Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, February 24th, 2024
the First Week of Lent
There are 36 days til Easter!
We are taking food to Ukrainians still living near the front lines. You can help by getting your church involved.
Click to donate today!

Bible Commentaries
Genesis 7

The Pulpit CommentariesThe Pulpit Commentaries

Verses 1-10


Genesis 7:1

And the Lord, Jehovah, since Elohim now appears as the covenant God, though this change in the Divine name is commonly regarded by modern critics as betraying the hand of a Jehovist supplementer of the fundamental document of the Elohist (Bleek, Vaihinger, Davidson, Kalisch, Colense, Alford); but "that the variations in the name of God furnish no criterion by which to detect different documents is evident enough from the fact that in Genesis 7:5 Noah does as Jehovah commands him, while in Genesis 7:16 Elohim alternates with Jehovah" (Keil). Said unto Noah. At the end of the 120 years, when the building of the ark had been completed, and only seven days before the Flood—doubtless by an audible voice still speaking to him from between the cherubim, which we can suppose had not yet vanished from the earth. Come thou and all thy house into the ark. I.e. prepare for entering; the actual entry taking place seven days later. So God ever hides his people before the storm bursts (cf. Isaiah 26:20). For thee have I seen righteous (vide Genesis 6:9) before me. Literally, before my face; not merely notifying the Divine observance of Noah's piety, but announcing the fact of his justification in God's sight. "To be righteous before God," the usual Scriptural phrase for justification (cf. Psalms 143:2). In this generation. Vide Genesis 6:9. Indicating not alone the sphere of Noah's godly life, but its exceptional character; "involving an opposing sentence of condemnation against his contemporaries" (Lange).

Genesis 7:2

Of every clean beast. That the distinction between clean and unclean animals was at this time understood is easier to believe than that the writer would perpetrate the glaring anachronism of introducing in prediluvian times what only took its rise several centuries later (Kalisch). That this distinction was founded on nature, "every tribe of mankind being able to distinguish between the sheep and the hyena, the dove and the vulture" ('Speaker's Commentary'), or "on an immediate conscious feeling of the human spirit, not yet clouded by any ungodly and unnatural culture, which leads it to see in many beasts pictures of sin and corruption" (Keil), has been supposed; but with greater probability it was of Divine institution, with reference to the necessities of sacrifice (Ainsworth, Bush, Wordsworth; cf. Genesis 8:20). To this was appended in the Levitical system a distinction between clean and unclean in respect of man's food (Le Genesis 11:3). Shalt thou take—inconsistent with Genesis 6:20, which says the animals were to come to Noah (Colenso); but Genesis 6:19, which says that Noah was to bring them, i.e. make them go (at least nearly equivalent to take), clearly recognizes Noah's agency (Quarry)—to thee by sevens. Literally, seven, seven; either seven pairs (Vulgate, LXX; Aben Ezra, Clericus, Michaells, De Wette, Knobel, Kalisch, Murphy, Alford, Wordsworth, ' Speaker's Commentary'), or seven individuals; both parties quoting the next clause in support of their particular interpretation. Davidson, Colenso, and Kalisch challenge both interpretations as "irreconcilable with the preceding narrative" (Genesis 6:19); but the obvious answer is, that while in the first communication, which was given 120 years before, when minute instructions were not required, it is simply stated that the animals should be preserved by pairs; in the second, when the ark was finished and the animals were about to be collected, it is added that, in the case of the few clean beasts used for sacrifice, an exception should be made to the general rule, and not one pair, but either three pairs with one over, or seven pairs, should be preserved. The male and his female. This seems to be most in favor of the first interpretation, that pairs, and not individuals, are meant. And of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female. Ish veishto. Cf. Genesis 2:25, where the phrase denotes the ethical personality of human beings, to which there is here an approximation, as the preserved animals were designed to be the parents of subsequent races. The usual phrase for male and female, which is employed in Genesis 1:28 (a so-called Elohistic) and Genesis 7:3 (a so-called Jehovistic section), refers to the physical distinction of sex in human beings.

Genesis 7:3

Of fowls also of the air by sevens, the male and the female. I.e. of clean fowls, "which he leaves to be understood out of the foregoing verse" (Poole). The Samaritan, Syriac, and LXX. (not so Vulgate, Onkelos, Arabic) insert the word "clean unnecessarily, and also add," καιÌ ἀποÌ παìντων τῶν πετεινῶν τῶνν μηÌ καθαρῶν δυìο δυìο ἀìρσεν καιÌ θῆλυ," manifestly to make the verse resemble the preceding. To keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth.

