Genesis 6:9-22; 8:14-19
GENESIS 5-10: THE CONTEXT
Noah’s story begins with his genealogy in Genesis 5 and continues through the listing of his descendants (known as the Table of Nations) in Genesis 10.
The flood story has its roots in 6:1-8, where God sees the wickedness of humankind and is sorry that he had created them (6:6). But then God acknowledges Noah as righteous and instructs him to build an ark to save his family and the animal kingdom (6:9-22).
In chapter 7, we have the story of the great flood.
Chapter 8 tells of the receding waters (8:1-12), the debarkation from the ark at God’s command (8:13-19), and God’s promise “will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake…; neither will I ever again strike everything living” (8:21).
That promise is expanded in chapter 9 to a blessing of Noah and his sons (9:1-7) and the establishment of a covenant never again to cut off all flesh by the waters of a flood (9:8:17).
While it would be easy to be distracted by the dramatic details of this story––the many animals, the size of the ark, and the relentless progression of the flooding––this is really a story about God’s judgment and God’s grace. While God’s judgment can be harsh, this story assures us that he will provide for the survival of a faithful remnant
THE STRUCTURE OF NOAH’S STORY
Bernhard Anderson suggested the following structure for Noah’s story, and many commentaries include it. The structure is a chiasmus, a common literary form in the Old Testament. A chiasmus is composed of a series of parallel (mirror-image) phrases in the following format, where A’ parallels A—B’ parallels B—and C’ parallels C, as follows:
In a chiasmus, the movement proceeds in one direction until it reaches a center-point (D in the above example), and then it reverses. The chiasmus focuses our attention on this center phrase. That phrase is the hinge upon which the story turns—the key to understanding the story.
The chiasmus for the Noah story is as follows:
A. Violence in creation (6:11-12) B. First divine speech: resolve to destroy (6:13-22)
C. Second divine speech: “enter ark” (7:1-10)
D. Beginning of flood (7:11-16)
E. The rising flood (7:17-24)
F. God remembers Noah
E’ The receding flood (8:1-5)
D’ Drying of the earth (8:6-14)
C’ Third divine speech: “leave ark” (9:1-17)
B’ God’s resolve to preserve order (8:20-22)
A’ Fourth divine speech: covenant (9:1-17)
In a chiasmus, the focus is on the center statement. Therefore, the focus in these verses is “God remembers Noah.” That is the hinge upon which this story turns –– the key to understanding Noah’s story.
THE GILGAMESH EPIC:
Many commentaries on this text mention the Gilgamesh Epic, a Babylonian story similar in some ways to the Genesis flood story. They note that the Israelites would have been exposed to this epic during their Babylonian captivity and speculate that the Genesis flood story is based, at least in part, on this Babylonian epic. While that is possible, the two stories diverge significantly at a number of points:
• In the Gilgamesh Epic, the gods set out to destroy humankind, but in the Genesis story God sets out to preserve a remnant (Noah and his family).
• The Gilgamesh Epic involves many gods, but the Genesis story involves only one.
• In the Gilgamesh Epic, confusion reigns among the various gods, but in the Genesis story, God controls events decisively.
• In the Gilgamesh Epic, the boat is cube-shaped, 120 cubits (180 feet or 55 meters) long, high, and wide—not a seaworthy design. In the Genesis story, the ark is 300 cubits long x 50 cubits wide x 30 cubits high—a more seaworthy shape.
• The Gilgamesh ship has seven decks, but the Genesis ark has only three.
• In the Gilgamesh Epic, several unrelated families survive, but in the Genesis story only Noah and his family survive.
• In the Gilgamesh Epic, when the survivors make a sacrifice, the gods swarm around the offering like flies to consume it greedily. In the Genesis story, there is no mention of God consuming Noah’s sacrifice.
TWO ACCOUNTS (J/E AND P) FOR THE NOAH STORY:
While some scholars believe in a single author for the Noah story (Mathews, 352-355), there are several apparent inconsistencies that lead other scholars to believe that there were two authors, whom they refer to as J/E (the older Yahwist/Elohist source) and P (the later Priestly source). Some of the apparent inconsistencies are as follows:
• Two names are used for God—Elohim (6:9, 11-13, 22; 7:9, 16; 8:1, 15) and Yahweh (7:1, 5, 16; 8:20-21). None of the Yahweh verses are included in this lectionary reading.
