By Tyson Thorne

May 14, 2019

Lamech Large

It is a question meant to strike fear in the heart of the person asked, and to convince witnesses that a conspiracy is afoot: "What did he know and when did he know it?" It was born during the Watergate investigation and has been a favorite weapon of politicians and journalists alike. Early in the pages of the Bible, the careful reader may have noticed one instance where this question might be asked and it concerns one of the Bible's most well-known characters, Noah. The famous ark-builder isn't the subject of this investigation, however, it's his father Lamech.

If you've read Madeleine L'Engle's book Many Waters you've been introduced to a loving and wonderful man, Grandfather Lamech. While a work of fiction, the Bible hints there may be more about this man than the Bible reveals and may inform us regarding Noah's calling to build the ark. What is this remarkable event? The naming of his remarkable son. When born, Lamech named his son and, like most fathers of pre-Israelite and even Israelite eras, he chose a name that had meaning. Names are so significant that God specifically told some fathers what to name their children. Hosea is a great example, this prophet was told to name one of his children Lo-ammi, meaning "not my people" (Hosea 1.8-9), as a symbol to the Israelites that God was disowning the nation. Also, an Angel of the Lord told Mary to name her son Yeshua (Matthew 1.21). Even the book of Proverbs tells us that "a good name is rather to be chosen than great riches" (Proverbs 22.1). Name's are important in the Bible.

Noah's name has meaning. In Hebrew, the root word means "rest" and the name means "rest-giver". On the surface this doesn't seem particularly important. It is something clearly visible in the footnotes of most Bible's. A Hebrew reader would understand. Only a few chapters earlier when God handed out curses to all involved in the rebellion and deported Adam and Eve from the Garden, God promised to send someone who would break the curses and repair the relationship between God and man. Since this person would resolve the conflict and the curse of hard labor pains and hard farming, he would be a rest-giver. This rest-giving is a concept that is more fully formed later in the Bible where, once the Savior rules the new world his followers would enter "eternal rest".

Noah wasn't the promised Savior, but he was a type of savior whose life represented the true savior's. Lamech's naming of his son indicates one of two things, either he had hoped his son would be a savior and got lucky, or he knew beforehand that Noah would be a savior. The first seems remarkable, the second begs the famous question, "what did he know, and when did he know it?" Examine yourself the evidence in Genesis 5.29:

He named him Noah, saying, “This one will bring us rest from our labor and from the painful toil of our hands because of the ground that the Lord has cursed.”

The Bible doesn't answer the question but if Lamech was given foreknowledge of his son's purpose it had to come before Noah's birth. Did God come to him in a dream? Did an angel tell him what to name his child? We don't know, but regardless of how the foreknowledge came to Lamech it indicates he had a special relationship with God. Noah's upbringing wasn't secular in nature as some have suggested, he had a godly father to train him up properly and in a manner that would allow him to fulfill his God-ordained purpose: to bring rest to the tired (and sinful) workers of a cursed land. From Genesis 3.17 and 5.19 it is clear that Noah is a new Adam, something we would miss completely unless we did our homework on Noah's name, or unless we read it in Hebrew.

While most of us do not have foreknowledge of our purpose in life, it doesn't mean that there isn't one. If you want to bolster your faith and build connections with God, look for opportunities to serve that make use of your skills and gifts. You'll be surprised where God leads you and what you've learned in your past that will help you succeed in fulfilling God's purpose.

Learn Biblical Hebrew Online


English French German Italian Portuguese Russian Spanish



How to setup an RSS of Windows Reader Service