Genesis 8:1
And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him in the ark: and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters assuaged;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
VIII.

(1) God.Elohim. On the Jehovistic theory, one would have expected Jehovah here. (See Excursus.)

Every living thing.—See Note on Genesis 7:14.

The waters asswaged.—Heb., became still. It is plain from this that the “strength” of the waters, described in Genesis 7:24, has reference to the violent currents, which still existed up to the end of the one hundred and fiftieth day, after which they ceased.

A wind (comp. the creative wind in Genesis 1:2) began to blow as soon as the rains ceased, or even before, as must necessarily have been the case with so vast a disturbance of the atmosphere; but its special purpose of assuaging the waters only began when the downpour was over. This wind would affect the course of the ark, but scarcely so strongly as the currents of the water.

Genesis

‘CLEAR SHINING AFTER RAIN’

Genesis 8:1 - Genesis 8:22
.

The universal tradition of a deluge is most naturally accounted for by admitting that there was a ‘universal deluge.’ But ‘universal’ does not apply to the extent as embracing the whole earth, but as affecting the small area then inhabited-an area which was probably not greater than the valleys of the Euphrates and Tigris. The story in Genesis is the Hebrew version of the universal tradition, and its plain affinity to the cuneiform narratives is to be frankly accepted. But the relationship of these two is not certain. Are they mother and daughter, or are they sisters? The theory that the narrative in Genesis is derived from the Babylonian, and is a purified, elevated rendering of it, is not so likely as that both are renderings of a more primitive account, to which the Hebrew narrative has kept true, while the other has tainted it with polytheistic ideas. In this passage the cessation of the flood is the theme, and it brings out both the love of the God who sent the awful punishment, and the patient godliness of the man who was spared from it. So it completes the teaching of the flood, and proclaims that God ‘in wrath remembers mercy.’

1. ‘God remembered Noah.’ That is a strong ‘anthropomorphism,’ like many other things in Genesis-very natural when these records were written, and bearing a true meaning for all times. It might seem as if, in the wild rush of the waters from beneath and from above, the little handful in the ark were forgotten. Had the Judge of all the earth, while executing ‘terrible things in righteousness,’ leisure to think of them who were ‘afar off upon the sea’? Was it a blind wrath that had been let loose? No; in all the severity there was tender regard for those worthy of it. Judgment was discriminating. The sunshine of love broke through even the rain-clouds of the flood.

So the blessed lesson is taught that, in the widest sweep of the most stormy judgments, there are those who abide safely, fearing no evil. Though the waters are out, there is a rock on which we may stand safe, above their highest wave. And why did God ‘remember Noah’? It was not favouritism, arbitrary and immoral. Noah was bid to build the ark, because he was ‘righteous’ in a world of evil-doers; he was ‘remembered’ in the ark, because he had believed God’s warning, obeyed God’s command as seeing the judgment ‘not seen as yet,’ and so ‘became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.’ They who trust God, and, trusting Him, realise as if present the future judgment, and, ‘moved with fear,’ take refuge in the ark, are never forgot by Him, even while the world is drowned. They live in His heart, and in due time He will show that He remembers them.

2. The gradual subsidence of the flood is told with singular exactitude of dates, which are certainly peculiar if they are not historical. The slow decrease negatives the explanation of the story as being the exaggerated remembrance of some tidal-wave caused by earthquake and the like. Precisely five months after the flood began, the ark grounded, and the two sources, the rain from above and the ‘fountains of the deep’ {that is, probably, the sea}, were ‘restrained,’ and a high wind set in. That date marked the end of the increase of the waters, and consequently the beginning of their decrease. Seven months and ten days elapsed between it and the complete restoration of the earth to its previous condition. That time was divided into stages. Two months and a half passed before the highest land emerged; two months more and the surface was all visible; a month and twenty-seven days more before ‘the earth was dry.’ The frequent recurrence of the sacred numbers, seven and ten, is noticeable. The length of time required for the restorative process witnesses to the magnitude of the catastrophe, impresses the imagination, and suggests the majestic slowness of the divine working, and how He uses natural processes for His purposes of moral government, and rules the wildest outbursts of physical agents. The Lord as king ‘sitteth upon the flood,’ and opens or seals the fountains of the great deep as He will. Scripture does not tell of the links between the First Cause and the physical effect. It brings the latter close up to the former. The last link touches the fixed staple, and all between may be ignored.

