GENESIS 7:1 - 8:22


There is a contrast to be seen in the ebb and flow of the three chapters that make up the flood narrative.


Genesis 6

Genesis 7

Genesis 8

God warns Noah

God delivers Noah

God remembers Noah

The ark is built

The ark is used to save Noah from the flood

The ark comes to rest in the mountains of Ararat

Noah building the ark

Noah in the ark

Noah coming out of the ark

The earth filled with violence

The earth filled with water

Noah to go out and replenish the earth

Preparation for the flood

Percipitation of the flood

Promise that there will be no more flood


Still another way of viewing this passage would be to see the chiastic parallel of the entire segment that begins and ends with the covenant being established.


Covenant with Noah (6:18-20).




Command to enter the ark (7:1-3)

      • 7 days waiting for the flood (7:4-10).




The Lord shuts the door and it rains 40 days and nights (7:15-16)



Waters increase until the mountains are covered (7:18-20)



150 days waters prevail (7:21-24)



God Remembers Noah (8:1)



150 days waters abate (8:3)



Waters decrease until the mountain become visible (8:4-5)



At the end of 40 days Noah opens the window (8:6)



Raven and dove sent out from the ark (8:7-9)

      • 7 days waiting for the dove (8:10-12)



Covenant with all flesh (9:8-10).




This literary rise and fall of the narrative places at the center a vision of God’s grace and care in remembering His people and His covenant.  The point is being made that God remembers his covenant promise and He moves to protect His people.





            1 Then the LORD said to Noah, "Enter the ark, you and all your household; for you alone I have seen to be righteous before Me in this time. 2 You shall take with you of every clean animal by sevens, a male and his female; and of the animals that are not clean two, a male and his female; 3 also of the birds of the sky, by sevens, male and female, to keep offspring alive on the face of all the earth. 4 For after seven more days, I will send rain on the earth forty days and forty nights; and I will blot out from the face of the land every living thing that I have made." 5 And Noah did according to all that the LORD had commanded him.

            6 Now Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of water came upon the earth. 7 Then Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons' wives with him entered the ark because of the water of the flood. 8 Of clean animals and animals that are not clean and birds and everything that creeps on the ground, 9 there went into the ark to Noah by twos, male and female, as God had commanded Noah. 10 And it came about after the seven days, that the water of the flood came upon the earth. (Genesis 7:1-10).


We are not told how long it took Noah to build the ark.  The reference in Genesis 6:3 to the days of man being limited to 120 years has led some to believe that this was the period during which Noah was involved in the construction of the ark.


1.         The Clean and Unclean Animals.


Animals were divided into two separate categories.  There were the clean animals and the unclean animals.  These designations are further described in the book of Leviticus, so the details are not needed in this passage.


Clean Animals

Seven of each type taken onto the ark

Unclean Animals

Two of each type taken onto the ark


What was the reason for this unequal distribution?  The clean animals would serve for both food as well as for sacrifices after the flood.


2.         The Objectivity of the Narrative.


One of the remarkable features of the story of the flood is its objective character.  Noah’s subjective feelings or emotions are not mentioned.  We are simply told that God commanded and that Noah obeyed.


3.         Final Preparations.


Noah is told by the Lord to take his family and enter the ark where they are to wait for seven days.  It was not yet raining.  They are not to wait until the rain begins.  They are to move into the ark while the sun is shining and while there is nothing visible on the horizon.  This is a test of faith.


We can only imagine the feelings with which they must have wrestled.  They have spent a great deal of time and effort in constructing this giant barge.  Their neighbors have not shared their faith or their resolve.  There has been mocking and disdain.  Now they are told to enter the ark and to wait.  A day passes.  Then two.  Day after day goes by and still nothing happens.


This is a test of faith.  James 1:3 tells us that the testing of your faith produces patience, resulting in a stronger faith.  Just as the exercise of the muscles of your body produces a stronger body, so also the exercising of your faith results in a stronger faith.





            In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on the same day all the fountains of the great deep burst open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened. 12 And the rain fell upon the earth for forty days and forty nights.(Genesis 7:11-12).


It is evident from the chronological formula given that we are meant to understand this as an actual historical event.  But what is the nature of this event?