• In 8:6-7, Noah sends out a raven, but in 8:8-12 he sends out a dove.
• In 6:19 God commands Noah to take one pair of every animal, but in 7:2, he commands Noah to take seven pairs of all clean animals.
• In 7:11 “all the fountains of the great deep were burst open, and the sky’s windows were opened,” reversing the separation of the waters “which were under the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse” (1:6-8). But in 7:12, “rain was on the earth forty days and forty nights.”
• In 7:12, it says, “rain was on the earth forty days and forty nights,” but in 7:24, it says, “The waters prevailed on the earth one hundred fifty days.”
• There appear to be two numbering systems at work in the flood account. The first system gives month, day, and year (7:11; 8:4-5, 13-15), but the second just mentions the number of days (7:4, 10, 12, 17, 24; 8:3, 6-7, 10, 12) (Hartley, 100-101).
While these differences suggest dual authorship, they fall short of a proof. There is room here for Christians with solid Biblical credentials to disagree—hopefully amicably.
PARALLELS BETWEEN NOAH AND ADAM:
Scholars have noted a number of parallels between Noah and Adam—parallels that depict Noah as the new Adam, the new father of all humankind:
• In the creation story, God made a dome to separate “the waters which were under the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse” (1:6-7)—but in the flood story, “all the fountains of the great deep were burst open, and the sky’s windows were opened” (7:11)—effectively reversing the creation narrative.
• In the creation story, “God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good” (1:31)—but in the flood story, “God saw the earth, and saw that it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth” (6:12).
• In the creation story, God created animals and humans (1:20-30). In the flood story, God saves animals and humans (8:1-19).
• In the creation story, God blessed the man and woman, and said, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it” (1:28). In the flood story, “God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, ‘Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth'” (9:1; see also 8:17).
• In the creation story, God gave the man and woman dominion “over every living thing that moves on the earth” (1:28). In the flood story, God gives Noah responsibility for insuring the survival of all the animals (6:19-21).
• In the creation story, Adam and Eve had three sons, Cain, Abel, and Seth (4:1-16; 5:3). In the flood story, Noah has three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth (6:10).
• In the creation story, one of Adam’s sons was cursed for murdering his brother (4:1-16). In the flood story, one of Noah’s sons is cursed for dishonoring his father (9:22, 25).
• In the creation story, in response to Adam’s sin, God cursed the ground, saying, “In toil you will eat of it all the days of your life,” effectively making him a tiller of the soil (3:17). In the flood story, Noah becomes the first person to plant a vineyard (9:20).
• In the creation story, the man and woman sinned by eating the fruit of the forbidden tree (3:1-7). In the flood story, Noah gets drunk on the fruit of a vine (9:21).
• In the creation story, God invited the man and woman to, “fill the earth, and subdue it” (1:28)—but in the flood story, “the earth was filled with violence” (6:11).
• In the creation story, the man and woman became “one flesh” (2:24)—but in the flood story, “all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth” (6:12).
• In the creation story, God created “swarms of living creatures” (1:20)—but in the flood story, “All flesh died that moved on the earth, including birds, livestock, animals, every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, and every man” (7:21).
• In the creation story, “God’s Spirit was hovering over the surface of the waters” (1:2). In the flood story, “God made a wind to pass over the earth. The waters subsided” (8:1).
Also, Noah is “the first man born after Adam’s death (a fact available to those with patience to add up the figures in 5:3-29)” (Towner, 85).
PARALLELS BETWEEN NOAH AND MOSES:
In like manner, scholars have noted a number of parallels between Noah and Moses, and consider Noah to be a prototype for Moses. In both accounts, there are references to:
• Clean and unclean animals (Genesis 7:2; 8:20; Leviticus 10:10; 11:32, etc.). The Genesis account preceded the Mosaic dietary laws, so clean and unclean in the earlier account had to refer only to the suitability for ritual sacrifice.
• Burnt offerings (Genesis 8:20; Exodus 10:25; 20:24; 24:5; 32:6).
• Lifeblood restrictions (Genesis 9:4-6; Exodus 23:18; 34:25; Leviticus 3:17).
• The number seven (Genesis 7:2-4, 10; 8:10, 12; Exodus 7:25; 12:15, 19; 13:6-7; 22:30; 23:15; 25:27; 29:30, 35, 37; 34:18; 37:23; 38:24-25, 28).
