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Noah's sacrifice by Daniel Maclise

Noah' (or Noe, Noyach; Hebrew: נוֹחַ or נֹחַ, Modern Nóaḥ Tiberian Nōªḥ; Nūḥ;, Arabic: نوح ) was, according to the Bible, the tenth and last of the antediluvian Patriarchs; and a prophet according to the Qur'an. The biblical story of Noah is contained in the book of Genesis, chapters 6–9; he is also found in the passage 'Noah's sons", while the Qur'an has an entire sura named after and devoted to his story, with other references elsewhere. In the Genesis account, Noah saves his family and representatives of all animals in groups of two or seven from the flood. In the Islamic account, a group of 72 others are also saved (although none reproduce after the flood).[1] He receives a covenant from God, and his sons repopulate the earth.

While the Deluge and Noah's Ark are the best-known elements of the Noah tradition, Noah is also mentioned in Genesis as the "first husbandman" and possibly the inventor  of wine, as noted in an episode of his drunkenness and the subsequent Curse of Ham. The account of Noah is the subject of much elaboration in the later Abrahamic traditions, and was immensely influential in Western culture. Jewish thinkers have debated the extent of Noah's righteousness. Christians have likened the Christian Church to Noah's ark (1 Peter 3:18-22).



The following section is a summary of the Book of Genesis, chapters 6–9.

Noah was the son of Lamech who named him.[2] Take note of this. Noah because he would bring rest from toil on the land which God had cursed (a reference to the curse God placed on the earth following the expulsion from Eden).[3] In his five hundredth year Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. When Noah was six hundred years old, God, saddened at the wickedness of mankind, decided to send a great deluge to destroy all life. But he saw that Noah was a righteous man, and instructed him to build an ark and gather himself and his family with every type of animal, male and female, to save life from the Flood.

After the Flood, "Noah was the first tiller of the soil. He planted a vineyard; and he drank of the wine." Noah's son Ham saw his father naked, and so Noah cursed Ham's son Canaan, giving his land to Shem.[4]

Noah died 350 years after the Flood, at the age of 950,[5] the last of the immensely long-lived antediluvian Patriarchs. The maximum human lifespan, as depicted by the Bible, diminishes rapidly thereafter, from as much as 900 years to the 120 years of Moses.

Jewish perspectives

The Sacrifice of Noah, Jacopo Bassano (c.1515-1592), Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten, Potsdam-Sanssouci, c. 1574.

The righteousness of Noah is the subject of much discussion among the rabbis.[6] The description of Noah as "righteous in his generation" implied to some that his perfection was only relative: In his generation of wicked people, he could be considered righteous, but in the generation of a tzadik like Abraham, he would not be considered so righteous. They point out that Noah did not pray to God on behalf of those about to be destroyed, as Abraham prayed for the wicked of Sodom and Gomorrah. In fact, Noah is never seen to speak; he simply listens to God and acts on his orders. This led such commentators to offer the figure of Noah as "the man in a fur coat," who ensured his own comfort while ignoring his neighbour. Others, such as the medieval commentator Rashi, held on the contrary that the building of the Ark was stretched over 120 years, deliberately in order to give sinners time to repent. Rashi interprets his father's statement of the naming of Noah (in Hebrew נֹחַ) “This one will comfort (in Hebrew– yeNaHamainu יְנַחֲמֵנו) from our work and our hands sore from the land that the Lord had cursed”,[7] by saying Noah heralded a new era of prosperity, when (1) there was easing (in Hebrew – nahah - נחה) from the curse from the time of Adam when the Earth produced thorns and thistles even where men sowed wheat and (2) that Noah introduced the plow.

Islamic perspectives

The Quran contains 43 references to Noah (نوح, Nūḥ) in 28 suras (chapters), notably Sura Nuh and Sura Hud. Sura 11 (Hud) is largely an account of the Flood. Sura 71 (i.e., Sura Nuh), of 28 verses, consists of a divine injunction to Noah to preach, a short sermon of Noah’s to his idolatrous contemporaries on the monotheism of Allah (God), and Noah’s complaint to God about the hardness of the people’s hearts when his preaching is met by ridicule.

Quran's Noah lives for a total of 1000 years,(consider difference in Solar and Lunar years) with the Flood coming in his 950th year; (In later tradition, only 83 people are willing to submit, i.e., become Muslim, "those who accept a peaceful yield to the god" with God; these 83 are saved with Noah). It is mankind's obduracy which eventually brings the wrath of God on the unbelievers.

The theme of the Quranic story is the unity of Allah and the need to seek peace with Him. The narrative does not include the Genesis account of Noah's drunkenness, and the possibility of the Curse of Ham narrative is in fact implicitly excluded: Qur'an doesn’t mention the number of Noah’s sons. Nevertheless the traditions of Prophet Mohammed clearly mention that Noah had three sons,[8] and that all the population descended from them., and a fourth son who does not join his father despite Noah's final plea to be saved ("O my son! Come ride with us, and be not with the disbelievers!"); instead he flees to the mountains and drowns in the flood and God tells Noah that this is because he is an evildoer.[9] (In later Islamic tradition the son is given the name Kenan, "Canaan").

Shi'ah Muslims believe that Noah is buried next to Ali[10] within Imam Ali Mosque, in Najaf, Iraq.

Christian perspectives

The Gospel of Luke, (Luke17:26), equates Noah's Flood with the coming Day of Judgement: “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so too it will be in the days of the coming of the Son of Man.” Noah is called a "preacher of righteousness" in 2 Peter 2:5, and the First Epistle of Peter equates the saving power of baptism with the Ark saving those who were in it. In later Christian thought, the Ark came to be equated with the Church: salvation was to be found only within Christ and his Lordship, as in Noah's time it had been found only within the Ark. St Augustine of Hippo (354-430), demonstrated in The City of God that the dimensions of the Ark corresponded to the dimensions of the human body, which corresponds to the body of Christ; the equation of Ark and Church is still found in the Anglican rite of baptism, which asks God, "who of thy great mercy didst save Noah," to receive into the Church the infant about to be baptised.

