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I am kinda confused about prophets. I've searched a lot, but still I can't find an appropriate answer.

The Question:

Was Noah a prophet?

and if he was;

Was Noah prophesied in the Bible or Torah?

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    Welcome to the site! It might help if you familiarized yourself with the term "prophet". A prophet doesn't need to be prophesied abut. A Prophet is merely a mouthpiece of God. Noah never went out specifically to be a prophet, but I'm pretty sure he told his neighbors why he was building that boat. Mar 14, 2014 at 1:53
  • This next has nothing to do with the quality of your question, it's just standard to help new visitors avoid misunderstanding the site (as I did at first.) As a new visitor, I'd recommend checking out the following two posts, which are meant to help newcomers "learn the ropes": help page and How we are different than other sites? Mar 14, 2014 at 1:54
  • A related answer on prophecy.
    – user3961
    Jun 23, 2014 at 19:49
  • Are prophets prophesied, or do they prophesy?
    – Andrew
    Sep 29, 2016 at 15:56
  • Do prophesying necessitate a future prediction? :)
    – pehkay
    Sep 30, 2016 at 13:06

6 Answers 6

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He was a prophet by the time of Peter and therefore a prophet in the Bible:

2 Peter 2:5 NIV

If he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others;

In the Torah, the word "נָבִיא" is used to describe him.

In Hebrew, the word נָבִיא (navi), "spokesperson", traditionally translates as "prophet".

Therefore:

Was Noah a prophet? Yes

Was he prophesied in the bible or Torah? He was prophesied in the Torah and continued into the Bible.

and by clear definition:

proph·et [prof-it]

  1. a person who speaks for God or a deity, or by divine inspiration.
  2. a. a person chosen to speak for God and to guide the people of Israel: Moses was the greatest of Old Testament prophets. b. ( often initial capital letter ) one of the Major or Minor Prophets. c. one of a band of ecstatic visionaries claiming divine inspiration and, according to popular belief, possessing magical powers. d. a person who practices divination.
  3. one of a class of persons in the early church, next in order after the apostles, recognized as inspired to utter special revelations and predictions. 1 Cor. 12:28.
  4. the Prophet, Muhammad, the founder of Islam.
  5. a person regarded as, or claiming to be, an inspired teacher or leader.
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    Thanks a lot for the reply brother, much appreciated; but I guess the New Testament was written in Greek and not Hebrew, so does it matter if the word נָבִיא translates to "prophet" shouldn't we look at what the Greek word translates in too?
    – Max
    Mar 13, 2014 at 20:29
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    Good point, my assertion is that this supports Noah being a prophet in the Torah. I'll consider rewording that section. Mar 14, 2014 at 13:24
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    After further consideration, I believe this part of the question "is Noah a prophet in the Torah" may be better located on judaism.stackexchange.com I will be doing it a disservice by attempting to speak for them here. In the context of Christianity.SE, I can say that he was already a prophet. He was before, during, and after the formation of Christianity. Mar 14, 2014 at 13:36
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Yes, Noah was a prophet. He was the mediator between God and people. God told him about the flood that was to come. He told the people, but they did not believe. So Noah was definitely a prophet from God Almighty.

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  • Please specify a Bible or Torah reference for the statement "He told the people, but they did not believe".
    – jKevinBarr
    Oct 1, 2022 at 23:29
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I like Aaron's observation that in Genesis 6:13 God declares to Noah that He has already decided the fate of the other people, so there was no need for Him to send them a prophet to deliver a message. Compare that to the reluctant prophet Jonah (universally agreed to be a prophet including a direct quote from Jesus in Matt 12:39) who God sent to give the Ninevites a message to accept the truth from God to replace their ignorance, which they accepted, then repented and were spared.

However, as a more generic term a prophet receives prophecies from a higher power and then probably but not necessarily shares them with others by prophesying, either willingly for God or like Balaam, a non-Jewish "prophet for hire" (diviner, soothsayer) that God redirected into receiving and sharing His message instead.

Even though Noah was mostly just following God's lead without knowing details of the future, God did tell him He was going to end all flesh before He started giving him instructions, so Noah was a prophet that received prophecy even if not a prophet prophesying to others.

But was he a "prophet" of the Bible, a messenger for God?

Excerpted from Easton’s Bible Dictionary for "prophet": The "prophet" proclaimed the message given to him, as the "seer" beheld the vision of God. (See Numbers 12:6,8.) Thus a prophet was a spokesman for God; he spake in God's name and by his authority (Exodus 7:1). He is the mouth by which God speaks to men (Jeremiah 1:9; Isaiah 51:16), and hence what the prophet says is not of man but of God (2 Peter 1:20,21; comp. Hebrews 3:7; Acts 4:25; 28:25).