The phrase that NAS has translated "floodgates of the sky" is is more properly "windows of heaven" as is found in the KJV.  This exact same term is found in Malachi 3:10 where the Lord is pictured as opening the windows of heaven to pour out blessings on His people.  This kind of usage is also seen in 2 Kings 7:2,19.[1]


The idea of the windows of heaven being opened in order to bring destruction is pictured in Isaiah 24:18.[2]  In the same way, "all the fountains of the great deep" has its parallels such as Deuteronomy 4:18 where we read of fish that are "in the water below the earth."  Thus, the picture is that of the sky and the ocean loosening their bonds so that their waters fall upon the the land.


However, we must add that the rain waters from the sky were not the only source of water.  The Genesis account lists two sources for the flood.


           The floodgates of the sky were opened: Points to the sky as a source for the waters of the flood.

           The fountains of the great deep burst open: Points to the oceans as a source of the water of the flood.


The water for the flood did not magically appear at the appointed time and then disappear after the event.  Our planet is mostly covered by water even today.  The oceans are very deep.  The source of the water for the flood is said to have come both from above and from below.


This brings us to a question.  Was this a world-wide flood or was it merely limited to the geographical area of that part of the world?  Was it a universal flood or was it localized?





Those holding to a universal flood generally believe the Bible to describe the flood in such universal terms that we can only interpret it to mean the flood covered the entire planet.


1.         The depth of the flood.


Genesis 7:19-20 says that ALL the high mountains which were under ALL the heavens were covered by the waters of the flood.  This double use of the word “all” emphasizes the universality of the event.


Water flows downhill.  The peak of Mount Ararat extends to an elevation of around 17,000 feet.  If only this one single peak was covered, then most of the world would also be covered.


2.         The duration of the flood.


When we calculate the chronology of the flood as given in the Genesis narrative, we find the flood is said to have lasted 371 days - a little over a year.  Local floods do not last this long.


Furthermore, we read of divine intervension, not only in bringing the flood, but also in removing the waters of the flood.  This also suggests the necessity of a world wide flood.


3.         The need for the ark.


If the flood was to be merely confined to a certain isolated area, it would not have necessitated Noah spending all that time and effort in building the ark.  He could have moved to high ground.


Over against this point, it could be argued that Noah’s was a test of faith and not a means of the last resort.  The question is whether he would obey the Lord to utilize the salvation provided for him rather than seek other means to save himself.


4.         The testimony of the Apostle Peter.


            ...the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water.  7 But the present heavens and earth by His word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men." (2 Peter 3:6-7).


Peter's words would seem to imply a total destruction of the entire world as he compares the destruction of the flood in Noah’s day with the future judgment and destruction..





There are scholars who hold to the inerrancy and authority of Scripture while at the same time admitting the possibility of the flood of Genesis being only local in nature.


1.         HaAretz is "the land."


The Hebrew word which is translated “the world” throughout the flood narrative can be translated “the land.”


"The LAND of Nod" (Genesis 4:16).

"In the LAND of Shinar" (Genesis 10:10).

"Out of that LAND went forth Asshur" (Genesis 10:11).

"Go forth from your COUNTRY, and from your relatives and from your father's house, to the LAND which I will show you..." (Genesis 12:1).

"And in you all the families of the EARTH shall be blessed" (Genesis 12:3).


2.         Universalist terms can be used in a limited sense.


We need not go very far in the book of Genesis to prove this point.  Note the following verses:


The man called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of ALL living (Genesis 3:20).  Was Eve the mother of all life?  Or merely the mother of all HUMAN life?  The answer is that this universal term was being used in a limited sense.


"Of EVERY living thing of ALL flesh, you shall bring two of every kind into the ark..." (Genesis 6:19).  Most people who advocate a universal flood do not take this command to refer to ocean animals (no goldfish bowls on the ark).


3.         Where did the water go?


Mount Everest rises over 5 miles above sea level.  There are many other mountains in the world which are over the 3 mile height.


For flood waters to cover the earth would mandate that either the mountains were not there (thus they would have to be VERY recent in origin) or else that water came from some supernatural source and then went away again.


It is also interesting to note that sediment deposits have been found underneath the Sumerian ruins at Ur, at Fara and at Kish.  However, these flood deposits would seem to be extremely local in nature and not significant enough even to account for the Genesis account as a local flood.