Noah's three sons were generally interpreted in medieval Christianity as the founders of the populations of the three known continents, Japheth/Europe, Shem/Asia, and Ham/Africa, although a rarer variation held that they represented the three classes of medieval society - the priests (Shem), the warriors (Japheth), and the peasants (Ham). In the 18th and 19th centuries the view that Ham's sons in general had been literally "blackened" by the curse of Noah was cited as justification for black slavery.

Latter-day Saint perspectives

In Latter-day Saint theology, the archangel Gabriel lived in his mortal life as the patriarch Noah. Gabriel and Noah are regarded as the same individual; Noah being his mortal name and Gabriel being his heavenly name.[11]

Gnostic perspectives

Gnosticism was an important development of (and departure from) early Christianity, blending Jewish scriptures and Christian teachings with traditional pagan religion and esoteric Greek philosophical concepts. An important Gnostic text, the Apocryphon of John, reports that the chief archon caused the flood because he desired to destroy the world he had made, but the First Thought informed Noah of the chief archon's plans, and Noah informed the remainder of humanity. Unlike the account of Genesis, not only are Noah's family saved, but many others also heed Noah's call. There is no ark in this account; instead Noah and the others hide in a "luminous cloud".

Contemporary academic perspectives

Textual criticism

According to the documentary hypothesis, the first five books of the Bible, including Genesis, were collated during the 5th century BC from four main sources, which themselves date from no earlier than the 10th century BC. Two of these, the Jahwist, composed in the 10th century BC, and the Priestly source, from the late 7th century BC, make up the chapters of Genesis which concern Noah. The attempt by the 5th century editor to accommodate two independent and sometimes conflicting sources accounts for the confusion over such matters as how many pairs of animals Noah took, and how long the flood lasted.

More broadly, Genesis seems to contain two accounts concerning Noah, the first making him the hero of the Flood, the second representing him as a husbandman who planted a vineyard. This has led some scholars to believe that Noah was believed by the ancients to be the inventor of wine, in keeping with the statement at Genesis 5:29 that Lamech "called his name Noah, saying, 'Out of the ground which the Lord has cursed this one shall bring us relief from our work and from the toil of our hands.'"[12]

Connections to other lore

Noah's first burnt offering after the Flood - relief in Holy Trinity Column in Olomouc.

Noah's great grandfather Enoch is the beginning of a web of similarities between the story of Noah and older Mesopotamian myths. According to Genesis 5:24, at the end of his 365 years Enoch "walked with God, and was not, for God took him" - the only of the ten pre-Flood Patriarchs not reported to have died. It is not explicitly stated where he is taken. In a late Apocryphal tradition, Methuselah is reported to have visited Enoch at the end of the Earth, where he dwelt with the angels, immortal. The details bring to mind Utnapishtim, a figure from the Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh - the hero Gilgamesh, after long and arduous travel, finds Utnapishtim living in the paradise of Dilmun at the end of the Earth, where he has been granted eternal life by the gods. (Gilgamesh's reason for seeking out Utnapishtim, incidentally, to learn the secret of immortality - like Methuselah, he comes close to the gift but fails to achieve it). Utnapishtim then tells how he survived a great flood, and how he was afterwards granted immortality by the gods. It has been suggested that the Flood story may originally have belonged to Enoch.[12]

Lamech's statement that Noah will be named "rest" because "out of the ground which the Lord has cursed this one shall bring us relief from our work and from the toil of our hands," has another faint parallel in Babylonian mythology: the gods grew tired of working, digging the channels of the rivers, and so the god Enki created man from clay and blood and spit to do the work for them. Enki fell in love with his creation, and later warned Utnapishtim that the other gods planned to send a flood to destroy all life, and advised him on how to construct his ark.

Noah is also often compared to Deucalion, the son of Prometheus and Pronoia in Greek mythology. Like Noah, Deucalion is a wine maker or wine seller; he is forewarned of the flood (this time by Zeus); he builds an ark and staffs it with creatures - and when he completes his voyage, gives thanks and takes advice from the gods on how to repopulate the Earth. Deucalion also sends a pigeon to find out about the situation of the world and the bird return with an olive branch. This and some other examples of apparent comparison between Greek myths and the "key characters" in the Old Testament/Torah have led recent Biblical scholars to suggest a Hellenistic influence in the composition of the earlier portions of the Hebrew Bible.[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ Noah's Ark - Jewish Encyclopedia
  2. ^ Genesis 5:29
  3. ^ "see Rashi's comment at". Retrieved 2010-03-15. 
  4. ^ Genesis 9:20-27
  5. ^ Genesis 9:28-29
  6. ^ " - Noah". 
  7. ^ Genesis 5:28
  8. ^ Tirmidhi, Ibn Abi Hatim, and ibn Jarir
  9. ^ This section is based on Mark Hillmer, "The Book of Genesis in the Qur’an", Word & World 14/2 (1994)
  10. ^ al-Qummi, Ja'far ibn Qūlawayh (2008). Kāmil al-Ziyārāt. trans. Sayyid Mohsen al-Husaini al-Mīlāni. Press. pp. 66–67. 
  11. ^ "Encyclopedia of Mormonism - NOAH". 
  12. ^ a b "NOAH". Retrieved 2010-03-15. 

Further reading

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Etymology 1

Biblical Hebrew Noah or Noach (Hebrew: נוֹחַ or נֹחַ, Standard Nóaḥ Tiberian Nōªḥ; Arabic: نوح, (Nūḥ); "Rest").

Proper noun




  1. (Biblical) An Old Testament character who built an ark to save his family and a pair of each species of animal from the Great Flood.
  2. A male given name.
  • 1611King James Version of the Bible, Genesis 7:7
    And Noah went in, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives with him, into the ark, because of the waters of the flood.
  • 1984 Erica Jong: Parachutes & Kisses. ISBN:0451138775 p.354:
    Easy to account for those trends - but what of post-Vietnam America and its generation of little Noahs? Were we expecting a flood momentarily?

