Noah’s Wife: WHAT WAS SHE?

What little information we have about Noah’s wife from Scripture tells us one thing: – she was the man’s wife. (I write this piece for the purpose of study.[i] I have no intention of maligning her memory or of anyone else associated with her.)

Mrs. Noah first appears in the text in Gen 6:18 (“I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark – you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you”). Next, we find her when the family entered the ark (“On that very day Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham, Japhet, together with his wife and the wives of his three sons, entered the ark” (7:13, also in v7). The final mention of Mrs. Noah occurs after the Flood had subsided. God commanded Noah to “Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives” (8:18).  All told, Noah’swife is referred to 4x in the Genesis Flood story.

This is my argument: I have reason to believe that the (genetic) bloodline of the giants can be traced back to Mrs. Noah.

I understand I am making a bold assertion and I am aware I speak a lonely voice here. But hear me out. I am going to lay out my case.   The 4 lines of evidence I present below constitute my case. I leave you to make your conclusion.

FIRST, the mention of Noah’s wife is confined to the scripture text above. Noah’s “wife” occurs 4 times in the text which form a chiasm with an ABBA pattern.

For reason of economy I use the word “family” to refer to 8 persons: Noah, his wife, their 3 sons and their wives. Very quickly, note that parallels A and A1 indicate the beginning and end of the story. God promised the family they will enter the ark (A), and they did (B and B1), at the end of which the family came out of the ark intact (A1).  It is a success story, pure and simple.

It is also written in the form of a chiasm. Noah’s wife is not mentioned again outside the confines of the chiasm, either before or after it. This means the importance of the wife stands only in her connection with the ark. The chiasm as it were limits “wife” within its confines. What we find out about her outside the chiasm is another story. This leads to the SECOND stage of my argument.

SECOND, the ark story ends when the family exit it. Noah then proceeds to assemble an altar and offers a sacrifice to God which He accepts. Then God pronounces His blessing upon the family. Understand that the 8 members of the Noah family are now the only people on earth after the Flood. The divine blessing which scholars call the “Noahic covenant” starts with these words: “Then God blessed Noah and his sons saying to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.”[ii]

Did you notice something strange in that simple sentence?  I am not referring to the “Be-fruitful-and-multiply” part. That part is not strange at all.  We first read this phraseology in the Creation story. The blessing that God gave to Adam and Eve after their creation contains these same exact words: “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply’” (Gen 1:28). In fact, the blessing upon Noah to populate the earth contains a lot of the same blessing God bestowed upon Adam and Eve. And that is just my point.

The divine blessing of procreation in the story of human origin after Creation involved both husband and wife. At least, that was the case with Adam and Eve. “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.’”  The blessing to fill the earth applied to both Adam and Noah. But why was Eve in the blessing of Adam and Noah’s wife not in his?[iii] (Is the Genesis writer a man of few words?) I appeal to the law of first-mention here. This is why I find the missing mention of Noah’s wife in the vital blessing to “fill the earth” after the Flood that decimated all living things from the face of the earth, CRYING FOR ATTENTION! This is what I find strange.

Let me take this further. God blessed both Adam and Eve in the story of the origin of the human family. But the text omits mention of the wife of Noah in a similar story of origin.  Is there a reason for this exclusionary provision? Is the omission an oblique authorial intention to say something about the wives by not actually saying anything about them? I now call your attention to what I describe as the drinking narrative when Noah made a fool of himself.  Although the wife is not expressly mentioned here, I suspect her presence anyway.

THIRD, the uncovering of Noah that showed his “nakedness” also reveals the presence of his wife, although the text does not say so explicitly.

Here is the next crucial information that I believe involved Noah’s wife:


Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard. When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent. Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father’s nakedness and told his brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked backward and covered their father’s nakedness.Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father’s nakedness.


Ok, Ok. Stop already! I get it the first time. Noah got so drunk he didn’t know he had inadvertently revealed his “nakedness.” There is no need to mention this embarrassing item 3 times! But the writer, who earlier displayed economy of words, actually mentions Noah’s “nakedness” not once, but three times! What is your deal here, Mr. Genesis writer?

