Genesis 8:22
While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.
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(22) While the earth remaineth . . . —The traditional interpretation of this verse among the Jews represents the year as divided into six seasons. But this is untenable; for in Palestine itself there are two seed times, the winter crops being put into the ground in October and November, and the summer crops in January and February. Really the verse describes those great alternations upon which the well-being of the earth depends, whether considered absolutely, as of light and darkness, cold and heat, or with reference to man’s labours, as of sowing and harvesting; or relatively with respect to vegetation, winter being earth’s time of rest, and summer that of its activity.

As regards these promises, Delitsch considers that they probably came to Noah as strong inward convictions in answer to his prayers during the sacrifice.

Genesis 8:22. While the earth remaineth — Here it is plainly intimated that the earth is not to remain always: it, and all the works therein, must be burned up. But as long as it doth remain, God here promises the course of nature shall not be discontinued; but God’s providence will carefully preserve the regular succession of times and seasons. Seed-time and harvest shall not cease — To this we owe it that the world stands, and the wheel of nature keeps its track. See here how changeable the times are, and yet how unchangeable! 1st, The course of nature always changing. As it is with the times, so it is with the events of time; they are subject to vicissitudes, day and night, summer and winter, counterchanged. In heaven and hell it is not so; but on earth God hath set the one over against the other. 2d, Yet, never changed; it is constant in this inconstancy; these seasons have never ceased, nor shall cease while the sun continues such a steady measurer of time, and the moon such a faithful witness in heaven. This is God’s covenant of the day and of the night, the stability of which is mentioned for the confirming our faith in the covenant of grace, which is no less inviolable, Jeremiah 33:20. We see God’s promises to the creatures made good, and thence may infer that his promises to believers shall be made good also.

8:20-22 Noah was now gone out into a desolate world, where, one might have thought, his first care would have been to build a house for himself, but he begins with an alter for God. He begins well, that begins with God. Though Noah's stock of cattle was small, and that saved at great care and pains, yet he did not grudge to serve God out of it. Serving God with our little is the way to make it more; we must never think that is wasted with which God is honoured. The first thing done in the new world was an act of worship. We are now to express our thankfulness, not by burnt-offerings, but by praise, and pious devotions and conversation. God was well pleased with what was done. But the burning flesh could no more please God, than the blood of bulls and goats, except as typical of the sacrifice of Christ, and expressing Noah's humble faith and devotedness to God. The flood washed away the race of wicked men, but it did not remove sin from man's nature, who being conceived and born in sin, thinks, devises, and loves wickedness, even from his youth, and that as much since the flood as before. But God graciously declared he never would drown the world again. While the earth remains, and man upon it, there shall be summer and winter. It is plain that this earth is not to remain always. It, and all the works in it, must shortly be burned up; and we look for new heavens and a new earth, when all these things shall be dissolved. But as long as it does remain, God's providence will cause the course of times and seasons to go on, and makes each to know its place. And on this word we depend, that thus it shall be. We see God's promises to the creatures made good, and may infer that his promises to all believers shall be so.Henceforth all the days of the earth. - After these negative assurances come the positive blessings to be permanently enjoyed while the present constitution of the earth continues. These are summed up in the following terms:

HEAT Sowing, beginning in October Reaping, ending in June COLD Early fruit, in July Fruit harvest, ending in September

The cold properly occupies the interval between sowing and reaping, or the months of January and February. From July to September is the period of heat. In Palestine, the seedtime began in October or November, when the wheat was sown. Barley was not generally sown until January. The grain harvest began early in May, and continued in June. The early fruits, such as grapes and figs, made their appearance in July and August; the full ingathering, in September and October. But the passage before us is not limited to the seasons of any particular country. Besides the seasons, it guarantees the continuance of the agreeable vicissitudes of day and night. It is probable that even these could not be distinguished during part of the deluge of waters. At all events, they did not present any sensible change when darkness reigned over the primeval abyss.

The term of this continuance is here defined. It is to last as long as the order of things introduced by the six days' creation endures. This order is not to be sempiternal. When the race of man has been filled up, it is here hinted that the present system of nature on the earth may be expected to give place to another and a higher order of things.

