Genesis 7:11
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.
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(11) In the second month.—That is, of the civil year, which commenced in Tisri, at the autumnal equinox. The flood thus began towards the end of October, and lasted till the spring. The ecclesiastical year began in Abib, or April; but it was instituted in remembrance of the deliverance from Egypt (Exodus 12:2; Exodus 23:15), and can have no place here. The year was evidently the lunar year of 360 days, for the waters prevail for 150 days (Genesis 7:24), and then abate for 150 days (Genesis 8:3). Now, as the end of the first period of 150 days is described in Genesis 8:4 as the seventeenth day of the seventh month, whereas the flood began on the seventeenth of the second month, it is plain that the 150 days form five months of thirty days each. But see farther proof on Genesis 8:14.

The fountains of the great deep broken up (Heb., cloven), and the windows (lattices) of heaven were opened.—This is. usually taken by commentators as a description of extraordinary torrents of rain, related in language in accordance with the popular ideas of the time and of the narrator himself. The rains poured down as though the flood-gates which usually shut in the upper waters were thrown open, while from the abysses of the earth the subterranean ocean burst its way upwards. But the words at least suggest the idea of a great cosmic catastrophe, by which some vast body of water was set loose. Without some such natural convulsion it is very difficult to understand how the ark, a vessel incapable of sailing, could have gone against the current up to the water-shed of Ararat. As the annual evaporation of the earth is also a comparatively fixed quantity, the concentrated downpour of it for forty days and nights would scarcely have produced a flood so vast as the deluge of Noah evidently was. It is thus probable that there was, besides the rains, some vast displacement of water which helped in producing these terrific effects.

We shall have occasion subsequently to notice the exactness of the dates (Genesis 8:14). Tradition might for a short time hand them down correctly, but they must soon have been committed to writing, or confusion would inevitably have crept in.

Genesis 7:11. In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, second month, the seventeenth day — It must be observed here, that the year among the Hebrews was two-fold: the one sacred, for the celebration of feasts, beginning in March, Exodus 12:12; the other civil, for men’s political or civil affairs, beginning in September. Accordingly this second month has been thought by some to have been part of April and part of May, the most pleasant time of the year, when a flood was least expected or feared; by others, part of October and part of November, a little after Noah had gathered in the fruits of the earth and laid them up in the ark: so that the flood came in with the winter, and was, by degrees, dried up by the heat of the following summer. And this latter opinion seems more probable, because the most ancient and first beginning of the year was in September; and the other beginning of it in March, a later institution, which took place among the Jews, with respect to their feasts and religious affairs only, which are not concerned here. The fountains of the great deep were broken up — There needed no new creation of waters; God has laid up the deep in storehouses, Psalm 33:7; and now he broke up those stores. God had, in the creation, set bars and doors to the waters of the sea, that they might not return to cover the earth, Psalm 104:9; Job 38:9-11; and now he only removed these ancient mounds and fences, and the waters returned to cover the earth, as they had done at first, chap. Genesis 1:9. And the windows of heaven were opened — And the waters which were above the firmament were poured out upon the world; those treasures which God, has reserved against the time of trouble, the day of battle and war, Job 38:22-23. The rain, which ordinarily descends in drops, then came down in streams. We read, Job 26:8, that God binds up the waters in his thick clouds, and the cloud is not rent under them; but now the bond was loosed, the cloud was rent, and such rains descended as were never known before or since.