Also from Easton’s Bible Dictionary for "prophet": The foretelling of future events was not a necessary but only an incidental part of the prophetic office. The great task assigned to the prophets whom God raised up among the people was "to correct moral and religious abuses, to proclaim the great moral and religious truths which are connected with the character of God, and which lie at the foundation of his government."

Nowhere in the Easton's list of prophets and prophet types is Noah mentioned.

Bible verses about Noah

Bible verses about Noah (all are from the KJV):

  • Genesis 5:29:

    "And he called his name Noah, saying, This [same] shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the LORD hath cursed."

    His name refers to being a comforter, not a messenger

  • Genesis 6:9b:

    "...Noah was a just man [and] perfect in his generations, [and] Noah walked with God."

    this refers to Noah's righteous relationship with God, not a reference to a prophet's role

  • Ezekiel 14:14:

    "Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver [but] their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord GOD."

    this group would be spared because of their righteousness, not because God was pleased with them as prophets

  • Hebrews 11:7:

    "By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith."

    this carefully defines Noah as receiving a prophecy, and his actions from that showed the world something that made him righteous, but not a prophesying prophet

  • Peter-2 2:5:

    "And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth [person], a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly"

    saved because he was a "preacher of righteousness" with Strong's concordance definition in this verse as a "herald, preacher, proclaimer". Noah showed this by his walk with God and obedience to God's direction, not because he delivered specific prophecies to his observers.

Why Noah is not a prophet in the usual definition of the office

Oxford Languages definition for "herald" with my comments between parentheses:

  1. an official messenger bringing news. (the person, not a message from prophecy)

  2. a person or thing viewed as a sign that something is about to happen. (a symbol or event, not a message from prophecy)

Some commentaries attempt to elaborate on things Noah must have said to his observers while building the ark as prophesying (so as a prophet), but this is mere supposition with no verses to back it up. And God did not give specific prophecies to Noah to share, just the simple statement He was going to end the world, with no directive to share it.

So, No, Noah is not a "prophet" delivering specific prophecies to people by prophesying.

Note: Although some commentaries claim Abraham as the first prophet (so Noah could not be one), consider Jude 1:14 (whichever Enoch this is, he was before Noah, so before Abraham and refutes their claim): Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about them: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones 15 to judge everyone, and to convict all of them of all the ungodly acts they have committed in their ungodliness, and of all the defiant words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”

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  • Your answer seems to contain a good basis for answering the question, but it's missing a clear statement of whether Noah is a prophet (yes/no) and if yes, whether he was prophesied in the Bible or Torah. Oct 1, 2022 at 20:36
  • Thank you for the tip @Grateful, I think my addition is good. although I clearly need help with formatting (my efforts at adding two spaces for a line break do nothing, and I don't see how the fancier stuff is done).
    – jKevinBarr
    Oct 2, 2022 at 1:47
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    Great addition. I added formatting improvement that you can use as an example (see edit history). The markup language used across SE sites is a variant of Markdown documented here and here. It's quite powerful, you can even format a table. Have fun! Oct 2, 2022 at 7:50
  • pardon my error for using the name Moses, I meant Noah there
    – jKevinBarr
    Oct 2, 2022 at 10:54
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Beyond what the NT says about him, we can recognize Noah as a prophet by the fact that Gensis shows him being warned God coming flood, after which he builds the ark, saves his family and thereby insures the continued existence of humankind:

God said to Noah, “I have decided to put an end to every creature, for the earth is filled with wickedness because of them; therefore I am going to destroy them along with the earth... Understand that I am bringing a flood—floodwaters on the earth to destroy every creature under heaven with the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will die. But I will establish My covenant with you, and you will enter the ark with your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives."... He did everything that God had commanded him. (Gen 6:13-22)

In rabbinical tradition, Noah preached to his contemporaries, hoping they would repent and join him on the ark. Sadly, he suffered violent persecution at their hands. This is supported by the NT in 1 Peter 3:20, which refers to those "who formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark." In Islamic tradition, Noah is considered one of the six principal prophets. In Jewish condition, too, he is a prophet. However, unlike in Islam, this does not rule out his making mistakes. (See Noah in the Jewish Encyclopedia.)

God hoped for the people's repentance

There is reason to believe that if Noah's prophecies had been heeded, other people beside his family would be saved. We can see this from the prophecy of Jonah 3 where God is happy not to fulfill Jonah's prophecy, and also from Jer. 18:8, where he says: "if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will repent of the evil that I intended to do to it."

This idea is also hinted in in 1 Peter 3:20, which refers to those to whom Jesus preached: "who formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark."

To conclude: the verdict of all three Abrahamic religions is that Noah was indeed a prophet, and one of the most important prophets in history.

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Please note that any one can be the mouthpiece of God at any giving period of time and that is called the manifestation of God;note Saul prophesied in 1Samuel and the people said "is Saul also amongst the prophets"? that did not qualify Saul. Note that a preacher may not be a prophet; Noah was a preacher(2pt.2:5). One message for 120 years, God will send a rain, repent, and the way of escape is that you MUST get in the boot. Qualification of a prophet is that: you must be call from your mother's womb by God(Jeremiah 1:5) and Apostles, Galatians 1:15. Let us not add to the word, neither can we subtract from it.

