Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

Genesis 7

Verse 1

1.Come thou and all thy house into the ark — “The long period of warning and preparation had now nearly passed. The one hundred and twenty years had rolled on, and were now within a week of their termination. The ark itself was at length completed and ready for occupancy. Against all the reviling of men and the temptations of Satan, Noah’s faith had triumphed. Now it remained to introduce to the majestic structure its tenants, and God’s time has come for them to enter. The command to enter is a gracious command. The plan of God from the beginning has been to dispense his grace by a household covenant. He has been pleased to propagate his Church by means of a pious posterity.

Hence we have the household baptisms in the Christian Church.” — Jacobus.

Verse 2

2.Every clean beast — “The objection that this was an anticipation of the Levitical distinction of beasts into clean and unclean, is wholly groundless. The boundary line between clean and unclean animals is marked by nature. Every tribe of mankind would distinguish between the sheep and the hyena, between the dove and the vulture. Whether animal food was eaten before the deluge or not, it is certain that flocks and herds were fed for the sake of their milk and wool, and that of them victims were offered in sacrifice. This alone would separate between the clean and the unclean. It is not improbable, that the distinction even of the names clean and unclean had been fully established by custom long before it was recognised and ratified by the law.” — Speaker’s Com.

By sevens — Heb, seven seven. Seven pairs of every clean beast is, doubtless, the meaning of the writer, as implied by the additional words, the male and his female. This statement Kalisch declares to be totally “irreconcilable with the preceding narrative,” and imagines that the discrepancy may be easily explained by the hypothesis of Elohistic and Jehovistic documents. He supposes that the Jehovist “prudently introduced the significant number of seven pairs” in order to provide for Noah’s offering of clean beasts and fowls after the flood. Genesis 8:20. And yet he admits that the Jehovist “neither thought, nor did he in any way intend, to be in opposition to the statement of the Elohist. He understood the two animals which Noah was to bring, as merely signifying that always male and female were to be chosen, that they were to be pairs, without the number of these pairs being stated; for he writes: ‘Two and two went in to Noah into the ark, male and female, as Elohim had commanded Noah.’” Genesis 7:9. Is it not strange that a writer who can so readily understand that this “Jehovist” (who wrote the narrative as it now stands, and “designed full harmony with the Elohist”) saw no discrepancy here, but “understood that they were to be pairs without the number of these pairs being stated,” will insist that the two statements are utterly irreconcilable with each other? If the “Jehovist” had no trouble in reconciling these statements, probably Moses had none; nor need we. “The command here is but an amplification of the former injunction, which had probably been given one hundred and twenty years before. In the first instance it was said that Noah’s family should be preserved, together with a pair of every kind of beast. In the second, that, while the general rule should be the saving of a single pair, yet, in the case of the clean beasts there should be preserved not one pair only, but seven.” — Speaker’s Com.

Verse 4

4.Yet seven days — One full week yet remained for gathering all into the ark.

Seven’ forty’ forty — We naturally note here the occurrence of these significant numbers. Comp. also Genesis 8:4; Genesis 8:10; Genesis 8:12 (notes); and Moses forty days on the mount; Israel forty years in the desert; the spies forty days in searching Canaan. But in these historical narratives there is no reason to question the literal significance of the numbers. Their prominence in history made them specially significant in prophecy.

Verse 11

11.Six hundredth year’ second month’ seventeenth day — Dates and measures throughout the narrative are given with an arithmetical minuteness which removes it entirely out of the region of poetry. In fact, there is no poetic colouring, no vividly emotional expression, such as might naturally be expected in the description of such an awfully impressive judgment. It reads like a simple diary of events from an eye-witness who is profoundly impressed with their divine origin and purpose, but who makes no attempt at rhetorical embellishment. See further on Genesis 8:4.

Fountains of the great deep — The fathomless ocean.

Broken up — Rent, or cloven asunder.

