Genesis 7
Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation.
1. And the Lord] The command of Jehovah. See Genesis 6:13, “And God said unto Noah.”

and all thy house] A more brief description of Noah’s family than in Genesis 6:18. We should observe here the first mention of a man’s “house,” in the sense of a household, or family. The identification of a man with his family, whether for punishment or for deliverance, is a feature in the ethics of O.T. religion.

for thee] viz. thee alone.

righteous … generation] See notes on Genesis 6:9; Genesis 6:11.

Ch. Genesis 7:1-5The account, from J, of the command to enter the ark. The chief difference, between the J and P versions, lies in the number of the animals which Noah is to take into the ark. According to J, Noah is to take seven pairs of every clean animal and two pairs of the unclean; according to P he is to take in with him one pair of every kind of creature living upon earth.

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.
2. Of every clean beast] The distinction is here made between the clean and the unclean animals. Categories of both kinds, according to the Levitical Law, are found in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14:3-20. In the account given by P (Genesis 6:19) no allusion is made to this distinction. According to P, the distinctions of clean and unclean were for the first time laid down in the Mosaic legislation, and could not, therefore, be recognized as existing in the primaeval or patriarchal age. According to J, the distinction existed in pre-Mosaic times, and was to be presupposed as having existed side by side with the institution of sacrifice.

seven and seven, the male and his female] By this is meant seven pairs. “The male and his female,” i.e. “each and his mate,” îsh v’ishtô, seems to make this clear. But some consider seven clean animals, and not seven pairs of clean animals, are intended. The words “the male and his female” are different from those rendered “male and female,” zâkâr un’ḳêbah, Genesis 1:27, Genesis 6:19, Genesis 7:3; Genesis 7:9; Genesis 7:16.

The reason why so many more clean animals than unclean are required is, presumably, because they would be wanted (a) for food, (b) for sacrifice, and (c) for domestic purposes.

There is no reason to assume that the J tradition of the narrative shared the opinion of the P tradition, that before the Flood man subsisted on vegetable diet (see Genesis 1:29, Genesis 6:20, Genesis 9:2-3).

Of fowls also of the air by sevens, the male and the female; to keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth.
3. the fowl] Apparently, according to the Hebrew text, all the birds were regarded as clean. Possibly, however, the omission of the distinction between clean and unclean birds is due to the condensed form of the narrative. LXX reads “of fowl also of the air that are clean, seven and seven, male and female,” and of “fowl that are not clean, two and two, male and female.”

And it is very possible that this last clause has been dropped, through the common error of homoeoteleuton on the part of a scribe.

to keep seed alive] viz. “to maintain life,” and “to propagate the species,” literally, “to make seed to live.” The ideas are combined of continuance by breeding and of preservation from destruction: LXX διαθρέψαι σπέρμα gives the one; the Lat. ut salvetur semen, the other.

For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth.
4. seven days] Note the period of seven days, the same interval as occurs again, in the J narrative, in Genesis 8:10; Genesis 8:12.

forty days and forty nights] The duration of the Flood is here announced. Cf. Genesis 7:12 and Genesis 8:6. In the Babylonian version the rain lasts for six days.

every living thing] or rather, “every existing thing.” A peculiar word in the Heb. occurring only here and Deuteronomy 11:6. (LXX ἀνάστεμα, Lat. substantiam.) It is, therefore, different from the expression “living thing,” which is used by P in Genesis 6:19, Genesis 8:1; Genesis 8:17; Genesis 8:21.

destroy] Heb. blot out, so also Genesis 7:23 (J): see note on Genesis 6:7.

And Noah did according unto all that the LORD commanded him.
And Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters was upon the earth.
6–9. A description of the entrance into the ark, with evident editorial adaptations to harmonize Genesis 6:19 and Genesis 7:2; Genesis 7:15.

6 (P). six hundred years old] P gives Noah’s age at the time of the Flood. In Genesis 7:22 he was said to be 500 years old before “he begat Shem, Ham, and Japheth”: see also Genesis 7:11.

7 (partly J). Noah went in] This account, which anticipates Genesis 7:13 (P), is probably from J, with editorial adaptations to avoid clashing with P.

