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Bible Commentaries

The Pulpit Commentaries

Genesis 8



Verses 1-14


Genesis 8:1

And God. Elohim, i.e. God in his most universal relation to his creatures. The supposition of two different accounts or histories being intermingled in the narrative of the Flood (Bleek, Eichhorn, Hupfeld, Kalisch, Alford, Coleuso) is not required for a sufficient explanation of the varying use of the Divine names. Remembered. From a root signifying to prick, pierce, or print, e.g; upon the memory; hence to remember. "Not that there is oblivion or forgetfulness with God, but then God is said to remember when he showeth by the effects that he hath taken care of man" (Willet). He remembers man's sins when he punishes them (Psalms 25:7; cf. 1 Kings 17:20), and his people's needs when he supplies them (cf. Nehemiah 5:19). The expression is an anthropopathism designed to indicate the Divine compassion as well as grace. Calvin thinks the remembrance of which Moses speaks "ought to be referred not only to the external aspect of things (i.e. the coming deliverance), but also to the inward feeling of the holy man," who, through grace, was privileged to enjoy "some sensible experience of the Divine presence" while immured in the ark. Noah,—cf. the Divine remembrance of Abraham and Lot (Genesis 19:29), the request of the Hebrew psalmist (Psalms 132:1)—and every living thing,—chayyah, or wild beast (vide Genesis 1:25; Genesis 7:14)—and all the cattle that was with him in the ark. A touching indication of the tenderness of God towards his creatures. As a proof that God remembered the lonely inmates of the ark, he at once takes steps to accomplish their deliverance, which steps are next enumerated. And God made a wind—ruach. Not the Holy Ghost, as in Genesis 1:2 (Theodoret, Ambrose, LXX.— πνεῦ μα), nor the heat of the sun (Rupertus); but a current of air ( ἀ ì νεμος), which "would promote evaporation and aid the retreat of the waters" (Murphy):—the ordinary method of driving away rain and drying the ground (vide Proverbs 25:23); the special instrumentality employed to divide the waters of the Red Sea (Exodus 14:21)—to pass over the earth, and the waters assuaged, or began to grow calm, after a period of commotion (cf. Esther 2:1; Esther 7:10)—the first stage in the returning of the waters. και Ì εκο ì πασε το Ì ὑ ì δωρ, and the water grew tried (LXX.). Cf. ἐ κο ì πασεν ὁ ἀ ì νεμος, Matthew 14:32; Mark 4:39; Mark 6:51.

Genesis 8:2

The fountains also of the deep, and the windows of heaven were stopped. וַיִּסָּכְרוּ, from סָכַר = סָגַר, to surround, to enclose; literally, were shut up; ἐ πεκαλυì φθησαν (LXX.). Their opening was described in Genesis 7:11. And the rain from heaven was restrained. וַיִּכָּלֵא, literally, was shut up, from כָּלָא, to close. Cf. κλει ì ω, κωλυì ω, κολουì ω, celo, occulo (Gesenius, Furst), συνεσχεì θη (LXX). At the end of the forty days; at the end of the 150 days (Aben Ezra, Murphy).

Genesis 8:3

And the waters returned from off the earth continually. Literally, going and returning. "More and more" (Gesenius). The first verb expresses the continuance and self-increasing state of the action involved in the second; cf. Genesis 26:13; 1 Samuel 6:12; 2 Kings 2:11 (Furst). Gradually (Murphy, Ewald). The expression "denotes the turning-point after the waters had become calm" (T. Lewis). May it not be an attempt to represent the undulatory motion of the waves in an ebbing tide, in which the water seems first to advance, but only to retire with greater vehemence, reversing the movement of a flowing tide, in which it first retires and then advances—in the one case returning to go, in the other going to return? The LXX; as usual, indicates the visible effect rather than the actual phenomenon: και Ì ἐ νεδι ì δου το Ì ὑ ì δωρ πορευ ì ομενον ἀ πο Ì τῆ ς γῆ ς. And after the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters were abated. Literally, were cut off, hence diminished; imminsutae sunt (Vulgate); ἠ λαττονοῦ το το Ì ὑ ì δωρ (LXX.). The first stage was the quieting of the waters; the second was the commencement of an ebbing or backward motion; the third was a perceptible diminution of the waters.

Genesis 8:4

And the ark rested. Not stopped sailing or floating, got becalmed, and remained suspended over (Kitto's 'Cyclop.,' art. Ararat), but actually grounded and settled on (Tayler Lewis) the place indicated by עַל (cf. Genesis 8:9; also Exodus 10:14; Numbers 10:36; Numbers 11:25, Numbers 11:26; Isaiah 11:2). In the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month. I.e. exactly 150 days from the commencement of the forty days' rain, reckoning thirty days to a month, which seems to confirm the opinion expressed (Genesis 7:24) that the forty days were included in the 150. Supposing the Flood to have begun in Marchesvan, the second month of the civil year, "we have then the remarkable coincidences that on the 17th day of Abib the ark rested on Mount Ararat, the Israelites passed over the Red Sea, and our Lord rose again from the dead" ('Speaker's Commentary'). Upon the mountains. I.e. one of the mountains. "Pluralis numerus pro singulari ponitur". Of Ararat.

1. It is agreed by all that the term Ararat describes a region.

2. This region has been supposed to be the island of Ceylon (Samaritan), Aryavarta, the sacred land to the north of India (Van Bohlen, arguing from Genesis 11:2); but "it is evident that these and such like theories have been framed in forgetfulness of what the Bible has recorded respecting the locality" (Kitto's 'Cyclopedia,' art. Ararat).

3. The locality which appears to have the countenance of Scripture is the region of Armenia (of. 2 Kings 19:37; Isaiah 37:38; Jeremiah 51:27; Aquila, Symmachus, Theodotion, Vulgate).

