1. [Heb., Noʹahh, rest, consolation]. Son of Lamech and tenth in line from Adam through Seth; born c. 2970 B.C.E., 126 years after Adam’s death. When his father Lamech named Noah he said: “This one will bring us comfort from our work and from the pain of our hands resulting from the ground which Jehovah has cursed.”—Gen. 5:28-31.
FAULTLESS AMONG HIS CONTEMPORARIES
The world in which Noah lived had become degenerate. During this period angels who left their original position and proper dwelling place had married women and produced offspring, “men of fame,” whipping up the violence filling the earth (Gen. 6:1-4; Jude 6), until “every inclination of the thoughts of [man’s] heart was only bad all the time” and the earth became “ruined, because all flesh had ruined its way on the earth.” (Gen. 6:5, 11, 12) But Noah avoided this corruption and is described by God’s Word as “a righteous man. He proved himself faultless among his contemporaries. Noah walked with the true God.”—Gen. 6:8, 9.
JEHOVAH PURPOSES TO DESTROY THAT WORLD
Jehovah set a time limit for the existence of that ungodly world, saying: “My spirit shall not act toward man indefinitely in that he is also flesh. Accordingly his days shall amount to a hundred and twenty years.” (Gen. 6:3) Evidently these words were spoken to Noah. About twenty years after that, Noah’s first son (probably Japheth) was born (c. 2470 B.C.E.), and the record shows that another son, Shem, was born two years later. The time of Ham’s birth is not stated, but these three sons were grown and married when the divine instructions were given to Noah to build an ark. Consequently, it is likely that only forty or fifty years then remained before the Deluge. (Gen. 6:13-18) Now, brought into a covenant with Jehovah (Gen. 6:18) and assisted by his family, Noah set to work as a builder and a “preacher of righteousness,” warning that wicked generation of impending destruction.—2 Pet. 2:5.
PRESERVATION THROUGH THE FLOOD
The inspired record, at Genesis 2:5, indicates that the people may never have seen it rain up to that time. Neither did they believe that God would act to destroy a world of wickedness. So it was due to the possession of strong faith that Noah, in implicit obedience, did “according to all that God had commanded him. He did just so.” (Gen. 6:22) It was because of his unswerving faith in Jehovah that the Christian writer of the book of Hebrews included him in that “so great a cloud of witnesses.” He wrote: “By faith Noah, after being given divine warning of things not yet beheld, showed godly fear and constructed an ark for the saving of his household; and through this faith he condemned the world, and he became an heir of the righteousness that is according to faith.”—Heb. 11:7; 12:1.
Seven days before the Flood waters began to fall, Jehovah instructed Noah to gather the animals into the ark. On the seventh day of that week “Noah went in, and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him, into the ark ahead of the waters of the deluge. . . . After that Jehovah shut the door behind him.” On that very day “the flood arrived and destroyed them all.”—Gen. 7:1-16; Luke 17:27.
With the ark’s inhabitants was preserved the thread of human and animal life. Also, true worship survived, and by means of Noah and his family God carried through the history of creation, along with a system of counting time back to man’s creation and the original language (later called Hebrew). Noah kept an accurate log of important events during his stay in the ark.—Gen. 7:11, 12, 24; 8:2-6, 10, 12-14.
JEHOVAH GIVES BLESSING, LAWS, RAINBOW COVENANT
After about one year in the ark, Noah and his family came out onto an earth freshly washed clean. The ark had come to rest in the mountains of the Ararat range. In appreciation for Jehovah’s loving-kindness, his mercy and protective hand, Noah constructed an altar and offered up “some of all the clean beasts and of all the clean flying creatures” as a sacrifice to Jehovah. Jehovah was pleased and revealed to Noah that no more would the earth be cursed, nor would God deal everything a blow as he had done. There would always be “seed sowing and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night.”—Gen. 8:18-22.
Jehovah blessed the Flood survivors, commanding them: “Be fruitful and become many and fill the earth.” Then he made new decrees for their welfare: (1) He kindly allowed them to add the flesh of animals to their diet; (2) but since the soul is in the blood, the blood was not to be eaten; (3) capital punishment by duly constituted authority was instituted. These laws were to be binding on all mankind, as children of Noah’s three sons.—Gen. 1:28; 9:1-7; 10:32.