And Noah went in, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives with him, into the ark, because of the waters of the flood.
Of clean beasts, and of beasts that are not clean, and of fowls, and of every thing that creepeth upon the earth,
8. and of fowls] There is no mention of a distinction between clean and not clean in the birds and the creeping things, see note on Genesis 7:3. The mention of a distinction between “clean” and “unclean” beasts (behêmah, “cattle” or “domestic animals” of Genesis 6:20) is certainly a later insertion by the compiler. The account in Genesis 6:19-20 (P) does not recognize the distinction of clean and unclean.

There went in two and two unto Noah into the ark, the male and the female, as God had commanded Noah.
9. two and two] Apparently these words are introduced in order to harmonize the account in this verse with the command in Genesis 6:19, and with the description in Genesis 7:15. There is no mention of the admission of seven, or of seven pairs, of “clean” animals.

male and female] The same phrase as in Genesis 7:3, Genesis 6:19 : cf. Genesis 1:27. It is not the expression of Genesis 7:2, “the male and his female” (see note). The compiler is following P, who gives one pair of each kind.

God] Elohim. So LXX ὁ Θεός; but the LXX text is not uniform. God. E and other MSS. κύριος; Lat. Dominus, and the Samaritan version, and the Targum, represent a text which read “Jehovah.” The work of the compiler, which is obvious in these verses, has left the reading in doubt.

And it came to pass after seven days, that the waters of the flood were upon the earth.
Genesis 7:10 to Genesis 8:14. The Account of the Flood, compiled from J and P

10. after the seven days] The seven days mentioned in Genesis 7:4, the period during which Noah and his family were in the ark, before the commencement of the Flood. The arrangements necessary for the inmates of the ark required time. Moreover, throughout the Genesis story, a period of probation and patience precedes the fulfilment of the Divine word.

In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.
11. the second month, on the seventeenth day] P gives, according to its fondness for statistics, the exact date in years, months, and days. Cf. Exodus 12:41 (P). The months and days apparently are reckoned on the assumption that Noah was born on the first day of the year, 600 years previously. LXX here, and in Genesis 8:4, reads “twenty-seventh day,” because of Genesis 8:14.

the second month] According to Josephus (Ant. i. 3, 3), this second month was Marchesvan, equivalent to our November, the beginning of the season of rain in Palestine. The account is, therefore, well adapted to Israelite presuppositions. But, on the supposition that Abib, or April, was reckoned as the first month, the Flood would have begun in May, the month in which the Tigris and the Euphrates are liable to be flooded through the melting of the snows in the mountains. It is doubtful whether Tisri (= October) or Abib is here regarded as the first month of the year.

the fountains of the great deep] The origin of the Flood, according to P, was not merely rain. The Israelites believed that beneath the surface of the earth were accumulated enormous reservoirs of water, to supply, through channels or fissures, the seas, lakes, and rivers. This accumulation of water is poetically described as “the deep that coucheth beneath” (Genesis 49:25), and “the great deep” (Psalm 36:6; Isaiah 51:10; Amos 7:4). Here it is supposed that the channels, or, as the account calls them, “the fountains of the great deep,” were violently rent asunder, “broken up,” whereupon the subterranean waters swept out in portentous volume and violence over the surface of the earth.

the great deep] On the “deep” (tehom), here called “great,” see note on Genesis 1:2.

the windows of heaven] The other source of the Deluge is here given. Above the solid firmament (see note on Genesis 1:6) were stored the masses of water which supplied the rainfall of the earth. Now “the sluices of heaven” (cf. 2 Kings 7:2; 2 Kings 7:19; Malachi 3:10) and “the windows on high” (cf. Isaiah 24:18) are thrown open, and the water descends in unrestrained mass. For this description of the waters above and below, cf. Proverbs 8:27-29; Job 38:16. LXX οἱ καταῤῥάκται τοῦ οὐρανοῦ, Lat. cataractae coeli. Aquila and Symmachus αἱ θυρίδες.

12 (J). the rain] In this verse the cause of the Flood and its duration are given by J. Its cause, torrents of rain, the Heb. word denoting something much stronger than ordinary rain. Its duration, forty days and forty nights, as in Genesis 7:4.

And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights.
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] 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 7:4; Genesis 7:10, preceding the catastrophe. For the expression “selfsame day,” a characteristic of P, cf. Genesis 17:23; Genesis 17:26; Exodus 12:17; Exodus 12:41; Exodus 12:51. Lat. in articulo diei illius.