4. In Armenia three different mountains have been selected as the site on which the ark grounded.

Genesis 8:5

And the waters decreased continually—literally, were going and decreasinguntil the tenth month: in the tenth month, on the first day of the month,—chodesh, a lunar month, beginning at the new moon, from chadash, to be new; νεομηνιì α, LXX. (of. Exodus 13:5). Chodesh yamim, the period of a month (cf. Genesis 29:14; Numbers 11:20, Numbers 11:21)—were the tops of the mountains seen. "Became distinctly visible". Apparuerunt cacumina montium (Vulgate). The waters had now been subsiding ten weeks, and as the height of the water above the highest hills was probably determined by the draught of the ark, we may naturally reason that the subsidence which had taken place since the seventeenth day of the seventh month was not less than three hundred and fifteen inches, at twenty-one inches to the cubit, or about four and one-third inches a day.

Genesis 8:6, Genesis 8:7

And it came to pass, literally, it was—at the end of forty days. Delaying through combined fear and sorrow on account of the Divine judgment (Calvin); to allow sufficient space to undo the effect of the forty days' rain (Murphy); probably just to be assured that the Deluge would not return. That Noah opened the windowchalon, a window, "so called from being perforated, from chalal, to bore or pierce" (Gesenius); used of the window of Rahab's house (Joshua 2:18); not the window (tsohar) of Genesis 6:16, q.v.—of the ark which ha had made: and he sent forth a raven. Literally, the orev, so called from its black color' (Gesenius; cf. Song of Solomon 5:11), Latin, corvus, a raven or crow; the article being used either

Its peculiar fitness for the mission imposed on it lay in its being a bird of prey, and therefore able to sustain itself by feeding on carrion (Proverbs 30:17). To the incident here recorded is doubtless to be traced the prophetic character which in the ancient heathen world, and among the Arabians in particular, was supposed to attach to this ominous bird. Which went to and fro. Literally, and it went forth going and returning, i.e. flying backwards and forwards, from the ark and to the ark, perhaps resting on it, but not entering into it (Calvin, Willet, Ainsworth, Keil, Kalisch, Lunge, Bush, 'Speaker's Commentary'); though some have conceived that it no more returned to the ark, but kept flying to and fro throughout the earth (LXX; " και Ì ἐ ξελθω Ì ν οὐ κ ἀ νεì στρεψεν;" Vulgate, "qui egrediebatur et non revertebatur;" Alford, "it is hardly probable that it returned;" Murphy, "it did not need to return"). Until the waters were dried up from off the earth. When of course its return was unnecessary. Cf. for a similar form of expression 2 Samuel 6:23. Whether it entirely disappeared at the first, or continued hovering round the ark, Noah was unable from its movements to arrive at any certain conclusion as to the condition of the earth, and accordingly required to adopt another expedient, which he did in the mission of the dove.

Genesis 8:8, Genesis 8:9

Also he sent forth—per. 10 seems to Warrant the inference that this was after an interval of seven days (Baumgarten, Knobel, Keil, Lange)—a dove. Literally, the dove. The Scriptural references to the dove are very numerous: cf. Psalms 68:14 (its beautiful plumage); Le Psalms 5:7; Psalms 12:6 (its sacrificial use); Isaiah 38:14; Isaiah 59:11 (its plaintive notes); Psalms 55:6 (its power of flight); Matthew 10:16 (its gentleness); vide also the metaphorical usage of the term in So Matthew 1:15; Matthew 5:12 (beautiful eyes); So Matthew 5:2; Matthew 6:9 (a term of endearment). From him. I.e. from himself, from the ark; not ὀ πι ì χω αὐ τοῦ (LXX.), post eum (Vulgate); i.e. after the raven. Lange thinks the expression indicates that the gentle creature had to be driven from its shelter out upon the wide waste of water. To see if the waters were abated—literally, lightened, i.e. decreased (per. 11)—from off the face of the ground; but the dove found no rest for the solo of her foot. The earth being not yet dry, but wet and muddy, and doves delighting to settle only on such places as are dry and clean; or the mountain tops, though visible, being either too distant or too high, and doves delighting in valleys and level plains, whence they are called doves of the valleys (Ezekiel 7:16). And she returned unto him into the ark, for the waters were upon (literally, waters upon; a much more graphic statement than appears in the A.V.) the face of the whole earth: then (literally, and) he put forth his hand, and took her, and pulled her in (literally, caused her to come in) unto him into the ark.

Genesis 8:10

And he stayed. וַיָחֶל, fut. apoc; Hif. of חוּל, to turn, to twist, to be afraid, to tremble, to wait (Furst); fut. apoc. Kal (Gesenius). Yet other seven days . עוֹד, prop. the inf. absol, of the verb עוּט, to go over again, to repeat; hence, as an adverb, conveying the idea of doing over again the action expressed in the verb (cf. Genesis 46:29 ; Psalms 84:5). And again he sent forth—literally, he added to send (cf. Genesis 8:12, Genesis 8:21)—the dove out of the ark.

Genesis 8:11

And the dove came in unto him. Literally, to him. As the manner of doves is, partly for better accommodation both for food and lodging than yet he could meet with abroad, and partly from love to his mate (Poole). In the evening (of the seventh day). And, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf plucked off. Not as if "Deo jubente, uno die germinavit terra" (Ambrose), but because the olive leaves kept green under water (Chrysostom). Rosenmüller, Lange, and Kalisch quote Pliny (13. 50) and Theophrastus ('Hist. Plant; 4.8) to this effect. That the olive tree grows in Armenia is proved by the testimony of Strabo, Horace (Od. I. 7. 7), Virgil (Georg. 2.3), Diodorus Siculus (1. 17), &c. On this point vide Kalisch. The leaf which the dove carried towards the ark was "taraf," freshly plucked; hence rightly translated by "viride (Michaelis, Rosenmüller) rather than by "decerptum" (Chaldee, Arabic) or "raptum" (Calvin). καì ρφος (LXX.) is just the opposite of "fresh," viz; withered. So Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth.

