Genesis 7
Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation.
Gen 7:1And the Lord said unto Noah, come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation. 2Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female, and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female. 3Of fowls also of the air by sevens, the male and the female; to keep seed alive upon the earth. 4For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from the face of the earth. 5And Noah did according to all that the Lord commanded him. 6And Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters was upon the earth. 7And Noah went in, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons’ wives with him, into the ark, because of the waters of the flood [from before, or from the face of the waters]. 8Of clean beasts, and of beasts that are not clean, and of fowls, and of every thing that creepeth upon the earth, 9There went in two and two [by pairs] unto Noah into the ark, the male and the female, as God [Elohim] had commanded Noah.


1. The Literature.—See Com. on Matthew, p. 6. The present work, p. 119. WALCH.: Bibl. Theol., iii. p. 100. DANZ: “Universal Lexicon,” p. 918. WINER, Real Lexicon, article, Noah. HERZOG, Real Encyclopedia, article, Noah. KURTZ: “History of the Old Testament,” i. p. 81. KNOBEL, p. 81.—[Article, Deluge, KITTO: “Bib. Encyc” vol. i. p. 542.—Article, Noah, SMITH’S “Bib. Dict.” vol. ii., p. 562.—T. L.]

The Hebrew name of the Great Flood (מַבּוּל) Luther rendered by the word Sin-flut, or Sindflut. The latest edition of the German Bible contains still this designation. Through a misunderstanding of the expression it became afterwards Sündflut. PISCHON in the “Theological Studies and Criticisms,” 1834, III. DELITZSCH, p. 628. In old German the word sin is found only at the beginning of compounds: it has the meaning ever, everywhere, complete. For example, sin-grün means ever-green.

2. The Stories of the Flood. No fact of Sacred History reflects itself in a more universal and manifold manner throughout the heathen legendary world than the Noachic flood. Compare here the copious account of LÜCKEN: “The Traditions of the Human Race,” p. 170; also KNOBEL, p. 75; DELITZSCH, p. 242. It is especially interesting to study how the different nations have heathenized, mythologized, in other words, nationalized or localized the sacred and universal tradition (since by the very nature of heathenism the patriarch of the flood belongs to particular nations who received the account from him, and who also regarded him as their national middle point), and how they have confounded it with the story of Paradise, or of the creative days. From this comes the varied deification of this flood-patriarch. Delitzsch distinguishes, 1. the West Asiatic stories of the flood. The Babylonian flood of Xisuthrus: “the last of the ten antediluvian chiefs, as given by Berosus and Abydenus, and the Phoenician story of the victory of Pontus over Demarus, the earth sphere, as given by Sanchoniathon.” With the Babylonian story of the flood he compares the narrative of the flood as given in the first of the Sibylline books, which, in its ground features, has some resemblance to the biblical. Next “the Phrygian story of King ’Αννακός or Ναννακός (that is, Enoch) in Iconium, who, when over three hundred years old, announced the flood, and prayed with lamentation for his people; with which are connected coins of Apamea of the times of Septimius Severus, Macrinus, and Philip, representing a floating ark and bearing the partial inscription, ΝΩ.” So also the Armenian, which, as might be expected, agrees in its locality with the biblical (Nicol. Damascen., Strabo). Then a Syrian legend of which LUCIAN makes mention (De Syra Dea, Gen 13). 2. East Asiatic stories of the flood. The Persian, the Chinese; the Indian of Menu, to whom Vishnu, taking the form of a fish, announces the flood, and whose ship, drawn by this fish, lands upon Himarat. It presents itself to us in many forms. The oldest, yet the latest known to us, is the story in Çatapatha-Brahmana (WEBER, “Indian Studies,” 1850). Next to that is the story in Mahâbhârata (BOPP, “Diluvium,” 1829), and in the Purâna; its latest form is presented in the Bhâgavata-Purana (ed. Bournout, 1827), which, according to Wilson, does not go back of the twelfth century after Christ. (In respect to all these forms of the story, see FELIX NAVE: La Tradition Indienne du Déluge, Paris, 1851.) 3. Grecian stories of the flood. “In the first place the story of Ogyges (PLATO, in the Timœus,)1 and the more enlarged account of Deucalion and Pyrrha (first in Pindar, then by Apollodorus, brought nearer to the biblical account, also given by Plutarch, Lucian, and Ovid,2—both, in their ground features, stories of one and the same flood, but wholly Hellenized.” 4. The stories of the people who were outside the commerce or intercourse of the Old World. The Celtic story of Dwyvan and Dwyvach, who, in the flood that arose from the outbreaking of the sea of Llion, and which swallowed up all men, made their escape in a bare boat (without sails), and again peopled Britain. More remote still, the flood-stories of the Mexicans, of the island inhabitants of Cuba, of the Peruvians, of the races on the upper Orinoco, of the Tahitians, and other insular peoples of the Society Islands Archipelago. To make an arrangement according to the facts narrated, we may distinguish, 1. Stories of the flood which identify it with the creative catastrophes, namely: the Germanic story of the blood of the slain Ymer, which deluged the earth, and destroyed the oldest giant race. The Persian story of the rain of Zistar, which flooded the earth, and caused the death of the beasts of Ahriman. The Chinese story of Riuhoa (LÜCKEN, p. 193; see on the other hand BUNSEN, vol. ii. p. 61). 2. Stories of the flood in which the Bible flood is specifically and distinctly reflected, such as the Babylonian, the Phrygian, the Indian, the Chinese story of Jao, the Celtic stories (LÜCKEN, p. 204). 3. Stories of the flood which seem to connect or to confound it with the deluge accounts of later floods. The stories of the Egyptians and the Greeks (LÜCKEN, pp. 209, 196). In the submersion of the island Atlantis, as given in PLATO’S Timœus, there seems to be reflected likewise the tradition of the lost Paradise. In respect to the facts that lie at the foundation of the latter stories, compare the pamphlet of UNGER, entitled “The Sunken Island of Atlantis.” Vienna, 1860. The fundamental view here indicates revolutions of the earth, upheavings and depressions of its surface, whose effect is also of importance in the history of the Bible deluge. 4. Stories of floods in which the Bible flood forms the central point, towards which all traditions and legends of early terrestrial catastrophes flow together, and in which the original tradition cannot always be separated from later modification through Christian and Mohammedan elements. Interior African and American, or insular flood stories. It is well worthy of remark, that the ethical interpretation of the flood, according to which it comes as a judgment upon a condemned human race, everywhere prominently appears in the stories of the deluge. The purest copy of our Bible history is given in the Chaldaic narrative of Berosus, the ancient priest of Bel, about 260 years before Christ. Xisuthrus, the last of the ten primitive kings, beheld in a dream the appearance of Cronos (in Greek the same as Bel or Baal), who announced to him, that on the 15th day of the month Däsio, men would be destroyed by a flood. It was commanded him to write down all the sciences and inventions of mankind, and to conceal the writings in Syparis, the city of the Sun; thereupon he was to build a ship, and to embark on the same with all his companions, kindred, and nearest friends; he was to put in it provisions and drink, and to take with him the animals, the birds, as well as the quadrupeds. If any one should ask him whereto he was bound, he was to answer: To the gods; to implore good for men. He obeyed, and made an ark five stadia in length, and two in breadth, put together what was commanded, and embarked with wife, children, and kindred. As the flood subsided, Xisuthrus let fly a bird, which, when it neither found nourishment nor place to light, returned back into the ark. After some days he let fly another bird; this came back with slime upon its foot. The third bird sent forth never returned. Then Xisuthrus perceived that land was becoming visible, and after that he had broken an opening in the ship, he sees it driven upon a mountain, whence he descends with wife, daughter, and pilot, and when he had saluted the earth, built an altar, and offered sacrifice to the gods, he disappeared. Those who were left in the ship, when they saw that Xisuthrus did not return, went forth to seek him, and called him by name. Xisuthrus was seen no more, but a voice sounded from the air, bidding them to fear god, and telling them that on account of his piety he had been taken away to dwell with the gods; and that the same honor was given to his wife, daughter, and pilot. (This disappearance has relation to his deification, or probably to his translation among the stars, where the forms of the waterman, the young woman, and the carrier (the wagoner) still present themselves to us). They were commanded to return back to Babylon) where it was appointed to them to take the writings from Syparis, and impart the knowledge they contained to men. The country where they found themselves was Armenia. In respect to the ship, which had landed in Armenia, Berosus adds that there was still a portion of it on the mountains of Kordyäer (or the Kurdistan mountains) in Armenia, from which some persons cut off pieces, took them to their houses, and used them as amulets (according to Lücken). Amid all the similarity which this story presents to the Bible history, there is no mistaking the mythological coloring; for example, in the huge size of the ark. Just as little do we fail to hear the echo of the history of Enoch.

3. The Fact of the Flood.—The narrative of the flood, like the history of Paradise, has in a special measure the character of all the Bible histories—that is, it is at the same time fact and symbol; and it is the symbolical significance of this history that has formed the significant expression of the fact. In regard to the fact itself, the view is rendered in a high degree difficult by reason of the mingling with it of the following representations, resting solely on the literal interpretation: 1. the supposition that the history narrates not merely the extermination of the first human race, and, therefore, the overflowing of the earth according to the geographical extension of that race, but an absolute universal submersion of the whole earth itself; 2. the idea that the terrestrial relations were the same at that time that they are now, that the mountain elevations were completed, and that the mountain Ararat was just as high as at the present time; 3. that the branching of the animal species had become as great at that day as it is now: add to these a 4th, the ignoring of every symbolical imprint in the representation. As to what concerns the first two points, it is argued by EBRARD, for example (“Belief in the Holy Scriptures,” p. 73), that Ararat was 16,000 feet high. The waters stand fifteen cubits above Ararat; consequently must the whole earth have been covered, though it may still remain a question whether single peaks, like the Dhawalagiri, might not have projected above the water-surface (in a literal construction of the text, however, such a doubt cannot remain), since a banking limitation of so high a flood would be inconceivable. This conclusion depends upon a supposition wholly uncertain, namely, that the peak of Ararat was in that day 16,000 feet high. In regard to the first point, the remark of Nägelsbach (Art. “Noah,” HERZOG’S Real-Encyclopedie) coincides wholly with the view of Delitzsch, namely, that the theological interest does not demand the universality of the flood in itself, but only the universality of the judgment that was executed by it. In respect to the second point, it is to be remarked, that the mountain formations of the earth had been, indeed, begun in the creative period, but were not yet fully completed. The history of the deluge is, without doubt, the history of a catastrophe in which the terrain of the earth experienced important modifications through the cooperation of fire. The deep sinking of the land in the neighborhood of the Armenian paradisaical region, which is denoted by the Caspian Sea, might alone have brought on a deluge catastrophe analogous to that which must have had a connection with the ruin of the legendary island of Atlantis. In respect to the third representation, the Darwin theory of the progressive origin of races, though in itself untenable, does nevertheless contain an indication of the truth that the countless unfolding of organic memberships in the animal life goes back to great individual anti-types, as science theoretically sets forth. For each species, perhaps, there may have been a ground type in the ark, out of which all varieties of the same have proceeded. In respect to the fourth false representation, which confounds the style of the Holy History with the notarial expression of a worldly pragmatism, we refer to the Introduction.

