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INTRODUCTION TO GENESIS 8
This chapter gives an account of the going off of the waters from the earth, and of the entire deliverance of Noah, and those with him in the ark, from the flood, when all the rest were destroyed: after an one hundred and fifty days a wind is sent over the earth, the fountains of the deep and the windows of heaven are stopped, the waters go off gradually, and the ark rests on Mount Ararat, Genesis 8:1 two months and thirteen days after that the tops of the mountains were seen, Genesis 8:5 and forty days after the appearance of them, Noah sent forth first a raven, and then a dove, and that a second time, to know more of the abatement of the waters, Genesis 8:6. When Noah had been in the ark ten months and thirteen days, he uncovered it, and the earth was dry, yet not so dry as to be fit for him to go out upon, until near two months after, Genesis 8:13 when he had an order from God to go out of the ark, with all that were with him, which was accordingly obeyed, Genesis 8:15 upon which he offered sacrifice by way of thankfulness for his great deliverance, which was accepted by the Lord; who promised him not to curse the earth any more, nor to drown it, but that it should remain, and as long as it did there would be the constant revolutions of the seasons of the year, and of day and night, Genesis 8:20.
And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that [was] with him in the ark,.... Not that God had forgotten Noah, for he does not, and cannot forget his creatures, properly speaking; but this is said after the manner of men, and as it might have seemed to Noah, who having heard nothing of him for five months, and having been perhaps longer in the ark than he expected, might begin to think that he was forgotten of God; but God remembered him, and his covenant with him, and the promise that he had made to him, that he and his family, and all the living creatures in the ark, should be preserved alive during the flood, Genesis 6:17 and God may be said particularly to remember him, and them, when he began to take measures for removing the waters from the earth, as he did by sending a wind, next mentioned: and thus God's helping his people when in difficulties and in distress, and delivering out of them, is called his remembrance of them; and he not only remembered Noah and his family, who are included in him, but every living creature also, which is expressed; for as the creatures suffered in the flood for the sins of men, so those in the ark were remembered and preserved for the sake of Noah and his family, and the world of men that should spring from them:
and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters assuaged; not a stormy blustering one, that would have endangered the ark, but a gentle, hot, drying one; which stopped the increase of the waters, and made them less, and both drove away the rain, as the north wind does, as this perhaps was r, and caused the waters to move wards their proper channels and receptacles: this was the work of God, who has the command of the winds and waters, brings the former out of his storehouses, and restrains the latter at his pleasure; and this wind had this effect to assuage the waters, not from its own nature, but was attended with the mighty power of God to make it effectual, in an extraordinary manner: and it was, as the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem call it, "a wind of mercies", or a merciful wind; or a wind of comforts, as Jarchi; for so it was to Noah and his family, and to all the creatures, since it served to dry up the waters of the flood, and caused them to subside.
r ------------for clouds were fled, Driv'n by a keen north wind, that, blowing dry, Wrinkled the face of Deluge, as decay'd. Milton, B. 11. l. 841, &c.
The fountains also of the deep, and the windows of heaven, were stopped,.... The passages which let out the subterraneous waters in great quantity upon the earth, and the clouds of heaven, which poured down water upon it like spouts, were stopped from sending forth any more, as they had from the first of the flood unto one hundred and fifty days from thence: Jarchi observes, that it is not said that "all" the fountains of the deep, as when they were broken up, Genesis 7:11 because some of them were left open for the use and benefit of the world; besides, some must be left for the return of the waters:
and the rain from heaven was restrained: which seems to confirm what has been before observed, that after the rain of forty days and nights it ceased not to rain, more or less, though not so vehemently, until the end of an hundred and fifty days, and then it entirely ceased.