Genesis 7:4, Genesis 7:5

For yet seven days. Literally, for today's yet seven—after seven days; thus giving Noah time to complete his preparations, and the world one more opportunity to repent, which Poole thinks many may have done, though their bodies were drowned for their former impenitency. And I will cause it to rain—literally, I causing it, the participle indicating the certainty of the future action—upon the earth forty days and forty nights. The importance assigned in subsequent Scripture to the number forty, probably from the circumstance here recorded, is too obvious to be overlooked. Israel wandered forty years in the wilderness (Numbers 14:33). The scouts remained forty days in Canaan (Numbers 13:26). Moses was forty days in the mount (Exodus 24:18). Elijah fasted forty days and forty nights in the wilderness of Beersheba (1 Kings 19:8). A respite of forty days was given to the Ninevites (Jonah 3:4). Christ fasted forty days before the temptation (Matthew 4:2), and sojourned forty, days on earth after his resurrection (Acts 1:3). It thus appears to have been regarded as symbolical of a period of trial, ending in victory to the good and in ruin to the evil. And every living substanceyekum; literally, standing thing, omne quod subsistit, i.e. "whatever is capable by a principle of life of maintaining an erect posture" (Bush); ἀναìστημα (LXX.; cf. Deuteronomy 11:6; Job 22:20)—that I have made will I destroy—literally, blot out (cf. Genesis 6:7)—from off the face of the earth. And Noah did according to all that the Lord (Jehovah, the God of salvation, who now interposed for the patriarch's safety; in Genesis 6:22, where God is exhibited in his relations to all flesh, it is Elohim) had commanded him.

Genesis 7:6

And Noah was six hundred years old. Literally, a sum of six hundred years, i.e. in his 600th year (cf. Genesis 7:11). The number six "is generally a Scriptural symbol of suffering. Christ suffered on the sixth day. In the Apocalypse the sixth seal, the sixth trumpet, the sixth vial introduce critical periods of affliction" (Wordsworth). When the flood of waters was upon the earth.

Genesis 7:7

And Noah went in. I.e. began to go in a full week before the waters came (vide Genesis 7:10). "A proof of faith and a warning to the world." And his sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives with him. In all eight persons (1 Peter 3:20); whence it is obvious that "each had but one wife, and that polygamy, as it began among the Cainites, was most probably confined to them" (Poole). Into the ark, because of the waters of the flood. Literally, from the face of the waters, being moved with fear and impelled by faith (Hebrews 11:7).

Genesis 7:8, Genesis 7:9

Of clean beasts, and of beasts that are not clean, and of fowls, and of every thing that creepeth upon the earth, there went in two and two into the ark, the male and the female. In obedience to a Divine impulse. Nothing short of Divine power could have effected such a timely and orderly entrance of the creatures into the huge vessel (cf. their mode of exit, Genesis 8:18). The seeming inconsistency of this verse with Genesis 7:2, which says that the clean animals entered the ark by sevens, will be at once removed by connecting Genesis 7:7 and Genesis 7:8 instead of 8 and 9, and commencing a new sentence with Genesis 7:9. It favors this, that "of" is awanting before "everything that creepeth," and that the LXX. begin Genesis 7:8 with "and". As God had commanded Noah.

Genesis 7:10

And it came to pass after seven days (literally, at the seventh of the days), that the waters of the flood were upon the earth.


Genesis 7:1-9

The ark entered.

I. THE INVITATION OF JEHOVAH. "Come thou and all thy house into the ark." This invitation was—

1. Timely. It was given on the finishing of the ark, and therefore not too soon; also seven days before the Flood, and therefore not too late. God's interventions in his people's behalf are always opportune: witness me exodus from Egypt, the deliverance at the Red Sea, the destruction of Sennacherib's army; Christ's walking on the sea, sleeping in the boat, rising from the dead.

2. Special. It was addressed in particular to Noah "Come thou." "The Lord knoweth them that are his." "The Good Shepherd calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out." So is the invitation of the gospel of the same personal and individual description (Matthew 13:9; Revelation 3:6). Men are not summoned, to believe in masses, but as individuals.

3. Comprehensive. "And all thy house." Whether Shem, Ham, and Japheth were at this time believers is not known. The noticeable circumstance is that the invitation was not addressed immediately to them, but mediately through their father. If Noah stood alone in his piety, their summons to enter the ark reminds us of the advantage of belonging to a pious family, and being even only externally connected with the Church (cf. Luke 19:9; Acts 16:32).

4. Gracious. Given to Noah certainly, in one sense, because of his piety, (Genesis 7:1). But since his godliness was the fruit of faith, and his faith nothing more than a resting on the Divine covenant or promise, it was thus purely of grace So is God's invitation in the gospel all of grace (Galatians 1:6; Ephesians 3:8).

5. Urgent. Only seven days, and the Flood would begin. There was clearly not much time to lose. Only a seventh of the time given to the men of Nineveh (Jonah 3:4). But not even seven days are promised in the gospel call (Matthew 24:36; Romans 13:12; Philippians 4:5; James 5:9).

II. THE OBEDIENCE OF NOAH. "And Noah did according unto all that the Lord commanded him." This obedience was—

1. Immediate. It does not appear that Noah trifled with the Divine summons, or in any way interposed delay; and neither should sinful men with the invitation of the gospel (2 Corinthians 6:2; Hebrews 3:7).

2. Believing. It had its inspiration in a simple credence of the Divine word that safety could be secured only within the ark; and not until the soul is prepared to accord a hearty trust to the statement that Christ is the heaven-provided ark of salvation for a lost world does it yield to the gospel call, and enter into the safe shelter of his Church by believing on his name (Ephesians 1:13).