But the patient expectance of Noah comes out strongly in the story, as well as the gradualness of God’s working. Not till ‘forty days’-a round number-after the land appeared, did He do anything. He waited quietly till the path was plain. Eager impatience does not become those who trust in God. It is not said that the raven was sent out to see if the waters were abated. No purpose is named, nor is it said that it returned at all. ‘To and fro’ may mean over the waste of waters, not back and forward to and from the ark. The raven, from its blackness, its habit of feeding on carrion, its fierceness, was a bird of ill-omen, and sending it forth has a grim suggestion that it would find food enough, and ‘rest for the sole of its foot,’ among the swollen corpses floating on the dark waters. The dove, on the other hand, is the emblem of gentleness, purity, and tenderness. She went forth, the very embodiment of meek hope that wings its way over dark and desolate scenes of calamity and judgment, and, though disappointed at first, patiently waits till the waters sink further, discerns the earliest signs of their drying up, and comes back to the sender with a report which is a prophecy: ‘Your peace shall return to you again.’ Happy they who send forth, not the raven, but the dove, from their patient hearts. Their gentle wishes come back with confirmation of their hopes, ‘as doves to their windows.’

3. But Noah did not leave the ark, though ‘the earth was dry.’ God had ‘shut him in,’ and it must be God who brings him out. We have to take heed of precipitate departure from the place where He has fixed us. Like Israel in the desert, it must be ‘at the commandment of the Lord’ that we pitch the camp, and at the commandment of the Lord that we journey. Till He speaks we must remain, and as soon as He speaks we must remove. ‘God spake unto Noah, saying, Go forth . . .and Noah went forth.’ Thus prompt must be our obedience. A sacrifice of gratitude is the fit close of each epoch in our lives, and the fit beginning of each new one. Before he thought of anything else, Noah built his altar. All our deeds should be set in a golden ring of thankfulness. So the past is hallowed, and the future secure of God’s protection. It is no unworthy conception of God which underlies the strongly human expression that he ‘smelled the sweet savour.’ He delights in our offerings, and our trustful, grateful love is ‘an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable’ to Him. The pledge that He will not any more curse the ground for man’s sake is occasioned by the sacrifice, but is grounded on what seems, at first sight, a reason for the very opposite conclusion. Man’s evil heart the reason for God’s forbearance? Yes, because it is ‘evil from his youth.’ He deals with men as knowing our frame, the corruption of our nature, and the need that the tree should be made good before it can bring forth good fruit. Therefore He will not smite, but rather seek to draw to repentance by His goodness, and by the faithful continuance of His beneficence in the steadfast covenant of revolving seasons, ‘filling our hearts with food and gladness.’Genesis 8:1. And God remembered Noah, &c. — This is an expression after the manner of men; for not any of his creatures, much less any of his people, are forgotten of God. But the whole race of mankind, except Noah and his family, was now extinguished, and gone into the land of forgetfulness, so that God’s remembering Noah was the return of his mercy to mankind, of whom he would not make a full end. Noah himself, though one that had found grace in the eyes of the Lord, yet seemed to be forgotten in the ark; but at length God returned in mercy to him, and that is expressed by his remembering him.8:1-3 The whole race of mankind, except Noah and his family, were now dead, so that God's remembering Noah, was the return of his mercy to mankind, of whom he would not make a full end. The demands of Divine justice had been answered by the ruin of sinners. God sent his wind to dry the earth, and seal up his waters. The same hand that brings the desolation, must bring the deliverance; to that hand, therefore, we must ever look. When afflictions have done the work for which they are sent, whether killing work or curing work, they will be taken away. As the earth was not drowned in a day, so it was not dried in a day. God usually works deliverance for his people gradually, that the day of small things may not be despised, nor the day of great things despaired of. - The Land Was Dried

1. שׁכך shākak "stoop, assuage."

