|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
7:17-20 The flood was increasing forty days. The waters rose so high, that the tops of the highest mountains were overflowed more than twenty feet. There is no place on earth so high as to set men out of the reach of God's judgments. God's hand will find out all his enemies, Ps 21:8. When the flood thus increased, Noah's ark was lifted up, and the waters which broke down every thing else, bore up the ark. That which to unbelievers betokens death unto death, to the faithful betokens life unto life.
Verse 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.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Fifteen cubits upwards did the waters prevail,.... Either to such an height above the earth, upwards from that, or from the high hills; for though the words do not necessarily imply that, yet it may be allowed, since there was water enough to cover the highest of them; and fifteen cubits of water were enough to drown the tallest man, or largest beast that should be upon the top of any of them:
and the mountains were covered, with water, even it may be allowed fifteen cubits high; nor will this furnish out so considerable an objection to the history of the flood as may be thought at first sight, since the highest mountains are not near so high as they are by some calculated. Sir Walter Raleigh allows thirty miles for the height of the mountains, yet the highest in the world will not be found to be above six direct miles in height. Olympus, whose height is so extolled by the poets, does not exceed a mile and a half perpendicular, and about seventy paces. Mount Athos, said to cast its shade into the isle of Lemnos (according to, Pliny eighty seven miles) is not above two miles in height, nor Caucasus much more; nay, the Peak of Teneriff, reputed the highest mountain in the world, may be ascended in three days (according to the proportion of eight furlongs to a day's journey), which makes about the height of a German mile perpendicular; and the Spaniards affirm, that the Andes, those lofty mountains of Peru, in comparison of which they say the Alps are but cottages, may be ascended in four days' compass (o).
(o) See the Universal History, vol. 1. p. 218. marg. Bedford's Scripture Chronology, ch. 12. p. 152, 153.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
20. Fifteen cubits upward … and the mountains were covered—twenty-two and a half feet above the summits of the highest hills. The language is not consistent with the theory of a partial deluge.
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