And the waters returned from off the earth continually,.... Or "going and returning" s; they went off from the earth, and returned to their proper places appointed for them; some were dried up by the wind, and exhaled by the sun into the air: and others returned to their channels and cavities in the earth, or soaked into it:
and after the end of the hundred and fifty days, the waters were abated; or began to abate, as Jarchi and the Vulgate Latin version; which days are to be reckoned from the beginning of the flood, including the forty days' rain; though Jarchi reckons them from the time of the ceasing of it; so that there were from the beginning of the flood one hundred and ninety days; six months, and ten days of the year of the flood now past; and in this he is followed by Dr. Lightfoot t: but the former reckoning seems best, and agrees better with what follows.
s הלוך ושוב, "eundo et redeundo", Pagninus, Montanus. t Works, vol. 1. p. 6.
And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month,.... That is, five months after the flood began, and when the waters began to decrease; for this is not the seventh month of the flood, but of the year, which being reckoned from Tisri, or the autumnal equinox, must be the month Nisan, which answers to part of our March, and part of April; and so the Targum of Jonathan explains it,
"this is the month Nisan;''
but Jarchi makes it to be the month Sivan, which answers to part of May, and part of June, taking it to be the seventh month from Cisleu, when the forty days' rain ceased; in which he is followed by Dr. Lightfoot u; and according to Bishop Usher w the seventeenth day of the seventh month, on which the ark rested, was Wednesday the sixth of May: and then it rested
upon the mountains of Ararat; that is, on one of them, for Ararat is said to be a long ridge of mountains like the Alps, or the Pyrenean mountains; which, as Sir Walter Raleigh x thinks, are the same which run through Armenia, Mesopotamia, Assyria, c. and are by Pliny y called Taurus. But what is now called Ararat, and by the Armenians Messis or Macis, and by the Turks Augri-daugh or Agrida, is a single mountain, and is so high that it overtops all the mountains thereabout and that which makes it seem so very high is, that it stands by itself in the form of a sugar loaf, in the middle of one of the greatest plains one can see; it has two tops, one greater, and the smaller is most sharp pointed of the two z. The Vulgate Latin version renders it the mountains of Armenia; and so Ararat in the Septuagint of Isaiah 37:38 is rendered Armenia, and in our version also; and it is the more commonly received opinion, that Ararat was a mountain there; and this agrees with the testimonies of various Heathen writers, which are produced by Josephus and Eusebius. Berosus the Chaldean a says,
"it is reported that in Armenia, on a mountain of the Cordyaeans, there is part of a ship, the pitch of which some take off, and carry about with them, and use it as an amulet to avert evils.''
And Nicholas of Damascus b relates, that in Minyas in Armenia is an huge mountain called Baris, to which, as the report is, many fled at the flood, and were saved; and that a certain person, carried in an ark or chest, struck upon the top of it, and that the remains of the timber were preserved a long time after; and, adds he, perhaps he may be the same that Moses, the lawgiver of the Jews, writes of. Now this mountain seems plainly to have its name from the ark of Noah, for a boat, or ship, is, with the Egyptians, called Baris. Herodotus c gives a large account of ships they call by this name; and the boat in which Charon is said to carry the dead bodies over the lake Acherusia, near Memphis, is said by Diodorus Siculus d to have the same name. Abydenus the Assyrian e tells us, that
"Saturn having foretold to Sisithrus, that there would be a vast quantity of rain on the fifteenth of the month Daesius, he immediately sailed to the Armenians; and that the ship being driven to Armenia, the inhabitants made amulets of the wood of it, which they carried about their necks, as antidotes against diseases.''
And hence Melo f, who wrote against the Jews, suggests, as if the deluge did not reach Armenia; for he says,
"at the deluge a man that had escaped with his sons went from Armenia, being driven out of his possession by those of the country, and passing over the intermediate region, came into the mountainous part of Syria, which was desolate.''