Genesis 8:12

And he stayed. וַיִּיָּחֶל ; Niph. fut. of יָחַל (Gesenius); cf. וַיָּחֶל. (Genesis 8:10), Hiph. fut. of חוּל (Furst, Delitzsch). Tayler Lewis, following Jewish authorities, would derive both from יָחַל ; with Aben Ezra making the first a regular Niphal, and with Rashi the second a contracted Piel. Yet other seven days. The frequent repetition of the number seven clearly points to the hebdomadal division of the week, and the institution of Sabbatic rest (vide Genesis 2:1-3, Expos.). And sent forth the dove. "The more we examine these acts of Noah, the more it will strike us that they must have been of a religious nature. He did not take such observations, and so send out the birds, as mere arbitrary acts, prompted simply by his curiosity or his impatience; but as a man of faith and prayer he inquired of the Lord. What more likely then that such inquiry should have its basis in solemn religious exercises, not arbitrarily entered into, but on days held sacred for prayer and religious rest?" (T. Lewis). Which returned not again (literally, and it added not to return) unto him any more.

Genesis 8:13

And it came to pass (literally, it was) in the six hundredth and first year (of Noah's life; so LXX.), in the first month,— τοῦ πρωì του μηνοÌ ς, (LXX.); the word for month (expressed in Genesis 8:4, Genesis 8:14) being omitted in the Hebrew text for brevity,—the first day of the month, the waters were dried up—the root signifies to burn up or become dry in consequence of heat (Furst); "it merely denotes the absence of water" (Gesenius)—from off the earth: and Noah removed the covering of the ark—mikseh, from kasah, to cover; used of the covering of the ark (Exodus 26:14) and of the holy vessels (Numbers 4:8, Numbers 4:12), and hence supposed to be made of skins (Knobel, Bush); but "the deck of an ark on which the rain-storms spent their force must surely have been of as great stability as the ark itself (Lange)—and looked, and, behold, the face of the ground was dry.

Genesis 8:14

And in the second month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month, was the earth dried. יָבְשָׁה The three Hebrew verbs employed to depict the gradual cessation of the floods express a regular gradation; קָלַל (Genesis 8:11), to be lightened, signifying their abatement or diminution ( κεκο ì πακε το Ì ὑ ì δωρ, LXX.); חָרַב (Genesis 8:13), to be dried up, indicating the disappearance of the water ( ἐ ξε ì λιπε το ì ὑ ì δωρ, LXX.); יָבֵשׁ (Genesis 8:14), to be dry, denoting the desiccation of the ground ( ἐ ξηρα ì νθη ἡ γῆ, (LXX.). Cf. Isaiah 19:5, where there is a similar gradation: וְנָהָר יֶחֱרַב וְיָבְשׁ, and the river shall be wasted and dried up.

Chronology of the Flood

(Reckoning from the first day of the year.)




I. Beginning of the flood


17 =


Continuance of Rain



Prevalence of Waters



II. The Ark touches Ararat


17 =


III. The Mountains seen




Raven sent after 40 days



Dove sent " 7 "



Dove sent " 7 "



Dove sent " 7 "



IV. The Waters dried up


27 =


V. The earth dry


27 =


The data are insufficient to enable us to determine whether the Noachic year was solar or lunar. It has been conjectured that the year consisted of twelve months of thirty days, with five intercalated days at the end to make up the solar year of three hundred and sixty-five days (Ewald); of seven months of thirty days and five of thirty-one (Bohlen); of five of thirty and seven of twenty-nine (Knobel); but the circumstance that the period from the commencement of the Deluge to the touching of Ararat extended over five months exactly, and that the waters are said to have previously prevailed for one hundred and fifty days, naturally leads to the conclusion that the months of Noah's year were equal periods of thirty days.


Genesis 8:4, Genesis 8:18

Mount Ararat, or the landing of the ark.

That disembarkment on the mountain heights of Ararat was an emblem of another landing which shall yet take place, when the great gospel ship of the Christian Church shall plant its living freight of redeemed souls upon the hills of heaven. Everything that Mount Ararat witnessed on that eventful day will yet be more conspicuously displayed in the sight of God's believing people who shall be counted worthy of eternal life.

I. SIN PUNISHED. Mount Ararat was a solemn witness to the severity of Goad's judgments upon a guilty world. Never had the world looked on such a vindication of the insulted holiness and offended justice of Almighty God, and never will it look upon another till the hour strikes when "the heavens, being on fire, shall dissolve" (2 Peter 3:10), and "the Lord himself shall be revealed in flaming fire" (2 Thessalonians 1:7).

II. GRACE REVEALED. Mount Ararat saw Divine grace displayed to sinful mere. Pre-eminently Noah and his family were debtors to Divine grace that day when they stepped forth from the ark; add who can doubt that a sense of the richness of Divine grace in saving them will be one of the first feelings to take possession of the souls of the ransomed on reaching heaven?

III. SALVATION ENJOYED. Mount Ararat beheld salvation enjoyed by believing sinners. The deliverance of Noah and his family was a type of the salvation of the saints, which, however, is immeasurably grander than that of Noah.

1. In kind, as being a spiritual, and not merely a temporal, deliverance.

2. In degree, as being complete; whereas Noah's was at the best an imperfect deliverance—a deliverance from the Flood, but not from that which caused the Flood—sin.

3. In duration. Noah's deliverance was only for a time—in the end he descended to the grave; the deliverance of the saints is for ever (Luke 20:36).

IV. GRATITUDE EXPRESSED. Mount Ararat heard the adorations and thanksgivings of a redeemed family. In Noah's sacrifice was a wonderful commingling of ideas and emotions,—

all of which will have a place within the bosoms of the ransomed host who yet shall sit upon the sea of glass. If not the offering up of sacrificial victims, as the expression of the soul's faith, there will be

V. SAFETY CONFIRMED. Mount Ararat listened to the voice of God confirming the salvation of his people. In two ways was it confirmed.

And so is the eternal happiness of God's believing people secured

Genesis 8:10-12

Hoping and waiting.

I. The PATIENCE Of Noah's hope.

1. Patience a characteristic of all true hope (Romans 8:25).

2. Faith in the Divine covenant is the secret of hope's patience (Hebrews 11:1).

3. The patience of hope is always proportioned to the brightness of faith's vision.

II. The EAGERNESS of Noah's hope.

1. While waiting God's time he kept a steady outlook for the coming of the promise.

2. He employed different methods to discover its approach—the raven and the dove.

3. He sanctified the means he used by devotion.

III. The REWARD Of Noah's hope. In due time the dove returned with an olive leaf, which was—

1. A timely answer.

2. An intelligible answer.

3. A joyous answer; and—

4. A sufficient answer.

Genesis 8:14

The returning of the waters, or the recall of Divine judgments.


