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Bible Commentaries

Utley's You Can Understand the Bible

Genesis 8

Genesis 8:1-22

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASBNKJVNRSVTEVNJB
The Flood SubsidesNoah's DeliveranceThe Great FloodThe End of the FloodThe Flood Subsides
(Genesis 6:5-22)
Genesis 8:1-5Genesis 8:1-5Genesis 8:1-5Genesis 8:1-5Genesis 8:1-5
Genesis 8:6-12Genesis 8:6-12Genesis 8:6-12Genesis 8:6-12Genesis 8:6-12
Genesis 8:13-19Genesis 8:13-14Genesis 8:13-19Genesis 8:13-14Genesis 8:13
Genesis 8:14
They Disembark
Genesis 8:15-19 Genesis 8:15-19Genesis 8:15-19
God's Covenant with Creation Noah Offers Sacrifice
(Genesis 8:20-17)
Genesis 8:20-22(vv. Genesis 8:22)Genesis 8:20-22(vv. Genesis 8:22)Genesis 8:20-22(vv. Genesis 8:22)Genesis 8:20-22(vv. Genesis 8:22)Genesis 8:20-22(vv. Genesis 8:22)

READING CYCLE THREE (see Guide to Good Bible Reading)

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT THE PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. There is an obvious parallel between Genesis 1:0 and Genesis 7:0 in that watery chaos returns.

B. There is an obvious parallel between Genesis 1:0 and Genesis 8:0 in God restoring a life-sustaining land

1. compare Genesis 8:2 with 8:1

2. compare Genesis 1:6-7 with Genesis 8:2

3. compare Genesis 1:22, Genesis 8:4 with 8:17

4. compare Genesis 1:28 with Genesis 9:1-2

C. Genesis 8:1-19 is a reversal of Genesis 7:11-24. This is surely literary structuring.

Verses 1-5

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Genesis 8:1-5 1But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the cattle that were with him in the ark; and God caused a wind to pass over the earth, and the water subsided. 2Also the fountains of the deep and the floodgates of the sky were closed, and the rain from the sky was restrained; 3and the water receded steadily from the earth, and at the end of one hundred and fifty days the water decreased. 4In the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark rested upon the mountains of Ararat. 5The water decreased steadily until the tenth month; in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains became visible.

Genesis 8:1 “God” This is the term Elohim. See notes at Genesis 1:1 or SPECIAL TOPIC: Names for Deity.

“remembered” This term (BDB 269, KB 269, Qal IMPERFECT) is used in the sense of God taking appropriate and personal action towards someone (cf. Genesis 8:1; Genesis 9:15, Genesis 9:16; Genesis 19:29; Genesis 30:22). The covenant God is about to act again because of who He is. Noah will be the source of a new humanity.

“Noah” This name (BDB 629) may mean “rest,” a popular etymology based on sound, not philology.

“God caused a wind” The VERB (BDB 716, KB 778) is a Hiphal IMPERFECT. God used a natural means in an accelerated way to dry up the flood waters, Genesis 8:1b, as He did in the Exodus (cf. Exodus 14:21).

It is also possible to see God's acts in Gen. 8-9 as paralleling God's acts in Genesis 1:0. This is a new beginning for mankind. If so, the wind here parallels “the Spirit hovered” of Genesis 1:2.

“subsided” This same term (BDB 1013, KB 1491, Qal IMPERFECT) is used for the anger of the King in Esther 2:1.

Genesis 8:4 “the mountains of Ararat” This has been explained in three ways: (1) a mountain on the Turkey/Russian border; (2) a mountain to the north of Mesopotamia near Lake Van; and (3) the term itself refers to a whole mountain range (Assyrian urartu, BDB 76), not specifically a peak (notice the plural “mountains”).

Verses 6-12

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Genesis 8:6-12 6Then it came about at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made; 7and he sent out a raven, and it flew here and there until the water was dried up from the earth. 8Then he sent out a dove from him, to see if the water was abated from the face of the land; 9but the dove found no resting place for the sole of her foot, so she returned to him into the ark, for the water was on the surface of all the earth. Then he put out his hand and took her, and brought her into the ark to himself. 10So he waited yet another seven days; and again he sent out the dove from the ark. 11The dove came to him toward evening, and behold, in her beak was a freshly picked olive leaf. So Noah knew that the water was abated from the earth. 12Then he waited yet another seven days, and sent out the dove; but she did not return to him again.

Genesis 8:6 “forty days” This phrase usually means “a long, indefinite period of time.” In this context, the dates are so specific it might mean forty exactly. See SPECIAL TOPIC: Symbolic Numbers in Scripture.

“the window” This is a different term (BDB 319) from the ambiguous terms of Genesis 6:16 (literally “roof,” BDB 844 I). Its size and location are uncertain but probably in the roof itself.

