And he called his name Noah
Which signifies rest and comfort; for rest gives comfort, and comfort flows from rest, see ( 2 Samuel 14:17 ) , where a word from the same root is rendered "comfortable", and agrees with the reason of the name, as follows: saying, this same shall comfort us, concerning our work and toil of
our hands, because of the ground, which the Lord hath cursed;
this he spake by a spirit of prophecy, foreseeing what his son would be, and of what advantage to him and his family, and to the world, both in things temporal and spiritual. In things temporal: the earth was cursed for the sin of man immediately after the fall, and continued under it to this time, bringing forth thorns and thistles in great abundance of itself, which occasioned much trouble to root and pluck them up, and nothing else, without digging, and planting, and sowing; and being barren through the curse, it was with great difficulty men got a livelihood: now Noah eased them in a good measure of their toil and trouble, by inventing instruments of ploughing, as Jarchi suggests, which they had not before, but threw up the ground with their hands, and by the use of spades, or such like things, which was very laborious; but now, by the use of the plough, and beasts to draw it, their lives were made much more easy and comfortable; hence he is said to begin to be an "husbandman", or a "man of the earth", that brought agriculture to a greater perfection, having found out an easier and quicker manner of tilling the earth: and as he was the first that is said to plant a vineyard, if he was the inventor of wine, this was another way in which he was an instrument of giving refreshment and comfort to men, that being what cheers the heart of God and men, see ( Genesis 9:20 ) and if the antediluvians were restrained from eating of flesh, and their diet was confined to the fruits of the earth; Noah, as Dr. Lightfoot F4 observes, would be a comfort in reference to this, because to him, and in him to all the world, God would give liberty to eat flesh; so that they were not obliged to get their whole livelihood with their hands out of the ground: and moreover, as Lamech might be apprised of the flood by the name of his father, and the prediction of his grandfather, he might foresee that he and his family would be saved, and be the restorer of the world, and repeople it, after the destruction of it by the flood. And he may have respect to comfort in spiritual things, either at first taking him to be the promised seed, the Messiah, in whom all comfort is; or however a type of him, and from whom he should spring, who would deliver them from the curse of the law, and from the bondage of it, and from toiling and seeking for a righteousness by the works of it; or he might foresee that he would be a good man, and a preacher of righteousness, and be a public good in his day and generation.
F4 Works, vol. 1. p. 9.