Bible Topic Noah
1. [Heb nō (a)ḥ; Gk Noē]; AV also NOE. The last of the antediluvian patriarchs and survivor of the Genesis Flood (Gen. 5:28–9:28).
The etymology of nō (a)ḥ is uncertain. Many commentators relate it to Heb nwḥ, “to rest.” In Gen. 5:29 the name is mentioned in assonance with the verb nḥm (
II. Genealogy and Longevity
Noah was the son of Lamech (Gen. 5:28f.; Lk. 3:36) and father of three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth (Gen. 5:32; 6:9; 9:18f.; 10:1), who were born before the Flood. The order preserved in these verses is not chronological. Ham was the youngest (9:24) and Japheth the second of Noah’s sons.
Noah lived 950 years. Reinterpretations of the longevity of the ANTEDILUVIAN PATRIARCHS, such as appealing to the concept of family or dynasty identification rather than individual, are fraught with unresolved difficulties.
III. Noah in a World Under Judgment
As a prelude to the story of the Flood, Gen. 6:1–7, 11f paints a portrait of the wickedness of mankind (on the difficulty of identifying the “sons of God” see SONS OF GOD [OT]). The importance of this passage is its statement of the progression of evil. The Creator’s response to a “corrupt” and “violent” civilization was one of grief and anger (6:5–7, 11–13). Judgment was imminent.
In the context of an already ruined civilization, Noah emerges as a man in step with God (6:9). He was righteous (ṣaddîq; cf. AV “just”); responding to events as yet unseen, he “became an heir of the righteousness which comes by faith” (He. 11:7). Noah was also blameless (tāmîm, cf. AV “perfect”) “among the people of his time” (NIV, preferable to AV “in his generations”). Tāmîm signifies perfection in the sense of completeness or wholeheartedness (see BDB, p. 1071). Later writers would recall the days of Noah (Isa. 54:9; Mt. 24:37f.; Lk. 17:26f) and would remember him as an exemplarily righteous man (
IV. The Flood
Noah was informed of the impending destruction 120 years beforehand (Gen. 6:3, 13; cf. 1 Pet. 3:20). The agency of judgment would be a flood (Heb mabbûl, 6:17; 7:6, 7, 10, 17; see also Ps. 29:10). The LXX translates Heb mabbûl by kataklysmós, which the NT also uses to refer to the Flood (Mt. 24:38f.; Lk. 17:27; 2 Pet. 2:5). Noah, the one who “found favor in the eyes of the Lord” (Gen. 6:8), this “herald of righteousness” (2 Pet. 2:5), and his family would be spared. The agency of their salvation would be an ark (tēḇâ, Gen. 6:14).
Every facet of the Flood narrative has been scrutinized with a view to logical explanation, including questions
A. Judgment The Flood bespeaks the certain judgment of a sovereign and righteous God on an ungodly world (see Kline, p. 89). This ordeal by water (2 Pet. 3:5f) was a mere token of judgment when compared with the greater judgment that awaits not only the earth but all creation (cf. 2 Pet. 3:7, 10). The emphasis of Jesus’ words in Mt. 24:36–41; Lk. 17:26–37, as He compared the days of Noah with those of the Son of man, was not on the sinfulness of Noah’s contemporaries, but rather on the unexpectedness of impending doom (cf. Mt. 24:44).
B. Salvation The Flood also bespeaks salvation to those who put their faith in God (He. 11:7). Although the parallel between the deliverance of Noah and his family and salvation through Christ is not precise at every point. Peter compares the waters of the Flood with those of baptism in which the water symbolizes God’s judgment on sin and deliverance into a new life (1 Pet. 3:20f.; see also BAPTISM VII.A). Peter emphasizes that the efficacy of baptism lies not in the outward symbolism of the “removal of dirt from the body” but in the inner response of faith to God.
