Genesis 8

 

וַיִּזְכֹּר אֱלֹהִים אֶת נֹחַ וְאֵת כָּל הַחַיָּה וְאֶת כָּל הַבְּהֵמָה אֲשֶׁר אִתּוֹ בַּתֵּבָה וַיַּעֲבֵר אֱלֹהִים   8:1

רוּחַ עַל הָאָרֶץ וַיָּשֹׁכּוּ הַמָּיִם

Gene. 8:1      And God “remembered” Noah and every living thing and all the cattle that were with him in the ark, and God caused a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters subsided.

וַיִּסָּכְרוּ מַעְיְנֹת תְּהוֹם וַאֲרֻבֹּת הַשָּׁמָיִם וַיִּכָּלֵא הַגֶּשֶׁם מִן הַשָּׁמָיִם   8:2

Gene. 8:2      And the springs of the deep were stopped, also the windows of the heavens, and the rain was restrained from the sky.  See Gene. 7:11.

וַיָּשֻׁבוּ הַמַּיִם מֵעַל הָאָרֶץ הָלוֹךְ וָשׁוֹב וַיַּחְסְרוּ הַמַּיִם מִקְצֵה חֲמִשִּׁים וּמְאַת יוֹם   8:3

Gene. 8:3      And the waters returned from the earth there and back.  And the waters were decreased after the end of a hundred and fifty days.

וַתָּנַח הַתֵּבָה בַּחֹדֶשׁ הַשְּׁבִיעִי בְּשִׁבְעָה עָשָׂר יוֹם לַחֹדֶשׁ עַל הָרֵי אֲרָרָט   8:4

Gene. 8:4      And the ark rested in the seventh month on the month’s seventeenth day on the mountains of Ararat.

The name Ararat seems to mean curse reversed or precipitation of curse.  Fascinating!  I wonder when and how this name came about.

וְהַמַּיִם הָיוּ הָלוֹךְ וְחָסוֹר עַד הַחֹדֶשׁ הָעֲשִׂירִי בָּעֲשִׂירִי בְּאֶחָד לַחֹדֶשׁ נִרְאוּ רָאשֵׁי הֶהָרִים   8:5

Gene. 8:5      And the waters decreased continually until the tenth month.  In the tenth month on the month’s first, the tops of the mountains were visible.

וַיְהִי מִקֵּץ אַרְבָּעִים יוֹם וַיִּפְתַּח נֹחַ אֶת חַלּוֹן הַתֵּבָה אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה   8:6

Gene. 8:6      And it was at the end of forty days that Noah opened a window of the ark that he had made.

וַיְשַׁלַּח אֶת הָעֹרֵב וַיֵּצֵא יָצוֹא וָשׁוֹב עַד יְבֹשֶׁת הַמַּיִם מֵעַל הָאָרֶץ   8:7

Gene. 8:7      And he sent forth a raven, but it went to and fro until the waters were drying up from the earth.

וַיְשַׁלַּח אֶת הַיּוֹנָה מֵאִתּוֹ לִרְאוֹת הֲקַלּוּ הַמַּיִם מֵעַל פְּנֵי הָאֲדָמָה   8:8

Gene. 8:8      And, because of it, he sent forth a dove to see if the waters were abated from off the ground.

וְלֹא מָצְאָה הַיּוֹנָה מָנוֹחַ לְכַף רַגְלָהּ וַתָּשָׁב אֵלָיו אֶל הַתֵּבָה כִּי מַיִם עַלפְּנֵי כָל הָאָרֶץ וַיִּשְׁלַח יָדוֹ   8:9

וַיִּקָּחֶהָ וַיָּבֵא אֹתָהּ אֵלָיו אֶל הַתֵּבָה

Gene. 8:9      But the dove did not find a resting place for the sole of its foot and it returned to him to the ark, for the water was over the surface of the whole earth, and he put forth his hand and took it and brought it to him to the ark.

It would appear that a raven can fly for a much longer time than a dove.

וַיָּחֶל עוֹד שִׁבְעַת יָמִים אֲחֵרִים וַיֹּסֶף שַׁלַּח אֶת הַיּוֹנָה מִן הַתֵּבָה  8:10

Gene. 8:10    And he anxiously waited yet another seven days; then he again sent forth the dove from the ark.