3. Personal. Noah himself entered in. Had he not done so, not only would his own salvation have been missed, but his efforts to induce others to seek the shelter of the ark would have been fruitless. So the first duty of a herald of the gospel or minister of salvation is to make his own calling and election sure, after which his labors in behalf of others are more likely to be efficacious (1 Corinthians 9:27; 1 Timothy 4:16).

4. Influential. The entire household of the patriarch followed his example. It is doubtful if at this time any of them were possessors of his faith. Yet all of them complied with the heavenly invitation, probably impelled thereto by the example and exhortation of their parent. When the head of a household becomes a Christian he in effect brings salvation to the house. He brings all its inmates into at least a nominal connection with the Church, encircles them with an atmosphere of religion emanating from his own character and conduct, and frequently through Divine grace is honored to be the instrument of their salvation (Luke 19:9; Acts 11:14; Acts 16:31).

5. Minute. Noah's entry into the ark in all particulars corresponded with the Divine invitation. The animals went in two and two, as God commanded. Men are not expected or allowed to deviate from the plain prescriptions of the word of God concerning the way of faith and salvation (Acts 10:33).


1. The unwearied diligence of God in saving men.

2. The personal nature of God's dealings with men.

3. The extreme solicitude with which he watches over them, who are his.

4. The indispensable necessity of obedience in order to salvation.


Genesis 7:1-6

God the Savior inviting faith.

"Come thou and all thy house into the ark," &c. Covenant mercy. A type of the Christian Church, with its special privilege and defense, surrounded with the saving strength of God.

I. DIVINE PREPARATION. Providence. The ark.

1. Human agency under inspired direction. The word of God. The institutions of religion. The fellowship of saints.

2. A preparation made in the face of and in spite of an opposing world The history of the Church from the beginning.

3. The preparation as safety and peace to those who trust in it, notwithstanding the outpoured judgment.

II. DIVINE FAITHFULNESS. "Come thou for thee have I seen righteous." fret the merit of man is the ground of confidence, but the Lord's grace. I have seen thee righteous because I have looked upon thee as an obedient servant, and have counted thy faith for righteousness. Faithfulness in God is an object of man's trust as connected with his spoken word and the preparation of his mercy.

III. DIVINE SUFFICIENCY. The weak creatures in the ark surrounded by the destroying waters. A refuge opened in God. His blessing on the household. His redemption succoring the individual soul, the life and its treasures, family peace and prosperity, &e. The ark a type of the prepared salvation, carrying the believer through the flood of earthly cares and troubles, through the' deep waters of death, to the new world of the purified heaven and earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.—R.

Genesis 7:7-16

Realized salvation.

"And Noah went in," &c. "And the Lord shut him in" (Genesis 7:7, Genesis 7:10, Genesis 7:16).

I. The CONTRAST between the position of the BELIEVER and that of the UNBELIEVER. The difference between a true freedom and a false. "Shut in" by the Lord to obedience, but also to peace and safety. The world's judgment shut out. The restraints and privations of a religious life only temporary. The ark will be opened hereafter.

II. THE METHOD OF GRACE ILLUSTRATED. He that opens the ark for salvation shuts in his people for the completion of his work. We cannot shut ourselves in. Our temptation to break forth into the world and be involved in its ruin. The misery of fear. Are we safe? Perseverance not dependent upon our self-made resolutions or provisions. By various means we are shut in to the spiritual life. Providentially; by ordinances; by bonds of fellowship. We should look for the Divine seal.—R.

Verses 11-24


Genesis 7:11, Genesis 7:12

In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month. Not

(1) of Noah's 600th year. (Knobel); but either

(2) of the theocratic year, which began With Nisan or Abib (Exodus 12:2; Exodus 13:4; Exodus 23:15; Exodus 34:18; Deuteronomy 16:1; Nehemiah 2:1), either in March or April (Rabbi Joshua, Ambrose, Luther, Calvin, Mercerus, Havernick, Kalisch, Alford, Wordsworth); or

