Genesis (Part 33)

Welcome back to my study of Genesis. I am going verse-by-verse, looking at the original language, commentaries, and various other sources, too. If you have anything to contribute, please do not hesitate to do so.

Genesis 7:13-24

13 On the very same day Noah and his sons, Shem and Ham and Japheth, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons with them entered the ark, 14 they and every beast, according to its kind, and all the livestock according to their kinds, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, according to its kind, and every bird, according to its kind, every winged creature. 15 They went into the ark with Noah, two and two of all flesh in which there was the breath of life. 16 And those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him. And the Lord shut him in.

17 The flood continued forty days on the earth. The waters increased and bore up the ark, and it rose high above the earth. 18 The waters prevailed and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the face of the waters. 19 And the waters prevailed so mightily on the earth that all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered. 20 The waters prevailed above the mountains, covering them fifteen cubits deep. 21 And all flesh died that moved on the earth, birds, livestock, beasts, all swarming creatures that swarm on the earth, and all mankind. 22 Everything on the dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life died. 23 He blotted out every living thing that was on the face of the ground, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens. They were blotted out from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those who were with him in the ark. 24 And the waters prevailed on the earth 150 days.


From the Cambridge Bible for Scholars Commentary

Genesis 7:13In the selfsame day entered Noah, and Shem, and Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah’s wife, and the three wives of his sons with them, into the ark;13In the selfsame day] Observe that P represents the Flood as ommencing on the same day (cf. Genesis 7:11) that Noah entered the ark. There is no account taken here of the interval of seven days, mentioned by J in Genesis 7:4Genesis 7:10, preceding the catastrophe. For the expression “selfsame day,” a characteristic of P, cf. Genesis 17:23Genesis 17:26Exodus 12:17Exodus 12:41Exodus 12:51. Lat. in articulo diei illius.

with them] LXX and Peshitto Syriac, “with him,” as in Genesis 8:16Genesis 8:18.

13–16a (P). The Entrance into the Ark, according to P

The repetition of what has already been narrated in Genesis 7:7-9 can hardly fail to strike the reader; and, without our recognition of the composite elements which are here interwoven, it would be unintelligible.

Here we note another instance of what appears to be two different accounts of the Flood. In the first account, we are told that a seven day wait occurred between entering the ark and when the Flood begins. However, here we see the story translated that “on the very same day…” which comes from ‘etsem yowm.

From Ellicott’s Bible Commentary on this verse:

In the selfsame day entered Noah, and Shem, and Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah’s wife, and the three wives of his sons with them, into the ark;(13) In the selfsame day.—Heb., in the bone of this day.

Coffman’s Commentaries addresses the contradiction here:

“In the selfsame day …” The Hebrew text here is somewhat ambiguous, this expression being capable of two meanings. It might mean all of the beings in the ark entered on a single day, or it might just as well mean that the “day” here was that upon which their entry into the ark “was completed.”[12] Keil understood the passage to mean that the rain began on the very day that final entry was achieved for all on board.[13] Whitelaw also pointed out this is not at all inconsistent with Genesis 7:4,5, which do not require the understanding that the total entry into the ark was achieved a full week ahead of the Deluge, but that seven days prior to the onset of it, “Noah then began to carry out the Divine instructions.”[14]

Of special significance in this chapter is that the discriminatory use of the various names for God is evident. Thus, it is Jehovah who commanded Noah to enter the ark (Genesis 7:1), but Noah did as [~Elohiym] commanded him (Genesis 7:4). A similar use of both names occurs in Genesis 7:16, and the reason for this has nothing whatever to do with diverse documentary sources. Jehovah is the covenant name of God, and it is used in connection with actions and events that are particularly related to covenant. [~Elohiym] signifies the eternal power and authority of God; and it is used where such attributes of God appear. Many, many examples of this same selective use of God’s titles are evident in Genesis, and we agree with Keil that the, “Variations in the name of God furnish no criterion by which to detect different documents.”[15]

I want to note here in Verse 16 that the LORD shut them in. יְהֹוָה Yᵉhôvâh, yeh-ho-vaw’; from H1961; (the) self-Existent or Eternal; Jeho-vah, Jewish national name of God:—Jehovah, the Lord. Compare H3050H3069.

From Ellicott again:

Genesis 7:16And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the LORD shut him in.(16) The Lord (Jehovah) shut him in.—The assigning to Jehovah of this act of personal care for Noah is very remarkable. In the Chaldean Genesis (p. 283), the Deity commands Xisuthrus to shut himself in.

This is a truly fascinating picture. Everyone and everything is in the Ark. Then God – the Eternal One – personally closes the door. I assume that Yahweh closed the door from the outside. (Let’s see if the text confirms that for us going forward.)

From here we read about the depth of the waters. We read that the waters were above the mountain tops.

Again from Coffman:

Verses 17-20

“And the flood was forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lifted up above the earth; And the waters prevailed and increased greatly upon the earth; and the ark went upon the face of the waters. And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high mountains that were under the whole heaven were covered. Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered.”