On the side of the mythologizing of the deluge history there are similar untenable representations that call for remark. 1. The apprehension in respect to the possibility of building the ark. It is historically established that, at all times, a necessity fundamentally perceived, has, under the guidance of God, brought to discovery the helps required for the accomplishment. Necessity learns to pray, learns to build. 2. The difficulty of assembling such a multitude of beasts in the ark. In reply to this, allusion has been made to the instinct of animals, which, in a presentiment of natural catastrophe, seek an asylum, sometimes, almost in violation of their natural habits. Birds, in a storm, fly to the ships; wolves come into the villages, etc. 3. The difficulty of the animal provisioning. Answer: This would be of least weight in respect to animals like those of the marmot and badger species, whose winter torpor in the easiest manner keeps them through the wintry storm-period. But the deluge, in like manner, supposes, in the main, a slumbering, dead-like transition from the old existence into the new. Darkness, the roaring and rocking of the waters in so peculiar a manner, must bring on a benumbing torpor, and, in the case of many animals, a winter sleep, whereby the feeding would be rendered unnecessary. The ground ideas of the deluge history are as high above the popular representations on the right, as they are beyond the scholastic thinking on the left. They may be regarded as something like the following: 1. At the moment when the first human race, through the commingling of an angel like elevation of the Sethic line with the demonic corruption of the Cainitic, is ripe for judgment, there is a corresponding catastrophe, having its ground in the earth’s development, forming an echo to the creation catastrophes, and, at the same time, imposed by God as a judgment doom upon that human corruption. 2. The prophetic spirit of a pious patriarch, in whom there is concentrated the heart of the old world’s piety, takes into its belief not only the revelation of the impending judgment, but also the deliverance which out of that judgment is to go forth for this world itself as represented in his person, and in his family, whilst it denotes thereby the progress of faith in revelation, from the assurance of salvation in the other world (which Enoch already had), to the confidence of salvation in this. 3. The inspiring of necessity teaches him, under the divine guidance, to build an ark, which, in its commencement, is to be a preaching of repentance to the cotemporaries of the builder, but which, in its completion, is distinguished neither by oar nor helm, but only by its great spaciousness and water-tight construction. 4. In this use of the ark, as a common asylum, the instincts of the beasts act in harmony with the prophetic presentiment of chosen men, whilst the rest follows through God’s care and a peculiar success. 5. The history of the flood is an ἅπαξ λεγόμενον in the world’s history, analogous to the creation of Adam, the birth and history of Christ, and the future history of the world’s end. Even BUNSEN (ii. p. 63) affirms, in general, the historicalness of the biblical tradition.

Therefore is this unparalleled fact in the highest degree symbolic or ideal, whilst it is, at the same time, a typical prophecy. 1. It is a prophecy of the deliverance of Israel as the people of God in the passage through the Red Sea; 2. a prophecy of the deliverance of the Christian church from the corruption of the world, through the washing of baptism (1 Pet. 3:21); 3. a prophecy of the deliverance of the congregation of Christ, at the world’s end, out of the fire-flood of the world’s judgment. The ark is especially reflected in the ark of Moses, in the ark of the covenant which was carried through the Jordan, in the household of the church, and in the congregation of faith at the end of the world. Knobel thinks that in the narration before us there is to be recognized an Elohistic foundation which the Jehovist must have elaborated, not without a contradiction of its fundamental ground. Thus the description of the corruption, in Gen 6:11, 12, he says, does not agree with the Jehovist, who represents the wickedness in human life as having commenced at a much earlier day. As though the origin of evil and an incurable corruption were not two distinct grades! So, according to the Jehovist, it is (as Knobel would have it) that the human life-period after the flood sinks down to one hundred and twenty years—an idea that rests upon a false interpretation. Moreover, it would seem not to agree with the ground-scripture, that of many kinds of beasts Noah took more than a pair (Gen 7:2, 3, 8). Knobel supposes, therefore, that the special enlargement was a contradiction to the more general appointment. In regard to the fact itself, says Knobel: Unanswerable are the questions, how Noah came to expect the great flood, and was led to the building of the ark. So also would it be incapable of an answer, how at any time one could attain to a prophetic prevision. The question he regards as still more difficult to answer: “How he was enabled to produce such a structure,”—that is, such a great quadrangular box. Further: “How he got the beasts in his power?” Experience shows, that in extraordinary catastrophes of nature, the wildest animals take refuge with men. Lastly: “How could they all, together with the necessary provisioning for a whole year, find room in the ark?” This point carries us back to a primitive time, when, as yet, the species were comparatively less divided, and to a stormy death of nature, which intensified to its most extreme degree the phenomenon of the winter’s sleep; to say nothing of the point, that to the symbolical expression there is needed only the general fact of the saving of the animal world, along with man, by means of the ark. When Ebrard admits that possibly the highest mountain-peaks may have projected above the surface of the waters of the deluge, it would allow the consequence of an Alpine fauna existing outside of the ark. The point mainly in view is the destruction of the human race, and the saving of the Noachian family, in the deluge. Notwithstanding his objections, Knobel supposes an actual ground of fact in the narration, even as an after-piece to the great earth revolutions of the creative period (p. 78). This last point of view carries us beyond the supposition of mere partial historical inundations. A concussion of the earth permits the conclusion that a displacement occurred in its continental relations, whence there might have arisen a deluge of a very wide character, without our having to assume a corresponding inundation of the whole earth’s surface. Stormy deluges do not obey the law of standing waters. Such a deluge might have passed over the whole inhabited part of the earth, without making a like height of water as standing over the whole sphere.

“The grounds,” remarks Delitzsch, “on which the Thora (the Pentateuch) dwells so emphatically upon the flood, consist in their significancy for the history of God’s kingdom in general, and the history of the Old Testament theocracy in particular. The flood is an act of deepest significance, whether regarded as one of judgment or of salvation. It is a common judgment, making an incision in history so deep and so wide, of such force and universality, that nothing can be compared with it but the final judgment at the extreme limit of this world’s history. But the act of judgment is, at the same time, an act of salvation. The sin-deluge is, at the same time, a grace-deluge,3 and so far a type of holy baptism (1 Pet. 3:21), and of life rising out of death; therefore it is, that old ecclesiastical art was so fond of distinguishing chapels of burial by a representation of it. The destruction has in view the preservation, the drowning has in view the purification, the death of the human race has in view the new birth; the old corrupted earth is buried in the flood of water, that out of this grave there may emerge a new world. In this way Ararat points to Sinai. The covenant of Elohim, which God then made with the saved holy seed, and with the universal nature, points to the covenant of Jehovah.”

4. The Geological Effects of the Deluge.—In earlier times, the traces of earth revolutions that took place in the creative days (for example, the mountain formations, the shells on the highest hills, and similar phenomena) were brought forth as proofs of the flood. Such a mode of reasoning must now be laid aside by those who would reconcile revelation with science. Neither can the assumption be proved, that it rained for the first time in the flood, and that, with the change in the atmosphere, human life suddenly sunk in its duration, nor the supposition that at that time a sudden transformation took place in the animal world, or that new animals were originated. The following suppositions, however, may be regarded as more or less safely entertained: 1. As the great flood denoted an epoch in the life of humanity, so also must it have done in the life of the earth; and through this epoch the giant-like in the human natural powers seems to have been moderated, whilst, on the contrary, the development in the earth’s life becomes more conformable to law. 2. The historical indications and signs of great changes in the earth’s surface, such as volcanic mountain formations, surface transformations (Caspian Sea, and island Atlantis, for example), may be connected, in some special measure, with the catastrophe of the flood. 3. The flood in itself may, perhaps, have been partial (see F. PFAFF, “The Creative History,” p. 646), but the earth-crisis, on which it was conditioned, must have been universal. With the opening of the fountains of the deep stands the opening of the windows of heaven in polar contrast. An extraordinary rain-storm and fall of water over the Noachian earth-circle, was probably conditioned by an extraordinary evaporation in other regions of the globe. This must have been followed by an extraordinary congelation on the same side. Does the “ice-period,” the period of the wandering boulders, stand in any relation to this? As an earth-crisis, the flood was probably universal.


1. Noah and his House, in contrast with the Contemporaries of Noah (Gen 6:9–11). The history that follows is distinguished by the name Tholedoth, or Generations of Noah. For Noah is not only the last of the Sethic patriarchs, as the end of the antediluvian period; he is, moreover, the first of the new, through the patriarchal line that goes on in Shem, and, in this representation, is he also a type of the future Christ, the finisher of the old, the author of the new, world. In a typical sense, Noah is the second ancestor of the human race, as Christ, the Man from Heaven, is such in a real sense (1 Cor. 15). As a continuer of the old time, Noah is virtually a repetition of Adam; as a beginner of the new time, he is a type of Christ. He was a righteous man. According to Knobel, the author (of this account of the flood) knew nothing of any fall of Adam. One might deduce a like conclusion from Luke in his account of Zacharias and Elisabeth (Gen 1:6). But evidently the righteousness here meant is that which represents him as justified in view of the judgment of the flood, by reason of his faith (Heb. 11:7). Therefore was the explanation added: he was תָּמִים, guiltless, perfect, blameless among his cotemporaries who perished in the judgment. The ground of this was: he walked with God as Enoch did. That he begat three eons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, is here again related, as in Gen 5:32, because in them the continuance of a new race is secured; with Noah, therefore, must his family also be saved. But, moreover, to Noah, and his house, there is formed a contrast in the race of his time, and in the old form of the earth that had been corrupted by it.

