What Does Genesis 6-8 Teach Us About the Worldwide Flood?

This commentary highlights the total depravity of the human race before the Noahic Flood as well as Yahweh’s plan to save people through a very large ship, the Ark. It also traces the events of the Deluge.

Genesis 6

“The Sons of God”

A serious problem arises when the “sons of God” take the beautiful “daughters of men” as wives (vv. 1, 2), and the women bear children who grow up to become giants (“fallen or mighty ones”) and “mighty men” (v. 4).

[Scripture indicates that Lucifer sinned against God and drew one-third of the angels with him (cf. Ezek. 28:15; Rev. 12:4a). Some scholars have conjectured that the “sons of God” were, in fact, fallen angels who cohabited with women. Cf. Jude 6. John MacArthur surmises that these angels possessed men who then had sexual relations with women.]

Verse 3 appears to assert that God’s patience would allow human beings only one hundred twenty more years to survive in their present condition (“My Spirit shall not strive with man forever”).


Mankind’s Spiritual Depravity

Humanity expresses its thoroughgoing innate depravity with such intensity in thought and deed that the LORD’s heart grieves over what He must do: destroy most of His creation in order to preserve a small remnant (vv. 5-7).

[God’s “repentance” (from the verb nachem, to be sorry) over having made mankind signifies neither a mistake on His part, nor a need for Him to change His mind because He did not foresee what people would do. Having given the “original pair” freedom to choose, He must now change how He will deal with their sinful descendants in order to set things straight]. Only Noah (and his family) finds “grace” with God (v. 8; cf.v. 18).]

God: “Noah, Build an Ark”

The third toledoth introduces a statement about Noah’s godly character (v. 9) and about his male progeny (v. 10).

“Corruption” and “violence”—key concepts in verses eleven and twelve—describe God’s assessment on all humankind’s spiritual and moral condition. The Creator announces to His servant Noah His intention to destroy “all flesh ”with the earth, because they filled the world with violence (v. 13).

In light of this dismal, short-term future, He gives Noah specific directions on how to build an ark (a ship of sorts):

1) Make the vessel of gopherwood;

2) Make nests/compartments/rooms inside; and

3) Cover it inside and outside with pitch (v. 14).

God also informs him about the ark’s dimensions—approximately 450 feet long by 75 feet wide by 45 feet high (v. 15)—and about some of its special features (three decks with one window at the top and one door on the side) [v. 16].

The LORD intended to destroy all life on land with a flood (v. 17), but establish a covenant with Noah and his family (v. 18). Yahweh commands Noah to gather birds, animals and creeping things into the ark—two of each kind—in order to keep them alive (vv. 19-20). The patriarch must also bring along with him enough food for everyone and everything (v. 21). The text records that faithful Noah obeyed God’s command (v. 22).


Genesis 7

Out of an entire generation, God regards only eight people as righteous, and allows them to enter the ark (v. 1). In addition, Noah brings with him seven each of every clean animal and bird, and two each of every unclean animal (vv. 2-3).

[How does this “seven” number square with God’s earlier instruction? (See 6:19-20). The family will sacrifice some of these animals and birds after they leave the Ark (cf. 8:20).]

Starting one week hence, the LORD will cause rain to pelt the earth for “forty days and forty nights,” and “blot out” all living things “from the face of the earth” (v. 4). [This destruction apparently does not involve all marine animals.] Noah, now six hundred years old (1,656 years from date of creation), remains obedient, taking his family and the land creatures into the ark (vv. 5-9).

As He had forewarned, Yahweh brings the waters on the earth after seven days (v. 10; cf. v. 4). Not only does torrential rain begin to pour from the “windows of heaven,” and do the “fountains of the great deep” (subterranean oceans) break out of their chambers on the same twenty-four hour day, but everyone and everything chosen to survive enter the ark (vv. 11-16a).

[What is the significance of the second month and seventeenth day?]

Pulling up the one door on the side of the ark, the LORD Himself shuts them all inside! (v. 16b)

Verses seventeen through twenty show the Flood’s progression:

1) The first forty days find the water lifting the ark “high above the earth” (v. 17);

2) As time goes by, the waters move the ark “on the surface of the waters” (v. 18);

3) The Flood prevails even more until the water covers “all the high hills under the whole heaven” (v. 19);

4) Still higher—fifteen cubits above the mountains—the waters rise (v. 20).

[While one might interpret this event as a local phenomenon—one can construe the “whole heaven” as “from horizon to horizon”—, other evidence points to this catastrophe as being one of worldwide proportions.]

The author spends three verses stressing that “all flesh” on land did not survive; God saved Noah and his family alone (vv. 21-23).

The Flood “prevails” one hundred fifty days on the earth (v. 24).


Genesis 8

On day one hundred fifty God “remembers” Noah and the rest; a wind change signals the beginning of the water’s subsiding (v. 1).

[The term “remembered” does not imply that God ever forgot about Noah; it signifies the LORD’s decision to act on his behalf].

When Yahweh shuts off the water sources, the floodwaters recede greatly (vv. 2-3). Five months after the rains began (7/17), the Ark comes to rest on the mountains of Ararat in modern-day Turkey (v. 4); two and one-half months later (10/1), mountaintops appear (v. 5).

During the eleventh month of his voyage, Noah opens the ark’s solitary window and sends out a raven to see if it could scavenge anything (vv. 6-7).

[The forty-day period seems to extend from 10/1 to 11/11 (give or take a few days.)]

Perhaps somewhat later, he lets a dove search out a nesting place; not being able to find a dry spot, it returns weary (vv. 8-9). Noah waits one more week, and then allows the dove to try again (v. 10). This time the bird retrieves a “freshly plucked olive leaf”: a sign of significant recession in the waters (v. 11). The third time a week later Noah releases the dove, and he never sees it again (v. 12).

On 1/1/601, Noah removes the ark’s “covering,” and sees that the “surface of the ground” is dry (v. 13). However, he must wait almost another two months before the LORD commands him to leave the ark with his family and animals, and start the “abounding, fruit-bearing, and multiplying” again (vv. 14-17).

Everyone and everything exit after spending over a year on the ark (vv. 18-19).

[Why did Noah have to wait another two months after the water had totally receded?]

Noah’s first act on land is one of worship: building an altar and sacrificing burnt offerings of every clean animal and bird he had taken into the Ark (v. 20; cf. 7:2-3). Pleased with His servant’s faithfulness, Yahweh promises “never again to curse the ground for man’s sake” nor “destroy every living thing” (v. 21).

Verse twenty-two is a poetic portrayal of the climatic changes that the Flood brought to pass; seasons, never before experienced, will now endure for as long as the Earth (v. 22).


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