Etymology 2

Rhyming slang, Noah's arkshark.





  1. (Australian, slang) A shark.


Proper noun


  1. (Biblical) Noah.
  2. A male given name .


Proper noun


  1. (Biblical) Noah.
  2. A male given name.


Proper noun


  1. A male given name , an English type spelling of Noa, currently popular.


Proper noun


  1. A male given name, an English type spelling of Noa, currently popular.

Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

Meaning: rest (Heb. Noah)

The grandson of Methuselah (Gen 5:25ff), who was for two hundred and fifty years contemporary with Adam, and the son of Lamech (son of Methuselah), who was about fifty years old at the time of Adam's death. This patriarch is rightly regarded as the connecting link between the old and the new world. He is the second great progenitor of the human family.

The words of his father Lamech at his birth (Gen 5:29) have been regarded as in a sense prophetical, designating Noah as a type of Him who is the true "rest and comfort" of men under the burden of life (Mt 11:28).

He lived five hundred years, and then there were born unto him three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth (Gen 5:32). He was a "just man and perfect in his generation," and "walked with God" (comp. Ezek 14:14ff). But now the descendants of Cain and of Seth began to intermarry, and then there sprang up a race distinguished for their ungodliness. Men became more and more corrupt, and God determined to sweep the earth of its wicked population (Gen 6:7). But with Noah God entered into a covenant, with a promise of deliverance from the threatened deluge (Gen 6:18). He was accordingly commanded to build an ark (Gen 6:14ff) for the saving of himself and his house. An interval of one hundred and twenty years elapsed while the ark was being built (Gen 6:3), during which Noah bore constant testimony against the unbelief and wickedness of that generation (1 Pet 3:18ff; 2 Pet 2:5).

When the ark of "gopher-wood" (mentioned only here) was at length completed according to the command of the Lord, the living creatures that were to be preserved entered into it; and then Noah and his wife and sons and daughters-in-law entered it, and the "Lord shut him in" (Gen 7:16). The judgment-threatened now fell on the guilty world, "the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished" (2 Pet 3:6). The ark floated on the waters for one hundred and fifty days, and then rested on the mountains of Ararat (Gen 8:3f); but not for a considerable time after this was divine permission given him to leave the ark, so that he and his family were a whole year shut up within it (Gen 6:14).

On leaving the ark Noah's first act was to erect an altar, the first of which there is any mention, and offer the sacrifices of adoring thanks and praise to God, who entered into a covenant with him, the first covenant between God and man, granting him possession of the earth by a new and special charter, which remains in force to the present time. As a sign and witness of this covenant, the rainbow was adopted and set apart by God, as a sure pledge that never again would the earth be destroyed by a flood.

But, alas! Noah after this fell into grievous sin (Gen 9:21); and the conduct of Ham on this sad occasion led to the memorable prediction regarding his three sons and their descendants. Noah "lived after the flood three hundred and fifty years, and he died" (Gen 9:28). (See Deluge)

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

what mentions this? (please help by turning references to this page into wiki links)

[Hebrew Nôah, "rest"; Greek Noe; Latin Noe].

The ninth patriarch of the Sethite line, grandson of Mathusala and son of Lamech, who with his family was saved from the Deluge and thus became the second father of the human race (Genesis 5:25-9:29).

The name Noah was give to him because of his father's expectation regarding him. "This same", said Lamech on naming him, "shall comfort us from the works and labours of our hands on [or more correctly "from", i.e. "which come from"] the earth, which the Lord hath cursed." Most commentators consider Lamech's words as an expression of a hope, or as a prophecy, that the child would in some way be instrumental in removing the curse pronounced against Adam (Gen 3:17 sqq.). Others rather fancifully see in them a reference to Noah's future discovery of wine, which cheers the heart of man; whilst others again, with greater probability, take them as expressing merely a natural hope on the part of Lamech that his son would become the support and comfort of his parents, and enable them to enjoy rest and peace in their later years.

Amid the general corruption which resulted from the marriages of "the sons of God" with "the daughters of men" (Gen 6:2 sqq.), that is of the Sethites with the Cainite women, "Noah was a just and perfect man in his generations" and "walked with God" (Gen 6:9). Hence, when God decreed to destroy men from the face of the earth, he "found grace before the Lord". According to the common interpretation of Gen 6:3, Noah first received divine warning of the impending destruction one hundred and twenty years before it occurred, and therefore when he was four hundred and eighty years old (cf. Gen 7:11); he does not seem, however, to have received at this time any details as to the nature of the catastrophe.

After he reached the age of five hundred years three sons, Sem, Cham, and Japheth, were born to him (Gen 6:10). These had grown to manhood and had taken wives, when Noah was informed of God's intention to destroy men by a flood, and received directions to build an ark in which he and his wife, his sons and their wives, and representatives, male and female, of the various kinds of animals and birds, were to be saved (Gen 6:13ff). How long before the Deluge this revelation was imparted to him, it is impossible to say; it can hardly have been more than seventy-five years (cf. Gen 7:11), and probably was considerably less.

Noah had announced the impending judgement and had exhorted to repentance (2 Pet 2:5), but no heed was given to his words (Mt 24:37 sqq.; Lk 17:26f; 1 Pet 3:20), and, when the fatal time arrived, no one except Noah's immediate family found refuge in the ark. Seven days before the waters began to cover the earth, Noah was commanded to enter the ark with his wife, his three sons and their wives, and to take with him seven pairs of all clean, and two pairs of all unclean animals and birds (Gen 7:1ff). It has been objected that, even though the most liberal value is allowed for the cubit, the ark would have been too small to lodge at least two pairs of every species of animal and bird. But there can be no difficulty if, as is now generally admitted, the Deluge was not geographically universal (see DELUGE; ARK).

