Genesis v. 28-31.

June 28, 2010

And Lamech lived a hundred and eighty-two years, and begot a son.  And he called his name Noe, saying: This same shall comfort us from the works and labours of our hands on the earth which the Lord hath cursed.  And Lamech lived after he begot Noe, five hundred and ninety-five years, and begot sons and daughters.  And all the days of Lamech came to seven hundred and seventy-seven years, and he died.  And Noe, when he was five hundred years old, begot Sem, Cham, and Japheth.

29. “And he called his name Noe”

St. Jerome: “Noe is translated rest.  Therefore, because in his time all previous things were brought to rest by the flood, he is named rest” (LHQG).

St. Bede: “But according to the spiritual sense, this is the same rest that is the consolation of the saints: that is, to behold, as the end of the world approaches, the destruction of the impious and the time of their own rewards draw near.  Now it is well that Noe, by whose God-devoted merits rest and consolation were to be given to the world, is born in the tenth generation from Adam: for by the fulfillment of the law of the decalogue we are granted eternal rest and life” (In Principium Genesis II col. 82).

St. Chrysostom: “Again, see the vastness of the mysteries, the excellence of the prophecy, and the indescribable kindness of the good God through the name given to the boy born of Lamech.  For by his advance knowledge he foresaw what would happen; as he saw the malice of men in his days grow greater and greater, he foretells by the boy’s name the evils that were to attack the entire human race, so that perhaps, chastised by fear, they might be led away from their vices, and embrace virtue.  And see the patience of the healing Lord: such that so great a prophecy precedes the time, so that He might show His mercy, and deprive of every defense those who were to become guilty of punishment.

“But perhaps someone will say: How was Lamech able to make such a prophecy?  For Scripture does not mention that he shone with great virtue, or that he was a wonderful man.  Do not wonder, beloved: our wise and omnipotent Lord often permits great and wondrous things to be foretold through unworthy men: not only in the Old Testament, but also in the New.  Listen to the Evangelist speaking of Caiphas, the priest of the Jews: And this he spoke not of himself: but being the high priest of that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation.  And not only for the nation, but to gether together in one the children of God, that were dispersed.[1] You will also find something similar said by Balaam …

And he called his name Noe.  This name, if it be translated, means rest.  Now rest is called that general destruction that will come after many years, just as Job says: Death is rest to a man:[2] for since the toil inflicted by malice is heavy and very great, its end and destruction through the coming flood are called rest.  Then the meaning of the name is revealed, and he says: This same shall comfort us from our works: he will turn away from malice: and from the labours of our hands: and again the same thing: from evil works.  For it does not say, “our hands afflicted with pain,” but that through their works and evil actions, their troubles were increased. And from the earth which the Lord hath cursed.  He will free us, he says, from all the evils that press upon us, and from the labors and miseries we undergo in cultivating the earth, which has been cursed because of the first man’s transgression” (xxi. 5.).

St. Ambrose: “Certainly if you think this is to be applied to the deeds that happened, because the flood happened under him what was brought to men will seem to be not rest, but ruin: not the removal of evils, but the peak of misery.  But truly if you consider the mind of a just man, notice that justice is that alone, which is born more for others than for itself: it does not seek what is useful for itself, but what is useful for all; this makes us rest from the works of iniquity, this calls us back from sadness; for when we do what is just, we do not fear in the security of our pure conscience; we do not suffer heavy sorrow.  For there is nothing that can be more sorrowful than the guilt of sin.  Let us rest also from every care of earthly business, which troubles our body and soul with frequent sorrows, and wears away our life” (De Noe et Arca, i.).

Cornelius: “Most of all, Lamech prophesies of his son Noe in these words, because he will be the renewer of the human race, almost destroyed by the flood (for this was the greatest consolation and rest for Lamech and the Fathers), as Hugo says, and because he will reconcile God and God’s goodness to the world; and finally because from him will be born the Messias, as Rupert says, who is our rest and consolation.  His voice says: Come to me, all you that labour, and are burdened, and I will refresh you.[3] Noe was therefore a type of Christ” (Commentaria, p 130-131).

“Take note: Noe was born in the 600th year before the flood, which occurred in the year of the world 1656; whence it follows that Noe was born in the year of the world 1056, that is, in the 126th year after the death of Adam; for Adam died in the 930th year, both of his life and of the world” (ibid., p 131).

31. Noe, at 500, fathers Sem, Cham and Japheth.

“In this, his 500th year, Noe began the building of the ark, and continued it for 100 years: for it was finished in his 600th year.  Thus Origen, Augustine, Gregory, Rupert.

“Further, after his 500th year Noe begot, that is began to beget, Sem, Cham and Japheth, so that in successive years he begot, now Sem, now Cham, now Japheth: for these three were not begotten together in the same year” (ibid.).

St. Bede: “He begot three sons, to show that he served the Lord in the faith of the Holy Trinity and that he brought forth a harvest of spiritual virtues even in the fruit of his fleshly offspring; although even in the historical sense it was fitting that he fathered three sons, since it was left to him and his seed to bring forth the perishing world anew, so that through his offspring of three sons all the parts of the whole globe of the earth might be filled.  Indeed, Sem’s children chiefly possessed Asia; Cham’s children, Africa; Japheth’s children, Europe” (In Principium Genesis II. col. 82).

[1] John xi. 50-51.

[2] Job iii. 23, LXX (θάνατος ἀνδρὶ ἀνάπαυμα).  Vulgate/DR: [Why is light given] … to the man whose way is hidden?

[3] Matt. xi. 28.


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