Here it is proper to observe the mode of Scripture in the promise of blessing. In the infancy of mankind, when the eye gazed on the present, and did not penetrate into the future, the Lord promised the immediate and the sensible blessings of life, because these alone are as yet intelligible to the childlike race, and they are, at the same time, the immediate earnest of endless blessings. As the mind developes, and the observable universe becomes more fully comprehended, these present and sensible sources of creature happiness correspondingly expand, and higher and more ethereal blessings begin to dawn upon the mind. When the prospect of death opens to the believer a new and hitherto unknown world of reality, then the temporal and corporeal give way to the eternal and spiritual. And as with the individual, so is it with the race. The present boon is the earnest in hand, fully satisfying the existing aspirations of the infantile desire. But it is soon found that the present is always the bud of the future; and as the volume of promise is unrolled, piece by piece, before the eye of the growing race, while the present and the sensible lose nothing of their intrinsic value, the opening glories of intellectual and spiritual enjoyment add an indescribable zest to the blessedness of a perpetuated life. Let not us, then, who flow in the full tide of the latter day, despise the rudiment of blessing in the first form in which it was conferred on Noah and his descendants; but rather remember that is not the whole content of the divine good-will, but only the present shape of an ever-expanding felicity, which is limited neither by time nor sense.

22. While the earth remaineth—The consummation, as intimated in 2Pe 3:7, does not frustrate a promise which held good only during the continuance of that system. There will be no flood between this and that day, when the earth therein shall be burnt up [Chalmers]. While the earth remaineth, viz. in this estate; for though it seems probable that the substance of the earth will abide for ever, after the dissolution of the world by fire; yet that will be in another manner, and for other purposes, and then there will be no need of

seed-time, or

harvest, & c.

Day and night. This distinction in a manner ceased in the ark, the heavens being covered, and all its lights eclipsed by such thick and black clouds, as never were before nor since.

While the earth remaineth,.... Which as to its substance may remain for ever, Ecclesiastes 1:4 yet as to its form and quality will be changed; that and all in it will be burnt up; there will be an end of all things in it, for so the words are in the original, "as yet all the days of the earth", or "while all the days of the earth" are (i); which shows that there is a time fixed for its continuance, and that this time is but short, being measured by days: but however, as long as it does continue:

seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night, shall not cease; as they had done, or seemed to do during the flood; for the year past there had been no seedtime nor harvest, and it must have been for the most part damp and cold, through the rains, and the abundance of water on earth, that the difference of seasons was not very discernible; as neither of days and nights at some times, especially when the clouds were so black and thick over the heavens, that neither sun, moon, or stars could be seen; and such floods of water continually pouring down, that it must be difficult to know when it was day, and when night; but for the future it is promised, that these should not cease as long as the world stands: "seedtime and harvest"; the time of sowing seed in the earth, and the time of gathering in the fruits of it when ripe, so necessary for the sustenance of man and beast: once in seven years, and once in fifty years indeed, these ceased in the land of Judea, while the people of Israel resided there; but then this was not general all the world over, in other places there were seedtime and harvest: "and cold and heat, and summer and winter"; in some places indeed there is but little cold, in others but little heat, and the difference of summer and winter is not so discernible in some places as in others, yet there is of all these in the world in general. According to Jarchi, "cold" signifies a more severe season than "winter", or the severer part of the winter; and "heat" a hotter season than the summer, or the hotter part of it. The Jews observe, that the seasons of the year are divided into six parts, and two months are to be allowed to each part; which Lyra, from them, and chiefly from Jarchi, thus gives,"to seedtime the last half of September, all October, and half November; to cold, the other half of November, all December, and half January; to winter, half January, all February, and half March: to harvest, half March, all April, and half May; to summer, half May, all June, and half July; to heat, half July, all August, and the first half of September.''But these accounts refer to the land of Judea only: it is enough for the fulfilment of the promise, that they are more or less, at one time of the year or another, in all parts of the world, and so will be until the world shall be no more; and may, in a mystic sense, denote the continuance of the church of God in the world, as long as it endures, and its various vicissitudes and revolutions; sometimes it is a time of sowing the precious seed of the Word; and sometimes it is an harvest, is an ingathering of souls into it; sometimes it is a winter season with it, and all things seem withered and dead; and at other times it is summer, and all things look smiling and cheerful; sometimes it is in a state of coldness and indifference, and at other times exposed to the heat of persecution, and more warm and zealous usually then; sometimes it is night with it, and sometimes day, and so it is like to be, until that state takes place described in Revelation 7:16.

