SAID Rabbi Hiya "Since the day that Adam transgressed the command of God, the world became affiliated with poverty until the advent of Noah, who, through the sacrifice he offered up, caused it to regain its normal fertility. "
Said Rabbi Jose, "the earth recovered its fertility, but did not become freed from the infection of the serpent until Israel stood at the foot of Mount Sinai and was united with the Tree of Life. And if they had not broken the law; there would have been no death in the world, Israel having become purified. When they sinned through their idolatry of the calf, the first tables of the law that freed it from the power and influence of the serpent or 'the end of all flesh' were broken. When the Levites rose up to slaughter and kill, the Israelites engaged in idolatrous worship the serpent who is the same as the destroying angel, placed himself at their head, but was unable to inflict any injury on them, as they were protected by certain amulets that made then impervious to his attacks. And only when God said unto Moses, 'Put off thy ornaments from thee' was the serpent able to smite them as it is written, 'And the children of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments by Mount Horeb' (Ex. XXXIII. 5). Why is the word here used vaithnatzelon (they were despoiled) and not vainatzelon (stripped off).63b It is in order to show that the Israelites deprived and despoiled of the protecting ornaments (amulets or pentacles) they had affixed on themselves at Mount Sinai when receiving the law, fell under the influence of the serpent who had now the power to afflict them."
Said Rabbi Hiya: "Why, if Noah was just and upright, did not death disappear out of the world? It was because it was not
altogether purified and freed from the infection of the serpent.63b Moreover, the antediluvians had lost all faith and belief in the existence of the Holy One and were really atheists and given up to the worship and service of the evil one, who after the deluge caused men to sin in a similar manner to those who lived before it, for the holy law that constitutes the Tree of Life was not revealed on earth by the Holy One until Israel stood at the foot of Mount Sinai. Noah was, therefore, unable to suppress death in the world, but rather, after his exit from the ark contributed to its continuance and perpetuity therein, as it is written, 'and he drank of the wine and was drunken; and he lay naked in his tent'" (Gan. IX. 21).