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GENESIS 7

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
The Flood The Great Flood The Great Flood The Flood Preparations for the Flood
    (6:5-8:22)   (6:13-7:16)
7:1-5 7:1-12 7:1-5 7:1-5 7:1-5
7:6-12   7:6-10 7:6-10 7:6
        7:7-10
    7:11-16 7:11-16 7:11-12
7:13-16 7:13-16     7:13-16a
        7:16b
        The Flood
7:17-24 7:17-24 7:17-24 7:17-24 7:17-24

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Bible Interpretation Seminar")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

  1. First paragraph
  2. Second paragraph
  3. Third paragraph, etc.

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: GENESIS 7:1-5
  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. 2You 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; 3also of the birds of the sky, by sevens, male and female, to keep offspring alive on the face of all the earth. 4For 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." 5Noah did according to all that the Lord had commanded him.

7:1 "the Lord said to Noah" It is the covenant name for God, YHWH, here but in Gen. 7:16 He is called Elohim. The rabbinical understanding of these terms referring to God as savior (YHWH) and as Creator (Elohim) seems to fit the usages of the Pentateuch.

Special Topic: Names for Deity, C. and D.

▣ "Enter the ark" This VERB (BDB 92, KB 112) is a Qal IMPERATIVE.

▣ "for you alone I have seen to be righteous before Me in this time" The term "righteous" here is used in the same sense as referring to Job as "blameless." This does not imply a sinlessness but one who has conformed to and performed all that they understand or is culturally expressed in relation to God.

Notice that Noah's righteousness affects his family. This is a biblical truth. This does not mean that someone can be right with God based on another person's merit, but it does imply that spiritual blessings flow from those who know God to those with whom they are acquainted and with whom they are intimately involved (compare Deut. 5:9-10; 7:9 and 1 Cor. 7:14).

Special Topic: Righteousness)

7:2 "clean animal by sevens, a male and his female" There is a distinction between clean and unclean. Nothing is said about the criteria. Later in the life of the nation of Israel, YHWH will reveal the distinction. In this period of Israel's history, the unclean animals were often related to the surrounding pagan cultures. The food laws of Leviticus 11 were one way to separate Israel from the nations. I see the food laws as religious, not hygienic (see notes online at Leviticus 11). In Gen. 9:3 all animals are allowed for food, but in Gen. 5:20 only "clean" animals were sacrificed to God.

There has been much discussion about the seven pairs (cf. NRSV, NJB, JPSOA). Does it mean seven individual animals or seven pairs of animals?

Special Topic: Symbolic Numbers in Scripture, #4

 

7:4 "seven more days, I will send rain on the earth" Rashi says that this was the period of mourning for the righteous Methuselah who had just died. The rabbinical Midrash believed that God did not send the flood until Methuselah passed away.

The origin of the week is shrouded in mystery. The best option is not related to the solar or lunar cycles, but to the recurrent use of "seven" in the Gilgamesh Epic and the Ba'al poetry of Ugarit. see Roland deVaux, Ancient Israel, pp. 186-188.

▣ "forty days and forty nights" The term "forty" is used quite often in the Bible (see a concordance). At times it is meant to be taken literally but at other times it simply means a long period of indefinite time (longer than a lunar cycle which is twenty-eight and one-half days, but shorter than a seasonal change). In several Mesopotamian accounts the time frame of the flood is seven days.

Special Topic: Symbolic Numbers in Scripture, #7

7:5 Noah's righteousness is connected to his obedience (cf. Gen. 6:22; 7:5,9,16).  The VERB "commanded" (BDB 845, KB 1010, Piel PERFECT) must relate to special revelation from YHWH (i.e., "YHWH said to Noah").

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: GENESIS 7:6-12
  6
Now Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of water came upon the earth. 7Then Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons' wives with him entered the ark because of the water of the flood. 8Of clean animals and animals that are not clean and birds and everything that creeps on the ground, 9there went into the ark to Noah by twos, male and female, as God had commanded Noah. 10It came about after the seven days, that the water of the flood came upon the earth. 11In 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. 12The rain fell upon the earth for forty days and forty nights.

7:11 "all the fountains of the great deep burst open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened" The dating of Gen. 7:11 is very specific in this verse (which implies a historical event) as well as the VERBS which describe the physical catastrophe that occurred on the earth (two Niphal PERFECTS, BDB 131, KB 149 and BDB 834, KB 986). We can see the scale of destruction in Gen. 7:18 and 19 in the Hebrew text. Many of the earth's physical features may have been changed especially in the near east. There are two sources of the water:

  1. fountains of the deep (cf. Gen. 1:9)
  2. foodgates (i.e., windows, cf. Ps. 78:23ff; Mal. 3:10) of the sky (i.e., the waters above, Gen. 1:6-8)

This is an obvious reversal of what God did in Genesis 1. Watery chaos returns.