3. חסר chāsar "want, fail, be abated."

4. אררט 'ărārāṭ, "Ararat," a land forming part of Armenia. It is mentioned in 2 Kings 19:37, and Isaiah 37:38, as the retreat of Adrammelek and Sharezer after the murder of their father; and in Jeremiah 51:27 as a kingdom.

8. קלל qālal, "be light, lightened, lightly esteemed, swift."

10. חוּל chûl, "twist, turn, dance, writhe, tremble, be strong, wait." יהל yāchal "remain, wait, hope."

13. חרב chāreb, "be drained, desolated, amazed."

Genesis 8:1-3

The waters commence their retreat. "And God remembered Noah." He is said to remember him when he takes any step to deliver him from the waters. The several steps to this end are enumerated.

A wind. - This would promote evaporation, and otherwise aid the retreat of the waters. "The fountains of the deep and the windows of the skies were shut." The incessant and violent showers had continued for six weeks. It is probable the weather remained turbid and moist for some time longer. In the sixth month, however, the rain probably ceased altogether. Some time before this, the depressing of the ground had reached its lowest point, and the upheaving had set in. This is the main cause of the reflux of the waters. All this is described, as we perceive, according to appearance. It is probable that the former configuration of the surface was not exactly restored. At all events it is not necessary, as the ark may have drifted a considerable space in a hundred and fifty days. Some of the old ground on which primeval man had trodden may have become a permanent water bed, and a like amount of new land may have risen to the light in another place. Hence, it is vain to seek for a spot retaining the precise conditions of the primitive Eden. The Euphrates and Tigris may substantially remain, but the Pishon and Gihon may have considerably changed. The Black Sea, the Caspian, the lakes Van and Urumiah may cover portions of the Adamic land. At the end of the hundred and fifty days the prevalence of the waters begins to turn into a positive retreat.

CHAPTER 8

Ge 8:1-14. Assuaging of the Waters.

1. And God remembered Noah—The divine purpose in this awful dispensation had been accomplished, and the world had undergone those changes necessary to fit it for becoming the residence of man under a new economy of Providence.

and every living thing … in the ark—a beautiful illustration of Mt 10:29.

and God made a wind to pass over the earth—Though the divine will could have dried up the liquid mass in an instant, the agency of a wind was employed (Ps 104:4)—probably a hot wind, which, by rapid evaporation, would again absorb one portion of the waters into the atmosphere; and by which, the other would be gradually drained off by outlets beneath.The waters abate, Genesis 8:1-3. The ark rests on Mount Ararat, Genesis 8:4. The day on which the tops of the mountians were seen, noted, Genesis 8:5. Noah opens the window of the ark, Genesis 8:6; sends forth a raven, Genesis 8:7; after that a dove, Genesis 8:8, which returned, Genesis 8:9. He sends the dove out a second time, Genesis 8:10, which returns with an olive leaf, Genesis 8:11. He sends her out again, and she returns not, Genesis 8:12. The earth dry, Genesis 8:13-14. God commands Noah and his family to come out, Genesis 8:15-17, which they do, Genesis 8:18-19. Noah builds an altar, and sacrifices, Genesis 8:20. God accepts it, and promises not to drown the world again, Genesis 8:21, but to continue the seasons of the year, Genesis 8:22.

God remembered Noah, i.e. he showed by his actions that he minded and cared for him, or pitied and succoured him. God is said to remember his people, when after some delays or suspensions of his favour he returns and shows kindness to them, as Genesis 19:29, Genesis 30:22, Exodus 32:13 Job 14:13 Psalm 132:1. As God punished the beasts for man’s sin, so now he favours them for man’s sake.

