Genesis 8:6
And it came to pass at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made:
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(6) Noah opened the window.—Not the zohar of Genesis 6:16, but an aperture. He had waited forty days after seeing the heights around him rising clearly into the air, and then, impatient of the slow subsidence of the waters, Noah at last sent forth a raven to bring him some news of the state of the earth. This bird was chosen as one strong of flight, and also, perhaps, because anciently regarded as prophetic of the weather; besides this, it is easily tamed, and as Noah retained its mate he had security for its return. And so it seems to have done, for it is described as going “forth to and fro.” Each night it returned to the ark, and probably to its old perch near the female. The Chaldean Genesis agrees with many commentators and the ancient versions in supposing that the raven did not return, finding abundant food in the floating dead bodies (Chaldean Genesis, p. 286); but this is contrary to the Hebrew. The versions must have had a negative in their copies, and have read, “which went forth, going, and not returning.” The present Hebrew text is, however, consistent with itself; for it adds, “until the waters,” &c. This must mean that as soon as the earth was dry this going to and fro ceased.

8:4-12 The ark rested upon a mountain, whither it was directed by the wise and gracious providence of God, that might rest the sooner. God has times and places of rest for his people after their tossing; and many times he provides for their seasonable and comfortable settlement, without their own contrivance, and quite beyond their own foresight. God had told Noah when the flood would come, yet he did not give him an account by revelation, at what times and by what steps it should go away. The knowledge of the former was necessary to his preparing the ark; but the knowledge of the latter would serve only to gratify curiosity; and concealing it from him would exercise his faith and patience. Noah sent forth a raven from the ark, which went flying about, and feeding on the carcasses that floated. Noah then sent forth a dove, which returned the first time without good news; but the second time, she brought an olive leaf in her bill, plucked off, plainly showing that trees, fruit trees, began to appear above water. Noah sent forth the dove the second time, seven days after the first, and the third time was after seven days also; probably on the sabbath day. Having kept the sabbath with his little church, he expected especial blessings from Heaven, and inquired concerning them. The dove is an emblem of a gracious soul, that, finding no solid peace of satisfaction in this deluged, defiling world, returns to Christ as to its ark, as to its Noah, its rest. The defiling world, returns to Christ as to its ark, as to its Noah, its rest. The carnal heart, like the raven, takes up with the world, and feeds on the carrion it finds there; but return thou to my rest, O my soul; to thy Noah, so the word is, Ps 116:7. And as Noah put forth his hand, and took the dove, and pulled her to him, into the ark, so Christ will save, and help, and welcome those that flee to him for rest.The raven and the dove are sent out to bring tidings of the external world. "Forty days." Before Noah made any experiment he seems to have allowed the lapse of forty days to undo the remaining effect of the forty days' rain. "The window." He seems to have been unable to take any definite observations through the aperture here called a window. The raven found carrion in abundance, floated probably on the waters, and did not need to return. This was such a token of the state of things as Noah might expect from such a messenger. He next sends the dove, who returns to him. "Yet other seven days." This intimates that he stayed seven days also after the raven was sent out. The olive leaf plucked off was a sign of returning safety to the land. It is said by Theophrastus (Hist. Plant. 4, 7) and Pliny (H. N. 13, 50) that the olive strikes leaves even under water. From this event, the olive branch became the symbol of peace, and the dove the emblem of the Comforter, the messenger of peace. After seven other days, the dove being despatched, returns no more. The number seven figures very conspicuously in this narrative. Seven days before the showers commence the command to enter the ark is given; and at intervals of seven days the winged messengers are sent out. These intervals point evidently to the period of seven days, determined by the six days of creation and the seventh day of rest. The clean beasts also and the birds are admitted into the ark by seven pairs. This points to the sacredness associated with the number arising from the hallowed character of the seventh day. The number forty also, the product of four, the number of the world or universe, and ten the number of completeness, begins here to be employed for a complete period in which a process will have run its course.6. at the end of forty days—It is easy to imagine the ardent longing Noah and his family must have felt to enjoy again the sight of land as well as breathe the fresh air; and it was perfectly consistent with faith and patience to make inquiries whether the earth was yet ready. No text from Poole on this verse.

And it came to pass at the end of forty days,.... From the appearance of the mountains, that is, from the first day of the tenth month, to forty days after; and being ended, this must be the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the month Ab, which answers to July and August; and according to Bishop Usher (k) it was Friday the twenty eighth of August:

that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made; of which See Gill on Genesis 6:16.

(k) Ut supra. (Annales Vet. Test. p. 4.)

And it came to pass at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made:
6–12. The Story of the Raven and the Dove. (J.)