(3) of the civil year, which commenced with the autumnal equinox in the month Tisri, "called of old the first month, but now the seventh" (Chaldee Paraphrase; Exodus 32:16; Exodus 34:22), corresponding to September or October (Josephus, Rabbi Jonathan; Kimchi, Rosenmüller, Keil, Murphy, Bush, Ainsworth, 'Speaker's Commentary ). In support of the former maybe alleged the usual Biblical mode of reckoning the sacred year by numbers, and in defense of the latter that the ecclesiastical year did not begin till the time of the Exodus. In the seventeenth day of the month. "The careful statement of the chronology, which marks with such exactness day and month in the course of this occurence, puts all suspicion of the history to shame" (Havernick). The same day were all the fountains of the great deep—i.e. the waters of the ocean (Job 38:16, Job 38:30; Job 41:31; Psalms 106:9) and of subterranean reservoirs (Job 28:4, Job 28:10; Psa 33:1-22 :73 Deuteronomy 8:7)—broken up. "Byamctynomy because the earth and other obstructions were broken up, and so a passage opened for the fountains" (Poole). "The niphal or passive form of בָּקַע denotes violent changes in the depths of the sea, or in the action of the earth—at all events in the atmosphere" (Lange). And the windows of heaven were opened. Arubboth, from arabh, to twine—network or lattices; hence a window, as being closed with lattice-work instead of glass (Ecclesiastes 12:3); here the flood-gates of heaven, which are opened when it rains (cf. Gen 8:2; 2 Kings 7:19; Isaiah 24:18; Malachi 3:10). And the rain was—literally, and there was (happened, came) violent rain; גֶּשֶׁס, different from מָטָר, which denotes any rain, and is applied to other things which God pours down from heaven (Exodus 9:18; Exodus 16:4)—upon the earth forty days and forty nights (cf. Genesis 7:4). Though the language is metaphorical and optical, it clearly points to a change in the land level by which the ocean waters overflowed the depressed continent, accompanied with heavy and continuous rain, as the cause of the Deluge (contrast with this the works of the third and fourth creative days); yet "the exact statement of the natural causes that concurred in the Deluge is a circumstance which certainly in no wise removes the miraculous nature of the whole fact—who has unveiled the mysteries of nature?—but which certainly shows how exact was the attention paid to the external phenomena of the Deluge" (Havernick).

Genesis 7:13, Genesis 7:14

In the selfsame day—literally, in the bone, or strength, or essence (Genesis 2:23) of that day—in that very day (cf. Genesis 17:23, Genesis 17:26); "about noonday, i.e. in the public view of the world" (Poole) a phrase intended to convey the idea of the utmost precision of time" (Bush)—entered Noah, and Shem, and Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah's wife, and the wives of his three sons with them, into the ark. Not inconsistent with Genesis 7:4, Genesis 7:5, which do not necessarily imply that the actual entry was made seven days before the Flood; but merely that Noah then began to carry out the Divine instructions. The threefold recital of the entry—first in connection with the invitation or command (Genesis 7:5), and again in the actual process during the seven days (Genesis 7:7), and finally on the day when the Flood began (Genesis 7:15),—besides lending emphasis to the narrative, heightens its dramatic effect. They, and every beast after his Mad, and all the cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind, and every fowl after his kind, every bird of every sort (literally, wing). The creatures here specified correspond with the enumeration—viz; chay-yah, behemah, remes—in Genesis 1:25, q.v. The last clause, kol-canaph, Kalisch, following Clericus, translates, though, according to Rosenmüller, without satisfactory reasons, "every winged creature," and so makes "three classes of winged beings—the eatable species (עוף), the birds which people the air and enliven it by the sounds of their melodies (עִפוֹר), and the endless swarms of insects (כָּנָף), the greatest part of which possess neither the utility of the former nor the beauty of the latter. Gesenius, however, translates it "birds of all kinds," and Knobel regards it as synonymous with "every bird." The LXX. give the sense of the two clauses: καιÌ πᾶν ὀìρνεον πετεινοÌν καταÌ γεìνος αὐτοῦ.

Genesis 7:15

And they went in unto Noah into the ark (cf. Genesis 6:20, which affirmed they should come), two and two of all flesh, wherein is the breath of life. Cf. the three expressions for an animated creature—חַיָּה (Genesis 1:30), יְקוּס: (Genesis 7:4), אֲשֶׂר־בּוֹ רוּחַ חיִּיס.

Genesis 7:16

And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God (Etohim) had commanded him. This evidently closed an Elohistic passage, according to Colenso, as the ensuing clause as manifestly belongs to the Jehovistic interpolator; but the close connection subsisting between the two clauses forbids any such dislocation of the narrative as that suggested. "On the supposition of an independent Jehovistic narrative, Bishop Colenso feels it necessary to interpolate before the next statement the words, 'And Noah and all his house went into the ark'". And the Lord (Jehovah) shut him in. Literally, shut behind, him, i.e. closed up the door of the ark after him (ἐκλεισε τηÌν κιβωτοÌν ἐìξωθεν αὐτοῦ, LXX.); doubtless miraculously, to preserve him both from the violence of the waters and the rage of men. The contrast between the two names of the Deity is here most vividly presented. It is Elohim who commands him about the beasts; it is Jehovah, the covenant God, who insures his safety by closing the ark behind him.