(i) "cunctis diebus terrae", V. L. "adhuc omnes dies terrae", Pagninus, Montanus; so Drusius, Cocceius.

While the earth remaineth, {l} seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.

(l) The order of nature destroyed by the flood, is restored by God's promise.

22. While the earth remaineth] Observe the poetical character of this verse. The four pairs of words are recorded with an impressive and rhythmical dignity.

Verse 22. - While the earth remaineth. Literally, as yet, all the days of the earth, i.e. henceforth, so long as the earth continues, עֹד expressing the ideas of repetition and continuance (vide ver. 12). Seed-time and harvest, - from roots signifying to scatter, e.g. seed, and to cut off, specially grain; σπέρμα καὶ θερισμὸς (LXX.) - and cold and heat, - ψύχος καὶ καῦμα (LXX.) - and summer and winter. Properly the cutting off of fruits, from a root meaning to cut off, hence summer; and the time when fruits are plucked, hence autumn (including winter); the import of the root being to gather, to pluck off; θέρος καὶ ἔαρ (LXX.). The first term of each pair denotes the first half of the year, and the second term of each pair the second half. And day and night (cf. Genesis 1:5) shall not cease. Hebrew, lo yish-bothu, shall not sabbatise, or keep a day of rest; i.e. they shall continue ever in operation and succession. This Divine promise to conserve the orderly constitution and course of nature is elsewhere styled "God's covenant of the day and of the night" (cf. Jeremiah 33:20, 25).


1. The Babylonian.

(1) From the Chaldean monuments. As deciphered from the eleventh tablet of the Izdubar series, the story of the Flood is briefly this: - Izdubar, whom George Smith identifies with Nimrod, the founder of Babylonia, is informed by Hasisadra, whom the same authority believes to represent Noah, of a Divine commandment which he had received to construct a ship after a specified pattern, in which to save himself and "the seed of all life," because the city Surippak wherein he dwelt was to be destroyed. After first attempting to excuse himself, as he explains to Izdubar, on the ground that "young and old will deride him," Hasisadra builds the ship, and causes to go up into it "all my male servants and my female the ants, the beast of the field, the animal of the field, the sons of the people, all of them," while the god Shamas makes a flood, causing it to rain heavily. The flood destroys all life from the face of the earth Six days and nights the storm rages; on the seventh it grows calm. Twelve measures above the sea rises the land. The ship is stopped by a mountain in the country of Nizir. After seven days Hasisadra sends forth a dove, "which went and turned, and a resting-place it did not find, and it returned;" then a swallow, and finally a raven. On the decrease of the waters he sends forth the animals, and builds an altar on the peak of the mountain, and pours out a libation ('Chaldean Genesis,' Genesis 16; 'Records of the Past,' vol. 7:133-141).

(2) From Berosus. The god Kronos appeared to Xisuthrus, the tenth Mug of Babylon, in a vision, and warned him of an approaching deluge upon the fifteenth day of the month Desius, by which mankind would be destroyed. Among other things the god instructed him to build a vessel for the preservation of himself and friends, and specimens of the different animals. Obeying the Divine admonition, he built a vessel five stadia in length and two in breadth, and conveyed into it his wife, children, and friends. After the flood had been upon the earth he three times sent out birds from the vessel, which returned to him the second time with mud upon their feet, and the third time returned to him no more. Find. ing that the vessel had grounded on a mountain, Xisuthrus disembarked with his wife and children, and, having constructed an altar, offered sacrifices to the gods, in reward for which he was raized immediately to heaven ('Chaldean Genesis,' Genesis 3; Kalisch, p. 202; 'Encyclopedia Britannica,' art. Deluge, ninth edition).

