This week's Torah portion covers Genesis 6:9 to Genesis 11:32.
Immediately we read:
Genesis 6:9 (KJV)
These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.
What does it mean to be just or righteous? We could look to the dictionary at this point, but if we read a little further in Genesis we can ascertain why Noah was considered righteous.
Genesis 6:22 (KJV)
Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.
Noah was obedient to all that God had commanded him. This is what made him righteous. But what had God commanded him to do? The answer is certainly that he built the ark that saved eight people from the killing flood that was to come. Despite the fact that there had never been any rain, or that there was no nearby body of water large enough to float the ark, Noah obeyed. However, this was not all that Noah apparently accomplished according to God's will.
In Genesis 7:14,15 we read about how the animals came to the ark.
Genesis 7:14-15 (KJV)
They, and every beast after his kind, and all the cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind, and every fowl after his kind, every bird of every sort.
And they went in unto Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh, wherein is the breath of life.
Even small children know the account of Noah and his ark and how the animals came two by two. Not all know that some animals came by sevens.
Genesis 7:2 (KJV)
Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female.
The animals that came by sevens (most likely seven pairs) were the "clean" animals. Why were there more of some animals than others?
Genesis 8:20 (KJV)
And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.
After the flood the ark came to rest on Mount Ararat. The first thing that Noah did was to build an altar to God in thanksgiving and praise for his and his family's safety. Part of the reason for the extra clean animals was for making burnt (or elevation) offerings. The other reason was for a food supply. But what are "clean" animals?
The Bible doesn't give us this answer until Leviticus 11 where it describes which animals are clean and which aren't. This has caused many to have the idea that the Law of God was not known, nor required until Moses. But the fact that Noah offered and later only ate clean animals proves otherwise. This is not to say that revelation wasn't progressively given. It is difficult to fully comprehend how much of the Law Noah actually knew. But his knowledge of which animals were clean and unclean is clear.
This also demonstrates that the requirements of the Law were not restricted to the Mosaic Covenant. Perhaps other theological notions are just as erroneous. It behooves us to be very careful in constructing theologies.
Lastly, does Genesis 6:9 really mean that Noah was "perfect?" From Genesis 9 we read about the incident of Noah's drunkenness. He obviously was not perfect in the way that we normally view perfection. But just as Noah was righteous, he was perfect. The description conveys Noah's leanings. His striving to do all that God required made him a righteous and perfect man. This does not take away from the imputed righteousness that the believer receives at the new birth in Yeshua, but it does point to our obligation to follow God's commands to the best of our ability. This makes us righteous, too.