Genesis 7:17-19

And the flood was forty days upon the earth. Referring to the forty days' and nights' rain of Genesis 7:4 (τεσσαραìκοντα ἡμεìρας καιÌ τεσσαραìκοντα νυìκτας, LXX.), during which the augmentation of the waters is described in a threefold degree. And the waters increased. Literally, grew great. The first degree of increase, marked by the floating of the ark. And bare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth. Literally, it was high from upon the earth, i.e. it rose above it. And the waters prevailed. Literally, were strong; from גָּבַר, to be strong; whence the Gibborim of Genesis 6:4. And were increased greatly on the earth. Literally, became great, greatly. The second degree of increase, marked by the going of the ark. And the ark wenti.e. floated along; καιÌ ἐπεφεìρετο, LXX. (Psalms 104:26)—upon the face of the waters. And the waters prevailed exceedingly. Literally, and the waters became strong, exceedingly. The third degree of increase, marked by the submergence of the mountains. And all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered. A clear assertion of the universality of the Flood (Keil, Kalisch, Alford, Bush, Wordsworth); but the language does not necessarily imply more than that all the high hills beneath the spectator's heaven were submerged (cf. Genesis 41:57; Exodus 9:25; Exodus 10:15; Deu 2:25; 1 Kings 10:24; Acts 2:5; Colossians 1:25, for instances in which the universal terms all and every must be taken with a limited signification); while it is almost certain that, had the narrator even designed to record only the fact that all the heights within the visible horizon had disappeared beneath the rising waters, he would have done so by saying that "all the high hills under the whole heaven were covered." While, then, it is admitted that the words may depict a complete submergence of the globe, it is maintained by many competent scholars that the necessities of exegesis only demand a partial inundation (Poole, Murphy, Taylor Lewis, 'Speaker's Commentary,' Inglis).

Genesis 7:20

Fifteen cubits upward—half the height of the ark—did the waters prevail. Literally, become strong; above the highest mountains obviously, and not above the ground simply; as, on the latter alternative, it could scarcely have been added, and the mountains were covered.

Genesis 7:21, Genesis 7:22

describe the effect of the Deluge in its destruction of all animal and human life. And all flesh died that moved upon the earth. A general expression for the animal creation, of which the particulars are then specified. Both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth on the earth. Literally, in fowl, and in cattle, &c. (cf. Genesis 7:14). And every man. i.e. all the human race (with the exception of the inmates of the ark), which is further characterized as all in whose nostrils was the breath of life. Literally, the breath of the spirit of lives, i.e. all mankind. A clear pointing backwards to Genesis 2:7, which leads Davidson to ascribe Genesis 2:22, Genesis 2:23 to the Jehovist, although Eichhorn, Tuch, Bleek, Vaihinger, and others leave them in the fundamental document, but which is rather to be regarded as a proof of the internal unity of the book. Of all that was in the dry land,—a further specification of the creatures that perished in the Flood,—died. It is obvious the construction of Genesis 2:21, Genesis 2:22 may be differently understood. Each verse may be taken as a separate sentence, as in the A.V; or the second sentence may commence with the words, "And every man," as in the present exposition. Thus far the calamity is simply viewed in its objective result, In the words which follow, which wear the aspect of an unnecessary repetition, it is regarded in its relation to the Divine threatening.

Genesis 7:23

And every living substance was destroyed—literally, wiped out (cf. Genesis 6:7; Genesis 7:4)—which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and—literally, from, man urge—cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the hearten; and they were destroyed—wiped, out by washing (cf. Genesis 6:7)—from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark. The straits to which the advocates of the documentary hypothesis are sometimes reduced are remarkably exemplified by the fortunes of these verses (21-23) in the attempt to assign them to their respective authors. Astruc conjectures that Genesis 7:21 was taken from what he calls monumentum B, Genesis 7:22 from "monument" A, and Genesis 7:23 from monument C. Eichhorn ascribes Genesis 7:21, Genesis 7:22 to an Elohistic author, and Genesis 7:23 to a Jehovistic. Ilgen assigns Genesis 7:21, Genesis 7:22 to the first, and Genesis 7:23 to the second Elohist. Bleek, all three to the Elohist; and Davidson Genesis 7:21 to the Elohist, Genesis 7:22, Genesis 7:23 to the Jehovist. Amid such uncertainty it will be reasonable to cling to the belief that Moses wrote all the three verses, at least till the higher criticism knows its own mind.

Genesis 7:24

And the waters prevailed upon the earth an hundred and fifty days. Additional to the forty days of rain (Murphy), making 190 since the commencement of the Flood; or more probably inclusive of the forty days (Knobel, Lange, Bush, Wordsworth, 'Speaker's Comment.' Inglis),which, reckoning thirty days to the month, would bring the landing of the ark to the seventeenth day of the seventh month, as stated in Genesis 8:4.


Genesis 7:19

Was the Flood universal?

I. THE BIBLICAL ACCOUNT. Unquestionably the language of the historian appears to describe a complete submergence of the globe beneath a flood of waters, and is capable of being so understood, so far as exegesis can determine. Unquestionably also that this was the writer's meaning would never have been challenged had it not been for certain difficulties of a scientific nature, as well as of other kinds, which were gradually seen to attach to such hypothesis. But these difficulties having arisen in men's minds led to a closer and more careful investigation of the Scripture narrative, when it was found—

1. That the language of the historian did not necessarily imply that the catastrophe described was of universal extent (vide Exposition).

2. That, if it had been only partial and local in its operation, in all probability the same, or at least closely similar, terms would have been selected to depict its appearance, as observed by a spectator.

