Noah is one of the most important characters in the Bible. His story stands alongside other central figures in the book of Genesis, like Adam, Abraham, and Joseph. Noah’s life is also significant to the Bible’s broader narrative, similar to the biographies of Moses and David in the Old Testament and Peter and Paul in the New Testament. So who was Noah?
Noah is well-known for building the ark that saved his family and animals from the flood God sent to destroy the earth. He was the son of Lamech, the grandson of Methuselah, and the father of Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Noah was uniquely righteous, but Genesis makes clear that he wasn’t sinless.
What does Genesis say about Noah’s parents, grandparents, wife, and children? Why did God select Noah to build the ark? How old was he when the flood started and ended? What mistake did he make after the flood? What promise did God make Noah? What does the New Testament say about Noah? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and many others.
21 Bible Facts about Noah: Questions and Answers
Noah is the main character of Genesis, chapters six through nine, though the book first mentions him at the end of the genealogy in chapter five. The Bible also refers to Noah elsewhere, including multiple times in the New Testament (see below). These texts reveal the following facts.
|What does “Noah” mean?||“Noah” is related to the Hebrew word for “rest” or “comfort”|
|Who was Noah’s father?||Lamech (Gen. 5:28-30)|
|Who was Noah’s grandfather?||Methuselah (Gen. 5:25-27)|
|Who was Noah’s great grandfather?||Enoch (Gen. 5:21-23)|
|What line did Noah come from?||The line of Adam via Seth (Gen. 5:3-8)|
|What kind of character did Noah have?||He was righteous, blameless, and walked with God (Gen. 6:9)|
|What Noah sinless?||No, Noah was a sinner (e.g. Gen. 9:21; cf. Rom. 3:23)|
|How old was Noah when he became a father?||500 years old (Gen. 5:32)|
|Was Noah married?||Yes, but his wife is unnamed (Gen. 6:18)|
|Did Noah have children?||Yes, three sons; Shem, Ham, and Japheth (Gen. 6:10)|
|Who did Noah take on the ark?||His wife, their three sons, and their wives (Gen. 6:18; cf. 1 Pet. 3:20)|
|Did Noah have grandchildren?||Yes, his sons and their wives had children after the flood, like Canaan (Gen. 9:18)|
|What was Noah’s job before the flood?||It’s unclear, though Peter calls him a preacher (2 Pet. 2:5)|
|How old was Noah when the flood began?||600 years old (Gen. 7:6, 11)|
|How old was Noah when the flood ended?||601 years old (Gen. 8:13)|
|What did God promise Noah?||God made a covenant with him not to destroy the world again with a flood (Gen. 9:9-17).|
|What was Noah’s job after the flood?||He farmed a vineyard (Gen. 9:20)|
|How many years did Noah live after the flood?||350 years (Gen. 9:28)|
|How old was Noah when he died?||950 years old (Gen. 9:29); only Jared (962) and Methuselah (969) lived longer|
|How many New Testament verses mention Noah?||8 (see below)|
|What is Noah’s legacy?||He was a man of great faith (Heb. 11:7)|
Why did God select Noah to build the ark?
Genesis explains that Noah was unique compared to his contemporaries. “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God” (Gen. 6:9). This three-part description teaches that the motives and thoughts of Noah’s heart were unlike anyone else in the world at the time (cf. Gen. 6:5).
- Noah was righteous/just: Noah adhered to God’s moral standards. He lived according to God’s definitions of right and wrong in the context of a covenant relationship with him. At the time, the rest of the world lived according to their own standards, which their sinful nature dictated.
- Noah was blameless/perfect: The literal meaning of the Hebrew word is perfect or flawless. However, the description doesn’t mean that Noah was without sin. Genesis also uses the term to describe Abraham (Gen. 17:1). Readers can observe an illustration of Noah’s sin after the flood (Gen. 9:18-27).
- Noah walked closely/faithfully with God: This phrase refers to the fellowship that Noah had with God. Noah lived in close proximity to God in the sense that he had faith in him, obeyed him, and interacted with him. Genesis also uses the term to describe Enoch (Gen. 5:24).
What did God promise Noah?
The covenant God established with Noah extended not only to him but to his family, the people who came after them, and even animals (Gen. 9:8-10). God promised never to destroy the world again with a flood. God put a rainbow in the sky as a sign of his commitment.
“Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” He continued, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth” (Gen. 9:11b-13; cf. 14-17).
8 New Testament Reference to Noah
- Matthew 24:37, “For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.”
- Matthew 24:38, “For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark”
- Luke 3:36, “the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech”
- Luke 17:26, “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man.”
- Luke 17:27, “They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.”
- Hebrews 11:7, “By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.”
- 1 Peter 3:20, “because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water”
- 2 Peter 2:5, “if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly”
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