Put your thinking cap on. Do you honestly think Noah got drunk “inside his tent” alone”? Are we to suppose that Mrs. Noah was out there in the fields planting corn while Noah was celebrating a good harvest “inside his tent” – alone?

(WARNING! Skip this part because it might offend you. Where do husbands and wives feel free to “uncover” themselves if not “inside their tents”?    I argue it is not the drinking part that is at issue here. The drinking is incidental to Noah laying “uncovered in his tent.” “He became drunk” occurs only once; while the writer mentions “nakedness” 3x in this brief narrative. And I argue that there is more to the word “nakedness” than prurient Old Testament students would care to allow on this particular story.)

 (RESUME your reading here): When God made taboo the sexual relationship among members of the same family (incest) God carefully uses “uncovering of nakedness” as euphemism for the sex act. So that “uncovering a person’s nakedness” means to have a sex relationship with that person. To “uncover the nakedness” of a relative is to have illicit sex with that person.


       The nakedness of your father or the nakedness of your mother you shall not uncover. She is your mother; you shall not uncover her nakedness. The nakedness of your father’s wife you shall not uncover; it is your father’s nakedness.[iv]


Before Israel reached Canaan, God forewarned the nation about the insidious Canaanite lifestyle:


“You must not do as they do in the land of Canaan. …Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, because this is how the nations that I am going to drive out before you became defiled. Even the land is defiled; so I punished it for its sin, and the land vomited out its inhabitants. …Everyone who does any of these detestable things- such a person must be cut off from their people.”[v]


So the incest law was instituted in Leviticus, probably 900 years after Noah.[vi] Are we then to suppose that God’s understanding of incestuous relationships evolved over the years? That He thought otherwise during the early years of Noah’s time?  I will be blunt here. The “uncovering” of the “nakedness” of Noah was a sexual relationship that one of the guys did on Noah’s wife. It was Ham who “saw” his father’s “nakedness,”[vii]presumably after Noah had sex with his wife. Noah could not care less about “covering” himself. (They were “inside his tent,” weren’t they?) Ham saw his opportunity when he found Noah and his wife in that stage of undress inside the tent. In other words, within the meaning of the Levitical proscription, Ham went in to lay with his own mother![viii]

Canaan was the fruit of that sexual encounter.[ix] That is the absurdity of it all.  And that, to my mind, was why Noah cursed Canaan, and not Ham. Noah had no reason to curse Ham. God’s covenant blessing (to populate the earth) rested on him as well as upon the rest of the men.[x]

He cursed Canaan.[xi] And the curse was prophetic.  Canaan’s Nephilim DNA was the origin and source of all the giants bred in the land of Canaan centuries later.

Let me pursue this point from another angle. The writer inserts an explanatory note that says “Ham was the father of Canaan” in the matter-of-fact sentence about Noah and his 3 sons (9:18). Why does the name of Canaan even merit mention here?  This intriguing Ham-Canaan connection is repeated in the drinking narrative by a writer who wrote with economy of words! It is as though the writer was insisting that it was Ham who was the father of Canaan.  But why?  Look at the chiasm below:

Item A and A1 are parallels bracketing the middle. Look at the middle of the chiasm (B/B). What am I saying?

I am saying this – if my understanding of the uncovering of Noah’s nakedness is correct – that the author wants to tell us obliquely that although the mother[xii] of Canaan was Noah’s wife his father was not Noah but Ham!

Canaan was a Nephilim.[xiii]

I rest my case.



[i] This article concludes an earlier article I wrote that appeared on this website (“The Giants: Who Were They and Where Did They Come From?”).

[ii] The wording of the text shows God addressed only the men.  The repopulation of the earth will issue from the divinely-blessed gene pool of Noah and his sons from here on out. At the end of the Table of Nations we find these concluding words: “These are the clans of Noah’s sons according to their lines of descent, within their nations. From these the nations spread over the earth after the flood”(Gen 10:1).

