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NO.A H: p~,~ 1:l.l OR ~:ir 1:l.


It is a distinct pleasure to present the following reflections

in honour of Alejandro Diez Macho who has contributed so richly
to targumic studíes, In many ways his contríoutíon is immeasur-
able and only the long líst of students whom he has taught can
indicate the extent of his influence in a tangible form. His writings
have challenged all of us and ínspired us to greater and better
endeavour in targumíc things.
The idea that Noah was "righteous in thís generation" is attested
in the N oah story in Genesis in two places, Genesis 6: 9 1 and 7: 1 2•
Nowhere in the MT is Noah called ,::,r, "pure". When the targumíc
witnesses of Génesis 6-9 are examined two important factors are
to be noted. First, TO and PsJ of Genesis 6: 9 and 7: 1 describe
Noah as being "pure" { ,::,r) and second, there are two additional
passages in the targumic witnesses (whích are not direct transla-
tions of the MT) where Noah is described as being ("righ- p~,~
The four key passages can be laid out comparatively as follows:

(1) Gen 6:9

MT: Píl11J. n-nn j)'l~ fl'H ru

TO: 'ill11) 1]'~ '])' 1J.:\ ru
PsJ: -nrrn illil l'J.~ l 'lJ. lYJ. 1]'~ 'HJJ' 1J.:\ ru
Neof: '111) mn H'J.~ ¡'lJ.lY) 1l71'J j)'l~ 1):\ ru

* The following abbrevíatíons are to be noted: Ant= St J. Thac-

kery, Josepus IV: Jewish Arüiquities Books 1-III (1930); MT= Biblia
Hebraica Stuttgartensia; Midrash Rabbah H. Freedman and M. Si- =
mon, Midrash Rabbah, vol. I (1939); Neof = A. Díez Macho, Neophyti l.
Targum Polestinense MS de la Biblioteca Vaticana, vol. I (1968);
PsJ = E. G. Clarke, Targum Pseudo-Jonathan of the Pentateuch: Text
and Concordance (1984); TduP R. Le Déaut, Targum du Pentateuque,
vol. I (1978); I Q Gen= The Genesis Apocryphon from Cave I at Qum-
ran; XI Q Tg Job= The Job Targum from Cave XI at Qumran; TO=
Targum Onkelos: A. Sperber, The Bible in Aramaic, vol. I (1959).
1 ,,n,,::i º'~11 p,,i1 lt''N m
2 mn .,,,::i '~!l, p'ill 'li'N., 1nN ,::,


338 E. G. CLARKE

(2) Gen 7:1

MT: íll'il 1111 '),'7 jPl~ 'll'Hl lllll ')

TO: l'líl Hlll -mp '))" 'll'líl lll' 'lll
PsJ: l'líl Hlll -nrp ''H)l n-nn lll' ontt
Neof: l'líl íllll -nrp jJ'l~ n-nn lll' ontt
GC"E": l'líl rrna "011jJ jJ'H n-nn lll' ontt

(3) Gen 6:8

MT: ¡n H~D ru i
TO: l'Díll ílJ~H ru i
PsJ: Hl -n ílJ~H HP'Híl1íll ru i
Neof: 1Díl1 ¡n ílJ~H mta jPl~ íl1íl H71 ';,y nl·1
Ngl: H1ílíl ílllJ.
jPl~ mm • ';,y ru i
1Díl1 ¡n ílJ~H íl'llJ.

(4) Gen 9:20

MT: ilOlHrl l!PH ru 7íl'1

TO: HVl!G n'7:i 1:11 ru ,·,1!!'1
PsJ: HV-IH:l n';,:1 l:11 ')il'07 ru '~ll!J ·1
Neof: HVlH:l n';,:10';, ttp'n l:11 ru ,-11!))
Ngl: n'?:1 ')il07
Fgt(P): ')il07 HjPl~ l::L"l ru '~ll!J 1
Fgt(V): ')il'l'J7 l-ljJ'TI Hl:ll ru 'll!J)
CG"E": HVlH:l n';,:1 ')il07 iljJ'n ill:ll "\ ru 'll!J)

The following Table summarizes the dístríbutíon of ¡,,,1 and

'~t in the four targumic passages outlined above.
6:9 7: 1 6:8 9:20
MT: p-rs jJ'l~
TO: 'J)' '])'
PsJ: 'HJ)' , 'HJ)' jJ'l~
Neof: jJ'l~ jJ'l~ jJ'l~ jJ'l~
FgT(PV): - _, jJ'l~ jJ'l~
CG"E": - jJ'l~ - jJ'l~