V. Noah’s Counterparts in Cuneiform Sources
Although archeology has not provided empirical data for the Genesis Flood, excavations have unearthed many texts and fragments which preserve the story of a great flood, widely known among the civilizations of the ancient Near East. It is mentioned in the Sumerian King List (ca 2000
The Epic of Atra-ḫasis (ca 17th cent. B.C. in the earliest surviving copies) describes a deluge sent by the gods to destroy mankind after earlier attempts through drought had failed to control the increasing number of people and their noise (W. G. Lambert and A. R. Millard, Atra-Ḫasīs: The Babylonian Story of the Flood ). A small fragment of the Babylonian flood story referring to Atra-ḫasis was found at Râs Shamrah and dated to the 14th cent. B.C. (ibid., pp. 131–33).
Similar to the story of Atra-ḫasis is that preserved in the eleventh tablet of the Gilgamesh Epic (the best English translation with
The similarities between the biblical and Mesopotamian flood stories are striking, as are the differences (see FLOOD [GENESIS] VI; Heidel, pp. 224–269, esp p. 269; T. Jacobsen, pp. 215–19). Opinions differ concerning the literary relationship between the biblical and Babylonian narratives. Many scholars consider the latter to comprise the raw materials from which the former was produced. Others contend that the two revert to an unknown common source. The similarities suggest a common recollection of an actual historical event. The differences bespeak the focus of divine inspiration. Genesis records the story of Noah in historical truth and imparts the theological significance of the Flood.
VI. Noahic Covenant
Noah emerges from the ark and builds an altar of sacrifice. He offers burnt offerings, tokens of dedication and atonement, which produce a “sweet
The gods smelled the savor
The gods smelled the sweet savor
The gods gathered like flies over the sacrifice.
What God had once commanded Adam (Gen. 1:28), He now reiterates to Noah and his sons (9:1; see Kline, p. 90). This COVENANT (Gen. 6:18; 9:8–17) is remarkable for its breadth (9:10; 12–13; 15; 17) and permanence. It is an everlasting covenant (Heb berîṯ ʿôlām, 9:16), initiated by the beneficent Creator. He promised that never again would the world be destroyed by a flood (9:15). The rainbow (Heb qešeṯ, usually denoting the weapon) was the covenant sign, a seal of the promise to mankind and a reminder to God of His commitments.
Bibliography.—A. Heidel, Gilgamesh Epic and OT Parallels (2nd ed. 1949); T. Jacobsen, Treasures of Darkness (1976), pp. 195–219; M. G. Kline, “Genesis,” NBC (3rd ed. 1970); S. N. Kramer, Sumerians (1963); M. E. L. Mallowan, Iraq, 26 (1964), 62–82; A. R. Millard, Tyndale Bulletin, 18 (1967), 3–18; A. Parrot, The Flood and Noah’s Ark (Eng. tr. 1955); G. J. Wenham, VT, 28 (1978), 336–348.
Pratico, G. (1979–1988). Noah. In G. W. Bromiley (Ed.), The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised (Vol. 3, pp. 543–545). Wm. B. Eerdmans.
Noah, the son of Lamech, was the last of the ten antediluvian patriarchs listed in Gen 5:1–32. When God decided to destroy all people because of their corrupt nature (Gen 6:11–12), He recognized Noah’s righteousness and spared him. Under God’s supervision, Noah built an ark that allowed him and his family (including his wife and three sons, Shem, Japheth, and Ham), along with the animals, to escape the flood that possibly encompassed the entire planet and destroyed all human and animal life (Gen 6:17). Like Adam, Noah became the father of the human race. Noah lived 350 years after the flood, dying at the age of 950.
