Genesis 7:17
And the flood was forty days on the earth; and the waters increased, and bore up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth.
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(17-19) The waters increased . . . —The swelling of the flood is told with great power in these verses but every stage and detail has reference to the ark, as if the author of the narrative was one of those on board. First, the “waters increased,” and raised up the ark till it floated. Next, “they became strong and increased exceedingly”—the word rendered “prevailed” really signifying the setting in of mighty currents (see on Genesis 8:1), as the waters sought the lower ground—and at this stage the ark began to move. Finally, they “became strong exceedingly, exceedingly,” rushing along with ever-increasing force, and carrying the ark high above every hill in its course. Of these it is said—

All the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered.—Interpreting this by the English Version, many regard it as a proof of the deluge having been universal. But omitting the well-known fact that in the Bible the word “all” means much less than with us, we must also remember that the Hebrew language has a very small vocabulary, and “the whole heaven” means simply the whole shy. We with our composite language borrow a word for it from the Greek, and say “the whole horizon,” that is, the whole heaven, bounded by the line of the spectators vision. So then here. Far and wide, in every direction, to the utmost reach of the beholder’s gaze, no mountain was in sight. All was a surging waste of flood. But there is no idea here of the mountains of Auvergne, with the ashes of old-world volcanoes still reposing upon their craters, extinct from a time probably long anterior to the creation even of man. The mountains were those of the Noachian world, as limited as the Roman world of Luke 2:1, or even more so.

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.The prevalence of the waters. The forty days are now completed. And at the end of this period the ark had been afloat for a long time. It was drifted on the waters in the direction in which they were flowing, and toward what was formerly the higher ground.17. the waters increased, and bare up the ark—It seems to have been raised so gradually as to be scarcely perceptible to its occupants. The flood; or, that flood of waters which was poured down in that shower mentioned Genesis 7:12; otherwise the flood was one hundred and fifty days upon the earth, Genesis 7:24.

The waters increased, by the accession of more waters from above and beneath. And the flood was forty days upon the earth,.... This is said with respect to what follows, and the meaning is, that when and after the flood had been upon the earth so long, then

the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth; after this they were so many and so strong that they lifted up the ark from the place where it stood, and bore it up, that it touched not the earth; and Aben Ezra from hence infers, that the ark did not remove from its place after the flood began, until forty days.

