Genesis 7:23
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.
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(23) Every living substance.Every thing that stood erect (See Note on Genesis 7:4.)

Upon the face of the ground.—The adâmâh, the portion subdued to his use by the adam, man.

7:21-24 All the men, women, and children, that were in the world, excepting those in the ark, died. We may easily imagine what terror seized them. Our Saviour tells us, that till the very day that the flood came, they were eating and drinking, Lu 17:26,27; they were deaf and blind to all Divine warnings. In this posture death surprised them. They were convinced of their folly when it was too late. We may suppose they tried all ways and means possible to save themselves, but all in vain. And those that are not found in Christ, the Ark, are certainly undone, undone for ever. Let us pause, and consider this tremendous judgment! Who can stand before the Lord when he is angry? The sin of sinners will be their ruin, first or last, if not repented of. The righteous God knows how to bring ruin upon the world of the ungodly, 2Pe 2:5. How tremendous will be the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men! Happy they who are part of Christ's family, and safe with him as such; they may look forward without dismay, and rejoice that they shall triumph, when fire shall burn up the earth, and all that therein is. We are apt to suppose some favourable distinctions in our own case or character; but if we neglect, refuse, or abuse the salvation of Christ, we shall, notwithstanding such fancied advantages, be destroyed in the common ruin of an unbelieving world.There expired all flesh. - The resulting death of all by drowning is here recounted. "All in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of live died." This statement refers solely to man, whose higher life is exclusively expressed by the phrase חיים נשׁמת nı̂shmat chayı̂ym, "breath of life" Genesis 2:7. It affirms the death of the whole of mankind. The sum total of animal and vegetable life, with the exception of those in the ark, is here declared to be extinguished.21. all flesh died … fowl … cattle, and … creeping thing—It has been a uniform principle in the divine procedure, when judgments were abroad on the earth, to include every thing connected with the sinful objects of His wrath (Ge 19:25; Ex 9:6). Besides, now that the human race was reduced to one single family, it was necessary that the beasts should be proportionally diminished, otherwise by their numbers they would have acquired the ascendancy and overmastered the few that were to repeople the world. Thus goodness was mingled with severity; the Lord exercises judgment in wisdom and in wrath remembers mercy. This is so often repeated, that it may be more deeply ingrafted into the dull minds and hard hearts of men, to teach men that they ought again and again to consider this dreadful instance of God’s justice against sin and incorrigible sinners.

And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground,.... Not everything, particularly trees; for after the flood was abated there was an olive tree, a leaf of which was brought to Noah by the dove, Genesis 8:11 but all animals:

both men and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven, and they were destroyed from the earth; this is repeated, partly for explanation of the preceding clause, and partly for confirmation of this general destruction, which might seem almost incredible; there never was such a destruction of creatures before, or since, nor never will be till the general conflagration; and is a proof of the sovereignty of God, his almighty power, the purity and holiness of his nature, and the strictness and severity of his justice, and shows what a fearful thing it is to fail into his hands:

and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark; besides those, of the millions of mankind that were upon the earth, not one was left, the flood came and destroyed them all, Luke 17:27 the fable some Jewish writers relate of Og being found alive, and which they gather from Deuteronomy 3:11 by sitting upon a piece of wood of one of the ladders of the ark, to whom Noah reached out food every day, and so he remained alive (q), deserves no regard; though perhaps from hence arose the Grecian fable of the flood of Ogyges, which seems to be the same with this of Noah.

(q) Pirke Eliezer, c. 23. fol. 23. 1, 2.

And every living substance was destroyed {h} 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 {i} remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark.

(h) That is, by God.

(i) Learn what it is to obey God only, and to forsake the multitude, 1Pe 3:20.

Verse 23. - And every living substance was destroyed - literally, wiped out (cf. Genesis 6:7; Genesis 7:4) - which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and - literally, from, man urge - cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the hearten; and they were destroyed - wiped, out by washing (cf. Genesis 6:7) - from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark. The straits to which the advocates of the documentary hypothesis are sometimes reduced are remarkably exemplified by the fortunes of these verses (21-23) in the attempt to assign them to their respective authors. Astruc conjectures that ver. 21 was taken from what he calls monumentum B, ver. 22 from "monument" A, and ver. 23 from monument C. Eichhorn ascribes vers. 21, 22 to an Elohistic author, and ver. 23 to a Jehovistic. Ilgen assigns vers. 21, 22 to the first, and ver. 23 to the second Elohist. Bleek, all three to the Elohist; and Davidson ver. 21 to the Elohist, vers. 22, 23 to the Jehovist. Amid such uncertainty it will be reasonable to cling to the belief that Moses wrote all the three verses, at least till the higher criticism knows its own mind. Genesis 7:23Genesis 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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