- The Land Was Dried
1. שׁכך shākak “stoop, assuage.”
3. חסר chāsar “want, fail, be abated.”
4. אררט 'ărārāṭ “Ararat,” a land forming part of Armenia. It is mentioned in 2 Kings 19:37, and Isaiah 37:38, as the retreat of Adrammelek and Sharezer after the murder of their father; and in Jeremiah 51:27 as a kingdom.
8. קלל qālal “be light, lightened, lightly esteemed, swift.”
10. חוּל chûl “twist, turn, dance, writhe, tremble, be strong, wait.” יהל yāchal “remain, wait, hope.”
13. חרב chāreb “be drained, desolated, amazed.”
The waters commence their retreat. “And God remembered Noah.” He is said to remember him when he takes any step to deliver him from the waters. The several steps to this end are enumerated.
A wind. - This would promote evaporation, and otherwise aid the retreat of the waters. “The fountains of the deep and the windows of the skies were shut.” The incessant and violent showers had continued for six weeks. It is probable the weather remained turbid and moist for some time longer. In the sixth month, however, the rain probably ceased altogether. Some time before this, the depressing of the ground had reached its lowest point, and the upheaving had set in. This is the main cause of the reflux of the waters. All this is described, as we perceive, according to appearance. It is probable that the former configuration of the surface was not exactly restored. At all events it is not necessary, as the ark may have drifted a considerable space in a hundred and fifty days. Some of the old ground on which primeval man had trodden may have become a permanent water bed, and a like amount of new land may have risen to the light in another place. Hence, it is vain to seek for a spot retaining the precise conditions of the primitive Eden. The Euphrates and Tigris may substantially remain, but the Pishon and Gihon may have considerably changed. The Black Sea, the Caspian, the lakes Van and Urumiah may cover portions of the Adamic land. At the end of the hundred and fifty days the prevalence of the waters begins to turn into a positive retreat.
The ark rested. - It is stranded on some hill in Ararat. This country forms part of Armenia. As the drying wind most probably came from the east or north, it is likely that the ark was drifted toward Asia Minor, and caught land on some hill in the reaches of the Euphrates. It cannot be supposed that it rested on either of the peaks now called Ararat, as Ararat was a country, not a mountain, and these peaks do not seem suitable for the purpose. The seventh month began usually with the new moon nearest the vernal equinox, or the 21st of March. “The tenth month.” The waters ceased to prevail on the first of the ninth month. The ark, though grounded six weeks before, was still deep in the waters. The tops of the hills began to appear a month after. The subsiding of the waters seems to have been very slow.
The raven and the dove are sent out to bring tidings of the external world. “Forty days.” Before Noah made any experiment he seems to have allowed the lapse of forty days to undo the remaining effect of the forty days‘ rain. “The window.” He seems to have been unable to take any definite observations through the aperture here called a window. The raven found carrion in abundance, floated probably on the waters, and did not need to return. This was such a token of the state of things as Noah might expect from such a messenger. He next sends the dove, who returns to him. “Yet other seven days.” This intimates that he stayed seven days also after the raven was sent out. The olive leaf plucked off was a sign of returning safety to the land. It is said by Theophrastus (Hist. Plant. 4,7) and Pliny (H. N. 13,50) that the olive strikes leaves even under water. From this event, the olive branch became the symbol of peace, and the dove the emblem of the Comforter, the messenger of peace. After seven other days, the dove being despatched, returns no more. The number seven figures very conspicuously in this narrative. Seven days before the showers commence the command to enter the ark is given; and at intervals of seven days the winged messengers are sent out. These intervals point evidently to the period of seven days, determined by the six days of creation and the seventh day of rest. The clean beasts also and the birds are admitted into the ark by seven pairs. This points to the sacredness associated with the number arising from the hallowed character of the seventh day. The number forty also, the product of four, the number of the world or universe, and ten the number of completeness, begins here to be employed for a complete period in which a process will have run its course.