Preparation for the Flood
Noah was spared from the flood because, unlike the other wicked inhabitants of
The flood began on the 17th day of the second month of Noah’s 600th year (Gen 7:6). After Noah and his family had been in the ark for seven days, the rains began; springs also broke open, adding to the flooding. During the 40 days and 40 nights of rain (Gen 7:12), all the people, animals, and birds on earth were destroyed. Noah and his family remained in the
Events After the Flood
Upon exiting the ark, Noah built an altar and offered “burnt offerings” (עֹלָה,
The last event recorded in the account of Noah (Gen 9:19–27) resulted in the blessing and cursing of his sons. After Noah became drunk on wine made from grapes he had planted—an action that the biblical account neither condemns nor condones—he lay naked in his tent. His son, Ham, observed Noah and then told his brothers, Shem and Japheth, of their father’s condition. Shem and Japheth entered the tent and covered their father, taking care to avoid looking at his nakedness. When Noah discovered what Ham had done, he was outraged and pronounced a curse on Ham’s descendants through Ham’s son, Canaan.
Although numerous theories exist as to the nature of Ham’s crime, it seems most likely that it was a combination of Ham’s making light of his father’s nakedness and failing to honor his father, thus breaking the fifth commandment (Mathews, Genesis 1–11:26, 419–20). Noah blessed Shem and Japheth, who treated his condition respectfully.
• (Isa 54:9)—The Lord refers to the “days of Noah” to illustrate the certainty that He will keep His promises to the Jewish nation, just as He kept His promise never to destroy the earth by flood through His covenant with Noah.
• (Ezek 14:14, 20)—Noah is mentioned twice in Ezekiel to emphasize the gravity of God’s judgment of Israel at the hands of the Babylonians. Even a man as righteous as Noah could save only himself. He would not have been able to save even his family as he did in the
There are more references to Noah in the New Testament than in the Old Testament, including these passages:
• (Matt 24:37–38; Luke 17:26–27)—Jesus compares the “days of Noah” to the coming of the Son of Man to illustrate that at the coming of the Son of Man, people will be unconcerned about spiritual matters and will be caught off guard by judgment.
• (Heb 11:7)—The writer of Hebrews identifies Noah as a man of faith, arguing that through his faith the world was condemned.
• (1 Pet 3:20)—Peter refers to the “days of Noah,” comparing the salvation that Noah and his family received from the flood to the waters of baptism that are a symbol of salvation.
• (2 Pet 2:5)—Peter mentions how God protected Noah from the flood to illustrate that God knows how to “rescue the godly and punish the righteous.”
Extrabiblical Characterizations of Noah
Flood accounts and Noah-type heroes are found in many cultures throughout the world, including those located in very remote places. Three Mesopotamian myths are particularly significant due to their geographic proximity to the land of the Bible and similarities to biblical events. In addition to containing many parallels to the biblical account, the three Mesopotamian myths are very similar to each other.
The oldest Mesopotamian flood story is a Sumerian flood myth recorded on a tablet found in Nippur and known as the Eridu Genesis(Heidel, The Gilgamesh Epic, 102). Much of the tablet is missing, and the myth was previously known only through the writing of Berossus, a Babylonian priest who lived in the third century BC and wrote a history of Babylonia. In the Eridu Genesis, the god Enki revealed to Ziusudra, a
Epic of Atrahasis
The Babylonian Epic of Atrahasis is
Epic of Gilgamesh
The most well-known Mesopotamian flood narrative is the Gilgamesh Epic. The flood portion of the Gilgamesh Epic, written in Akkadian cuneiform, is located on Tablet XI and is dated to the seventh century BC (although the Gilgamesh Epic dates much earlier than this). In this account, Utnapishtim tells Gilgamesh (who is searching for immortality) how he was saved from a flood sent by gods. When the gods living in Shurappak decided to cause a flood, one of the gods, Ea, secretly warned Utnapishtim of the plan and advised him to tear down his house and use the material to build a boat. The epic continues by describing how Utnapishtim built the boat and survived the subsequent flood.
This flood epic holds many parallels to the Genesis account, including:
1. The boat rested on a mountain (Mount Nimush) as the flood subsided.
2. Utnapishtim released birds to determine whether the flood had subsided.
3. Utnapishtim offered a sacrifice after disembarking from the boat.
Despite the similarities, the accounts also differ. For example, the flood in the Epic of Gilgamesh lasted only six days and seven nights. Perhaps the greatest difference is that Utnapishtim and his wife were granted eternal life at the end of the story.
