{16}   Gen 7:1-24  Coming of the Flood


Part E. The Great Flood (6:1—9:29)

E3.       Entering the ark (7:1-10)

E4.       The coming of the Flood (7:11-24)

        After a long period of preparation of perhaps 50-120 years, the ark was finally completed. During the whole period when the extraordinary activity of building a huge wooden box was continuing, Noah preached the message of repentence to the whole world (Heb 11:7; 2Pe 2:5). But no one outside his family believed. The time for God’s world-changing action finally arrived.

o        Sibylline Oracles recorded that Noah was a stalwart preacher forewarning doom, but the people “sneered at him, each one, calling him demented, a man gone mad.” Josephus in Antiquities of the Jews envisioned him felt threatened for his life. Luther in his Lectures on Genesis imagined that “more than one miracle was necessary to prevent the ungodly from surrounding and killing him.”



7:1       for (Heb. ki; NIV: because): God explained why Noah’s family was saved; just like He explained in Gen 6:13 why He “determined to make an end of all flesh, for (Heb. ki) the earth is filled with violence.”

I have seen: Noah’s righteous behaviour was described in Gen 6:9; here is God’s recognition.

righteous before me: God’s judgment of Noah corresponds with the author’s description of Noah in Gen 6:9.

7:2       clean animals: These do not refer to the clean animals specified in Mosaic Law about food (Lev 11; Dt 14). No one used animals as food before the Flood. There were also no specifications about which animals were clean. Cleanliness, therefore, refers to fitness for sacrificial use. These animals were used in the burnt offerings after the Flood.

7 pairs: (literal: seven by seven; NIV: seven of every kind) additional details to the command in Gen 6:19-20; clean animals and birds were to be used as burnt offerings. Because the original Hebrew did not clearly specified 7 pairs, some commentators (such as Wesley and Jamieson) believe that it means 7 of each kind, 3 pairs (totalling 6) plus one (the 7th) reserved for the sacrifice after the Flood.

o        Jewish interpretation: “Seven by seven” is a detail not mentioned earlier in Genesis 6:19. Earlier, when the Torah uses God’s name Elohim, which denotes justice, only two animals are mentioned. Here, Yahweh, the name denoting mercy, is used for God’s name and extra animals are required for sacrifice. Accepting a sacrifice is an act of mercy.

7:3       7 pairs of the birds: It appears that all birds are grouped as clean animals. However, as indicated in Gen 8:20, birds are also separated into clean and unclean kinds.

7:4       7 days: They had 7 days to complete the work of moving the animals, birds, insects into the ark. God apparently intervened in some way to send the birds and animals to Noah. Of course, this also meant 7 more days for the people to repent.

I will send rain: The Hebrew uses a participal form indicating an action virtually on the point of beginning.

7:5       the Lord: God was called “the Lord” (Heb. Yahweh) in Gen 7:1-5 when God was the main character. When the focus shifted to man starting from Gen 7:6, God was called “God” (Heb. Elohim).

Noah did all: again describing Noah’s perfect obedience to God’s commands (again in v.9).

7:6       600 years old: 100 years after Noah got his children (Gen 5:32).

flood: The word “Flood” (Heb. mabbul) is a technical term for Noah’s Flood, occurring only in Gen 6—9 and Ps 29:10, different from the normal Hebrew word for flood.

o        Some say that the word mabbul comes from the root naval, denoting death. Others maintain that it comes from the roots balah (to wear out, grind down), balbal (to confuse, mix up), or yaval (to transport). It is also related to the root balal, to mix or stir.

7:7       went into the ark: v.1 was the command that they needed to go into the ark bringing the animals; v.7-9 describe the actual entry into the ark.

to escape the waters: Hebrew is “because of” or “in the face of” the waters.

7:8       everything that creeps on the ground: all crawlers are considered ritually unclean.

7:9       two and two: (literal: two by two) the orderly entrance clearly indicated divine interference. The number of species to be contained in the ark varies greatly in different estimates: from 300 to 50,000.

7:10     after 7 days: The Flood came precisely on the day that God spoke about in v.4.

o        According to Jewish midrash, the 7-day interval was a period of mourning for the death of Methuselah. It is also explained as a period for God’s own grief for the world.

One puzzling question is the duplication of information in this chapter. The entry of Noah’s family is described in v.7 and again in v.13. The entry of the animals is described in v.8-9 and again in v.14-16. One explanation is that the repetitions are structural overlays which help to highlight the information. Another explanation is that v.1-10 focuses on Noah’s entry while v.11-16 focuses on the animals’ entry.

7:11     2nd month 17th day: (Day 1) October or November in the Hebrew calendar, the beginning of the rainy season in the Middle East.

o        In Jewish tradition, there are two ways to decide the beginning of the year. In the Talmud, there is a dispute as to whether the months are counted from the month of Tishrei, or from Nissan. Most Jews support the first way and calculate the date to be October 27, 2106 BC.