After leaving the ark Noah built an altar, and taking of all clean animals and birds, offered holocausts upon it. God accepted the sacrifice, and made a covenant with Noah, and through him with all mankind, that He would not waste the earth or destroy man by another deluge. The rainbow would for all times be a sign and a reminder of this covenant. He further renewed the blessing which He had pronounced on Adam (Gen 1:28), and confirmed the dominion over animals which He had granted to man. In virtue of this dominion man may use animals for food, but the flesh may not be eaten with the blood (8:20-9:17).

Noah now gave himself to agriculture, and planted a vineyard. Being unacquainted with the effects of fermented grape-juice, he drank of it too freely and was made drunk. Cham found his father lying naked in his tent, and made a jest of his condition before his brothers; these reverently covered him with a mantle. On hearing of the occurrence Noah cursed Chanaan, as Cham's heir, and blessed Sem and Japheth.

He lived three hundred and fifty years after the Deluge, and died at the age of nine hundred and fifty years (Gen 9:20ff). In the later books of Scripture Noah is represented as the model of the just man (Sir 44:17; Ezek 14:14, Ezek 14:20), and as an exemplar of faith (Heb 11:7). In the Fathers and tradition he is considered as the type and figure of the Saviour, because through him the human race was saved from destruction and reconciled with God (Sir 44:17f). Moreover, as he built the ark, the only means of salvation from the Deluge, so Christ established the Church, the only means of salvation in the spiritual order.

The Babylonian account of the Deluge in many points closely resembles that of the Bible. Four cuneiform recensions of it have been discovered, of which, however, three are only short fragments. The complete story is found in the Gilgamesh epic (Tablet 11) discovered by G. Smith among the ruins of the library of Assurbanipal in 1872. Another version is given by Berosus. In the Gilgamesh poem the hero of the story is Ut-napishtim (or Sit-napishti, as some read it, surnamed Atra-hasis "the very clever"; in two of the fragments he is simply styled Atra-hasis, which name is also found in Berosus under the Greek form Xisuthros. The story in brief is as follows: A council of the gods having decreed to destroy men by a flood, the god Ea warns Ut-napishtim, and bids him build a ship in which to save himself and the seed of all kinds of life. Ut-napishtim builds the ship (of which, according to one version, Ea traces the plan on the ground), and places in it his family, his dependents, artisans, and domestic as well as wild animals, after which he shuts the door. The storm lasts six days; on the seventh the flood begins to subside. The ship steered by the helmsman Puzur-Bel lands on Mt. Nisir. After seven days Ut-napishtim sends forth a dove and a swallow, which, finding no resting-place for their feet return to the ark, and then a raven, which feeds on dead bodies and does not return. On leaving the ship, Ut-napishtim offers a sacrifice to the gods, who smell the godly odour and gather like flies over the sacrificer. He and his wife are then admitted among the gods. The story as given by Berosus comes somewhat nearer to the Biblical narrative. Because of the striking resemblances between the two many maintain that the Biblical account is derived from the Babylonian. But the differences are so many and so important that this view must be pronounced untenable. The Scriptural story is a parallel and independent form of a common tradition.

Portions of this entry are taken from The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1907.


—Biblical Data:

Son of Lamech and the ninth in descent from Adam. In the midst ofabounding corruption he alone was "righteous and blameless in his generations" and "walked with God" (Gen. vi. 9). Hence, when all his contemporaries were doomed to perish by the divine judgment in punishment for their sins, he "found grace in the eyes of the Lord" (ib. vi. 8). When he was about five hundred years old his three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, were born (ib. v. 32). One hundred years after this the command came to him from God to make a great vessel or ark, three hundred cubits in length, in which he and his family were to find safety from the waters of a great flood. This deluge was to destroy all living things except such as should be brought into the ark before the coming of the waters. Hence, besides his wife, and his sons and their wives, eight persons in all, a pair of every species of living thing was taken into the ark (ib. vi. 13-21). Another account (ib. vii. 1-3) states that of the clean animals seven of each kind were thus preserved.

Noah fulfilled the command, and on the tenth day of the second month of the six hundredth year of his life he and his family and the living creatures entered into the vessel. Seven days thereafter "all the fountains of the abyss were broken up and the windows of heaven were opened" (ib. vii. 6-11, 13-16). For forty days the rain fell; the ark floated and drifted in fifteen cubits of water; the high mountains were covered; and every living thing not sheltered in the vessel perished from the earth. For one hundred and fifty days the waters prevailed (ib. vii. 17-24). At the end of that period the vessel rested upon the "mountains of Ararat" (ib. viii. 3, 4).

Noah Sends Forth the Dove.

Noah waited during the slow ebbing of the waters till the tenth day of the eleventh month. Then he sent forth a raven which flew from hilltop to hilltop and did not return. Next he sent forth a dove which found no resting-place and returned to the ark. After seven days more he sent forth the dove again, and at evening she returned with an olive-leaf in her beak. Soon the waters disappeared entirely, and in the six hundred and first year, in the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, that is, three hundred and sixty-five days after the oncoming of the deluge, the earth was seen to be entirely dry (ib. viii. 5-14).

Noah's first duty, after the general disembarkation, was to erect an altar to Yhwh, whereon he offered one of every species of clean animal as a sacrifice. Yhwh, accepting the offering, promised never again to curse the ground "for man's sake," or to interfere with the regular succession of the seasons. As a pledge of this gracious covenant with man and beast the rainbow was set in the clouds (ib. viii. 15-22, ix. 8-17). Two injunctions were laid upon Noah: While the eating of animal food was permitted, abstinence from blood was strictly enjoined; and the shedding of the blood of man by man was made a crime punishable by death at the hands of man (ib. ix. 3-6).

