Noah

Noah, Son of Lamech

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The Flood came in Noah’s six-hundredth year, increased steadily for 40 days, maintained its mountain-covering depth for 110 more days, and then subsided sufficiently for Noah to disembark in the mountains of Ararat after another 221 days (see Flood). During all this time, “God remembered Noah and all the wild animals...in the ark” (Gen.8.1), implying that God did not leave the task of caring for these creatures entirely to Noah. To determine whether it was safe to disembark, Noah sent forth first a Raven and then a Dove at regular intervals (Gen.8.6-Gen.8.10). The freshly plucked olive leaf proved to him that such sturdy plants had already begun to grow on the mountain heights. God commanded him to disembark, and Noah built an altar and offered clean beasts as burnt offerings to God. The Lord then promised never to send another universal flood, confirming it with the rainbow sign (Gen.8.21-Gen.8.22; Gen.9.9-Gen.9.17). God blessed Noah and his family and commanded them to multiply and fill the earth (Gen.9.1). From now on animals would fear man, and they were given to be food for man, except the blood (Gen.9.2-Gen.9.4). Human government was instituted by the provision of capital punishment for murderers (Gen.9.5-Gen.9.6).

Among the things preserved in the ark was sinful human nature. Noah became a husbandman, planted a Vineyard, drank himself into a drunken stupor, and shamefully exposed himself in his tent (Gen.9.20-Gen.9.21). Ham, presumably led by his son Canaan, made fun of Noah. For this foul deed, Canaan was cursed and Ham received no blessing (Gen.9.25-Gen.9.27). On the other hand, Shem and Japheth showed due respect to their father (Gen.9.23) and received rich blessings for their descendants. Noah lived 350 years after the Flood, dying at the age of 950 (Gen.9.29).

In the Babylonian flood account (the Gilgamesh Epic), Noah’s counterpart is Utnapishtim. He likewise received divine warnings of the Flood, built a huge ark, preserved human and animal life, sent out birds, and offered sacrifices. However, the polytheism and other elements of the Babylonian account suggest that it was the product of a long oral transmission and did not influence Genesis in any way (see Merrill Unger, Archaeology and the Old Testament, 1954, pp. 46-71).

Noah, Daughter of Zelophehad

One of the five daughters of Zelophehad, of the tribe of Manasseh (Num.26.33; Num.27.1; Num.36.11; Josh.17.3), who received an inheritance in the land in their father’s name, in spite of having no brothers.——JCW

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NOAH (נֹ֖חַ; LXX Νω̂ε, G3820). Although the etymology of this name is uncertain its meaning is associated with the idea of “rest,” “comfort” or “bring relief” (Gen 5:29). The LXX uses the name Nōe in which form it appears in the NT. See Flood (Genesis).

Noah is first mentioned in Genesis 5:28, 29 as a son of Lamech and the last of the ten antediluvian patriarchs listed in Genesis. In Genesis 6-9 Noah is the hero of the Flood or deluge in which only he and his family survived.

Noah was 500 years old when his first son was born. The flood came 100 years later, but Noah likely knew about this great cataclysmic judgment 120 years earlier (1 Pet 3:20). In obedience to God’s instructions he built an ark and warned his fellow men that divine judgment was impending.

When the Flood came only Noah, his wife, his three sons and their wives were saved in the ark. The Flood—extending as far as the human race had spread, which possibly included the entire globe—destroyed all the rest of the human race (Gen 7:7; 1 Pet 3:20). Approximately one year after the Flood began (Gen 7:11; 8:13), Noah was told to leave the ark. In response to Noah’s sacrifice came the divine assurance that the earth would never again be destroyed in this manner and that seasonal changes would continue with regularity (8:20-22).

Noah became the father of the entire human race. The descendants of Shem, Ham, and Japheth dispersed over a wide area as is indicated in chs. 10 and 11. Whether or not Noah had other descendants born to him after the Flood is not indicated in the Scriptural account. God’s covenant was with Noah and his sons. Canaan, a son of Ham, was singled out for a special curse possibly because he treated his grandfather disrespectfully.

The character of Noah offers an interesting study on the basis of the Scriptural references. The naming of Noah is associated with the curse (5:28, 29). For generations man had hoped for a seed or offspring through whom they would gain relief from the divine curse (3:16, 17). Neither the birth of Cain (4:1), nor the birth of Seth (4:25, 26) had provided this. When Noah was born, once more hope was expressed that man might have some relief or comfort in his suffering which resulted from the curse.

Noah was regarded as a righteous man who is described as blameless or faultless among his contemporaries (6:9). This pattern of living issued out of his intimate relationship with God characterized by the Genesis author as “walking with God” and by the author of Hebrews (11:7) as “heir of righteousness.” In this manner of life Noah stood in direct contrast to the pattern of living common to his generation, which is described as so corrupt and continually wicked that God was grieved that He had created man. Noah was the only man who found favor with God (Gen 6:8).

Noah was favored by God in being warned about the impending judgment upon the corrupt human race. His responsibility was to build an ark and to serve as a messenger of righteousness (2 Pet 2:5). Whereas Noah exercised an obedient faith by complying with God’s instructions the rest of the human race outside of Noah’s family ignored the warning and subsequently perished in the Flood. The moral level of mankind is not only mentioned (Gen 6:1-5, 11-13), but Jesus in His teaching portrays the conditions that precipitated this divine judgment upon the human race (Matt 24:37-39; Luke 17:26, 27).

Of immediate concern to Noah after leaving the ark was the bringing of an offering or sacrifice to the God who had sustained him through this terrible judgment. As Noah worshiped, he was assured by God that divine blessing awaited him and his sons, and that his judgment would not be repeated. Noah and his sons were commissioned to replenish the earth and to subdue all creatures and vegetation. This covenant was divinely initiated and universal in scope. It applied to all living creatures and was to be everlasting in duration. It was sealed by God by the visible sign of the rainbow (Gen 9:9-17; cf. also Isa 54:9). To Noah and his seed came the divine assurance that never again would all flesh be destroyed with a flood.

Little is known about Noah in the postflood 350 years of his life. He died at the age of 950. After the Flood Noah engaged in farming or husbandry. In the course of time he cultivated the vine and was overtaken by the sin of drunkenness as he drank the wine. Whether this behavior of yielding to the temptation of drunkenness by righteous Noah was due to age or inadvertency is not indicated in the Scriptural account. Learning of his father’s unseemly behavior, Ham informed his brothers who respectfully cared for their father. It seems quite probable that Canaan, the youngest son of Ham, must have been the most disrespectful. When Noah became aware of the situation he announced a curse upon Canaan, indicating that he would be consigned to servitude in his relationship with his brothers. Some scholars interpret this as a prophetic utterance by Noah in which he predicted that due to the expression of these unfavorable traits by the descendants of Canaan they would become servants to their brethren.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)


One of the daughters of Zelophehad (Nu 26:33; 27:1; 36:11; Jos 17:3 ).

Bibliography

H. C. Leupold, Genesis (1942), 247-354; C. F. Pfeiffer, The Book of Genesis (1958), 28-34.