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THE FLOOD.—Gen. 7:10–24
Genesis 7:10–16 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
10 It came about after the seven days, that the water of the flood came upon the earth. 11 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 burst open, and the windows of heaven were opened. 12 And the rain fell upon the earth for forty days and forty nights.
Genesis 7:10–12. Specific temporal designations for the preflood inhabitation of the ark (seven days), for the initiation of the flood (in the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month) as well as specific details about the source of the flood waters (springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened) are given. These facts demonstrate the literalness of the flood. They also allow us to determine the exact duration of the flood.
9b–10. Once again, the author emphasizes that Noah followed God’s command (v. 9b). Then he notes the seven days after God’s instruction (v. 10). This is the reverse of the wording in verses 4–5 and forms a frame around Noah’s compliance to God’s instructions.
God’s instructions to Noah are carefully preserved in this part of the flood narrative to emphasize God’s concern that the creatures he created be preserved. In addition, the text twice more underscores the fact that Noah complied with God’s directives. This demonstrates to readers that Noah was what God knew him to be: the most faithful man in his generation and the proper choice for preserving life on earth.
11–12. The six hundredth year, second month and seventeenth day of Noah’s life is the first of five specific dates given in the flood narrative to mark important milestones (see Table 6 on p. 99).
The flood had two sources of water: the springs of the great deep and the windows of heaven (v. 11), both expressed with metaphorical flourishes also employed elsewhere in the Old Testament (Isa. 24:18; Amos 7:4; Mal. 3:10). The deep was last mentioned at the beginning of creation (1:2). Two different passive verbs are used: the springs burst open (literally, ‘were split’) and the windows were opened. Both passives point to God’s activity in bringing the deluge on earth. The inundation of the land from waters below and above that were separated on the second day (1:6–8) is a reversal of God’s work on the third day (1:9–13). The forty days and forty nights of rain (v. 12) fulfilled God’s earlier word to Noah (v. 4). Just as Noah did everything God commanded, so God did everything he had said he would do. The word for rain is the Hebrew word denoting the heavy winter rains in Palestine.
Genesis 7:13–16 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
13 On the very same day Noah and his sons, Shem and Ham and Japheth, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons with them entered the ark, 14 they and every beast, according to its kind, and all the livestock according to their kinds, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, according to its kind, and every bird, according to its kind, every winged creature. 15 And they went into the ark with Noah, two and two of all flesh in which there was the breath of life. 16 And those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him. And Jehovah shut him in.
Genesis 7:13–16. These verses serve as a flashback to verse 7 and Noah’s entrance into the ark. The fact that animals came to Noah and entered the ark is repeated. This flashback contains one unusual piece of reassuring information: Then the Lord shut him in. Noah did not make the decision about the means of deliverance, and neither did he make the decision about when the provision would no longer be available. God himself shut the door to signify that the days of grace (Gen. 6:3) were over.
Table 6 Dates Given in the Flood Narrative
13. Shem, Ham and Japheth are mentioned by name only here in the flood narrative. All of the men are mentioned by name, while the four wives remain unnamed. It is from this verse that Peter could mention eight people saved from the flood (1 Pet. 3:20), since neither Noah nor his sons practised polygamy.
14–16. While the types of animals that came into the ark mimic the animals created on the fifth and sixth days in 1:20–31, the flying animals are carefully defined as both birds and all winged creatures (v. 14). The connection to 1:20–31 is made especially through the mention of each type of creature according to its kind. We are told that all flesh came into the ark by pairs (v. 15; literally, ‘two, two’) and male and female of all flesh (v. 16). This emphasizes Noah’s faithful execution of God’s instructions (see 6:19), while also noting that God preserved life, though he had resolved to destroy all flesh (6:12–13). This preservation is emphasized as God shut them in the ark.
Genesis 7:17–24 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
17 And the flood continued forty days on the earth. The waters increased and bore up the ark, and it rose high above the earth. 18 The waters prevailed and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the face of the waters. 19 And the waters prevailed overwhelmingly on the earth that all the high mountains under the whole heavens were covered. 20 The waters prevailed above the mountains, covering them fifteen cubits deep. 21 And every living thing that moved on the earth perished, the birds, and the domesticated animals, and the wild animals, and everything that swarmed on the earth, and all mankind; 22 everything in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life among all that was on dry land, died. 23 And he blotted out every living thing that was upon the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to flying creatures of the heavens, and they were blotted out from the earth; and only Noah was left, together with those that were with him in the ark. 24 The waters prevailed on the earth one hundred and fifty days.
 That is, surface
 Lit very very
 A cubit equaled 44.5 cm (17.5 in.).
Genesis 7:17–24. The rain lasted for forty days. By the end of this time, the entire earth including all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered to a depth of more than twenty feet. This demonstrates that no living creature could possibly survive by escape to a high place. But not only was everything covered by water; this water remained in place for a hundred and fifty days. The implication of this is that no living creature, even clinging to a floating piece of debris or existing in some air pocket on earth, could live through such a deluge.
Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark. This is both reassuring and heartbreaking. All the rest of humanity perished, not for lack of a means of deliverance but because of their unwillingness to believe God’s word. “He [Christ] was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built” (1 Pet. 3:18b–20a). While there are a number of interpretations of these verses, it is possible to understand that the people of Noah’s day were warned by God through Noah. Even without this Scripture, surely Noah’s example and attestation of God’s revelation to him would have been a significant testimony to the people of his day.
17–20. The last use of the term flood occurs with the notice of the rising waters during the forty days of rain that lifted the ark so that it floated above the mountains (vv. 17–19). The waters are said to have been 15 cubits above the mountains. Since the ark was 30 cubits high, this probably indicates that the ark’s draught was 15 cubits (v. 20). Thus, the water rose high enough to lift the ark at least 15 cubits over the highest peak.
21–24. Verses 21–22 emphasize the death of all life and employ six terms used in the creation narrative for days five and six: crawling animals, birds, livestock, wild animals, swarming animals and humans. All of these contained the breath of the spirit of life (csb), a phrase that expands on the phrase breath [literally ‘spirit’] of life in this flood narrative (6:17; 7:15, 22). In contrast, verse 23 emphasizes God’s act of preserving Noah and all the lives with him. Finally, we are told that the waters inundated the earth for 150 days (v. 24). This probably includes the forty days of rain, since these 150 days are the same as the 150 days of 8:3. They account for the five months from the entry of Noah into the ark (v. 11) to the ark coming to rest (8:4). Thus, the waters rose for forty days, crested, and then dropped for 110 days until they were low enough for the ark to come to rest in the Ararat Mountains.
This account of the saving of Noah’s family and the animals in the ark not only reveals God’s compassion towards his creatures, but also demonstrates his wrath against sinful humanity. While the faithful Noah survived with all the life on the ark, the rest of the world perished (7:21–23). Even the earth’s animals, which are amoral creatures, incapable of sin against God, were affected by the consequences of the tide of sin which had overwhelmed the earth.
Genesis 7:19 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
19 And the waters prevailed overwhelmingly on the earth that all the high mountains under the whole heavens were covered.
 Lit very very
Genesis 7:19. Upon the earth. Phrases such as “mankind,” “all the people of earth,” “every living creature,” “all the high mountains,” “everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils,” “every living thing on the face of the earth,” and “all life” are found in Genesis 6:7, 12–13; 7:4, 19, 21–23; 8:21; 9:11, 15.
A decision on whether the flood was local (limited to Mesopotamian) as opposed to worldwide must be based on the clear intent of the passage. But the universal interpretation is further substantiated by the laws of physics. Water seeks its own level. So if “all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered” (Gen. 7:19) for a period of almost a year, then the whole world would have been under water. Since the earth is covered on approximately five-sixths of its surface by water, and since the oceans are deeper than the highest mountains, there is plenty of water to cover the surface of the earth if in the preflood era the oceans were not as deep and the mountains not as high.
The apostle Peter spoke of the universal nature of the flood when he declared, “By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.” Peter was speaking of a universal judgment on the day of the Lord.
There seems to be no room within the biblical account to accommodate a local flood if words are taken at face value, although this is the most common modern scientific opinion when faced with the possibility of contemplating an ancient universal flood. In fact, there are many conservative scholars who interpret the flood as a Mesopotamian regional flood.
By James G. Murphy and Edward D. Andrews, Kenneth O. Gangel, Stephen J. Bramer, and Andrew E. Steinmann
GENESIS 7:11 OTBDC: Where did the water come from that caused the flood in Noah’s day?
Genesis 1:6-8 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
6 And God went on to say, “Let there be an expanse in the middle of the waters, and let there be a separation between the waters and the waters.” 7And God went on to make the expanse, and make a separation between the waters, which were under the expanse and between the waters, which were above the expanse: and it came to be so. 8 And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.
You will notice that on the second creative “day” or period when the expanse (or sky, the atmosphere above the earth) was formed, there were waters under the expanse and those above the expanse. Therefore, there was a body of water above the sky, our atmosphere and water under our sky on the earth.