1. Separation—the elimination of the righteous from the wicked. Under the present condition of the world there is a strange intermingling of the good and the evil. The tares and the wheat, the draw-net with good and bad fish (Matthew 13:1-58.) are suggestive emblems of this mixed state of society. The grand object contemplated by Christianity is the elimination of the saintly element from that which is corrupt. For this end it lays a special injunction on the former to withdraw themselves from the company and contagion of the latter (2 Corinthians 6:17; 2 Thessalonians 3:6; 1 Timothy 6:5). Only it forbids men, under cover of real or pretended zeal for righteousness, to attempt any forcible separation of the commingled elements (Matthew 13:30). Yet what the hand of man cannot do the hand of God can—winnow the chaff from the wheat. He did so by the Flood. He did so by the incarnation (Matthew 3:12). He will do so at the second advent (Matthew 13:30; Matthew 25:32).

2. Condemnation—the infliction of retribution on the finally impenitent. Undisguised was this the design of the full catastrophe which overtook "the world of the ungodly" in the time of Noah. It was sent for the specific purpose of punishing their evil deeds. And so have all Divine judgments of a like kind, what we misname accidents,—catastrophes, floods, famines, pestilences, &c.,—a terrible on look of wrath and judicial retribution to them who forget to humble themselves -beneath the mighty hand of God. So certainly will the last great judgment, of which Noah's flood was a prophetic symbol and warning, have as its specific purpose the complete destruction of the finally impenitent (Genesis 2:5; 2 Thessalonians 1:7; Hebrews 10:27; 2 Peter 3:7).

3. Preservation—the salvation of the faithful. This may be said to be the aim of all those minor troubles and afflictions that befall God's people on the earth (Romans 8:28; 2 Corinthians 4:17). It is specially so when on a larger scale he interposes to inflict his judgments on the world (Isaiah 26:9). When he overthrows the wicked (whether nation or individual) suddenly as in a moment, it is with an eye to the deliverance of his people. Examples—Pharaoh, Goliath, Haman, Herod, Belshazzar. It was so with Noah. The destruction of the antediluvian sinners was necessary, if the remnant of the primitive Church was to be saved. So may it be said that the future overthrow of the wicked is indispensable, if the eternal happiness of the redeemed is to be secured.


1. Their times of coming. The hour of the commencement of the Flood was both fixed and announced 120 years before the event. Though not revealed, as in the can of the Noachic Deluge, the date of every event is as truly predetermined (cf. Genesis 18:14; Exodus 9:5; Job 7:1; Ecclesiastes 3:1; Jeremiah 8:7; Acts 17:26). And God's judgments always keep their set times of coming, as the Flood came in the predicted hour for its arrival.

2. Their times of continuance. The flood of waters lingered on the earth for a season, but not forever. From the moment when the first raindrop fell from the leaden sky, after the Lord had shut the patriarch with his family and living creatures into the ark, till it could be said the earth was dry, one year and ten days passed away. So have all God's judgments, at least here, their limits. Upon sinful men his wrath is not poured out without measure.

3. Their times of recall. In the future world we do not read that there will be any recall of the Divine judgments; everlasting punishment (Matthew 25:46), fire that never shall be quenched (Mark 9:43), everlasting destruction (2 Thessalonians 1:9) are some of the expressions employed to depict the fire-deluge of eternity. But here on earth God's judgments, being only for a set time, are subject to recall; and as they cannot anticipate the hour appointed for their coming, so neither can they linger beyond the moment assigned for their departure. Their recall too is, as in the case of Noah's flood—


1. Signs of their approach, which are commonly—

2. Signs of their departure, which are usually—

IV. GOD'S JUDGMENTS HAVE THEIR INTERESTED OBSERVERS. Possibly the wicked are indifferent to the Divine judgments when they happen to be abroad upon the earth; but not so the righteous, to whom everything connected with them is of the utmost importance. Observers of God's judgments should be like Noah—

1. Hopeful—expecting them to pass. Had Noah not anticipated the complete removal of the waters, he had not made a single experiment to discover how that removal was progressing. Let the saints learn from Noah to cherish hope in God.

2. Prayerful. There is good reason for believing that Noah sent forth the raven and the dove on the day of weekly rest, and after solemn religious exercises (vide Expos.). The saint's inquiries into God's judgments should always be conducted in a spirit of devotion.

3. Intelligent—i.e. capable of reading the signs of the times. When the dove came home to Noah with the fresh-gathered olive leaf, "he knew that the waters were abated from off the earth" (Genesis 8:11). So God ever vouchsafes to devout souls, who seek them by faith, appropriate and adequate signs of his movements, which it becomes them to study and interpret.

4. Patient—seeking neither to outrun God's leading nor to anticipate God's directing, but, like Noah, calmly waiting the Divine order to advance to the new sphere and the new duty which the passing of his judgments may reveal. Noah waited fifty-seven days after the drying up of the waters before he left the ark, and then he only did so at God's command; wherefore, "be ye not unwise" by being over-hasty, "but understanding what the will of the Lord is" (Ephesians 5:17).


Genesis 8:1

God's infinite care.

In the experience of Christians the joy of first believing is often followed by a time of discouragement. Freshness of feeling seems to fade. The "law of sin" makes itself felt. Yet it is just the training by which firmer faith and fuller joy are to be reached. Deep must have been the thankfulness of those in the ark; safe in the midst of the flood. But their faith was tried. Five months, and still no abatement. Noah may well have had misgivings (cf. Matthew 11:3). But God had not forgotten him. He remembered not Noah only, but every creature in the ark (cf. Luke 12:6). He saves to the uttermost (Hebrews 7:25). The time of trial was a prelude to complete deliverance (cf. Acts 14:22).