Special Topic: Waters

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: GENESIS 7:13-16
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, 14they 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. 15So they went into the ark to Noah, by twos of all flesh in which was the breath of life. 16Those that entered, male and female of all flesh, entered as God had commanded him; and the Lord closed it behind him.

7:13 "On the very same day" This is a Hebrew idiom, "bone of the day." This NOUN root "bone" (BDB 782) is used in this sense several times (cf. Gen. 17:23,26; Exod. 12:17,41,51; Lev. 23:14,21,28,29,30; Deut. 32:48; Josh. 5:11; 10:27; Ezek. 24:2; 40:1).

7:14 This includes all the categories of land animals mentioned in Genesis 1, excluding the sea life.

7:16 "and the Lord closed it behind him" YHWH closed the door Himself (see note Gen. 3:8; 8:21; 11:5). The rabbinical Midrash says that He did this in order to keep the wicked out of the ark. They even go so far as to assert that God surrounded the ark with lions and bears to keep the people away. To me, the ark is another act of YHWH's mercy to mankind to continue the Messianic line, even amidst judgment, which would eventually provide redemption (cf. Gen. 3:15).

Special Topic: YHWH's Eternal Redemptive Plan

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: GENESIS 7:17-24
  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. 18The water prevailed and increased greatly upon the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. 19The water prevailed more and more upon the earth, so that all the high mountains everywhere under the heavens were covered. 20The water prevailed fifteen cubits higher, and the mountains were covered. 21All flesh that moved on the earth perished, birds and cattle and beasts and every swarming thing that swarms upon the earth, and all mankind; 22of all that was on the dry land, all in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, died. 23Thus 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. 24The water prevailed upon the earth one hundred and fifty days.

7:19 The language of this verse certainly implies a worldwide flood (cf. Gen. 8:21; 2 Pet. 3:6). But does it? The term "earth" (erets, BDB 75, can mean "land" (cf. Gen. 41:57). It may be an idiom similar to Luke 2:1 and Col. 1:23 (cf. Hard Sayings of the Bible, IVP pp. 112-114). As for the theology of the flood, its extent is irrelevant. There is not a consistent flood deposit even in Mesopotamia much less the whole world! Floods were common in Mesopotamia because of the two large river systems that combine at their mouths. A book that has been very helpful to me in this area is Bernard Ramm, The Christian's View of Science and Scripture, pp. 156-178.

Special Topic: Land, Country, Earth

NASB  "prevailed more and more"
NKJV, Peshitta  "prevailed exceedingly"
NRSV  "swelled so mightly"
TEV  "became so deep"
NJB  "rose higher and higher"
JPSOA  "swelled much more"
REB  "increased more and more"
LXX  "prevailing very greatly"

There is a series of phrases that express the rising flood waters.

  1. Gen. 7:19 ‒ "the water increased"
  2. Gen. 7:17 ‒ "it rose above the earth"
  3. Gen. 7:18 ‒ "the water prevailed and increased greatly"
  4. Gen. 7:19 ‒ "the water prevailed more and more"
  5. Gen. 7:19 ‒ "all the high mountaiins everywhere under the heavens were covered"
  6. Gen.  7:20 ‒ "the waters prevailed fifteen cubits higher, and the mountinas were covered"

Verses 18 and 19 use the ADVERB "greatly" (BDB 547). Verse 19 doubles it for emphasis. The question of the extent of the flood is linked to the dispersion of the animals and mankind from Eden.

7:20 "cubits" See Special Topic: Cubit

7:22 "the breath of the spirit of life" Apparently the aquatic life was spared, but all other air-breathing life was destroyed. There is a purposeful distinction between animals that have the breath of life and mankind who has the breath of God (Gen. 2:7; NIDOTTE, vol. 3, p. 133).  Six humans will be spared and start the new humanity.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. What is your understanding of the phrase "the sons of God" and why?

2. Why do you think that angels would want to take human women?

3. Who were the Nephilim?

4. How could God repent?

5. What does it mean to walk with God?

6. Why weren't the fish judged along with the land animals?

7. What is a clean and unclean animal in Noah's setting? 

8. Was the flood local or universal? Why?

 

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