Gen 7:5. To represent the wickedness of man, our text goes further, and expresses the incurable perdition of the old earth itself, as having been produced by it. It was utterly corrupt, in that it was filled with wickedness, acts of violence, and pride. But it was corrupt before the eye of God in its most manifest form, so that its judgment was imperatively demanded.—And God looked upon the earth, and lo.—Delitzsch correctly points out the contrast of these words to Gen 1:31. “Everything stood in sharpest contradiction with that good state which God the creator had established.” God’s looking (or seeing) denotes a final sentence. The earth was incurably corrupt because all flesh had corrupted its way, that is, its normal way of life, upon the corrupted earth. Herein lies the indication, that as men grew wild and savage, the animal world also threatened to become wild. If, however, we suppose, with Delitzsch, an universal corruption of the animal world, whence could Noah have taken the good specimens for his ark? Moreover, it cannot be concluded, from Gen 9:4, that men, in their greediness for flesh, cut out pieces from the yet living animal. According to Knobel, the text denotes the beasts, inasmuch as they originally lived upon vegetables, but now had partly degenerated into flesh-eaters. This, however, would be all the same as introducing a representation into the text, just as Delitzsch maintains, that the eating of flesh had not yet been permitted. Keil understands the words in question as referring generally to men only. Thereby, however, there is loosened that organic connection of man, beast, and earth, on which the text lays stress. More correct is the emphasis he lays on the words “all flesh:” humanity had become flesh (Gen 7:3).

2. The Announcement of the Judgment, and the Direction for the Building of the Ark(Gen 7:13–22).—And God said to Noah.—The revelation of the divine displeasure with the human race, which appears first, Gen 7:3, as a conditional and veiled threatening of judgment with the granting of a space for repentance, and which, in its second utterance, has already become a resolution to destroy the human race (Gen 7:7), becomes here an absolute announcement of approaching doom. There had, perhaps, been previous revelations, in the form of a preaching of repentance, made by other patriarchs (such as Methuselah and Lamech), as they, one after the other, left the world. These had been gradually extended in time; but now are they all concentrated in the one revelation made to Noah. With this there was, at the same time, connected the promise that Noah and his family should be saved. As God’s acts of deliverance are connected in time with his acts of judgment (since his judgments are ever separations of the godly from the ungodly, and, in this sense, salvations and deliverances), so also are the revelations of judgment at the same time revelations of deliverance, and the faith of the elect which corresponds to them is, at the same time, both a faith in judgment and a faith in salvation.—The end of all flesh.—An expression which strongly conveys the idea, that the positive judgment of God is indicated through a judgment immanent in the corruption of men. The self-abandonment in this corruption, the clearly visible end of the same, is so fearfully depicted, that the positive end which God is about to impose takes the appearance, not of a judgment merely, but of redress. Still is the first conception the predominant one, as appears from the expression which tells us that God saw the end, the extreme end of the world’s corruption (Keil).—Is filled with violence through them (Lange renders more correctly, from their faces, or, before them. Vulg., a facie eorum). As it is said, in immediate connection, “before the face of God,” we hold it unsatisfactory here to render מפניהם from them, or through them. The flood of wickedness that comes up before God’s face goes out from their face; that is, it is a wickedness openly perpetrated; the moral judgment, the conscience, goes utterly out in the direct beholding and approbation of evil.—I will destroy them with the earth.—Destruction as set against corruption (1 Cor. 5:5). The earth as such can, indeed, suffer no penal destruction. As one with man, the destruction becomes to it a total destruction, which comes upon men along with their earth. And so in the renewal of humanity must the earth also receive a renovation of its form.—Make thee an ark.—An indication of the mode of salvation, in which he himself must co-operate. Baumgarten: “He must be not only the preserved, but also the preserver.” תֵּבָה, according to Delitzsch, probably (if the word is Shemitic), from אוּב = תּוּב, to be hollow.4 Chaldaic, תֵּיבוּתָא, Sept. κιβωτός, Vulg. arca (other meanings see in Delitzsch). Keil and Rödiger conjecture that the word is of Egyptian origin. So Knobel: “In Egyptian, boat is called tept.” It is likewise used of the small ark in which Moses was saved (but which in the Septuagint is rendered θίβις or θίβη.—Of gopher-wood [Lange, resinous wood]. Hieronymus: ligna bituminata. “Probably, cypress-wood.” Keil (גֹּפֶר, cognate to כֹּפֶר and κυπάρισσος).—Rooms shalt thou make [Lange, cells].—Properly in cells, as cells (literally, nests—little cabins), or cell-containing.—With pitch.—Sept. ἀσφαλτός, Vulg. bitumen.—And this is which (what) thou shalt make it.—“The most probable supposition is, that the ark was built, not in the form of a ship, but after the manner of a box, without keel, with a flat deck, more like a four-sided moving house than a ship, since it was destined not for sailing, but only for floating upon the water. Thus regarded, the measures 300 cubits long, 50 cubits broad, and 30 cubits high, give a ground-surface of 15,000 cubits square, and a cubical content of 450,000 cubits solid, taking the usual measure of the cubit (Deut. 3:11), as the length from the elbow to the end of the middle finger, or about 18 inches.” Keil. Knobel remarks: “The building surpasses in magnitude the greatest ships-of-the-line. Its arrangement, however, according to experiments made in Holland, would be found in harmony with its design.” In the year 1609, at Hoorn, in Holland, the Netherlandish Mennonite, P. Jansen, produced the model of a vessel after the pattern of the ark, only in smaller proportions, whereby he proved, that although it was not appropriate for a ship-model, it was well adapted for floating, and would carry a cargo greater by one third than any other form of like cubical content.5 See DELITZSCH, p. 250.—A window shalt thou make in the ark.צֹהַר, not in the roof (Rosenmüller and others), but a light-opening (צָהֳרַיִם, dual, a double light); see Gen 8:6. Baumgarten supposes that it must be regarded as a light-opening of a cubit’s breadth, extending above the whole upper length of the ark; Knobel and Keil, on the contrary, suppose that the window was fixed on the side, to the extent of a cubit, under the ridge of the roof. Then, indeed, according to Tuch, would only one cabin have received light, perhaps that of Noah; at all events, only the highest story would have had a dim twilight. We suppose, therefore, with Baumgarten, that it must be regarded as a light-opening in the deck, which was continued through the different stories. Against the rain and the water dashing, must this opening have been closed in some way by means of some transparent substance; for which purpose a trellis, or lattice-work, would not have been sufficient. The expression “to a cubit,” denotes also precaution. In this view of the case, moreover, it is not easy to take צהר collectively, as is done by Gesenius and the Syriac, and to fancy a number of light apertures, although it might be that one light-opening in the deck could be divided into a number of light-openings for the interior.6—The door of the ark.—Here can only be meant an entrance which was afterwards closed, and only opened again at the end of the flood. And since there were three stories of the ark, the word is to be understood, perhaps, of three entrances capable of being closed, and to which there would have been constructed a way of access from the outside on the outside. “Is it held that so colossal a structure as the ark would have been impracticable in this very early time; the objection may be met with the answer, that some of the most gigantic structures belong to an immemorial antiquity.” Baumgarten (compare also KEIL, p. 93; DELITZSCH, p. 250).—And behold I, even I, am bringing.—Noah must make the ark, for He, Jehovah, is about to bring a flood upon the earth, but at the same time to make a covenant of salvation with Noah. מַבּוּל from יָבַל or בוּל, to undulate, to swell—an antique word, used expressly for the waters of Noah (Is. 54:9), and which, out of Genesis, occurs only in Ps. 29:10.” Keil. Therefore Keil and Delitzsch take for its explanation the words that follow: “waters upon the earth,” regarding it as in apposition. Knobel, again, explains it as meaning the flood of water, whilst Michaelis and others have changed מַיִם into מִיָּם (from the sea) without any ground, although in this conformation of all collections of water to make the flood, the co-operation of the sea comes into account. The divine destination of the flood: to destroy every living thing under the heaven. In a more particular sense: whatever is upon the earth. The sea-animals cannot be destroyed by water. In respect to them, moreover, the symbolical relation in which the beasts stand to men, does not come specially into consideration.—But with thee will I establish my covenant.—בְּרִית, Sept. διαθήκη, Vulg. fœdus, in the New Testament, testamentum (Rom. 9:4). The religious covenant-idea here presents itself for the first in literal expression; although the establishment of God’s covenant with Noah presupposes a previous covenant relation with Adam (Gen. 2:15; 3:15; Sirach 17:10). In the repeated establishment of the covenant with Noah (Gen 6:18; 8:21; 9:9; Gen 7:11, 16; Sirach 44:11), with Abraham, Gen 15:18; 17:9–14; 22:15; Ps. 105:8–10; Sirach 44:24; Acts 3:25; 7:8), with Isaac (Gen 24:25), with Jacob (Gen 28:13, 14), with Israel (Ex. 19:6; 24:7; 34:10; Deut. 5:3), there are unfolded the different covenants, or covenant forms, which bring into revelation the ground-idea of the covenant between God and humanity in Adam, whilst they are, at the same time, anticipatory representations of that true covenant-making which is realized in the new covenant of God with believing humanity through Christ (Jer. 31:32, 33; ZaGen 9:11; Matt. 26:28; 2 Cor. 3:6; Heb. 6:17, 18), and which finds in the perfected kingdom of God its last and conclusive development (Rev. 21). The covenant of God with Noah, and that with Abraham, form a parallel; the first is the covenant of compassion and forbearance made with the new humanity and earth in general; the last is the covenant of grace and salvation made with Abraham and his believing seed, as a more definite covenant-making on the ground of the Noachian- covenant. The patriarchal covenant which, in its specialty, embraced Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Ex. 3:6) as the covenant of promise, takes the form of a law-covenant for Israel; this latter is the old typical covenant in the form of an anticipatory representation of the new covenant, and which, therefore, as the older and more imperfect, must give place to the new; whereas the covenant with Noah and that with Abraham, as beginnings of the covenant of faith, become one, finally, with the new covenant of Christ, which, in its stricter sense, embraces the children of faith as partakers of salvation, but, in its wider sense, the children of men as called to salvation. But the covenant of Christ carries on the foundation covenant made with Adam to its perfect realization in the eternal covenant-life of the new world (Rev. 21). The revelation and recognition of the divine covenant rests on the revelation and recognition of the fact that God, as the absolute personality, places himself in a personal, ethically free, covenant-relation of love and truth to man as personal, and to the human race. That the covenant of God has its root in the personal relation is evident from the fact that in its different forms such covenant ever goes out from a person, as from Noah, Abraham, etc. Therefore it is, that ever within the universal covenant relations, as they widen from the centre out, there are the making of special covenants, such as that with Moses, with Phineas (Numb. 25:13), with David. It is a consequence of the ethical significance of God’s covenant as forming the personal foundation of the chosen kingdom, that the assaults of the kingdom of darkness are in like manner comprehended as covenants or conspiracies against God (the troop of Korah, Ps. 2; 83:6; Luke 23:12; Acts 4:27). The word בְּרִית from ברת, to cut, divide, is derived from the sacrifices of animals that are cut in twain in the formation of a covenant; and in this is the peculiar explanation of the word, Gen. 15:10, 17.—And thou shalt come into the ark.—God makes his covenant personally with Noah, but there is included also his house, which he represents as paterfamilias, and with it the new humanity mediately, as also, in a remoter sense, the animal world that is to be preserved. “The narrator supposes that the beasts of themselves (as is held by Jarchi and Aben Ezra), or at the instigation of God (according to Kimchi, Piscat.), would come into the ark.” Knobel. Rather was it through an instinctive presentiment of catastrophe, which was, at the same time, God’s ordering and an impulse of nature. The collection of the provisioning is distinguished from the gathering of the beasts, so that the ark represents a perfect economy of the Noachian household. Noah’s obedience in faith makes the conclusion of the section (see Heb. 11:17).