[iii]And the wives of his sons for that matter?

[iv] Lev18:7-8. Read the entire chapter.

[v] Lev 18:3,24-25, 29.

[vi]My datesfor the Flood (2400 BC) and the Exodus (1446 BC) leave 945 years between them.

[vii] Ham saw Noah “uncovered” may mean he saw Noah in bed with his wife inside the tent. The text does not require this interpretation, but it does not prohibit it either. The parents were drunk and they did not know what happened next. I think what happened next was Ham. I find it odd that the text says Ham after the incident went to tell his “two brothers outside.”  If this means “outside the tent” then they must have seen Ham go “inside the tent.” Or didthey know Ham was in there all along drinking, moderately perhaps? I wonder what time or day or night are we talking about?

[viii] See 1 Cor 5:1. “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: a man has his father’s wife.”

[ix] I find it interesting that the writer inserts an explanatory information that Ham was the father of Canaan in a list of Noah’s 3 sons (9:18b).  Noah had other grandchildren, so what compels the writer to specify Canaan here?  And the writer repeats this same information thus, “Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father’s nakedness” (9:22).  The next sentence is instructive: “These were the three sons of Noah and from them came the people who were scattered over the earth” (9:19). The writer includes Canaan in the list of Noah’s three sons, but omits mention of Canaan when he tells his readers the that the people who “were scattered over the earth” came from the 3 sons of Noah. (Compare 9:18 with 10:32). Is the writer suggesting that Canaan was an anomaly in the emerging picture of the human race, that he should not have been there in the first place?

[x] In my discussion with a brother, Richard Novick, he ventured the question as to why, if the mother was the source of the Nephilim gene, did the 3 sons did not inherit the Nephilim gene considering that they had a common mother? In the same vein, I was surprised at my wife’s perceptiveness when I brought this matter up with her. She queried me thus, “Well, if that was the case with Noah’s wife, would not each of her sons have gotten it?” I thought these were good questions. And I think that the answer may lay in what we now know in genetics as “Dominant and Recessive Genes.”  I understand the genotype is a template of a person’s genetic code that can be twitted in a lab – a case of nurture over nature. The gene’s phenotype characteristics may not pass to offspring directly; character shadings latent in the gene may be “activated” later on in life. And then there is God who can circumcise the heart quicker than the time you say “hello”! Still the issue of Nephilim DNA now interposes an interesting problem into my theory insofar as it relates to the lineage of Shem that I find worthy of note (Gen 10:21-32; 11:10-30).  (As I recall, one brother of Joseph, according to Jasher’s chronicles, could roar like a lion that can be heard over all Egypt. And Nimrod was known to have possessed strength and agility that were way beyond normal, according to Jasher’s, to say nothing of his post-diluvian size.)  Be that as it may, I do not think the problem is entirely insurmountable. For the sake of argument, let us suppose that Shem had the Nephilim gene, which the text does not say; would that be the end for Shem then? Why do we think God had to wait for Abram to get past his natural potency to father a child before God would open Sarah’s womb? Paul insisted that Abraham and Sarah became parents of Isaac by faith, not by works (Rom 4:16-22).  Something in Abraham died. And then, at some later point, something in Abraham came to life – by faith. That is, Isaac was not conceived “by works.”  Or are you sure the soteriological sense exhausts the meaning of “by faith,” effectively excluding thereby God’s intervention to quicken Abraham physically? Read this: “By faith Abraham, even though he was past age – and Sarah herself was barren – was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who made the promise. And from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore” (Heb 11:11-12, emphasis is mine).

And even if Ham’s wife is dead to rights the carrier of the Nephilim gene which she passed on to Canaan their son yet the Nephilim gene did not manifest in EVERY child of Canaan, that is, not every family member of the clan of Canaan was a giant. The Genesis writer may omit certain facts in a story, or not know about them, but we should not edit God out of whole picture. He was building a lineage that would finally lead to Abraham.