6. at the end of forty days] The forty days mentioned in Genesis 7:4; Genesis 7:12. the window] LXX θυρίδα, Lat. fenestram. This was not mentioned by P in the description of the ark in chap. 6. The word used here is the ordinary equivalent for a window (ḥallôn), and is different from the “light” (ṣohar) mentioned in Genesis 6:16.

Verses 6, 7. - And it came to pass, literally, it was - at the end of forty days. Delaying through combined fear and sorrow on account of the Divine judgment (Calvin); to allow sufficient space to undo the effect of the forty days' rain (Murphy); probably just to be assured that the Deluge would not return. That Noah opened the window - chalon, a window, "so called from being perforated, from chalal, to bore or pierce" (Gesenius); used of the window of Rahab's house (Joshua 2:18); not the window (tsohar) of Genesis 6:16, q.v. - of the ark which ha had made: and he sent forth a raven. Literally, the orev, so called from its black color' (Gesenius; cf. Song of Solomon 5:11), Latin, corvus, a raven or crow; the article being used either

(1) because the species of bird is intended to be indicated (Kalisch), or

(2) because there was only one male raven in the ark, the raven being among the unclean birds (Leviticus 11:15; Deuteronomy 14:14; Lunge); but against this is "the dove" (per. 8); or

(3) because it had come to be well known from this particular circumstance (Keil). Its peculiar fitness for the mission imposed on it lay in its being a bird of prey, and therefore able to sustain itself by feeding on carrion (Proverbs 30:17). To the incident here recorded is doubtless to be traced the prophetic character which in the ancient heathen world, and among the Arabians in particular, was supposed to attach to this ominous bird. Which went to and fro. Literally, and it went forth going and returning, i.e. flying backwards and forwards, from the ark and to the ark, perhaps resting on it, but not entering into it (Calvin, Willet, Ainsworth, Keil, Kalisch, Lunge, Bush, 'Speaker's Commentary'); though some have conceived that it no more returned to the ark, but kept flying to and fro throughout the earth (LXX., "καὶ ἐξελθὼν οὐκ ἀνέστρεψεν;" Vulgate, "qui egrediebatur et non revertebatur;" Alford, "it is hardly probable that it returned;" Murphy, "it did not need to return"). Until the waters were dried up from off the earth. When of course its return was unnecessary. Cf. for a similar form of expression 2 Samuel 6:23. Whether it entirely disappeared at the first, or continued hovering round the ark, Noah was unable from its movements to arrive at any certain conclusion as to the condition of the earth, and accordingly required to adopt another expedient, which he did in the mission of the dove. Genesis 8:6Forty days after the appearance of the mountain tops, Noah opened the window of the ark and let a raven fly out (lit., the raven, i.e., the particular raven known from that circumstance), for the purpose of ascertaining the drying up of the waters. The raven went out and returned until the earth was dry, but without being taken back into the ark, as the mountain tops and the carcases floating upon the water afforded both resting-places and food. After that, Noah let a dove fly out three times, at intervals of seven days. It is not distinctly stated that he sent it out the first time seven days after the raven, but this is implied in the statement that he stayed yet other seven days before sending it out the second time, and the same again before sending it the third time (Genesis 8:10 and Genesis 8:12). The dove, when first sent out, "found no rest for the sole of its foot;" for a dove will only settle upon such places and objects as are dry and clean. It returned to the ark and let Noah take it in again (Genesis 8:8, Genesis 8:9). The second time it returned in the evening, having remained out longer than before, and brought a fresh (טרף freshly plucked) olive-leaf in its mouth. Noah perceived from this that the water must be almost gone, had "abated from off the earth," though the ground might not be perfectly dry, as the olive-tree will put out leaves even under water. The fresh olive-leaf was the first sign of the resurrection of the earth to new life after the flood, and the dove with the olive-leaf a herald of salvation. The third time it did not return; a sign that the waters had completely receded from the earth. The fact that Noah waited 40 days before sending the raven, and after that always left an interval of seven days, is not to be accounted for on the supposition that these numbers were already regarded as significant. The 40 days correspond to the 40 days during which the rain fell and the waters rose; and Noah might assume that they would require the same time to recede as to rise. The seven days constituted the week established at the creation, and God had already conformed to it in arranging their entrance into the ark (Genesis 7:4, Genesis 7:10). The selection which Noah made of the birds may also be explained quite simply from the difference in their nature, with which Noah must have been acquainted; that is to say, from the fact that the raven in seeking its food settles upon every carcase that it sees, whereas the dove will only settle upon what is dry and clean.
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