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I am the voice of caution:

enter image description here

Freemason rightly brings us to the only NT text supporting his claim. He concludes that "Noah was a prophet by the time of Peter." He thus rightly presumes that Noah was not regarded as a prophet at any earlier time in the bible. Here is the text:

2 Peter 2:5 NIV

If he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others.

In the original Greek: Νῶε=Noah is designated as δικαιοσύνης κήρυκα=herald/preacher of righteousness. Thus, it would seem that Noah is not specifically designated as a prophet. The intent of 2 Peter 2:5 is that the flood was God's response to the ungodly BUT, that being said, God spared Noah who was a beacon of righteousness. God makes no provisions for Noah to preach to the ungodly. Thus, it would seem that 2 Peter 2:5 does not have God giving a prophetic mission to Noah.

The narrative of Genesis likewise never speaks of God giving Noah a mission to be his prophet [mouthpiece] to the people. Check the text out for yourself:

6:11 Now the earth was corrupt in God's sight, and the earth was filled with violence.6:12 And God saw that the earth was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted its ways upon the earth.6:13 And God said to Noah, "I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence because of them; now I am going to destroy them along with the earth.6:14 Make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. . . .

Noah's mission from God is to build the ark that will save his family and all God's creatures as well. These are the innocent ones. God says, "I have determined to make an end. . . ." No where does God say, "I have determined to make an end of the ungodly if they do not repent." Hence, readers of Gen 6 would not be inclined to see Noah as God's chosen prophet. Rather, Noah is righteous and this determines God's choice to save him and his family.

In the Letter to the Hebrews we find an explicit reference to the faith of Noah: “By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith” (Heb 11:7).

Thus, Noah trusted God, and he accordingly built the ark to save “his household.” Nothing is said regarding any attempt to save others.

The Jewish rabbis were later to reflect upon the fact that Noah was not one bit concerned that the flood would indiscriminatingly destroy hundreds of thousands of innocent persons along with the guilty. For that reason, the rabbis judged that Noah who was the first person named as “a just man” (Gen 5:24) in Genesis was not chosen to become the father of God’s chosen people. Only in the case of Abraham does God encounter someone willing to challenge God’s decisions and to force God to readjust how he uses his power to bring justice to the earth (Gen 18:17-33). Thus the rabbis were not prone to think of Noah as a prophet. Abraham was understood as the first prophet.

enter image description here

Within ancient Judaism, the living had no contact with the dead; hence, in principal, Jesus had no possibility of preaching to those who drowned at the time of Noah’s flood. During the first quarter of the second century; however, a new epistle, 1 Peter, was first circulated that gave an entire new slant to the efficacy of the death of Jesus. According to the author of this epistle, Jesus’ death afforded him the opportunity to offer his message to those who had died and were abiding in Hades awaiting the general resurrection of the dead on the last day. In 1 Peter, one finds the phrase “Christ also suffered for sins” (3:18) being used in connection with the explanation that “he was put to death in the flesh . . . and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison [ἐν φυλακῇ πνεύμασιν] who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah” (3:18-20). The phrase “spirits in prison” was being interpreted as making reference to those souls who were imprisoned in Hades after their deaths.

In sum: We have examined three key texts that fail to present Noah as have received a prophetic mission. Then we noticed that the Jewish rabbis were disappointed that Noah had no concern for the ungodly; hence, he would have been a poor candidate for a prophetic mission. Finally, 1 Peter 3:18-20 and the early Church Fathers presented Jesus as preaching to those who died at the time of the great flood. More discussion on this can be found here: https://www.academia.edu/s/b56e1b238f

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  • Welcome to Christianity.SE and thank you for your contribution. When you get a chance, please take the tour to understand how the site works and how it is different than others.
    – agarza
    Sep 26, 2022 at 4:10
  • @Aaron Milavec - welcome! I'd be interested to know how you got the impression that the Rabbis said that "Noah was not one bit concerned that the flood would indiscriminatingly destroy hundreds of thousands of innocent persons." See my answer for evidence to the contrary. "Two rabbis, three opinions" they say... but I'd like to know which rabbis said Noah was unconcerned. Sep 28, 2022 at 19:37
  • Dear Dan F. Here is one of many secondary sources: <jtsa.edu/torah/the-noah-of-genesis-and-the-noah-of-the-rabbis> Appreciate your question. ~Aaron Sep 29, 2022 at 17:07
  • But this reaches the opposite conclusion to yours; rather than Noah being unconcerned, "The Rabbis themselves could not imagine that one described as a tzadik and tamim would not be active in saving others from imminent punishment. " Oct 2, 2022 at 13:01

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