The name Noah may be related to the Hebrew word “to rest” (נוּחַ,
Beale, G.K., and D.A. Carson, eds. Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007.
Hamilton, Victor P. The Book of Genesis: Chapters 1–17. New International Commentary on the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990.
Heidel, Alexander. The Gilgamesh Epic and Old Testament Parallels. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1949.
Lambert, W.G., and A.R. Millard. Atra-ḫasis, The Babylonian Story of the Flood. Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 1999.
Mathews, Kenneth A. Genesis 1–11. New American Commentary 1A. Nashville: Broadman, 1996.
VanGemeren, Willem A, ed. New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1997.
Wenham, Gordon J. Genesis 1–15. Word Biblical Commentary 1. Waco, Tex.: Word, 1987.
ROBERT J. DIXON
NO-AMON (נֹּא אָמוֹן, no’
Nob is the setting of an important story in the rise of David. After fleeing from Saul, David visits the village of Nob to gather supplies. Ahimelech the priest helps David, unaware that the king has threatened him. David takes five loaves of consecrated bread as well as Goliath’s sword (1 Sam 21:1–9). When Saul learns that Ahimelech unknowingly helped David escape, he orders his servants to kill the priests, but they refuse (1 Sam 22:9–17). However, Doeg the Edomite obeys Saul’s command, killing 85 priests and all of the inhabitants of Nob (1 Sam 22:18–19). The only survivor is Ahimelech’s son Abiathar, who reports the massacre to David (1 Sam 22:20–23). Based on this episode, it appears that the tabernacle was moved from Shiloh to Nob after Shiloh was destroyed (1 Sam 4:4–11; Jer 7:14).
The story of David taking the consecrated bread is mentioned in the New Testament, though Nob is not named (Matt 12:1–4; Mark 2:23–28; Luke 6:1–5).
The location of Nob remains uncertain.
Some scholars identify a slope on Mount Scopus, Râs el-Mešârif, as Nob (Albright, “Recent,” 413; Rainey and Notley, Sacred Bridge, 235), although Quʿmeh is also a possibility (Blenkinsopp, Gibeon and Israel, 127 c. 59). Zissou recently suggested the area of the American Colony and the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah as possible locations for Nob, based on excavations at the Cave of Nahmanides (Zissou, “Excavations,” 67). None of these locations can be confirmed.
Aharoni, Y. The Land of the Bible. A Historical Geography. Philadelphia: Westminster John Knox, 1962.
Albright, W. F. “Recent Works on the Topography and Archaeology of Jerusalem.” Jewish Quarterly Review 22 (1932): 409–16.
Blenkinsopp, Joseph. Gibeon and Israel. Society for Old Testament Studies Monograph 2. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1972.
Oswalt, John N. The Book of Isaiah, Chapters 1–39. New International Commentary on the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986.
Rainey, Anson F.
Tsumura, David Toshio. The First Book of Samuel. New International Commentary on the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007.
Zissu, Boaz. “Excavations near Nahmanides Cave in Jerusalem and the Question of the Identification of Biblical Nob”. Israel Exploration Journal 62 (2012): 54–71.
PHILLIP J. LONG
Major Contributors and Editors. (2016). No-Amon. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, … W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
“NOAH. The last of the ten antediluvian Patriarchs and hero of the *FLOOD. He was the son of Lamech, who was 182 (Samaritan Pentateuch, 53; LXX, 188) years old when Noah was born (Gn. 5:28–29; Lk. 3:36).
