Genesis (Part 34)

Welcome back to my study/review of Genesis. If you missed the first 33 parts of this study, visit my main page, click the menu, click on “book” and then click on the Genesis link.

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Genesis 8:1-5

But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the livestock that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided. The fountains of the deep and the windows of the heavens were closed, the rain from the heavens was restrained, and the waters receded from the earth continually. At the end of 150 days the waters had abated, and in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. And the waters continued to abate until the tenth month; in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains were seen.

Ellicott’s Bible Commentary

Genesis 8:1And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him in the ark: and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters asswaged;VIII.

(1) God.Elohim. On the Jehovistic theory, one would have expected Jehovah here. (See Excursus.)

Every living thing.—See Note on Genesis 7:14.

The waters asswaged.—Heb., became still. It is plain from this that the “strength” of the waters, described in Genesis 7:24, has reference to the violent currents, which still existed up to the end of the one hundred and fiftieth day, after which they ceased.

A wind (comp. the creative wind in Genesis 1:2) began to blow as soon as the rains ceased, or even before, as must necessarily have been the case with so vast a disturbance of the atmosphere; but its special purpose of assuaging the waters only began when the downpour was over. This wind would affect the course of the ark, but scarcely so strongly as the currents of the water.

As you might pick up from Ellicott’s notes here, God is translated in this verse from ‘elohiym. ‘Remembered” comes from זָכַר zâkar, zaw-kar’; a primitive root; also as denominative from H2145 properly, to mark (so as to be recognized), i.e. to remember; by implication, to mention; to be male:—× burn (incense), × earnestly, be male, (make) mention (of), be mindful, recount, record(-er), remember, make to be remembered, bring (call, come, keep, put) to (in) remembrance, × still, think on, × well.

In verse 1, we read that God made a wind blow over the earth. The word from which wind is translated is רוּחַ rûwach, roo’-akh; from H7306; wind; by resemblance breath, i.e. a sensible (or even violent) exhalation; figuratively, life, anger, unsubstantiality; by extension, a region of the sky; by resemblance spirit, but only of a rational being (including its expression and functions):—air, anger, blast, breath, × cool, courage, mind, × quarter, × side, spirit(-ual), tempest, × vain, (whirl-) wind(-y).

The word for wind, in Genesis 8:1, is the same word that was used in Genesis 1:2 to describe the “Spirit” of God being on the face of the waters.

From the Pulpit Commentary:

Genesis 8:3And the waters returned from off the earth continually: and after the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters were abated.Verse 3. – And the waters returned from off the earth continually. Literally, going and returning. “More and more” (Gesenius). The first verb expresses the continuance and self-increasing state of the action involved in the second; cf. Genesis 26:131 Samuel 6:122 Kings 2:11 (Furst). Gradually (Murphy, Ewald). The expression “denotes the turning-point after the waters had become calm” (T. Lewis). May it not be an attempt to represent the undulatory motion of the waves in an ebbing tide, in which the water seems first to advance, but only to retire with greater vehemence, reversing the movement of a flowing tide, in which it first retires and then advances – in the one case returning to go, in the other going to return? The LXX., as usual, indicates the visible effect rather than the actual phenomenon: καὶ ἐνεδίδου τὸ ὕδωρ πορεύομενον ἀπὸ τῆς γῆς. And after the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters were abated. Literally, were cut off, hence diminished; imminsutae sunt (Vulgate); ἠλαττονοῦτο τὸ ὕδωρ (LXX.). The first stage was the quieting of the waters; the second was the commencement of an ebbing or backward motion; the third was a perceptible diminution of the waters.

TL pic via

The landing of the ark, the location of Ararat, and the possible preservation of the ark is an area where a lot of Bible Commentaries get pretty excitable. There is not agreement about where Ararat is though Armenia is the leading candidate.

אֲרָרַט ʼĂrâraṭ, ar-aw-rat’; of foreign origin; Ararat (or rather Armenia):—Ararat, Armenia.