[xi] It cannot be that Noah cursed Canaan as soon as he became sober. The NIV goes that way.I do not find it necessary to go that way.  My theory resolves crucial issues in the narrative.  If Noah cursed Canaan as soon as he was sober then Canaan already was of sufficient age to perform the sex act at the time. But this small item is critical: Noah cursed Canaan although it was Ham who “saw” Noah in his stage of undress.  Wouldn’t we assume the reader to naturally expect Noah to blame his son for not doing anything after making the “discovery,” instead of Canaan if he was then available to Noah to put a curse on him?  I believe Noah realized only later thathis wife’s pregnancy of Canaan could not have beenhis own doing.  That is why the record maintains he only had 3 sons and the record dutifully supplies their names4x times as Shem, Ham and Japheth. And that is why the writer felt compelled to add a statement after mentioning the 3 sons of Noah, thus: “Ham was the father of Canaan” (9:18). And even on that fateful day inside the tent the writer again calls the reader’s attention to this important information: “Ham, the father of Canaan” (9:22a). These citations are not incidental. The writer is making a point! The son of Noah’s wife was fathered by Ham, not by Noah. Since Noah’s wife gave birth to Canaan the kid was deemed a son in Noah’s household. But in truth and in fact Ham was the physicalfather of Canaan. (“When Noah awoke from his wine and found out….” The Hebrew connective “and” does not always require the sense of immediate sequence. See use of “and” in Isaiah 9:6 and compare Luke 4:18-19 with Isa 61:1-2.)

[xii] I am aware that my position is not shared by anyone I know who has studied Gen 9:20-23. There are those who take the position that Ham’s wife was the carrier of the Nephilim gene, which she passed directly to their son, Canaan. This view, admittedly, is easily defensible. And it also has the effect of sanitizing Noah’s wife and, by extension, Noah himself.

[xiii] In an earlier article that I wrote about the Giants I presented evidence that traced their bloodline to Canaan. A giant named Anak is mentioned in Joshua’s chronicles. His children, the Anakim, obviously lived on a mountain and Caleb wanted it. “Give me this mountain of which the Lord spoke on that day” he asked Joshua; “for you heard in that day how the Anakim were there, and that the cities were great and fortified” (Josh 14:12).  The Caleb story proceeds: “And Joshua blessed him and gave Hebron to Caleb. …The name of Hebron formerly was Kirjath Arba (Arba was the greatest  man among the Anakim).”  The next text provides the name of Hebron giants: “Now to Caleb the son of Jephuneh he gave a share among the children of Judah, according to the commandment of the Lord to Joshua, namely, Kirjath Arba, which is Hebron. (Arba was the father of Anak). Caleb drove out the three sons of Anak from there: Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai, the children of Anak.” (15:13-14).

One thought on “Noah’s Wife: WHAT WAS SHE?

  1. The Genesis text, as noted in the article, does not assign a name to the wife of Noah. An ancient Jewish midrash, Genesis Rabbah, believed to have been authored between 300 and 500 A.D., includes a brief mention of Noah’s wife by her name: “And the sister of Tubal-Cain was Naamah. R. Abba b. Kahana said: ‘Naamah was Noah’s wife; and why was she called Naamah? Because her deeds were pleasing (ne’imim). The Rabbis said: Naamah was a woman of a different stamp, for the name denotes that she sang (man’emeth) to the timbrel in honour of idolatry.'” (XXIII. 2-3] MIDRASH RABBAH) The 11th century Jewish scholar, Rashi, also mentioned Naamah as Noah’s wife in his commentary on Genesis 4:22. From a genealogical point of view, she was the daughter of Lamech who was in the lineage of Cain. If indeed she was the wife of Noah–something not attested to in Scripture–this would have placed Naamah as the lone descendant of Cain to survive the flood. The midrash casts Noah’s wife, as does this article, in a negative light. According to the midrash, “she sang. . .in honour of idolatry.” This explanation sought to explain the continuity of evil in the world, even after the flood.

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