וַתָּבֹא אֵלָיו הַיּוֹנָה לְעֵת עֶרֶב וְהִנֵּה עֲלֵה זַיִת טָרָף בְּפִיהָ וַיֵּדַע נֹחַ כִּיקַלּוּ הַמַּיִם מֵעַל הָאָרֶץ  8:11

Gene. 8:11    Then the dove came to him toward the time of evening, and lo, a freshly plucked olive leaf was in its mouth!  So Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth.

וַיִּיָּחֶל עוֹד שִׁבְעַת יָמִים אֲחֵרִים וַיְשַׁלַּח אֶת הַיּוֹנָה וְלֹא יָסְפָה שׁוּב אֵלָיו עוֹד   8:12

Gene. 8:12    But he waited yet seven more days, then sent forth the dove, and it didn’t return again to him anymore.

Why couldn’t Noah tell that the waters had dried up before he sent the dove out again?  Hadn’t the ark stopped rocking?  Surely, Noah would know that the ark was grounded.  Although he may have realized he was on dry land, perhaps he thought that there was still water round about him.  Another possibility exists, however.  Perhaps the two doves, the first failing and the second succeeding, symbolize the first period of the earth, which was destroyed in this flood, and this second period in which we find ourselves.  Then what of the raven?  Good question!  But I have no inspired answer for that one.  Maybe the ill-fated garden of Eden?

וַיְהִי בְּאַחַת וְשֵׁשׁ מֵאוֹת שָׁנָה בָּרִאשׁוֹן בְּאֶחָד לַחֹדֶשׁ חָרְבוּ הַמַּיִם מֵעַל הָאָרֶץ וַיָּסַר נֹחַ   8:13

אֶת מִכְסֵה הַתֵּבָה וַיַּרְא וְהִנֵּה חָרְבוּ פְּנֵי הָאֲדָמָה

Gene. 8:13    And it was in the six hundred and first year, in the first month on the month’s first.  The waters had dried up from off the earth and Noah removed the covering of the ark and looked, and behold, the surface of the ground had dried.

A little arithmetic seems to be in order here.  We were told in Gene. 7:11 that the flood rains began in the six hundredth year of Noah’s life in the second month, on the month’s seventeenth day.  In Gene. 7:12 it rained for forty days.  Then in Gene. 7:24 we find that the flood was on the earth for 150 days.  In v. 8:4 the ark rested in the seventh month on the month’s seventeenth.  Exactly five months had passed.  Now, does five months equal 190 days?   No!  Therefore the 150 days must have included the forty days of rain.  Then in v. 8:5 the waters decreased continually until the first day of the tenth month, roughly two and a half months later, perhaps another 73 days or so.  In v. 8:6 Noah sent out the raven at the end of forty days.  We’re not told the time duration of the episode of the raven and the first dove flight.  It could have been one day or less, or a few days at the most.  In v. 8:10 Noah waited another seven days before sending the dove out a second time.  In v. 8:12 Noah waited another seven days.  Thus approximately two weeks plus had transpired since v. 8:6, giving a total of about 54 more days.  In this verse we find that it is now the first day of the first month of the six hundred and first year of Noah’s life.  So nine months and about 13 days had passed. Assuming an average of about 30 days in a month, as is implied by the first time period of 150 days, we are looking at a grand total of about 283 days from beginning to end.  The intervening narrative appears to indicate serial time periods of 150, 73, and 54 days, which adds up to a total of about 277 days, leaving a difference from the time indicated by the end points of about 6 days.  Might that be the unwritten duration of the raven and first dove episode?

וּבַחֹדֶשׁ הַשֵּׁנִי בְּשִׁבְעָה וְעֶשְׂרִים יוֹם לַחֹדֶשׁ יָבְשָׁה הָאָרֶץ   8:14

Gene. 8:14    And in the second month on the month’s twenty-seventh day the land was dry.

Apparently, it took another 27 days for the land to dry completely.  Thus the ark was occupied for a total period of about 310 days.  Now the sages have discussed the significance of this time duration.  Some say it consisted of a solar year, others, a lunar year.  A lunar year comprises 12 months of about 29.5 days each, or 354 days, and a solar year is about 365.3 days.  Neither of these equals the total time I derived, which is 310 days.

