Who Was Noah's Wife?
As I was once again reading the incredible story of Noah and his boat (or ark), it struck me that not much was said about his wife – we don’t even know her name! That made me curious to find out as much as I could about who she was.
Since the only reliable source we have for these details is the Bible, I started and ended there. While I realize the Bible doesn’t always tell us a lot about every person it mentions, it seems to me information about Mrs. Noah is especially lacking.
Why is it Important to Learn About Noah’s Wife? Most all we know about Noah and his life comes from 4 chapters in Genesis, and his wife is only lumped in with a vague reference to “his family.” This seems strange to me when I consider that all human beings are descended from her and her sons. She is, essentially, the second Eve! (See Genesis 9:19.)
First of All: Why Did God Send the Flood? The Bible describes the pre-Flood world as totally wicked and consumed with violence. (Sounds a lot like today.) So God sent the flood to judge the evil and give the world a new start. God knew Noah’s family had remained faithful in the middle of all that sin, so he spared them from this punishment – and only them.
Basics About Mrs. Noah Because the Bible doesn’t say much about her, it seems we need to read between the lines of what it does say and make some deductions. For example, we know she stayed at Noah’s side as he preached to his sinful neighbors and built a unique boat, so we can assume she was both faithful to her wedding vows and loyal to God.
Scripture tells us her family lived in Mesopotamia, Land of the Two Rivers. Farming was the principal industry there, and Genesis 9:20 describes Noah as, “a man of the soil.” Thus, we can assume he had been a farmer before the flood. Living in this fertile area, they would probably be fairly well off by the world’s standards.
The Bible describes Noah as a righteous man who, “walked with God.” 2 Peter 2:5 tells us Noah was, “a preacher of righteousness.” We can assume his wife was also righteous, since God chose her, her sons and their wives, to share the ark with Noah. Genesis 6:9 states, “This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God.” This seems to indicate they were a godly family, so we can assume they all kept God as a high priority in their lives.
Finally, I think Mrs. Noah must have been a patient woman, considering how long it took for Noah to build the ark. She not only hung in there with him, but she probably helped him with the building and prep for their voyage.
Her Age We know her 3 sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, were born after Noah was 500 years old. Mrs. Noah was likely close to his age, so she would have also been quite old by the time the ark building began. In fact, she probably would have been around 600 years old when she boarded the ark!
Her Name Can we guess her name? She is referred to as “Noah’s wife” the 5 times she is specifically mentioned in Genesis. We aren’t given any background information on her parents or family history, nor do we get a personal name. Over the generations, many have tried to guess at her name. In fact, in 1941, Francis Lee Utley published a paper in the journal Speculum titled, “The One Hundred and Three Names of Noah’s Wife.”
The Jewish writing Genesis Rabba (c. 5th century AD) follows Jewish tradition, calling Noah’s wife “Naamah, sister of Tubal-cain and descendant of Cain, son of Adam and Eve.” This name, meaning "the beautiful" or "the pleasant one," is the one I found attributed to her most often. As a side note, it seems the Greeks called her "Doris." We have a lot of guesses but no definitive answer.
What Did She Look Like? We know Noah’s wife was old enough to have three grown children, even if they were born when she was hundreds of years old. This means she probably would not have looked as young as the biblical Ruth or Esther, but she could have been pretty like Abraham's aged wife, Sarah.
Since she was a woman who lived on earth before the flood opened the canopy of heaven, allowing harmful rays to enter, her skin was probably clear and undamaged by the Sun. My guess is she looked pretty good for a woman of such an advanced age!
Noah and Mrs. Noah lived before the tower of Babel was built, where humans were split into family groups which would eventually become the different races. As the “mother” of these races, she probably had a mixture of traits we associate with them. Most likely her complexion was neither especially pale nor very dark, and her eyes could have been either brown or blue (the most common shades).
What God Told Her Not much! God’s message came only to Noah – nowhere in the Bible does it say his wife or family heard it directly from their Creator. She must have been a woman of real faith to accept her husband’s message from God word as truth, then convince her sons and daughters-in-law to do the same.
What Her Neighbors Told Her While Noah was urging his neighbors to repent from their wicked ways, they probably thought he was crazy. His construction project was likely seen as the work of someone who ignored the facts as people of his day saw them. In fact, no one had seen rain before the flood. Water on earth was stored in the oceans and rivers. Water above was in the “firmament,” which apparently held a canopy of water around the world. When the flood began, the water poured down out of the sky, something never before seen.
As Noah’s wife, Mrs. Noah probably had to endure the same ridicule and torment as her husband from her mocking neighbors. However, despite these taunts and jeers, it appears she never lost faith in God or her husband.
What Her Actions Teach Noah, his wife and family, collected all the things necessary to keep themselves and the animals safe and well-fed during their time in the ark. They worked steadily until they finished everything they had been told to do, and God held off on the flood until this special family was ready. The text indicates Mrs. Noah had a strong work ethic. It’s not unreasonable to think she helped find and prepare food for her family and the animals coming along with them, too. This would also indicate she was probably active and fit for her age.
After a very long time, everything was done, and it was time to “load up.” Her faith is once again demonstrated in her final act before the flood. She didn’t have to take those final steps and actually get in the ark, but she did. Then, as the Bible says, “the Lord shut them in.”
Genesis 7:23 describes what happened as the waters fell from the sky and erupted from the earth, flooding the world. “Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; people and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark.” God had invited them to obey and be saved, and He was faithful to deliver them in response to their obedience.
After the Flood Mrs. Noah and her family remained in that ark for almost a year. We know she survived the flood, along with her family members. Though she is not mentioned again, it isn’t a big leap to conclude she continued to stay at Noah’s side in the “new world” as she had in the former one.
At this point she had seen firsthand the provision of God and his faithfulness in preserving them. Now she became the "second Eve," because all the children born after the flood came through her line. It is also through her son, Shem, that the Jewish nation came – and, eventually, the Messiah, Jesus Christ! And so the world had to start anew from scratch. Imagine the hardship these women faced when everything they ever knew and had was completely gone. No house, no friends and neighbors, no help for the household tasks. So it was that Mrs. Noah and her daughters-in-law became God’s fresh start for womanhood.
The Last We Know of Her Genesis 8:20 tells us “Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it.” The final glimpse we get of this godly man and, I’m sure, his wife with him, is an act of faithfulness. They are thanking God for their deliverance.
Even though we learn no more about her in scripture, what we can determine is that she must have been a most remarkable woman.