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Plowing through History from the Aleph to the Tav

Topics Definition of Hebrew Names


By Jeff A. Benner

The name Noah (pronounced Noach where the "ch" is pronounced hard as in the name Bach) comes from the verbal form of the word nuach meaning "rest" as we see in Genesis 5:28 "This one (Noach) will bring us rest (nuach) from our work and from the toil of our hands, from the ground which YHWH had cursed." What is the type of rest that Noach will bring? Often our English words lack the true meaning of Hebrew words (actually they always do). Sometimes they are completely opposite. Our English understanding of rest is not the same as the ancient Hebrews.

A related word Nuchah can help shed some light on the meaning of nuach. Nachah is usually translated as "guide" or "lead" (again the English does not fully convey the Hebrew essence of nachah) as in the following verses; Exodus 13:21 "YHWH went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead (nachah) them on the way." Exodus 32:34 "Now go, lead (nachah) the people (Israel) to the place I spoke of". God will lead (nachah) them to the land of promise which is a place of rest (nuach).

Since nachah is etymologically related to nuach and noach, it is related in meaning also. Nachah has the broader meaning of "to lead to a rest" as we see in God's promise that he would lead Israel into the land.

The role which Noach played prior to the flood was as a leader, one who will guide others to a rest, a rest from the toils and troubles of the days prior to the flood.

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