7:1-12 The call to Noah is very kind, like that of a tender father to his children to come in-doors when he sees night or a storm coming. Noah did not go into the ark till God bade him, though he knew it was to be his place of refuge. It is very comfortable to see God going before us in every step we take. Noah had taken a great deal of pains to build the ark, and now he was himself kept alive in it. What we do in obedience to the command of God, and in faith, we ourselves shall certainly have the comfort of, first or last. This call to Noah reminds us of the call the gospel gives to poor sinners. Christ is an ark, in whom alone we can be safe, when death and judgment approach. The word says, Come; ministers say, Come; the Spirit says, Come, come into the Ark. Noah was accounted righteous, not for his own righteousness, but as an heir of the righteousness which is by faith, Heb 11:7. He believed the revelation of a saviour, and sought and expected salvation through Him alone. Thus was he justified by faith, and received that Spirit whose fruit is in all goodness; but if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. After the hundred and twenty years, God granted seven days' longer space for repentance. But these seven days were trifled away, like all the rest. It shall be but seven days. They had only one week more, one sabbath more to improve, and to consider the things that belonged to their peace. But it is common for those who have been careless of their souls during the years of their health, when they have looked upon death at a distance, to be as careless during the days, the few days of their sickness, when they see death approaching; their hearts being hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. As Noah prepared the ark by faith in the warning given that the flood would come, so he went into it, by faith in this warning that it would come quickly. And on the day Noah was securely fixed in the ark, the fountains of the great deep were broken up. The earth had within it those waters, which, at God's command, sprang up and flooded it; and thus our bodies have in themselves those humours, which, when God pleases, become the seeds and springs of mortal diseases. The windows of heaven were opened, and the waters which were above the firmament, that is, in the air, were poured out upon the earth. The rain comes down in drops; but such rains fell then, as were never known before or since. It rained without stop or abatement, forty days and forty nights, upon the whole earth at once. As there was a peculiar exercise of the almighty power of God in causing the flood, it is vain and presumptuous to attempt explaining the method of it, by human wisdom. - XXV. The Flood

The date is here given, at which the flood commenced and the entrance into the ark was completed. "In seven days." On the seventh day from the command. "In the second month." The primeval year commenced about the autumnal equinox; we may say, on the nearest new moon. The rains began about a month or six weeks after the equinox, and, consequently, not far from the seventeenth of the second month. "All the fountains of the great deep, and the windows of the skies." It appears that the deluge was produced by a gradual commotion of nature on a grand scale. The gathering clouds were dissolved into incessant showers. But this was not sufficient of itself to effect the overwhelming desolation that followed. The beautiful figure of the windows of the skies being opened is preceded by the equally striking one of the fountains of the great deep being broken up. This was the chief source of the flood. A change in the level of the land was accomplished. That which had emerged from the waters on the third day of the last creation was now again submerged. The waters of the great deep now broke their bounds, flowed in on the sunken surface, and drowned the world of man, with all its inhabitants. The accompanying heavy rain of forty days and nights was, in reality, only a subsidiary instrument in the deluging of the land. We may imagine the sinking of the land to have been so gradual as to occupy the whole of these forty days of rain. There is an awful magnificence in this constant uplifting of the billows over the yielding land.

9. There went in two and two—Doubtless they were led by a divine impulse. The number would not be so large as at first sight one is apt to imagine. It has been calculated that there are not more than three hundred distinct species of beasts and birds, the immense varieties in regard to form, size, and color being traceable to the influence of climate and other circumstances. In the six hundredth year; either complete, or rather current or begun; otherwise he had lived three hundred and fifty one years after the flood, not three hundred and fifty only, as it is written, Genesis 9:29.

In the second month; either,

1. Of that year of Noah’s life; or,

2. Of the year. Now as the year among the Hebrews was twofold; the one sacred, for the celebration of feasts, beginning in March, of which see Exodus 12:2; the other civil, for the better ordering of men’s political or civil affairs, which began in September. Accordingly this second month is thought, by some, to be part of April and part of May, the most pleasant part of the year, when the flood was least expected or feared; by others, part of October and part of November, a little after Noah had gathered the fruits of the earth, and laid them up in the ark. So the flood came in with the winter, and was by degrees dried up by the heat of the following summer. And this opinion seems the more probable, because the most ancient and first beginning of the year was in September; and the other beginning of the year in March was but a later institution among the Jews, with respect to their feasts and sacred affairs only, which are not at all concerned here.

The fountains of the great deep, i.e. of the sea, called the deep, Job 38:16, Job 38:30, Job 41:31, Psalm 106:9; and also of that great abyss, or sea of waters, which is contained in the bowels of the earth. For that there are vast quantities of waters there, is implied both here and in other scriptures, as Psalm 33:7 2 Peter 3:5; and is affirmed by Plato in his Phaedrus, and by Seneca in his Natural Questions, 3.19, and is evident from springs and rivers which have their rise from thence; and some of them have no other place into which they issue themselves, as appears from the Caspian Sea, into which divers rivers do empty themselves, and especially that great river Volga, in such abundance, that it would certainly drown all those parts of the earth, if there were not a vent for them under ground; for other vent above ground out of that great lake or sea they have none. Out of this

deep therefore, and out of the sea together, it was very easy for God to bring such a quantity of waters, as might overwhelm the earth without any production of new waters, which yet he with one word could have created. So vain are the cavils of atheistical antiscripturists in this.