Jewish calendar has lunar months (like the Chinese) of 29-30 days. [Length of months in order: 30,29,30, 29,30,29, 30,29-30,29-30, 29,30,29; plus a leap month=30] A year of 12 months will have 354 days. 7 leap months (adding just between 11th and 12th months) are added every 19 years. [Leap years: 3rd, 6th, 8th, 11th, 14th, 17th, 19th]. A leap year of 13 months will have 384 days.

fountains of the great deep: bursting of springs and fountains from below.

windows of the heavens: torrential rainfall from above. Continuous flow of water from above and from below likely caused a complete transformation of the landscape.

7:12     40 days and 40 nights: continuous rain day and night; corresponding to the escalating Flood described in v.17.

7:13     on the very same day: They completed the 7-day work and entered the ark.

The list puts males before females, a reflection of the male dominant society of the author Moses.

Even though polygamy was practised after Lamech (Gen 4:19) or maybe even earlier, Noah’s family still practised monogamy which was what God planned.

While Noah’s family prepared for the Flood, the rest of mankind were still carrying on with the normal affairs of their lives— “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage” (Mt 24:37-39). They were indifferent to the gathering clouds above.



7:16     the Lord shut him in: a contrast to the expulsion of Adam; literally, “covered him round about,” indicating God’s care and protection of Noah as the representative of his family. The shut door produced 2 results: [a] God secured the ark from the raging Flood water; [b] God secured the ark from intruders who wished to escape the Flood.

7:17     the Flood continued 40 days: the Hebrew for “continued” is the word “multiplied” used in Gen 1:28; there, it was the proliferation of life; here, it is the proliferation of destruction. The Flood caused by the springs and rainfall continued to increase for 40 days. After it reached the maximum depth, the Flood water stayed for another 110 days (v.24).

o        Besides the number “7”, “40” is an important number marking events in Israel. Both Isaac and Esau were 40 years of age when they married (Gen 25:20; 26:34). Moses remained on the mountain 40 days and nights to receive the Law (Ex 24:18; 34:28; Dt 9:11,18-25). Moses’ life was divided into periods of 40 years (Ac 7:23,30,36). Israel’s spies were in Canaan for 40 days. Upon their disobedience, God sentenced the Israelites to 40 years in the wilderness. Also the 40 days have been explained as a period of atonement. The importance of the number extended to the NT.

7:18     prevailed (literal: became strong): repeated 4 times (v.18,19,20,24). The word was used to describe victory against the enemy in battles (Ex 17:11); here it refers to the irresistibility of the Flood waters.

floated: The ark as a box could not be navigated by man but the floating was under God’s control.

7:19     so mightily (Heb. meod meod, literal: “greatly greatly” or “very very much”): doubling of the word “greatly” in v.18; emphasizing the escalating waters.

7:20     15 cubits deep: 7 metres above the top of the mountains.

7:21     all (3 times)…everything: These words correspond to “all” and “every” in Gen 6:5 which describe the universality and pervasiveness of human wickedness. This linkage shows the causal relationship between sin of man and the consequential Flood.

7:22     the breath of life: (Hebrew mishmat ruah hayim) literally, “the breath of the breath of life” with the doubling terms used probably as an intensifier, underlining the physical exhalation of breath from the nostrils that is the sign of life.

o        Jewish translation: “Everything on dry land whose life was sustained by breathing died.”

7:23     v.21-23 are 3-time repetitions of the death of all man and animals: v.21 emphasizes “all flesh”; v.22 emphasizes “breath of life”; v.23 emphasizes “He blotted out”. The idea is: All living things, created by God with the breath of life, were destroyed by God.

o        In Hebrew, the words “all” or “every” occur 8 times in v.19-23. Even if the meaning of the passage is hyperbolic, all that Noah and his generation knew were swallowed up by the Flood. No other human being survived.

blotted out: obliterated, fulfilling God’s plan announced in Gen 6:7.

only Noah was left: It points to the righteous remnant. “Remnant” is derived from the verb “remain, left over”. Theologically, the idea of remnant depicts the future hope of God’s people as a holy, regathered people (Isa 4:3; 10:20-23; Jer 23:3; Ro 9:27-28).

The passage (v.21-23) sounds like an elegy (funeral song) mourning the complete destruction of life.

7:24     150 days: The period included the 40-day rain.



        God waited a long long time for man’s repentence but eventually the Flood came. Today, God gave numerous opportunities for each one to repent and accept salvation. But there comes a time when the door of grace will be closed, either by the individual’s death or by the second coming of Christ. It is important to grab the opportunity now, both for the non-believers (to accept salvation) and for the believers (to spread the gospel).

        In the days of Noah, the end of human race came when there was no outward indication of it. (Mt 24:37-39) The Second Coming of Christ will be the same. That is why we are commanded to be watchful. Today, we are possibly very near to the Second Coming and just like the days of Noah, it will happen at an unlike time.

        Many have wondered how Noah and his sons could round up all the animals and birds. The job was impossible for man and only God could achieve the results. Noah’s job was to build the ark and God took care of all other details. Often we do just the opposite of Noah. We worry about details over which we have no control, while neglecting specific areas (such as attitudes, relationships, responsibilities) that are under our control. Like Noah, concentrate on what God has given you to do, and leave the rest to God.