|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
8:4-12 The ark rested upon a mountain, whither it was directed by the wise and gracious providence of God, that might rest the sooner. God has times and places of rest for his people after their tossing; and many times he provides for their seasonable and comfortable settlement, without their own contrivance, and quite beyond their own foresight. God had told Noah when the flood would come, yet he did not give him an account by revelation, at what times and by what steps it should go away. The knowledge of the former was necessary to his preparing the ark; but the knowledge of the latter would serve only to gratify curiosity; and concealing it from him would exercise his faith and patience. Noah sent forth a raven from the ark, which went flying about, and feeding on the carcasses that floated. Noah then sent forth a dove, which returned the first time without good news; but the second time, she brought an olive leaf in her bill, plucked off, plainly showing that trees, fruit trees, began to appear above water. Noah sent forth the dove the second time, seven days after the first, and the third time was after seven days also; probably on the sabbath day. Having kept the sabbath with his little church, he expected especial blessings from Heaven, and inquired concerning them. The dove is an emblem of a gracious soul, that, finding no solid peace of satisfaction in this deluged, defiling world, returns to Christ as to its ark, as to its Noah, its rest. The defiling world, returns to Christ as to its ark, as to its Noah, its rest. The carnal heart, like the raven, takes up with the world, and feeds on the carrion it finds there; but return thou to my rest, O my soul; to thy Noah, so the word is, Ps 116:7. And as Noah put forth his hand, and took the dove, and pulled her to him, into the ark, so Christ will save, and help, and welcome those that flee to him for rest.
Verses 6, 7. - And it came to pass, literally, it was - at the end of forty days. Delaying through combined fear and sorrow on account of the Divine judgment (Calvin); to allow sufficient space to undo the effect of the forty days' rain (Murphy); probably just to be assured that the Deluge would not return. That Noah opened the window - chalon, a window, "so called from being perforated, from chalal, to bore or pierce" (Gesenius); used of the window of Rahab's house (Joshua 2:18); not the window (tsohar) of Genesis 6:16, q.v. - of the ark which ha had made: and he sent forth a raven. Literally, the orev, so called from its black color' (Gesenius; cf. Song of Solomon 5:11), Latin, corvus, a raven or crow; the article being used either
(1) because the species of bird is intended to be indicated (Kalisch), or
(2) because there was only one male raven in the ark, the raven being among the unclean birds (Leviticus 11:15; Deuteronomy 14:14; Lunge); but against this is "the dove" (per. 8); or
(3) because it had come to be well known from this particular circumstance (Keil). Its peculiar fitness for the mission imposed on it lay in its being a bird of prey, and therefore able to sustain itself by feeding on carrion (Proverbs 30:17). To the incident here recorded is doubtless to be traced the prophetic character which in the ancient heathen world, and among the Arabians in particular, was supposed to attach to this ominous bird. Which went to and fro. Literally, and it went forth going and returning, i.e. flying backwards and forwards, from the ark and to the ark, perhaps resting on it, but not entering into it (Calvin, Willet, Ainsworth, Keil, Kalisch, Lunge, Bush, 'Speaker's Commentary'); though some have conceived that it no more returned to the ark, but kept flying to and fro throughout the earth (LXX., "καὶ ἐξελθὼν οὐκ ἀνέστρεψεν;" Vulgate, "qui egrediebatur et non revertebatur;" Alford, "it is hardly probable that it returned;" Murphy, "it did not need to return"). Until the waters were dried up from off the earth. When of course its return was unnecessary. Cf. for a similar form of expression 2 Samuel 6:23. Whether it entirely disappeared at the first, or continued hovering round the ark, Noah was unable from its movements to arrive at any certain conclusion as to the condition of the earth, and accordingly required to adopt another expedient, which he did in the mission of the dove.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And it came to pass at the end of forty days,.... From the appearance of the mountains, that is, from the first day of the tenth month, to forty days after; and being ended, this must be the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the month Ab, which answers to July and August; and according to Bishop Usher (k) it was Friday the twenty eighth of August:
that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made; of which See Gill on Genesis 6:16.
(k) Ut supra. (Annales Vet. Test. p. 4.)
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
6. at the end of forty days—It is easy to imagine the ardent longing Noah and his family must have felt to enjoy again the sight of land as well as breathe the fresh air; and it was perfectly consistent with faith and patience to make inquiries whether the earth was yet ready.
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