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In Genesis 5:28-29 we read about Lamech naming his son Noah, but what he says as he does so has me wondering. With Gen 5:29 it seems Lamech almost knew something in advance.

Genesis 5:29 And he (Lamech) called his name Noah, saying, "This one will comfort us concerning our work and the toil of our hands, because of the ground which the LORD has cursed."

Other than Adam, Lamech is the only father before the flood we get a quote from.

Did Lamech somehow know Noah would bring some type of relief?

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It might also be of note that Lamech is one of two patriarchs whose father was still active after him. Enoch was translated before the death of Jared. Methusaleh and Jared have the longest life spans in Genesis 5 while their sons have the shortest. – Frank Luke Oct 20 '14 at 13:16
up vote 4 down vote accepted

On the surface, this question sounds unanswerable.

What do we know about Lamech? He lived 777 years, dying approximately 5 years before the flood. Methuselah, Lamech's father, died within a year of the flood (as late as in the flood, but this isn't known). Lamech's lifespan was unusually short (118 years shorter than anyone else whose age at death is mentioned) for that time. Does that provide any clues?

What we know of how God used Noah regarding the flood doesn't suggest to me that he particularly gave his father any comfort. Nothing is said of anything Noah did for his father, nor what his father thought of the long project of building the boat.

Perhaps Lamech was just tired of hard work (Ge 3:17-19) and looked forward to Noah helping him in that burdensome toil.

It seems unlikely to me that Lamech chose this name for Noah with knowledge of the future. It is curious that he is one of a few people quoted (though this, by itself, is not necessarily a mark of good distinction, Ge 4:23-24), but without any other evidence in the text to support it, the simplest answer ties in with God's curse on the man.

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I have a line of thought on this that leads to a conclusion that Lamech would have had what he considered divine insight into an expectation that his son, Noah, was likely destined to play a role of rescuer in the plans of God.

  1. Two of the antediluvian fathers listed in Gen.5 are said to have "walked with God". This is seemingly always taken by commentators to refer to the idea that they stood out as men who led righteous lives. However, I think this refers to the idea that God, in physical form, visited them, both Enoch (5:21-23) & Noah (6:9), and walked & talked with them (as He did with Adam).

All of the fathers listed in Gen.5 are godly men from the godly line of Adam through Seth. Contrasted to this is the ungodly line of Cain listed in Gen.4. To say that two of these fathers of Gen.5 'walked righteously with God' is redundant to the idea that all these fathers of Gen.5 walked righteously with God. Therefore, it stands out that these two men received special earthly visitation from God that informed them of His future plans.

Enoch, so informed from God, would attach prophetic significance when naming his son Methuselah, which can be translated: 'his death shall bring judgment'.

  1. Lamech lived the first 113 years of his life with Enoch, his grandfather, still alive on earth. I don't think it strains logic to consider that during those years Enoch spoke to his grandson of the significance of Methuselah's name and other details that God had directly imparted to him. In fact, Enoch & God were still having their 'walks' during the first part of Lamech's lifetime. So, Lamech was living daily with an expectation that God had plans for a future catastrophe. (Noah would be born 69 years after Enoch was translated to Heaven)

Therefore, it is conceivable that direct details were passed from God, through Enoch, unto Lamech about specific future plans for specific offspring of Enoch (i.e. Noah). If this was not entirely settled in this manner, it is also possible that Lamech, considering the life-expectancy of Methuselah and his knowledge of God's plan, calculated that either he or his son would be the family head who would represent the godly line after Methuselah's death when judgment would be due.

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