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.
Verses 17-19. - And the flood was forty days upon the earth. Referring to the forty days' and nights' rain of ver. 4 (τεσσαράκοντα ἡμέρας καὶ τεσσαράκοντα νύκτας, LXX.), during which the augmentation of the waters is described in a threefold degree. And the waters increased. Literally, grew great. The first degree of increase, marked by the floating of the ark. And bare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth. Literally, it was high from upon the earth, i.e. it rose above it. And the waters prevailed. Literally, were strong; from גָּבַר, to be strong; whence the Gibborim of Genesis 6:4. And were increased greatly on the earth. Literally, became great, greatly. The second degree of increase, marked by the going of the ark. And the ark went - i.e. floated along; καὶ ἐπεφέρετο, LXX. (Psalm 104:26) - upon the face of the waters. And the waters prevailed exceedingly. Literally, and the waters became strong, exceedingly. The third degree of increase, marked by the submergence of the mountains. And all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered. A clear assertion of the universality of the Flood (Keil, Kalisch, Alford, Bush, Wordsworth); but the language does not necessarily imply more than that all the high hills beneath the spectator s heaven were submerged (cf. Genesis 41:57; Exodus 9:25; Exodus 10:15; Deuteronomy 2:25; 1 Kings 10:24; Acts 2:5; Colossians 1:25, for instances in which the universal terms all and every must be taken with a limited signification); while it is almost certain that, had the narrator even designed to record only the fact that all the heights within the visible horizon had disappeared beneath the rising waters, he would have done so by saying that "all the high hills under the whole heaven were covered." While, then, it is admitted that the words may depict a complete submergence of the globe, it is maintained by many competent scholars that the necessities of exegesis only demand a partial inundation (Peele, Murphy, Taylor Lewis, 'Speaker's Commentary,' Inglis). Genesis 7:17-24 contain a description of the flood: how the water increased more and more, till it was 15 cubits above all the lofty mountains of the earth, and how, on the one hand, it raised the ark above the earth and above the mountains, and, on the other, destroyed every living being upon the dry land, from man to cattle, creeping things, and birds. "The description is simple and majestic; the almighty judgment of God, and the love manifest in the midst of the wrath, hold the historian fast. The tautologies depict the fearful monotony of the immeasurable expanse of water: omnia pontus erant et deerant litera ponto." The words of Genesis 7:17, "and the flood was (came) upon the earth for forty days," relate to the 40 days' rain combined with the bursting forth of the foundations beneath the earth. By these the water was eventually raised to the height given, at which it remained 150 days (Genesis 7:24). But if the water covered "all the high hills under the whole heaven," this clearly indicates the universality of the flood. The statement, indeed, that it rose 15 cubits above the mountains, is probably founded upon the fact, that the ark drew 15 feet of water, and that when the waters subsided, it rested upon the top of Ararat, from which the conclusion would very naturally be drawn as to the greatest height attained. Now as Ararat, according to the measurement of Perrot, is only 16,254 feet high, whereas the loftiest peaks of the Himalaya and Cordilleras are as much as 26,843, the submersion of these mountains has been thought impossible, and the statement in Genesis 7:19 has been regarded as a rhetorical expression, like Deuteronomy 2:25 and Deuteronomy 4:19, which is not of universal application. But even if those peaks, which are higher than Ararat, were not covered by water, we cannot therefore pronounce the flood merely partial in its extent, but must regard it as universal, as extending over every part of the world, since the few peaks uncovered would not only sink into vanishing points in comparison with the surface covered, but would form an exception not worth mentioning, for the simple reason that no living beings could exist upon these mountains, covered with perpetual snow and ice; so that everything that lived upon the dry land, in whose nostrils there was a breath of life, would inevitably die, and, with the exception of those shut up in the ark, neither man nor beast would be able to rescue itself, and escape destruction. A flood which rose 15 cubits above the top of Ararat could not remain partial, if it only continued a few days, to say nothing of the fact that the water was rising for 40 days, and remained at the highest elevation for 150 days. To speak of such a flood as partial is absurd, even if it broke out at only one spot, it would spread over the earth from one end to the other, and reach everywhere to the same elevation. However impossible, therefore, scientific men may declare it to be for them to conceive of a universal flood of such a height and duration in accordance with the known laws of nature, this inability on their part does not justify any one in questioning the possibility of such an event being produced by the omnipotence of God. It has been justly remarked, too, that the proportion of such a quantity of water to the entire mass of the earth, in relation to which the mountains are but like the scratches of a needle on a globe, is no greater than that of a profuse perspiration to the body of a man. And to this must be added, that, apart from the legend of a flood, which is found in nearly every nation, the earth presents unquestionable traces of submersion in the fossil remains of animals and plants, which are found upon the Cordilleras and Himalaya even beyond the limit of perpetual snow.

(Note: The geological facts which testify to the submersion of the entire globe are collected in Buckland's reliquiae diluv., Schubert's Gesch. der Natur, and C. v. Raumer's Geography, and are of such importance that even Cuvier acknowledged "Je pense donc, avec MM. Deluc et Dolomieu, que s'il y a quelque chose de constat en gologie; c'est que la surface de notre globe a t victime d'une grande et subite rvolution, dont la date ne peut remonter beaucoup au del de cinq ou six mille ans" (Discours sur les rvol. de la surface du globe, p. 190, ed. 6). The latest phase of geology, however, denies that these facts furnish any testimony to the historical character of the flood, and substitutes the hypothesis of a submersion of the entire globe before the creation of man: 1. because the animals found are very different from those at present in existence; and 2. because no certain traces have hitherto been found of fossil human bones. We have already shown that there is no force in these arguments. Vid., Keerl, pp. 489ff.)

In Genesis 7:23, instead of ויּמּח (imperf. Niphal) read ויּמח (imperf. Kal): "and He (Jehovah) destroyed every existing thing," as He had said in Genesis 7:4.

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