2. The Egyptian. Though commonly alleged to be entirely unknown in the Nile valley, it is certain that the germs of the Deluge story are to be discovered even there. According to the Egyptian historian Manetho, quoted by Eusebius, Thoth, the first Hermes, erected certain pillars with inscriptions, which, after the Deluge, were transcribed into books. Plato also states in the Timaeus (chap. 5.) that a certain Egyptian priest informed Solon that the gods, when wishing to purify the earth, were accustomed to overwhelm it by a deluge, from which the herdsmen and shepherds saved themselves on the tops of the mountains. Josephus ('Ant.,' I.3.9) certifies that Hieronymus the Egyptian refers to the Flood. A conception altogether analogous to that of Genesis is likewise to be found in a myth belonging to the archaic period of Seti I., which represents Ra, the Creator, as being disgusted with the insolence of mankind, and resolving to exterminate them (vide Inscription of the Destruction of Mankind, ' Records of the Past,' vol. 6. p. 103). In short, the Egyptians believed not that there was no deluge, but that there had been several The absence of any indications of this belief in the recovered literature of ancient Egypt is not sufficient to set aside the above concurrent testimonies to its existence (Kitto, 'Bible Illustrations,' vol. 1. p. 150; Rawlinson's 'Historical Illustrations of O. T.;' 'Encycl. Britan.,' art. Deluge, ninth edition).

3. The Indian. Through the theft of the sacred Vedas by the giant Hayagrivah, the human race became fearfully degenerate, with the exception of seven saints and the good King Satyavrata, to whom the Divine spirit Vishnu appeared in the form of a fish, in. forming him of his purpose to destroy the earth by a flood, and at the same time to send a ship miraculously constructed for the preservation of himself and the seven holy ones, along with their wives, and one pair of each of all the irrational animals. After seven days the rain descended, when Satyavrata, confiding in the promises of the god, saw a huge ship drawing near, into which he entered as directed. Then the god appeared in the form of a fish a million miles long, with an immense horn, to which the king made the ship fast, and, drawing it for many years (a night of Brahma), at length landed it upon the highest peak of Mount Himavau. When the flood abated the god arose, struck the demon Hayagrivah, recovered the sacred books, instructed Satyavrata in all heavenly sciences, and appointed him the seventh Mann, from whom the second population of the earth descended in a supernatural manner, whence man is styled Manudsha (born of Mann). Vide Kalisch, p. 203; Auberlen's 'Divine Revelation,' p. 169 (Clark's 'For. Theol. Lib.' ).

4. The Grecian. It is sufficient here to refer to the well-known story of Deucalion and Pyrrha, first given in Pindar, and afterwards related by Apollodorus, Plutarch, Lucian, and Ovid, whose account bears so close a resemblance to the Biblical narrative as to suggest the probability of access to Hebrew or Syrian sources of information. The previous corruption of manners and morals, the eminent piety of Deucalion, the determination "genus mortals sub undisperdere," the construction of a boat by Divine direction, the bursting of the storm, the rising of the waters, the universal ocean in which "jamque mare et tellus nullum discrimen habebant," the subsidence of the flood, the landing of the boat on Parnassus with its double peak, the consultation of the Deity "per sacras sortes," and the answer of the god as to how the earth was to be re-peopled "ossaque post tergum magnae jactare parentis," are detailed with such graphic power as makes them read "like amplified reports of the record in Genesis." Indeed, by Philo, Deucalion was distinctly regarded as Noah. Cf. Ovid, 'Metamorph.,' lib. 1. f. 7; 'Kalisch on Genesis,' p. 203; Kitto's 'Bible Illustrations,' p. 150 (Porter's edition); 'Lange on Genesis,' p. 294, note by Tayler Lewis; Smith's ' Dictionary of the Bible,' art. Noah.