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

They, and every beast after his kind, and all the cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind, and every fowl after his kind, every bird of every sort.
14. kind] See note on Genesis 1:12 and Genesis 6:20.

of every sort] Heb. wing. Literally, “every bird, every wing,” i.e. all sorts of birds. The clause is wanting in the LXX. Some scholars prefer the rendering, “every bird, every winged thing,” so that the phrase should include all winged animals, insects as well as birds.

Notice in this verse the comprehensive description of the animal world; “beast” = wild animals, “cattle” = domestic animals, “creeping things,” “fowls,” “winged things of all sorts,” as in Genesis 1:21; Genesis 1:24-26.

And they went in unto Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh, wherein is the breath of life.
15. all flesh … breath of life] See note on Genesis 6:17.

two and two] See note on Genesis 6:19-20. LXX adds “male and female.”

16 (P). as God commanded him] This is evidently P’s account: notice the use of Elohim, and the phrase itself, cf. Genesis 6:22, Genesis 7:5; Genesis 7:9.

(J) and the Lord shut him in] Notice the introduction of Jehovah. These words are evidently from J, and probably originally concluded the previous account of Noah’s entry into the ark (Genesis 7:7-9) before the seven days mentioned in Genesis 7:10, and before the rain (Genesis 7:12).

On the anthropomorphism of this action, see note on Genesis 6:6; and compare Genesis 3:8, Genesis 11:5.

17 (R). forty days] Cf. Genesis 7:12, where the rain lasts for 40 days and 40 nights. Here it is the duration of the Flood.

18 (P). the waters prevailed] The description given in Genesis 7:17 of the rising waters and of the floating ark is here repeated, in order to introduce the record of the more elaborate details contained in Genesis 7:19-20.

And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the LORD shut him in.
And the flood was forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth.
And the waters prevailed, and were 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 hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered.
19. all the high mountains] The account, given by P, describes the covering of the mountains of the whole earth by the waters of the Deluge. It is this hyperbolical description which has naturally seized upon the imagination of readers. It is not necessary to enlarge upon the physical impossibility of such an event. If the literal interpretation were adopted, the waters would have submerged not only the mountains of Western Asia and of Europe, but also the Andes and the Himalayas. Water at that height would have been ice: organic life would have been impossible. Geology has shewn that no such universal Deluge has ever occurred. The accumulation of the vast amount of water represented in such a scene and encompassing the whole globe is beyond the range of physical possibility.

Popular imagination working upon the tradition of a vast inundation in the Euphrates Valley lent itself to exaggeration.

Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered.
20. Fifteen cubits] P describes a depth of water of 15 cubits (= 22 feet) above the mountains. Why should 15 cubits be mentioned? Very possibly, because the height of the ark was 30 cubits (Genesis 6:15), and the ark was considered to be submerged for half its depth. It would thus just touch the top of “the mountains of Ararat” (Genesis 8:4).

21 (P). And all flesh died] Cf. Genesis 6:17. P here describes the death by drowning of all living creatures.

creeping thing] Literally, as marg., swarming thing that swarmeth. See note on Genesis 1:20. The word used is characteristic of P.

22 (J). all] The account in this and the following verse gives J’s description of the destruction of all life. The repetition is obvious.

in whose nostrils, &c.] The expression is evidently based upon the words in Genesis 2:7, “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.” But “the breath of life” of that passage is combined here with “the spirit of life” which we find in Genesis 6:17, Genesis 7:15 (P). The one is a phrase characteristic of J, the other of P. The combination is not found elsewhere. Possibly the word “spirit” has been introduced by the compiler or by a copyist.

in the dry land] as if to emphasize the thought that the marine animals survived. The word in the Heb. rendered “the dry land” is different from that so rendered in Genesis 1:9 (P).

23 (J). was destroyed … were destroyed] The better reading is that rendered in the R.V. marg., and he destroyed every living thing. For the word “destroyed,” Heb. blotted out, see Genesis 6:7, Genesis 7:4.

24 (P). an hundred and fifty days] The duration of the Flood, corresponding to the 40 days of J in Genesis 7:12. According to P, the rising of the waters, described in Genesis 7:18-20, continued or “prevailed” for 150 days, after which the waters began to fall: see Genesis 8:3 b, 4a.

And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man:
All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died.
And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark.
And the waters prevailed upon the earth an hundred and fifty days.
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