The fountains are said to be broken up here, also Psalm 74:15, by a metonymy, because the earth and other obstructions were broken up, and so a passage opened for the fountains; as bread is said to be bruised, Isaiah 28:28, and meal to be ground, Isaiah 47:2, because the corn, of which the meal and bread were made, was bruised and ground.

The windows of heaven were opened; which some understand of the waters, which, from Genesis 1:7, they suppose were placed by God above the visible heavens, and reserved and kept, as it were, in prison for this very purpose; and now the prison-doors were opened, and they let loose and sent down for the destruction of the world. But others more fitly understand it of the clouds, which are called the windows of heaven, Malachi 3:10; so 2 Kings 7:2, 2 Kings 7:19, Psalm 78:23, Isaiah 24:18, which then grew thicker and bigger with waters; nor is there any inconvenience in it, if we say that God created a great quantity of waters for this end, which afterwards he annihilated.

In the six hundredth year of Noah's life,.... Not complete, but current, for otherwise Noah would have lived after the flood three hundred and fifty one years, whereas he lived but three hundred and fifty; Genesis 9:28.

in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month: as the Jews had two ways of beginning their year, one at the spring, and the other at autumn; the one on ecclesiastical accounts, which began at Nisan, and which answers to March and April; and then the second month must be Ijar, which answers to part of April and part of May: and the other on civil accounts, which began at Tisri, and answers to part of September and part of October; and then the second month must be Marchesvan, which answers to part of October and part of November; so they are divided about this month in which the flood was: one says it was Marchesvan; another that it was Ijar (t); a third in particular says (u) it was on the tenth of Marchesvan that all the creatures came together into the ark, and on the seventeenth the waters of the flood descended on the earth; and this is most likely, since this was the most ancient way of beginning the year; for it was not until after the Jews came out of Egypt that they began their year in Nisan on sacred accounts; and besides the autumn was a proper time for Noah's gathering in the fruits of the earth, to lay up in the ark, as well as for the falling of the rains; though others think it was in the spring, in the most pleasant time of the year, and when the flood was least expected: the Arabic writers (w), contrary to both, and to the Scripture, say, that Noah, with his sons, and their wives, and whomsoever the Lord bid him take into the ark, entered on a Friday, the twenty seventh day of the month Adar or Agar: according to the Chaldean account by Berosus (x), it was predicted that mankind would be destroyed by a flood on the fifteenth of the month Daesius, the second month from the vernal equinox: it is very remarkable what Plutarch (y) relates, that Osiris went into the ark the seventeenth of Athyr, which month is the second after the autumnal equinox, and entirely agrees with the account of Moses concerning Noah: according to Bishop Usher, it was on the seventh of December, on the first day of the week; others the sixth of November; with Mr. Whiston the twenty eighth:

the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened; and by both these the flood of waters was brought upon the earth, which drowned it, and all the creatures in it: by the former are meant the vast quantities of subterraneous waters, which are more or greater than we know; and might be greater still at the time of the deluge:"there are large lakes, (as Seneca observes (z),) which we see not, much of the sea that lies hidden, and many rivers that slide in secret:''so that those vast quantities of water in the bowels of the earth being pressed upwards, by the falling down of the earth, or by some other cause unknown to us, as Bishop Patrick observes, gushed out violently in several parts of the earth, where holes and gaps were made, and where they either found or made a vent, which, with the forty days' rain, might well make such a flood as here described: it is observed (a), there are seas which have so many rivers running into them, which must be emptied in an unknown manner, by some subterraneous passages, as the Euxine sea; and particularly it is remarked of the Caspian sea, reckoned in length to be above one hundred and twenty German leagues, and in breadth from east to west about ninety, that it has no visible way for the water to run out, and yet it receives into its bosom near one hundred rivers, and particularly the great river Volga, which is of itself like a sea for largeness, and is supposed to empty so much water into it in a year's time, as might suffice to cover the whole earth, and yet it is never increased nor diminished, nor is it observed to ebb or flow: so that if, says my author, the fountains of the great deep, or these subterraneous passages, were continued to be let loose, without any reflux into them, as Moses supposes, during the time of the rain of forty days and forty nights; and the waters ascended but a quarter of a mile in an hour; yet in forty days it would drain all the waters for two hundred and forty miles deep; which would, no doubt, be sufficient to cover the earth above four miles high: and by the former, "the windows" or flood gates of heaven, or the "cataracts", as the Septuagint version, may be meant the clouds, as Sir Walter Raleigh (b) interprets them; Moses using the word, he says, to express the violence of the rains, and pouring down of waters; for whosoever, adds he, hath seen those fallings of water which sometimes happen in the Indies, which are called "the spouts", where clouds do not break into drops, but fall with a resistless violence in one body, may properly use that manner of speech which Moses did, that the windows or flood gates of heaven were opened, or that the waters fell contrary to custom, and that order which we call natural; God then loosened the power retentive in the uppermost air, and the waters fell in abundance: and another writer upon this observes (c), that thick air is easily turned into water; and that round the earth there is a thicker air, which we call the "atmosphere"; which, the further it is distant from the earth, the thinner it is, and so it grows thinner in proportion, until it loseth all its watery quality: how far this may extend cannot be determined; it may reach as far as the orb of the moon, for aught we know to the contrary; now when this retentive quality of waters was withdrawn, Moses tells us, that "the rain was upon the earth forty days" and "forty nights": and therefore some of it might come so far as to be forty days in falling; and if we allow the rain a little more than ten miles in an hour, or two hundred and fifty miles in a day, then all the watery particles, which were 10,000 miles high, might descend upon the earth; and this alone might be more than sufficient to cover the highest mountains. (We now know that the earth's atmosphere does not extent more than a few miles above the earth's surface, before thinning out rapidly. If all the water vapour in our present atmosphere fell as rain, the ground would be covered to an average depth of less than two inches (d). Even if there was a vapour canopy, this would not be a major source or water. Most of the water came from subterranean sources or volcanic activity. We know that volcanic eruptions spew much steam and water vapour into the atmosphere. This would later fall as rain. For a complete discussion of this see the book in footnote (e). Ed.)

(t) In Bab. Roshhashanah, fol. 11. 2.((u) Pirke Eliezer, c. 23. (w) Elmacinus, p. 11. apud Hottinger. p. 251. Abulpharag. Hist. Dynast. p. 8. (x) Apud Syncell. p. 30, 31. (y) De Iside & Osir. (z) Nat. Quaest. l. 3. c. 30. (a) Bedford's Scripture Chronology, c. 12. p. 154. (b) History of the World. B. l. c. 7. sect. 6. (c) Bedford's Scripture Chronology. p. 153. See Scheuchzer. Physica, vol. 1. p. 45. Ray's Physico-Theolog. Discourses, Disc. 2. c. 2. p. 71. (d) The Genesis Flood, Whitcomb and Morris, 1978, The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, p. 121. (e) Ib.

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 {e} fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.

(e) Both the waters in the earth overflowed and also the clouds poured down.

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.

Verses 11, 12. - In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month. Not

(1) of Noah's 600th year. (Knobel); but either

(2) of the theocratic year, which began With Nisan or Abib (Exodus 12:2; Exodus 13:4; Exodus 23:15; Exodus 34:18; Deuteronomy 16:1; Nehemiah 2:1), either in March or April (Rabbi Joshua, Ambrose, Luther, Calvin, Mercerus, Havernick, Kalisch, Alford, Wordsworth); or