The etymology of the name, nōaḥ, is uncertain, though many commentators connect it with the root nwḥ, ‘to rest’. In Genesis (5:29) it is associated with the verb nḥm (translated ‘comfort’ in AV and RV; ‘bring relief’ in RSV), with which it is perhaps etymologically connected; though this is not necessarily required by the text. The element nḥm occurs in Amorite personal names and in the name Nah̬mizuli which figures in a Hurrian fragment of the Gilgamesh epic found at Boǧazköy, the Hittite capital in Asia Minor. The LXX gives the name as Nōe, in which form it appears in the NT (AV).
b. Life and character
Noah was a righteous man (Gn. 6:9, ṣaddîq), having the righteousness that comes
After the Flood Noah, who had probably been a farmer before it, planted a vineyard (Gn. 9:20; ‘And Noah, the husbandman, began and planted a vineyard … ‘, which is to be preferred to the EVV) and, becoming drunk, behaved in an unseemly way in his tent. *HAM, seeing his father naked, informed his two brothers, who covered him, but it is probable that Canaan, Ham’s son, did something disrespectful to his grandfather, for Noah placed a curse on him when he awoke (Gn. 9:20–27).
c. God’s covenant with Noah
The covenant implied in Gn. 6:18 might be interpreted as salvation for Noah conditional upon his building and entering the ark, which obligations he fulfilled (v. 22). On the other hand, it may be that this passage simply makes reference to the covenant which God made with Noah after the Flood, and which he sealed by conferring a new significance on the rainbow (Gn. 9:9–17; cf. Is. 54:9). The main features of this covenant were that it was entirely instituted by God, that it was universal in scope, applying not only to Noah and his seed after him but to every living creature, that it was unconditional, and that it was everlasting. In
Noah had three sons, *SHEM, *HAM and *JAPHETH (Gn. 5:32; 9:18–19; 10:1), who were born before the Flood, and accompanied him in the ark. We are told that after the Flood, from them ‘was the whole earth (’ereṣ) overspread’, or ‘the whole (population of) the earth dispersed’ (Gn. 9:19). Their descendants later spread out over a wide area, and an account is given of some of them in the Table of the *NATIONS in Gn. 10.
e. Cuneiform parallels
In the *FLOOD accounts which have been preserved in Akkadian the name of the hero is Utanapishtim, which corresponds to the name Ziusuddu in a Sumerian account of the early 2nd millennium BC, which probably lies behind the Akkadian versions. Though in the principal version of the Sumerian king list only eight rulers are named before the Flood, of whom Ziusuddu is not one, other texts list ten rulers, the tenth being Ziusuddu, who is credited with a reign of 36,000 years. The same is found in a late account in Gk. by the Babylonian priest Berossos, whose flood hero Xisouthros is the tenth of his pre-flood rulers.
BIBLIOGRAPHY. J. Murray, The Covenant of Grace, 1954, pp. 12–16; E. A. Speiser, Mesopotamian Origins, 1930, pp. 160–161; H. B. Huffmon, Amorite Personal Names in the Mari Texts, 1965, pp. 237–239; E. Laroche, Les
T. C. MITCHELL.”
Mitchell, T. C. (1996). Noah. In D. R. W. Wood, I. H. Marshall, A. R. Millard, J. I. Packer, & D. J. Wiseman (Eds.), New Bible dictionary (3rd ed., pp. 826–827). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
“Noah (or Noe). A son of Lamech, and tenth in descent from *Adam. Acc. to the story in *Genesis (6–9), Noah and his family alone were saved in an ark of gopher-wood, when the rest of mankind were destroyed in the *Flood. He took with him into the ark specimens of all kinds of living creatures whereby the species were providentially preserved. From Noah, therefore, the entire surviving human race descended, through his three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. To Noah is also attributed the discovery of viticulture (Gen. 9:20).
Other races have traditions of a great flood in very early times. In Babylonian
J. Fink, Noe der Gerechte in der frühchristlichen Kunst (Beihefte
Cross, F. L., & Livingstone, E. A. (Eds.). (2005). In The Oxford dictionary of the Christian Church (3rd ed. rev., p. 1165). Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press.