Table of Contents
Read/hear the portions: Genesis 8
Rain falls for 40 days and nights, and the waters churn for 150 days more before calming and beginning to recede. Then the ark settles on Mount Ararat, and Noah dispatches a raven, and then a series of doves, “to see if the waters were abated from the face of the earth.” When the ground dries completely God commands Noah to exit the ark and repopulate the earth. Noah builds an altar and offers sacrifices to God. God swears never again to destroy all of mankind because of their deeds.1
Genesis 8 is a straightforward narrative that is largely absent of any significant tension or drama. It provides a bit of a respite between the physical and emotional trauma of the Flood in chapters 6-7 and the familial mischief we will see in chapter 9.
But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the livestock that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided.
God did not forget about the guy on the barge with the floating zoo.
In the Bible, saying “God remembered” is shorthand for “God remembered his promise/covenant.”
Genesis 19:29 – God remembered Abraham
Genesis 30:22 – God remembered Rachael, and God listened to her and opened her womb.
Exodus 3:24 - And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.
Exodus 6:5 Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the people of Israel whom the Egyptians hold as slaves, and I have remembered my covenant.
Here God institutes the evaporative water-cycle.
The Hebrew word for wind and spirit are the same: ruach.
As wind does not directly cause water to subside, a deeper meaning might be that God sent the Holy Spirit to bring order and institute what we might call the laws of nature upon the newly redesigned planet.
We need to remember the context:
Wind and ocean currents would have been entirely new experiences for Noah.
He would soon find himself atop a 17,000’ mountain when before, we presume his environment was more tropical. (think altitude sickness and freezing temperatures/ice).
Perhaps there was lingering seismic activity as the intense weight of water is removed from 1/3 of the earth’s surface.
I’m sure he was a bit unsettled.
The fountains of the deep and the windows of the heavens were closed, the rain from the heavens was restrained, and the waters receded from the earth continually. At the end of 150 days, the waters had abated, and in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat.
The 17th day of the seventh month, would be 17th of Nisan.
Passover is always at sundown on the 14th/15th of Nisan (“between the evenings”)
In AD 32, the 17th day of the month would have been a Sunday.
- Jesus was crucified on the 14th, in the grave for three days, and resurrected on the 17th.
Missler, who supports an AD 32 crucifixion, suggests, “Noah’s ‘new beginning’ on the Plant Earth was on the anniversary – in anticipation – of our ‘new beginning in Christ!”2
We must note that sometimes the name comes after the tradition and not before.
The text says the Ark came to rest in “the mountains of Ararat,” which would indicate that Ararat was a range, not a single peak.
Later, someone comes along and says, “yeah, it happened right here,” and a tradition is born.
We see the same with Mount Moriah in Genesis 22. There is nothing in the text that says Abraham went to Jerusalem; but later tradition places the event there.
This is not to say the tradition is wrong; however. We just admit that we aren’t told from the text the precise location.
Modern Mount Ararat (as in a single peak) is in the Lake Van region of eastern Turkey, near the border with Armenia and Iran.3
17000’ in elevation and is difficult to get to because of the surrounding plains and ridges.
This location is attested several times in antiquity, including by Josephus, but the Gilgamesh flood epic has that ark coming to rest in southern Kurdistan.4
Several expeditions have been attempted with some claiming to find fragments of the ark.
The Divine Narrator made it a point to tell us that the Ark was pitched on the inside as well as the outside.
Normally one only need pitch the outside of a wooden boat.
Pitching both sides suggests a need for preservation.
And the waters continued to abate until the tenth month; in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains were seen. At the end of forty days Noah opened the window of the ark that he had made and sent forth a raven. It went to and fro until the waters were dried up from the earth. Then he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters had subsided from the face of the ground. But the dove found no place to set her foot, and she returned to him to the ark, for the waters were still on the face of the whole earth. So he put out his hand and took her and brought her into the ark with him.
A raven, as a scavenger, is an unclean bird while a dove, as an herbivore, is in the clean category.
The raven had plenty of dead stuff to eat so it didn’t need to return to the ark.
The dove, which has a much shorter and lower flight path, had no option but to return when there was no plant life in close proximity.
Even in our day, a raven has sinister connotations (thanks in large part to Edgar Allen Poe), but throughout the Bible, birds of prey (which are all unclean) seem to represent ministers of Satan.