• The number forty (Genesis 7:4, 12, 17; 8:6; Exodus 16:35; 24:18; 26:19, 21; 34:28; 36:24, 26).
• The establishment of a covenant by God (Genesis 6:18; Exodus 6:4).
• Signs of a covenant, the rainbow (Genesis 9:12, 17) and the sabbath (Exodus 31:16-17).
• Teba, translated “ark” in the Genesis accounts (6:14-16, 18-19; 7:1, 7, 9, 13, 15, 17-18, 23; 8:1, 4, 6, 9-10, 13, 16, 19; 9:10, 18) and “basket” in the Exodus accounts (2:3, 5). These are the only places where the word teba is found in the Old Testament. In both cases, God used the teba to rescue people from water. The Hebrew word used for the Ark of the Covenant is aron –– not teba.
• God commanding a person to build an ark (Genesis 6:14-16) and a tabernacle (Exodus 25-27) and providing elaborate specifications.
• The use of pitch to seal the ark (Genesis 6:14) and the basket (Exodus 2:3).
• The exacting obedience of Noah (Genesis 22) and Moses (Exodus 40:16).
• The flood that drowned most humans (Genesis 7) and the waters that drowned the Egyptian army (Exodus 14).
• Dry land (Genesis 7:22; Exodus 14:21).
• The covering of Noah’s ark (Genesis 8:13) and the covering for the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 26:14).
• But most especially, Noah was the agent through whom God worked to save humankind from sin, and Moses is the agent through whom God worked to save Israel from slavery.
GENESIS 6:9-10. THE GENERATIONS OF NOAH
9This is the history of the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time. Noah walked with God. 10Noah became the father of three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
“This is the history of the generations of Noah” (v. 9a). This formula is repeated again and again in the book of Genesis (5:1; 10:1-7, 20, 22-23, 29, 31; 11:10, 27, etc.). Genealogy is very significant to the Hebrew people, because they enjoy an hereditary relationship with God. However, the hereditary nature of their relationship often leads them to take the relationship for granted and to stray from the obedience that God desires.
This verse describes Noah in three different ways, each of which denotes a quality that endears Noah to God:
“Noah was a righteous (saddiq) man” (v. 9b). Saddiq means just or righteous, and implies conduct that adheres to a standard. Once the Israelites have the Mosaic Law, saddiq will most often imply adherence to that law. Here, however, the law has not yet been given so Noah cannot adhere to it. He has been aware of God’s will, however, Even in the absence of the law, and he has been saddiq in his obedience to it. We see his further obedience in this story, where he follows God’s instructions exactly.
Saddiq is used to describe particular people, as is the case here. It is also used to describe God (Exodus 9:27; Ezra 9:15; Psalm 7:11), who is “the ultimate standard used to define justice and righteousness” (Baker and Carpenter, 938).
“blameless (tamim) among the people of his time” (v. 9c). Tamim means blameless or complete. It is used to describe sacrifices that are free from blemish (Exodus 12:5; Leviticus 1:3). It is also used to describe “the blamelessness of God’s way, knowledge, and Law (2 Sam. 22:31; Job 37:16; Ps. 19:7)” (Baker and Carpenter, 1232-1233). In this instance, it speaks of Noah’s moral blamelessness—his freedom from stain or blemish—which is the reason that God has chosen him and his family to serve as the surviving remnant after the flood.
We should not construe either saddiq or tamim to mean that Noah was sinless. He was not absolutely righteous and blameless (only Jesus met that standard), but is relatively more righteous and blameless than his contemporaries, whose ” every imagination…evil continually ” (6:5).
“Noah walked with God” (Elohim) (v. 9d). The phrase, “walked with God,” is used only of Enoch (5:22, 24) and Noah. We get some sense of the honor of being so described when we read of Enoch that he “walked with God, and he was not, for God took him” (5:24)—usually assumed to mean that he was translated directly into heaven without having to suffer death.
El means god (note the small g), and can be used for any god. Elohim is plural, and can apply to any gods. However, when used to refer to Yahweh, as in this verse, the usage is called “the majestic plural,” acknowledging that all that constitutes deity is summed in Yahweh.
“Noah became the father of three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth” (v. 10). Adam also had three sons, one of whom murdered his brother (4:8). One of Noah’s sons, Ham, will also be guilty of a serious sin after the flood (9:22).