3. The approach of the Flood, and the Divine Direction to Noah for entering into the Ark (Gen 7:1–9). And the Lord said unto Noah.—Here Elohim appears as the covenant-God; therefore is he named Jehovah.—Come thou into the ark.—The signal of the approaching judgment. Enter, my people, into thy chamber (Is. 26:20) for thee have I seen righteous! In the divine forum of the judgment of the deluge, Noah is justified before God by means of the righteousness of faith through the word of the promise; therefore is he saved, together with his whole family, because his faith is imputed for their good.—Before me (Heb. before my face) denotes the divine sentence of justification.—In his generation, denotes the opposite sentence of God against that generation.—Of every clean beastby sevens.—This appointment is a special carrying out of the more universal one, Gen 6:20; it is, therefore, wholly in correspondence with the advancing prophecy, and not in contradiction of it, as Knobel thinks. Of the unclean beasts it says, “by two, a male and a female;” according to the analogy of this expression, the number seven (as used of the clean beasts) would denote also the number of individuals (Calvin, Delitzsch, Keil, and others), not seven pair (Vulgate, Aben Ezra, Michaelis, De Wette, Knobel). The prescription, therefore, is three pair and one over. This one was probably destined for a thank-offering. “The distinction between clean and unclean beasts is not first made by Moses, but only becomes fixed in the law as corresponding to it, though existing long before. Its beginnings reach back to the primitive time, and ground themselves on an immediate conscious feeling of the human spirit not yet clouded by any unnatural and ungodly culture, under the influence of which feeling it sees in many beasts pictures of sin and corruption which fill it with aversion and abhorrence.” Keil. But such a distinction, so grounded, might make an analogous division a permanent law for Christendom. The contrast of clean and unclean cannot, surely, have here the Levitical significance. More to the purpose would be the contrast of beasts tame and wild,—of beasts that are utterly excluded from the society of men, and roam about independent of them, although this contrast is limited by the physiological conception of cleanness and uncleanness (see DELITZSCH, p. 256). The interchange of the divine names Jehovah and Elohim in our section makes trouble, as might well be inferred, for the documentary hypothesis (see KEIL, p. 94, and the opposing view of DELITZSCH, p. 256).—For yet seven days.—After seven days must the flood break out; there is appointed, therefore, a week for the marching into the ark.—Rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights.—This is more widely expressed, Gen 7:11, where the phenomenon of the deluge is referred back to its original cause, the breaking up of the fountains of the deep.—And Noah was six hundred years old.—According to Gen 5:32, he was five hundred years old at the beginning of his married life. The 120 years, therefore, of Gen 6:3, go back beyond this.—And Noah went into the ark.—That the members of his household went in with him, denotes their connection with him in obedience, and in their fitness to be saved; with which the behavior of Lot’s sons in-law, and of his wife, forms a contrast. That the beasts follow him into the ark, shows a wonderful docility proceeding from their instinctive presentiment of the catastrophe.

[NOTE ON THE BIBLE IDEA OF COVENANT.—It is a most important remark of Dr. LANGE (p. 299), that “The revelation and recognition of the Divine Covenant rests on the revelation and recognition of the fact that God, as the absolute personality, places himself in a personal, ethically free, covenant-relation of love and truth to man as personal, and to the human race.” It is strange, indeed, that our philosophy should have so overlooked the glory of this covenant-idea, whilst our more ordinary worldly literature has so often treated it as a narrow dogmatic of an almost obsolete theology. God raised man above the animal by endowing him with moral, rational, and religious faculties. This lifts him above the plane of nature, and prepares him for a still higher relation. His Creator makes a covenant with him as being, though finite, a supernatural personality. He is placed upon higher ground than that of natural law, or natural right, as deduced from man’s relation to the universe, or what might be called the universal nature of things. He is taken out of this, and raised to a higher spiritual glory. No longer an animal, however richly endowed, yet bound in the chain of cause and effect, but under the free law of the promise,—living not by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth from the Lord. Child of dust as he is physically, God makes a covenant with him, and thus gives him more than a natural right,—a legal or forensic right—making him a son, an heir of glory and immortality. Man has an understanding with his Maker; he is elevated to a platform on which the finite and infinite personality, the finite and infinite intelligence, converse together, and become parties in the same voluntary, spiritual transaction. True it is, that in the Bible even natural law is sometimes called a covenant, as in Jer. 33:20, 25, but in such cases the language is evidently figurative, and derived, by way of analogy, from the higher idea. With man it is a real covenant, a convening, or coming together, of the Divine and human mind. The transaction belongs to a higher world. It brings in a higher class of ideas. In nature, and natural relations, there are forces, gravities, attractions, affinities, or, as we approach its department of life and sentiency (though still nature), there are appetites, instincts, susceptibilities, having some appearance of freedom, yet still bound fast under the fatality of cause and effect; in the covenant, on the other hand, there are parties, promises, agreements, oaths, conditions, imperatives, fulfilments, forfeitures, penalties, rewards. In the tendency of our modern ethics to become converted into a system of physics—making all duty to consist in the study and observance of natural law—we lose sight of this higher glory of positive law, covenant, or promise; we fail to see how it is the very dignity of the human soul, that, unlike the animal, it can, through faith, be in this forensic or covenant relation to the universal Lawgiver. The opposite of this is the tendency, now so common, to place the relations between God and man on the general basis of “the nature of things,” and to determine the human place therein as made out by science or philosophy, in distinction from, if not in opposition to, that express revelation which is itself a carrying out of the covenant-idea. When carefully examined, the former process will be found to be a tracing of man’s obligation to the universe, rather than to God the free, personal, sovereign lawgiver of the universe.

The word covenant is not in the first three chapters of Genesis, but the spirit of the word is there, and the term itself is expressly predicated of the transactions there recorded when referred to in other parts of the Old Testament; see Hos. 6:7. Immediately after the inspiration that made the human creation, we find this language of con-vening, of mutual intelligence, showing that God is now speaking to a supernatural being, and in a style different from that which had been used in the commands to nature. The expression הֲקִמוֹתִי אֶת בְּרִיתִיGen. 6:18, “I will establishMYcovenant, אתָּךְ withTHEE” (literally, I will make it stand), evidently implies something preceding that had been impaired—the raising up of something that had fallen down. It was the בְּרִית עוֹלָם of Is. 24:5, or covenant of eternity, originally made with man as an immortal being, and itself an evidence of his designed immortality; or, as it may be rendered, world-covenant, intended to last through the world or æon of humanity; or it may have that still higher sense of the covenant made “before the foundations of the world” with him who was to be the second Adam, and whose delight, during the æons of creation (see Prov. 8:31), was “with the sons of men” who were to crown it all. The remarks of that profound critic and philosopher, Maimonides, on this expression, are very noteworthy. He regards בְּרִית, as from its very form, in the construct state (like רֵאשִׁית), and where there is no other expressed, the word with which it is in regimen is עוֹלָם or עֹלָמִים, being thus equivalent to בְּרִית עֹלָמִים, the covenant of eternities, “because, before we were, he commanded that it should stand, שתקום, and be forever with the righteous.”

The word בְּרִית has been derived from the sense of cutting in ברא, as Lange explains it, but there is mother verb of cutting (כרת) usually joined with it, making the common phrase exactly like the Homeric ὅρκια τάμνειν, derived, doubtless, from the same idea of dividing the victim by whose death the covenant was made. It is better, therefore, to derive it, as Maimonides seems to do, from the creative sense of ברא. It is making a new thing in the moral and spiritual world, as the physical creations were in the world of matter; and so, says this Jewish commentator, בריתי כמו בריאתי, “my covenant, as it were, my creating.”