In the middle of the covenant ceremony between God and Abram, the Narrator adds this little tidbit: “And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away” (Gen 15:11). The suggestion is that Satan is attempting to interfere with the covenant.
In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus describes the first type of seed: “And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them” (Mat 13:4). He then elaborates, “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path” (Mat 13:19).
Perhaps Noah thought “no great loss” if raven #1 never returned to raven #2 to multiply the species. Perhaps mentioning that “it went to and fro until the waters dried” is a way of saying it was still around when Noah released the other animals; therefore, the species was allowed to continue.
We must be fair to the poor raven though. In 1 Kings 17, ravens actually minister to Elijah: “And the ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook” (1Ki 17:6).
We appear to have symmetry:
40 days/nights rain
150 days waters increase
150 days waters abated
40 days waters subsided
Walking In His Dust
“If we have sent someone on a mission, we should treat him kindly even if he is unsuccessful.”5
Eph 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
One reason that makes studying the Jewish commentaries fascinating is the sages ask questions about the Bible that would never occur to me.
Here they note that the dove did not fly back into the ark but only returned to the vicinity of the ark. It did not reenter until Noah extended his hand.
Why? (and you have to think creatively like a sage):
“having returned without anything in her mouth she thought her master would not allow her to come back inside. However, Noah had compassion for the dove and took her in his hand to warm her while she rested from her journey.”6
The application, though admittedly quite abstract with the case of Noah’s dove, is that people will let us down (and we will let others down) from time to time. Just as we would wish to be treated with compassion, so we should treat others with dignity and lift them up even when they fail us.
When I was a manager, I tried to live this out and a couple of times the offending staff member thanked me for the way we solved the problem. Unfortunately, I was less successful at doing this as a parent when my kids were little; but I’m attempting to live this out now. I guess the good news is that one of my boys, now in his 20s recently noticed the difference. He said, “wow. I thought you’d be really upset. You must be mellowing in your old age.”
Loving your neighbor as yourself means extending mercy to others just as you would want mercy extended to you.
He waited another seven days, and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark. And the dove came back to him in the evening, and behold, in her mouth was a freshly plucked olive leaf. So Noah knew that the waters had subsided from the earth. Then he waited another seven days and sent forth the dove, and she did not return to him anymore.
Good thing Noah had six more doves, or this might have been the end of the line for the dove.
Walton suggests the olive leaf, in addition to being a symbol of peace and new life, provided Noah a clue as to the depth of the waters and how quickly they were receding.
Olive trees are notoriously resilient and tend to regenerate even if cut down.7
Olive branches and doves are universal symbols of peace. Olive branches are incorporated into the symbolism of the United States (juxtaposed against arrows of course – as if to say, “we desire peace, but don’t mess with us”).
We remember that the spirit ascended upon Jesus “like a dove” (Matt 3:16), so there is a connection with the dove and the Holy Spirit. In Genesis 1 we were told that the spirit moved over the face of the waters, just as Noah’s dove does here.
Back in verse 9, the dove found rest (noach in Hebrew means rest), just as the dove in Matthew 3 found rest in messiah.
In the six hundred and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried from off the earth. And Noah removed the covering of the ark and looked, and behold, the face of the ground was dry.
This would be the day we know as Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. Another new beginning.
On Rosh HaShana, the shofar (trumpet) is blown, “in anticipation of the coming of the Messiah and the resurrection of the dead.”8 In other words, this is a deliberate reference to the Messianic Era we studied in Revelation. Lancaster continues, “After the judgment has abated and the trumpet of the Messiah sounds, Jesus will usher in a new era and a new world.”9
In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth had dried out. Then God said to Noah, “Go out from the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons' wives with you. Bring out with you every living thing that is with you of all flesh—birds and animals and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth—that they may swarm on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.”
Before the flood, the sons were listed before his wife; after the flood, we have Noah’s wife listed (but still never named).
- I’m not sure what the significance of this is but whenever a pattern changes, we want to take note.
God will speak directly to Noah here and again in chapter 9. He won’t speak directly to a man again until Abram, ten generations and hundreds of years later.
Just as God called Noah to enter the ark, Noah patiently waits for God to call him out of the ark.
This is NOT what I would have done.
I’m happy to have God initiate a project and point me in the right direction; but then I’m quick to say, “Thanks, God. I’ll take it from here. I’ll let you know if I need help.”
I need to be more like Noah and let God direct each step.
