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Hans Jordaens: Noah's entry into the ark

Noah or Noah (more rarely Noé or Noe ; Hebrew נֹחַ Nṓaḥ "rest"; Greek Νῶε Nôe ; Arabic نُوح Nuh , DMG Nūḥ ) was according to the book of Genesis (1st book of Moses) of the Bible the tenth forefather after Adam . Because of his faithfulness, according to biblical tradition, he waschosenby his God to survivethe Flood by building the ark with his family.

According to Genesis 10.1–32  EU, Noach's three sons Sem , Ham and Jafet go back to the division of mankind into the three different peoples at that time.

In the genealogy of the Bible, Noah is also the tenth ancestor of Abraham , which is his traditional classification in the early 3rd millennium BC. Chr. Means.

Noah in the 1st book of Moses (Genesis)

According to the Book of Genesis, Noah was the son of Lamech ( Gen 5:28  EU ). His name Noah or Noah could be derived from the Hebrew word for rest / rest . At the age of 500 he fathered his three sons Shem , Ham and Jafet . No information is given about their exact year of birth ( Gen 5,32  EU ). With Ham as the youngest ( Gen 9.24  EU ) the usual list corresponds to the meaning for the following.

Overall, his age is given as 950 years ( Gen 9.29  EU ). With him the era of the first patriarchs ends , whose lifespan, with the exception of Enoch, was well over 700 years. In the following generations the age decreased by leaps and bounds (see Biblical Age ).

The flood

Stone tablet with dove and olive branch, Catacombs of Domitilla , Rome

According to the biblical narrative, the god YHWH wants to wipe out humanity because of its sinfulness , but had mercy on Noah and his family because of his piety . In the ark , Noah can save himself, his wife, his sons and their wives as well as many animals from destruction by the flood and thus secure the continued existence of people and animals on earth. The dove plays the role of the good ambassador in the biblical story of the Flood: A dove left out by Noah returns to the ark with a fresh olive branch in its beak ( Gen 8.11  EU ). After the flood, YHWH hands over unlimited control over all life on earth to the people ( Gen 9: 1-2  EU ). YHWH makes a covenant with Noah, promises that there will never be another flood, and puts the rainbow in the clouds as a sign of this ( Gen 9: 8-17  EU ).

Similar mythological tales of the flood have come down to us from many cultures. A particularly close relationship can be seen with the much older Sumerian-Babylonian Atraḫasis epic (around 1800 BC) and its flood hero Ziusudra, as well as with the Greek Deukalion epic (around 1400 BC).

In the so-called table of nations in Genesis, the peoples known to the Hebrews are traced back to Noach's three sons ( Gen 10.1–32  EU ; 1 Chr 1.5–23  EU ): The Semites on Shem , the Hamites on Ham (dark-skinned Africans) and on Jafet the Jafetites . According to the biblical story, Noah is a man of the arable land and the first mentioned vineyard planter ( Gen 9.20  EU ). According to the Bible ( Gen 4.2  ELB ), however, the first mentioned cultivator was already Cain.

Noah's curse of Ham

The drunkenness of Noah ( Giovanni Bellini ) The drunken Noah is discovered by his sons.
Gustave Doré : Noah curses his grandson Canaan (left)

Noach's son Ham discovered his father, who had fallen asleep naked in his tent after drinking alcohol. He told his brothers Sem and Japhet about it, who then covered the father's nakedness with a cloth without looking at him. When the father woke up and learned what had happened, he cursed Ham's son Canaan and all of his descendants to be the servants of his brothers ( The Curse on Ham ). At the same time, Ham's brothers are honored with their father's special blessing for having covered him up. ( Gen 9.21-27  EU )

Most of the Bible translations into modern languages ​​suggest that Ham happened to see his drunken father naked and that he cursed his son Canaan for it. However, the punishment for this appears disproportionate and incomprehensible, so that Ham's handling of the events is usually interpreted as the actual wrongdoing with different priorities: he mocked his defenseless father instead of honoring and protecting him, as it was his duty as a son would.

