By Mary Oelerich-Meyer, Crosswalk.com
Noah played a major role in the Bible and God's relationship with His people, but we rarely think of the people around him. The account of him building the ark tells us that his wife, three sons, and three daughters-in-law were the ones to board the ark, but what about Noah's lineage, named in the genealogy in Genesis 5? Besides having a son God used most unusually and magnificently, do we need to know anything else about his father?
Does the Bible Tell Us Who Was Noah's Father?
Genesis 5 gives an account of the line of humans starting with Adam. Though Adam and Eve were ushered out of the Garden of Eden, God's plan for humanity would continue according to His will. Tracking these generations shows God's will as we follow His story through to Jesus and all of eternity. He continued to bless people by allowing them to marry, multiply, and live off the land God had given them.
We learn in Genesis that there are 10 generations between Adam and Noah. His grandfather was Methuselah, and "When Methuselah had lived 187 years, he became the father of Lamech" (Genesis 5:25). When Lamech had lived 182 years, he had a son. He named him Noah and said, "He will comfort us in the labor and painful toil of our hands caused by the ground the Lord has cursed." This prophecy stands out in the genealogy—because God doesn't waste a word.
Lamech had other children, siblings of Noah, and lived a total of 777 years.
Who Was Noah's Father Named After?
Before Noah, back to just six generations after Adam, there was a Lamech in the line of Cain. He married two women and fathered three sons:
- Jabal (father of those who live in tents and raise livestock)
- Jubal (father of all who play the harp and flute)
- Tubal-Cain (who forged all kinds of bronze and iron tools)
This Lamech stands out for his great violence and vengefulness. He tells his wives in Genesis 4:23-24 that he killed a young man for wounding him. He then claims that if "Cain is avenged seven times, then Lamech 77 times." He is not satisfied with killing the young man; he believes he has the right to be avenged 10 times more than Cain (who also had no right to seek revenge)
What Family Line Did Noah's Father Come From?
Thankfully, Noah's father, Lamech, came from a different family line than Cain: the line of Seth. Seth was the son that God gave Adam and Eve after their first son, Cain, killed their second son, Abel. Lamech's grandfather was Enoch, who "walked with God; then he was no more because God took him away" (Genesis 5:24). This Lamech's father was Methuselah, the oldest living man recorded in the Bible (969 years).
Does the Bible Record Noah's Father Doing Anything Important?
There is only one line in the Bible about Noah's father, Lamech, but it is remarkable. Though we don't know if the Holy Spirit inspired him, he makes an amazing prophecy that stands out among the genealogy of Genesis 5. After naming his son Noah (meaning "rest," "repose," or "comfort"), Lamech says, "He will comfort us in the labor and painful toil of our hands caused by the ground the Lord has cursed." This could have a couple of implications:
- When Lamech says that God cursed the ground, he doesn't mention that the ground was cursed because of Adam and Eve's sin. What did Lamech believe? Did he think that it resulted from man's transgression or that God was capricious in meting out punishment.?
- He says that Noah will be a comfort in their toil. This prophecy would be fulfilled when, in Genesis 9:20, Noah is said to be the first to invent an implement to till the soil (though some scholars say that this is not in the Torah and is up for debate). But if Noah helps relieve their painful toil, one would think it's because he created something to make that process easier. Before that, people needed to dig dirt by hand to plant.
- Though we don't know how he raised Noah as Noah, we see who Noah became: "righteous man, blameless among the people of his time…[who] walked with God" (Genesis 6:9). It's possible that God alone made Noah a righteous man. Still, having a good earthly father could have a great positive influence in an evil world. Hopefully, Lamech raised Noah well.
Do We Know Whether Noah's Father Was Alive During the Flood?
Lamech was 777 years old when he died (Genesis 28-30), five years before God sent Noah and his family into the ark. Lamech was 182 when Noah was born and would have been 782 when Noah went on the ark at age 600, but the earlier verses tell us he died at 777. He certainly would have seen what God had called Noah to do to save those He loved (and destroy the rest, assuming it took more than five years to build the ark (the time between his death and when Noah went onto the ark). Though the writer of Genesis doesn't tell us how long it took to build the ark, the expert consensus seems to be under 70 years, perhaps in the 40-50-year range.
What Happened to Noah After His Father Died?
I've read the account of Noah so many times, seen it portrayed in movies, and taught it in Sunday School to little kids. But I never thought about the rest of Noah's family.
Do we assume that they were not righteous because Genesis talks about Noah being righteous and God wanting to wipe out every other human being (besides Mrs. Noah, the three sons, and their wives)?
Genesis does say, "The Lord saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time." (Genesis 6:5). But does this describe Lamech as well? There is no mention of Lamech "being righteous" like Noah.
We can't be sure about Lamech's righteousness or sinfulness since Lamech died before the ark was finished. We do know that Noah's living family members had every chance to repent and join Noah on the ark, but they didn't. Was it because they didn't believe that God could do a miracle they had never before seen? Send rain from the sky and water bursting forth from the rock?
These stories, and knowing how traumatic it may have been to know what was happening outside of the ark, may help us understand what happened with Noah after the ark settled. When Noah and his family finally leave the ark, the first thing that we hear that Noah does is plant a vineyard. He then gets drunk and lies naked in his tent. To make matters worse, one of his sons came in the middle of the night and didn't cover him. They called in the other brothers to laugh with him. PK Yang on Christian Stack Exchange makes an interesting comparison to Noah's nakedness and the shame that Adam and Eve felt when they realized they were naked.
Why does this happen? As a man of the soil, Noah knew how to grow plants. It seems unlikely that, in his 600+ years, he had never learned to make wine or learned its potential effect on him. So why would Noah, who witnessed one of the greatest miracles of all time, get drunk and lie naked in his tent? Was he mourning that they were the only ones left? That his siblings never repented, along with all of the other inhabitants of the earth?
Again, the Bible is silent on this point. Still, the final story about Noah makes us consider how complex Noah was. He was a man who pleased the Lord and also a man who made some unpleasant mistakes. He was a son and a father with a family line we often don't consider when we read about him in Sunday School. Knowing who his father was helps us consider Noah's full story.
Not only that, but knowing what Lamech prophesied about his son (something not prophesied about anyone else) shows us that every single person written about in the Bible adds to God's story. As believers today, we too can be confident that we are part of what God is doing to advance His will until Jesus returns as King and Conqueror and restores perfection on earth.
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/photostockam
Mary Oelerich-Meyer is a Chicago-area freelance writer and copy editor who prayed for years for a way to write about and for the Lord. She spent 20 years writing for area healthcare organizations, interviewing doctors and clinical professionals and writing more than 1,500 articles in addition to marketing collateral materials. Important work, but not what she felt called to do. She is grateful for any opportunity to share the Lord in her writing and editing, believing that life is too short to write about anything else. Previously she served as Marketing Communications Director for a large healthcare system. She holds a B.A. in International Business and Marketing from Cornell College (the original Cornell!) When not researching or writing, she loves to spend time with her writer daughter, granddaughter, rescue doggie and husband (not always in that order).
This article is part of our People of Christianity catalog that features the stories, meaning, and significance of well-known people from the Bible and history. Here are some of the most popular articles for knowing important figures in Christianity: