THE LAND DRIED (Genesis 8:1–14)

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Mosaic Authorship HOW RELIABLE ARE THE GOSPELS

THE LAND DRIED.—Gen. 8:1–14

Some Hebrew Vocabulary Before the Commentary

            8:1. שָׁכַךְ shakak (1013c); a prim. root; to decrease, abate:—lessen(1), lying in wait(1), subsided(3). recede, i.e., be in a lower spatial position (Ge 8:1+), note: in context this refers to the lowering of a mass of water

            8:3. חָסֵר chaser (341a); a prim. root; to lack, need, be lacking, decrease: go down, recede, i.e., have an object or mass in a lower position or dimension (Ge 8:3, 5+)

            8:4. אֲרָרַט Ararat (76d); of for. or.; a district in E. Armenia. Ararat: mountains (Ge 8:4+) 2. kingdom or territory (2Ki 19:37; Isa 37:38; Jer 51:27+) 1. Area where the ark came to rest after the flood (Gen. 8:4). 2. Region where Sennacherib’s sons fled for refuge after murdering their father (2 Kings 19:37). 3. Jeremiah included in a prophetic call for a war league as judgment against Babylon (Jer. 51:27).

            8:8. קָלָל qalal. recede, grow smaller, i.e., be in a state of a mass becoming less and so lowering in elevation (Ge 8:8, 11+)

            8:10. חוּל chul. 1. LN 16 (qal) swirl down, i.e., the non-linear motion of a whirlwind, circling and intense (Jer 23:19b; 30:23+); (hitpolel) swirl down (Jer 23:19a+), note: Ps 87:7, some parse as 2727; 2. LN 16 (qal) turn to, i.e., a non-linear motion of pivoting the body or limb of the body, or even an object which can be turned, to take action (La 4:6; Hos 11:6+); 3. LN 13.104–13.163 (qal) happen, formally, swirl down, i.e., have an event happen as a figurative extension of an object coming down another object with extra energy (2Sa 3:29+); 4. LN 15.244 (qal) dance, i.e., patterned, rhythmic movements, possibly with a focus that this dance has whirling motions to it (Jdg 21:21+); (polel) dance (Jdg 21:23+); 5. LN 67.118–67.135 (polel) wait, formally, whirl, i.e., to extend a period of time as an extension of a non-linear motion of pivoting, and so make no linear progress (Job 35:14+); (hitpolel) wait patiently (Ps 37:7+)

יָהַל yachal. wait for, i.e., extend a period of time in a place or state, implying a hope of resolution to some situation (Ge 8:12)

            8:13. חָרֵב chareb (351a); a prim. root; to be dry or dried up. dry up, be parched, i.e., in a state which has very little or no moisture (Ge 8:13)

THE CREATION DAYS OF GENESIS gift of prophecy

Genesis 8:1a Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

But God remembered Noah …

8:1a. But God remembered Noah is how the eighth chapter of Genesis begins. Allen Ross developed the entire flood narrative in a chiastic (sometimes called inversion parallelism) structure (Ross, 191). In his arrangement the climax of the entire narrative comes at Genesis 8:1a: But God remembered Noah. God, of course, had not forgotten Noah! To “remember,” as it is used in Scripture, is not merely to recall to mind. It is to express concern and care for someone. For example, in the postexilic period Nehemiah desired that God “remember” him and act “with favor” (Neh. 5:19; 13:31). In Genesis 19:29 God “remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe.” In Genesis 30:22 God “remembered Rachel; he listened to her and opened her womb.” God is gracious when he remembers his people. So again the grace of God is emphasized when the waters begin to recede to allow the earth to dry out so mankind might live once again on the land.

God not only remembered Noah; he also remembered all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark The living creatures with Noah were also the objects of God’s favor.

DEFENDING OLD TESTAMENT AUTHORSHIP Agabus Cover BIBLICAL CRITICISM

Genesis 8:1b-5 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the livestock that were with him in the ark; and God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided. 2 The fountains of the deep and the windows of the heavens were closed, the rain from the heavens was restrained, 3 and the waters receded from the earth continually, and at the end of one hundred and fifty days the waters had abated. 4 And in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. 5 And the waters continued to abate until the tenth month; in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains were visible.

APOSTOLIC FATHERS Lightfoot

8:1b–5. The receding of the waters occurred for two reasons. First, the springs of the deep and the floodgates of the heavens had been closed, and the rain had stopped falling from the sky This had actually happened after the first forty days and nights (Gen. 7:17), but the resulting flood remained on the earth for 150 days. Now God sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded. This wind could have caused some evaporation but not enough to cause mountains to appear on the earth. Somehow God caused pressure from water to buckle the crust of the earth to create the large oceans we have today. Apparently, he did so by causing a huge tidal surge created by a divine wind.