After the Flood Noah engaged in vine-growing. He became drunk with the wine, and, uncovering himself in his tent, he was seen in his shame by his eldest son, Ham, who informed his two brothers of the exposure. They modestly covered their father with a garment, and received from him a blessing, while Ham, through his son Canaan, received a curse. Noah died at the age of nine hundred and fifty years. He was the second father of the race, since only his descendants survived the Flood. His traditional renown is attested by his being named with Job and Daniel, in the days of the Exile (Ezek. xiv. 14, 20), as a type of a righteous man.

—In Apocryphal and Rabbinical Literature:

Apocryphal legend represents Noah at his birth as having a body white like snow, hair white as wool, and eyes like sunbeams. As soon as he opened his eyes, with the light of which the whole house was illumined, he stood upright between the midwife's hands and addressed a prayer to God. His father, Lamech, frightened at this sight, went to consult Methuselah, telling him that his grandchild resembled an angel more than a child. Lamech further informed his father that he foresaw some accident would befall the earth during the lifetime of his son; he therefore asked Methuselah to consult Enoch, who was then among the angels, and who consequently would know what was to happen. Methuselah, accordingly, went to the ends of the earth to confer with Enoch, who announced to him that a flood would destroy the world, that only the new-born son and his future sons, three in number, would survive. Enoch also told him to name the child "Noah," inasmuch as he would console the earth for its destruction (Enoch, cvi.-cvii.).

His Name.

According to Midr. Agadah on Gen. v. 29, Noah obtained his name, which means "rest," only after he had invented implements for tilling the ground, which, owing to the lack of such implements, had yielded only thorns and thistles (comp. Gen. iii. 18). In this manner Noah really brought rest to mankind and to the earth itself. Other reasons for this name are given by the Rabbis; e.g., Noah restored man's rule over everything, just as it had been before Adam sinned, thus setting mankind at rest. Formerly the water used to inundate the graves so that the corpses floated out; but when Noah was born the water subsided (Gen. R. xxv. 2). The apparent discrepancy in Gen. v. 29, where it is said that Lamech "called his name Noah, saying, This shall comfort us," is explained by the "Sefer ha-Yashar" (section "Bereshit," p. 5b, Leghorn, 1870), which says that while he was called in general "Noah," his father named him "Menahem" (= "the comforter"). Noah was born circumcised (Midr. Agadah on Gen. vi. 9; Tan., Noaḥ, 6).

His Marriage.

Although Noah is styled "a just man and perfect in his generations" (Gen. vi. 9), the degree of his righteousness is, nevertheless, much discussed by the Rabbis. Some of the latter think that Noah was a just man only in comparison with his generation, which was very wicked, but that he could not be compared with any of the other righteous men mentioned in the Bible. These same rabbis go still further and assert that Noah himself was included in the divine decree of destruction, but that he found grace in the eyes of the Lord (comp. ib. vi. 8) for the sake of his descendants. Other rabbis, on the contrary, extol Noah's righteousness, sayingthat his generation had no influence on him, and that had he lived in another generation, his righteousness would have been still more strongly marked (Sanh. 108a; Gen. R. xxx. 10). In like manner, the terms "wise" ("ḥakam") and "stupid" ("ba'ar") are applied to Noah by different rabbis (Ex. R. l. 2; Num. R. x. 9). Still, it is generally acknowledged that before the Flood, Noah was, by comparison with his contemporaries, a really up-rigḥt man and a prophet. He was considered as God's shepherd (Lev. R. i. 9; "Yalḳ. Ḥadash," "Mosheh," No. 128). Two different reasons are given why Noah begat no children until he had reached the advanced age of 500 years, while his ancestors had families at a much younger age (comp. Gen. v.). One explanation is that Noah, foreseeing that a flood would destroy the world on account of its corruption, refused to marry on the ground that his offspring would perish. God, however, ordered him to take a wife, so that after the Flood he might repeople the earth (Tan., Bereshit, 39; "Sefer ha-Yashar," section "Noaḥ"). The other explanation is that God rendered him impotent till he reached the age of 500, saying: "If his children be wicked, he will be afflicted by their destruction; and if they be upright like their father, they will be troubled with making so many arks" (Gen. R. xxvi. 2). The "Sefer ha-Yashar" (l.c.) and Gen. R. (xxii. 4) both agree that Noah's wife was called Naamah. According to the latter, she was the sister of Tubal-cain (Gen. iv. 21); according to the former, she was a daughter of Enoch, and Noah married her when he was 498 years old. In the Book of Jubilees (Hebr. transl. by Rubin, iv. 46-47) Noah's wife is referred to as "Emẓara, daughter of Raḳi'el." Emẓara was his niece, and two years after their marriage bore him Shem.

Making of the Ark.

Noah once had a vision in which he saw the earth sinking and its destruction drawing near. Like his grandfather, Methuselah, Noah, too, went to the ends of the earth to consult Enoch. Noah cried out sadly three times: "Hear me!" Then he said: "What has happened to the earth that it is so shaken? May I not go down with it?" An earthquake took place; a voice descended from heaven; and Noah fell with his face toward the ground. Enoch appeared before him, foretelling that the end of the dwellers upon the earth was near because they had learned the secrets of the angels, the misdeeds of Satan, and all the mysteries of the world which should have been hidden from them. But as Noah was innocent of any attempt to learn these secrets, Enoch foretold his deliverance from the Flood, and the descent from him of a righteous race of men (Enoch, lxv. 1-12). On being informed of the end of the world, Noah exhorted his contemporaries to repentance, foretelling them that a flood would destroy the earth on account of the wickedness of its people. According to a tradition, Noah planted cedar-trees and felled them, continuing to do so for the space of one hundred and twenty years. When the people asked him for what purpose he prepared so many trees, he told them that he was going to make an ark to save himself from the Flood which was about to come upon the earth. But the people heeded not his words, they mocked at him, and used vile language; and Noah suffered violent persecution at their hands (Sanh. 108a, b; Pirḳe R. El. xxii.; Gen. R. xxx. 7; Lev. R. xxvii. 5; "Sefer ha-Yashar," l.c.; see also Flood in Rabbinical Literature). According to one legend, God showed Noah with His finger how to make the ark (Pirḳe R. El. xxiii.); but according to the "Sefer Noaḥ" (Jellinek, "B. H." iii. 155-160), Noah learned how to build it, and mastered as well the various sciences, from the "Sefer Razi'el" (the book from which the angel Raziel taught Adam all the sciences), which had been brought to him by the angel Raphael. The construction of the ark lasted fifty-two years; Noah purposely working slowly, in the hope that the people would take warning therefrom and would repent (Pirḳe R. El. l.c.). The "Sefer ha-Yashar" (l.c.), however, assigns only five years for the construction of the ark. Noah could distinguish between clean and unclean animals inasmuch as the ark of itself gave admittance to seven of the clean animals, while of the unclean ones it admitted two only (Sanh. 108b). The "Sefer haYashar" describes another method for distinguishing them: the clean animals and fowls crouched before Noah, while the unclean ones remained standing.

