Genesis 8:8
Also he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters were abated from off the face of the ground;
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(8, 9) He sent forth a dove . . . —From the nature of its food, the raven had not brought back to Noah any special information; but as the dove feeds on vegetable products, he hopes that he shall learn by her means what is the state of “the ground,” the low-lying adâmâh. But as this species of bird does not fly far from its home, except when assembled in vast numbers, it quickly returned, finding water all around. This proves that the ark had not settled upon a lofty eminence; for as it had been already aground 120 days, and as within another fortnight the waters had “abated from off the earth,” it could only have been in some valley or plain among the mountains of Ararat that the waters were thus “on the face of the whole earth,” the larger word, yet which certainly does not mean here the whole world, but only a very small region in the immediate neighbourhood of the ark. For, supposing that the raven was sent out one week before the dove, forty-seven days (see Genesis 8:6) would have elapsed since Noah beheld the glorious panorama of mountain heights all around, and seven days afterwards the dove brought him a freshplucked olive-leaf. Yet, literally, the words are, for waters were upon the face of the whole earth. Plainly these large terms in the language of the Bible are to be limited in their interpretation by the general tenor of its narratives. For a similar conclusive instance, comp. Exodus 9:6 with Exodus 9:19-20.

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.8-11. Also he sent forth a dove—a bird flying low and naturally disposed to return to the place of her abode. The dove flies lower and longer than the raven, and is more sociable and familiar with man, and more constant to its accustomed dwelling, and more loving and faithful to its mate, and therefore more likely to return with some discovery.

Also he sent forth a dove from him,.... Seven days after he had sent out the raven, as in Genesis 8:10.

to see if the waters were abated from off the face of the ground; for the dove is a creature that delights in cleanness, flies low, and goes far off, so that if it returned not again, he might conclude that the waters were gone off the earth; but being a sociable creature, and familiar to men, and especially loving to its mate, if they were not gone off, it would certainly return again. This some take to be an emblem of the Gospel, bringing the good tidings of peace, pardon, righteousness and salvation by Jesus Christ: rather it is an emblem of a sensible sinner, and true believer in Christ, being mournful, timorous, swift, modest, and affectionate; such persons, like doves of the valley, mourn for their iniquities; tremble at the sight of their sins, and the curses of the law, at the apprehension of divine wrath, at the awful judgment of God; and are fearful lest Christ should not receive them, to whom they swiftly fly for refuge, as doves to their windows; and who are modest, meek, and lowly, and affectionate to Christ, and one another. The Targum of Jonathan calls this an house dove, or tame one: hence, perhaps, came the practice of making use of doves as messengers to carry letters from place to place (o).

(o) Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 10. c. 37.

Also he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters were abated from off the face of the ground;
8. a dove] The definite article is used also here, though there would have been seven pairs of doves. From the opening clause of Genesis 8:10, we may conclude that the narrative here was originally fuller, and that this verse must have begun “and he stayed seven days.”

Verses 8, 9. - Also he sent forth - per. 10 seems to Warrant the inference that this was after an interval of seven days (Baumgarten, Knobel, Keil, Lange) - a dove. Literally, the dove. The Scriptural references to the dove are very numerous: cf. Psalm 68:14 (its beautiful plumage); Leviticus 5:7; Leviticus 12:6 (its sacrificial use); Isaiah 38:14; Isaiah 59:11 (its plaintive notes); Psalm 55:6 (its power of flight); Matthew 10:16 (its gentleness); vide also the metaphorical usage of the term in Song of Solomon 1:15; Song of Solomon 5:12 (beautiful eyes); Song of Solomon 5:2; Song of Solomon 6:9 (a term of endearment). From him. I.e. from himself, from the ark; not ὀπίχω αὐτοῦ (LXX.), post eum (Vulgate); i.e. after the raven. Lange thinks the expression indicates that the gentle creature had to be driven from its shelter out upon the wide waste of water. To see if the waters were abated - literally, lightened, i.e. decreased (per. 11) - from off the face of the ground; but the dove found no rest for the solo of her foot. The earth being not yet dry, but wet and muddy, and doves delighting to settle only on such places as are dry and clean; or the mountain tops, though visible, being either too distant or too high, and doves delighting in valleys and level plains, whence they are called doves of the valleys (Ezekiel 7:16). And she returned unto him into the ark, for the waters were upon (literally, waters upon; a much more graphic statement than appears in the A.V.) the face of the whole earth: then (literally, and) he put forth his hand, and took her, and pulled her in (literally, caused her to come in) unto him into the ark. Genesis 8:8Forty 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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