· It is clear from the preceding Table that there are two opinions
about Noah's character: he is a ¡,,,::r i:J;i or a '~t i:i;i . This. is
reflected, in the first instance, in the way in which TO, PsJ, and
Neof translate the two bíblícal passages where the MT calles Nqah
¡,,,::r. Secondy, it is also clear from the Table what the distribution
of the two views is. Had it not been far Neof one could have con-

eluded that · the biblical .. ¡,,,~

was being translated/interpreted in
these passages {·6: 9 and 7: 1) as ,:,r Le. that the biblíeal view of
Noah's "righteousness" was understood by the Targumists · as "pu-
rity". The three complete Targums (TO, PsJ, Neof), therefore, reflect
the dichotomy which exists for the nature of Noah's character.
However, the examinatíon of the other two passages (6:8 and 9:20)
where there is a reí'erence to Noah's character, even though it is
not found in the MT, indícates the extent of the understanding by
the Targumists that Noah · was really a ¡,,,~
i.:,,;i . 'I'hírdly, the
Table shows that in PsJ there is an awareness of Noah as á ~,,~
because in 6:8 PsJ introduces ¡,,,~
even though ít is not in the MT
and is not in line with PsJ's translation in 6: 9 and 7: l. Fourthly,.
TO is the only one of the targumic witnesses which identíñes Noah
as ,:,r exclusively.
The way in which TO, PsJ, and Neof translated ¡,,,~ in the
rest of the Pentateuch shows that the predomínatíng translation for
j'''i~ is ,:,t . The only exception is N eof's use of ¡,,,~in 6: 9 and
7:1 of the Noah story. There is also evidence from Qumran. In
XI Q Tg Job the Hebrew ¡,,,~
is translated by ,:,r in, relevant
passages referring to Job3 • · ·

Because, both from the pattern of translation demonstrated

in the rest of the Pentateuch and from the Qumran evidence, the
normal translation of bíblical ¡,,,~
in the targums would seem to
be ,:,r the question must be asked why then was ¡,,,~ dominant
in the Noah story. In fact, as noted above in the summary Table, it
is only TO which identified Noah as a ,:,r
exclusively. It seems
that this ambivalence índicates a deliberate way of understanding
Noah. ·
Despite this evidence from the Pentateuch and Qumran that
,:,r is a legitimate way of translating the biblical ¡,~,~.
the questíon posed in the preceding paragraph there is little diffi-
to answer

culty in understanding why Noah could be called a ¡,,,~".1::i) becau-

se he is so labelled in the MT. On the other hand, the · fact that
TO and PsJ, in the two biblical passages where one would expect
equívalent translatíon chosen to label Noah a ,:,r i.:,,;i raises the
basic questions of where and why such a tradition would arise.
J. P. Lewis (1968) has made a study of the Jewish and Chris-
tian interpretations of the Noah Story. J. C. Vanderkam (198-0) has