The Table of Nations (Genesis 10) gives the descendants of these three sons without specifying which one will be chosen to continue the special heritage from God. That becomes clear in chapter 11, which traces Shem’s descendants through Terah to Abram.
GENESIS 6:11-12. THE EARTH WAS CORRUPT
11The earth was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. 12God saw the earth, and saw that it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.
“The earth was corrupt (sahat) before God, and the earth was filled with violence” (hamas) (v. 11). God blessed the man and woman, telling them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it” (1:28). Here, though, they have filled the earth with violence rather than progeny.
Hamas means violence and suggests that cruelty and injustice are involved.
“God (Elohim) saw the earth, and saw that it was corrupt” (sahat) (v. 12a). Earlier, God saw that everything he had made “was very good” (1:31), but now he sees that “the wickedness of man was great in the earth” (6:5) and “saw that it (earth) was corrupt”—spoiled, ruined, perverted (6:12). God’s intent has been thwarted and his creation sullied.
“for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth” (v. 12b). Earlier, the man said of the woman, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh” (2:23), and the narrator commented, “Therefore a man will leave his father and his mother, and will join with his wife, and they will be one flesh” (2:24). But now “all flesh” has been corrupted.
GENESIS 6:13-16. BEHOLD, I WILL DESTROY THEM
13God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh has come before me, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 14Make a ship of gopher wood. You shall make rooms in the ship, and shall seal it inside and outside with pitch. 15This is how you shall make it. The length of the ship will be three hundred cubits, its breadth fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. 16You shall make a roof in the ship, and you shall finish it to a cubit upward. You shall set the door of the ship in its side. You shall make it with lower, second, and third levels.
“The end of all flesh has come before me, for the earth is filled with violence through them” (v. 13a). God announces his intentions to Noah and explains his reasons. Imagine the range of feelings that Noah must have felt upon hearing this announcement. On the one hand, this righteous man must chafe at the unrighteous behavior of his neighbors. On the other hand, a man like Noah (righteous, blameless, walking with God) must also feel some compassion for the people who are about to lose their lives. And he must also feel a certain uneasiness at the prospect of the end of the world as he has known it.
“for the earth is filled with violence through them” (v. 13a). At the creation, God blessed the man and woman and charged them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it” (1:28)—but their progeny have instead filled the earth with violence.
“Behold, I will destroy (sahat) them with the earth” (v. 13b). Sahat means to corrupt or destroy. Because the people are corrupt (sahat, v. 12), God will destroy (sahat ––destroy) them. This is a harsh judgment, but is God’s way of assuring the survival of the righteous by preventing them from being contaminated by the unrighteous.
“Make a ship (teba) of gopher wood” (v. 14a). The word teba is used in the Old Testament only for the ark that will save Noah and his family and for the basket which will save the baby Moses (Exodus 2:3). The word that is used for the Ark of the Covenant is not teba but aron.
While God has said that the “end of all flesh has come before me ” (v. 13a), he does not intend to wipe out all humans and animals. His instructions to Noah here reveal his intent to save a remnant (Noah’s family and the animals) to repopulate the world –– to start once again without the violence and corruption that characterize Noah’s neighbors.
We aren’t certain what gopher wood is. Cypress is a possibility.
“You shall make rooms (qen—nests) in the ship” (v. 14b). This word, qen, suggests safe havens or resting places. The ark will not be chaotic, but is intended to provide safe shelter and at least a modicum of privacy for the journey.
“and shall seal it inside and outside with pitch” (v. 14c). Pitch is a tar used to waterproof boats. This is another link with Moses, whose teba will be plastered with bitumen and pitch (Exodus 2:3).
“This is how you shall make it. The length of the ship will be three hundred cubits, its breadth fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits” (v. 15). A cubit was the distance from a man’s elbow to the tip of his fingers, an imprecise measurement that probably varied from 18-22 inches (46-56 cm.).
If we use the 18 inch (46 cm.) measurement, the ark was to be 450 feet x 75 feet x 45 feet high (137 meters x 23 meters x 14 meters high).
Some scholars assume that the ark was flat-bottomed and boxy like a barge, but that is speculation. A tapered bow (front end) might make the ark more seaworthy.
“You shall make a roof in the ship” (v. 16a). A roof would be important to keep out the rain.