“The waters increased, and bare up the ark…”

“The waters prevailed and increased…”

“The waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth…”

This threefold multiplication of the flood waters upon the earth is a most impressive superlative, culminating at last in the inundation of all the high mountains under heaven. Natural man has a rough time with this; it is totally beyond his capacity to believe or accept it, resulting in the response: “It has lost contact with history entirely!”[16] There are simply too many things in this that men cannot explain for some of them to believe it, but, we might add, such men are exactly like Noah’s generation who also could not conceive of such a thing. Did it really happen? Of course it did! Every nation under the heaven, in all continents, testifies to the truth of this report by its myths and legends, which are nothing but distorted and perverted tales of the same event, but this account is different. It is accurately and precisely dated; it is embedded in the matrix of a moral theology that assigns plausible and accurate moral reasons for the catastrophe. Both the judgment and the mercy inherent in the event are fully in character with the nature of God, as revealed in both Testaments.

Geologists who seek in vain for the confirmation of the Flood in the present structure of the earth are overlooking the catastrophic changes which we know have occurred since the events recorded here. Human conceit being what it is, it is very difficult for unregenerated man to believe anything that he does not think he can explain! Well, there is no way to explain all of this Deluge. Just as that event was a moral test for Noah’s generation, it is still a moral test for our own generation. Faith in what is written here cannot be produced by intellectual understanding of it. As always, faith in God is not an intellectual but a moral decision (John 3:19). A scientific community that has no explanation whatever of how marine fossils are found at elevations above the snowline in the Cordilleras and the Himalayas[17] are not at all convincing in their shouted denials that what is recorded here is a record of what really happened. However, it should be noted that faith in the Bible is confidently affirmed by some of the greatest scientists. It is only those who are drunk upon a little learning who brashly deny the Bible!

Coffman’s interpretation (and attitude) here is not uncommon in the Church community. As we have shown, science does seem to point toward significant Flood events in the history of the earth. However, it does not seem to point toward a Flood at the time that most Bible scholars allege for Noah’s Flood to have occurred. Does that mean it did not occur? Not at all. It just means that faith and science do not meet (yet?) on this point. The fault could be with science or it might be with Biblical interpretation.

Pictured here is a map of what scientists believe the earth looked like during the Younger Dryas Period about 12,000 years ago. Note in particular the land mass in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Australia, Florida (in the U.S.), the coastline of South America – a lot of ground was above the water that is now below it. Note as well that North America and Europe are underneath miles of ice in general. A lot of melting and flooding happened. We just do not know *how* it happened.

There is a lot of work for science to do with respect to understanding how this happened, when, what the causes were, etc.

This section of verses concludes by telling us that the waters prevailed on the earth for 150 days (5 months.) That of course assumes that yowm here means days in the 24 hour sense that we currently understand them. And that may indeed be exactly what it means. But is it possible for the term to have meant something else?

The word translated as “day” comes from יוֹם yôwm, yome; from an unused root meaning to be hot; a day (as the warm hours), whether literal (from sunrise to sunset, or from one sunset to the next), or figurative (a space of time defined by an associated term), (often used adverb):—age, always, chronicals, continually(-ance), daily, ((birth-), each, to) day, (now a, two) days (agone), elder, × end, evening, (for) ever(-lasting, -more), × full, life, as (so) long as (… live), (even) now, old, outlived, perpetually, presently, remaineth, × required, season, × since, space, then, (process of) time, as at other times, in trouble, weather, (as) when, (a, the, within a) while (that), × whole ( age), (full) year(-ly), younger.

What if the word translated as day actually means a far longer period of time? This would not be the first instance of treating the translation of that word in such a manner. A large number of Biblical scholars today treat the 7 Days of Creation as something more akin to a 7 Indefinitely Long Periods of Creation based on a non-literal interpretation of this word “yome.” We see time interpreted non-literally in other places, as well. Daniel’s Seventy Weeks Prophecy, found in Daniel 9:24-27, is interpreted by many Biblical Scholars to refer to “Weeks of Years.”

Would it be possible for God to put Noah on an ark for hundreds or thousands of years? Of course it’s possible. We even know Yahweh personally closed the door of the Ark. This is just me entertaining (without embracing) an idea of what happened but I find it surprising to not see the idea entertained elsewhere.

One more thing that jumps out to me in these verses is from verse 18: We read that the Ark floated on the surface of the water. On the “paniym mayim.” This is a direct call-back to Genesis 1:2 where we are told that the Spirit/Wind/Breath of ‘elohiym was hovering on the face of the waters. On the “paniym mayim.”

Creation starts on the face of the water and it reboots on the face of the water.

Are there other “out there” ideas regarding Noah and Noah’s Ark? Yes. Ancient Aliens on History Channel did an episode speculating that Noah was an alien – based on some strange writings concerning Noah found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. In recent years, there are a LOT of people who have written about the idea that Noah’s Ark was… a spaceship. There is even a musical group by that name. I will leave you to look into that on your own for today.