3 XI Q Tg Job 20.[4] (Job 32:1); 26.[lJ (Job 315:7); 34.4 (Job. :40:8).
340 E. G. CLARKE

also dealt with Noah's righteousness. However, neither has asked

the questíon raised by the targumic evidence noted above 4•
When one turns to examine other ancient wítnesses to Noah
there is extensive support for describing Noah as ¡,~,::r i:l.l. It
would be logical to assume that the descríptíon in antiquity ís
based on the biblical position. Beginning with Ezekiel 14: 14,20 Noah
is linked wíth Danel and Job as being able to save only "their
own lives by their righteousness". The Septuagint translates the
biblical ¡,~il by díkaios in 6: 9 and 7: 1 5• In the Septuagint there
is no expansion in 6:8 and 9:20. I Q Gen Apoc. 6:26 should have
been a strong witness but unfortunately the text breaks off at the
critica! point 7•
The witnesses of Wisdom, Sirach, and the New Testament all
recognize Noah as díkaios 8• In Wisdom 10:4 Noah is called "the
righteous one" and in 14: 7 Noah is described in the terms of "bles-
sed is the wood whereby comes 'rigtheousness' "9• It is the same
in Sirach 44: 17-18, "Noah the righteous was found blameless". In
the New Testament in 2 Peter 2:4-5 is found "Noah, preacher of
righteousness" and in Hebrews 11: 7 we read "by faith Noah ... made
good bis own claim to the rigtheousness which comes of faith" 10•
Jubilees 10: 17 JI also describes N oah's character as being "righ-
teous": "Noah excelled ... because of the righteousness, wherein he
was perfect". As noted above 12 Noah was the only righteous one
in bis generation. In the texts examined to tpis point there has
been no evidence for the tradition that Noah was a as pre- ~:,r
sented in TO an PsJ.
4 J. C. Vanderkam, "The Righteousness of Noah", in Ideal Figu-
res in Ancient Jtuiaism, edít., G. W. E. Nickelsburg and J. J. Collins
(1980) 13-27; J. P. Lewis, A study of the Interpretation of Noah and
the Flood in Jewish and Christian Literature (1968) fails (pg. 92-100)
to note all the variants which exist on this matter of Noah's character
and also he makes no use of Neof which is so important for gaining a
perspective on the problem; J. Bowker, The Targums and Rabbinic
Literature (1969) does not deal with Noah as a P'1::I "":ll or a ,:,1 "1:ll
in the relevant passages.
s E. Hatch and H. A. Redpath, A Concordance to the Septuagint
and the other Greek Versions of the Old Testament; díkaios is a trans-
lation of Hebrw P'1::I .
6 I do not understand Le Déaut's reservatíon "si celuí qui parle est
bien Noé" (TduP, I 117 n. 7) when the text actually reads ,:ll nl m~ .
However, it is fortunate that the broken text preserved at least
"1:ll .
8 Also Enoch 67:1; Anti. 3.2 sec 75; 2 Esdr 3.1; 2 Enoch 35:1 [BJ.
9 -r:,ov olK·mov; ót' oü y[VETCXL ÓLKatOUCJÚvr¡.
10 NwE ÓLKatocrúvr¡,c;; Kat -r:~c; Ka'ta: TILCJ'tlV .ÓLKatOCJÚVT]C,.
JI R. H. Charlea, The Book of Jubilees or the Little Genesis (1902).
12 See note 4 and Vanderkam's artlele.

In Rabbinic Iíterature the rabbís of the first and second cen-

turíes C.E. stressed Noah's "righteousness" 13• However, the Rabbis
of the third and fourth centuries discussed Noah's character as
not being a ¡,,,l , 14 an interpretation which seems to depend on
four factors: {l) the biblical phrase "in his generation/in this ge-
neration" (6: 9, 7: 1); ,(2) covenantal implications; .(3) the fact that
Noah became a farmer; (4) the concept of being saved by God's
Ornee. Each of these will be dealt wíth in turn.
The first concern reflects emphasis on the phrase "in this ge-
neration" and the fact, compared to Noah, "all acted corruptly in
the Generation of the Flood" (Midrash Rabbah 30:8 (228-229)).
Already in the prooimion of Midrash Rabbah 30: 1 {233), the phrase
in Proverbs 10:25 "but the righteous is an everlastíng foundation"
is identified as referring to Noah. Also, Rabbi Judah and Rabbi
Nehemíah who are Third Generation Tannaim 15 argued about the
nature of Noah's character in his generation as compared with what
it would have been had he lived in another generation. In Midrash
Rabbah 30: 9 {237-238) Rabbi Judah claimed that
"only in his generation was he (Noah) a ríghteous man (by com-
parison); had he flourished in the generation of Moses or Samuel,
he would not have been called ríghteous: in the street of the
totally blind, the one-eyed man is called clear-sighted, and the
infant is called a scholar".

Rabbi Nehemiah replied

"If he was rigtheous even in his generatíon (despite its cor-
ruption), how much more so (had he lived) in the age of
Moses .. :".

Midrash Rabbah 30: 7 (235) says "wherever 'a man' (t~,N· Gene-
sis 6:9) occurs, it indicates a rigtheous man who warned (his ge-
neratíon) ".
In Midrash Rabbah 32: 2-3 (250) the prooimion on Genesis 17: 1
deals with the question of "righteousness" and argues that God's
invitation to Noah to enter the ark is because God is concerned
for the righteous not the wicked 16 and that Noah's leaving the ark
(Genesis 8: 15) is as a righteous person leaving prison.

