Genesis 5:29
And he called his name Noah, saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the LORD has cursed.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(29) He called his name Noah.—This is the first recorded instance, since the days of Eve, of a child being named at his birth, and in both cases the name ended in disappointment. Noah brought no rest, but in his days came the flood to punish human sin. We have already noticed that this longing of Lamech for comfort is in strong contrast with the arrogance of his namesake of the race of Cain. (Comp. Genesis 4:18.)

This same shall comfort us . . . of our hands.—These words form a couplet in the Hebrew, and rhyme like the Arabic couplets in the Koran.

The ground (adâmâh) which the Lord hath cursed.—It is usual to style this section Elohistic, because it so evidently takes up the narrative at Genesis 2:3. Yet, first, the writer distinctly refers to Genesis 3:17, where it is Jehovah-Elohim who curses the ground; and next he uses the name Jehovah as equivalent to God, according to what we are told in Genesis 4:26. Here, then, as in several other places, the idea that Genesis can be arranged in two portions, distinguished as Elohistic or Jehovistic, according to the name of God employed in them, entirely breaks down. It is remarkable, also, that the word for “toil” in Lantech’s distich is the same as that rendered sorrow in Genesis 3:16-17, and that it occurs only in these three places.

Genesis 5:29. He called his name Noah — Which signifies rest; saying — No doubt by a spirit of prophecy; This same shall comfort us concerning our toil, &c. — That is, the hard labour and manifold troubles to which they were sentenced. This he did, 1st, By the invention of instruments of husbandry, whereby tillage was made more easy: 2d, By removing a part of the curse inflicted on the earth: and especially, 3d, By preserving a remnant of mankind from that deluge which Enoch had foretold, and which he foresaw would come, and by repeopling the empty earth with a new generation of men.5:25-32 Methuselah signifies, 'he dies, there is a dart,' 'a sending forth,' namely, of the deluge, which came the year that Methuselah died. He lived 969 years, the longest that any man ever lived on earth; but the longest liver must die at last. Noah signifies rest; his parents gave him that name, with a prospect of his being a great blessing to his generation. Observe his father's complaint of the calamitous state of human life, by the entrance of sin, and the curse of sin. Our whole life is spent in labour, and our time filled up with continual toil. God having cursed the ground, it is as much as some can do, with the utmost care and pains, to get a hard livelihood out comfort us. It signifies not only that desire and expectation which parents generally have about their children, that they will be comforts to them and helpers, though they often prove otherwise; but it signifies also a prospect of something more. Is Christ ours? Is heaven ours? We need better comforters under our toil and sorrow, than the dearest relations and the most promising offspring; may we seek and find comforts in Christ.In the biography of Lamek the name of his son is not only given, but the reason of it is assigned. The parents were cumbered with the toil of cultivating the ground. They looked forward with hope to the aid or relief which their son would give them in bearing the burden of life, and they express this hope in his name. In stating the reason of the name, they employ a word which is connected with it only by a second remove. נוּח nûach and נחם nācham are stems not immediately connected; but they both point back to a common root נח (n-ch) signifying "to sigh, to breathe, to rest, to lie down."

This is only another recorded instance of the habit of giving names indicative of the thoughts of the parents at the time of the child's birth. All names were originally significant, and have still to this day an import. Some were given at birth, others at later periods, from some remarkable circumstance in the individual's life. Hence, many characters of ancient times were distinguished by several names conferred at different times and for different reasons. The reason of the present name is put on record simply on account of the extraordinary destiny which awaited the bearer of it.

Which the Lord hath cursed. - Here is another incidental allusion to the second document, without which it would not be intelligible. If the present document had been intended to stand alone, this remark would have had its explanation in some previous part of the narrative.

26. Lamech—a different person from the one mentioned in the preceding chapter [Ge 4:18]. Like his namesake, however, he also spoke in numbers on occasion of the birth of Noah—that is, "rest" or "comfort" [Ge 5:29, Margin]. "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 founded on a divine communication we infer from the importance attached to it and the confidence of its expression" [Peter Smith]. And he called his name Noah, which signifies rest,

saying, by the Spirit of prophecy:

This same shall comfort us, concerning the hard labour and manifold troubles to which we are sentenced, Genesis 3:19.

2948

And this he did either,

1. By the invention of instruments of husbandry, whereby tillage was made more easy. Or,

2. By removing in some part the curse inflicted upon the earth, and reconciling God unto mankind. Possibly he might suppose that this was the Messias, or promised Seed, and the Saviour of the undone world; as it was frequent with the ancient fathers, through their earnest desire of the Messias, to expect him long before he came, and to mistake other persons for him. Or,

3. By preserving a remnant of mankind from that deluge which he by the Spirit foresaw would come, and repeopling the emptied earth with a new generation of men, and by restoring and improving the art of husbandry: see Genesis 9:20. And he called his name Noah,.... Which signifies rest and comfort; for rest gives comfort, and comfort flows from rest, see 2 Samuel 14:17, where a word from the same root is rendered "comfortable", and agrees with the reason of the name, as follows:

saying, this same shall comfort us, concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground, which the Lord hath cursed; this he spake by a spirit of prophecy, foreseeing what his son would be, and of what advantage to him and his family, and to the world, both in things temporal and spiritual. In things temporal: the earth was cursed for the sin of man immediately after the fall, and continued under it to this time, bringing forth thorns and thistles in great abundance of itself, which occasioned much trouble to root and pluck them up, and nothing else, without digging, and planting, and sowing; and being barren through the curse, it was with great difficulty men got a livelihood: now Noah eased them in a good measure of their toil and trouble, by inventing instruments of ploughing, as Jarchi suggests, which they had not before, but threw up the ground with their hands, and by the use of spades, or such like things, which was very laborious; but now, by the use of the plough, and beasts to draw it, their lives were made much more easy and comfortable; hence he is said to begin to be an "husbandman", or a "man of the earth", that brought agriculture to a greater perfection, having found out an easier and quicker manner of tilling the earth: and as he was the first that is said to plant a vineyard, if he was the inventor of wine, this was another way in which he was an instrument of giving refreshment and comfort to men, that being what cheers the heart of God and men, see Genesis 9:20 and if the antediluvians were restrained from eating of flesh, and their diet was confined to the fruits of the earth; Noah, as Dr. Lightfoot (d) observes, would be a comfort in reference to this, because to him, and in him to all the world, God would give liberty to eat flesh; so that they were not obliged to get their whole livelihood with their hands out of the ground: and moreover, as Lamech might be apprised of the flood by the name of his father, and the prediction of his grandfather, he might foresee that he and his family would be saved, and be the restorer of the world, and repeople it, after the destruction of it by the flood. And he may have respect to comfort in spiritual things, either at first taking him to be the promised seed, the Messiah, in whom all comfort is; or however a type of him, and from whom he should spring, who would deliver them from the curse of the law, and from the bondage of it, and from toiling and seeking for a righteousness by the works of it; or he might foresee that he would be a good man, and a preacher of righteousness, and be a public good in his day and generation.

(d) Works, vol. 1. p. 9.

And he called his name Noah, saying, This same shall {h} comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the LORD hath cursed.

(h) Lamech had respect for the promise, Ge 3:15, and desired to see the deliverer who would be sent and yet saw but a figure of it. He spoke this by the spirit of prophecy because Noah delivered the Church and preserved it by his obedience.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
29. saying, This same shall comfort us, &c.] It is generally supposed that this verse, containing a poetical couplet which is intended to explain the name of Noah, has been inserted from the same source of tradition (J) as Genesis 4:25-26. Certainly, (a) the saying interrupts the bare list of names and years; (b) it contains a reference to the curse pronounced upon the soil, Genesis 3:17; (c) it recurs to the use of the sacred name “Jehovah” (“Jahveh”), whereas “God” (“Elohim”) has been used in Genesis 5:1; Genesis 5:22; Genesis 5:24.

comfort] Heb. naḥem, “to comfort,” “relieve.” The name “Noah,” however, is not derived from naḥem, but there is a play on the general similarity of sound. The LXX renders “gives us rest.”

for our work] The word “for” is in the Heb. “from,” and the meaning is that Noah will comfort his fellow-creatures and give them relief and refreshment “from” their toil.

because of the ground] Better, as R.V. marg., “which cometh from the ground.” This clause is in prose, following two metrical clauses.

In what way did the tradition connect the name of Noah with “comfort” as regards work upon the ground? According to the Hebrew figures in this chapter, Lamech, Noah’s father, must have died either before or in the Flood. It is conceivable that the saying recorded in this verse is taken from a group of Israelite traditions which contained no account of the Flood, and only associated the name of Noah with the work of an husbandman and with the first planting of a vineyard (Genesis 9:20).As Adam was created in the image of God, so did he beget "in his own likeness, after his image;" that is to say, he transmitted the image of God in which he was created, not in the purity in which it came direct from God, but in the form given to it by his own self-determination, modified and corrupted by sin. The begetting of the son by whom the line was perpetuated (no doubt in every case the first-born), is followed by an account of the number of years that Adam and the other fathers lived after that, by the statement that each one begat (other) sons and daughters, by the number of years that he lived altogether, and lastly, by the assertion ויּמת "and he died." This apparently superfluous announcement is "intended to indicate by its constant recurrence that death reigned from Adam downwards as an unchangeable law (vid., Romans 5:14). But against this background of universal death, the power of life was still more conspicuous. For the man did not die till he had propagated life, so that in the midst of the death of individuals the life of the race was preserved, and the hope of the seed sustained, by which the author of death should be overcome." In the case of one of the fathers indeed, viz., Enoch (Genesis 5:21.), life had not only a different issue, but also a different form. Instead of the expression "and he lived," which introduces in every other instance the length of life after the birth of the first-born, we find in the case of Enoch this statement, "he walked with God (Elohim);" and instead of the expression "and he died," the announcement, "and he was not, for God (Elohim) took him." The phrase "walked with God," which is only applied to Enoch and Noah (Genesis 6:9), denotes the most confidential intercourse, the closest communion with the personal God, a walking as it were by the side of God, who still continued His visible intercourse with men (vid., Genesis 3:8). It must be distinguished from "walking before God" (Genesis 17:1; Genesis 24:40, etc.), and "walking after God" (Deuteronomy 13:4), both which phrases are used to indicate a pious, moral, blameless life under the law according to the directions of the divine commands. The only other passage in which this expression "walk with God" occurs is Malachi 2:6, where it denotes not the piety of the godly Israelites generally, but the conduct of the priests, who stood in a closer relation to Jehovah under the Old Testament than the rest of the faithful, being permitted to enter the Holy Place, and hold direct intercourse with Him there, which the rest of the people could not do. The article in האלהים gives prominence to the personality of Elohim, and shows that the expression cannot refer to intercourse with the spiritual world.

In Enoch, the seventh from Adam through Seth, godliness attained its highest point; whilst ungodliness culminated in Lamech, the seventh from Adam through Cain, who made his sword his god. Enoch, therefore, like Elijah, was taken away by God, and carried into the heavenly paradise, so that he did not see (experience) death (Hebrews 11:5); i.e., he was taken up from this temporal life and transfigured into life eternal, being exempted by God from the law of death and of return to the dust, as those of the faithful will be, who shall be alive at the coming of Christ to judgment, and who in like manner shall not taste of death and corruption, but be changed in a moment. There is no foundation for the opinion, that Enoch did not participate at his translation in the glorification which awaits the righteous at the resurrection. For, according to 1 Corinthians 15:20, 1 Corinthians 15:23, it is not in glorification, but in the resurrection, that Christ is the first-fruits. Now the latter presupposes death. Whoever, therefore, through the grace of God is exempted from death, cannot rise from the dead, but reaches ἀφθαρσία, or the glorified state of perfection, through being "changed" or "clothed upon" (2 Corinthians 5:4). This does not at all affect the truth of the statement in Romans 5:12, Romans 5:14. For the same God who has appointed death as the wages of sin, and given us, through Christ, the victory over death, possesses the power to glorify into eternal life an Enoch and an Elijah, and all who shall be alive at the coming of the Lord without chaining their glorification to death and resurrection. Enoch and Elijah were translated into eternal life with God without passing through disease, death, and corruption, for the consolation of believers, and to awaken the hope of a life after death. Enoch's translation stands about half way between Adam and the flood, in the 987th year after the creation of Adam. Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, and Jared were still alive. His son Methuselah and his grandson Lamech were also living, the latter being 113 years old. Noah was not yet born, and Adam was dead. His translation, in consequence of his walking with God, was "an example of repentance to all generations," as the son of Sirach says (Ecclus. 44:16); and the apocryphal legend in the book of Enoch Genesis 1:9 represents him as prophesying of the coming of the Lord, to execute judgment upon the ungodly (Jde 1:14-15). In comparison with the longevity of the other fathers, Enoch was taken away young, before he had reached half the ordinary age, as a sign that whilst long life, viewed as a time for repentance and grace, is indeed a blessing from God, when the ills which have entered the world through sin are considered, it is also a burden and trouble which God shortens for His chosen. That the patriarchs of the old world felt the ills of this earthly life in all their severity, was attested by Lamech (Genesis 5:28, Genesis 5:29), when he gave his son, who was born 69 years after Enoch's translation, the name of Noah, saying, "This same shall comfort us concerning our work and the toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed." Noah, נוח from נוּח to rest and הניח to bring rest, is explained by נחם to comfort, in the sense of helpful and remedial consolation. Lamech not only felt the burden of his work upon the ground which God had cursed, but looked forward with a prophetic presentiment to the time when the existing misery and corruption would terminate, and a change for the better, a redemption from the curse, would come. This presentiment assumed the form of hope when his son was born; he therefore gave expression to it in his name. But his hope was not realized, at least not in the way that he desired. A change did indeed take place in the lifetime of Noah. By the judgment of the flood the corrupt race was exterminated, and in Noah, who was preserved because of his blameless walk with God, the restoration of the human race was secured; but the effects of the curse, though mitigated, were not removed; whilst a covenant sign guaranteed the preservation of the human race, and therewith, by implication, his hope of the eventual removal of the curse (Genesis 9:8-17).

The genealogical table breaks off with Noah; all that is mentioned with reference to him being the birth of his three sons, when he was 500 years old (Genesis 5:32; see Genesis 11:10), without any allusion to the remaining years of his life-an indication of a later hand. "The mention of three sons leads to the expectation, that whereas hitherto the line has been perpetuated through one member alone, in the future each of the three sons will form a new beginning (vid., Genesis 9:18-19; Genesis 10:1)." - M. Baumgarten.

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