And with what Berosus says of a mountain of the Cordyaeans, in Armenia, agree the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan, and the Syriac and Arabic versions, who all render the words here the mountains of Cardu or Carda: from the resting of the ark on this day on the mountains of Ararat, Jarchi concludes, and Dr. Lightfoot g after him, that the ark drew eleven cubits water, which, according to them, thus appears; on the first day of the month Ab, the mountain tops were first seen, and then the waters had fallen fifteen cubits, which they had been sixty days in doing, namely, from the first day of Sivan, and so they had abated the proportion of one cubit in four days: by this account we find, that on the sixteenth day of Sivan they had abated but four cubits, and yet on the next day, the seventeenth, the ark resteth on a hill, where the waters yet lay eleven cubits above it.
u Works. vol. 1. p. 8. w Annales Vet. Test. p. 4. x History of the World, B. 1. ch. 7. sect. 13. y Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 27. z Cartwright's Preacher's Travels, p. 32. Tournefort's Voyage to the Levant, vol. 3. p. 177, 183, 186. a Apud Joseph. Antiqu. l. 1. c. 3. sect. 6. b Apud ib. c Euterpe sive, l. 2. c. 96. d Bibliothec. l. 1. p. 87. e Apud Euseb. Evangel. Praepar. l. 9. c. 12. p. 414, 415. f Apud ib. c. 19. p. 420. g Ut supra, (Works. vol. 1.) p. 8.
And the waters decreased continually until the tenth month,.... That is, from the seventeenth of the seventh month, to the first of the tenth month, a space of two months and thirteen days, and being summer time, through the heat of the sun, they decreased apace:
in the tenth [month], on the first [day] of the month, were the tops of the mountains seen; not the tenth month of the flood, but of the year; the month Tammuz, as the Targum of Jonathan, and answers to part of June, and part of July; and the first day of this month, according to Bishop Usher h, was Sunday the nineteenth of July: but according to Jarchi, whom Dr. Lightfoot i follows, this was the month Ab, which answers to July and August, the tenth from Marchesvan, when the rain began.
h Ut supra. (Annales Vet. Test. p. 4.) i Ut supra. (Works, vol 1. p. 6.)
And it came to pass at the end of forty days,.... From the appearance of the mountains, that is, from the first day of the tenth month, to forty days after; and being ended, this must be the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the month Ab, which answers to July and August; and according to Bishop Usher k it was Friday the twenty eighth of August:
that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made; of which
k Ut supra. (Annales Vet. Test. p. 4.)
And he sent forth a raven,.... That by it he might make his observation, how high or low the waters were upon the earth; and the rather he sent out the raven, a bird of prey, which feeds on carrion, that if the earth had been dry, the smell of the dead carcasses would have invited it to go far off from the ark, and not return; but if not, he would see it again:
which went forth to and fro, until the waters were dried up from the earth; or, "and it went forth, going forth and returning" l; it went forth out of the ark, and returned, but might not go into it, but went forth again, and then returned; and thus it continued going backwards and forwards, until the waters were dried up, when it returned no more: the Septuagint version is, "and it returned not"; and so some Jewish writers m say, it found the carcass of a man on the top of the mountains, and sat upon it for food, and returned not: hence came the fable of Apollo's sending a raven to fetch water, while he was sacrificing, which lighting on a large corn field, yet green, and being willing to enjoy some grains of it, waited till it was ripe, and neglected its orders n; and hence is the proverb, "corvus nuntius". Some make this creature to be an emblem of the law, first sent forth, but brought no good tidings of the waters of God's wrath being assuaged, but worketh wrath, and is the ministration of condemnation and death: rather it is an emblem of unregenerate men, who are, like it, black through original sin and actual transgressions; are unclean and polluted in all the powers and faculties of their souls; are hateful, hating one another, and live in carnal and sensual lusts pleasures.
l ויצא יצוא ושוב "et exiit egrediende et redeundo", Pagninus, Montanus, Schmidt. m Pirke Eliezer, c. 23. n Aelian. Var. Hist. l. 1. c. 47.