I. THERE ARE TIMES WHEN BELIEVERS ARE TEMPTED TO FEEL FORGOTTEN. When troubles gather, and prayers seem unanswered, it is hard to keep faith firm. The warning Hebrews 12:6, Hebrews 12:7 often needful. Christians would fain be led in smooth ways. And when their course is irksome and discouraging they sometimes see the wind boisterous, and begin to sink. Still more surely does the feeling follow sin. The disciple has forgotten to watch; has trusted to his own strength; has ventured into temptation, and fallen. Then God is felt to be afar off (cf. Exodus 33:7). And there are times of discipline, when spiritual freedom seems denied, and the soul cannot cry Abba, and prayer seems choked (cf. Isaiah 49:14). Perhaps it is to teach humility; perhaps to show some root of evil; perhaps to excite more hunger for communion with God.

II. BUT GOD DOES NOT FORGET. A creature's love may fail (Isaiah 49:15), a creature's watchfulness may faint, but not God's. He made us; can he forget our wants? His purpose is our salvation; will he neglect any step? He gave his own Son for us; is anything else too great for his goodness? Not even thy coldness and unbelief can make him cease to care.


IV. FREEDOM THROUGH THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. God's time not always what we should choose (cf. John 7:6). Noah a prisoner of hope. God showed that the hope was well founded. The agent of deliverance "a wind "—the same word, both in Hebrew and in the LXX; as is used in Genesis 1:2 for the Spirit of God. Doubtless the agent in drying up the water was a wind. But in the spiritual lesson we are reminded of the Holy Spirit. His work at first brought life on the earth; and his work prepared for repeopling it, and completed the work of Noah's deliverance. And his work gives us freedom, showing us the work of Christ, and our position as children of God.—M.


Genesis 8:1-5

Grace and providence.

The powers of material nature are obedient servants of God, and those who are the objects of his regard, remembered by him, are safely kept in the midst of the world's changes. "All things work together for their good." There is an inner circle of special providence in which the family of God, with those whose existence is bound up in it, is under the eye of the heavenly Father, and in the hollow of his hand. "And the ark rested" (Genesis 8:4). We speak of the cradle of the human race being set on Mount Ararat; is it not well to remember—

1. The new world came out of an ark of Divine grace. Religion is the real foundation of society.

2. The waves of the flood bore the ark to its resting-place. So the waters of affliction, though they heave our vessel and trouble our hearts with fear, carry us onward to a new and often higher standpoint of knowledge and faith.

3. While the flood bore the ark, God himself chose out the spot where it should end its awful journey. The Ararat of the new world was like the paradise of the first man—the nursery of a rising humanity; but whereas in the state of innocence it is a garden, in the case of the redeemed man it is a mountain, with its steep, rough places, its heights and depths, its trials and dangers. The humanity which started from Ararat carried with it at once the good and the evil of the old world which had passed away, and the mountain symbolized the complex treasury of possibilities, mingled with liabilities, which were laid up in the rescued race.—R.

Genesis 8:6-12

The dispensations of righteousness and love.

The raven and the dove. While this passage has its natural, historical fitness, we cannot overlook its symbolical significance. It seems to set forth the two administrations of God, both of them going forth from the same center of his righteousness in which his people are kept safe. The one represented by the carrion bird, the raven, is THE ADMINISTRATION OF JUDGMENT, which goes forth to and fro until the waters are dried up from off the earth—finding a resting-place in the waters of destruction, though not a permanent rest; returning to the ark, as the beginning and the end of judgment is the righteousness of God. The dove is the emblem of DIVINE GRACE, spiritual life and peace. It cannot find rest in the waters of judgment until another seven days, another period of gracious manifestation, has prepared the world for it; then it brings with it the plucked-off olive leaf, emblem of retiring judgment and revealed mercy; and when yet another period of gracious manifestation has passed by, the dove shall return no more to the ark, for the ark itself is no more needed—the waters are abated from off the face of the earth. So we may say the raven dispensation was that which preceded Noah. Then followed the first sending forth of the dove unto the time of Moses, leading to a seven days' period of the ark life, waiting for another mission of grace. The dove brought back the olive leaf when the prophetic period of the old dispensation gave fuller promise of Divine mercy. But yet another period of seven days must transpire before the dove is sent forth and returns no more to the ark, but abides in the earth. After the two sacred intervals, the period of the law and the period of the prophets, which were both immediately connected with a special limited covenant such as is represented in the ark, there followed the world-wide mission of the Comforter. The waters were abated. The "Grace and Truth" took possession of man's world, cursed by sin, redeemed by grace.—R.

Verses 15-22


Genesis 8:15-17

And God spake unto Noah, saying, Go forth of the ark. For which command doubtless the patriarch waited, as he had done for instructions to enter in (Genesis 7:11), "being restrained by a hallowed modesty from allowing himself to enjoy the bounty of nature till he should hear the voice of God directing him to do so" (Calvin). Thou, and thy wife, and thy sons, and thy sons' wives with thee. The order is different, in Genesis 7:7, whence Ambrose noteth, "non commiscetur sexus in introitu, sod commiscetur in ingressu." Bring forth with thee—God having preserved alive the creatures that a twelvemonth before had been taken into the ark, and were now to be restored to their appropriate habitations on the earth—every living thing that is with thee, of all flesh, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth (cf. Genesis 7:21; Genesis 9:10); that they may breed abundantly—sharatz, to creep or crawl, used of reptiles and small water animals (Genesis 1:20; Genesis 7:21); hence to swarm, or multiply (Genesis 9:7)—in the earth, and be fruitful (Genesis 1:22), and multiply—literally, become numerousupon the earth.

Genesis 8:18, Genesis 8:19

And Noah went forth,—in obedience to the Divine command,—and his sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives with him,—in obedience to Noah, to whom alone the Divine instructions were communicated;—an early instance of filial subjection to parents. Every beast, every creeping thing, and every fowl, and whatsoever creepeth upon the earth, i.e. the chayyah, the remes, the 'oph, all creepers upon the ground (cf. Genesis 1:26; Genesis 7:8, Genesis 7:14), all of which had previously entered in. After their kinds. Hebrew, families, tribes (Genesis 10:18); i.e. not confusedly, but in an orderly fashion, as they had come in, each one sorting to its kind. Went forth out of the ark.