God made a wind to pass; a drying or burning wind, like that of Exodus 14:21, which had a natural power to dry up the waters; but that was heightened by the assistance of a higher and miraculous operation of God.

And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him in the ark,.... Not that God had forgotten Noah, for he does not, and cannot forget his creatures, properly speaking; but this is said after the manner of men, and as it might have seemed to Noah, who having heard nothing of him for five months, and having been perhaps longer in the ark than he expected, might begin to think that he was forgotten of God; but God remembered him, and his covenant with him, and the promise that he had made to him, that he and his family, and all the living creatures in the ark, should be preserved alive during the flood, Genesis 6:17 and God may be said particularly to remember him, and them, when he began to take measures for removing the waters from the earth, as he did by sending a wind, next mentioned: and thus God's helping his people when in difficulties and in distress, and delivering out of them, is called his remembrance of them; and he not only remembered Noah and his family, who are included in him, but every living creature also, which is expressed; for as the creatures suffered in the flood for the sins of men, so those in the ark were remembered and preserved for the sake of Noah and his family, and the world of men that should spring from them:

and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters assuaged; not a stormy blustering one, that would have endangered the ark, but a gentle, hot, drying one; which stopped the increase of the waters, and made them less, and both drove away the rain, as the north wind does, as this perhaps was (r), and caused the waters to move wards their proper channels and receptacles: this was the work of God, who has the command of the winds and waters, brings the former out of his storehouses, and restrains the latter at his pleasure; and this wind had this effect to assuage the waters, not from its own nature, but was attended with the mighty power of God to make it effectual, in an extraordinary manner: and it was, as the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem call it, "a wind of mercies", or a merciful wind; or a wind of comforts, as Jarchi; for so it was to Noah and his family, and to all the creatures, since it served to dry up the waters of the flood, and caused them to subside.

(r) ------------for clouds were fled, Driv'n by a keen north wind, that, blowing dry, Wrinkled the face of Deluge, as decay'd. Milton, B. 11. l. 841, &c.

And God {a} remembered Noah, and {b} every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him in the ark: and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters asswaged;

(a) Not that God forgets his at any time, but when he sends comfort then he shows that he remembers them.

(b) If God remembered every brute beast, that ought also to assure his children.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Ch. Genesis 8:1-14. The Diminution of the Waters

1 (P). God remembered] The same expression occurs in Genesis 19:29, Genesis 30:22. It is a form of anthropomorphism which is not infrequent in the O.T. and which is in continual use in the language of devotion.

and all the cattle] LXX adds “And all the fowls and all the creeping things.” For the expression of pity for the brute beasts, cf. “and also much cattle,” in Jonah 4:11.

God made a wind to pass] The wind was to drive the waters back into their channels, and to dry up the ground. Cf. the action of the wind in Exodus 14:21.

2a (P). the fountains, &c.] The first clause in this verse describes the closing of the sources of the Flood mentioned in Genesis 7:11 (P).

2b, 3a (J). and the rain … continually] This is the duplicate account from J, in whose version the rain for 40 days was the cause of the Flood (Genesis 7:12).