As the waters pressed down the crust of the earth in other places, the crust must have thrust upwards to create the mountains we have today. This entire process took another 150 days. So at the end of the hundred and fifty days the water had gone down, and on the seventeenth day of the seventh month the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. The mountain that today is known as Mt. Ararat (over 17,000 feet above sea level) lies on the north-central border of modern Turkey and Soviet Armenia.

Genesis 8:6-14 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
6 And it came to be at the end of forty days Noah opened the window of the ark that he had made, 7 and he sent forth a raven; it went out, going out and returning until the waters were dried up from the earth. 8 Then he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters had subsided from the face of the ground, 9 but the dove found no place to set her foot, and she returned to him to the ark, for the waters were still on the face of the whole earth. So he put out his hand and took her and brought her into the ark to himself. 10 And he waited another seven days, and again he sent out the dove from the ark. 11 And the dove came back to him in the evening, and behold, in her mouth was a freshly plucked olive leaf. So Noah knew that the waters had abated from the earth. 12 And he waited again another seven days, and he sent out the dove, but it did not return again to him.

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.

REASONING WITH OTHER RELIGIONS APOLOGETICS

8:6–14. This extensive narrative in Genesis describes the method Noah used to ascertain that the waters had receded enough for his family to leave the ark. Forty days after “the tops of the mountains became visible,” he sent out a raven. Today ravens are omnivorous, that is, they will eat anything edible (and many things that aren’t). Their usual diet consists of insects, seeds, berries, carrion (the bodies of animals killed by creatures other than the raven), the eggs and young of other birds, and occasionally small mammals. When living near humans, ravens will also eat human garbage. The ravens of Noah’s era were strictly vegetarian. But compared to the dove, the raven seemed to be willing to rest on wet surfaces.

The forty days that the raven remained outside the ark equals the time from when it was released until the time when the water had dried up from the earth. The phrase it kept flying back and forth should not be taken to mean continuous flight for forty days but a constant flying around the ark. In contrast, the dove which was released (probably seven days after the raven since for the second dove Noah waited seven more days) returned because the dove could find no place to set its feet because there was water over all the surface of the earth. The earth was still wet from the flood, although the waters were receding.

The second dove returned with a freshly plucked olive leaf. So Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth at least to the level where plants once grew and for a long enough duration that plants could begin to grow again. The modern symbol of peace, represented by a dove carrying an olive branch in its beak, has its origin here. The dove with the olive branch did not represent peace between any people but only that the earth was becoming a place where man could live once again.

The third dove never returned. This indicated that the earth was so dry that the bird could make a nest and find food.[1]

The date of the complete drying of the land is then given. The interval from the entrance to the exit consists of the following periods:

Rain continued

40

days.

Waters prevailed

150

days.

Waters subside

29

days.

Noah delays

40

days.

Sending of raven and dove

20

days.

Another month

29

days.

Interval till 27th of second month

57

days.

Sum-total of day

365

 

Hence, it appears that the interval was a lunar year of three hundred and fifty-six days nearly, and ten days; that is, as nearly as possible, a solar year. This passage is important because of the divisions of time that it brings out in this early epoch. The week of seven days is plainly intimated. The lunar month and year are evidently known. Remarkably, the ten additional days bring up the lunar year in whole numbers to the solar. It seems a tacit agreement with the real order of nature. According to the Hebrew text, the deluge commenced in the 1656th year of the race of man. According to all texts, it occurred in the time of Noah, the ninth in descent from Adam.

Andrew E. Steinmann writes,

The flood recedes (8:1–14)

Context

The receding of the flood is recalled in two stages. First the waters subsided until the ark came to rest (vv. 1–4). Next, Noah sent out birds from the ark to determine when it was safe to leave the ark (vv. 5–14).

Comment

1–3. While ‘remember’ can at times be used of recalling something, the Hebrew word also has other connotations. That God remembered (v. 1) does not imply that he had forgotten about Noah or that he had to recall Noah’s situation. Instead, this expression notes God’s faithfulness to his promise, especially when he delivers his people from trouble or provides for them (19:29; 30:22; Exod. 2:24; Num. 10:9; Luke 1:72). At times ‘remember’ can be used of people’s faithfulness to God and his covenant (Exod. 20:8). Because God remembered he sent a wind to dry the waters. This signals a transition to a sort of recreating of the earth, since God’s Spirit was present over the waters at creation (1:2), and the word for wind is also the word for Spirit.