Genesis 8:20

And Noah builded an altar. Mizbeach, a place for slaying sacrifices, from zabach, to slaughter animals (Genesis 31:54), to slay in sacrifice (Le Genesis 9:4; 1 Samuel 1:4), as θυσιαστηì ριον, from θυì ειν, is the first altar mentioned in history. The English term (from altus, high) signifies a high place, because the altar was commonly a raised structure or mound of earth or stones (Exodus 20:24). Keil thinks that altars were not required prior to the Flood, the Divine presence being still visibly among men at the gate of Eden, "so that they could turn their offerings and their hearts towards that abode." Poole, Clarke, Bush, and Inglis hold that the antediluvian sacrifices presupposed an altar. Unto the Lord. Jehovah, the God of salvation. And took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl. Vide Genesis 7:2. "Seldom has there been a more liberal offering in proportion to the means of the giver. His whole stock of clean animals, wherewith to fill the world, was seven pairs of each" (Inglis). And offered. By Divine appointment, since his service was accepted; and "all religious services which are not perfumed with the odor of faith are of an ill savor before God (Calvin); but "God is peculiarly well pleased with free-will offerings, and surely, if ever an occasion existed for the exercise of grateful and adoring sentiments, the present was one" (Bush). Burnt offerings. 'ōlōth, literally, things that ascend, from 'ālāh, to go up, alluding not to the elevation of the victims on the altar, but to the ascension of the smoke of the burnt offerings to heaven (cf. 20:40; Jeremiah 48:15; Amos 4:10). On the altar.

Genesis 8:21

And the Lord (Jehovah) smelled—as is done by drawing the air in and out through the nostrils; from the root ruach, to breathe; high; to smell—a sweet savor. Reach hannichoach literally, an odor of satisfaction, acquiescence, or rest; from nuach, to rest, with an allusion to Noah's name (vide Genesis 5:29); ὀ σμη Ì ν εὐ ωδιì ας (LXX.); (cf. Le Genesis 2:12; Genesis 26:31; Numbers 15:3; Ezekiel 6:13). The meaning is that the sacrifice of the patriarch was as acceptable to God as refreshing odors are to the senses of a man; and that which rendered it acceptable was

Genesis 8:22

While the earth remaineth. Literally, as yet, all the days of the earth, i.e. henceforth, so long as the earth continues, עֹד expressing the ideas of repetition and continuance (vide Genesis 8:12). Seed-time and harvest,—from roots signifying to scatter, e.g. seed, and to cut off, specially grain; σπεì ρμα καιÌ θερισμοÌ ς (LXX.)—and cold and heat,— ψυ ì χος και Ì καῦ μα (LXX.)—and summer and winter. Properly the cutting off of fruits, from a root meaning to cut off, hence summer; and the time when fruits are plucked, hence autumn (including winter); the import of the root being to gather, to pluck off; θε ì ρος και Ì ἐ ì αρ (LXX.). The first term of each pair denotes the first half of the year, and the second term of each pair the second half. And day and night (cf. Genesis 1:5) shall not cease. Hebrew, lo yish-bothu, shall not sabbatise, or keep a day of rest; i.e. they shall continue ever in operation and succession. This Divine promise to conserve the orderly constitution and course of nature is elsewhere styled "God's covenant of the day and of the night" (cf. Jeremiah 33:20, Jeremiah 33:25).

Traditions of the Deluge.

1. The Babylonian.

2. The Egyptian. Though commonly alleged to be entirely unknown in the Nile valley, it is certain that the germs of the Deluge story are to be discovered even there. According to the Egyptian historian Manetho, quoted by Eusebius, Thoth, the first Hermes, erected certain pillars with inscriptions, which, after the Deluge, were transcribed into books. Plato also states in the Timaeus that a certain Egyptian priest informed Solon that the gods, when wishing to purify the earth, were accustomed to overwhelm it by a deluge, from which the herdsmen and shepherds saved themselves on the tops of the mountains. Josephus ('Ant.,' I. 3.9) certifies that Hieronymus the Egyptian refers to the Flood. A conception altogether analogous to that of Genesis is likewise to be found in a myth belonging to the archaic period of Seti I; which represents Ra, the Creator, as being disgusted with the insolence of mankind, and resolving to exterminate them. In short, the Egyptians believed not that there was no deluge, but that there had been several The absence of any indications of this belief in the recovered literature of ancient Egypt is not sufficient to set aside the above concurrent testimonies to its existence.

3. The Indian. Through the theft of the sacred Vedas by the giant Hayagrivah, the human race became fearfully degenerate, with the exception of seven saints and the good King Satyavrata, to whom the Divine spirit Vishnu appeared in the form of a fish, in. forming him of his purpose to destroy the earth by a flood, and at the same time to send a ship miraculously constructed for the preservation of himself and the seven holy ones, along with their wives, and one pair of each of all the irrational animals. After seven days the rain descended, when Satyavrata, confiding in the promises of the god, saw a huge ship drawing near, into which he entered as directed. Then the god appeared in the form of a fish a million miles long, with an immense horn, to which the king made the ship fast, and, drawing it for many years (a night of Brahma), at length landed it upon the highest peak of Mount Himavau. When the flood abated the god arose, struck the demon Hayagrivah, recovered the sacred books, instructed Satyavrata in all heavenly sciences, and appointed him the seventh Mann, from whom the second population of the earth descended in a supernatural manner, whence man is styled Manudsha (born of Mann). Vide Kalisch, p. 203; Auberlen's 'Divine Revelation,' p. 169 (Clark's 'For. Theol. Lib.' ).

