In the six hundredth year, etc. - This must have been in the beginning of the six hundredth year of his life; for he was a year in the ark, Genesis 8:13; and lived three hundred and fifty years after the flood, and died nine hundred and fifty years old, Genesis 9:29; so it is evident that, when the flood commenced, he had just entered on his six hundredth year.
Second month - The first month was Tisri, which answers to the latter half of September, and first half of October; and the second was Marcheshvan, which answers to part of October and part of November. After the deliverance from Egypt, the beginning of the year was changed from Marcheshvan to Nisan, which answers to a part of our March and April. But it is not likely that this reckoning obtained before the flood. Dr. Lightfoot very probably conjectures that Methuselah was alive in the first month of this year. And it appears, says he, how clearly the Spirit of prophecy foretold of things to come, when it directed his father Enoch almost a thousand years before to name him Methuselah, which signifies they die by a dart; or, he dieth, and then is the dart; or, he dieth, end then it is sent. And thus Adam and Methuselah had measured the whole time between the creation and the flood, and lived above two hundred and forty years together. See Genesis 5 at the end, Genesis 5:32; (note).
Were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened - It appears that an immense quantity of waters occupied the center of the antediluvian earth; and as these burst forth, by the order of God, the circumambient strata must sink, in order to fill up the vacuum occasioned by the elevated waters. This is probably what is meant by breaking up the fountains of the great deep. These waters, with the seas on the earth's surface, might be deemed sufficient to drown the whole globe, as the waters now on its surface are nearly three-fourths of the whole, as has been accurately ascertained by Dr. Long. See the note on Genesis 1:10.
By the opening of the windows of heaven is probably meant the precipitating all the aqueous vapours which were suspended in the whole atmosphere, so that, as Moses expresses it, Genesis 1:7, the waters that were above the firmament were again united to the waters which were below the firmament, from which on the second day of creation they had been separated. A multitude of facts have proved that water itself is composed of two airs, oxygen and hydrogen; and that 85 parts of the first and 15 of the last, making 100 in the whole, will produce exactly 100 parts of water. And thus it is found that these two airs form the constituent parts of water in the above proportions. The electric spark, which is the same as lightning, passing through these airs, decomposes them and converts them to water. And to this cause we may probably attribute the rain which immediately follows the flash of lightning and peal of thunder. God therefore, by the means of lightning, might have converted the whole atmosphere into water, for the purpose of drowning the globe, had there not been a sufficiency of merely aqueous vapours suspended in the atmosphere on the second day of creation. And if the electric fluid were used on this occasion for the production of water, the incessant glare of lightning, and the continual peals of thunder, must have added indescribable horrors to the scene. See the note on Genesis 8:1. These two causes concurring were amply sufficient, not only to overflow the earth, but probably to dissolve the whole terrene fabric, as some judicious naturalists have supposed: indeed, this seems determined by the word מבול mabbul, translated flood, which is derived from בל bal בלל or balal, to mix, mingle, confound, confuse, because the aqueous and terrene parts of the globe were then mixed and confounded together; and when the supernatural cause that produced this mighty change suspended its operations, the different particles of matter would settle according to their specific gravities, and thus form the various strata or beds of which the earth appears to be internally constructed. Some naturalists have controverted this sentiment, because in some cases the internal structure of the earth does not appear to justify the opinion that the various portions of matter had settled according to their specific gravities; but these anomalies may easily be accounted for, from the great changes that have taken place in different parts of the earth since the flood, by volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, etc. Some very eminent philosophers are of the opinion "that, by the breaking up of the fountains of the great deep, we are to understand an eruption of waters from the Southern Ocean." Mr. Kirwan supposes "that this is pretty evident from such animals as the elephant and rhinoceros being found in great masses in Siberia, mixed with different marine substances; whereas no animals or other substances belonging to the northern regions have been ever found in southern climates. Had these animals died natural deaths in their proper climate, their bodies would not have been found in such masses. But that they were carried no farther northward than Siberia, is evident from there being no remains of any animals besides those of whales found in the mountains of Greenland. That this great rush of waters was from the south or south-east is farther evident, he thinks, from the south and south-east sides of almost all great mountains being much steeper than their north or north-west sides, as they necessarily would be if the force of a great body of water fell upon them in that direction." On a subject like this men may innocently differ. Many think the first opinion accords best with the Hebrew text and with the phenomena of nature, for mountains do not always present the above appearance.
- XXV. The Flood
The date is here given, at which the flood commenced and the entrance into the ark was completed. “In seven days.” On the seventh day from the command. “In the second month.” The primeval year commenced about the autumnal equinox; we may say, on the nearest new moon. The rains began about a month or six weeks after the equinox, and, consequently, not far from the seventeenth of the second month. “All the fountains of the great deep, and the windows of the skies.” It appears that the deluge was produced by a gradual commotion of nature on a grand scale. The gathering clouds were dissolved into incessant showers. But this was not sufficient of itself to effect the overwhelming desolation that followed. The beautiful figure of the windows of the skies being opened is preceded by the equally striking one of the fountains of the great deep being broken up. This was the chief source of the flood. A change in the level of the land was accomplished. That which had emerged from the waters on the third day of the last creation was now again submerged. The waters of the great deep now broke their bounds, flowed in on the sunken surface, and drowned the world of man, with all its inhabitants. The accompanying heavy rain of forty days and nights was, in reality, only a subsidiary instrument in the deluging of the land. We may imagine the sinking of the land to have been so gradual as to occupy the whole of these forty days of rain. There is an awful magnificence in this constant uplifting of the billows over the yielding land.