Now the springs of the deep and the windows of heaven were closed and the rain was stopped. Like the beginning of the inundation, at the end of the deluge the action associated with the sources of water is described in the passive voice, implying that they are under God’s control (v. 2; see 7:11).

4. The ark rested, the first of several plays on words with Noah’s name in the flood narrative. The ark’s location was on the mountains of Ararat. This is a Hebrew expression that means ‘one of the mountains in Ararat’. Ararat is the region known in antiquity to the Assyrians as Urartu. It is a mountainous region in Armenia in south-west Turkey and north-west Iran surrounding Lake Van. Today one of the mountains in that region is often called Mount Ararat, owing to a tradition stemming from the eleventh to twelfth centuries AD.

5–9. When Noah could see the tops of neighbouring mountains he opened a window in the ark, which apparently allowed him to see more of the landscape as well as observe the birds he would send out. He first sent out a raven and then a dove. The raven flew back and forth, the Hebrew text indicating that it went out from the ark and returned, apparently roosting on the ark but not returning to Noah. This behaviour continued for two months until the water dried up from the land (see v. 13). Ravens are carrion eaters, so it could sustain itself without Noah feeding it. The dove, on the other hand, found no place to land, literally no ‘resting place’, a second play on Noah’s name in this chapter. So the dove returned to Noah in the evening. Doves and pigeons feed on seeds, fruits and plants. The return of the dove told Noah that plant life had not yet sufficiently recovered.

10–11. One week later Noah sent the dove out again and this time it brought back a newly sprouted olive leaf, indicating that plants were beginning to grow again.

12–13. Noah waited another week before sending the dove out a third time. When the dove did not return, Noah knew that sufficient plant life was growing to support the dove. This prompted him to open the ark’s cover to observe that the water was gone and the ground was drying.

14. Exactly one year and ten days after Noah and his family entered the ark the land had dried and they could leave the ark. This is often assumed to be 370 days, with the year reckoned as 360 days, since the 150 days of the flood appear to span exactly five months (compare 7:11 and 8:4). However, of this we cannot be certain. For instance, the ancient Egyptian civil calendar contained twelve months of thirty days each but then added an additional five days at the end of the year to approximate a complete solar year. Under that scheme Noah would have been on the ark 375 days.

Meaning

God’s providence and care for his creation are highlighted in the opening of this part of the flood account when God remembered Noah and the creatures on the ark. The receding of the floodwaters, the result of God’s action precipitated by his remembering, brings hope to a narrative that had sounded a foreboding note by stating that only Noah was left (7:23).[2]

Young Christians

BIBLE DIFFICULTIES

GENESIS 8:1 OTBDC: How are we to understand the thought that “after that God remembered Noah,” is it possible that God forgot Noah?

Genesis 8:1 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the livestock that were with him in the ark;  and God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided.

This would seem to conflict with other texts that say God knows everything. (Ps. 139:2-4; Jer. 17:10; Heb. 4:13) Moreover, Isaiah 49:15 has God Himself saying that He will not forget his holy ones. Therefore, how are we to reconcile what appears to be God temporarily forgetting Noah? God never forgot Noah. “Remembered” is being used in a way that is an idiomatic expression and does not literally mean that God forgot Noah. A husband will use a similar expression when he remembers his wife on their anniversary. This does not mean the husband forgot their mate existed. In Scripture, to ‘remember’ is not always to recall to mind, but can be used to express interest, care, and concern for another.

How to Interpret the Bible-1

GENESIS 8:11 OTBDC: If the floodwaters destroyed the trees, where did the dove get the olive leaf?

Genesis 8:11 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
11 And the dove came back to him in the evening, and behold, in her mouth was a freshly plucked olive leaf. So Noah knew that the waters was abated from the earth.

The olive is a very strong and resistant tree, so it is possible that it could have remained alive under water for many months after the flood. After the flood waters had gone down, leaving the tree on the dry ground once more, it could then have put forth leaves once more. Another alternative is that the dove was carrying the leaf of a very young sprout that came up after the flood waters had gone down.

By James G. Murphy and Edward D. Andrews

[1] Kenneth O. Gangel and Stephen J. Bramer, Genesis, ed. Max Anders, Holman Old Testament Commentary (B&H Publishing Group, 2002), 88–89.

[2] Andrew E. Steinmann, Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary, ed. David G. Firth, vol. 1, The Tyndale Commentary Series (London: Inter-Varsity Press, 2019), 100–102.

Bibliography

  • 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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