Also he sent forth a dove from him,.... Seven days after he had sent out the raven, as in Genesis 8:10
to see if the waters were abated from off the face of the ground; for the dove is a creature that delights in cleanness, flies low, and goes far off, so that if it returned not again, he might conclude that the waters were gone off the earth; but being a sociable creature, and familiar to men, and especially loving to its mate, if they were not gone off, it would certainly return again. This some take to be an emblem of the Gospel, bringing the good tidings of peace, pardon, righteousness and salvation by Jesus Christ: rather it is an emblem of a sensible sinner, and true believer in Christ, being mournful, timorous, swift, modest, and affectionate; such persons, like doves of the valley, mourn for their iniquities; tremble at the sight of their sins, and the curses of the law, at the apprehension of divine wrath, at the awful judgment of God; and are fearful lest Christ should not receive them, to whom they swiftly fly for refuge, as doves to their windows; and who are modest, meek, and lowly, and affectionate to Christ, and one another. The Targum of Jonathan calls this an house dove, or tame one: hence, perhaps, came the practice of making use of doves as messengers to carry letters from place to place o.
o Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 10. c. 37.
But the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot, [and] she returned unto him into the ark,.... It being a creature that feeds upon seeds it picks off from the ground, and loving cleanness, it could find no place where it could alight, and have food to live upon, and retain its cleanness; for though the tops of the mountains were clear of the waters, yet they might be muddy and filthy with what the waters had raised up in them, or left upon them; and therefore it returned to Noah again, and not only like the raven unto the ark, but into it:
for the waters were on the face of the whole earth: there was no place dry, and so neither food nor footing for this creature; and which was an emblem of a sensible sinner, who finds no rest in anything short of Christ; not in worldly enjoyments; nor in external duties, not in hearing, reading, praying, fasting, nor in external humiliation and tears; nor in the law, and in the works of it; nor in natural descent, nor in education principles, nor in a profession of religion, and subjection to ordinances; only in Christ, where it finds rest from the burden and guilt of sin, and the tyrannical power of it; from the bondage, curse, and condemnation of the law, and from a sense of divine wrath and fear of it; and though not from afflictions, yet it finds rest in Christ amidst them:
then he put forth his hand and took her, and pulled her in unto him into the ark: she hovered about it, and got near the window, which Noah opened and took her in; which may represent the gracious reception sensible souls meet with from Christ, who apply to him; he kindly embraces them, and they find room in his heart and affections, fulness of everything they want, and security from all danger.
And he stayed yet other seven days,.... As he had stayed seven days between the sending out of the raven and the dove, so he stayed seven days more after he had sent out the dove, and it returned to him, waiting patiently for his deliverance, and the signs of it; though he could have been glad to have known its near approach, for which he made the experiments be did:
and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark; very probably the selfsame dove he had sent out before.
And the dove came in to him in the evening,.... It having been out all day delighting itself in a free air, and perching upon the trees, but yet not finding sufficient food, or a proper lodging, it returned to Noah at the evening for food and dwelling in the ark:
and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf plucked off: which might easily be done, and even an "olive branch", as the word sometimes signifies, and is by some p rendered; for it being now the summer season, young branches sprouted out, which being tender, were easily cropped: the Targum of Jonathan adds,
"which it had took from the mount of Olives;''
but there is no necessity to suppose it went so far from the ark, since Assyria, a country nearer, was a land of olive oil, like that of Judea;
2 Kings 18:32 and besides, olives grew in Armenia itself, where the ark rested. Gogarene, in Armenia, is said by Strabo q to produce olive trees; though a modern author says r
"I do not see where the dove which was sent out of the ark could find an olive branch, if the ark be supposed to have rested on Mount Ararat, or any of the mountains in Armenia; for this sort of trees is not found hereabout, where the species must be lost, and yet olives are known to be a kind of trees which never die:''
but the above accounts show it to be otherwise in ancient times:
so Noah knew the waters were abated from off the earth: by this he perceived not only that they were gone off the mountains, but the lower grounds, at least the hills on which olive trees delight to grow; and yet that they were only abated, and not entirely gone off, since the dove returned to him: this dove sent out the second time, and returning, may be considered as an emblem of a Gospel minister, comparable to a dove, for the dove like gifts of the Spirit of God, by which he is qualified for his work, and for his simplicity, harmlessness, meekness, and humility; and the olive leaf in its mouth may be an emblem of the Gospel, which is from Christ, the good olive; is the Gospel of peace, which an olive branch is a symbol of, proclaiming and publishing peace and reconciliation by Christ; and as that is ever green, the Gospel always continues, and is the everlasting Gospel, and which was brought, and more fully and clearly dispensed in the evening of the world; and by it, it is known that the waters of divine wrath are assuaged, and the people of God may be assured they will never return to come upon them.
p עלה זית "ramum olivae", V. L. so Ainsworth, see Neh. viii. 15. q Geograph. l. 11. p. 363. r Tournefort's Voyage to the Levant, vol. 3. p. 173.