There is a simple grandeur in the threefold description of the entrance of Noah and his retinue into the ark, first in the command, next in the actual process during the seven days, and, lastly, in the completed act on the seventh day. “Every living thing after its kind” is here unaccompanied with the epithet רעה rā‛âh evil, or the qualifying term of the land or of the field, and therefore may, we conceive, be taken in the extent of Genesis 6:20; Genesis 7:2-3, Genesis 7:6. At all events the whole of the wild animals did not need to be included in the ark, as their range was greater than that of antediluvian man or of the flood. “And the Lord shut him in.” This is a fitting close to the scene. The whole work was manifestly the Lord‘s doing, from first to last. The personal name of God is appropriately introduced here. For the Everlasting now shows himself to be the causer or effecter of the covenant blessing promised to Noah. In what way the Lord shut him in is an idle question, altogether unworthy of the grandeur of the occasion. We can tell nothing more than what is written. We are certain that it would be accomplished in a manner worthy of him.
Notwithstanding the solemn exhibition they had witnessed of God's power—of the unnatural occurrence of the beasts’ leaving the forests and fields, and going into the ark, and the angel of God clothed with brightness and terrible in majesty descending from heaven and closing the door; yet they hardened their hearts and continued to revel and sport over the signal manifestations of divine power. SR 66.1Read in context »
Those majestic trees which God had caused to grow upon the earth, for the benefit of the inhabitants of the old world, and which they had used to form into idols, and to corrupt themselves with, God has reserved in the earth, in the shape of coal and oil to use as agencies in their final destruction. As he called forth the waters in the earth at the time of the flood, as weapons from his arsenal to accomplish the destruction of the antediluvian race, so at the end of the one thousand years he will call forth the fires in the earth as his weapons which he has reserved for the final destruction, not only of successive generations since the flood, but the antediluvian race who perished by the flood. 3SG 87.1
When the flood of waters was at its height upon the earth, it had the appearance of a boundless lake of water. When God finally purifies the earth, it will appear like a boundless lake of fire. As God preserved the ark amid the commotions of the flood, because it contained eight righteous persons, he will preserve the New Jerusalem, containing the faithful of all ages, from righteous Abel down to the last saint which lived. Although the whole earth, with the exception of that portion where the city rests, will be wrapped in a sea of liquid fire, yet the city is preserved as was the ark, by a miracle of Almighty power. It stands unharmed amid the devouring elements. “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also, and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” 3SG 87.2Read in context »
As the time of their probation was closing, the antediluvians gave themselves up to exciting amusements and festivities. Those who possessed influence and power were bent on keeping the minds of the people engrossed with mirth and pleasure, lest any should be impressed by the last solemn warning. Do we not see the same repeated in our day? While God's servants are giving the message that the end of all things is at hand, the world is absorbed in amusements and pleasure seeking. There is a constant round of excitement that causes indifference to God and prevents the people from being impressed by the truths which alone can save them from the coming destruction. PP 103.1
In Noah's day philosophers declared that it was impossible for the world to be destroyed by water; so now there are men of science who endeavor to show that the world cannot be destroyed by fire—that this would be inconsistent with the laws of nature. But the God of nature, the Maker and Controller of her laws, can use the works of His hands to serve His own purpose. PP 103.2
When great and wise men had proved to their satisfaction that it was impossible for the world to be destroyed by water, when the fears of the people were quieted, when all regarded Noah's prophecy as a delusion, and looked upon him as a fanatic—then it was that God's time had come. “The fountains of the great deep” were “broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened,” and the scoffers were overwhelmed in the waters of the Flood. With all their boasted philosophy, men found too late that their wisdom was foolishness, that the Lawgiver is greater than the laws of nature, and that Omnipotence is at no loss for means to accomplish His purposes. “As it was in the days of Noah,” “even thus shall it be in the days when the Son of man is revealed.” Luke 17:26, 30. “The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” 2 Peter 3:10. When the reasoning of philosophy has banished the fear of God's judgments; when religious teachers are pointing forward to long ages of peace and prosperity, and the world are absorbed in their rounds of business and pleasure, planting and building, feasting and merrymaking, rejecting God's warnings and mocking His messengers—then it is that sudden destruction cometh upon them, and they shall not escape. 1 Thessalonians 5:3. PP 103.3Read in context »
God commanded Noah, “Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before Me in this generation.” Noah's warnings had been rejected by the world, but his influence and example resulted in blessings to his family. As a reward for his faithfulness and integrity, God saved all the members of his family with him. What encouragement to parental fidelity! PP 98.1
Mercy had ceased its pleadings for the guilty race. The beasts of the field and the birds of the air had entered the place of refuge. Noah and his household were within the ark, “and the Lord shut him in.” A flash of dazzling light was seen, and a cloud of glory more vivid than the lightning descended from heaven and hovered before the entrance of the ark. The massive door, which it was impossible for those within to close, was slowly swung to its place by unseen hands. Noah was shut in, and the rejecters of God's mercy were shut out. The seal of Heaven was on that door; God had shut it, and God alone could open it. So when Christ shall cease His intercession for guilty men, before His coming in the clouds of heaven, the door of mercy will be shut. Then divine grace will no longer restrain the wicked, and Satan will have full control of those who have rejected mercy. They will endeavor to destroy God's people; but as Noah was shut into the ark, so the righteous will be shielded by divine power. PP 98.2
For seven days after Noah and his family entered the ark, there appeared no sign of the coming storm. During this period their faith was tested. It was a time of triumph to the world without. The apparent delay confirmed them in the belief that Noah's message was a delusion, and that the Flood would never come. Notwithstanding the solemn scenes which they had witnessed—the beasts and birds entering the ark, and the angel of God closing the door—they still continued their sport and revelry, even making a jest of these signal manifestations of God's power. They gathered in crowds about the ark, deriding its inmates with a daring violence which they had never ventured upon before. PP 98.3Read in context »