3. That the purpose for which, according to the inspired record, the Deluge was sent could have been completely effected without the submergence of the entire globe—that purpose being the destruction of the human race, which, it is believed, had not at that time overspread the earth, but was confined to a limited region contiguous to the valley of the Euphrates, That this last conjecture is not of recent origin, but was early entertained by theologians, is proved by the facts that Aben Ezra "confuteth the opinion of some who in his days held the Deluge not to have been universal" (Willet); that Bishop Patrick notes (Genesis 7:19) that "there were those anciently, and they have their successors now, who imagined the Flood was not universal,—ἀλλ ἐν ῷ οἱ τοìτε ἀìνρρωποι ὠìκουν,—but only there where men then dwelt;" that Matthew Poole writes, "Peradventure this Flood might not be universal over the whole earth, but only over all the habitable world, where either men or beasts lived, which was as much as either the meritorious cause of the Flood, men's sins, or the end of it, the destruction of all men and beasts, required" (Synopsis, Genesis 7:19); and that Bishop Stillingfleet in his 'Origines Sacrae' remarks, "I cannot see any necessity, from the Scriptures, to assert that the Flood did spread itself over all the surface of the earth. That all mankind (those in the ark excepted) were destroyed by it is most certain, according to the Scriptures; but from thence follows no necessity at all of asserting the universality of it as to the globe of the earth, unless it be sufficiently proved that the earth was peopled before the Flood, which I despair of ever seeing proved". This opinion, it is almost needless to observe, has been adopted by the majority of modem scholars.

4. That subsequent Scriptural references to this primeval catastrophe are at least not decidedly at variance with the notion of a limited Deluge. Genesis 9:15 places emphasis on the fact that the waters will no more become a flood to destroy all flesh, i.e. all mankind. Isaiah 54:9, pointing back to Genesis 9:15, says that as God swore in the days of Noah that the earth would be no more inundated as to carry off the entire population, so did he swear then that he would not rebuke Israel. The language does not, as Wordsworth thinks, imply the universality of the Deluge. 2 Peter 2:5; 2 Peter 3:6 refers to the destruction of the ἀρχαιìος κοìσμος, i.e. the world of men, the κοìσμος ἀσεβῶν specially mentioned in the former of these passages. So far then as Scripture is concerned we are not shut up to the necessity of regarding the Deluge as universal.


1. Astronomical. It is urged that, as there is no sufficient evidence of any general subsidence of the earth's crust, the theory proposed by some harmonists, that the land and water virtually exchanged places (this was supposed to be borne out by the existence of shells and corals at the top of high mountains), having now been completely abandoned (that the outlines of the great continental seas have been substantially the same from the beginning—vide Genesis 1:1-31.Genesis 1:9, Expos.), the entire surface of the globe could be covered only by a large earth's mass. Kalisch supposes eight tunes increase of water being added to the aggregate of water contained in all the seas and oceans of the earth; that this must have produced such a shock to the solar system as to have caused a very considerable aberration in the earth's orbit, of which: however, no trace can be detected; and that, consequently, it is unphilosophical to imagine that such a disturbance of the entire stellar world as would necessarily follow on that event would be resorted to in order to destroy a race of sinful beings in one of the smallest planets of the system. But—Biblical science, which recognizes an incarnation of the Word of God in order to save man, will always hesitate to pronounce anything too great for the Almighty to permit or do in connection with man.

(2) It is gratuitous to infer that because a general subsidence of the earth's crust cannot now be traced, there was none. Absence of evidence that a thing was is not equivalent to presence of proof that a thing was not. Witness the third day's vegetation and antediluvian civilization.

(3) If even the earth's surface were covered with water, it is doubtful if it would be much more in effect than the breaking out of a profuse sweat upon the human body, or the filling up with water of the indentures on the rough skin of an orange, in which case it is more than probable that the apprehended disturbance of the solar system would prove in great part imaginary.

2. Geological. At one time believed to afford incontestable evidence of a universal deluge in the drift formations, the diluvium of the earlier geologists (of late, with better reason, ascribed to the influence of a glacial, period which prevailed over the greater part of Central and Northern Europe m prehistoric times), geological science is now held to teach exactly the opposite. The extinct volcanoes of Langue-dec and Auvergne are believed to have been in operation long anterior to the time of man's appearance on the earth, the remains of extinct animals being found among their sconce; and yet the lava cones are in many instances as perfect as when first thrown up, while the dross lies loose upon their sides, which it is scarcely, supposable would be the case had they been subjected to any cataclysmal immersion such as is presupposed in the Deluge. But here the mistake is that of imagining the Noachic Flood to have been of any such violent torrential character. On the contrary, the Scripture narrative represents the waters as having risen and subsided slowly, and the whole phenomenon to have been of such a kind as, while destroying human life, to effect comparatively little change upon the face of nature; and, besides, careful scientific observers have declared that the volcanic scoriae in question is not so loose as is sometimes alleged (Smith's 'Bib. Dict.,' art. Noah).