4. The Grecian. It is sufficient here to refer to the well-known story of Deucalion and Pyrrha, first given in Pindar, and afterwards related by Apollodorus, Plutarch, Lucian, and Ovid, whose account bears so close a resemblance to the Biblical narrative as to suggest the probability of access to Hebrew or Syrian sources of information. The previous corruption of manners and morals, the eminent piety of Deucalion, the determination "genus mortals sub undisperdere," the construction of a boat by Divine direction, the bursting of the storm, the rising of the waters, the universal ocean in which "jamque mare et tellus nullum discrimen habebant," the subsidence of the flood, the landing of the boat on Parnassus with its double peak, the consultation of the Deity "per sacras sortes," and the answer of the god as to how the earth was to be re-peopled "ossaque post tergum magnae jactare parentis," are detailed with such graphic power as makes them read "like amplified reports of the record in Genesis." Indeed, by Philo, Deucalion was distinctly regarded as Noah. Cf. Ovid, 'Metamorph.,' lib. 1. f. 7.; 'Kalisch on Genesis,' p. 203; Kitto's 'Bible Illustrations,' p. 150 (Porter's edition); 'Lange on Genesis,' p. 294, note by Tayler Lewis; Smith's ' Dictionary of the Bible,' art. Noah.

5. The American. Traditions of the Flood appear to be even more numerous in the New World than the Old. The Esquimatux in the North, the Red Indians, the Mexicans and the Brazilians in the central parts of America, and the Peruvians in the South have all their peculiar versions of the Deluge story. Chasewee, the ancestor of the Dog. rib Indians, on the Mackensie river, according to Franklin, escaped in a canoe from a flood which overflowed the earth, taking with him all manner of four-footed beasts and birds. The Astees, the Mixtees, the Zapotess, and other nations inhabiting Mexico all have, according to Humboldt, their Noahs, Xisuthrus, or Manus (called Coxcox, Teocipactli, or Tezpi), who saves himself by a raft, or in a ship, which lands upon the summit of Colhuacan, the Ararat of the Mexicans. The legends of the Tamanacks relate that a man and woman saved themselves from the Deluge, and repeopled the earth by casting behind them the fruits of the Mauritia palm tree.

What, then, is the conclusion to be drawn from this universal diffusion of the Deluge story? The theory of Schirren and Gerland, as stated by the writer of the article Deluge in the 'Encyclopedia Britannica,' is that the Deluge stories were originally other-myths, descriptive of the phenomena of the sky, which have been transferred from the celestial regions to the earth; but, as Kalisch justly observes, "the harmony between all these accounts is an undeniable guarantee that the tradition is no idle invention;" or, as is forcibly stated by Rawlinson, of a tradition existing among all the great races into which ethnologists have divided mankind,—the Shemites, the Hamites, the Aryans, the Turanians,—"but one rational account can be given, viz; that it embodies the recollection of a fact in which all mankind was concerned."


Genesis 8:15-22

The saint and the Savior.

I. THE SAVIOR'S INJUNCTION TO THE SAINT (Genesis 8:15). The command which God addressed to Noah and the other inmates of the ark to go forth and take possession of the renovated earth may be regarded as emblematic of that Divine instruction which shall yet be given to the saints to go forth and take possession of the now heavens and the new earth, when the great gospel ship of the Christian Church, now floating on the troubled sea of life, shall have landed with its living freight upon the coasts of bliss. The Divine command to Noah was an order to pass—

1. From a situation of comparative peril to a position of perfect safety. Though, certainly, before the bursting of the storm the only available shelter was that afforded by the ark, "all flesh and all in whose nostrils was the breath of life" that remained without having perished, yet even inside the ark must have seemed to the inexperienced voyagers to be at the best of only doubtful security. But now whatever danger had been connected with their twelve months' drifting across a trackless sea was at an end. And so, though only within the shelter of the Christian Church can safety be enjoyed, yet at the best it is not entirely free from peril. What with temptations and afflictions, "fears within and foes without," there always is a risk of making shipwreck of the soul (1 Timothy 1:19); but when life's voyage has been finished, and the new heavens and the new earth have been revealed, the salvation of the saints will be complete.

2. From a period of patient hoping to a season of delightful enjoying. It is doubtful if we always sufficiently realize the greatness of the strain to which the faith of the patriarch was subjected when he was shut up within the ark and left there for over a twelvemonth without any direct communication from God, with nothing for his faith to rest upon but the simple promise that he and his should be saved. At the best it was only little foretastes or earnests of God's complete salvation which he enjoyed: first in being sheltered from the storm; next in being floated above the waters; then in touching land upon Ararat; and again in getting signs of the approaching deliverance. Throughout the entire period he could only live in hope and patiently endure. But here at length was the time of full fruition come. Go forth from the ark. And so it is with Christ's saints universally. Here are only earnests of the inheritance (Ephesians 1:14); there alone is the inheritance itself (Colossians 1:12). Now is the time for hoping and waiting (Romans 8:25); then is the season for seeing and enjoying (1 John 3:2). Here the saints rest upon the promise as their guarantee (2 Timothy 1:1; Hebrews 4:1); there the saints behold and experience its realization (Hebrews 6:12).

3. From a condition of restrained activity to a sphere of higher and freer service. Not that Noah's life within the ark could in any sense have been one of idleness, and neither are the lives of Christians on the earth and in the Church below; but Noah entered on another and a nobler kind of work when he left the ark than that which had engaged his powers within its precincts, and so do they who are counted worthy of attaining to Christ's Kingdom and glory. Here, like Noah's, the saint's powers of service are limited and confined; there they shall attain to greater freedom and fuller scope (1 Corinthians 13:9-12; Revelation 4:8.)

II. THE SAINT'S RESPONSE TO THE SAVIOR (Genesis 8:18). The command to leave the ark which God addressed to Noah was obeyed—

1. Immediately. We can imagine that everything was in a state of readiness for departure when the marching orders came, so that there was no need to interpose delay. So was it with the Hebrews when the Lord led them forth from Egypt (Exodus 12:11); so should Christians be always ready for their Master's summons, whether to pass from affliction (Isaiah 3:11) or into it (Genesis 22:1; Acts 21:13), to enter upon a new sphere of work (Isaiah 6:8) or retire from an old one into silence (1 Kings 17:3); to go down into the grave (2 Timothy 4:6) and wait for the apocalypse of the saints (Job 14:14), or to go up into glory and partake of the inheritance of the saints in light (Matthew 24:44).