5. The American. Traditions of the Flood appear to be even more numerous in the New World than the Old. The Esquimatux in the North, the Red Indians, the Mexicans and the Brazilians in the central parts of America, and the Peruvians in the South have all their peculiar versions of the Deluge story. Chasewee, the ancestor of the Dog. rib Indians, on the Mackensie river, according to Franklin, escaped in a canoe from a flood which overflowed the earth, taking with him all manner of four-footed beasts and birds. The Astees, the Mixtees, the Zapotess, and other nations inhabiting Mexico all have, according to Humboldt, their Noahs, Xisuthrus, or Manus (called Coxcox, Teocipactli, or Tezpi), who saves himself by a raft, or in a ship, which lands upon the summit of Colhuacan, the Ararat of the Mexicans. The legends of the Tamanacks relate that a man and woman saved themselves from the Deluge, and repeopled the earth by casting behind them the fruits of the Mauritia palm tree (Kalisch, p. 205; Auberlen's 'Divine Revelation,' p. 171; Smith's 'Dictionary,' art. Noah). What, then, is the conclusion to be drawn from this universal diffusion of the Deluge story? The theory of Schirren and Gerland, as stated by the writer of the article Deluge in the 'Encyclopedia Britannica,' is that the Deluge stories were originally other-myths, descriptive of the phenomena of the sky, which have been transferred from the celestial regions to the earth; but, as Kalisch justly observes, "the harmony between all these accounts is an undeniable guarantee that the tradition is no idle invention;" or, as is forcibly stated by Rawlinson, of a tradition existing among all the great races into which ethnologists have divided mankind, - the Shemites, the Hamites, the Aryans, the Turanians, - "but one rational account can be given, viz., that it embodies the recollection of a fact in which all mankind was concerned."

Genesis 8:22The first thing which Noah did, was to build an altar for burnt sacrifice, to thank the Lord for gracious protection, and pray for His mercy in time to come. This altar - מזבּח, lit., a place for the offering of slain animals, from זבח, like θυσιαστήριον from θύειν - is the first altar mentioned in history. The sons of Adam had built no altar for their offerings, because God was still present on the earth in paradise, so that they could turn their offerings and hearts towards that abode. But with the flood God had swept paradise away, withdrawn the place of His presence, and set up His throne in heaven, from which He would henceforth reveal Himself to man (cf. Genesis 9:5, Genesis 9:7). In future, therefore, the hearts of the pious had to be turned towards heaven, and their offerings and prayers needed to ascend on high if they were to reach the throne of God. To give this direction to their offerings, heights or elevated places were erected, from which they ascended towards heaven in fire. From this the offerings received the name of עלת from עולה, the ascending, not so much because the sacrificial animals ascended or were raised upon the altar, as because they rose from the altar to haven (cf. Judges 20:40; Jeremiah 48:15; Amos 4:10). Noah took his offerings from every clean beast and every clean fowl - from those animals, therefore, which were destined for man's food; probably the seventh of every kind, which he had taken into the ark. "And Jehovah smelled the smell of satisfaction," i.e., He graciously accepted the feelings of the offerer which rose to Him in the odour of the sacrificial flame. In the sacrificial flame the essence of the animal was resolved into vapour; so that when man presented a sacrifice in his own stead, his inmost being, his spirit, and his heart ascended to God in the vapour, and the sacrifice brought the feeling of his heart before God. This feeling of gratitude for gracious protection, and of desire for further communications of grace, was well-pleasing to God. He "said to His heart' (to, or in Himself; i.e., He resolved), "I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake, because the image (i.e., the thought and desire) of man's heart is evil from his youth up (i.e., from the very time when he begins to act with consciousness)." This hardly seems an appropriate reason. As Luther says: "Hic inconstantiae videtur Deus accusari posse. Supra puniturus hominem causam consilii dicit, quia figmentum cordis humani malum est. Hic promissurus homini gratiam, quod posthac tali ira uti nolit, eandem causam allegat." Both Luther and Calvin express the same thought, though without really solving the apparent discrepancy. It was not because the thoughts and desires of the human heart are evil that God would not smite any more every living thing, that is to say, would not exterminate it judicially; but because they are evil from his youth up, because evil is innate in man, and for that reason he needs the forbearance of God; and also (and here lies the principal motive for the divine resolution) because in the offering of the righteous Noah, not only were thanks presented for past protection, and entreaty for further care, but the desire of man was expressed, to remain in fellowship with God, and to procure the divine favour. "All the days of the earth;" i.e., so long as the earth shall continue, the regular alternation of day and night and of the seasons of the year, so indispensable to the continuance of the human race, would never be interrupted again.
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