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Once again on Noah’s lost son in the Qur’ān: the Enochic connection

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In the Qur’ān, a son of Noah dies in the flood because, the Qur’ān states, he is not actually of Noah’s family. The passage in question (Q 11:46) was puzzling to classical Muslim exegetes and modern scholars alike, and the search for parallel narratives in previous biblical and parabiblical texts has been largely unsuccessful. Another Qur’ānic passage that portrays Noah’s wife in negative terms (Q 66:10) led some early Muslim scholars to consider the possibility that she cheated on his husband but this interpretation was later dismissed on the principle of prophetic infallibility. In this paper, the story of Noah’s perished son is examined in the light of Second Temple Jewish texts, in particular the First Book of Enoch and the Genesis Apocryphon, where the sexual corruption of the fallen angels leads to cases of doubtful paternity. In these sources Noah’s own birth is recounted as a wondrous event that makes Noah’s father Lamech suspect that his wife had the child from an angel. Lamech’s grandfather Enoch eventually confirms Noah’s righteous conception and birth but the narrative motifs around antediluvian sexual decadence, conjugal disloyalty and miraculous birth stories survive into other Second Temple Jewish and early Christian texts. I argue that the Qur’ān, too, was aware of these narrative motifs and the story of Noah’s son constitutes a unique Qur’ānic spin on certain of these Enochic themes.

Corresponding author: Suleyman Dost, University of TorontoDepartment for the Study of Religion, 80-391 Beechgrove Dr, Toronto, Ontario M1E 2R1, Canada, E-mail:

My thanks to Gabriel S. Reynolds, who read and commented on an earlier draft of this article. I am also grateful for the feedback I received from the two anonymous reviewers of Asiatische Studien.


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Received: 2021-12-14
Accepted: 2022-05-06
Published Online: 2022-06-02
Published in Print: 2022-05-25

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