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The story of the flood spans roughly three chapters of the Torah, yet it has no practical Halachic value. It describes numerous miraculous events that have no relation to the Jewish people and tradition.

Neither it has any scientific knowledge or value that can be learned from, moreover, it contradicts the empirical findings in practically every aspect.

Noah wasn't a Jew, so his behavior can't be exemplary for us, saving himself from the flood and then getting drunk is not something to brag about.

The judgment of sinners, as described, was also pretty meaningless for the history: G-d didn't try to stop them but thought that building the Arc alone will suffice to signal them Heavenly rage and justify the extermination of humanity.

Unlike the Exodus, G-d didn't have to fight other gods or forces, so He wasn't so "tremendous" and praiseworthy.

IMHO, the story could easily be summarized in a couple of short sentences saving the ink for expounding some more useful pearls of wisdom, such as "Love thy neighbor" and the rest of it would be saved for Midrashim.

Did anybody address the necessity of the Torah to lengthen the story so much? In other words, why it was absolutely necessary to present this story in such great detail?


Note: I don't say we learn nothing from it, we learn from everything I only question the length. Please do not comment "we do learn that or that".

  • Your comment “Neither it has any scientific knowledge or value that can be learned from” contradicts this comment “ we learn from everything.” – Jonathan Oct 28 '19 at 22:04
  • It could have been dragged out because G-d wished to inform us of the true event with details or it might have been a myth with a moral lesson as Rambam suppose. That would lend the story being dragged because the pagans dragged their stories without any value attached to them. – Jonathan Oct 28 '19 at 22:05
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    I’m a little confused as to what type of answer you are seeking. The end of your post seems to indicate that you don’t want an answer that explains that it was necessary in order to teach us stuff. So do you just want an answer that says it was unnecessary? Or that it was just following some stylistic format? – Alex Oct 28 '19 at 22:07
  • @Alex I asked once about the uniformity of the information in the TOrah, IMHO, the biggest passages should provide the biggest information. I'd like to know whether the story of the flood aligns with this principle or contradicts it. – Al Berko Oct 28 '19 at 22:10
  • @Jonathan Nothing scientific, but some moral lessons. – Al Berko Oct 28 '19 at 22:13
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At the end of the Prefatory Remarks to Guide for the Perplexed, Rambam writes:

An adequate explanation of the figure having been given, and its meaning having been shown, do not imagine that you will find in its application a corresponding element for each part of the figure; you must not ask what is meant by "I have peace offerings with me" (ver. 14); by "I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry" (ver. 16); or what is added to the force of the figure by the observation "for the goodman is not at home" (ver. 19), and so on to the end of the chapter. For all this is merely to complete the illustration of the metaphor in its literal meaning. The circumstances described here are such as are common to adulterers. Such conversations take place between all adulterous persons. You must well understand what I have said, for it is a principle of the utmost importance with respect to those things which I intend to expound. If you observe in one of the chapters that I explained the meaning of a certain figure, and pointed out to you its general scope, do not trouble yourself further in order to find an interpretation of each separate portion, for that would lead you to one of the two following erroneous courses: either you will miss the sense included in the metaphor, or you will be induced to explain certain things which require no explanation, and which are not introduced for that purpose. Through this unnecessary trouble you may fall into the great error which besets most modern sects in their foolish writings and discussions: they all endeavour to find some hidden meaning in expressions which were never uttered by the author in that sense. Your object should be to discover inmost of the figures the general idea which the author wishes to express. In some instances it will be sufficient if you understand from my remarks that a certain expression contains a figure, although I may offer no further comment. For when you know that it is not to be taken literally, you will understand at once to what subject it refers. My statement that it is a figurative expression will, as it were, remove the screen from between the object and the observer.

(Friedlander translation, my emphasis)

While Rambam does not specifically say that this particular story is metaphorical, perhaps the same underlying reasoning applies — the length and details of the story are simply there to flesh out the story, and not because each word or phrase is teaching us an important new lesson.

See also my answers here, here, here, and here for some comments from Ralbag about the Torah's tendencies regarding giving lots of details in certain parts.

  • Alex, here is an interesting study done by Rabbi Marc b. Shapiro regarding the theological meaning of Noah’s flood. – Turk Hill Oct 29 '19 at 12:48
  • Well, IMHO, saying "that's common with Torah" helps very little. I'm tired to hear "of course it's very important, but we have no idea why". My Q. was specifically about that story - do we know or not what it's listed for. Your answer just proves, we don't. – Al Berko Oct 29 '19 at 18:27
  • @AlBerko See my comment on the question. I’m not sure what other type of answer you want. – Alex Oct 29 '19 at 18:41
  • Something lie "without the story of the flood we would know that Hashem is ... He does ... Matan Torah wouldn't happen... Imagine the Torah without the flood - does it lack anything we can't learn from other places? I'm trying to grasp the idea of Torah's "perfectness", as some try to claim that "any kid could make it better". – Al Berko Oct 29 '19 at 18:46
  • @AlBerko But your question didn't ask why we have the story at all. It asked why the story is so long. – Alex Oct 29 '19 at 23:30

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