An account of a vision which Noah had in the five-hundredth year of his life, on the fourteenth day of the seventh month, is given in the Book of Enoch (lx. i. 25), which probably refers to the beginning of the Flood. Noah witnessed the heaven of heavens quake so violently that all the heavenly hosts were disquieted. Noah was prostrated with fear, and Michael sent an angel to raise him and to tell him of the impending judgment. Then the angel that accompanied Noah told him of the spirits which control the thunder, lightning, snow, rain, and hail.

A difference of opinion concerning Noah prevails also with regard to his entering into the ark. According to some rabbis, Noah's faith was so small that he did not enter the ark until he stood ankledeep in water (Gen. R. xxxii. 9); others declare, on the contrary, that Noah waited for God's directions to enter the ark, just as he awaited His permission to leave it (ib. xxxiv. 4; Midr. Agadat Bereshit, in Jellinek, "B. H." iv. 11).

Within the Ark.

When Noah and his family and everything that he had taken with him were inside the ark, the people left outside asked him to admit them too, promising repentance. Noah refused to admit them, objecting that he had exhorted them to repent many years before the Flood. The people then assembled in great numbers around the ark in order to break into it; but they were destroyed by the lions and other wild animals which also surrounded it (Tan., Noaḥ, 10; Gen. R. xxxii. 14; "Sefer ha-Yashar," l.c.). Noah was constantly occupied in the ark; for he had to attend to all the living things which were with him and which fed at different times. One of the lions, having become enraged at Noah, attacked and injured him, so that he remained lame for the rest of his life. Noah, during the twelve months that he was in the ark, did not sleepone moment (Tan., Noaḥ, 14; Gen. R. xxx. 6). Noah had also to feed Og, who, being unable to enter the ark, sat upon it, taking hold of one of its timbers. Noah made a hole in the side of the ark through which he passed food to Og; the latter thereupon swore to be Noah's servant eternally (Pirḳe R. El. l.c.).

Being in great distress, Noah prayed to God to shorten the time of his suffering. God answered him that He had decreed that the Flood should last twelve months and that such decree might not be changed (Tan., Noaḥ, 17; Midr. Agadat Bereshit l.c. iv. 12). The mountain on which the ark rested, and on which Noah afterward settled, is called in the Book of Jubilees (v. 38) and "Sefer Noaḥ" (l.c.) "Lubar," which Delitzsch supposes to be the Elbruz. When Noah sent the raven to see whether the waters were abated, it refused to go, saying: "Thy Lord hateth me; for, while seven of other species were received into the ark, only two of mine were admitted. And thou also hatest me; for, instead of sending one from the sevens, thou sendest me! If I am met by the angel of heat or by the angel of cold, my species will be lost." Noah answered the raven: "The world hath no need of thee; for thou art good neither for food nor for sacrifice." God, however, ordered Noah to receive the raven into the ark, as it was destined to feed Elijah (Sanh. 108b; Gen. R. xxxiii. 6). When Noah, on leaving the ark, saw the destruction wrought on the world, he began to weep, saying: "Lord of the world, Thou art merciful; why hast Thou not pitied Thy children?" God answered him: "Foolish shepherd! Now thou implorest My clemency. Hadst thou done so when I announced to thee the Flood it would not have come to pass. Thou knewest that thou wouldest be rescued, and therefore didst not care for others; now thou prayest." Noah acknowledged his fault, and offered sacrifices in expiation of it ("Zohar Ḥadash," p. 42a, b). It was because Noah neglected to pray for his contemporaries that he was punished with lameness and that his son Ham abused him (ib. p. 43a).

His Lapse.

The planting of a vineyard by Noah and his drunkenness (Gen. ix. 20 et seq.) caused him to be regarded by the Rabbis in a new light, much to his disparagement. He lost much if not all of his former merit. He was one of the three worthless men that were eager for agricultural pursuits (Gen. R. xxxvi. 5); he was the first to plant, to become drunken, to curse, and to introduce slavery (Tan., Noaḥ, 20; comp. Gen. l.c.). God blamed Noah for his intemperance, saying that he ought to have been warned by Adam, upon whom so much evil came through wine (Sanh. 70a). According to Pirḳe R. El. (l.c.), Noah took into the ark a vine-branch which had been cast out with Adam from paradise. He had previously eaten its grapes, and their savor induced him to plant their seed, the results of which proved lamentable. When Noah was about to plant the vineyard, Satan offered him his help, for which he was to have a share in the produce. Noah consented. Satan then successively slaughtered a sheep, a lion, an ape, and a hog, fertilizing the ground with their blood. Satan thereby indicated to Noah that after drinking the first cup of wine, one is mild like a sheep; after the second, courageous like a lion; after the third, like an ape; and after the fourth, like a hog who wallows in mud (Midr. Agadah on Gen. ix. 21; Midr. Abkir, in Yalḳ., Gen. 61; comp. Gen. R. xxxvi. 7). This legend is narrated by Ibn Yaḥya ("Shalshelet ha-Ḳabbalah," p. 75a, Amsterdam, 1697) thus: "Noah, seeing a he-goat eat sour grapes and become intoxicated so that it began to frisk, took the root of that vinebranch and, after having washed it with the blood of a lion, a hog, a sheep, and an ape, planted it and it bore sweet grapes."