2. Universally. Not the patriarch alone, but all his family and all the creatures came forth; so did all God's people come forth from the house of bondage (Exodus 10:26); and so will all Christ's redeemed ones who have entered into the salvation ark of his Church emerge at last into the light and felicity of heaven (Isaiah 51:11; Luke 12:32; 1 Corinthians 15:22; 1 Thessalonians 4:14).

3. Joyfully. This we may infer. After the twelve months' isolation, and confinement, and comparative peril we need not doubt that Noah and his family exulted with delight, and that even the lower creatures were not strangers to agreeable sensations. It was a picture of the happiness which even here the saints enjoy in the Divine interpositions on their behalf; but especially of the universal thrill of gladness which God's redeemed family, and even "the creature itself," shall experience in the palingenesia of the heavens and the earth (Isaiah 35:10; Romans 8:19-23)

4. Finally. They were never more to return to the ark, because never again should there he a flood. It was a delightful symbol of the completeness and finality of God's salvation when the saints shall have been landed on the heights of bliss (Revelation 21:4; Revelation 22:3-5).

III. THE SAINT'S WORSHIP OF THE SAVIOR (Genesis 8:20). As Noah's first act on stepping forth from the ark was to build an altar unto the Lord, so the saint's first work on reaching heaven will be to worship; and this worship will be—

1. Believing. This was implied in the very thought of offering up a sacrifice to Jehovah, but specially so in the circumstances in which the patriarch was then placed. The visible symbol of the Divine presence had retired to its original dwelling-place in the heavens, and yet Noah had as little doubt as ever he had that there was a God to worship. The building of an altar, therefore, just then and there was an explicit declaration of his faith. Without faith there can be no worship of God either there or there, on earth or in heaven (Hebrews 11:6).

2. Thankful. The offering of Noah was designed as an expression of his gratitude for the Lord's mercy, and so should the worship of the saints on earth be characterized by the same spirit (Philippians 4:6), as we know the adorations of the saints before the throne are (Revelation 7:12).

3. Generous. Noah took of every clean beast and every clean fowl, i.e. one of seven or one of fourteen (vide Expos.), in either case a munificent tribute to the God of his salvation. How seldom is the like liberality exhibited by Christ's worshippers on earth! What a blessed thought it is that among the saints above there will be no temptation to such meanness as is often practiced by the saints below!

4. Sincere. It was no merely formal service that the patriarch presented. The burnt offering was a symbolic declaration of his self-consecration—body, soul, and spirit—to the God who had redeemed him. Of this sort is the service which Christ expects and believers should render on the earth (Matthew 16:24; Luke 14:26; Romans 12:1; 1 Corinthians 6:20). Of such kind will be the worship of the saints in heaven (Revelation 22:8).

IV. THE SAVIOR'S RESPONSE TO THE SAINT (Genesis 8:21, Genesis 8:22). As the sacrifice of Noah was well-pleasing unto God, so will the worship of the saints find acceptance in his sight. And this acceptance of the sacrifices of the glorified, like the reception of Noah's offering—

1. Will consist in the cherishing by God of a feeling of sweet complacency towards the worshippers. As from the burning victims upon Noah's altar there came up into the Divine nostrils a savor of rest, so from the spiritual sacrifices of Christians even here there ascends an odor of a sweet smell unto God (Philippians 4:18), while in the upper sanctuary the services of the redeemed go up continually before God like the smoke of incense (Revelation 8:4).

2. Will be based upon the odor of the sacrifice of Christ, of which Noah's was the type. It was not the actual service of Noah, considered as an opus operatum, that produced the feeling of complacency in God (Micah 6:7), but the sacrificial work of Christ, to which the faith of the patriarch had an outlook (Ephesians 5:2). For the sake of that offering up of himself once for all in the end of the world that was to be accomplished by the woman's seed, and which Noah's faith truly, however dimly, embraced, God accepted him and his. That same offering is the ground or basis on which all the saints sacrifices are accepted either on earth (1 Peter 2:5) or in heaven (Revelation 5:6).

3. Will express itself through the perpetuation of the worshipper's safety.


1. Live in a state of readiness for the glorious appearing of the Son of man (Titus 1:13).

2. Expectantly wait for the manifestation of the sons of God (Romans 8:19).

3. Learn the nature of the saint's service in the heavenly world (Revelation 5:8).

4. Note the security for the perpetuity of heaven's blessedness—Christ's sacrifice and God's covenant.


Genesis 8:13-19

Rest and restoration.

Noah (Rest) comes forth from the ark in the sabbath century of his life, the six hundred and first year. He lived after the Flood 350 years, the half week of centuries; his life represented a rest, but not the rest, a half sabbath, promise of the rest which remains to the people of God.


1. Not until God spake did Noah dare to do more than lift off the covering and look.

2. At the heavenly word the family, redeemed by grace, takes possession of the redeemed habitation.

II. THE REDEEMED LIFE IN ITS NEW APPOINTMENT. GO forth of the ark into the new world. There is the keynote of the Bible. Man redeemed is man living by every word of God.

1. By Divine commandment going into the prepared refuge.

2. By Divine commandment taking down old bounds and occupying new places.

3. Going forth into a promised land rejoicing in a pledged future.

4. Carrying with him all lower creatures into a new, progressive, God-blessed inheritance. The whole creation groaning and travailing, the whole creation participating in the Divine deliverance.—R.

Genesis 8:20-22

The sanctification of the earth.

The sweet savor of man's burnt offerings—


II. UNION and COMMUNION between God and man is the foundation on which all earthly happiness and security rest.

III. The FORBEARANCE AND MERCY OF GOD in his relation to those whose hearts are yet full of evil is at once probation and grace. The ground is not cursed any more for man's sake, but, the more evidently, that which falls upon the ground may fall upon man himself. The higher revelations of God in the post-Noachic period were-certainly larger bestowments of grace, but at the same time they involved a larger responsibility. So the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews reasons as to the punishment of those who trample underfoot the covenant of the gospel. The progressive covenants which make up the history of God's grace recorded in the Scriptures are progressive separations of the evil and the good, therefore they point to that complete and final separation in which God's righteousness shall be eternally glorified.—R.


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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Genesis 8:4". The Pulpit Commentary. 1897.

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