Other modern interpretations identify the act as sexual assault by analyzing the original Hebrew passage; Variants speak of voyeurism or incest with the mother, for whom the exposure of the father's nudity is only a representative image; Against this background, the curse against the son as a result of the misconduct and the severity of the punishment seems plausible. A common reading sees the offense in a homosexual act committed against a helpless father ; it can already be found in Jewish texts of the 5th century. Only in old Jewish texts is there the view that the offense consists in castrating the father.

The meaning of this passage is controversial, it has been interpreted differently whether the curse was on Ham, who committed the wrongdoing, or actually on his son Canaan. This gives rise to different interpretations as to which peoples are hit by the curse. He was used, for example, as a legitimation figure for the divine superiority of the Hebrews in the dispute with the Canaanites .

Some interpretations identify the descendants of Ham as Africans , which is how Christians later biblically justified the enslavement of black peoples.

Noah in the Talmud: Noachidic commandments

The Talmud derives from the biblical story the Noachidic covenant and the associated seven Noachidic commandments . According to the Jewish understanding, these are bequeathed to all people and are therefore often laid out in the major religions.

According to the Jewish understanding, a non-Jew who keeps the Noahidic commandments can share in the world to come like a Jew. For this reason there is no need for mission from a Jewish point of view , other religions deserve respect, as long as they also respect Jewish identity.

Those willing to convert are even expressly advised that by following the few Noachidic commandments they can already exist before God, whereas as Jews they have to fulfill all of the commandments given to Judaism.

Noah in the New Testament

According to Lk 17.26–27 EU , Jesus compared the days of the Son  of Man with the days before the flood . In Heb. 11.7  EU it is said that Noah built the ark through faith and was able to save his household in this way . 1 Petr 3,20  EU compares the salvation of Noah through the water with baptism. In 2 Petr 2,5  EU he is called the “preacher of justice”.

Accordingly, Jesus and the authors of the New Testament should have understood Noah as a historical person and the Flood as reality.

Noah in the Apocrypha

Traces of Noah can also be found in the Apocrypha . In the Book of Jubilees ( Little Genesis ), the biblical story is retold and expanded in much more detail (Jub 5,1-10,17, see also The Apocalypse of Adam '69.2-71.5). The ark landed on the summit of Lubar, one of the mountains of Ararat ( Jub 5:28). According to the pseudo-Titus-Brief , Noach's sons looked for places to build cities after the Flood and named them after their wives. The names of the cities are Neelatamauk (Ham), Adataneses (Jafet), Sedeketelebab (Sem) (Jub 7,14-16). Later Noah raffles the earth to his sons. The middle of the earth gets Shem, the south goes to Ham, Jafet receives the north (Jub 8: 10–30, ApokAd 72.15). In the Apocalypse of Paul meets Paul in a vision to Noah. The latter tells him that he had built the ark for 100 years without washing and changing clothes (ApkPaul 50). According to John's apocryphon , Noah and his descendants did not survive in an ark, but in a cloud of light ( AJ 28.30–29.10).

The name of the wife of the flood hero Noah is nowhere mentioned in the Bible itself. In the 14th chapter of the apocryphal book "The Treasure Cave", however, her name is mentioned: There she is called Haikal and is the daughter of Namos and granddaughter of Enoch, who is named here as the brother of Metusala. As in the first book of Moses, the children of Haikal and Noach are Shem, Cham (Ham) and Japhet. Noah married Haikal at God's behest when he was already five hundred years old, and the flood was announced to him at the same time. According to rabbinical tradition, however, she is called Naama and is the daughter of Lamech and Zilla .

Noah in the Koran

Detail of a Muslim representation from the 16th century
Entrance to Noah's tomb in Cizre

In the Koran Noah is mentioned in 26 places. So contains Surah 11 25-48, a version of the Flood story. As in the biblical story, Noah loads his ship here with a pair of each animal species, with his family and with the few people who are still believers (Sura 11:40). A special element of the Koranic Noah story is the unbelieving son of Noah, who does not want to ride in his ship, but wants to go up a mountain, but there drowns in the floods (Sura 11: 42-43). When Noah calls on God about his son, he is instructed by him that his son does not belong to his family and asked not to intercede for him in an unjust way (Sura 11: 45-46), because the saying ( of predestination) (Sura 11:40). An exact parallel narrative to the Koranic report cannot be found in the Christian or Jewish tradition. The Islamic mystic and poet Rumi interprets the ark as the divine guidance of the prophet Mohammed and refers to a hadith that is ascribed to the prophet and in which he compares himself with Noah's ark (whoever gets on is saved). He contrasts this safe guidance through divine inspiration (ark) with the human capacity for knowledge as swimming, which ultimately leads to drowning, as with Noah's son.

