Once the waters have dried up, G-d instructs Noach to leave the ark with his wife, his sons, and the sons’ wives (8:15). However, when Noach exits, the exit order is himself, his sons, his wife, and his sons’ wives (8:18). Why did the exit order change from what was instructed?
Many commentaries explain that G-d’s instructions were meant to permit intimacy between Noach and his wife. The Malbim suggests that while personal restrictions were lifted, Noach was more concerned about caring for and establishing his sons and their families before tending to his own personal circumstances. This selflessness was on full display as Noach cared for everyone on the ark, and it continued as they ventured out into the new world. While Noach may not have been the most charismatic extrovert, there is much to be admired for his quiet generosity and attentiveness to those around him.