And he stayed yet other seven days,.... After the dove had returned:
and sent forth the dove; the same dove again;
which returned not again unto him any more: the earth being dry, it found rest for the sole of its feet, sufficient food to eat, and a proper place for its habitation; and liking to be at liberty, and in the open air, chose not to return to the ark, even though its mate was there: of those birds sent out, the Heathen writers make mention: Abydenus says s, that Sisithrus, the same with Noah, sent out birds making an experiment to see whether the earth was emersed out of the water, which returned again to him; and after them he sent out others; and having done so three times, obtained what he wished for, since the birds returned with their wings full of clay or mud; and so Josephus t says, the dove which brought the olive leaf was all over with clay or mud: and Plutarch u makes particular mention of the dove, and says that, according to the mythologists, a dove was let out of the ark; and that her going out was to Deucalion, (the same with Noah) a sign of fair weather, and her return of foul: and the story that Lucian w tells of a golden dove upon the head of a statue in the temple of Hierapolis, supposed to be Deucalion's, seems plainly to refer to this dove of Noah; for the report, he says, was, that this golden dove flew away twice in a year, at the commemoration there made of the flood, by pouring out abundance of water into a chasm or cleft of the earth, then not very large; and which, it was told him, was formerly a very great one, and swallowed up all the flood that drowned the world.
s Apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 12. p. 414, 415. t Antiqu. l. 1. c. 3. p. 5. u De Solert. Animal. w De Dea Syria.
And it came to pass, in the six hundred and first year,.... Of Noah's life, and so the Septuagint adds, in the first month,
[the first day] of the month; so that it was the first day of the year, New Year's Day, and a joyful one it was to Noah and his family, when they saw dry ground; which they had not seen for above ten months: according to R. Joshua, this was the month Nisan, which was the first month with the Jews on sacred accounts; but according to R. Eliezer it was the month of Tisri, as Jarchi observes, which was their first month on civil accounts, and was their most ancient way of reckoning; and so the Targum of Jonathan explains it, adding, and Tisri; which answers to part of September, and part of October; and according to Bishop Usher x, this day was Friday, October 23, A. M. 1657:
the waters were dried up from off the earth: by the wind that continued to pass over it, and by the sun, which exhaled great quantities of it throughout the whole summer season; as it was from the end of the one hundred days, when the wind was first made, and the waters began to assuage to this time; as well as also by their soaking into the earth, and by returning to the cavities and receptacles in it:
and Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked; not the roof of it, at least not the whole, only a board or two; though perhaps this was a covering made of skins, that was thrown over the ark, like that which was put over the tabernacle of Moses, and was made of skins,
Exodus 26:14 where the same word is used as here: the use of this might be to hang over the window and defend it from the rain; so that the uncovering of the ark was only putting by, or turning up this covering, that he might be able more clearly to see, out of the window, how things were:
and, behold, the face of the ground was dry; the ground or surface of the earth looked dry; but was not so dry and hard as to bear heavy bodies, or the foot to tread on it, being soft and tender, through the water so long upon it, and had left mud and slime, not yet sufficiently hardened by the wind and sun to walk upon.
x Ut supra. (Annales Vet. Test. p. 4.)