Further Koran passages on the subject are Sura 7 : 59–64, Sura 10 : 71–73, Sura 26 : 105–122, Sura 37 : 75–81. In addition, sura 71 is after Noah ( Nuh  /نوح / Nūḥ ) named. This sura describes the requests and threats of God sent Noah, which were supposed to move people to repent. Several gods are mentioned in verse 23. “And they say (to one another): 'Don't forsake your gods. And leave neither Wadd nor Suwa 'nor Yaguth and Ya'uq and Nasr.' ”When Noah is not listened to, he suggests to God not to leave any of the unbelievers on earth (Sura 71:26).

According to Islamic tradition, Noah landed his ark not on Mount Ararat, but on al-Judi, which is equated with Mount Cudi Dağı in Turkey. From there he set out and founded the city of Şırnak , the name of which is said to be derived from Şehr-i Nuh - Noah's city. Noah is said to have been buried in Cizre (Southeast Anatolia), where his grave is venerated as a Türbe .

Noah in the Bahaitum

The Baha'itum interprets the symbolism of the Noah legend allegorically : On the one hand, Noah appears as the captain, the “holy seafarer”, who with his teaching (the ark) leads the believers to the knowledge of God (“holy beaches”). The acceptance of the new revealer by open-minded people is compared to the landing of the ark on Mount Ararat . The flood is interpreted as the downfall of the traditional world and social order when the new religion appears (downfall of the Roman Empire in its ancient form). In addition, the ark appears as a symbol for the religious community or the institutions founded by the revelator, e.g. B. the Universal House of Justice.

Noah with the Mormons

In Mormon theology , Noah is the embodiment of the Archangel Gabriel .

Religious-historical parallel: Ziusudra among the Sumerians

In the Atraḫasis epic of the Sumerians (Mesopotamia, around 2000 BC), Ziusudra saves mankind from destruction in the course of a great flood. Ziusudra, later also called the god Uta-napišti , performed other heroic deeds. These found entry into the later Epic of Gilgamesh in the Assyrian Empire.

Memorial days

Noah in the media

see: Noah's Ark in the media


Web links

Commons : Noah (Biblical figure)  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. See the overview of the interpretations in Nicholas Oyugi Odhiambo: Ham's Sin and Noah's Curse and Blessing Utterances. Author House, 2014, pp. 20–30, ISBN 978-1-496-93273-0 ( limited preview in Google Book Search).
  2. Stephen R. Haynes A.B. Curry Chair of Religious Studies Rhodes College: Noah's Curse. The Biblical Justification of American Slavery. Oxford University Press, USA, 2002, ISBN 978-0-198-03260-1 , p. 11 ( limited preview in Google Book Search).
  3. Brinner: Article Noah in Encyclopedia of Qur'án
  4. See Heinrich Speyer: The biblical stories in the Qoran . Graefenhainchen 1931. pp. 89–116.
  5. See Speyer, 106.
  6. Volume IV, verses 3357 ff. See Furunzanfar: Ahadithe Mathnawi, numbers 698 and 575.
  7. Sours: The Tablet of the Holy Mariner, p. 46 f. This image also appears in early Christianity, e.g. B. in Ephraim the Syrian, who in his Nisibensichen hymn 1.35 describes Christ as the "pilot of the ark".
  8. Balyuzi: The Lord of Glory, p. 224.
  9. Abud'l-Fadl: Fará'id. P. 37.
  10. Bahaullah: Messages from Akka 1: 4
  11. Adam's Religion., December 21, 2015, accessed on August 26, 2017 .
  12. Elias and Elijah in the Kirtland Temple., 2017, accessed August 26, 2017 .
  13. ^ Noah in the Ecumenical Lexicon of Saints