on our level, complete cloud cover and destruction
should take place, but God doesn't allow it to, as proved to us by the
rainbow's evidence of sunlight.
- We are given a sign of God's mercy, that complete cloud cover and
ultimate flooding will never again occur.