6:6ו׳:ו׳
1 א

וינחם ה' כי עשה. נֶחָמָה הָיְתָה לְפָנָיו שֶׁבְּרָאוֹ בַתַּחְתּוֹנִים, שֶׁאִלּוּ הָיָה מִן הָעֶלְיוֹנִים הָיָה מַמְרִידָן (בבראשית רבה):

וינחם ה' כי עשה AND THE LORD REPENTED THAT HE HAD MADE — (The first word is connected with that which means “comfort”) It was a consolation to Him that He had created man on earth, for had he been one of the heavenly beings he would have incited them also to rebel against God (Genesis Rabbah 27:4).

2 ב

ויתעצב. הָאָדָם אֶל לִבּוֹ שֶׁל מָקוֹם, עָלָה בְמַחֲשַׁבְתּוֹ שֶׁל מָקוֹם לְהַעֲצִיבוֹ, זֶהוּ תַּרְגוּם אֻנְקְלוֹס. דָּבָר אַחֵר וַיִּנָּחֶם – נֶהְפְכָה מַחְשַׁבְתּוֹ שֶׁל מָקוֹם מִמִּדַּת רַחֲמִים לְמִדַּת הַדִּין, עָלָה בְמַחְשָׁבָה לְפָנָיו מַה לַּעֲשׂוֹת בָּאָדָם שֶׁעָשָׂה בָּאָרֶץ, וְכֵן כָּל לְשׁוֹן נִחוּם שֶׁבַּמִּקְרָא לְשׁוֹן נִמְלָךְ מַה לַּעֲשׂוֹת, וּבֶן אָדָם וְיִתְנֶחָם (במדבר כ"ג) וְעַל עֲבָדָיו יִתְנֶחָם (דברים ל"ב) וַיִּנָּחֶם ה' עַל הָרָעָה (שמות ל"ב) נִחַמְתִּי כִּי הִמְלַכְתִּי (שמואל א' ט"ו) כֻּלָּם לְשׁוֹן מַחֲשָׁבָה אַחֶרֶת הֵם:

ויתעצב GRIEVED HIM — means, in the mind of God man became an object to be troubled (punished): it entered God’s heart to grieve him. This is how the Targum of Onkelos understands the verse. Another explanation of verse 6: וינחם AND [THE LORD] REPENTED — The thoughts of God turned from Divine mercy to Divine justice: He considered what to do with man whom He had made on the earth. Wherever this term is used in the Scripture it means “considering what to do”. Examples are: (Numbers 18:19) “nor the son of man that He should consider (ויתנחם)”; (Deuteronomy 32:36) “and reconsider (ויתנחם) regarding His servants”; (Exodus 22:14) “and the Lord reconsidered (וינחם) regarding the evil”; (1 Samuel 15:2) “I am reconsidering (נחמתי) that I have set up Saul to be king” — all these passages denote a change of mind.

3 ג

ויתעצב אל לבו. נִתְאַבֵּל עַל אָבְדַן מַעֲשֵׂה יָדָיו, כְּמוֹ נֶעֱצַב הַמֶּלֶךְ עַל בְּנוֹ (שם ב' י"ט), וְזוֹ כָתַבְתִּי לִתְשׁוּבַת הַמִּינִים גּוֹי אֶחָד שֶׁשָּׁאַל אֶת רַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ בֶּן קָרְחָה, אָמַר לוֹ אֵין אַתֶּם מוֹדִים שֶׁהַקָּבָּ"ה רוֹאֶה אֶת הַנּוֹלָד? אָמַר לוֹ הֵן, אָמַר לוֹ וְהָא כְתִיב וַיִּתְעַצֵּב אֶל לִבּוֹ? אָמַר לוֹ נוֹלַד לְךָ בֵּן זָכָר מִיָּמֶיךָ? אָמַר לוֹ הֵן, אָמַר לוֹ וּמֶה עָשִׂיתָ? אָמַר לוֹ שָׂמַחְתִּי וְשִׂמַּחְתִּי אֶת הַכֹּל, אָמַר לוֹ וְלֹא הָיִיתָ יוֹדֵעַ שֶׁסּוֹפוֹ לָמוּת? אָמַר לוֹ בִּשְׁעַת חֶדְוָתָא חֶדְוָתָא בִּשְׁעַת אֶבְלָא אֶבְלָא, אָמַר לוֹ כָּךְ מַעֲשֵׂה הַקָּבָּ"ה, אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁגָּלוּי לְפָנָיו שֶׁסּוֹפָן לַחֲטוֹא וּלְאָבְדָן לֹא נִמְנַע מִלְּבָרְאָן בִּשְׁבִיל הַצַּדִּיקִים הָעֲתִידִים לַעֲמֹד מֵהֶם:

ויתעצב אל לבו AND IT GRIEVED HIM AT HIS HEART— He mourned at the failure of His handiwork. Similarly (2 Samuel 19:3) ‘The king grieved (נעצב) for his son”. (Similarly here: God grieved for his (man’s) heart: that it had changed from good to bad). The following extract from the Midrash Rabbah I am writing in order that you may know how to refute the arguments of certain heretics: A gentile once asked Rabbi Joshua, the son of Korcha, saying to him, “Do you not admit that the Holy One, blessed be He, knows what is to happen in the future?” He replied, “Yes.” The gentile retorted, “But is it not written ‘and He was grieved in His heart’?” He answered: “Have you ever had a son born to you?” The reply was “Yes.” He asked (the gentile): “And what did you do?” He replied: “I rejoiced and I made others rejoice also.” The Rabbi asked him: “But did you not know that he must die?” The heathen replied: “At the time of joy, let there be joy, at the time of mourning let there be mourning”. The Rabbi then said: “Such, too, is the way of the Holy One, blessed be He: although it was clear to Him that in the end men would sin and would be destroyed, He did not refrain from creating them for the sake of the righteous men who were to issue from them” (Genesis Rabbah 27:4).