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Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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No´ah, the second father of the human race, was the son of the second Lamech, the grandson of Methuselah, and the tenth in descent from Adam.

The father of Noah must not be confounded with the Lamech who was the fourth in descent from Cain. The two Lamechs have one remarkable circumstance in common; to each of them a fragment of inartificial poetry is attached as his own composition. That of the Cainitic Lamech is in . That of the Sethite now comes before us in :—'Lamech lived 182 years, and then begat a son, and he called his name Noah, saying


This shall comfort us

From our labor,

And from the sorrowful toils of our hands;

From the ground,

Which Jehovah hath cursed.'


The allusion is undoubtedly to the penal consequences of the fall in earthly toils and sufferings, and to the hope of a Deliverer excited by the promise made to Eve. That this expectation was grounded upon a divine communication we infer from the importance attached to it, and the confidence of its expression.

That the conduct of Noah corresponded to the faith and hope of his father we have no reason to doubt. The brevity of the history satisfies not human curiosity. He was born six hundred years before the Deluge. We may reasonably suppose that through that period he maintained the character given of him—'Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. Noah was a just man, and perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God' (). These words declare his piety, sincerity, and integrity, that he maintained habitual communion with the Father of Mercies, by the exercises of devotion, and that he was an inspired instrument of conveying the will of God to mankind. The wickedness of the human race had long called upon the wisdom and justice of God for some signal display of his displeasure, as a measure of righteous government and an example to future ages. For a long time, probably many centuries, the better part of men, the descendants of Seth, had kept themselves from society with the families of the Cainite race. The former class had become designated as 'the sons of God,' faithful and obedient: the latter were called by a term evidently designed to form an appellation of the contrary import, 'daughters of men,' of impious and licentious men. These women possessed beauty and blandishments, by which they won the affections of unwary men, and intermarriages upon a great scale took place. As is usual in such alliances the worse part gained the ascendancy. The offspring became more depraved than the parents, and a universal corruption of minds and morals took place. Many of them became 'giants, the mighty men of old, men of renown,' apostates (as the word implies) heroes, warriors, plunderers, 'filling the earth with violence.' God mercifully afforded a respite of one hundred and twenty years (; ; ), during which Noah sought to work salutary impressions upon their minds, and to bring them to repentance. Thus he was 'a preacher of righteousness,' exercising faith in the testimony of God, moved with holy reverence, obeying the divine commands, and, by the contrast of his conduct, condemning the world (): and probably he had during a long previous period labored in that benevolent and pious work.

At last the threatening was fulfilled. All human kind perished in the waters, except this eminently favored and righteous man, with his three sons (born about a hundred years before) and the four wives [DELUGE].

At the appointed time this terrible state of the earth ceased, and a new surface was disclosed for the occupation and industry of the delivered family. In some places that surface would be washed bare to the naked rock, in others sand would be deposited, which would be long uncultivable; but by far the larger portion would be covered with rich soil. With agriculture and its allied arts the antediluvians must have been well acquainted [ADAM]. The four men, in the vigor of their mental faculties and bodily strength, according to the then existing scale of human life, would be at no loss for the profitable application of their powers. Immediately after the desolating judgment the merciful Jehovah gave intimations of his acceptance of the sacrifice and thanksgivings of Noah and his family, and of his gracious purposes revealed in the form of a solemn covenant for the continual benefit of them and their posterity. The beautiful phenomenon of the rainbow was put to a new and significant use. As infallibly certain as is the production of a rainbow under certain conditions of the atmosphere, so certain and sure of fulfillment are the promises of Jehovah.

As the flood affected equally the common ancestry of mankind, all nations that have not sunk into the lowest barbarism would be likely to preserve the memory of the chief person connected with it; and it would be a natural fallacy that every people should attach to itself a principal interest in that catastrophe, and regard that chief person as the founder of their own nation and belonging to their own locality. Hence we can well account for the traditions of so many peoples upon this capital fact of ancient history, and the chief person in it—the Xisuthrus of the Chaldeans, with whom is associated a remarkable number of precise circumstances, corresponding to the Mosaic narrative; the Phrygian Noë of the celebrated Apamean medal, which, besides Noah and his wife with an ark, presents a raven, and a dove with an olive-branch in its mouth; the Manes of the Lydians: the Deucalion of the Syrians and the Greeks, of whose deluge the account given by Lucian is a copy almost exactly circumstantial of that in the book of Genesis; the many coincidences in the Greek mythology in respect of Saturn, Janus, and Bacchus; the traditions of the aboriginal Americans, as stated by Clavigero, in his History of Mexico; and many others.





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Bibliography Information
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Noah'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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