After making these decrees, Jehovah proceeded to say: “And as for me, here I am establishing my covenant with you men and with your offspring after you, and with every living soul that is with you, among fowls, among beasts and among all living creatures of the earth with you . . . Yes, I do establish my covenant with you: No more will all flesh be cut off by waters of a deluge, and no more will there occur a deluge to bring the earth to ruin.” The rainbow stands to this day as a “sign” or reminder of this covenant.—Gen. 9:8-17; Isa. 54:9.
Noah lived 350 years after the Flood. The account reports, candidly and honestly: “Now Noah started off as a farmer and proceeded to plant a vineyard. And he began drinking of the wine and became intoxicated, and so he uncovered himself in the midst of his tent.” (Gen. 9:20, 21) This does not indicate that Noah was a habitual drunkard. The Bible reports this instance to give the background for the incident that accompanied it, which event had a profound effect on world history. Before the Flood Noah was not indulging in the “drinking” of that wicked society, which they doubtless carried to extremes of drunken revelry. Such things dulled their sensibilities and were no doubt a factor in their ignoring God’s warning, taking no note “until the flood came and swept them all away.”—Matt. 24:38, 39; Luke 17:27.
While Noah was asleep in his tent Ham, and perhaps also his son Canaan, became implicated in some sort of disrespect for Noah. The account reads: “Finally Noah awoke from his wine and got to know what his youngest son had done to him.” Generally Ham is understood to be designated here as Noah’s “youngest son.” However, in the Bible, the expression sometimes refers to a grandson, who, in this case, was Canaan. The expression ‘saw nakedness’ sometimes referring to immorality, as in Leviticus 18:6-19; 20:17, allows for the guilty party to have done more than just ‘see’ Noah’s nakedness. Rather, it may indicate the indulging of some perverted lust during Noah’s unconsciousness. Whatever the case, Canaan’s father Ham went telling it to his two brothers instead of himself covering Noah as they did. On learning of the episode, Noah cursed Canaan and blessed Shem’s God Jehovah.—Gen. 9:20-27.
Noah was the first patriarch of the post-Flood society. (Gen. 10:1-32) Nevertheless, during his lifetime false religion again rose up among those under the leadership of Nimrod, as seen in their rebellious attempt to build a “tower with its top in the heavens” for fear that they might be scattered “over all the surface of the earth.” This was in direct opposition to God’s command to “fill the earth,” and a rebellion also against Noah’s position as God’s prophet. Noah lived 350 years after the flood, dying about two years before the birth of Abraham. He therefore got to see Jehovah’s judgment on the builders of the tower of Babel, and the scattering of those rebellious ones over the face of the earth. Noah, and apparently Shem, were not involved in the tower building and consequently would not suffer confusion of their language, but would continue to speak man’s original language, which God gave to Adam.—Gen. 9:28, 29; 11:1-9.
A PROPHETIC PATTERN
The prophets Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jesus Christ and the apostles Peter and Paul all spoke of God’s servant Noah. Noah’s days are shown by Jesus and Peter to be prophetic of the “presence of the Son of man” and a future “day of judgment and of destruction of the ungodly men.” Jehovah, in sparing Noah and his family when he destroyed that wicked world, was “setting a pattern for ungodly persons of things to come.”—2 Pet. 3:5-7; 2:5, 6; Isa. 54:9; Ezek. 14:14, 20; Matt. 24:37-39; Heb. 11:7; 1 Pet. 3:20, 21.
2. [Heb., No·ʽahʹ, meaning movement, from the root “to waver”]. One of Zelophehad’s five daughters, of the tribe of Manasseh. Because Zelophehad died without sons Jehovah decreed that the daughters should receive their father’s tribal possession as an inheritance. This established a legal precedent. Later it was established also that daughters who inherit should become wives of men of their own tribe in order to hold the inheritance, so that it would not circulate from tribe to tribe.—Num. 26:28-33; 27:1-11; 36:6-12; Josh. 17:3, 4.