In this week’s parsha we hear the timeless tale of Noach and the Flood. However, given that this is just the second parsha of the year, I want to focus more on getting to know Ibn Ezra, rather than on any textual problems that arose while reading the parsha. Ibn Ezra is more meandering than the other commentators that I have studied. He will often jump around to a few points, with the later ones having little (if anything) to do directly with the verse at hand. One example that I found interesting was his commentary on Genesis / Bereishit 7:19: “And the waters [of the Flood] increased very greatly on the land, and they covered all of the high mountains that were under the sky” (translation mine). Just the first half of Ibn Ezra’s comment on this verse illustrates my point. He writes:
Very greatly. To the point that there cannot be any further increase. And so, after it said “and they covered all of the high mountains” why does it say “and they covered the mountains” (7:20)? The explanation is that every high mountain was covered by water, and the fifteen amot [referenced in 7:20] covered those mountains that were mentioned. And we will believe in the words of our God, and will abandon the foolishness of those people who say that, on a tall mountain lives the deity of Greece. (translation and emphasis mine)
As you can see, Ibn Ezra begins by explicating a problem with the repetition of the covering of the mountains. However, he is then compelled to take this chance to rail against forms of idolatry that prize mountains as being the seats of God(s). Something to remember next time we are in shul thinking that the rabbi jumped too quickly from the text of the Torah to the burning social issue of our day.
The Torah always
Gives us a chance to speak
To our own time