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Bible Commentaries

Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary

Genesis 8

Verses 1-5

GENESIS - CHAPTER EIGHT

Verses 1-5:

"God" is "Elohim," denoting His relation to His creatures.

"Remembered" does not indicate that God forgets. He remembers man’s sin when he punishes them (Ps 25:7). He remembers the needs of His own when He supplies them (Ne 4:19).

"Living thing" chayyah, of wild beast see Ge 1:25; 7:14. "Cattle" denotes the domesticated animals.

"Wind" is ruach, a current of air that would assist in evaporation of the waters on the earth (see Pr 25:23; Ex 14:21).

"The waters assuaged," literally, began to grow calm. This was the first stage in the drying up of the waters.

There were three sources of water: (1) the fountains of the deep; (2) the windows of heaven; and (3) the rain (see Ge 7:11, 12). All were "shut up" or closed.

"The waters returned ...continually" is literally, "going and returning," an allusion to the ebb and flow of the waters in their tidal action.

There were three states in the ceasing of the waters: (1) they were quieted (v. 1); (2) there was the beginning of the ebbing motion; and (3) the perceptible diminishing of the waters. These occurred over a gradual period of time, and not all at once.

On the seventeenth day of the eleventh month, the ark "rested," literally "grounded" on a mountain in the range known as Ararat. It is generally accepted that this is in the region of Armenia, or eastern Turkey. The general elevation of the mountain range is about 6,000 feet above sea level. The highest peak is an extinct volcano, called Mt Ararat, about 17,000 feet high.

Many expeditions have been launched in an attempt to find the remains of the Ark. In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s three eyewitnesses claim to have seen the Ark. One is an elderly Armenian, who claims to have seen the Ark as a boy. Other elderly Armenians tell similar stories. Another claimed eyewitness was in the US Air Force stationed in Turkey in the early 1970’s. He arranged with a Turkish friend to visit the purported site of the Ark. The friend had an uncle who was an elderly shepherd living on Mt Ararat. He took them to see the Ark. Another eyewitness was a US serviceman who in the early 1970’s flew over Mt Ararat in a Navy jet plane with sophisticated cameras. He took pictures of the Ark, which were never released.

Many individuals and groups have attempted to gain permission from the Turkish government to climb Mt Ararat to search for the Ark. Some have illegally entered the country to attempt such an expedition. This has led the government to impose an almost total ban on all attempts to locate the Ark and document its existence. In 1981, a military takeover brought about more stable conditions within Turkey. This has resulted in improved relations with the West, and a partial lifting of the ban in the summer of 1982.

Former astronaut Col James Irwin teamed with Eryl Cummings in an expedition in August, 1982. A series of misfortunes including injury and lack of experienced climbers, caused the search to be withdrawn. A major storm made aerial search impossible. Col Irwin and his party attempted later in the year to return to the search, but were unable to secure the necessary permits from Turkish officials.

Efforts were underway to conduct another search in the summer of 1983, by teams of competent researchers. Perhaps the Ark will be found, where it has remained since Noah evacuated it following the Flood. If so, it will be one of the century’s greatest discoveries, and will authenticate for all the Genesis record of the flood. Such visual evidence is not necessary, however, for one who accepts this record as God’s inspired, infallible Word.

Verses 6-12

Verses 6-12:

Forty days from the time the mountain tops became visible, Noah sought to determine if it would be safe to leave the ark. At the end of this time, he opened the "window" of the ark to send out a feathered messenger. This "window" is chalon (from chalal, to bore or pierce), not the window, tsohar, of Ge 6:16, which encircled the ark underneath the eaves of the roof or top deck. This implies that there were other windows or ventilation ports in addition to the one mentioned in Ge 6:16.

No reason is given for Noah’s sending forth the raven first. Perhaps it was because the raven is a bird of prey, and would thus be able to sustain itself by feeding on carrion. The language implies that the raven may have circled about the ark, flying to and fro and resting on it but not re-entering it. Noah was unable to determine from the raven any definite conclusion as to the condition of the earth.

Noah then sent forth a dove, after an interval of seven days. The dove was a clean bird, unlike the raven. Many references to the dove abound in the Scriptures, see Le 5:7; Isa 38:14; Mt 10:16; Song 1:15; 5:12 and others. The dove found "no rest," for the earth was still apparently wet and muddy in the plains and valleys where doves delight to nest. She returned to the ark. Seven days later, he sent the dove forth again. This time she returned, bearing in her beak an olive leaf. This signified that the waters were truly dried up and it would be safe to leave the ark. Still Noah waited another seven days and sent the dove forth again. This time she did not return to the ark.

Verses 13-14

Verses 13, 14:

The evidence suggests that the year at this time was calculated as twelve months of thirty days each, with five days intercalculated at the end to make up the solar year of 365 days. One year from the time that the flood began the waters finally dried up. On the first anniversary of his entrance into the ark, Noah removed the "cover," or part of the top deck of the ark, and saw that the ground was dry. One month and twenty-seven days later the earth was completely dried up from the flood waters. Three Hebrew verbs denote the gradual progression of the process. In verse 11 the verb qalal is "to be lightened," denoting abatement. In verse 13 the verb chareb is "to be dried up," denoting the water’s disappearance. In verse 14, the verb yabesh means "to dry thoroughly."

Verses 15-19

Verses 15-19:

As Noah waited for God’s voice to instruct him to enter the ark, so he waited within the ark until God told him to exit. Only two creatures preceded him; the raven, and the dove. All others followed in orderly progression, as they had entered. All who went in, came out. Not one was lost, either of humans or animals or creeping things. It is suggested that Divine intervention interrupted the normal breeding process during the stay in the ark, to prevent over-crowding and to assure an adequate food supply.

Peter cites the ark experience as an illustration of the role of baptism in the Christian experience (1Pe 3:20, 21). The "eight souls" of Noah’s family were saved from physical death, not by the waters of the flood, but because they were inside the ark. They entered the ark before the flood waters came. This illustrates the salvation of the soul of man, before baptism. We are not saved by the waters of baptism; we are saved because we are in Christ, who is our Ark of deliverance, see Ro 8:1.

Verses 20-22

Verses 20-22:

Noah’s first act after exiting the ark was to build an altar "unto the Lord" or Jehovah. On this altar he offered a burnt sacrifice of every clean beast and fowl. Seven pairs of each clean animal and fowl were taken into the ark before the flood. This left six pairs to replenish the earth and for further sacrifices.

Jehovah "smelled" the odor of the burnt offerings, and He was pleased by this act of faith. He resolved within Himself, "I will not again curse the ground. . .," literally, "I will not add to curse." He did not revoke the former curse (Ge 3:17), nor pledge that the curse would not be continued, He promised that never again would there be a flood of waters to destroy life as did the deluge of Noah’s day.

Jehovah recognized the inherent depravity of mankind. He promised not to visit the earth and man with destruction because of this sin nature. Instead, He would extend compassion and forgiveness to fallen man, see 2Pe 3:9, 10.

The second part of this Divine resolution is the faithful, regular continuance of earth’s seasons. This seasonal pattern is to continue so long as the earth stands. This corrects the old misconception which says, "Before the end of time we can’t tell the difference between summer and winter except by the budding of the fig tree."

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Genesis 8". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/genesis-8.html. 1985.