“and you shall finish it to a cubit upward” (v. 16b). We aren’t sure what this means. It could involve a slight peak to the roof to facilitate the runoff of water. It could mean that the roof is to be suspended a cubit above the sides of the ark to provide ventilation—which would also require that the roof overhang the sides to keep rain out.
“You shall set the door of the ship in its side” (v. 16c). The door is to facilitate the loading and unloading of people, animals, and the copious supplies required to sustain them for the journey.
“You shall make it with lower, second, and third levels” (v. 16d). Given the dimensions of 450′ x 75′ x 45′, each deck is 1.5 million square feet (140,000 square meters). Three decks would be 4.5 million square feet or 420,000 square meters (equal to 3000 homes of 1500 square feet or 140 square meters each).
If the boat is tapered toward the bottom and bow, it would lose part of that area. In any event, it was quite a large craft for its day and age.
GENESIS 6:17-18. FLOOD WATERS TO DESTROY ALL FLESH
17 I, even I, do bring the flood of waters on this earth, to destroy all flesh having the breath of life from under the sky. Everything that is in the earth will die. 18But I will establish my covenant with you. You shall come into the ship, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you.
“I, even I, do bring the flood of waters on this earth, to destroy all flesh having the breath of life from under the sky. Everything that is in the earth will die“ (v. 17). God intends to bring an end to the life that he created in Genesis 1-2. Everything that has the “breath of life” is to be affected—which would exclude fish and other sea creatures.
“But I will establish my covenant (berit) with you” (v. 18a). This is the first occurrence of berit in the Old Testament, but it will recur in more than 200 verses throughout the Old Testament—the frequency of its occurrence indicating its importance. God’s covenant with Noah is outlined in detail in 8:20 – 9:17.
A covenant is an agreement, such as a business contract or treaty, between two people or groups of people. Covenants are usually solemnized by some sort of ritual, such as the swearing of an oath or the sharing of a meal.
In the Bible, God often initiates a covenant with a person or group of people. In such cases, God dictates the terms of the agreement, which always favor the people involved but requires their compliance. By initiating such a covenant, God binds himself to the terms of the covenant. Covenants between God and humans were often solemnized by ritual sacrifice. Noah offers a sacrifice at the conclusion of his journey in the ark (8:20).
In this instance, God makes a covenant with Noah personally. The “you” in verses 18-21 is singular. Noah’s family will benefit from the covenant, but they will derive their benefit from God’s covenant with Noah. “The Hebrew tradition of family solidarity explains why Noah’s righteousness benefitted his whole family” (Mathews, 368).
Some of the more important Biblical covenants are between God and Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3); Isaac and Jacob (Exodus 2:24; Leviticus 26:42); Moses (Exodus 6:4-5; 19:5; 24:7-8; 25:21); David (2 Samuel 7:16; Psalm 89:2-4; 105:8-11); and Israel (Jeremiah 31:3-4, 31-37).
These covenants were all preliminary to the covenant established by Jesus (Matthew 26:28; Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20; 1 Corinthians 11:25).
“You shall come into the ship, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you“ (v. 18b). The compliance expected of Noah is that he will build the ark and that he and his family will come into the ark at the appropriate time.
GENESIS 6:19-21. TWO OF EVERY SORT
19Of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ship, to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female. 20Of the birds after their kind, of the livestock after their kind, of every creeping thing of the ground after its kind, two of every sort shall come to you, to keep them alive. 21Take with you of all food that is eaten, and gather it to yourself; and it will be for food for you, and for them.” 22Thus Noah did. According to all that God commanded him, so he did.
“Of every living thing of all flesh“ (v. 19a). All animals are to be included with the exception of fish, which require no protection.
“you shall bring two of every sort into the ship, to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female“ (v. 19b). God specifies male and female pairs, because the purpose is that they will propagate the species in the new world.
In the next chapter, God will instruct Noah to take “seven pairs of every clean animal with you, the male and his female. Of the animals that are not clean, take two, the male and his female” (7:2). This might indicate the hand of a second author, or it might simply be an expansion of the original instruction.
Having extra pairs of clean animals allows Noah to offer a ritual sacrifice at the end of the journey (8:20)—and provide food for Noah’s family during/after the journey.
“Of the birds after their kind, of the livestock after their kind, of every creeping thing of the ground after its kind, two of every sort shall come to you, to keep them alive“ (v. 20).This specifies the three groups of creatures to be saved: Birds, animals, and creeping things.
