Genesis 7: The Flood Arrives

flood animal swimming strandedHebrew-English Text

I. Summary

Noah, his family, and the animals enter the ark. The flood arrives and wipes out all of the living things on the ground.

II. Photo

The flood arrives: “Everything on dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life died.” (v. 22)

III. Select Verses

12-16: The rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights. On the very same day Noah with his sons, Shem and Ham and Japheth, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons entered the ark, they and every wild animal of every kind, and all domestic animals of every kind, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, and every bird of every kind—every bird, every winged creature.  They went into the ark with Noah, two and two of all flesh in which there was the breath of life. And those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him; and the LORD shut him in.

18-19: The waters swelled so mightily on the earth that all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered; the waters swelled above the mountains, covering them fifteen cubits deep.

23: He blotted out every living thing that was on the face of the ground, human beings and animals and creeping things and birds of the air; they were blotted out from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those that were with him in the ark.

IV. Outline

1-4. Yahweh's command

    1. Enter the ark

    2-3. Take 7 pairs of every clean animal and every bird and one pair of every unclean animal

    4. The flood will come in seven days

5. Noah follows Yahweh's instructions

6-9. Noah enters the ark with his family and the animals in his 600th year

10. The waters arrive

11-12. The rain begain in Noah's 600th year

13-16. Noah's family and the animals enter the ark on the day the rain begins; Yahweh shuts them in

17-24. The flood

    17-18. The flood continued for forty days, lifting the ark

    19-20. The mountains were covered

    21-23. All living things died

    24. The flood strengthened for one hundred fifty days

V. Comment

Genesis 7 has a number of striking contradictions. For example, according to verses 4-5, 6-10, Noah entered the ark seven days before the flood but according to verse 13, Noah entered the day the flood began. According to verses 12 and 17, the flood swelled forty days and forty nights, but according to verse 24 it swelled one hundred fifty days. It might be argued that verse 2 calls for seven pairs of clean animals but verses 9 and 15 only mention single pairs. In addition to contradictions such as these there are a number of unnecessary repetitions such as the three times that Noah and his family enter the ark (vv. 5, 6-9, 13-16). Verses 17-23 are perhaps most striking, for they contain two doublets and one triplet in a row:

The Ark Rises:

  • Gen. 7:17 The flood continued forty days on the earth; and the waters increased, and bore up the ark, and it rose high above the earth.
  • Gen. 7:18 The waters swelled and increased greatly on the earth; and the ark floated on the face of the waters.

The mountains are covered:

  • Gen. 7:19 The waters swelled so mightily on the earth that all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered;
  • Gen. 7:20 the waters swelled above the mountains, covering them fifteen cubits deep.

The death of all living things:

  • Gen. 7:21 And all flesh died that moved on the earth, birds, domestic animals, wild animals, all swarming creatures that swarm on the earth, and all human beings;
  • Gen. 7:22 everything on dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life died.
  • Gen. 7:23 He blotted out every living thing that was on the face of the ground, human beings and animals and creeping things and birds of the air; they were blotted out from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those that were with him in the ark.

While traditional commentators have been addressing these problems for centuries, doublets and contradictions in the flood story played a key role in the development of source criticism, that is, the attribution of different verses to different authors.

VI. Works Used

(see “Commentaries” page)

Photo copied from http:// media.treehugger .com/assets/images/2011/10/water-buck-starvation-island-flood-zimbabwe .jpg

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