The vineyard bore fruit the same day that it was planted, and the same day, too, Noah gathered grapes, pressed them, drank their juice, became intoxicated, and was abused by Ham (Gen. R. l.c.; Midr. Agadah l.c.; Tan., Noaḥ, 20). In Jubilees (vii. 1 et seq.), however, it is stated that Noah planted the vineyard in the first year of the seventh Sabbath of the twenty-sixth jubilee (see Lev. xxv. 8 et seq.), that is, the year 1268 of Creation, seven years after he had come out of the ark. It bore fruit in the fourth year. Noah gathered the grapes in the seventh month of that year, but conserved the wine till the new moon of the first month of the fifth year, on which day he made a festival and offered sacrifices on the altar. Being filled with joy, Noah drank of the wine so freely that he became intoxicated.

His Testament.

According to verses 20-39 of the same chapter, Noah began in the twenty-eighth jubilee to compose his testament, in which he prescribed that future generations should observe all natural laws as well as some of those which Moses later prescribed for the children of Israel, among others the prohibition against eating the fruit of the first three years and the laws concerning the Sabbatical year. When Noah's grandchildren increased in number, they were led astray by evil spirits, and consequently were afflicted with various diseases. According to Jubilees (x. 1), this happened on the third Sabbath of the twenty-ninth jubilee, that is to say, about seventy-five years after the Flood. Noah, having been informed of the punishment visited on his grandchildren, was greatly terrified; for he knew that his descendants were stricken on account of their sins. He consequently assembled his children and grandchildren, whom he sanctified, and they together offered sacrifices on the altar and prayed to God for deliverance from the evil. God then sent the angel Raphael, who confined the demons, leaving loose, however, the tenth part of them, under their chief Masṭemah, in order that they might punish those who committed crimes.

His Book of Medicinal Plants.

Noah was taught by Raphael how to cure the above-mentioned diseases, and was shown the medicinal plants and herbs. He recorded in a book all the medicaments and drugs the use of which he had been taught by Raphael; and this book was transmitted from one generation to another. Later it was translated into many languages, copies of it coming into the hands of the most famous physicians of India and Greece, who derivedtherefrom their medical knowledge ("Sefer Noaḥ," l.c.; Jubilees, x. 1-14).

Noah should have lived 1,000 years; but he gave Moses fifty years, which, together with the seventy taken from Adam's life, constituted Moses' hundred and twenty years ("Yalḳuṭ Ḥadash," "Noaḥ," No. 42). There is a tradition that Noah lived to see 14,400 of his descendants (Ibn Yaḥya, l.c.). According to Jubilees (x. 21), Noah was buried on Mount Lubar, where he had settled after the Flood. But Ibn Yaḥya (l.c.) records a tradition that Noah after the Deluge emigrated to Italy, where he learned various sciences. Ibn Yaḥya further says that Noah has been identified by some with Janus, deriving the latter name from the Hebrew "yayin" (wine); Noah, it is said, was so called because he was the first to drink wine. His wife is identified with Aricia, which name is derived from the Hebrew "ereẓ" (earth), she being so called on account of her being the mother of every living thing. After her death she was called "Vesta" (= "Eshta," from "esh," which means "fire"), on account of her ascension to heaven. Others identify Noah with Melchizedek, and declare that he founded Jerusalem.

—Critical View:

The Book of Genesis contains two accounts of Noah. The first account (vi. 9-ix. 19) makes Noah the hero of the Flood and the second father of mankind, with whom God made a covenant; the second account represents Noah as a husbandman who planted a vineyard. The disparity of character between these two narratives has caused some critics to insist that the subject of the latter account was not the same as the subject of the former. As it appears from Gen. v. 29 that the name "Noah" refers to the fact that the bearer of the name was a husbandman, these critics must assume either that there were two Noahs or that the hero of the Flood was named differently. Cheyne (in "Encyc. Bibl.") suggests that the original name of the Noah of the Flood was "Enoch" ( (image) ), and that afterward, the final ד having become effaced, the scribe transposed the two remaining letters. The scribe may have made the transposition with the idea of identifying the central figure of the Flood with the inventor of wine. This suggestion is supported by the following considerations:

In the Ethiopic text of the Book of Enoch the vision referring to the Flood (lx. 1) is stated to have taken place in the five-hundredth year of Enoch. The expression used in Gen. vi. 9 is the same as that in Gen. v. 22, 24, and in fact, in the Babylonian account of the Flood, which may have been the source of the Biblical narrative, the translation of Ẓitnapishti or Pirnapishtim (the Babylonian Noah) to heaven follows immediately after the account of the Flood. Further, the Flood lasted a solar year, 365 days, which is the number of the years of Enoch's life (comp. Gen. v. 23). Still, Gen. v. 29 ("And he called his name Noah [ (image) ], saying, This same shall comfort us [ (image) ]") remains unexplained (comp. Noah in Apocryphal and Rabbinical Literature).

The Septuagint rendering, διαναπαύσει ἡμᾶς, induced Ball ("S. B. O. T.") to change (image) into (image) ("he will put us at rest"). Wellhausen ("De Gentibus," p. 38, note 3), on the other hand, retains the Masoretic text, but changes the name "Noah" into "Noḥam." The two narratives, however, may well be applied to the same person and without much change in the text. Joseph Halévy remarks ("Recherches Bibliques," p. 91) that (image) is not to be derived from (image) ("rest"), but from (image) , a root used in connection with sacrifices and meaning "agreeable." Noah was so called, perhaps, in allusion to the sacrifices which he offered after the Flood (comp. (image) in Gen. viii. 21). It is worth while mentioning the opinion of Hommel, who, reading the name of the Babylonian Noah as "Nuḥnapishti" instead of "Ẓitnapishti," thinks that "Noah" is the first part of the Babylonian name. It is very likely that the redactor pointed out purposely that the man who preserved the world from destruction was also the man who introduced agriculture and made possible the abandonment of the nomadic mode of living in favor of a more settled and domestic state. The redactor emphasized also the consequences of inebriety. See Flood, Critical View.