And in the second month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month,.... This was the month Marchesvan, as the Targum of Jonathan, which answers to part of our October, and part of our November; though according to Bishop Usher y, this day was Friday the eighteenth of December, A. M. 1657; it was on the seventeenth of this month that Noah went into the ark, Genesis 7:11 so that be was in it twelve months and ten days, according to a solar year; but if the reckoning is made according to Jewish months, six of which consisted of thirty days, and six of twenty nine only, then the twelve months made but three hundred and fifty four days, add to which eleven days to the twenty seventh, fully ended, it makes three hundred and sixty five days; so that he was in the ark just a full year, according to the course of the sun; but it seems very plain that the months here reckoned consisted of thirty days, since the one hundred and fifty, days when the waters abated are reckoned, from the seventeenth day of the second month, to the seventeenth day of the seventh month; which make exactly five months, and allow thirty days to a month: and at this time, when Noah had waited almost two months, after he had removed the covering of the ark,
was the earth dried; so that it was fit to walk upon, and was become commodious both for man and beast: a different word from that in the preceding verse is here used for "dry", this being a different kind, or, however, a greater degree of dryness than the other.
y Ut supra. (Annales Vet. Test. p. 4.)
And God spake unto Noah, saying,.... Whether in a dream or vision, or by an articulate voice, appearing in an human form, or by an impulse on his mind, is not certain; however, the Lord spoke so to him, that he heard him and understood him: it was, no doubt, very rejoicing to him, since he had not heard his voice for a year or more, at least that we read of; and what he said to him was as follows.
Go forth of the ark,.... Though the earth was dry and fit to be inhabited, yet be would not go out without orders, as he had to go in; which he waited for before he would, and now he has them:
thou and thy wife, and thy sons, and thy sons' wives, with thee: the Jewish writers z observe, that the manner of Noah and his family coming out of the ark is different from that of their going into it: when they went into it then went the men by themselves, and the women by themselves, and so continued apart in the ark, the use of the marriage bed being forbidden them, being a time of distress; but now when they came out they are coupled together, signifying that they were now free to cohabit together.
z Pirke Eliezer, c. 23. Jarchi in loc.
Bring forth with thee every living thing that is with thee,.... There is a various reading of the word for "bring forth"; according to the margin, as Jarchi observes, the sense is, order them to come forth; and according to the Scripture, if they will not, oblige them to come:
of all flesh, [both] of fowl, and of cattle, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth; for of each of these there were some that went with him into the ark, and continued there:
that they may breed abundantly in the earth, and be fruitful, and multiply upon the earth, for which end they were preserved in the ark. Jarchi observes, it is said "on the earth", not in the ark, which shows he thinks that birds and beasts were not allowed to couple, and that they did not breed there. It is a question with some, how the creatures, which were only in Asia at their coming out of the ark, could spread themselves all over the earth; particularly how they could get into islands, and especially into America: to which it may be answered, that this might be done by many of them, by swimming over narrow seas, for some wild creatures will swim whole days and nights together, when they are forced to it; and by men's carrying others in vessels to distant and different parts, on one account or another, either for profit or pleasure; and especially, what is it the power and providence of God cannot do, who could not be at a loss for ways and means to replenish a world in all the parts of it he had made desolate, when it was his pleasure?
(Most creationists think the earth entered an ice age after the flood. This would make the sea level lower than it is today. If the average sea level was lowered by only six hundred feet, all the major continents would be connected by land bridges. Animals could easily migrate to any continent. Ed.)
And Noah went forth,.... Being obedient to the divine command, and no doubt with great pleasure in his countenance, and with a heart full of thankfulness for so great a deliverance;
and his sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives with him: in all eight persons, and no more were saved in the ark, as Peter observes, 1 Peter 3:20 and the Arabic writers say a, Noah and his sons built a city near the place where they came out of the ark, and called it Themanin, giving this as a reason of the name, we are eight, that is, who have escaped; so Berosus says b, that the earth being dried of the waters, there were then only eight men in Armenia, from whence all mankind sprung.
a Elmacleus, p. 12. Patricides, p. 10. apud Hottinger. Smegma Oriental. l. 1. c. 8. p. 282. b Hist. l. 2. fol. 11. 1.