“Take with you of all food that is eaten, and gather it to yourself; and it will be for food for you, and for them“ (v. 21). The kinds and quantities of food for a menagerie of this sort would be staggering. Elephants in the wild eat 700 pounds (320 kg.) of vegetation daily, although I am told that elephants in zoos can get by with only 150 pounds (68 kg.). An adult male lion in the wild eats 150 pounds (68 kg.) of meat a week. What do snails eat? (“The lettuce in my garden!” my wife answers). How much do they eat? (“All of it!” she complains). What do turtles eat? What about earthworms? Alligators? Hippopotami? Rattlesnakes? Gila monsters? Llamas?
How do you calculate such requirements? Don’t forget to double the amounts, because there is a pair of each kind of animal! How do you gather the food and keep it from spoiling? How do you move it aboard the ark? How do you distribute it among storage spaces to simplify the work of feeding the animals? How do you keep the animals from gorging today and starving tomorrow? How do you keep them from eating each other? There is one simple answer to all those questions—”With God’s help!”
“Thus Noah did. According to all that God commanded him, so he did“ (v. 22). Noah did everything that God told him to do. It must have taken months or years, but this account makes no effort to measure his sweat and toil or the problems he faced. It simply affirms his obedience.
GENESIS 7:24. THE WATERS PREVAILED
24The waters prevailed on the earth one hundred fifty days.
In 7:12, it says, “rain was on the earth forty days and forty nights,” but in 7:24, it says, “the waters prevailed on the earth one hundred fifty days.” Some people see two different authors at work here. It is also possible that the rain fell for 40 days and nights, and the water covered the earth for 150 days.
GENESIS 8:14-19. GO OUT OF THE SHIP
14In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth was dry. 15God (Elohim) spoke to Noah, saying, 16“Go out of the ship, you, and your wife, and your sons, and your sons’ wives with you. 17Bring out with you every living thing that is with you of all flesh, including birds, livestock, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, that they may breed abundantly in the earth, and be fruitful, and multiply on the earth.” 18Noah went out, with his sons, his wife, and his sons’ wives with him. 19Every animal, every creeping thing, and every bird, whatever moves on the earth, after their families, went out of the ship.
“In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth was dry“ (v. 14).
- Earlier it said, “In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on the same day all the fountains of the great deep were burst open, and the sky’s windows were opened. The rain was on the earth forty days and forty nights” (7:11-12).
- Then it said, “It happened in the six hundred first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried up from the earth. Noah removed the covering of the ship, and looked. He saw that the surface of the ground was dried. In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth was dry” (8:13-14).
The interval between the day the rains started (7:11) and the day “the waters were dried up from the earth” (8:13) was approximately ten and a half months.
The interval between the day when “the waters were dried up from the earth” (8:13) and the day when “the earth was dry” (8:14) was approximately two months.
The interval between the day the rains started (7:11) and the day “the earth was dry” (8:14) was twelve months and eleven days.
If the twelve months were lunar months (a lunar month is 29.53 days, so a lunar year is 354 days), the additional eleven days extended the total to 365 days or a solar year. Was this coincidental or the author’s effort to accommodate both lunar and solar years?
“Go out of the ship, you, and your wife, and your sons, and your sons’ wives with you“ (v. 16). This is God’s command for the people in the ark.
“Bring out with you every living thing that is with you of all flesh, including birds, livestock, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, that they may breed abundantly in the earth, and be fruitful, and multiply on the earth“ (v. 17). This is God’s command regarding the animals. It goes beyond the command for the people (v. 16) in that it gives the purpose of the animals going forth —that they might “Be fruitful, multiply”—a restatement of the command given at the first creation (1:22).
There is no corresponding statement of purpose in verse 16 regarding humans. However, in 9:1,”God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, ‘Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth'”—a restatement of the first creation’s, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it” (1:28).
“Noah went out, with his sons, his wife, and his sons’ wives with him. Every animal, every creeping thing, and every bird, whatever moves on the earth, after their families, went out of the ship” (vv. 18-19). Again, Noah, who was chosen originally because of his righteousness, blamelessness, and his walk with God (6:9), does God’s bidding exactly as commanded. He and his family exit the ark, followed by the animals, presumably at Noah’s direction.
