Genesis (Part 31)

Hi! Welcome back to my study of Genesis. If you’re interested in prior posts, please visit the menu on my page, click on “Books” in the drop-down, and then click on Genesis.

Just a reminder, not everything that I share is something that I personally believe, endorse, etc.

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Genesis 7:1-5

1Then the Lord said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you are righteous before me in this generation. 2 Take with you seven pairs of all clean animals, the male and his mate, and a pair of the animals that are not clean, the male and his mate, 3 and seven pairs of the birds of the heavens also, male and female, to keep their offspring alive on the face of all the earth. 4 For in seven days I will send rain on the earth forty days and forty nights, and every living thing that I have made I will blot out from the face of the ground.” 5 And Noah did all that the Lord had commanded him.

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Note: In verse 1, “the Lord” is translated from יְהֹוָה Yᵉhôvâh, yeh-ho-vaw’; from H1961; (the) self-Existent or Eternal; Jeho-vah, Jewish national name of God:—Jehovah, the Lord. Compare H3050H3069.

This is notable inasmuch as the command appears to be direct. We do not know whether the Garden of Eden was still present on the earth at this time. However, it is possible that Noah still lived adjacent to Eden and spoke with God directly as his ancestors did.

Ellicott’s Bible Commentary:

Verse 1

VII.

(1) Come thou.—The task of building the ark is over, and after a week, to be spent in collecting animals and birds, Noah is to take up his abode in it. Many commentators suppose that 120 years were spent in the work; but this view arises from an untenable interpretation of Genesis 6:3, which really fixes the future duration of human life.

It strikes me that Noah, his family, and the animals all moved into the ark before the rain started to fall. What did they think? How was their faith in that moment?

Imagine you are Ham or Ham’s wife. Are you concerned that you are going to exit the ark to a crowd roaring in laughter at you? If your faith is rock solid, are you profoundly sad for the destruction that will soon visit the world?

From David Guzik:

1. (Gen 7:1) God invites Noah into the ark.

Then the Lord said to Noah, “Come into the ark, you and all your household, because I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation.

a. Come into the ark: The idea is that God will be with Noah in the ark, so He called Noah to come into the ark with Him.

b. I have seen that you are righteous: Noah spent the years before the flood in active obedience. He not only believed God would send the flood; he obeyed what God told him to do in preparation for it.

I really like this interpretation of the passage. “Come into the ark” implies that God is already on the ark. You will notice that the ESV text above says “go into the ark.” The come/go word can be trasnlated either way. See: בּוֹא bôwʼ, bo; a primitive root; to go or come (in a wide variety of applications):—abide, apply, attain, × be, befall, besiege, bring (forth, in, into, to pass), call, carry, × certainly, (cause, let, thing for) to come (against, in, out, upon, to pass), depart, × doubtless again, eat, employ, (cause to) enter (in, into, -tering, -trance, -try), be fallen, fetch, follow, get, give, go (down, in, to war), grant, have, × indeed, (in-) vade, lead, lift (up), mention, pull in, put, resort, run (down), send, set, × (well) stricken (in age), × surely, take (in), way.

Looking ahead at the remaining verses. From Ellicott again:

Verse 2

(2) Of every clean beast—Heb., of all clean cattle—thou shalt take to thee by sevens—Heb., seven seven.—This probably does not mean seven pairs of each, though many commentators so interpret it, but seven of each kind. If, however, seven pairs be the right interpretation, but few species could have been included, as to attend properly to so large a number of animals would have been beyond the power of Noah and his sons. But which were the clean beasts? There can be no reference here to the Levitical law, which had respect to human food; nor to animals tamed and untamed, as all alike are called cattle; but probably the clean cattle were such as from the days of Adam ‘and Abel had been offered in sacrifice. Thus provision was made for Noah’s sacrifice on his egress from the ark, and also for his possession of a small herd of such animals as would be most useful to him amid the desolation which must have existed for a long time after the flood. The clean beasts would therefore be oxen, sheep, goats; the unclean, camels, horses, asses, and such other animals as stood in some relation to man. Of birds, the dove would especially be clean.

It has been pointed out that these more full and specific orders are given in the name of Jehovah, whereas most of the narrative of the flood is Elohistic, and hence it has been assumed that some Jehovist narrator added to and completed the earlier narrative. These additions would be Genesis 7:1-6. the last clause of Genesis 7:16, Noah’s sacrifice in Genesis 8:20-22, and the cursing of Canaan in Genesis 9:18-27. Now, it is remarkable that the sacrifice is as integral a portion of the Chaldean Genesis as the sending forth of the birds (Chaldean Genesis, p. 286), and is thus indubitably older than the time of Moses. Still, there is nothing improbable in Moses having two records of the flood before him, and while the division of Genesis into Elohistic and Jehovistic portions usually breaks down, there is a primâ facie appearance of the combination of two narratives in the present history, or, at least, in this one section (Genesis 7:1-6).

Ellicott’s explanation for the term “clean beasts” is really interesting. Clean in the text comes from טָהוֹר ṭâhôwr, taw-hore’; or טָהֹר ṭâhôr; from H2891; pure (in a physical, chemical, ceremonial or moral sense):—clean, fair, pure(-ness).

The Pulpit Commentary says this about the issue:

Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female.Verse 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 (Leviticus 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 (Chrysostom, Augustine, Theodoret, Calvin, Pererius, Wiliet, Delitzsch, Rosenmüller, Keil, Lange, Bush); 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.

As it relates to the issue of getting the animals onto the ark, there is wide agreement as to how it was accomplished. Let’s look at Guzik again who provides the most common view.

a. You shall take with you: Some wonder how the animals came to Noah or how Noah got them. In Genesis 6:20 God said the animals would come to Noah by migration. In some animals, God has created a migratory instinct (which can operate in an amazing manner). It is no difficulty for Him to miraculously place an urge to migrate to the ark in each pair of animals He planned to be preserved in the ark.

b. Two by two they went into the ark to Noah: God never has a problem getting the animals to do what He wants. Only man is more stupid than the animals. The ox knows its owner and the donkey its master’s crib; but Israel does not know, My people do not consider. (Isaiah 1:3)

Taking the above verses into account, we can reexamine the issue of the North American megafauna die-off differently. Why did mammoths, sabretooth cats, cave bears, etc., not survive the Flood? Either 1) they had died in an earlier event, or 2) God did not want to lead them to Noah – for God’s own reasons.

One final comment on these verses:

The text is clear that God sends rain. מָטַר mâṭar, maw-tar’; a primitive root; to rain:—(cause to) rain (upon). When we talk about The Flood, in prior verses and in the coming verses, an explanation for the Flood that does not include rain is not sufficient.

Everyone is huddled inside the ark, tending the animals, and the wait begins. The storm is coming.

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