Recent theories have arisen from scientific studies in and around the Black Sea that suggest a large innundation cause, at least in part, by the overflow of the waters of the Mediterranean into what is today the Black Sea.  Though such theories might be appealing, we ought to be careful not to come too quickly to a conclusion in attempting to reconcile various scientific theories with the Bible.


4.         Summary of Arguments for a Universal / Local Flood.




The Biblical account says that the waters covered the whole earth.

The word aretz is often used to describe a local area.

The Biblical language goes out of its way to use language of totality.

The account is given from the viewpoint of the narrator is from his perspective the destruction is total.

The size of the ark indicates that this was no local flood.

The size of the ark is not related to the extent of the flood.

The purpose of the ark was punishment of world-wide sin.  In a local flood some could have escaped.

God could have made certain all flesh was destroyed without flooding the entire globe.

There are world-wide traces of a flood.

The evidence is scattered and sometimes seemingly inconsistent.

The promise of no future floods (Gen. 9:15) is not true if this is only a local flood.

The promise is for no flood to "destroy all flesh."


As various theories are considered regarding the cause and extent of the flood, we must point out that the Bible does not deny cause and effect.  Indeed, it is because of the “natural laws” that God has instituted that we have come to expect such causes and effects in our world.


On the other hand, we do not believe that cause and effect operate apart from and independently of divine intervention.  The athiest states that everything is explained only by the material universe and he makes a leap of faith to deny that any spiritual force is at work in history.  By contrast, we know that God works in history and that He acts in the lives of men.  He is the Master Cause of all things and He intervenes in history, both through His divine power and also through the agency of cause and effect and those means that we normally think of as “natural causes.”





            13 On the very same day Noah and Shem and Ham and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah's wife and the three wives of his sons with them, entered the ark, 14 they and every beast after its kind, and all the cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth after its kind, and every bird after its kind, all sorts of birds.

            15 So they went into the ark to Noah, by twos of all flesh in which was the breath of life. 16 And those that entered, male and female of all flesh, entered as God had commanded him; and the LORD closed it behind him. (Genesis 7:13-16).


We are given a listing of all of the occupants of the ark.  They encompass Noah and his wife and their three sons and their wives.  Eight souls.  It would be through the eight that the human race would be saved.


1.         The Entrance of the Animals.


Verse 15 states that the animals went into the ark to Noah.  We are not told by what means this was carried out, but we need not conclude a supernatural movement that brought them to the ark.  To assume that the animals came of their own initiative is to read more than the text necessarily says.


2.         The Shutting of the Ark: The LORD closed it behind him (7:16).


While we are not told what role the Lord played in bringing the animals, we ARE told that it was the Lord who closed them in the ark.  This must certainly be understood to say that it was the Lord who closed the door to the ark.  This is striking in its parallel when we remember that Jesus described Himself as the door to the sheepfold (John 10:1-9).


It was not enough to make a mental assent to the warning of the impending judgment.  It was not even enough to have constructed the ark and gathered the animals.  Noah and his family had to enter the ark in order to be saved from the flood.  In much the same way, it is only our entry into Jesus Christ through faith in Him that we find salvation and deliverance from that which threatens to destroy.


One of the questions that I am sometimes asked is whether God will give people a second chance.  The answer is that He IS giving people both a second and a third and an entire multitude of opportunities to come to repentance.   It is not that the Lord is slow or late in His promise of judgment.  Rather, He is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).


On the other hand, there comes a day when the waiting is over and when judgment comes and there are no further chances.  It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment (Hebrews 9:27), not the second chance.  In the same way, there came a day when the Lord shut the door to the ark.  Those who were within were safe; those who had ignored the preaching of Noah faced the onset of judgment. [3]




            17 Then the flood came upon the earth for forty days; and the water increased and lifted up the ark, so that it rose above the earth. 18 And the water prevailed and increased greatly upon the earth; and the ark floated on the surface of the water. 19 And the water prevailed more and more upon the earth, so that all the high mountains everywhere under the heavens were covered.