Genesis 8:6-12 Be careful not to allegorize these birds! There is an exact parallel in Mesopotamian literature (i.e. Gilgamesh Epic 11:145-155), which seems too specific for coincidence. There is a literary relationship between the Bible (i.e. Gen. 1-11) and Mesopotamian literature.

Verses 13-19

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Genesis 8:13-19 13Now it came about in the six hundred and first year, in the first month, on the first of the month, the water was dried up from the earth. Then Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and behold, the surface of the ground was dried up. 14In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth was dry. 15Then God spoke to Noah, saying, 16”Go out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and your sons' wives with you. 17Bring out with you every living thing of all flesh that is with you, birds and animals and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, that they may breed abundantly on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.” 18So Noah went out, and his sons and his wife and his sons' wives with him. 19Every beast, every creeping thing, and every bird, everything that moves on the earth, went out by their families from the ark.

Genesis 8:13 “Noah removed the covering” This seems to imply he removed part of the roof (BDB 492). Although later this same term will refer to the animal skin covering of the tabernacle, it is difficult to support that meaning here.

Genesis 8:15 “God spoke to Noah” This entire context reveals the patience and obedience of Noah. God's commands (i.e. Genesis 8:15-19) parallel Genesis 7:1-5.

Genesis 8:16 “Go out” This is the first of several commands in Genesis 8:16-17.

1. “go out,” Qal IMPERATIVE (BDB 422, KB 425), Genesis 8:16

2. “bring out,” Hiphil IMPERATIVE (BDB 422, KB 425), Genesis 8:17

3. “breed abundantly,” Qal PERFECT used in an IMPERATIVE sense (BDB 1056, KB 1655), Genesis 8:17

4. “be fruitful,” Qal PERFECT used in an IMPERATIVE sense (cf. Genesis 9:1, Genesis 9:7 BDB 826, KB 953), Genesis 8:17

5. “multiply,” Qal PERFECT used in an IMPERATIVE sense (cf. Genesis 9:1, Genesis 9:7 BDB 915, KB 1176), Genesis 8:17

These commands are parallel to Genesis 1:22, Genesis 1:24. In a sense God is starting over. The waters of chaos destroyed all land life except what was on the ark. God's original purpose is continued (cf. Genesis 6:18).

Genesis 8:17 These commands of God (also Genesis 9:1) parallel Genesis 1:22, Genesis 1:24. See Contextual Insights at the beginning of this chapter.

Verses 20-22

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Genesis 8:20-22 20Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. 21The LORD smelled the soothing aroma; and the LORD said to Himself, “I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man's heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done. 22While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, And cold and heat, And summer and winter, And day and night Shall not cease.”

Genesis 8:20 “Then Noah built an altar” His first act was that of worship and thanksgiving. Sacrifice is an ancient institution (cf. Genesis 4:3; Genesis 12:7, Genesis 12:8; Genesis 13:18; Genesis 22:9). This is also the first act of Gilgamesh in the Gilgamesh Epic after the flood (cf. Gen. 11:156-158).

“every clean animal” The criteria determining clean and unclean is uncertain (cf. Genesis 7:2), but apparently was related to sacrifice, not dietary guidelines (cf. Leviticus 11:0; Deuteronomy 14:0).

Genesis 8:21”The LORD smelled the soothing aroma” This phrase is used in the Bible in the sense of God accepting an offering (especially Lev. and Num.). It does not imply that the meat was food for God as it was in the Gilgamesh Epic (cf. Gen. 11:159-161). The Bible never views the sacrificial system as food for divine beings as the surrounding nations did.

“I will never again curse the ground. . .I will never again destroy every living thing” These parallel statements show the tension in God's heart between His love (cf. Isaiah 54:9) for His creation and His justice. Mankind is evil and corrupt but God has chosen to work with us in time and set it straight in the eschaton (i.e. last days). In this judgment God's attitude toward sinful mankind changed. Humans are still evil. God's attitude will change again when His people are unable to perform the Mosaic covenant. God will institute a new covenant (cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Ezekiel 36:27-38). Humans will be made right with God through the Messiah's performance and sacrificial death.

Although it is surely true that God promises never to send another flood, 2 Peter 3:10 asserts that He will purify the earth with fire. God will work with sinful mankind but His goal is righteousness (cf. Leviticus 19:2; Matthew 5:48).

“the intent of man's heart is evil from his youth” The evil so evident before the flood (cf. Genesis 6:5, Genesis 6:11, Genesis 6:12, Genesis 6:13) is still within fallen mankind, as Noah and his family will clearly show!

Genesis 8:22 It is this constancy in nature that has given rise to modern western science. God established uniformitarianism (i.e. the regular, uniform activities of nature). However, notice the initial phrase “while the earth remains.” Genesis 8:22 is printed in English translations in a poetic passage.

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Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Genesis 8". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/genesis-8.html. 2021.