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Noah or Nˇach ("Rest", Standard Hebrew נוח Nˇaḥ, Tiberian Hebrew נח Nō¬ḥ; Arabic نوح Nūḥ) is a character from the Book of Genesis who builds an ark to save his family and the world's animals from the Deluge, the universal flood. Noah was the son of Lamech and the grandson of Methuselah. His name means "rest".

According to the account in Genesis, he lived five hundred years, and then he and his wife had three sons, Sem or Shem, Ham, and Japheth (Gen. 5:32) (see Sons of Noah for further discussion). Noah's wife is not named in the Bible; according to later Jewish traditions as expressed in the Book of Enoch her name is Naamah.

According to the Bible, Noah was a "just man and perfect in his generation", and "walked with God" (comp. Ezekiel 14:14,20). 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 (18). He was accordingly commanded to build an ark (6:14-16) to save himself and his family. An interval of one hundred and twenty years elapsed while the ark was being built (6:3), during which Noah tried to convince the people to repent so they could avoid the wrath of God. (Christian interpretations, as seen from Rome in the 2nd century, are preserved in the First Epistle of Peter 3:18-20 and the Second Epistle of Peter 2:5).

When the ark of "gopher-wood" (a 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 of God then 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. 8:3,4); but not for a considerable time after this was he given divine permission to leave the ark, so that he and his family were in the ark for a whole year (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 (Gen. 8:21-9:17). 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. See also Noahide Laws.

The Jewish tradition, however, gives Noah less credit as to his righteousness. Noah's being "perfect in his generation" implied to some Jewish scholars that his perfection was only relative. Moreover, his late entry into the ark (Gen. 7, 12-16) can be seen as an act of one who is of little faith. Later commentaries find two degrees of righteousness, which they demonstrate as a metaphor for a man who is cold: the fully righteous person would set up a fire - that is, help the others. A person who is not absolutely righteous would only get himself a coat - and be warm while others are cold, just like Noah was safe while all other men besides his family died.


Historicity of the Deluge

Biblical fundamentalists assert that the story of Noah is a true story, and some claim that there is evidence for Noah's ark at what they describe as the Biblical Mount Ararat. Some have also claimed that the biblical story of the descent of mankind from Noah's sons is also literally true: see sons of Noah for a discussion of this idea.

Most modern historians, however, are agreed that there is no evidence that Noah was a historical figure. They are divided on the question of whether the great flood, which they believe reflects an oral legend tradition older than writing, was based on an actual historical event. Historians point out that the story of Noah's ark closely parallels that of the Sumerian Utnapishtim, and scores of other universal deluge myths. Some see this as a reason to dimiss the idea of a flood as a deep-rooted myth while others use it to argue that such a traumatic cataclysm actually happened. Biblical literalists believe the existence of similar myths supports the idea that the story of Noah's ark was an authentic event other cultures based their stories on, while critics note that, even if one were to assume one of these myths were true, there's no strong reason to believe the Genesis version over the others except as a matter of personal faith.

Christian applications of Noah

(this is the right place to use the Epistles of Peter quoted above, and follow with later allegorical interpretations). Apart from the "Christian"application by way of scripture both in the Ols and New Testaments,there is a source of verification,by way of a Greek Philopsopher,Plato,and is given thus:GREEK LEXICON -- STRONG'S NUMBER 57 Click here to view all verses that use this Greek word.

  57     agnostos    {ag'-noce-tos'}    a[gnwsto▀    from 1 (as negative particle) and 1110; TDNT -- 1:115,18; adj
 AV  -- unknown (1)
 1) unknown, forgotten
      According to Digenes Laertius, a Greek author of the third century A.D., Epimenides, a certain Cretan hero, responded to a request borne to him from Athens by a man called Nicias, asking him to advise the city of Athens in the matter of a plague. Arriving in Athens, Epimenides obtained a flock of black and white sheep and released them on Mars Hill, instructing men to follow the sheep and mark the places where any of them lay down. Epimenides' apparent purpose was to give any god concerned in the matter of the plague an opportunity to reveal his willingness to help by causing sheep that pleased him to lie down to rest as a sign that he would accept those sheep if they were offered in a sacrifice.
      Since there would be nothing unusual about sheep laying down apart from one of their usual grazing periods, presumably Epimenides conducted his experiment early in the morning, when the sheep would be at their hungriest. A number of sheep rested, and the Athenians offered them in sacrifice upon unnamed altars built especially for the purpose. Thus the plague was lifted from the city. According to a passage in Plato's laws, Epimenides at the same time also prophesied that 10 years in the future a Persian army would come against Athens. He assured the Athenians, however, that their Persian foes "will return back again with all their hopes frustrated, and after suffering more woes than they inflict." This prophecy was fulfilled. The council, for its part, offered Epimenides a talent of coins for his services, but he refused to accept payment. "The only reward I desire," he said, "is that we here and now establish a treaty of friendship between Athens and Knossos." The Athenians agreed. Ratifying a treaty with Knossos, they gave Epimenides safe transport back to his island home. (Plato in the same passage, pays tribute to Epimenides as "that inspired man," and credits him as one of the great men who helped rediscover inventions lost during "The Great Flood") Diogenes Laertius does not mention that the words "to the Unknown God" were inscribed on Epimenides' altars. He states only that "altars may be found in different parts of Attica with no name inscribed upon them, which are memorials of this atonement. Two other ancient writers, Pausanias in his "Description of Greece" (vol 1, 1:4) and Philostratus in his "Appolonius of Tyana" -- refer to "altars to an unknown god" implying that an inscription to that effect was engraved upon them. According to Luke at least one altar in Athens bore this inscription. In Acts 17:28, Paul makes the connection between this story by quoting from the Greek poet, Epimenides. (Pg 20, 21; "Eternity in Their Hearts", Don Richardson, Regal Books, 1982).

Islamic traditions of Noah

In Islam Noah ("Nūḥ") is considered one of the Prophets of Islam. He is mentioned many times in the Qur'an; chapter 71 of the Quran is called Nuh (Noah). According to the Quran, Noah was sent to his people who were polytheists to guide them to worship God alone and warn them of a grievous punishment if they didn't. Most of his people didn't believe him and rejected him so Noah started building the ark under the inspiration of God. When it was time for the flood, Noah took the believers and a pair of each kind with him and all the unbelievers drowned, including one of his sons.

See also

Noah (Standard Hebrew נועה Noʿa, Tiberian Hebrew נעה Nōʿāh) was one of Zelophehad's daughters.

Last updated: 02-07-2005 06:36:04
Last updated: 03-18-2005 11:16:12