Every beast, every creeping thing, and every fowl, [and] whatsoever creepeth upon the earth,.... All went out, not one was left, and they went out
after their kind; not in a confused disorderly manner, mixing with one another; but as they went in by pairs, male and female of every sort, so they came forth in like manner, or, "according to their families" c; by which it seems as if the creatures did breed in the ark, and had their families of young ones; and which is the sense of some in Aben Ezra, and he himself thinks it not foreign, though he interprets it as we do, and as the Greek version does, "after their kind": thus they
went forth out of the ark; everyone with his mate, in order to procreate and multiply upon the earth.
c למשפחתיהם "juxta familias suas", Tigurine version, Pagninus, Montanus, &c.
And Noah builded an altar unto the Lord,.... Not an house for himself and his family, but an altar for God; his first and greatest concern being for the glory of God, and not for the temporal good of himself and his: this altar was erected, and devoted to the service of God; it was built according to his will, and by his direction: Noah's view was to renew the worship of God, preserve and propagate it by his example; and this was done by way of thanksgiving to God for his wonderful preservation of him, and was also propitiatory and typical of Christ: the Jewish writers d say, this was the altar on which Adam sacrificed, when expelled the garden of Eden, and on which Cain and Abel offered; and being demolished by the flood, was rebuilt by Noah, which is not at all probable; it is much more likely what Aben Ezra says, that it was built on one of the mountains of Ararat, and that as Noah took the first opportunity, so he built it in the first place he came to, or at least not far from the place where he came out of the ark:
and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar; the clean beasts were the bullock, the sheep, and goat, and the clean fowl, the turtle and young pigeon, one of each sort at least was taken. The Targum of Jonathan says, he offered four upon the altar: these were typical of Christ; the bullock or heifer might denote his strength, the sheep or lamb his patience and harmlessness, the turtle or dove his meekness; and being burnt offerings, may signify the painful and dolorous sufferings of Christ, when the wrath of God was poured on him like fire.
d Zohar in Gen. fol. 51. 3, 4. Targum Jon. in loc. Pirke Eliezer, c. 23.
And the Lord smelled a sweet savour,.... Or a "savour of rest" e; he was delighted and well pleased with his sacrifice, which was offered up in the faith of the sacrifice of Christ; the apostle says, "is for a sweetsmelling savour", Ephesians 5:2 referring to this passage; that being a satisfaction to the justice of God, an appeasing of his wrath, and a propitiation for the sins of men:
and the Lord said in his heart; within himself; it was awhile a secret there, but Noah being a prophet, as Aben Ezra observes, he revealed it to him, or "to his heart" f, that is, to the heart of Noah, as some interpret it, he spoke comfortably to him, as follows, when the Jewish writers g say he stretched out his right hand and swore, agreeably to Isaiah 54:9
I will not again curse the ground for man's sake, or drown it for the sin of man, as he had cursed it for the sin of Adam, and which continued till this time; but now was taken off, and it became more fruitful, and very probably by means of the waters which had been so long upon it, and had left a fructifying virtue in it, as the waters of the Nile do in Egypt. Some interpret the phrase, "for man's sake", for the man Christ's sake, for the sake of his sacrifice, of which Noah's was a type, and the sense be, that God would no more curse the earth; for by his sacrifice the curse of the law is removed, with respect to his people; they are redeemed from it, and shall inherit that new earth, of which this earth, renewed after the flood, was a type, in which there will be no more curse, Revelation 21:1 which sense, though evangelical, cannot be admitted, because of the reason following, unless the first word be rendered "though", as it may:
for the imagination of man's heart [is] evil from his youth; his nature is depraved, his heart is corrupt, the thoughts of it evil, yea, the imagination of it, and of them, is sinful, and that originally, even from his birth; from the time he is shook out of his mother's womb, as Jarchi interprets the phrase: man is conceived in sin, and shapen in iniquity, and is a transgressor from the womb, and so a child of wrath, and deserving of the curse of the law upon himself, and all that belong to him; and yet this is given as a reason why God will not any more curse the ground for his sake: that which was a reason for destroying the earth, is now one against it, see Genesis 6:5 which may be reconciled thus, God for this reason destroyed the earth once, for an example, and to display his justice; but such is his clemency and mercy, that he will do it no more to the end of the world; considering that man has brought himself into such a condition, that he cannot but sin, it is natural to him from his birth; his nature is tainted with it, his heart is full of it, and all his thoughts and imaginations are wicked and sinful, from whence continually flow a train of actual sins and transgressions; so that if God was to curse and drown the world as often as man sins, he must be continually doing it; for the words may be rendered, "though the imagination of man's heart is evil", c. h yet I will not do it; and so they are expressive of the super abounding grace of God over abounding sin:
neither will I again smite any more everything living, as I have done; this hinders not but that there might be, as has been since, partial calamities, or particular judgments on individual persons, towns, and cities, as those of Sodom and Gomorrah, or partial inundations, but not a general deluge, or an universal destruction of the world and creatures in it, at least not by water, as has been, but by fire, as will be; for that the earth will have an end, at least as to its present nature, form, and use, may be concluded from the following words.