Genesis 6:17 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
17 Behold, I, even I am bringing the flood of waters [“the heavenly ocean” (הַמַּבּוּל hammabbul)] upon the earth, to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life, from under heaven; everything that is on the earth shall perish.
Genesis 7:11 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
11 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 burst open, and the windows of heaven were opened.
There was a “surging waters; water canopy” (תְּהוֹם tehom or תְּהֹם tehom), a “heavenly ocean” (הַמַּבּוּל hammabbul), above the atmosphere. This water fell to the earth in the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month.
GENESIS 7:24 OTBDC: Did the flood rains last forty days or one hundred fifty days?
Genesis 7:24 and 8:3 say the floodwaters lasted for 150 days, yet; Genesis 7:4, 12 and 17 say it was only forty days. The difference is solved with a simple explanation. Each refers to two different periods of time. Let us look at these verses again (italics mine):
Genesis 7:12 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
12 And the rain fell upon the earth for forty days and forty nights.
Notice that the 40-days refer to how long the rain fell—“the rain fell.”
Genesis 7:24 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
24 The waters prevailed on the earth one hundred and fifty days.
Notice that the one hundred and fifty days refer to how long the flood lasted—“waters prevailed.”
Genesis 8:3 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
3 and the waters receded from the earth continually, and at the end of one hundred and fifty days the waters had abated.
Genesis 8:4 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
4 And in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat.
Genesis 7:11; 8:13-14 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
11 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 burst open, and the windows of heaven were opened. 13 In the six hundred and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried up from upon the earth. And Noah removed the covering of the ark and looked, and behold, the face of the ground was dried up. 14 In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth was dry.
By the end of the one hundred and fifty days, the water had gone down [Gen 8:3]. Five months from the rain’s beginning, the ark rests on Mount Ararat [8:4]. Eleven months later the waters dried up [7:11; 8:13]. Exactly 370 days from the start (lunar months), Noah and his family left the ark and were on dry ground.
- Edward D Andrews, BIBLE DIFFICULTIES: How to Approach Difficulties In the Bible, Christian Publishing House. 2020.
- Edward D. Andrews, INTERPRETING THE BIBLE: Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics, Christian Publishing House, 2016.
- Gleason L. Archer, New International Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, Zondervan’s Understand the Bible Reference Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1982).
- Geoffrey W. Bromiley, ed., “Appearance,” The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised (Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1979–1988).
- Hermann J. Austel, R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999).
- Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003).
- James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Hebrew (Old Testament) (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).
- John Joseph Owens, Analytical Key to the Old Testament, vol. 1-4 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1989).
- John F. MacArthur, The MacArthur Bible Commentary. Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
- Robert L. Thomas, New American Standard Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Dictionaries: Updated Edition (Anaheim: Foundation Publications, Inc., 1998).
- Thomas Howe; Norman L. Geisler. Big Book of Bible Difficulties, The: Clear and Concise Answers from Genesis to Revelation. Kindle Edition.
- Walter A. Elwell and Barry J. Beitzel, “Chronology, Old Testament,” Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988).
- W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, and William White Jr., Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1996).
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 Kenneth O. Gangel and Stephen J. Bramer, Genesis, ed. Max Anders, Holman Old Testament Commentary (B&H Publishing Group, 2002), 76.
 Andrew E. Steinmann, Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary, ed. David G. Firth, vol. 1, The Tyndale Commentary Series (London: Inter-Varsity Press, 2019), 98–99.
 Kenneth O. Gangel and Stephen J. Bramer, Genesis, ed. Max Anders, Holman Old Testament Commentary (B&H Publishing Group, 2002), 76.
 Andrew E. Steinmann, Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary, ed. David G. Firth, vol. 1, The Tyndale Commentary Series (London: Inter-Varsity Press, 2019), 99.
 Kenneth O. Gangel and Stephen J. Bramer, Genesis, ed. Max Anders, Holman Old Testament Commentary (B&H Publishing Group, 2002), 77.
 Andrew E. Steinmann, Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary, ed. David G. Firth, vol. 1, The Tyndale Commentary Series (London: Inter-Varsity Press, 2019), 100.
 Kenneth O. Gangel and Stephen J. Bramer, Genesis, ed. Max Anders, Holman Old Testament Commentary (B&H Publishing Group, 2002), 80–81.
 William Lee Holladay, Ludwig Köhler and Ludwig Köhler, A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament. (Leiden: Brill, 1971), 181.