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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Genesis 7

 

 

Introduction

CHAP. VII.

Noah enters the ark with his family, the animal race being admitted with him. The great deep is broken up; the cataracts of heaven are opened; the rain descends for forty days and forty night; and prevails upon the earth a hundred and fifty days.


Verse 1

Genesis 7:1. Righteous in this generation See note on Genesis 6:8


Verse 2

Genesis 7:2. Of every clean beast—by sevens—male and female Seven pair of clean beasts were to be taken; the Hebrew is seven seven; by sevens. Of unclean beasts only one pair was to be taken: the reason for taking each sort is added, Genesis 7:3 to keep seed alive upon the earth, to preserve the several species. And here we may remark God's goodness in providing so superior a number of the clean or useful animals; a remark, which we cannot fail making, whenever we contemplate the animal world. "It is very evident from hence," says Mr. Locke, "that the distinction of beasts, clean and unclean, was not first made by the law of Moses." This appears also from Genesis 8:20. The distinction indeed seems founded, in a great measure, in nature itself: but it is most probable, that God gave Adam directions concerning it, when he instituted sacrifice, and the other branches of religion relating to divine worship.


Verse 4

Genesis 7:4. Yet seven days. This frequent reference to the period of seven days, shews that it was usual to calculate by weeks, a custom prevailing, as is reasonable to suppose, from the very beginning of the world. See ch. Genesis 8:10; Genesis 8:12. on which place Bishop Patrick observes, in agreement with Mr. Henry and Mr. Chais, that, by sending out the dove on the seventh day, Noah expected a blessing on that day rather than another, it being the day devoted from the beginning to religious services; which he having (it is likely) performed, thereupon sent out the dove that day, as he had done before, with hopes of good tidings.

REFLECTIONS.—When the work was finished, and the one hundred and twenty years at an end, then God begins to fulfil his faithful word.

1. Noah is commanded to enter with his family, and all the creatures. "Come into the ark." Sweet voice of mercy, thus inviting to a sure refuge from the impending storm. Such is the gracious call of Jesus to the sinful soul: "Come unto me, and I will give you rest." And shall we be obdurate, as blind to our own interest as insensible to the Saviour's love! Surely then we deserve to perish. His family were not all like their father; one, we are assured, was wicked enough, yet his father's mercies descend upon him. Learn, (1.) There is no pure society under the sun: in the ark was a reprobate, and, among the twelve apostles, a traitor. (2.) A bad child fares often the better for his parents sake.

2. A comfortable testimony repeated of his integrity. It is a blessed thing to have God's attestation to our simplicity before him: and it is the Lord's delight to behold it; his care to reward it. He will preserve such from the plagues of the ungodly, and reserve them as monuments of his distinguished mercy.

3. The regulations concerning the beasts, their nature and number. Of clean and unclean both must come, for none must be lost; yet their number differs, not only because the clean are most serviceable for man, and therefore shall be most numerous, (behold the wise providence of God!) but also because of them he must offer unto the Lord. Note; man, in the provision which is made for his comfort, should never lose sight that the greater end still proposed in all God's works is his own glory.

4. Another respite of seven days. A moment more, another call, and the last. They who will not regard the judgment at their door, must perish without remedy.

5. Noah was not disobedient to the heavenly admonition. (1.) He went in, and all his, and the creatures God had brought him. (2.) As soon as he was safely lodged, the flood came. Note; when God's last saint is gathered in, and the number of the redeemed is accomplished, then a more terrible deluge of fire shall descend upon the ungodly.


Verse 11

Genesis 7:11. Second month—seventeenth day, &c.— The sacred historian is exact in pointing out the period of this awful event; which came to pass on the seventeenth day of the second month of that year, which was the six hundredth of Noah's life. Now, before the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt, the second month was Marchesvan, which begins about the middle of our October, and ends about the middle of November: so that the seventeenth day of the second month, according to the generality of expositors, is about the beginning of our November: the sixth of November, says Mr. Locke.

The fountains of the great deep broken up In the original account of the disposal of the water, we are told, that all which was created was either carried aloft in clouds, or gathered together in the great communicating receptacle, called sea. See ch. 1: And, agreeable to this account, we are informed, that the deluge was occasioned by the union of the water from above and below: the fountains of the great deep were broken up: and the windows, or flood-gates, of heaven were opened. Thus the waters again prevailed over the face of the earth, as at the beginning they covered the chaotic mass. The original word for the windows of heaven, or flood-gates, as the margin of our Bibles has it, is ארבת aruboth, which properly signifies openings, cracks, or fissures of any kind, as will appear by referring to 2 Kings 7:19 and Malachi 3:10.

REFLECTIONS.—Two secondary causes are here assigned for the deluge; the deeps were broken up, and the windows of heaven opened. When God pleases to avenge his quarrel, all creatures above, below, around us, are ready instruments for his judgments.

(1.) The fountains of the great deep were broken up. The earth is founded upon the floods; its bowels contain enough to destroy it, if God lets loose the waters from their prisons. (2.) The windows of heaven were opened: the clouds poured down incessant torrents forty days and nights. Learn here, 1. The greatest blessings may quickly be made the heaviest judgments. 2. To look beyond second causes to the first. If floods deluge, or earthquakes swallow up, there is one who gives each element its commission, and each judgment its orders. 3. That there are in the earth, as in the heavens above, storehouses of fire, as well as water; and that this world is doomed one day to experience their fatal influence. Be it our care, then, to secure a covert from the impending storm in Him who is the only refuge; and then, When thou passest through the waters, they shall not overflow thee; and when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burnt. Isaiah 43:2.