3b (P). after the end, &c.] The 150 days are those mentioned in Genesis 7:24.Verse 1. - And God. Elohim, i.e. God in his most universal relation to his creatures. The supposition of two different accounts or histories being intermingled in the narrative of the Flood (Bleek, Eichhorn, Hupfeld, Kalisch, Alford, Coleuso) is not required for a sufficient explanation of the varying use of the Divine names. Remembered. From a root signifying to prick, pierce, or print, e.g., upon the memory; hence to remember. "Not that there is oblivion or forgetfulness with God, but then God is said to remember when he showeth by the effects that he hath taken care of man" (Willet). He remembers man's sins when he punishes them (Psalm 25:7; cf. 1 Kings 17:20), and his people's needs when he supplies them (cf. Nehemiah 5:19). The expression is an anthropopathism designed to indicate the Divine compassion as well as grace. Calvin thinks the remembrance of which Moses speaks "ought to be referred not only to the external aspect of things (i.e. the coming deliverance), but also to the inward feeling of the holy man," who, through grace, was privileged to enjoy "some sensible experience of the Divine presence" while immured in the ark. Noah, - cf. the Divine remembrance of Abraham and Lot (Genesis 19:29), the request of the Hebrew psalmist (Psalm 132:1) - and every living thing, - chayyah, or wild beast (vide Genesis 1:25; Genesis 7:14) - and all the cattle that was with him in the ark. A touching indication of the tenderness of God towards his creatures (cf. Deuteronomy 25:4; Isaiah 36:6; 145:9, 15, 16; Jonah 4:11). As a proof that God remembered the lonely inmates of the ark, he at once takes steps to accomplish their deliverance, which steps are next enumerated. And God made a wind - ruach. Not the Holy Ghost, as in Genesis 1:2 (Theodoret, Ambrose, LXX. - πνεῦμα), nor the heat of the sun (Rupertus); but a current of air (ἄνεμος), which "would promote evaporation and aid the retreat of the waters" (Murphy): - the ordinary method of driving away rain and drying the ground (vide Proverbs 25:23); the special instrumentality employed to divide the waters of the Red Sea (Exodus 14:21) - to pass over the earth, and the waters assuaged, or began to grow calm, after a period of commotion (cf. Esther 2:1; Esther 7:10) - the first stage in the returning of the waters. Καὶ εκόπασε τὸ ὕδωρ, and the water grew tried (LXX.). Cf. ἐκόπασεν ὁ ἄνεμος, Matthew 14:32; Mark 4:39; Mark 6:51. With the words, "then God remembered Noah and all the animals...in the ark," the narrative turns to the description of the gradual decrease of the water until the ground was perfectly dry. The fall of the water is described in the same pictorial style as its rapid rise. God's "remembering" was a manifestation of Himself, an effective restraint of the force of the raging element. He caused a wind to blow over the earth, so that the waters sank, and shut up the fountains of the deep, and the sluices of heaven, so that the rain from heaven was restrained. "Then the waters turned (ישׁבוּ i.e., flowed off) from the earth, flowing continuously (the inf. absol. ושׁוב הלוך expresses continuation), and decreased at the end of 150 days." The decrease first became perceptible when the ark rested upon the mountains of Ararat on the 17th day of the seventh month; i.e.,, reckoning 30 days to a month, exactly 150 days after the flood commenced. From that time forth it continued without intermission, so that on the first day of the tenth month, probably 73 days after the resting of the ark, the tops of the mountains were seen, viz., the tops of the Armenian highlands, by which the ark was surrounded. Ararat was the name of a province (2 Kings 19:37), which is mentioned along with Minni (Armenia) as a kingdom in Jeremiah 51:27, probably the central province of the country of Armenia, which Moses v. Chorene calls Arairad, Araratia. The mountains of Ararat are, no doubt, the group of mountains which rise from the plain of the Araxes in two lofty peaks, the greater and lesser Ararat, the former 16,254 feet above the level of the sea, the latter about 12,000. This landing-place of the ark is extremely interesting in connection with the development of the human race as renewed after the flood. Armenia, the source of the rivers of paradise, has been called "a cool, airy, well-watered mountain-island in the midst of the old continent;" but Mount Ararat especially is situated almost in the middle, not only of the great desert route of Africa and Asia, but also of the range of inland waters from Gibraltar to the Baikal Sea-in the centre, too, of the longest line that can be drawn through the settlements of the Caucasian race and the Indo-Germanic tribes; and, as the central point of the longest land-line of the ancient world, from the Cape of Good Hope to the Behring Straits, it was the most suitable spot in the world, for the tribes and nations that sprang from the sons of Noah to descend from its heights and spread into every land (vid., K. v. Raumer, Palst. pp. 456ff.).
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