There is no religion without this idea of a personal covenant with a personal God, and, therefore, all such views as those of Comte, Mill, and Spencer are, for all moral or religious purposes, wholly atheistical. They acknowledge no personality in God; they cannot use the personal pronouns in speaking of him or to him. It may, in truth, be said that all religion is covenant, even when religion appears in its most perverted form. It has some appearance of being in the very etymology of the Latin word. Cicero makes it from relego—religiosi ex relegendo—but a better derivation would seem to be from religo, to bind, bind back,—religio is a positive bond (higher than nature) between straying, fallen man, and his Maker. We find traces of this idea of covenant even in the heathen religions, as in בַּעַל בְּרִית Baal berith, mentioned Judg. 8:33, whom the children of Israel, in their apostasy, took instead of their covenant Jehovah. It seems to characterize certain peculiar epithets which the Greeks attached to Ζεύς, their supreme God. It was the mode they took to intimate more of a personal relation between the deity and the worshipper than was afforded by the general or merely natural view. Or it denoted a greater nearness of the divine in certain peculiarly sacred relations which men held to each other, as though imparting to them a more religious sanction. Thus Ζεὺς ξένιος, who calls specially to account for the violation of hospitality. More closely still suggesting the idea of the Hebrew covenant God, or that of the Phœnician Baal berith, is the Greek epithet Ζεὺς ὅρκιος, Zeus, the God of the oath, as the special punisher of perjury, or violation of covenant, whether as against himself, or as a breach of covenants men make with each other, as though there were a special guilt in it, greater than that of any natural injustice, or ordinary impiety. The very essential idea of the oath itself is that of covenant, and it is, therefore, that part of religion to which our politico-naturalists exhibit the most deadly opposition. The same idea may be traced in other epithets, such as Ζεὺς ἐταιρεῖος, the God who avenges treachery to friendship, as though the obligation of fidelity were grounded on a special and mutual relation to something higher and more positive than mere human likings. Similar to this Ζεὺς ἐφέστιος, the protector of the hearth. So also Ζεὺς ἑρκεῖος (Jupiter Hercëus), the God of the family enclosure, or of the sacred domestic relations, as founded on positive institution, transcending any mere natural or individualizing rights that may be claimed against it. These precious ideas are akin to that of covenant as the everlasting ground of the church. The divine covenant, the בְּרִית עוֹלָם, was confirmed with Noah, to be transmitted by him as the root of all that is most sacred in the relations of man to God, or to his fellow-men.—T. L.]


1. The flood makes a division between the Adamic antiquity and the primitive time—between the first (throughout symbolical) and the second symbolical-traditional primitive religion, as well as between the anomistic and the nomistic or superstitious forms of heathenism. In like manner is there a division between the old (antediluvian) antiquity and the postdiluvian or the Noachian human race. It is a type of the historical incisions, epochs, and periods that follow.

2. The flood was indeed a sin-flood (Sündflut), or rather, a flood of judgment, and as the first world-historical-judgment, it was a type of all following judgments, especially of the world’s last judgment.

3. The flood is a synthesis of judgment and deliverance, forming a type for every following synthesis of judgment and deliverance, especially for the double effect (of judgment and deliverance) of the exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt—for the middle point of the world’s history, the cross of Christ, and for the final deliverance brought out by the final judgment at the world’s end. To the judgment by water corresponds the judgment by fire as the higher potency of judgment; to the baptism by water corresponds the baptism by fire as the second potency, or the power of baptism for salvation. Thus the judgments are deliverances, inasmuch as they separate the salvable from the lost, or incurable; and so the salvations are judgments, inasmuch as they are ever connected with some separation of this kind.

4. The universal tradition, among men, of the great flood, and its ethical significance, stands in connection with the universal expectation of humanity that at the world’s end there will be a world-judgment.

5. The flood at the same time fact and symbol. See the previous remarks, No. 3.

6. The meaning of the name Noah. See the Exegetical annotations, No. 1.

7. The announcement of the flood, or the wholesome destruction, as a means of salvation from the incurable corruption. “The end of all flesh,” not so much a judgment of condemnation as a remedy against it (see 1 Pet. 3:19; Gen 4:6). Thereby does the expression: “the end of all flesh,” denote the fact that the immanent judgment of natural corruption has for its consequence the positive judgment. “Wherever the carcass, there are the eagles gathered together.”

8. The right belief in the judgment is, at the same time, a belief in the deliverance. A presentiment of the flood and a preparation of the ark went together.

9. The plan of the ark was imparted to Noah by God. The Spirit of God is the author of all ideal or pattern forms of the kingdom of God. So, for example, the tabernacle, or ark of the testimony.—The building of the ark was not merely a means of salvation for Noah and his race, but also a sermon of repentance for his cotemporaries.

10. The ark was not a ship (in form), but yet it was the primitive ship of humanity; God’s teaching men navigation, his word of blessing upon it, and a symbol of deliverance in all perils of the deep.

11. Noah was not only saved, but also the savior or the mediator of the divine salvation for his house. He was a type of Christ, the absolute mediator.

12. Noah was comprehended with his household in the one baptism of the flood. Already in Noah’s history there conspicuously appears the theocratic significance of the household (Matt. 10).

13. The religion of revelation is alone the religion of covenant. It alone has the idea of the covenant. On this grand and peculiar feature, compare BÜCHNER’S “ Concordance,” art. Bund. But it is a covenant religion because it is the religion of a personal God, and of his relation to personal men (see the Exegetical annotations, No. 2). Here we are reminded of the covenant-theory of Cocceius. The divine covenant is truly a divine instituting, not merely a contract (נָתַן בְּרִית he gave a covenant); but this instituting is also a covenanting. We obliterate the personal ethical relation between the personal God and personal man, when we obliterate the covenant idea. This has special force in respect to the sacraments of the covenant. Through them man receives the promises of God, which he appropriates along with the obligations of the faith. This applies to the tree of life given to Adam, to the rainbow of Noah, to the stars of heaven as shown to Abraham, and to circumcision, to the passover of Moses, as well as to the Christian sacraments. When we leave out of view the obligations of the covenant, as, for example, that of the initiation of children in baptism, we profane the covenant (compare BAUMGARTEN, p. 109).

14. The difference between the clean and the unclean animals (see the Exeget. annot.). The contrast between the cattle and the wild beasts is not the only thing determined, but, at the same time, the contrast between an animally pure, and an animally impure, physiologically-physical, disposition (see LANGE’S Leben Jesu, , vol. ii. p. 662). Correctly does KEIL remark (p. 252), that the reception by pairs of “all flesh” into the ark, may be reduced to a certain relativity. The measure, however, of this relativity cannot be particularly determined: for the supposition of EBRARD (p. 85), that the beasts of the field that were upon the earth after the flood did not come out of the ark, but were originated anew by God, has no support in our history.


See the Exegetical notes, and the Fundamental Theological Ideas. The great flood as a miraculous sign of God: 1. In nature, as pointing back to the creation, and forward to the end and renovation of the world. 2. In the world of man; pointing backward to the fall, forward to the last apostasy. 3. In the sphere of the divine righteous government; a copying of the first judgment of death, a prefiguration of the end of the world. 4. In the kingdom of grace; pointing backward to the first deliverance in the first judgment, forward to the completed salvation in the complete and final judgment.—The world of that day an object of displeasure in the eyes of God.—Noah’s righteousness of faith.—Noah, standing alone in the generation of his day.—In the time of greatest corruption, there are the chosen of God—Noah comprehended with his house.—A witness for the significance of the family in the kingdom of God and in the Church.—The covenant of God with Noah in its significance, and the unfolding of this covenant.—The covenant of God with Noah a covenant of salvation for himself and his house, and for the preservation of the human race. The direction for building the ark, or the sacred archetypes of the kingdom of God.—The ark in its figurative significance: 1. An image of a house consecrated to God, 2. of the Church of Christ, 3. of the Christian state.—As the ark floats on in the great flood, so does the ship of the Church sail on amid the storm-judgments of the world’s history.—As the ark never goes under, so never sinks the Church.—The ark a sermon: 1. In its own time, 2. for all times, 3. for the last times, and especially, 4. for our times. Ham, too, was in the ark, so also the unclean beasts (in opposition to the Donatist extravagances).—In the one person, Noah, were both his house and his future race delivered; therefore is Noah a type of Christ (s. v. 18): “Go thou into the ark,” thou and thine house, that is, thy sons. Noah as the middle member of the line between Enoch and Abraham (with reference to Heb. 11).—The distinction between the pure and the impure animals, or, that which is proper for an offering to God is also proper for the enjoyment of men.—How the instinct of safety brings together man and beast into the asylum of deliverance.—Through death to life.—The judgment of God on the first world in its still enduring efficacy: 1. as a sign of light for the understanding of the course of the world; 2. as an everlasting sign of warning; 3. as a sign of salvation full of the blessing of salvation. The humanity baptized to humaneness. The heart in the covenant of Elohim is the covenant of Jehovah. Through faith is humanity saved.

STARKE, Gen 6:9: The ground of Noah’s piety was grace on the side of God, Gen 7:8, but this was obtained, in no way, through his chastity, as the Papists allege, on account of which he remained five hundred years unmarried. Grace went before all his works. On his side, faith in the Messiah was the ground of piety—faith in the God of the promise, and his word of promise. He proved it in four ways: 1. He was possessed by a holy fear, in which he held for true the threatening of God in respect to the flood, although the event was yet far off; 2. he prepared the ark according to the divine command, although he had to contend with the ridicule of the Cainites on account of the judgment being so long delayed; 3. he preached righteousness to others (2 Pet. 2:5), whilst, 4. he himself walked irreproachably.—Noah walks with God.—What God says to Noah has three parts; the first is the announcement of the flood, the second the command to build the ark, the third a promise relating to the preservation of his life.

LISCO: Noah’s life deliverance includes in it that of the whole human race; to this also does the covenant of God with Noah have relation in its widest sense.—CALWER, Handbuch: Noah, with those that belong to him, is to bring from the old into the new world, not merely naked life, but the pure worship of God, to which the offerings pertained.—SCHRÖDER, v. 13: God speaks to Noah in his relation to him as creator and preserver. And so his covenant with him has in view the whole human race. The whole of creature-life is embraced in this voyage from the old to the new world.

CALVIN, Gen 7:6: Not without cause is the statement of Noah’s age repeated; for among other faults of old age, it renders men sluggish and obstinate; therefore Noah’s faith comes more clearly into view, in the fact that even at such an age it did not fail him.


1 [For a more direct and significant mention by Plato of the flood, see the Dialogue, De Legibus, lib. iii. p. 677, A. B., where he supposes that there may have been many such catastrophes in the immense past time, but speaks specially of one as well known—ταύτην τὴν τῷ ΚΑΤΑΚΑΥΣΜΩ ποτὲ γενομένην. After which he speculates upon the condition of those who may have escaped, and their subsequent culture.—T. L.]