Verse 16

Genesis 7:16. And the Lord shut him in Closed the door after Noah and all the rest had entered; closed it so fast, that the waters could not enter. How God shut the door we need not inquire; it is likely by an angelic power, which conducted the several creatures into the ark. Many writers say this was done by the Word of the Lord, the Messiah.

REFLECTIONS.—We have a repetition of the care God took of Noah and his family: and, 1. It is particularly observed, that his three sons were no polygamists; they were content with one wife; and no bachelors against the ordinance of God. It appears to be God's will (some special cases excepted, that every man should have a wife, as it is evident he should have but one.

2. That God shut them in.

(1.) He brought them in; Noah by his grace, and the creatures by his power, restraining their mutual enmities for a time. Note; 1. If ever we come into the ark we must remember to whom we are indebted for it: "by grace are ye saved." 2. Not the restraints of sin for a season, but the conquest over sin in the heart, is the proof of a change of nature.

(2.) He kept them in safe amidst the surrounding floods; he shut them in as separate from the wicked world. Those who are Christ's people, though in the world, are not of the world, but chosen out of the world, and in affection and temper separated from the world.

(3.) In shutting them in, he shut all the world out. No doubt, when the ungodly began to see the lowering clouds, and the rising waters, then they were importunate enough for that admission they had slighted. But it is too late to cry, Open unto us, when the door is shut. Note; 1. This is the day of salvation. Christ is a willing Saviour, and his arms of mercy are stretched out to save the vilest sinner from the wrath of God. He that cometh to him now shall be in no wise cast out. 2. If men neglect the day of mercy, it will be too late to come when it is the day of judgment. It must be now or never.


Verse 20

Genesis 7:20. Fifteen cubits upward That is, fifteen cubits, or twenty-two feet and a half, upward, or above the highest mountains. It is plain, as words can make it, from this and the foregoing and the subsequent verses, that the deluge was universal, and not, according to the opinion of some, confined to a certain tract of country only.

One of our most celebrated philosophers observes, that the rain of forty days and forty nights will be found to be a very small part of the cause of such a deluge as Moses describes. For supposing it to rain all over the globe as much in each day, as it is now found to do in one of the most rainy counties in England in the whole year, viz. about forty inches of water a day, forty such days could cover the whole earth with but about twenty-two fathom water, which would only drown the low-lands next the sea: but the greater part would escape. Therefore, he says, we may reasonably conclude, that by the opening of the windows of heaven, is meant an extraordinary fall of waters from the heavens, not as rain, but in one great body; as if the firmament, supposed by Moses to sustain a supra-aerial sea, had been broken up, and, at the same time, the ocean did flow in upon the land to cover all with water. See Phil. Trans. abridged, vol. 6: part 2: p. 1. Perhaps ordinary continued rain for forty days and nights would be found adequate to the effect, if this philosopher took in, as he does in the conclusion, the rupture of the great deep, and the union of its waters with those from above.

The reader will find great satisfaction by consulting Saurin's eighth and ninth Dissertations.


Verse 21

Genesis 7:21. And all flesh died, &c.— We do ourselves injustice when we read the scriptures as common writings. When God informs us that all the inhabitants of the world were destroyed, except eight persons, he makes use of but few words, leaving it to the consideration of mankind to observe what must necessarily be concluded in the event so briefly related. Let us then pause, and look back!

The mighty men of renown, and all the powers with which they were allied, who filled the world with violence in those early ages, where are they? what is become of their strength? God opened the windows of heaven! They fly to the mountains, they climb the trees, they look, they tremble at the increasing flood, they reach the highest branch, but at length the waves prevail. The whole world opposed to God by wicked works are but as chaff before the wind. Here, as from the top of a mountain, we may stand and look upon the ark shut, the flood advancing, millions flying to it for refuge, who mocked its building and its builder; hills, houses, and trees covered with the trembling inhabitants of the world! But what are the characters which compose those multitudes that now betake themselves to the hills? Infidels, blasphemers of God, deceivers, robbers, oppressors: the vengeance of God being let loose upon the world, they ran to the highest ground, like silly sheep surrounded with a flood. But who compose the numberless millions left behind, whose dwellings are beginning to disappear? fathers, wives, infants, the sick, the weak, the aged, all left as in a sinking ship, till their cries are heard no more!

How dreadful the scene! what ravages are made on the earth! See its inhabitants swept away with the besom of destruction! They are all dead corpses floating upon the waters! How awful, how sudden the surprise! when eating and drinking, building, marrying, and in the height of the bridal feast, to hear the crash of elements, to see the wreck of nature, and a dissolving world! In vain they cry, in vain they climb, in vain they intreat; every avenue is shut up, and escape impossible: while Noah, secure in the divine protection, swims in safety, and sleeps in peace. See, 1. How fearful a thing it is to fall into the hands of the living God. Sinner, read and tremble; a more fearful doom awaits thee, except thou repent. 2. Though Noah's relations, or his carpenters, might plead their blood or their labours, it will not procure them admittance. Not the work only, but the temper is regarded by the Lord. Let ministers beware; their success is not their security! 3. Noah, with his family, lives alone, while the rest of the world perish without exception. 4. Though Noah lives, he lives but in a melancholy situation; around him seas without a shore, and these overspread with desolation. Many, no doubt, near and dear to him, were among the slain; and he could not but lament over what he could not prevent by his preaching and prayers.

 


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Bibliography Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Genesis 7:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/genesis-7.html. 1801-1803.

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