e ריח הניחח "odorem quietis", Pagninus, Montanus, Munster, c. f אל לבו "ad cor suum", Montanus, Tigurine version "prophetae suo", Arab. g Jarchi in loc. Pirke Eliezer, c. 23. h כי "quamvis", Piscator; so Ainsworth.
While the earth remaineth,.... Which as to its substance may remain for ever, Ecclesiastes 1:4 yet as to its form and quality will be changed; that and all in it will be burnt up; there will be an end of all things in it, for so the words are in the original, "as yet all the days of the earth", or "while all the days of the earth" are i; which shows that there is a time fixed for its continuance, and that this time is but short, being measured by days: but however, as long as it does continue,
seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night, shall not cease; as they had done, or seemed to do during the flood; for the year past there had been no seedtime nor harvest, and it must have been for the most part damp and cold, through the rains, and the abundance of water on earth, that the difference of seasons was not very discernible; as neither of days and nights at some times, especially when the clouds were so black and thick over the heavens, that neither sun, moon, or stars could be seen; and such floods of water continually pouring down, that it must be difficult to know when it was day, and when night; but for the future it is promised, that these should not cease as long as the world stands: "seedtime and harvest"; the time of sowing seed in the earth, and the time of gathering in the fruits of it when ripe, so necessary for the sustenance of man and beast: once in seven years, and once in fifty years indeed, these ceased in the land of Judea, while the people of Israel resided there; but then this was not general all the world over, in other places there were seedtime and harvest: "and cold and heat, and summer and winter"; in some places indeed there is but little cold, in others but little heat, and the difference of summer and winter is not so discernible in some places as in others, yet there is of all these in the world in general. According to Jarchi, "cold" signifies a more severe season than "winter", or the severer part of the winter; and "heat" a hotter season than the summer, or the hotter part of it. The Jews observe, that the seasons of the year are divided into six parts, and two months are to be allowed to each part; which Lyra, from them, and chiefly from Jarchi, thus gives,
"to seedtime the last half of September, all October, and half November; to cold, the other half of November, all December, and half January; to winter, half January, all February, and half March: to harvest, half March, all April, and half May; to summer, half May, all June, and half July; to heat, half July, all August, and the first half of September.''
But these accounts refer to the land of Judea only: it is enough for the fulfilment of the promise, that they are more or less, at one time of the year or another, in all parts of the world, and so will be until the world shall be no more; and may, in a mystic sense, denote the continuance of the church of God in the world, as long as it endures, and its various vicissitudes and revolutions; sometimes it is a time of sowing the precious seed of the Word; and sometimes it is an harvest, is an ingathering of souls into it; sometimes it is a winter season with it, and all things seem withered and dead; and at other times it is summer, and all things look smiling and cheerful; sometimes it is in a state of coldness and indifference, and at other times exposed to the heat of persecution, and more warm and zealous usually then; sometimes it is night with it, and sometimes day, and so it is like to be, until that state takes place described in Revelation 7:16.
i עד כל ימי הארץ "cunctis diebus terrae", V. L. "adhuc omnes dies terrae", Pagninus, Montanus; so Drusius, Cocceius.
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Genesis 8". "Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany