What Does Noah Mean?
In Hebrew, “Noah” (נֹחַ; Noach) comes from a word that means “to rest” (נוּחַ; nuach). Thus, even before we read about Noah building an ark to escape a deluge, Noah’s name foreshadows the fact that God will use the ark to save him. After the flood, the text reads, “At the end of 150 days the waters had abated, and in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark came to rest (נוּחַ; nuach) on the mountains of Ararat” (Gen 8:4). Since Noah’s name means “rest,” and the ark “rests” after the flood, the biblical author provides a Hebrew wordplay that underscores God’s ability to provide Noah and his family with salvific respite.
Does the Ark Recall Creation?
The ark’s rest on the “seventh month” recalls God’s rest at the conclusion of creation, and the institution of the Sabbath on the seventh day: “For in six days the Lord made the skies and the land, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested (נוּחַ; nuach) on the seventh day.” Noah’s name reaffirms God’s initial rest at creation — the basis for God’s command for Israel’s own rest — and offers a glimpse into how God will bring salvation out of destruction when Noah’s ark finds its final rest.
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