(3) of the civil year, which commenced with the autumnal equinox in the month Tisri, "called of old the first month, but now the seventh" (Chaldee Paraphrase; Exodus 32:16; Exodus 34:22), corresponding to September or October (Josephus, Rabbi Jonathan; Kimchi, Rosenmüller, Keil, Murphy, Bush, Ainsworth, 'Speaker s Commentary ). In support of the former maybe alleged the usual Biblical mode of reckoning the sacred year by numbers, and in defense of the latter that the ecclesiastical year did not begin till the time of the Exodus. In the seventeenth day of the month. "The careful statement of the chronology, which marks with such exactness day and month in the course of this occurence, puts all suspicion of the history to shame" (Havernick). The same day were all the fountains of the great deep - i.e. the waters of the ocean (Job 38:16, 30; Job 41:31; Psalm 106:9) and of subterranean reservoirs (Job 28:4, 10; Psalm 33:7; Deuteronomy 8:7) - broken up. "Byamctynomy because the earth and other obstructions were broken up, and so a passage opened for the fountains" (Peele). "The niphal or passive form of בָּקַע denotes violent changes in the depths of the sea, or in the action of the earth - at all events in the atmosphere" (Lange). And the windows of heaven were opened. Arubboth, from arabh, to twine - network or lattices; hence a window, as being closed with lattice-work instead of glass (Ecclesiastes 12:3); here the flood-gates of heaven, which are opened when it rains (cf. Genesis 8:2; 2 Kings 7:19; Isaiah 24:18; Malachi 3:10). And the rain was - literally, and there was (happened, came) violent rain; גֶּשֶׁס, different from מָטָר, which denotes any rain, and is applied to other things which God pours down from heaven (Exodus 9:18; Exodus 16:4) - upon the earth forty days and forty nights (cf. Genesis 7:4). Though the language is metaphorical and optical, it clearly points to a change in the land level by which the ocean waters overflowed the depressed continent, accompanied with heavy and continuous rain, as the cause of the Deluge (contrast with this the works of the third and fourth creative days); yet "the exact statement of the natural causes that concurred in the Deluge is a circumstance which certainly in no wise removes the miraculous nature of the whole fact - who has unveiled the mysteries of nature? - but which certainly shows how exact was the attention paid to the external phenomena of the Deluge" (Havernick). Genesis 7:11Genesis 7:1-12

When the ark was built, and the period of grace (Genesis 6:3) had passed, Noah received instructions from Jehovah to enter the ark with his family, and with the animals, viz., seven of every kind of clean animals, and two of the unclean; and was informed that within seven days God would cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights. The date of the flood is then given (Genesis 7:6): "Noah was six hundred years old, and the flood was (namely) water upon the earth;" and the execution of the divine command is recorded in Genesis 7:7-9. There follows next the account of the bursting forth of the flood, the date being given with still greater minuteness; and the entrance of the men and animals into the ark is again described as being fully accomplished (Genesis 7:10-16). - The fact that in the command to enter the ark a distinction is now made between clean and unclean animals, seven of the former being ordered to be taken, - i.e., three pair and a single one, probably a male for sacrifice-is no more a proof of different authorship, or of the fusion of two accounts, than the interchange of the names Jehovah and Elohim. For the distinction between clean and unclean animals did not originate with Moses, but was confirmed by him as a long established custom, in harmony with the law. It reached back to the very earliest times, and arose from a certain innate feeling of the human mind, when undisturbed by unnatural and ungodly influences, which detects types of sin and corruption in many animals, and instinctively recoils from them (see my biblische Archeologie ii. p. 20). That the variations in the names of God furnish no criterion by which to detect different documents, is evident enough from the fact, that in Genesis 7:1 it is Jehovah who commands Noah to enter the ark, and in Genesis 7:4 Noah does as Elohim had commanded, whilst in Genesis 7:16, in two successive clauses, Elohim alternates with Jehovah-the animals entering the ark at the command of Elohim, and Jehovah shutting Noah in. With regard to the entrance of the animals into the ark, it is worthy of notice, that in Genesis 7:9 and Genesis 7:15 it is stated that "they came two and two," and in Genesis 7:16 that "the coming ones came male and female of all flesh." In this expression "they came" it is clearly intimated, that the animals collected about Noah and were taken into the ark, without his having to exert himself to collect them, and that they did so in consequence of an instinct produced by God, like that which frequently leads animals to scent and try to flee from dangers, of which man has no presentiment. The time when the flood commenced is said to have been the 600th year of Noah's life, on the 17th day of the second month (Genesis 7:11). The months must be reckoned, not according to the Mosaic ecclesiastical year, which commenced in the spring, but according to the natural of civil year, which commenced in the autumn at the beginning of sowing time, or the autumnal equinox; so that the flood would be pouring upon the earth in October and November. "The same day were all the fountains of the great deep (תּהום the unfathomable ocean) broken up, and the sluices (windows, lattices) of heaven opened, and there was (happened, came) pouring rain (גּשׁם in distinction from טטר) upon the earth 40 days and 40 nights." Thus the flood was produced by the bursting forth of fountains hidden within the earth, which drove seas and rivers above their banks, and by rain which continued incessantly for 40 days and 40 nights.

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