From the Pulpit Commentary:

And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat.Verse 4. – And the ark rested. Not stopped sailing or floating, got becalmed, and remained suspended over (Kitto’s ‘Cyclop.,’ art. Ararat), but actually grounded and settled on (Tayler Lewis) the place indicated by עַל (cf. ver. 9; also Exodus 10:14Numbers 10:36Numbers 11:25, 26Isaiah 11:2). In the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month. I.e. exactly 150 days from the commencement of the forty days’ rain, reckoning thirty days to a month, which seems to confirm the opinion expressed (Genesis 7:24) that the forty days were included in the 150. Supposing the Flood to have begun in Marchesvan, the second month of the civil year (about the beginning of November), “we have then the remarkable coincidences that on the 17th day of Abib (about the beginning of April) the ark rested on Mount Ararat, the Israelites passed over the Red Sea, and our Lord rose again from the dead” (‘Speaker’s Commentary’). Upon the mountains. I.e. one of the mountains. “Pluralis numerus pro singulari ponitur” (cf. Genesis 21:7Genesis 46:7Judges 12:7; vide Glass., ‘Philoh Seer. Tract.,’ 1. cap. 14. p. 866). Of Ararat.

1. It is agreed by all that the term Ararat describes a region.

2. This region has been supposed to be the island of Ceylon (Samaritan), Aryavarta, the sacred land to the north of India (Van Bohlen, arguing from Genesis 11:2); but “it is evident that these and such like theories have been framed in forgetfulness of what the Bible has recorded respecting the locality” (Kitto’s ‘Cyclopedia,’ art. Ararat).

3. The locality which appears to have the countenance of Scripture is the region of Armenia (cf. 2 Kings 19:37Isaiah 37:38Jeremiah 51:27; Aquila, Symmachus, Theodotion, Vulgate).

4. In Armenia three different mountains have been selected as the site on which the ark grounded.

(1) The modern Ararat, which rises in Northern Armenia, about twelve miles south of Erivan, in the form of two majestic cones, the one 16, 254, and the ether 12,284 feet (Parisian) in height above the level of the sea (Hierony. mus, Furst, Kalisch, Keil, Delitzsch, and Lange). All but universal tradition has decided that the loftiest of these two peaks (called Macis in Armenian; Aghri-Dagh, i.e. the difficult or steep mountain, by the Turks; Kuchi Nuch, i.e. the mountain of Noah, by the Persians) was the spot where the sacred vessel first felt the solid land. Travelers describe the appearance of this amazing elevation as of incomparable and overpowering splendor. “It appeared as if the highest mountains in the world had been piled upon each other to form this one sublime immensity of earth and rocks and snow. The icy peaks of its double head rose majestically into the clear and cloudless heavens; the sun blazed bright upon them, and the reflection sent forth a radiance equal to other suns” (Ker Porters ‘Travels, 1:132; 2:636). “Nothing can be more beautiful than its shape, more awful than its height. All the surrounding mountains sink into insignificance when compared to it. It is perfect in all its parts; no hard, rugged feature, no unnatural prominences; everything is in harmony, and all combines to render it one of the sublimest objects in nature” (Morier’s ‘Journey,’ 1:16; 2:312, 345). The ascent of the Kara Dagh, or Greater Ararat, which the Armenians believe to be guarded by angels from the profane foot of man, after two unsuccessful attempts, was accomplished in 1829 by Professor Parrot, a German, and five years later, in 1834, by the Russian traveler Automonoff. In 1856 five English travelers, Majors Stewart and Frazer, Roy. Walter Thursby, Messrs. Thee-bald and Evans, performed the herculean task. The latest successful attempt was that of Prof. Bryce of Oxford in 1876 (vide ‘Transcaucasia and Ararat:’ London: Macmillan and Co., 1877).

