Genesis 8

The Word Made Fresh

1God did not forget about Noah and all the wild and domesticated animals with him in the ark. God made wind blow over the whole world, and the flood waters began to subside. 2The deep cisterns underground and the windows of heaven were closed, and the rain ceased, 3and the flood waters slowly went down around the world. After 150 days the flood had finally gone away. 4On the 17th day of the seventh month the ark ran aground on the mountains in Ararat. 5The flooding continued to subside until the tenth month, and on the first day of the tenth month the tops of mountains began to show.

6Noah waited forty more days, then opened a window he had made in the ark 7and sent a raven out. The raven flew here and there until the flood was all gone and the ground was dry. 8Then he let a dove fly out to see if the flood had receded completely. 9The dove could not find a suitable place to roost, though, and came back to the ark. There was still too much water all around. Noah took the dove back in. 10He waited a full week and sent the dove out again, 11and it returned later in the day, carrying a fresh olive leaf in its beak. Noah knew then that the flood water had finally subsided. 12He waited yet another week and sent the dove out, and this time it never returned.

13Noah was 601 years old, and on the first day of the first month the flood water was completely gone. Noah removed the roof of the ark and looked out at the dry land. 14On the twenty-seventh day of the second month there was no sign of any floodwater anywhere. 15God told Noah, 16“You can leave the ark now. Take your wife, your sons and your sons’ wives with you. 17Release all the birds and animals so they can spread out and multiply all over the earth.”

18So Noah went out of the ark with his family, 19and all the animals that walked or crawled and every bird, every creature left the ark in their family groups. 20Then Noah built an altar and slaughtered one of each animal acceptable as a sacrifice and gave them as burnt offerings on the altar. 21When the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma of the sacrifice, the LORD made a heart-felt promise: “I will never curse the ground again because of humankind, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from adolescence. Nor will I ever again destroy every animal like this. 22As long as the earth exists, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, will never end.”

Commentary

1-5: Creation begins again in verse 1. “God made a wind blow over the earth” = “a wind from God swept over the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:2). Just as the waters were parted in the creation story to make dry land appear (1:9), now the flood waters subside to allow dry land to appear. The “mountains of Ararat” have never been positively identified.

6-12: A forty-day period passes. The 40 days of waiting on the mountains of Ararat mirror the 40 days the flood mounted in the last chapter. Noah sends out a raven with no results. A dove is sent, which found no place to roost (even though mountaintops have already appeared – verse 5) and returns. Noah waits another 7 days (more creation imagery!) and sends the dove out again. This time it returns with an olive leaf, paralleling the creation story in Genesis 1 (the appearance of land is followed by the appearance of vegetation). Still Noah waits, another 7 days. The dove is sent out again but does not return, indicating that it has found a place to nest.

13-19: After roughly 10 ½ months have passed the flood has gone completely and Noah tears off the ark’s roof and lets the sunshine in. A couple of months later, the ground is dry enough to disembark (a word based on the root, “ark”). God gives the command and they finally leave their floating home behind, having lived in it for more than a year. The note that they went out “by families” echoes the creation story’s “male and female he created them” (1:27).

20-22: Now we see why 7 pairs of the “clean” animals were brought on board (although the concept of “clean” and “unclean” awaits the Law of Moses): so that Noah can offer a sacrifice to God. His sacrifice echoes that of Abel, who brought as an offering the firstlings of his flock (4:4). And just as God was pleased with Abel’s offering, so is God pleased with Noah’s. God concedes that human beings will do wicked things, that “the inclination of the human heart is evil from youth” – that’s just how we are – and determines that, no matter how wicked we become, he will never again destroy the earth because of us.

Takeaway

God is a God of new beginnings. Every trial will end in new possibilities when we put our trust in the One who made us.