13 B. D. Chilton, The Glory of Israel. The Theology and Provenience

of the lsaiah Targum (1983) 154 n. 15. ·
14 ·Lewis, op. cit. 133 describes Noah's righteousness as "limited
15 H. L. Strack, Introduction to the Talmud and Midrash (194'5)
115; (130-160 C.E.).
16 First Generation Palestínían Amoraim (220-250 e.E.) such as
342 E. G. CLARKE

Hence · Noah's "righteousness" was significant for the Rabbis •

'Í'he second concern which the rabbis discussed had, to do

with the inatter of convenant. Noah in Genesis 6: 9 and 7: 1 had
not yet made a convenant with God 18• That took place in Genesis
8:20-21 when Noah, actíng in a príestly fashion, rebuilt Adam's
disused altar and made a sacrifice, pleasing to God 19• In turn, Goci
made a convenant with Noah and his sons. Jubilees 6: lff, based
on Genesis 8: 20-22, also contains the same kind of argument ..
The third concern whích the rabbis had, is expressed · in Mi-
drash Rabbah 36:3 {290') on Genesis 9:20. Rabbi Berekiah (a Fifth
Generatíon Palestinian Amoraím) 20 argued
"Moses was more beloved than Noah. Noah, after having been
called 'a righteous man' (Genesis 6:9), is called 'a man of the
ground' (Genesis 9: 20); but Moses, after having been called
'an Egyptian man' (Exodus 11:9), was then cal1ed 'the man of
God' (Deuteronomy 33:1) ... ".

It would appear that this tradition interpreted ;,~i~;, rt'"~

9: 20) in a contemptuous sense,
The fourth concern which the Rabbis expressed related · to
whether Noah in his own right was saved, or was saved by God's
Grace {6: 8) 21• In Midrash Rabbah 29:3 ,(32,0) R. Simon believed

that God did not find Grace in N oah "beca use he was not actually
righteous save by contrast wíth his contemporalres" 22• On the other
hand, R. Hanina b. Papa argued that Noah had less than an exoess
of merít> and R. Abba b. Kahana said that although God repented

R. Hiyya and R. Hoshaia: but in Midrash Rabbah 32:2 (250) the opinion
of R. Judah and R. Eleazar (90-120 e.E.) are cited by later rabbis quo-
ting Psalm 11 :7 "For the Lord is righteous ... the upright shall see, His
face" as referring to N oah beca use o,f Genesis 7: l. · ·
17 In the light or the precedíng, Le Déaut's remarks (TduP, I 117
n. 7) on Genesis 6:8 are ,confusing: "La tradition rabbíníque est plutót
réticente. lorsqu'íl s'agit de donner á Noé le titre de 'juste' (P'1ll)".
16. P. Winter, "Le 2: 49 and Targum Yerushalmi": ZNTW 45 (1954)
145-179; espec. 16'6-167 observes that a P'1ll is connected wíth the
concept of the covenant: "to be a P'1ll · required in the first place
to know the law, in the second place to observe it, in the third to love
observing it ... As God made his covenant ... only after the Flood .. :
however pure of heart he (Noah) was by dísposition, he would not have
been righteous in the technical sense",
19 PsJ; Genesis 8: 20.
20 Strack, op. cit., 131; (340-390 e.E.).
21 L. Ginsberg, The Legends of the Jews, vol. III (1968) 479; Lewis,
op. cit. 134 R. Simon and R. Hanína b. Papa, Third Generatíon Pales-
tinian Amoraim (280-310 C.E.), as the sources for this view.
22 Midrash Rabbah, vol. I 230 n. 7.
23 Midrash Rabbah 26: 6 (217) "Even Noah who was left of them

of having created "them and Noah" (Genesis 6: 7-8) 24 Noah was

left because only he found Grace in God's eyes 25• Althoung Noah
was saved he could not save the whole generation as noted in the
third concern above.
In these examples there is no specific identification of Noah as
a ,:ir i:i.:i only that he is possibly not a ¡,,,::r i:i.:i by any standard
other than that in his own ,generation.
Finally, the Targum to Isaiah 6,5:8 26 (where in the MT there
is a reference to wine which is in a cluster and should not be des-
troyed so God's servants will not be destroyed) introduces a refe-
rence to Noah as ,:ir :
N~Elir~, Nii:i ,:ir m n::m~N, N~::i
N,¡,,,::r ,,:iv ,,,:i ,,:ivN r::i ...
.Just as (N~:l) Noah is found "pure" in the Generation of the Flood
God will not destroy him and will establish the world from him,
so (¡,:l ) God will act on behalf of his righteous servants and not
destroy all of them. Hebrew ¡,,,::r is translated in thirteen passages
in the Targum of Isaiah by ,::¡r but, at the same times ¡,,,::r renders
Hebrew ¡,,,::r in sorne fifty-six instanoes n. In the light of these facts
it is also important to notice that, in the Targum of Isaiah on 41: 2,
Abraham is called "the chosen of righteousness", Npi::r ,,n:i c:ii:iN:
MT: Who stirred up one from the east whom victory meets
at every step?
Tg: Who brought Abraham quickly from the east even the
chosen of rigtheousness in truth?

