Naamah: Midrash and Aggadah

by Tamar Kadari

According to the Rabbis, Naamah was Noah’s wife; as her name indicates, her actions were pleasing (ne’imim—Gen. Rabbah 23:3). According to another view, however, she acted improperly, for she beat on a drum and drew people to engage in idolatry, and her musical activity increased corruption among people. This tradition is apparently connected with a different interpretation of the name Naamah, from ne’imah (melody and song) (Targum Pseudo-Jonathan on Gen. 4:22).

The A type of non-halakhic literary activitiy of the Rabbis for interpreting non-legal material according to special principles of interpretation (hermeneutical rules).midrash (Midrash ha-Gadol, Gen. Rabbah 4:22) relates that Naamah was the most beautiful woman in the world, so much so that she caused the ministering angels to fall prey to her loveliness for they thought she was one of them. As it is said (Gen. 6:2): “The sons of God saw how beautiful the daughters of men were.” The late Midrash and the Zohar developed the figure of Naamah as a seducer of men and even of demons. Naamah was the wife of Shamadon and the union with this fiend produced Asmodeus (Ashmedai), the king of the demons. It is also related that Naamah and Lilith harm infants and abuse people in their sleep (Zohar, Bereshit 4:7).

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Naamah/Noah's wife (Gen. 4:22; Gen. 6:9-9:17)

Not long after creation, God brings a great flood on the earth to destroy the wickedness of humankind. Only Noah and his family are saved. Noah's wife is mentioned in the narrative but she is not given a name. Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, in a modern midrash, tells a story about Naamah. She writes that while Noah is saving pairs of animals by taking them aboard the ark, Naamah is collecting every seed and bulb so that the plants of the earth will also be saved from the flood.

Naamah goes with her husband and children into the ark. She endures while the world is destroyed and rebuilt around her. She preserves life and enters a new world to raise future generations. She holds the tools of life. She is the netzach in netzach, the deepest urge to endure. We are most like Naamah when we endure through the storm, prepared to create the future.

How to cite this page

Kadari, Tamar. "Naamah: Midrash and Aggadah." Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. 27 February 2009. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on May 12, 2021) <>.


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