3. Zoological. This refers to the difficulty of accommodating all the animals that were then alive. So long of course as Raleigh's computation of eighty-nine distinct species of animals was accepted as correct, the task imposed upon apologists was not of a very formidable character. But of mammalia alone there are now known to exist 1658 different species, thus making about 4000 and upwards of individuals (the clean beasts being taken in sevens or seven pairs) that required to be stalled in the ark; and when to these are added the pairs of the 6000 birds, 650 reptiles, and 550,000 insects that are now recognized by zoologists, the difficulty is seen to be immensely increased. An obvious remark, however, in connection with this is that there is a tendency among modern zoologists unnecessarily to multiply the number of species. But in truth a prior difficulty relates to the collection of these multitudinous creatures from their respective habitats. If the entire surface of the globe was submerged, then must the fauna belonging to the different continents have been conveyed across the seas and lands towards the ark, and reconducted thence again to their appropriate settlements in some way not described and impossible to imagine; whereas if the inundated region extended (through the subsidence of the earth's crust) to the Mediterranean on the west, and the Indian Ocean on the south and east, it is apparent that neither would this difficulty have proved insuperable, nor would the collection of the animals have been rendered unnecessary, the devastated country being so wide that only by preservation of the species could it have been speedily replenished.

III. The CONCLUSION, therefore, seems to be that, while Scripture does not imperatively forbid the idea of a partial Deluge, science appears to require it, and, without ascribing to all the scientific objections that are urged against the universality of the Flood that importance which their authors assign to them, it may be safely affirmed that there is considerable reason for believing that the mabbul which swept away the antediluvian men was confined to the region which they inhabited.

Genesis 7:23

The Deluge.


1. In respect of threatenings against the wicked. Whether the faith of Noah ever betrayed symptoms of wavering during the long interval of waiting for the coming of the Flood it is impossible to say; it can scarcely be doubted that the men who for six score years had seen the sun rise and set with unwearied regularity, that had watched the steady and continuous movement of nature's laws and forces throughout the passing century, oftentimes exclaimed, Where is the promise of his coming, for all things continue as they were from the beginning?" And yet God kept his word, and fulfilled his threatening. "The flood came, and took them all away" (Matthew 24:39). Cf. the Divine threatenings against Babylon (Jeremiah 51:33), against Tyre (Isaiah 23:12), against Jerusalem (2 Kings 21:13; Jeremiah 26:18), against the Jews (Deuteronomy 28:49). Let impenitent sinners thereby be reminded that there is one more word of doom which he will yet cause to come to pass (Psa 9:17; 2 Thessalonians 1:8; 2 Peter 3:10).

2. In respect of promises to the saints. At the same time that he foretold to Noah the destruction of his licentious and violent contemporaries, he distinctly promised that he would establish his covenant with Noah, and preserve both him and his amid the general overthrow. And that too he implemented in due time and to the letter. Let the saints then learn to trust the precious promises of God (2 Peter 1:4) which have been given to enable them to escape the corruption that is in the world through lust (τῆς ἐν κοìσμῳ ἐν ἐπιθυμιìᾳ φθορᾶς, i.e. the destruction that is already operating in the world and coming out of, as it is carried in, the world's lust).


1. In controlling his creatures.

(1) In collecting the animals, which he did, doubtless, by making use of their instincts which led them to apprehend the coming danger. Vide Job 39-41, for God's power over the animal creation.

(2) In using the powers of nature—breaking up the flood-gates of the deep, and opening the windows of heaven. The phenomenon was distinctly miraculous; but if God made the world, causing it to stand together out of the water and through the water, the supernatural character of the Deluge should not occasion difficulty. Nor should the power of God be overlooked in the ordinary phenomena of nature. "Nature is but another name for an effect whose cause is God." In the miracle God reveals what he is always silently and imperceptibly doing in the natural event. Nothing happens in the realm of providence without the concurrence of Almighty power (Amos 3:6; Matthew 10:29). Let God's power exhibited over nature's forces remind us of his ability to bring the present terrestrial economy to an end as he has promised (2 Peter 3:10, 2 Peter 3:11).

(3) In destroying the lives of men. In every case life is a gift of God, and can only be recalled by him (Deuteronomy 32:39; 2 Samuel 2:6). Yet, unless when God interposes to destroy on a large scale,—e.g. by famine, pestilence, war, accident,—his absolute and unchallengeable control over men's lives (Psalms 31:15) is apt to be forgotten. And with what infinite ease he can depopulate the fairest and most crowded regions he has often shown; witness, in addition to the Flood, the destruction of the cities of the plain (Genesis 19:24, Genesis 19:25), of the first-born in Egypt (Exodus 12:29), of the army of Pharaoh (Exodus 14:27), of the host of Sennacherib (2 Kings 19:35).

2. In punishing his enemies. That appalling visitation is fitted to remind us that God is able to execute vengeance—

(1) On the greatest sinners. Having cast down the sinning angels, and drowned the world of the ungodly, and burnt up the filthy Sodomites, it is scarcely likely that any criminal will be beyond his power to apprehend and chastise (2 Peter 2:9; Jude 1:15).

(2) In the severest forms. Having all the resources of nature at his command,—the gleaming thunderbolt, the sweeping flood, the sleeping volcano, the tempestuous hurricane, all the several and combined potencies of fire, air, earth, and water,—he can never want a weapon wherewith to inflict upon his adversaries "the tribulation and wrath, indignation and anguish," he has decreed for their portion (Romans 2:8, Romans 2:9; 2 Thessalonians 1:8, 2 Thessalonians 1:9; Revelation 20:15; Revelation 21:8).