            20 The water prevailed fifteen cubits higher, and the mountains were covered. 21 And all flesh that moved on the earth perished, birds and cattle and beasts and every swarming thing that swarms upon the earth, and all mankind; 22 of all that was on the dry land, all in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, died.

            23 Thus He blotted out every living thing that was upon the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky, and they were blotted out from the earth; and only Noah was left, together with those that were with him in the ark. 24 And the water prevailed upon the earth one hundred and fifty days. (Genesis 7:17-24).


Forty days and forty nights.  It was a number that had particular significance to the original readers of Moses’ manuscript.  They had also undergone a period of testing that lasted forty days and forty nights.  This was the period during which Moses had gone up onto Mount Sinai to receive the law of God (Exodus 24:18).


Forty days and forty nights.  A rain that came and that did not stop as the waters rose and flooded and choked the very life of all flesh.  The ark was borne up on the waters and those within were safe while death reigned just beyond the wooden beams and planking.


Forty days and forty nights.  Instead of a flood, the people of Israel had found themselves in a desert before the very mountain of God.  It served as a reminder that there had once been a time when all of the mountains were covered.  Such was the power of the Lord that this mountain could be swept away and hidden by the flood of His might.


Forty days and forty nights.  That was how long Jesus was tempted in the wilderness.  He faced the desert and the dry places and He also faced the destructive judgment of God as it was poured out and rained upon Him.  He died for us that we might find life in Him.


As we read this section of the narrative, we will be impressed by the description that emphasizes the universality of the judgment.  While this does not necessarily mitigate against the theory of a largely localized flood, it emphasizes the universality of the judgment.


           The waters lifted the ark up above the earth (7:17).

           The waters prevailed and increased upon the earth (7:18).

           The waters prevailed EXCEEDINGLY upon the earth (7:19).

           All the high hills were covered (9:19).

           The water rose 15 cubits above the mountains (7:20).

           All flesh died upon the earth (7:21).

           The waters prevailed for 150 days (7:24).


The Scriptures could not be more emphatic.  They go so far in verse 21 as to name all of the different catagories of life that died and then to rename them again in verse 23.  The repetition is given for the sake of emphasis.  It is that we should not miss the point that all the animal and human life died in the flood.





            1 But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the cattle that were with him in the ark; and God caused a wind to pass over the earth, and the water subsided. 2 Also the fountains of the deep and the floodgates of the sky were closed, and the rain from the sky was restrained; 3 and the water receded steadily from the earth, and at the end of one hundred and fifty days the water decreased. (Genesis 8:1-3).


We noted at the beginning of this chapter that the statement that God remembered Noah stands as the pivotal point in the chiastic structure of the entire narrative.  Everything from this point will echo of the previous destruction and will involve a movement to restoration and the renewal of the creation.


This is a wonderful picture of salvation.  When it seems as though God had turned His back on all life, both animal and man, God remembered Noah.  This is not to suggest a previous forgetfulness on God’s part.  The point is not that God had been forgetful, but to underscore the exact opposite -- that Noah had not been forgotten and that the ark had not “slipped God’s mind.”


Just as God used natural agencies in bringing about the flood, so now we see Him using natural agencies to remove the waters of the flood.


1.         A Wind:  God caused a wind to pass over the earth (8:1).


The blowing of the wind would help to increase evaporation and even the distribution of the waters.  It would also dry the ground once it appeared.  But this is not the only reason for the mention of the wind.


Do you remember the state of the original earth at the time of the creation?  It was unformed and unfilled and darkness was upon the face of the deep and the Spirit of God was moving upon the face of the waters (Genesis 1:2).  There is a play on words here in that the word for “Spirit” and the word for “wind” is the same word -- ruach.


This description is deliberately designed to view this restoration from the flood as a new creation.  God is doing again what He did at the beginning.  He is bringing life from lifelessness.


2.         The Waters Stopped: The fountains of the deep and the floodgates of the sky were closed, and the rain from the sky was restrained (8:2).


The onslaught of water from both below and from above was halted.  The sea began to return to where the sea belonged.  Eventually dry land would appear, just as it had done at the beginning.





            4 And in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark rested upon the mountains of Ararat. 5 And the water decreased steadily until the tenth month; in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains became visible. (Genesis 8:4-5).