2 [The description of Ovid (although he takes the Greek names) is nearer to the Scripture account than that of Pindar or Apollodorus, and it may be inferred that he had access to other traditional sources, Hebrew perhaps, or Syrian. The moral ground in him is more prominent; and the “righteous man” who “found grace” is brought out with a clearer emphasis—

Non illo melior quisquam, nec amantior æqui

Vir fuit, aut illa metuentior ulla Deorum.

His manner, too, of describing the subsidence of the waters, and the becoming visible of the mountains, is strikingly like that of the Scriptures, and makes it not extravagant to suppose that he may have had some knowledge of the Hebrew account, and its graphic language, נִרְאוּ רָאשֵׁי הֶהָרִים.

Flumina subsidunt; colles exire videntur;

Surgit humus; crescunt loca decrescentibus undis;

Postque diem longam nudata cacumina montium.

“All the high hills under the whole heaven were covered.” The Latin poet gives the same optical appearance, though in different language:

Jamque mare et tellus nullum discrimen habebant;

Omnia pontus erant; deerant quoque litora ponto.—T. L.]

3[Lange tells us (see p. 293), that Sündflut did not originally mean in German a sin-deluge, but there is no other rendering that will preserve his intended, contrast.—T. L.]

4[The etymology of Delitzsch cannot be sustained, as no such formation can be grammatically made from אוב. The reasons Rödiger gives for its Egyptian origin are inconclusive, and if something like it existed in the old Egyptian, that would not prove that it had not come into it from the still older language of Shem and Noah. Fuerst regards it as Shemitic, from תָּבָה, to which he gives the sense excavare, hence hollowness and capacity—cognate to the Latin tuba, taberna. Kimchi makes it from תָּב, but this is not at all easy. The word is doubtless the one used at the time,—a peculiar archaic term for a very unusual thing, like מַבּוּל, the term for the flood itself,—though afterwards transferred to any smaller vessel. It is not likely that it would be ever lost, or another used for it by way of translation, in any subsequent version of the tradition. It might be conjectured to be cognate to the Syriac ܛܘܦ redundavit, supernatavit (Heb. צוף), or the Arabic طفا, elatus fuit supra aquam, were it not that the change of ב for פ is so very rare a thing in Hebrew, although they are letters of the same organ. It may be difficult to trace it to any Hebrew root afterwards in common use; but that the word is Shemitic is rendered almost certain from its being so constant in all the branches of that family. Thus the Chaldaic תֵּיבוּתָא (the Targum word for תֵּבָה), the Arabic تـابـو ة, Æthiopic ታቦት, and even the Maltese tebut. The Syriac Version, instead of the old Shemitic root, uses ܦܐܒܗܰܬܐܳ, or ܦܒܗܰܬܐܳ, which is simply the Greek κιβωτός. Gesenius regards the word as Shemitic, though he expresses some doubt about it.—T. L.]

5 [The difficulty which some have in respect to the magnitude of the ark, and the greatness of the work, arises from overlooking the extreme simplicity of its structure, the length of time allowed, the physical constitution of the fabricators, and the facilities for obtaining the materials, which, it is easy to suppose, may have existed in abundance in their near vicinity. Four men of primitive gigantic strength, to whom the architects of Stonehenge, the raisers of Cyclopean walls (structures found in Greece and in other parts of Europe, which, to our modem eyes, seem almost superhuman), the lifters and drawers of the immense stones of the pyramids, and the diggers of the deep granite caverns of Upper Egypt, were junior and inferior,—four such men (to say nothing now of any other probable help) with iron tools, simple perhaps, yet well adapted to cutting, splitting, and hewing (see Gen. 4:22), and surrounded by forests of the gopher-pine, firm and durable, yet light and easy for working—could certainly have built such an ark in much less time than is allowed for it in the Scripture. It is nothing incredible, nothing even strange, that they should have laid such a flooring, 300 cubits long (450 feet), and 50 wide, and that they should have raised upon it walls and a roof 30 cubits high,—that they should have strengthened the whole with wedges, spikes, and girding timbers (see the construction of Ulysses’ Schedia, Odys. v. 243–261),

γόμφοισιν δ’ ἄρα τήνγε καὶ ἁρμονίῃͅσιν ἄρηρεν—making it like a large dry-dock rather than a ship—and then have rendered it water-tight by a copious use of the rosin and bitumen that abounded in that region. What in there incredible in it, or even strange, we say? Add to this the considerations mentioned by Lange, the feeling of necessity, the conviction of a divine impulse, together with the increased vigor that ever comes from the consciousness of a great work, and the difficulties which at first appear so startling are immediately diminished, if they do not wholly disappear.

There is more force in the objection arising from the stowage of the ark, if we take the common estimate of the animals. But here, again, everything depends upon the theory with which we start. Throughout the account the several alls, as already remarked in the text-notes, become universal or specific, widen or contract, according to our prejudgment of the universality or partiality of the flood itself. See remarks on this in the Excursus, p. 318.

Had the narrator been more guarded and specific in his language, it would have justly impaired his credit. It would have been an affectation of knowledge he could not have possessed. In giving his divine convictions, as derived from visions, or in any other manner, he presents them according to his conceptions as dependent on his knowledge of things around him. Greater care in his language would have looked like distrust in himself—like an anticipation of cavil, and an attempt to get credit for accuracy. And this is the peculiar character of the narrative. Precise is it even to minuteness in things that fall directly within the observations of sense; here the narrator gives us numbers, dates, and even cubits of measurement; whilst he is general, even to the appearance of hyperbole, in what was beyond such range. It is the characteristic of a truthful style,—that is, truthful to the conception and the emotion.—T. L.

6 [In interpreting the expression, “to a cubit shalt thou finish it above, וְאֶל אַמָּה תְּכַלֶּנָּה מִלְמַעְלָה, much depends on getting the right sense of the preposition, or adverb, מִלְמַעְלָה. The Hebrew language, so tense in other parts of speech, rejoices in double, triple, and even quadruple forms of its particles. Thus, עַל upon, מֵעַל above, מֵעְלָה with local ה, upward, לְמַעְלָה to upward, or to above, מִלְמַעְלָה from above to above. Thus, in Gen. 7:20, גברו המים the waters prevailed מלמעלה from higher to higher, from the top of the mountain to the summit of the flood, or in the other direction, as in Josh. 3:13, 16. There is an exactness here which is not to be disregarded: from the eave of the ark up toward the ridge of its roof, thou shalt finish it to a cubit; that is, leaving a cubit unfinished, open, or unclosed. There is also an emphasis in the Piel verb תְּכַלֵּנָּה, especially if we regard its objective pronoun as referring to the ark itself, or the roof of the ark. Thou shalt make it complete, all except a cubit space which was to be left. It is not easy to understand how this vacant cubit could be in the side, or at the eave. In the other way we get the idea which would seem to be given by Aben Ezra, that “the roof of the ark was triangular, כִּדְמוּת מְשֻׁלָּש, (that is, in its section) with a sharp top, וְרֹאשׁוֹ חַד, and so also its corners or angles, מַקְצוּעוֹתָיו, so that it could not turn upside down (לֹא תִּתְהַפֵּך), whilst its door was on one side.” That is, the roof was not flat, but made by two planes, more or less inclined. “To a cubit shalt thou finish it,” That is, it was to be left open (or unfinished) on the ridge, to the breadth of a cubit extending the whole length. This was the צֹהַר (Zohar), a word whose strong primary sense is light, splendor, the light of heaven, or of the meridian sun; like the similar Arabic words, ضاءَ, or ضكاءٌ. So it was emphatically to the ark. Their light was from above. This צֹהַר showed the open sky, or heaven, through its whole length, like a meridian line, and this suggests, and is suggested by, that other use of the word in the dual, צָהֳרַיִם, for noon, or the midday light (see Gen. 43:16, 25; Ps. 37:6; Cant. 1:7, etc.), like another Arabic word, ظهى, still more closely resembling it. Its dual form in Hebrew denotes exact division, or the noon splendor when it divides the day (meridies, μεσημβρινός), or the time the Greeks called σταθερὸν ἦμαρ, when the day appears stationary, or evenly balanced. It may be also said that the Hebrew dual denotes not only what includes two things, but likewise what is exactly between two things. As for example, אִישׁ הַבֵּנַּיִם 1 Sam. 17:4, 23, an epithet applied to Goliath. It is the dual of בַּיִן, as though we should say, a man of betweens. The LXX. have well rendered it ὁ ἀνὴρ ὁ μεσαῖος, and the Vulgate, most absurdly, vir spurius. It denotes one who comes out, as a champion, in the middle space between two armies, like Homer’s ἐπὶ πτολέμοιο γεφύρῃ, the bridge, or ridge, of the battle. The Hebrew and the Syriac ascribe number to these prepositions, and to this mode of conceiving is also due the double use of בין, as in Gen. 1:4, “between the light and between the darkness.”

The צֹהַר, thus regarded, was a dividing, meridional line to the ark itself. It very probably served, also, as a means of knowing the astronomical meridian, when the solar light fell perpendicular, showing the noon, or the shadows falling in the line of the ark’s longitude, helped to ascertain the course. The same information might have been obtained from observing the line of stars that appeared through it at night. In this way it may have imperfectly answered some of the purposes of a dial, or chronometer, and of a compass. Such a view will not appear extravagant, when we bear in mind that the observation of the stars for time purposes, annual and diurnal, was peculiar to the earliest periods, and that the very names now given to the constellations are lost in the most remote antiquity. The necessity of some such guide for the year and its seasons, made these early men more familiar with the actual aspect of the heavens than many in modern times who learn astronomy solely from books. The צֹהַר was evidently something different from the חַלּוֹן, also rendered window, Gen. 8:6. We need give ourselves no difficulty about the covering of the צֹהַר, when it rained. Noah, doubtless, found some method for that purpose, whenever it was needed. The Vulgate rendering of Gen. 6:16, comes the nearest to the views stated, although it does not exactly express them: Fenestram in area facies, et in cubito consummabis summitatem ejus.—T. L.]

And it came to pass after seven days, that the waters of the flood were upon the earth.