—In Arabic Literature:

Noah is regarded by the Arabs as one of the six principal prophets sent to reclaim mankind from its wickedness; hence his cognomen "al-nabi" (prophet). He is mentioned in the Koran, often with Ad and Thammud, in connection with foreshadowings of the fate of those who would not listen to Mohammed. The fullest account is found in sura xi. 27-51, entitled "Hud."

Building the Ark.

The main points of the Arabic tradition are based on the Biblical narrative. Thus, Noah is the son of Lamech and lives to be nine hundred and fifty years old. According to some, however, he lives to be a thousand and receives the gift of prophecy in his fiftieth year (Ṭabari, "Chronique," i. 106). It is said that the people used to jeer at him for always prophesying evil, and pointed him out to their children as a madman. Finally the people become so wicked that Noah prays to God to destroy them. God directs him to plant a plane-tree which will require forty years to grow and warns him that at the end of that time a flood will destroy all living things on the earth. The sign presaging this event will be water boiling up out of his oven. This oven, mentioned in the Koran narrative, is placed by the commentators in various places. According to one tradition it was Eve's oven, which had been handed down from patriarch to patriarch. (D'Herbelot, "Bibliothèque Orientale"). Others say that the tree took only twenty years to grow and that during this time no children were born, so that only adults were destroyed by the Flood (ib.). After the tree has grown God sends Gabriel to show Noah how to build the ark. Most of the commentators on the Koran assign the same dimensions to it as those found in the Bible, although some writers greatly exaggerate them. It took Noah two years to build the ark (Ṭabari says only forty days), during which time the unbelievers around him mocked at him for building a boat so far away from the water and for suddenly becoming a carpenter after having been a prophet (Baiḍawi, on sura xi. 40).

When the ark was completed God told Noah toput into it one pair (or, according to some renderings of the words in the Koran, two pairs) of every species of living thing and to take with him his family and those who believed. According to the Arabic story Noah had a fourth son named Canaan (or, according to some, a grandson, as in the Bible), who was an idolater and would not enter the ark when Noah called to him, declaring his intention to climb a mountain out of reach of the water. But even as he was speaking a wave came and destroyed him. Noah had also another wife, named Waila, who was likewise an infidel and who perished with her son; she and Lot's wife are symbols of unfaithfulness (sura lxvi. 10).

Noah's Companions in the Ark.

Besides Noah's family the Arabs suppose that seventy-two other persons were saved in the ark. These were persons who had been converted by Noah's preaching. However, they did not beget children after leaving the ark, and hence all mankind descended from Noah's three sons. Gabriel brought Adam's body in a coffin to be placed in the ark; it served to separate the men from the women in the middle story of the ark; the beasts were placed in the lowest story and the birds in the top (Baiḍawi). Pigs and cats were created in the ark to consume the filth and the rats (Ṭabari, l.c. p. 112). Noah was five or six months in the ark. He embarked at Kufa, after which the ark proceeded to Mecca and circled around the Kaaba, and finally settled on Mount Judi in Armenia, in the district of Mosul (Mas'udi, "Les Prairies d'Or," i. 74). Noah first sent out a raven to explore, and cursed it because the bird stopped to feast on a carcass; he then sent out a dove, and blessed it because it returned to him. Hence doves have always been liked by mankind. God commanded the earth to absorb the water, and certain portions which were slow in obeying received salt water in punishment and became dry and arid; the water which was not absorbed penetrated into the depths of the earth and formed the seas, so that the waters of the Flood still exist (Mas'udi, l.c. p. 75).

Noah left the ark on the tenth day of Muḥarram. He and his companions built at the foot of Mount Judi a town which received its name, Thamanim ("eighty"), from their number. Noah is said to have written ten books of prophetic teachings, which have been lost.


  • Baidawi, Commentary on the Koran;
  • D'Herbelot, Bibliothèque Orientale;
  • Hughes, Dict. of Islam;
  • Koran, xi. 27-51 et al.;
  • Mas'udi, Les Prairies d'Or, Paris, 1861;
  • Ṭabari, Chronique, Paris, 1867;
  • Z. D. M. G. xxiv. 207.
This entry includes text from the Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906.
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Child of Lamech (son of Methuselah)  +
Parent of Shem  +, Ham  +, and Japheth  +


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Father: Lamech (son of Methuselah)
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Offspring of  Noah and Unknown parent
Name Birth Death
Shem in "Mesopotamia"
Ham in "Mesopotamia"
Japheth in "Mesopotamia"
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  • Book of Genesis

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This article uses material from the "Noah" article on the Genealogy wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

Simple English

Noah is a religious figure in Judeo-Christian and Islamic religious text. The story of Noah and his ark is a very popular biblical story.

The Story of Noah's Ark

As described in the Book of Genesis, Noah and his family kept believing in God in a time when most people were not. Knowing this was true, God told Noah he was going to flood the world, so he could drown out evil. He told Noah to build a boat called an Ark. As the story goes, Noah was to put himself, his family, and two (a male and a female) of every kind of animal on it. People laughed at Noah at first, but soon they were killed by the flood. The people on the ark stayed on the boat not only until the flood was over, but until they reached land. To find land Noah had sent out a dove, which returned with an olive branch. This showed that they were close to land. After the flood, God made a rainbow to say he would never do something like the flood again to Earth.

In actuality, Noah was to put seven of each of the animals deemed "clean" (able to be consumed) by the bible and two of each of the "unclean" (unable to be beaten due to biblical law) The additional five of each animal were there so that Noah and his family would have food during the flood.

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