(2) An unknown mountain in Central Armenia between the Araxes and lakes Van and Urumiah (Vulgate, super mantes Armeniae; Gesenius, Murphy, Wordsworth, Bush, ‘Speaker’s Commentary’).

(3) A peak in the Gordyaean mountains, or Carduchian range, separating Armenia on the south from Kurdistan (Chaldea Paraphrase, Onkelos, Syriac, Calvin), near which is a town called Naxuana, the city of Noah (Ptolemy), Idshenan (Moses Chorenensis), and Nachid-shenan, the first place of descent (the Armenians), which Josephus translates by ἀπορατήριον, or the place of descent. Against the first is the inaccessible height of the mountain; in favor of the third is the proximity of the region to the starting-place of the ark.

While one scholar^ can feel strongly that Ararat is in Armenia, another can feel much less certain:

From Ellicott’s Commentary:

Ararat.—If in Genesis 11:2 the Authorised Version is right in saying that the descendants of Noah travelled “from the east” to Shinar, this could not be the Ararat of Armenia. Moreover, we are told that the word in, Assyrian means “highland,” and thus may signify any hilly country. In the Chaldean Genesis the ark rests upon Nizir, a region to the east of Assyria, the highest peak of which, now named Elwend, is called in the cuneiform texts “the mountain of the world” ( Chaldean Genesis, p. 307). The rendering, however, “from the east,” is by no means certain, and many translate “eastward,” and even the Authorised Version renders the word east, that is, eastward, in Genesis 13:11. In 2Kings 19:37 Ararat” is translated Armenia; but it is more correctly described in Jeremiah 51:27 as a country near Minni, that is, near Armenia. There are in this region two mountains of great altitude, the Aghri-Dagh and the Kara-Dagh, the highest of which is 17,260 feet above the sea-level; and naturally legend chooses this as the place where the ark settled. But the inspired narrative says that it rested “upon the mountains of Ararat,” upon some chain of hills there, and seventy-three days afterwards Noah found himself surrounded by an amphitheatre of mountains, the word used in Genesis 8:5 being emphatic, and signifying “the tops of the mountains became distinctly visible,” and not that they had just begun to emerge. For, doubtless, after so vast a flood, mists and vapours would for a long time prevail, and shut out the surrounding world from Noah’s view.

The Targum of Onkelos and the Syriac translate “on the mountains of Carduchia.” This range, which separates Armenia from Kurdistan, is regarded by many authorities as the hills really meant, because, as they are nearer the place whence the ark started, the difficulty regarding the course taken by it is not so insuperable.

A large part of the reason that the location of the ark matters to many people of faith is that many of those people believe the ark will be discovered and that it was made in such a way – with pitch both inside and outside – that it would survive thousands of years for rediscovery.

From David Guzik:

a. On the mountains of Ararat: In a sense, Mount Ararat was not a very “smart” place to leave the ark. Leaving the ark at a high altitude and mountainous terrain meant a difficult departure for everyone and everything in the ark.

b. Mountains of Ararat: However, if God’s purpose was to put the ark in a place where it might be preserved for thousands of years, He chose an excellent place for it.

The news features “Ark Discovery” stories from time to time. Here are a couple of competing recent discoveries.



You’ll note that while both of those places are adjacent to Armenia, neither are in Armenia.

What would it mean to discover Noah’s Ark? Potentially, it would mean a lot.

  1. Discovering the ark would allow scientists to date when the Flood occurred.
  2. Discovering the ark – particularly if it were built to house animals – would prove that some people knew in advance about Great Flood (advance notice enough to build an ark and load animals onto it)
  3. If someone knew in advance about a Great Flood, that strongly implies that ancient man was either a) in direct communication with God / higher beings, or b) that ancient man had high technology to make that kind of accurate forecast.

A lot of Christians link the story of Noah and the Great Flood with End Times prophecy. Jesus mentioned Noah twice, in Matthew 24, while discussing the subject:

36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark,

You will note, though, that Jesus did not link the End Times with the re-discovery of the ark.