The Flood and the Judgment

CHAPTER 7:10–24

10And it came to pass after seven days [literally, seven of days] that the waters of the flood were upon the earth. 11In the sixth hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up,7 and the windows8 of heaven were opened. 12And the rain9 [גשם, heavy rain, imber, cloud-bursting] was upon the earth forty days and forty nights. 13In the selfsame day10 entered Noah, and Shem, and Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah’s wife, and the three wives of his sons with them, into the ark. 14They, and every beast11 after his kind, and all the cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind, and every fowl after his kind, every bird of every sort. 15And they went in unto Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh wherein is the breath of life. 16And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him; and the Lord shut him in. 17And the flood was forty days upon the earth; 18and the waters increased and bare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth. And the waters prevailed, and were increased greatly upon the earth; and the ark went 19[drove here and there] upon the face of the waters. And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills that were under the whole heaven were covered. 20Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered. 21And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man: 22All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land. 23And every living thing was destroyed [Lange reads יִמַח in Kal, and renders, he destroyed] which was Upon the face of the ground,12 both man and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth; an Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark. 24And the waters prevailed upon the earth a hundred and fifty days.


1. The Time of the Flood.—The beginning of the flood is first determined in reference to the age of Noah. It was in the sixth hundredth year of Noah’s life, that is, in the year when the six hundredth year of his life would be completed. The number 600 appears here to have a symbolical meaning, as also the week for his going into the ark. Six is the number of toil and labor. Next there is fixed the date of the beginning: on the seventeenth day of the second month. According to Knobel, must this date be reckoned from the first day of the six hundredth year of Noah’s life. For this there appears no ground here, if we assume that the narrator had in view a known and determined numbering of the months. The question is this—whether the months are to be determined according to the theocratic year, which the Jews kept after the Exodus from Egypt, and which began with Nisan in April (so that the beginning of the flood would have fallen in the month Ijar, or May), or whether it was after the œconomic years’ reckoning, according to which Tisri (September and October) made the end of the year (Exod. 23:16; 34:32). Rabbi Joshua, Lepsius, and others, are for the theocratic time-reckoning. According to this, the flood began in the month that followed Nisan. Keil and Knobel, on the contrary, are for the œconomic reckoning, according to which the second month would have fallen in our October or November. “Josephus (Antiq. i. 3, 3) has in mind the month named by the Hebrews Marhezvan, which follows after Tisri; so the Targum of Jonathan, as well as Jarchi and Kimchi. The continuous increase, then, or swelling of the waters from the 17th of the second month, to the 17th of the seventh month, a period of five months, or 150 days, would fall in the winter months.” Knobel. Instead of this, we hold that in a cosmical catastrophe, such as the flood appears to have been, the regard paid to the season of the year becomes fallacious; and then we are not here to think of any usual climatic events, such as took place in the case of the Egyptian plagues, though miraculously effected. It appears, therefore, to us, to have no bearing on the case, that the Euphrates and the Tigris fall towards the end of May, and in August and November reach their lowest point, or the consideration that, for the ancients, the winter season was a mournful time of desolation, etc. Knobel. It would seem from Gen 8:22, that the flood broke through all the ordinary constitution of nature. In the first place must we endeavor to set ourselves right with respect to the connection in the dates as given in our narration. On the 17th day of the second month, then, came the flood, and it rained, from that time on, forty days and forty nights. The consequence was the height of water in the flood which continued for 150 days (Gen 7:24). Then began the waters to fall, and, on the 17th day of the seventh month, the ark rested upon the mountains of Ararat. Thus far five months have passed. On the first day of the 10th month, that is, after about eight months, the tops of the mountains appeared. Finally, in the six hundred and first year of Noah’s age, in the first day of the first month, the ground was becoming dry, and on the seven-and-twentieth day of the next month, it had become wholly dry (Gen 8:14). From the statement that this ensued in the six hundred and first year of Noah’s age, it cannot follow that his birthday fell on New Year, but only that about one year had elapsed. The extreme end of the flood, however, was ten days after the full year which the flood had continued. Knobel conjectures that the flood was originally reckoned according to the solar year of 365 days, but that the Hebrew narrator, reckoning by lunar years, transposes the account to one year and eleven days (p. 81). That would make the solar year to have been before the lunar year, which seems to us impossible. It would seem to aid, to some extent, in getting a right view of the times of the year, to bear in mind that the dove which Noah let fly the second time brought back a fresh olive-leaf in its mouth (Gen 8:11). That was probably forty days, and fourteen days, after the first day of the tenth month, and therefore, at all events, towards the end of the eleventh month. If we must regard this fresh olive-leaf as belonging to the spring season, then the beginning of the flood may have well fallen eleven months before, or in the time of May. But this conclusion is insecure, because the olive-leaf, in its budding, is not confined to the spring. For the opposite view, Delitzsch (p. 257) presents something that is specially worthy of notice, namely, that the observation of the earlier œconomic reckoning of time continued among the Jews after the introduction of the theocratic computation. If, however, the flood began with the autumnal rainy season, it must have ceased exactly as the rainy season of the next year commenced. In regard to the reckoning of the year, Knobel remarks that the Hebrews reckoned it according to lunar months, 354 days, other nations by solar months, making 365 days,—for example, the Egyptians and the Persians, and also, in astronomical matters, the Chaldæans.

In regard to the world-year of the flood, the citations of Delitzsch (p. 244) are worthy of attention. The mythologically enlarged numbering of the Babylonians, Delitzsch and others, reduce to the 2500th year before Christ. In respect to the day when the flood commenced, the Babylonian legend gives the 15th of Dasio.13 This statement favors the Bible reckoning of the year from Nisan (that is, according to the theocratic reckoning), not from Tisri. For a table of the different monthly suns, see DELITZSCH, p. 246.

2. Gen 7:10–16. The opening of the Flood the shutting up of the Ark.—All the fountains of the great deep were broken up.—The Niphal or passive form of בקע is to be noticed. It denotes violent changes in the depths of the sea, or in the action of the earth,—at all events, in the atmosphere (see the preceding Section). תהום, the deep of the sea, whose fountains (Job 38:16; Prov. 8:28) or origins are conditioned by the heights and depths of the earth itself. This fact is placed first. The rain appears to be mentioned as a consequence. “Similar views of water in the interior of the earth found place among the Greeks and Romans; from this, too, many sought to explain the ebb and flow of the tides.” Knobel. Only, here there is expressed no distinct view respecting the fountains of the sea-deep.14 The expression, too, “the windows of heaven,” is not to be too literally pressed.—In the selfsame day entered Noah, etc.—That is, by the time of the breaking out of the flood was the difficult embarkation accomplished—happily accomplished. חַיָּה denotes here the wild beast. All birds, all winged creatures, Knobel takes as synonymous. But since the kind is named before, there would seem to be intended a subdivision of the kind, and that what is said relates to birds in a narrower and in a wider sense.—As God had commanded him, and the Lord shut him in.—Here most distinctly presents itself the contrasting relation of these two names. Elohim gives him the prescription in relation to the pairs of animals for the preservation of the animal world, but Jehovah, the covenant God, shuts him in, that is, makes sure the closing of the ark for the whole voyage, and for the salvation of his people. This inclusion was, at the same time, an exclusion of the race devoted to death.

3. Gen 7:17–24.—The full Development of the Flood and its Effect, the Destruction of every Living Thing. And the flood was forty days upon the earth.—The first forty days denote the full development of the flood, which lifted up the ark and set it in motion. The advance of the flood is measured by reference to the ark. It is lifted up; it is driven on. With the waves she sails, and over the high hills. The last is said in a general acceptation, as a measurement of the height of the flood by the height of the hills. The estimate that seems to be expressed by saying, “fifteen cubits did the waters prevail over the high hills,” would neither give sense if taken literally, since the high hills have very different heights, nor could it mean that the flood was fifteen cubits above the highest mountain on the earth. But since now Noah could hardly have sailed directly over the highest mountain of the earth, much less have known the fact, we must suppose that this exact estimate was imparted to himself, or to some later writer, through direct revelation—an idea which is little in harmony with the true character of a divine revelation. We must, therefore, suppose that the epic-symbolical view according to which the flood rose high over all the mountains of the earth, became connected with the tradition that Noah found out the measure denoted, by some kind of reference to the mountain on which the ark settled. KNOBEL: “The representation may amount to this: since the ark drew about fifteen cubits water, its first settling on Ararat in the falling of the flood would give that measure. The 150 days, within which the destruction was accomplished, include the forty days of storm at the beginning. According to Gen 8:2, the rain continued all through these 150 days. Still must we distinguish its more moderated continuance from the first storm of rain in the forty days.” In respect to the universality of the flood, see Keil, whose judgment about it is similar to that of Ebrard, whereas Delitzsch is unwilling to insist upon it as an article of faith, especially the geographical universality (p. 260). Compare the preceding Section.


1. The threatenings of God are as certain as his promises; for God’s word is certain. As sure, however, as is the word of God, so sure is faith in its holy fear, its holy confidence and joy.

2. As God has provided help and deliverance for men by means of exposed infants, or abandoned orphans, so also through old men, as in the case of Abraham, Moses, Noah. The like wonders happen in all times.

3. When the necessity is greatest, then is the help at the nearest, and the highest. When sin (and the flood) become most powerful, then grace, and the miracles of grace, become most mighty for deliverance.

4. The safe embarkation of a little world in the ark before the breaking out of the flood. A wonderful instinct, a still more wonderful procession, a wonderful peace as the consequence of a wonderful terror.

5. The animal-world in the ark, type and symbol of the animal-world in general: the mention of man and woman, man and wife, presents prominently the fact that the ark was to become the point of departure for new generations.

6. Jehovah shut him in.—The innermost motive for the salvation of every living thing is God’s covenant with his own. Christ is here the head and star of history.

7. The ark, with its souls, in the waters of the great flood (sintflut), which was at the same time a sin-flood (sündflut), a destroying flood of wrath and judgment; in like manner Moses in the ark upon the Nile, and Christ on the cross and in the grave.—There are moments in which the kingdom of God seems lost, or in the most fearful peril, and yet is it all the more securely hidden and protected in the truthfulness of God himself, in the everlasting love he has for his people.