Noah delays apparently another month, and, on the first day of the new year, ventures to remove the covering of the ark and look around. The date of the complete drying of the land is then given. The interval from the entrance to the exit consists of the following periods:
d Rain continued
d 40 days
d Waters prevailed
d 150 days
d Waters subside
d 99 days
d Noah delays
d 40 days
d Sending of the raven and the dove
d 20 days
d Another month
d 29 days
d Interval until the 27th of the 2nd month
d 57 days
d Sum-total of days
d 365 days
Hence, it appears that the interval was a lunar year of three hundred and fifty-six days nearly, and ten days; that is, as nearly as possible, a solar year. This passage is important on account of the divisions of time which it brings out at this early epoch. The week of seven days is plainly intimated. The lunar month and year are evidently known. It is remarkable that the ten additional days bring up the lunar year in whole numbers to the solar. It seems a tacit agreement with the real order of nature. According to the Hebrew text, the deluge commenced in the 1656th year of the race of man. According to all texts it occurred in the time of Noah, the ninth in descent from Adam.
The waters rose fifteen cubits above the highest mountains. It often seemed to the family within the ark that they must perish, as for five long months their boat was tossed about, apparently at the mercy of wind and wave. It was a trying ordeal; but Noah's faith did not waver, for he had the assurance that the divine hand was upon the helm. PP 105.1
As the waters began to subside, the Lord caused the ark to drift into a spot protected by a group of mountains that had been preserved by His power. These mountains were but a little distance apart, and the ark moved about in this quiet haven, and was no longer driven upon the boundless ocean. This gave great relief to the weary, tempest-tossed voyagers. PP 105.2
Noah and his family anxiously waited for the decrease of the waters, for they longed to go forth again upon the earth. Forty days after the tops of the mountains became visible, they sent out a raven, a bird of quick scent, to discover whether the earth had become dry. This bird, finding nothing but water, continued to fly to and from the ark. Seven days later a dove was sent forth, which, finding no footing, returned to the ark. Noah waited seven days longer, and again sent forth the dove. When she returned at evening with an olive leaf in her mouth, there was great rejoicing. Later “Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and, behold, the face of the ground was dry.” Still he waited patiently within the ark. As he had entered at God's command, he waited for special directions to depart. PP 105.3
At last an angel descended from heaven, opened the massive door, and bade the patriarch and his household go forth upon the earth and take with them every living thing. In the joy of their release Noah did not forget Him by whose gracious care they had been preserved. His first act after leaving the ark was to build an altar and offer from every kind of clean beast and fowl a sacrifice, thus manifesting his gratitude to God for deliverance and his faith in Christ, the great sacrifice. This offering was pleasing to the Lord; and a blessing resulted, not only to the patriarch and his family, but to all who should live upon the earth. “The Lord smelled a sweet savor; and the Lord said in His heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake.... While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.” Here was a lesson for all succeeding generations. Noah had come forth upon a desolate earth, but before preparing a house for himself he built an altar to God. His stock of cattle was small, and had been preserved at great expense; yet he cheerfully gave a part to the Lord as an acknowledgment that all was His. In like manner it should be our first care to render our freewill offerings to God. Every manifestation of His mercy and love toward us should be gratefully acknowledged, both by acts of devotion and by gifts to His cause. PP 105.4Read in context »
Anxiously did Noah and his family watch the decrease of the waters. He desired to go forth upon the earth again. He sent out a raven which flew back and forth to and from the ark. He did not receive the information he desired, and he sent forth a dove which finding no rest returned to the ark again. After seven days the dove was sent forth again, and when the olive leaf was seen in its mouth there was great rejoicing by this family of eight which had so long been shut up in the ark. Again an angel descends and opens the door of the ark. Noah could remove the top, but he could not open the door which God had shut. God spoke to Noah through the angel who opened the door and bade the family of Noah to go forth out of the ark, and to bring forth with them every living thing. 3SG 72.1Read in context »