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October 21, 2014 / conservadox

more on Noah

After the Flood, God pledges “neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.  While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest time, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.” (Gen. 8:21-22).

Some right wing extremists interpret this language to mean that climate change is nothing to worry about.  But the medieval commentators interpret this language pretty narrowly; Rashi and Ibn Ezra intepret it to mean that the seasons will continue to exist, that day and night will continue (Rashi) and that there will be no more floods as big as this one (Ibn Ezra).  Obviously, these generous concessions are perfectly consistent with some pretty large scale catastrophes, and maybe even with the extinction of mankind.  (Sforno suggests that even these limits on Divine destruction are conditional, arguing that if murder becomes rampant enough, the Earth is toast).

Personally, I think that if natural disasters killed, say, 10 percent of the world’s population, that would still be a pretty big deal (since that would be 600 million people, or 100 times the number of Jews killed in the Shoah).  Even one percent would be 10 times the number killed in the Shoah.


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