The windows — Lattices, sluices; margin, floodgates. The waters came from the great deep and from the skies. Two natural causes of the deluge are here, then, clearly assigned — the overflowing ocean and the descending rains. The word deep (תהום ) primarily signifies the original watery abyss (Genesis 1:2) out of which the “dry land” was elevated, and would here, therefore, be naturally applied to the ocean returning over the sinking land. This unique event is described in wholly unique phraseology. The water rushes upon the earth from the ocean as if from a multitude of suddenly opened fountains. Bursting fountains from the deep and opened lattices in the skies are pictorial conceptions of one who saw and felt the awful judgment; yet, as said above, there is no attempt at an elaborate description of scenes which have furnished poetry and painting an exhaustless field.

Verse 13

13.The selfsame day entered בא, might here be rendered in the pluperfect, had entered; that is, on that day the embarkation had ended. There may have been fearful portends of the approaching convulsion of nature while Noah was making his final preparations; but when the great rain actually began and the great deep burst over the barriers of the shore, Noah and his family, and the animals that were to be preserved, were safe in the ark.

Verse 16

16.The Lord shut him in — Noah in the ark was encompassed by the arms of the covenant-keeping God. While the elemental war raged so fiercely above and beneath, he was shut in with Jehovah. The use of the two divine names is here most suggestive and impressive. It was Elohim, the mighty God, the Creator, who brought the flood of waters upon the earth; but it was Jehovah, the God of the promise and of the covenant, the Unchanging One, (ο ων και ο ην και ο ερχομενος,) who now covered him with his wings. Thus will God close the door of the Church when the final storm of judgment shall fall upon the world. They “went in unto the marriage and the door was shut.” Matthew 25:10. This verse, blending, as it does, the two divine names in one sentence, conclusively demonstrates the unity of the narrative, showing that in its present form it proceeded from a single mind.

Verse 17-18

17, 18.Forty days — That is, as we understand it, for forty days the rain burst from the “lattices of heaven,” and the waters rushed from the great deep upon the subsiding land. At last they lifted up the ark from off the earth, so that it went upon the face of the waters. Repetitions like those in Genesis 7:17-19 (comp. also Genesis 7:12, and Genesis 7:20-23) favour the theory that the narrative is a compilation from different documents; but the compiler may as well have been Moses or one of his contemporaries as any writer living a thousand years later.

Verse 19

19.High hills’ covered — Waters rose above the summits of the high hills, or rather, they gradually settled beneath the inundating flood, until, to the observer in the floating ark, the world was a monotonous waste of waters, vast and mighty, (Hebrews, mighty exceedingly, ) and as far as the eye could see, all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered. On the usage of such universal terms, see above, note introductory to Genesis 6:9.

Verse 20

20.Fifteen cubits upward — The arithmetical exactness here is noteworthy. Here, as in the minute specifications of time, which are given as carefully as if they had been set down in a logbook, we have the language of one who was in the midst of the scene — a spectator who was profoundly impressed by the rushing floods, the rising and slowly moving ark, the sinking hills, the drowning men and beasts, yet was not confused or bewildered amid the awful scene. He notes and records the precise date of each critical event, and coolly fathoms the deluge itself. Probably the ark drew fifteen cubits of water, and as it did not ground upon the hills, the spectator saw that they were covered to this depth. Shut in with Jehovah, though in the unwieldy ark, floating he knew not whither, faith gave Noah a confidence more calm and grand than skill and science can ever give the navigator, though in a seaworthy ship traversing familiar waters.

Verse 21

21.And all flesh died — In the land inhabited by man. Far as the narrator could see the mountains were covered, and all living things were swept away. See the introductory note on the extent of the deluge.

Verse 24

24.A hundred and fifty days — Five months elapsed from the time Noah entered the ark until it rested on the mountains of Ararat. He entered in on the seventeenth day of the second month, (Genesis 7:11,) and the ark rested on the seventeenth day of the seventh month. Genesis 8:4.

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Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Genesis 7". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/genesis-7.html. 1874-1909.