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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Genesis 8

 

 

Verses 1-22

Genesis 8:1-22. The mention of the rain (Genesis 8:2 b) comes from J, and since Genesis 8:3 b with its dating belongs to P, Genesis 8:3 a may be assigned to J. With Genesis 8:6 we resume J's story; after the forty days' rain, he means, Noah sends forth a raven. This went to and fro till the waters abated, because being an unclean carrion bird it could alight on the floating trees or corpses and eat the latter. Then after seven days (as may be inferred from "yet other seven days" in Genesis 8:10) he sent forth a dove, but since it found no foothold to rest on, it quickly returned. After another week he sent it out again. This time the dove returned, but not till evening, for it had found a resting-place. The waters had evidently much decreased in the interval, for the dove brought an olive-leaf, and the olive did not grow on the highest mountains. So he waited a week longer and then sent it out again. This time the waters had so much decreased that it could provide food and rest for itself. Then Noah removed the covering of the ark and saw that the ground was dry. J's account of the abandonment of the ark is not preserved, but in Genesis 8:20-22 it is assumed that he had left it. Noah's first act is to build an altar and of the clean beasts and birds to offer whole burnt offerings, the most valuable of all types of sacrifice, since the whole victim was surrendered to God (Leviticus 1 *). Gratified by the sweet odour, Yahweh resolves not again to curse the ground on account of man: recognising the sinfulness of his nature from his youth onwards, He will treat it with forbearance, not extermination. Nor will He smite all living creatures. Henceforth the seasons shall move on in their regular rotation, uninterrupted by any catastrophe such as the Flood. There is no reference in Genesis 8:21 to any doctrine of "original sin," for which we should have had some such phrase as "from his birth." Nor is the phrase "smelled the odour of satisfaction" to be quoted as an example of J's anthropomorphism. It is a technical term from the ritual vocabulary to express the acceptance of a sacrifice. It is found in the Babylonian Deluge story ("the gods inhaled the fragrant savour"), in P which avoids anthropomorphism, and even in the NT. To P belong Genesis 8:1-2 a, Genesis 8:3 b- Genesis 8:5, Genesis 8:13 a, Genesis 8:14-19, its characteristics being very plainly marked. God remembered Noah and the animals, closed the windows of heaven, and stopped the outlets of the abyss, so that no more water came to swell the mass. He also caused a wind to blow, and this, combined with the natural tendency of the waters to be absorbed by the earth, led to their rapid decrease. Their highest point was reached at the end of 150 days, and then they immediately began to abate. The ark rested on the mountains of Ararat, i.e. NE. Armenia. The waters still sank for seventy-three days before the tops of the ordinary mountains became visible. On the following New Year's Day the waters were dried up, but the ground was still saturated, and on the 27th of the next month the earth was dry. (On the chronological data of P, which are complicated, ICC, pp. 167-169, may be consulted.) Noah and the other occupants then leave the ark.

Genesis 8:1. Skinner (p. 155) thinks that Genesis 8:1 b may probably belong to J (apart from the Divine name), also that Genesis 8:4, apart from the dating, which must belong to P's chronological scheme, may belong to J. It is in favour of this that 5 naturally suggests that the highest summits were not visible till the date mentioned, whereas if Genesis 8:4 and Genesis 8:5 belong to P we must explain that the tops of the mountains were those of lower ranges, which is certainly not natural.

Genesis 8:3. Read, "the end of the 150 days," i.e. those mentioned in Genesis 7:22.

Genesis 8:7. Notice the difference in the Babylonian account. First a dove, then a swallow, are sent out and return. Then a raven, which wades in the water and does not return.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Genesis 8:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/genesis-8.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, November 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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