(3) It the most unexpected times. Few things connected with the Noachic Deluge are more impressive and paralyzing to the mind than the suddenness of the surprisal with which it sprang upon the wicked generation that for 120 years had been disbelieving its reality and ridiculing the warnings of the patriarch. "So ALSO SHALL THE COMING OF THE SON OF MAN BE."

(4) With the most inevitable certainty. Tempted by their long lives to imagine that the penalty of death was cancelled or had become inoperative, or at least would not really be put in force against them, these men of the first age were recalled from their delusive reasonings. The Deluge was God's proclamation that the penalty was still in force against sinners, God's explanation of what that penalty meant, God's certification that that penalty was sure.

3. In protecting his people. The ark floating on the waters was a visible sermon to all time coming of God's ability to save them who believe and obey him. And, like the shelter enjoyed by Noah, the salvation which God bestows upon his people is

(1) gracious—flowing from the Divine mercy;

(2) free—with no condition attached except that men shall, like Noah, believe and obey;

(3) adequate—containing all that is required for their spiritual necessities, as the ark held abundant provision for the voyage;

(4) secure—" the Lord shut him inn."

So says Christ, "I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish" (John 10:28).


1. That the Divine character was holy. A deity who is himself subject to imperfection is inconceivable. But sinful men are prone to forget that God is of purer eyes than to look upon iniquity. In this last age of the world God has discovered that to men by sending forth an image or likeness of himself in the person of his Son, who was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners (cf. John 14:9). In the first age he announced the same great truth by the water-flood.

2. That the Divine law was holy. That, besides being himself personally pure, he requires sinless obedience at the hands of his creatures, the Almighty has in every separate era or epoch of human history taken pains to inform men; in Edenic times by the forbidden tree; in ante diluvian by the Deluge; in Mosaic by Mount Sinai; in Christian by the cross of Cal vary.

3. That the Divine government was holy. That from the first the world has been governed in the interests of holiness is unmistakably me a doctrine or scripture. If any in Noah's time believed either that God was indifferent to righteousness, or that it was possible for "the throne of iniquity to have fellowship with him" they must have been terribly undeceived when the crack of doom was heard above their heads. So will it be when the righteous Judge reveals himself a second time in flaming fire to render unto every man according to his deeds.


1. "It is impossible for God to lie" (Hebrews 6:18).

2. "There is nothing too hard for the Lord" (Genesis 18:14).

3. "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." (Hebrews 10:31).


Genesis 7:16

The believer's safety.

Parable of the ten virgins speaks of a final separation. "The door was shut." 'There our thoughts are turned to those without; here, to those within. The time was come when the choice must be made. "Come thou and all thy house into the ark." The broad and narrow way. The confinement of the ark or the freedom of home; and, in view of the flood, the frail vessel or the mountains. Trust in Christ or trust in self (cf. Romans 10:3). He chose the way of faith. God shut him in (cf. Isaiah 26:3). He knew he was safe. The world saw no good in it. The pause of seven days (Genesis 7:10) illustrates the present state. Believers rejoicing in their safety; the world unconvinced of danger.

I. CHRIST OFFERS SAFETY TO ALL. The ark was prepared that all might be saved. The condemnation was because they did not care (John 3:19). There was room and welcome for all who would come (cf. Luke 14:22). Noah did not preach impossible things. When Jericho was destroyed Rahab was saved. When Sodom, Lot. God bids all seek and find refuge in Christ (Romans 3:22).

II. CHRIST IS A REFUGE FROM THE CONVICTION OF SIN. How many are living without serious concern. Not rejecting the gospel; they hear it, and approve, and think that all is well. Like St. Paul, "alive without the law." God's commandments not understood; his holiness not known. Let such a one be led to see how God's law reaches to the springs of life and feeling, and to feel the working of the "law of sin" in his members; then what a flood. "Who will show us any good?" Good deeds cannot give peace. Worldly good as wormwood. Conscience repeats, He has been knocking, and I have not opened (Proverbs 1:26). Yet, hark! his voice again: "Come unto me." It is not too late. Even now, if thou wilt, the Lord will shut thee in.

III. THE SAFETY OF THOSE WHO BELIEVE, whom God shuts in. Who shall lay anything to their charge? Who shall condemn? Who shall separate? (Romans 8:33-35). The flood is without. Noah is weak and helpless as the world. His safety is God's refuge. The Christian is surrounded by evil influences, messengers of Satan. Temptations to worldliness or to spiritual pride; cares and anxieties hindering prayer; suggestions of unbelief, and hard thoughts of God; the fainting of nature because so little progress made. But in Christ is safety. Coming to him daily as we are; with weak faith, with many perplexities, with the marks of many falls. His word is, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee." In the trials of life "we are more than conquerors through him that loved us."—M.

Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Genesis 7". The Pulpit Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tpc/genesis-7.html. 1897.
adsFree icon
Ads FreeProfile