So Noah went out, and his sons and his wife and his sons' wives with him. Every beast, every creeping thing, and every bird, everything that moves on the earth, went out by families from the ark.
- We are reminded that “Noah did all that the LORD had commanded him” (Gen 7:5).
Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar.
We don’t have it recorded that God instructed Noah to do this.
Perhaps God did instruct.
Perhaps Noah had the heart of a worshipper.
Unlike sin offerings or peace offerings, burnt offerings are usually associated with petitions or dedications before God.
In a burnt offering, the fire on the altar completely consumes the entire sacrifice.
It represents a total surrender of the sacrifice to God.
Non-Jews only offer burnt offerings; gentiles (of which Noah is one) never offer sin or peace offerings.10
And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”
Php 4:18 I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.
Act 14:16-17 In past generations he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways.  Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.”
We take the seasons for granted, but it was all new for Noah.
The Talmud delineates the six seasons listed in Genesis 8:
Note that the Flood didn’t fix man’s heart. In Hebrew, raq rah qol hayom. Only evil all the time. We are still a long way from the “It was very good” in Genesis 1:31.
“While the earth remains” is an important clarification.
In Jeremiah 32:25 God says He will honor His covenant with the Jewish people and His covenant with the house of David so long as the earth remains.
God’s patience with man’s evil will not last indefinitely.
This is another reason why it’s awesome to study genesis immediately after studying Revelation.
After studying the last four chapters of Revelation, we now can contextualize a statement such as “while the earth remains.”
Our depraved sinful nature will rear its ugly head in Genesis chapter 9, which we’ll look at next time.
Lancaster, Daniel T. Depths of the Torah. Edited by Boaz D. Michael and Steven P. Lancaster. 2nd ed. Vol. 1. 5 vols. Torah Club 4. Marshfield, MO: First Fruits of Zion, 2017.
———. Shadows of the Messiah. Edited by Boaz D. Michael and Steven P. Lancaster. 3rd ed. Vol. 4. 5 vols. Torah Club 3. Marshfield, MO: First Fruits of Zion, 2015.
Missler, Chuck. Genesis: An Expositional Commentary (Supplemental Notes). Coeur d’Alene, ID: Koinonia House, 2004.
“Noach in a Nutshell - Genesis 6:9–11:32.” Accessed October 20, 2022. https://www.chabad.org/parshah/article_cdo/aid/3155/jewish/Noach-in-a-Nutshell.htm.
Pliskin, Zelig. Love Your Neighbor: Brooklyn, New York: Bnay Yakov Publications, 2004.
Schlegel, William. The Satellite Bible Atlas. Israel: William Schlegel, 2013.
Walton, John H., Victor H. Matthews, and Mark W. Chavalas. The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament. (E-Sword). Downers Grove, Ill: IVP Academic, 2000.
“Noach in a Nutshell - Genesis 6:9–11:32,” accessed October 20, 2022, https://www.chabad.org/parshah/article_cdo/aid/3155/jewish/Noach-in-a-Nutshell.htm. ↩︎
Chuck Missler, Genesis: An Expositional Commentary (Supplemental Notes) (Coeur d’Alene, ID: Koinonia House, 2004), 151. ↩︎
William Schlegel, The Satellite Bible Atlas (Israel: William Schlegel, 2013), fig. 2.1 The Origin of the Patriarchs. ↩︎
John H. Walton, Victor H. Matthews, and Mark W. Chavalas, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament, (E-Sword) (Downers Grove, Ill: IVP Academic, 2000), loc. Gen 8:4. ↩︎
Zelig Pliskin, Love Your Neighbor: (Brooklyn, New York: Bnay Yakov Publications, 2004), 40. ↩︎
Pliskin, 40. ↩︎
Walton, Matthews, and Chavalas, The IVP Bible Background Commentary, loc. Gen 8:11. ↩︎
Daniel T. Lancaster, Shadows of the Messiah, ed. Boaz D. Michael and Steven P. Lancaster, 3rd ed., vol. 4, Torah Club 3 (Marshfield, MO: First Fruits of Zion, 2015), 44. ↩︎
Lancaster, 4:45. ↩︎
Daniel T. Lancaster, Depths of the Torah, ed. Boaz D. Michael and Steven P. Lancaster, 2nd ed., vol. 1, Torah Club 4 (Marshfield, MO: First Fruits of Zion, 2017), 63. ↩︎