Imagine the joy that you would experience after being cooped up in a boat, jam-packed with animals, for five months. Your experience of fresh air and firm footing would be among the best pleasures of your life. Not having to care for the animals any more would be a huge relief. Much work would lay ahead—building rude shelters, planting gardens, and building enclosures for domestic animals—but the confinement would be at an end.
SCRIPTURE QUOTATIONS are from the World English Bible (WEB), a public domain (no copyright) modern English translation of the Holy Bible. The World English Bible is based on the American Standard Version (ASV) of the Bible, the Biblia Hebraica Stutgartensa Old Testament, and the Greek Majority Text New Testament. The ASV, which is also in the public domain due to expired copyrights, was a very good translation, but included many archaic words (hast, shineth, etc.), which the WEB has updated.
Bowie, Walter Russell and Simpson, Cuthbert A., The Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. 1 (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1952)
Brueggemann, Walter, Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching: Genesis (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1982)
Craddock, Fred B.; Hayes, John H.; Holladay, Carl R.; Tucker, Gene M., Preaching Through the Christian Year, A (Valley Forge: Trinity Press International, 1992)
Fretheim, Terence E., “The Book of Genesis,” The New Interpreter’s Bible, Volume 1: General Old Testament Articles, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1994)
Greidanus, Sidney, in Van Harn, Roger (ed.), The Lectionary Commentary: Theological Exegesis for Sunday’s Text. The First Readings: The Old Testament and Acts (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2001)
Hamilton, Victor P., The New International Commentary on the Old Testament: The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1-17 (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1990)
Hartley, John E., New International Biblical Commentary: Genesis (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 2000)
Kidner, Derek, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries: Genesis, Vol. 1 (Downers Grove, Illinois: Inter-Varsity Press, 1967)
Mathews, Kenneth A., The New American Commentary: Genesis 1-11:26, Vol. 1a (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1996)
Newsome, James, in Brueggemann, Walter; Cousar, Charles B.; Gaventa, Beverly R.; and Newsome, James D., Texts for Preaching: A Lectionary Commentary Based on the NRSV –– Year A (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1995)
Roop, Eugene F., Believers Church Bible Commentaries: Genesis (Scottdale, Pennsylvania: Herald Press, 1987)
Towner, W. Sibley, Westminster Bible Companion: Genesis (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001)
Wenham, Gordon J., Word Biblical Commentary: Genesis 1-15 (Dallas: Word Books, 1987)
DICTIONARIES, ENCYCLOPEDIAS, LEXICONS & ATLASES:
Aharoni, Yohanan and Avi-Yonah, Michael, The Macmillan Bible Atlas (New York: Macmillan, 1993)
Baker, Warren (ed.), The Complete WordStudy Old Testament (Chattanooga; AMG Publishers, 1994)
Baker, Warren and Carpenter, Eugene, The Complete WordStudy Dictionary: Old Testament (Chattanooga: AMG Publishers, 2003)
Bromiley, Geoffrey (General Editor), The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised, 4 vols. (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1979-1988)
Brown, Francis; Driver, S.R.; and Briggs, Charles A., The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1906, 2004)
Doniach, N.S. and Kahane, Ahuvia, The Oxford English-Hebrew Dictionary (Oxford University Press, 1998)
Fohrer, Georg, Hebrew & Aramaic Dictionary of the Old Testament (SCM Press, 2012)
Freedman, David Noel (ed.), The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary, 6 vol. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007)
Freedman, David Noel (Ed.), Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2000)
Lockyer, Herbert, Sr. (ed.), Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1986)
May, Herbert G. (ed.), Oxford Bible Atlas (Third Edition) (New York, Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1984.
Mounce, William D., (ed.), Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006)
Myers, Allen C. (ed.), The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1987)
Pfeiffer, Charles F., Baker’s Bible Atlas (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2003)
Rasmussen, Carl G., Zondervan NIV Atlas of the Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1989.
Renn, Stephen D., Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words: Word Studies for Key English Bible Words Based on the Hebrew and Greek Texts (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 2005)
Richards, Lawrence O., Encyclopedia of Bible Words (Zondervan, 1985, 1991)
Sakenfeld, Katharine Doob (ed.), The New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, 5 vol. (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2008)
VanGemeren, Willem A. (General Editor), New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology & Exegesis, 5 vol., (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1997)
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Copyright 2008, 2018, Richard Niell Donovan