8. The terror of judgment in the flood immensely great, and yet not equal to the terror of the last judgment-day (1 Pet. 3:4).

9. The waters of the flood as a symbol of the judgment of redemption, of the baptism at the world’s end, and generally, of the passage of believers with Christ through death to life (Ps. 69:77), is to be distinguished from the waters of the sea as the symbol of peoples and nations, their births and revolutions, as compared with the kingdom of God (Ps 93; Dan. 7; Rev. 13:1).

10. The most fearful sorrows are measured by comparing them with the height of water in the flood, and the hardest days of sorrow are reckoned as the days of the deluge.

11. The symbolic of the forty days. Four is the number of the world, ten the number of the completed development. It therefore denotes the fulness of the world-times, and of the world’s judgment.

12. God’s dominion as great as God himself.


See the preceding.—The embarkation into the ark.—Jehovah’s shutting in.—The measured deeps of terror, the numbered days of trouble.—The ark as the cradle of the new human race rocked by the billows: 1. a frail chest, an infinitely precious content; 2. fearfully threatened, securely protected; trembling in the deep abyss of waters, lifted high on the wave of consecration.—The help of God in the floods of distress.—The watery grave: 1. deep for the human eye; not too deep for the eye of God.—The sea, too, shall give up her dead.—Noah’s faith; its grandeur: as in contrast, 1. to the universal apostasy, 2. to the impending judgment, 3. to its once great task and labor, 4. to the sport of the world, 5. to the terrors of the flood, 6. to the terrors of the animal world inclosed with him—the ark a lion’s den.—Noah in the floating ark, and Moses. Both, though seeming lost, preserved for the greatest things.

STARKE: As God suffered the waters to increase gradually, so had the ungodly time for repentance; a thing which may, perhaps, have happened in the case of many, so that the soul was saved in the destruction of the flesh. According to this, it would be false what the Jews say of the men who perished in the flood, that they have neither part in the eternal life, nor in the resurrection of the dead,—a conclusion which they draw from an improper interpretation of Gen 6:3. It may be easily believed that the fish in great part died, not because the waters were seething hot, as the Rabbins say, but because, with the fresh water, there mingled itself the salt, which is contrary to the nature of many kinds of fish.

LISCO: God shut Noah in; so was the pressure into the ark prevented as against the godless, whilst Noah was made safe.

GERLACH: The clean beasts. Before their use as food they were offered in sacrifice, devoted to God; partly because in each enjoyment thanks should be offered to God, and partly because thereby even the enjoyment itself becomes sanctified.

CALWER, Handbuch: The first judgment of the world through water, the last through fire (2 Pet. 8:6).—So sinks the old world in its grave. Jehovah, the trusted, shuts him in. So, too, watches over us the shepherd of Israel, who slumbers not nor sleepeth.—SCHRÖDER: There seest thou that all the words of God have the power of an oath (Val. Herberger).—A night of death reigns over a world abandoned to its doom. Because the earth was corrupt, morally, the Lord destroys it—(that is, gives it up to physical corruption). So Luther. To say the fountains were broken up, and the flood-gates were opened, is a biblical mode of speech whereby is expressed the fact, that the waters were not suffered to flow in their wonted manner (Calvin).—The Lord preserved the ark and Noah therein as a treasure (Verleb. Bibel).


7[Gen 7:11.—נִבְקְעוּ, a very strong word. Sudden cleaving; used of the earthquake or earth-cleaving, Numb. 16:31; ZaGen 14:4. Hence the noun בִּקְעָה, a valley, as though the Hebrews had some notion of valleys having their origin in fissures or violent separations of the earth. Comp. Hab. 3:9, נְהָרוֹת תְּבַקַּצ אָרֶץ, “Thou didst cleave the earth with rivers”—or floods.—T. L.]

8[Gen 7:11.—אֲרֻבֹּת windows, openings—general sense very clear from parallel passages, such as Is. 60:5 and Eccles. 12:3, though in the latter passage it is used metaphorically of the eyes as the windows of the body. LXX., κ́αταῤῥάκται, Syriac, ܒܿܣܒ̈ܐ, or pourers.—T. L.]

9[Gen 7:12.—גֶּשֶׁם, the very great rain, that which comes down in a body, as it were. מָטָר denotes the common rain, except when this word is joined with it, as in Job 37:6, מְטַר גֶשֶׁם, and in ZaGen 10:1,—when it is intensified. In the Arabic, جشم is never used for the rain, but it keeps the primary sense of magnitude, weight, density, pinguis, crassus.—T. L.]

10[Gen 7:13.—בְּצֶצֶם הַיּוֹם, in ipso die, in that very day. It denotes a statistical particularity, which takes this account entirely out of the legendary or mythical view. It is most exactly true, or it is the boldest of forgeries in every unit and decimal employed in its reckonings.—T. L.]

11[Gen 7:14.—וְכָל חַחַיָּה—וְכָל הָרֶמֶשׂ. It need only be remarked that all the alls, here and elsewhere, in this account, are to be taken as unlimited, or as specific, according to the view we are compelled, from other considerations, to form of the universality or partiality of the flood itself. Elsewhere only the בְּהֵמָה are mentioned, as is noticed by Dr. MURPHY, p. 212, and there is good reason to regard it here as specifically limiting the more general word חיה before it. Their coming to the ark by pairs was evidently supernatural, but this in no respect affects the other question.—T. L.]

12[Gen 7:23.—עַל פְּנֵי הָאֲדָמָה. Rendered in our Version, “on the face of the ground.” Rather, “on the face of the Adamah,” the word, in the chapters before, used for the inhabited territory in distinction from ארץ, as in Gen. 4:14;—ארץ, in that connection, being used for the wide, unknown earth, into which Cain feared he should be driven, as a wanderer and a vagabond. The use of אֲרָמָה here certainly seems to imply some territorial limitation. Even when ארץ occurs, it may be better rendered land, indefinitely, than with that idea of totality which our modern knowledge makes us attach to it. See further on this in the Excursus, at the end of the account.—T. L.]

13[Dasios was the eighth month of the Babylonian and Macedonian year. See the Table of Delitzsch, p. 246.—T. L.]

14The great deep,” תּהוֹם רַבָּה, 7:21. Comp. Gen. 1:2; Prov. 8:27, 28; Job 38:16; Ps. 104:6; Jonah 2:6; Is. 51:10, and other places. Sometimes tehom is joined with ים, and seems to be used as synonymous with the great sea, as in Ps. 104:6; Jonah 2:5; but for the primary idea we must look to Gen. 1:2. In creation, it was all water, or fluid (so conceived). Afterwards the land (the solid) is commanded to appear, and the waters are gathered to one place, מָקוֹם אֶחָר, whether it means the surface sea, or the supposed great abyss beneath. In the poetical parts of the Bible, the conception is that of the earth (the land or ground) as built upon the waters lying below. It was the contrast to the heavens or skies above, as in Prov. 8:28, בְּאַמְּצוֹ שְׁחָקִים מִמָּעַל בַּעַזוֹז עֵינוֹת תִּהוֹם. In regard to all this, it may be said, that the Bible is responsible neither for Neptunian nor Plutonian theories. Facts are given, but they are presented according to the conceptions of the day. Water gushed from the earth, and the writer describes it by saying that the fountains of the tehom rabba, the great deep, were broken up. Aside from the traditional creative account, nothing could have been more natural than the idea that the interior earth, or the space under the earth (whatever notions might have been had of the earth’s shape or support), was a region of water. It was a direct deduction (true or false) from the phenomena of springs and wells,—and that, by a process strictly Baconian. Afterwards, but very early, the sight of volcanoes (see Ps. 104:32) must have given also the idea of interior fire. We know, even yet, hardly any thing about it. Researches on the surface, or shell, of the globe, have given us much curious knowledge as to its progressive surface-formation, and the great periods which it indicates; but beyond this, our knowledge of the vast interior is about as great as that which one who had pierced half through the shell of an egg, would, by such means alone, have obtained of that most curious structure. He might conjecture that there was heat and fluid there, but that would be all. Perhaps it is well that we have so little means of penetrating this vast unknown. We could not rest very securely if we knew all that was going on inside the earth, or had even a glimpse of the surging, boiling, or burning, that may be taking place ten miles, or even ten furlongs, right beneath our feet. There is a tehom rabba there, filled with something that might make a rapid ruin of our earth, if we had nothing to trust to but the unknown nature, and no other insurance against it but our much-lauded science. Our only secure trust is in One in whom we believe, as having a higher than a physical purpose in the continuance of the earth,—one who “binds the floods from overflowing,” and the fires from yet bursting forth.

This conception of the tehom rabba is most graphically presented Gen. 49:25. It is there called הַּחַת תְּהוֹם רֹבֶצֶת, “the abyss couchant below,” like a wild beast crouching down and ready to spring upon his prey, just as in Gen. 4:7 sin is described as רֹנֵץ, ready to spring upon a man at any moment.—In the Arabian tradition the waters are represented as coming out of an oven (the vaulted interior earth), and as being boiling hot. See Koran, Surat 11:41, إِنَ ا جَآء أهْى ُذَـا وَ ذَـا رَ ألتذٌـو ز, “when our command went forth, then boiled the furnace.” This came from the idea of Geysers, or hot springs, and may have had some truth in it, since it does not detract from Scripture to suppose that there may have been other minor facts respecting the flood, preserved in other and independent accounts. Sale says that the Arabians got this from the Jews; and so also Reckendorf states in the Introduction to his Hebrew translation of the Koran, citing from the Talmud (Sanhedrin), but this does not bear them out, since the word רותח, there used, means simply the effervescence or tumultuous boiling motion which Maimonides says came from the violence of the eruption, and not from heat. It is by him, and the Talmud, compared with the violent fermentations and eruptions of sensuality that brought on such an outbursting flood as a fitting judgment; and so says Rabbi Hasada, in the passage quoted from the Sanhedrin: “They corrupted everything (ברותחין), in the boiling sensuality of their transgression, and by the boilings of an all-destroying water wore they judged.” Such a mode of interpretation is peculiarly Rabbinical, but the fact of hot eruptions (like those of the Icelandic geysers) may well have been, or of boiling water, as the Arabian account states it.—T.L.]

Lange, John Peter - Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical

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