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I’m curious if there is any indication in tanakh, whether or not people had tried to get on the ark once they saw the flood?

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    In Tanach only?
    – msh210
    Jan 31, 2023 at 13:57

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Oznayim la-Torah (Rav Sorotzkin) to Gen 7:16 explains that the reason God sealed up the ark – rather than Noah shutting the door himself – was to make sure that any repentant people turning up even at the last minute would be able to make it aboard, but as it happened none arrived.enter image description here

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Bereshit 7:16:

וַיִּסְגֹּ֥ר ה' בַּֽעֲדֽוֹ׃

Hashem sealed [the Ark] for Him.

This detail needs explanation. Rashi, who makes it his mission to explain the "pshat", the simple meaning of the Torah, says:

ויסגור ה' בעדו. הֵגֵן עָלָיו שֶׁלֹּא יִשְׁבְּרוּהָ, הִקִּיף הַתֵּבָה דֻּבִּים וַאֲרָיוֹת וְהָיוּ הוֹרְגִים בָּהֶם

AND THE LORD SHUT HIM IN — He protected him so that they could not smash up the Ark: He surrounded the Ark (thus enclosing it סגר) with bears and lions which killed some of them (Genesis Rabbah 32:8).

Rashi takes issue with this unnecessary detail. Once Noach entered the Ark, and closed the door, that's all that should be needed to protect against the waters . Rather Hashem sealed the door to fulfil His covenant with Noach (6:18, see Rashi and Bereshit Rabba there) to protected him from the people of the generation who would try to kill him (Siftei Chachamim).

Whatever standard one holds for Torah exegesis, it seems that there is a very strong hint that the people of the generation did show up to the Ark at the last minute, and Hashem had to intervene and close the door Himself. Our rabbinic tradition is that they tried to destroy it, rather than enter it. Follow the sources, marvel at the logic, and see if you feel it is the best explanation.

As Rashi points out, the most simple meaning of all is that Hashem sealed it from the waters, not peoples. It is still an unnecessary detail that needs explanation, and there are other explanations. E.g. Radak that Hashem sealed the Ark to prevent leaks against this huge 40 day rain that was going to take place.

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In addition to the above answer, our sages, brought in Rashi (7-12) say that when G'd started the flood, He at first made it fall gently, in order that if the people would repent, it might prove a rain of blessing; but when they did not repent it became a destructive flood. This shows that they could have entered the Ark, even after the doors were sealed, if only they would have repented.

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  • “If the people would repent” - would an flood then be necessary?
    – Shmuel
    Jan 31, 2023 at 20:54
  • That's exactly what the Sages/Rashi say, as quoted above: if they had repented, the waters would have come down as גשמי ברכה, rain of blessing and not as a flood. What % of people would have to repent for that to happen? I can't tell
    – Imanonov
    Jan 31, 2023 at 22:37

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