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Bible Commentaries

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Genesis 7

 

 

Verses 1-10

God graciously invited Noah to enter the ark with his family ( Genesis 7:1). This is the first occurrence of the offer "come" in the Bible. This invitation continues throughout Scripture, the last offer being in Revelation 22:17. God extends the invitation to people, He urges them to take advantage of the perfect provision He has made for their preservation, and He offers it in a time of impending judgment and gloom.

"It is not that Noah"s works of righteousness gains [sic] him salvation, for none is cited. Rather, his upright character is noted to condemn his generation, which merits death." [Note: Mathews, p371.]

"Sinful men do not deserve to live on God"s earth. This is the basic message of the Genesis Flood." [Note: John C. Whitcomb, Esther: The Triumph of God"s Sovereignty, p21.]

God did not reveal the basis for His distinction between clean and unclean animals here ( Genesis 7:2). Israel"s pagan neighbors also observed clean and unclean distinctions between animals though they varied from country to country. In the Mosaic Law, God further distinguished between foods. Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul taught that now these distinctions no longer need affect people as far as our relationship to God goes ( Mark 7:15; Mark 7:18-19; cf. Acts 10:15; Acts 11:9; Romans 14:14).


Verses 11-24

The Flood proper7:11-24

There are two views among evangelicals as to the extent of the Flood.

1. The flood was universal in that it covered the entire earth. Here is a summary of the evidence that supports this view.

a. The purpose of the Flood ( Genesis 6:5-7; Genesis 6:11-13).

b. The need for an ark ( Genesis 6:14).

c. The size of the ark ( Genesis 6:15-16).

d. The universal terms used in the story ( Genesis 6:17-21; Genesis 7:19; Genesis 7:21-23). Context must determine whether universal terms are truly universal or limited (cf. Luke 2:1; Matthew 28:19-20).

e. The amount of water involved ( Genesis 7:11; Genesis 7:20; Genesis 8:2).

f. The duration of the Flood: 371days ( Genesis 7:11; Genesis 8:14).

g. The testimony of Peter ( 2 Peter 3:3-7).

h. The faithfulness of God ( Genesis 8:21).

This view has been the most popular with conservative interpreters throughout history.

"By and large, the tradition of the Christian church is that the context requires a universal flood, and many Christian scholars have maintained this position knowing well the geological difficulties it raises." [Note: Davis, p124. See Whitcomb and Morris; Boice, 1:278-88; Ariel A. Roth, "Evidences for a worldwide flood," Ministry (May1984), pp12-14; Donald Patten, "The Biblical Flood: A Geographical Perspective," Bibliotheca Sacra128:509 (January-March1971):36-49; and Wolf, pp101-6.]

2. The flood was local and covered only part of the earth. The evidence is as follows.

a. The main arguments rest on modern geology and the improbability of a universal flood in view of consequent global changes.

b. Advocates take the universal statements in the text as limited to the area where Moses said the Flood took place.

This view has gained wide acceptance since the modern science of geology has called in question the credibility of the text.

"The principle concern of those advocating a local flood is to escape the geological implications of a universal flood." [Note: Davis, p124. See Ramm, pp229-40; and Kidner; et al.; who advocated a local flood.]

"Since the distorted concept of special creation used by the originator of the geologic column was never truly Creationistic, and organic evolution has long since become the conceptual basis for time-equivalence of index fossils, modern Creationists can justifiably point out that organic evolution is the basis for the geological column." [Note: John R. Woodmorappe, "A Diluviological Treatise on the Stratigraphic Separation of Fossils," Creation Research Society Quarterly (December1983):135.]

Basically, this controversy, like that involving the creation account, involves presuppositions about the credibility of Scripture or science and the possibility of supernatural occurrences. The scientific community seems to be more open to catastrophism of some kind than it used to be. [Note: See Henry Morris, "Biblical Catastrophism and Modern Science," Bibliotheca Sacra125:498 (April-June1968):107-15. An interesting article on some ancient non-biblical accounts of the Flood is Jack P. Lewis, "Noah and the Flood in Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Tradition," Biblical Archaeologist47:4 (December1984):224-39. See also J. Randall O"Brien, "Flood Stories of the Ancient Near East," Biblical Illustrator13:1 (Fall1986):60-65. ]

Some interpreters have understood the opening of the "floodgates of the sky" ( Genesis 7:11) as a breaking up of a water vapor canopy that some say covered the earth before the Flood. [Note: See my comments on2:5-6.] Advocates of this "canopy theory" believe that it may account for longevity before the Flood.

"The water for Noah"s Flood came from the release of great underground sources of water (the fountains of the great deep which continued pouring forth for150 days), and from the collapse of the waters above (presumably a vast water vapor blanket or canopy above the atmosphere), giving the40 days and nights of rain. Psalm 104indicates that after the Flood, the mountains were upthrust to their present positions, with associated deepening of the ocean basins, which now hold the waters of the Flood.

"These waters would not have been enough to cover today"s highest mountains. Genesis indicates no rain or rainbows before the Flood, which is consistent with the absence of high mountains that are important to the triggering of rainfall. Also, the absence of large temperature differences between poles and equator under such a greenhouse blanket of water vapor would mean an absence of the vast winds which are also necessary (now, but not before the Flood) for the rainfall cycle. Genesis describes how the earth before the Flood was watered by mists and/or springs and geysers." [Note: Ham, et al, p15. Cf. also pp117-29 for further discussion.]

"We have shown earlier that the flood narrative points ahead to Moses and the escape of the Hebrews through the Red Sea. This is evidenced again by the term "dry land" (haraba) in our passage ( Genesis 7:22) rather than the customary "dry ground" (yabasa). This infrequent term occurs eight times, only once more in the Pentateuch at Exodus 14:21, where it describes the transformation of the sea into "dry land" by a "strong east wind." This exodus parallel is confirmed by Genesis 8:1 b, which speaks of God"s sending a "wind" upon the waters. Later Israel identified itself with Noah and the tiny group of survivors who escaped the wicked by the awesome deeds of God." [Note: Mathews, pp381-82.]

 


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Bibliography Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Genesis 7:4". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/genesis-7.html. 2012.

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