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And Noach began to be a husbandman

Author Stephen Pidgeon - Thursday, July 9, 2020 at 12:00 AM

Bere’shiyth (Genesis) 9:20
And Noach began to be a husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: 21 And he drank of the wine and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.

Recently, a friend of the Cepher wrote us the following question: I'm researching the incident when Noah got drunk. It seems the word "began" used for Noah is closely related to the same word used for Nimrod, implying that whatever Noah did it was not good. Can you offer any clarification for me on this?

What a great question! This is a very important discussion, and one of those Ivriyt (Hebrew) words that is simply not captured in one English word translation. 

Let’s take a look:

The word translated as “began” (חָלַל) (Strong's H2490) chalal (or xhalal)  is a primitive root generally construed to mean to bore, to wound or to dissolve. The bore aspect of the word would refer to boring into a tube to create a flute (חָלִיל) which is called a chaliyl (we see the resemblance). This is important as it may indicate that Noach actually grafted mature grape vines into new vines via a scion – an interesting implication. If so, this may call out the second application – to wound – which would imply the new vine being “wounded” with the cutting of the scion to create the graft.

We recall that the Torah is specific as to the planting of new fruit in terms of the number of years required (five) before the fruit may be harvested.

Vayiqra (Leviticus) 19:23-25
And when ye shall come into the land, and shall have planted all manner of trees for food, then ye shall count ־אתthe fruit thereof as uncircumcised: three years shall it be as uncircumcised unto you: it shall not be eaten of. 24 But in the fourth year all the fruit thereof shall be holy to praise Yahuah withal. 25 And in the fifth year shall ye eat of ־אתthe fruit thereof, that it may yield unto you the increase thereof: I am Yahuah Elohaykem.

It appears Noach may have taken a short cut to get wine quickly, by grafting old vines onto new ones to create wine in the first season. If so, we would see how the figurative aspects of this word – to profane, to break one’s word, to defile, to pollute, to prostitute, or to stain – would play out.  However, this begs a number of questions: Were there pre-existing grape vines which had somehow survived the deluge? If so, where were they? Were they capable of bearing fruit? Or did Noach preserve vines with him on the Ark?

In terms of contemplating the aspect of drinking wine, the tedusha of the word – the meaning of the letters in and of themselves –  indicates that you have lamed, lamed, chet: the shepherd’s staff, the shepherd’s staff and the fence.  One implication would be that Noach, being twice instructed, created a fence preventing him from seeing that instruction.

However, this word chalal also means to begin (as if by an 'opening wedge') as beginning to play the flute. Consider the following verses:

Bere’shiyth (Genesis) 4:25-26
And A’dam knew ־אתhis woman again; and she bore a son and called ־את his name Sheth: For Elohiym, said she, has ap-pointed me another seed instead of H’avel, whom Qayin slew. 26 And to Sheth, to him also there was born a son; and he called ־אתhis name Enosh: then began men to call upon the name of Yahuah.

You may find something else in this, but that is what I am seeing.


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