וַיְדַבֵּר אֱלֹהִים אֶל נֹחַ לֵאמֹר   8:15

Gene. 8:15    Then God spoke to Noah saying,

צֵא, מִן הַתֵּבָה אַתָּה וְאִשְׁתְּךָ וּבָנֶיךָ וּנְשֵׁי בָנֶיךָ אִתָּךְ   8:16

Gene. 8:16     “Go forth from the ark, you and your wife and your sons and the wives of your sons with you.”

כָּל הַחַיָּה אֲשֶׁר אִתְּךָ מִכָּל בָּשָׂר בָּעוֹף וּבַבְּהֵמָה וּבְכָל הָרֶמֶשׂ הָרֹמֵשׂ עַל הָאָרֶץ הוצא   8:17

הַיְצֵא אִתָּךְ וְשָׁרְצוּ בָאָרֶץ וּפָרוּ וְרָבוּ עַל הָאָרֶץ

Gene. 8:17       “Everything living that is with you of all flesh, among fowl and among cattle and among every creeping thing creeping on the earth; bring them forth with you that they may swarm on the earth and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.”

וַיֵּצֵא נֹחַ וּבָנָיו וְאִשְׁתּוֹ וּנְשֵׁי בָנָיו אִתּוֹ   8:18

Gene. 8:18    And Noah went forth, and his sons and his wife and the wives of his sons with him.

כָּל הַחַיָּה כָּל הָרֶמֶשׂ וְכָל הָעוֹף כֹּל רוֹמֵשׂ עַל הָאָרֶץ לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתֵיהֶם יָצְאוּ מִן הַתֵּבָה   8:19

Gene. 8:19    Every beast, every creeping thing, and every fowl, whatsoever moves upon the earth, after their families, went forth from the ark.

וַיִּבֶן נֹחַ מִזְבֵּחַ לַיהוָה וַיִּקַּח מִכֹּל הַבְּהֵמָה הַטְּהֹרָה וּמִכֹּל הָעוֹף הַטָּהוֹר וַיַּעַל עֹלֹת   8:20

בַּמִּזְבֵּחַ

Gene. 8:20    And Noah built an altar to the Lord and he took from every clean beast and from every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.

It seems unlikely that Noah took only one animal of any kind for the altar.  The phrasing of this verse would likely be different if that were so.  This could easily have been the reason he was to take more clean than unclean animals into the ark.  See my discussion on clean and unclean animals with Gene. 7:2.

וַיָּרַח יְהוָה אֶת רֵיחַ הַנִּיחֹחַ וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶללִבּוֹ לֹא אֹסִף לְקַלֵּל עוֹד אֶת הָאֲדָמָה בַּעֲבוּר   8:21

הָאָדָם כִּי יֵצֶר לֵב הָאָדָם רַע מִנְּעֻרָיו וְלֹא אֹסִף עוֹד לְהַכּוֹת אֶת כָּל חַי כַּאֲשֶׁר עָשִׂיתִי

Gene. 8:21    And the Lord “smelled” the pleasant savor and the Lord said to Himself, “I will not bring Myself again to curse the ground because of humanity, for the impulse of the heart of humankind is evil from youth, and I will not bring Myself again to smite all life as I have done.”

This verse holds out a significant promise.  God says He will never again destroy all life.  But it also reinforces the concept that we are inherently evil rather than good, a concept I cannot endorse.  Nevertheless, God doesn’t say we are born evil.

עֹד כָּל יְמֵי הָאָרֶץ זֶרַע וְקָצִיר וְקֹר וָחֹם וְקַיִץ וָחֹרֶף וְיוֹם וָלַיְלָה לֹא יִשְׁבֹּתוּ   8:22

Gene. 8:22    “While the earth remains, seed time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night, shall not cease.”

I have taken the first three words of this verse ymey> lK' d[o to be an idiom.  A precise translation of the phrase might be All the continuing days of the earth….  The imprecision, if indeed it is, seems appropriate. 

More important, what a fine way to end this chapter.  As do many others, this one, of deep tragedy, ends on a very optimistic note.         [Return to Gene. 9:11]

 

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