We are not told that Ararat was the name of the mountain on which the ark landed.  Instead, it is the name of the country in which the mountains were located.  This land is mentioned  in 2 Kings 19:37 and Isaiah 37:38 where the assassins of Sennacherib escaped to the land of Ararat.  This evidently refers to a portion of the land of Armenia.  Its ancient name among the Assyrians was Urartu.


The is the land from which both the Tigris and the Euphrates Rivers find their headwaters.  It is a mountainous region and has a particularly high peak that boasts the name of Ararat.


There have been a number of expeditions to Mount Ararat to search for the ark, but none have produced any documented evidence of an ark.




There is a sense in which the chapters setting forth the culmination and recovery from the flood echo the events of Genesis 1 as the Lord moves to bring a re-creation to the world following the destruction of the flood.


Genesis 1

Genesis 7-9

Waters cover the earth (1:2).

Floodwaters cover the earth (7:18-19)

Spirit hovers over the waters (1:2).

The dove hovers over the waters (8:9)

Dry land comes forth with vegetation on the third day (1:12).

Dove returns with an olive leaf indicating dry land (8:11)

Creation finished and God rests (2:2)

Restoration finished; God receives the sacrifice of rest (8:21)


As we come to the account of the flood, we are coming to a renewal and a restoration of the earth as it had become polluted by sin.  This is not to suggest that there will be no further sin in the post dilluvian earth, but that there is a hope for a new beginning.





A number of "Flood Traditions" have come down to us from a number of ancient cultures.  The most popular of these in the one found in the Gilgamesh Epic.


The Epic of Gilgamesh is a long Akkadian poem on the theme of human beings' futile quest for immortality.  A number of earlier Sumerian stories about Gilgamesh, the quasi‑historical hero of the epic, were used as sources, but the Akkadian work was composed about 2000 BC.  It exists in several different recensions, none of them complete.


In the story, Gilgamesh and his friend Enkidu seek immortality through fame, but when Enkidu dies, Gilgamesh finds that fame to be hollow.

Utnapishtim means "the joining of nephesh," the soul.


Unable to accept the finality of death, he goes to Utnapishtim, the Babylonian counterpart of the biblical Noah, to learn the secret of his immortality.


This interview takes place on the 5th of seven tablets.  Utnapishtim tells the story of how he was spared the destruction of the great flood through the building of a giant square barge.


            The boat consisted of seven decks and was overlaid with pitch.


            It took only seven days to build it.

            Utnapishtim saved his family and relatives along with animals and craftsmen.


            The flood began when "the gods of the abyss rose up; Nergal pulled out the dams of the nether waters, Ninutra the war-lord threw down the dykes, and the seven judges of hell, the Annunaki, raised their torches, lighting the land with their livid flame.


            The storm lasted for 6 days and nights after which "the surface of the sea stretched as flat as a roof-top."


            The boat landed atop the mountain of Nisir.  After seven days on the mountain, Utnapishtim released a dove, then a swallow, and finally a raven before leaving the boat and making a sacrifice to the gods.


Utnapishtim goes on to explain that he received it due to the unique circumstances of the flood, but he consoles the dejected Gilgamesh with news about a plant of life.  A snake swallows the plant before Gilgamesh can use it, however, and he finally returns home, reluctantly accepting death without future resurrection as inevitable.


What are we to make of the fact that a document predating the book of Genesis by hundreds of years also contains a story of the flood with many of the same aspects of the Biblical account?  Some have argued that this is proof that the Biblical narratives were adopted from pagan myths and have no bearing on the truth.  I believe that it demonstrates just the opposite.  It is an independent testimony to the truth of the actual events.


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[1] 2 Kings 7:2.  And the royal officer on whose hand the king was leaning answered the man of God and said, "Behold, if the LORD should make windows in heaven, could this thing be?" Then he said, "Behold you shall see it with your own eyes, but you shall not eat of it."

[2]  Isaiah 24:18-19.  Then it will be that he who flees the report of disaster will fall into the pit, And he who climbs out of the pit will be caught in the snare; For the windows above are opened, and the foundations of the earth shake. 19  The earth is broken asunder, The earth is split through, The earth is shaken violently.


[3]  2 Peter 2:5 refers to Noah as a preacher of righteousness.