It should also be noted that Wisdom 10: 5 refers to Abraham as

"one rigtheous man" and Wisdom "kept him blameless in the sight
of God".

was l~ft not because he merited it but because the Holy One, blessed
be He, foresaw that Meses was destined to descend rrom him ... ".
24 Midrash Rabbah 28:8 (229), R. Abbah b. Kahana observed that
one should read the Hebrew text "for it repenteth me that I have
made them and Noah" í.e, he disregarded the punctuation (Midrash
Rabbah 229 n. 6).
25 Midrash Rabbah, vol. I 29: 1 (230) both Third Generation Pa-
lestinian Amorain (280-310 e.E.).
26 J. F. Stenning, The Targum of Isaiah (1949).
27 J B. van Zijl, A Concordance to the Targum of Isaiah (1979) 52;
344 E. G. CLARKE

The question of why TO and PsJ, and especially TO, should

have designated Noah as a '~t must still be answered. The two
explanations which can be posited are textual and theological.
From a textual aspect the fact that PsJ failed to supress the
plus in ,6: 8 provides an opportunity to see the stages in textual re-
duction which resulted finally in the form the text assumed in TO
where there is no plus in 6: 8 and Noah in called a '~t . One could
have concluded that PsJ agreed with TO (if it were not far the
plus in 6: 8) and that, therefore, there were two parallel traditions
about Noah's character. However, the plus in PsJ which ídentiñed
Noah as a ¡,,,~
turns out to be exactily the way his character is
described in the majority of the targumic witnesses. The stages
of textual reduction can be explained thusly: (1) Neo], "Noah, be-
cause there was no (other) righteous one in his generatíon, found
favour"; (2) Fgt{P,V), "Noah, because he was righteous in his
generatíon, found favour"; ,(3) PsJ, - "Noah, who was righteous,
found f.avour"; and finally, (4) TO, "Noah found favour" without
any explanation. In the history of targumic textual transmission
TO, as the official Targum of the Pentateuch, carne as clase as
possible to being a literal translation of the Hebrew text 28. Hence
no plus in 6:8. Now, Genesis 6:9 and 7:1 are the only biblical pas-
sages which describe Noah's character. Once TO had decided far
theological reasons (whích will be discussed below) that Noah was
a '~t 1:l.l the targumist needed only correct those passages directly
connected with the biblical text. PsJ simply normalized in terms
of TO in the biblical passages but left the plus in 6:8.

Firstly, as noted above, Noah could not be called a i,,,~

From a theological aspect there are two possíble explanations.
there was a covenant to which he could be "righteous" 29-. So, then,
how should Noah be characterized? He was "pure" enough in his
generation to be saved from the flood. Also in Genesis 8: 20-22 he
acted as a priest offering up pleasing sacrifices of clean anímals
and birds. And so, he was a '~t 1:l.l .
Secondly, the New Testament text of 2 Peter 2: 4-5 and Hebrews
11: 7 presented Noah as "a ríghteous man" and as "a preacher of
righteousness" in his generation and thereby a saviour. Vander-
kam 30 in his admirable study of the Palestinian Jewish Literature
of the intertestamental period concludes that far the various wri-
28 See such studíes as G. Vermes, "The Targumic Version in Gen
IV. 3-16", Annual of the Leetis University Oriental societu, vol. IV
(196'5) 13-53.
29 See note 18.
30 See note 4.

ters whose writings he analyzed "Noah has become, not simply a

moral paradígm, but an eschatological model" 31• By contrast the
Saviour for Judaism in the first and second centuries C.E. was
Abraham. Chilton 32, in his study of the Isaiah Targum, argues that
through Abraham the people were restored and that "Abraham is
such a paradigmatic figure that God's act on behalf of his seed
can be called 'benefits of Abraham' (Tg, 29: 23b)... and that God
declared 'to Abraham your father what was about to come' (Tg,
43: 12a) ".

31 Vanderkam, op. cit. 27.

32 Chilton, op. cit. 46-48.