Genesis 6:9-17… These are the records of the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God. 10 And Noah became the father of three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. 11 Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence… 12 for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth… 13 Then God said to Noah, I am about to destroy them with the earth. 14 Make for yourself an ark… 17 And behold, I, even I am bringing the flood of water upon the earth, to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life, from under heaven; everything that is on the earth shall perish.”
Most people have heard of Noah, but unfortunately he has been mythologized through the centuries, relegated to children’s books. But the account reads, “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time… he walked with God.” First, Noah was “righteous.” This doesn’t mean he was perfect, but the word pertains to being above reproach – one who conforms to moral/ethical standards of behavior. As such, Noah was also “blameless” in his time. This word refers to “completeness,” and it’s used to describe the sheep brought to the Lord as a sacrifice in the Book of Leviticus – they were to be “without blemish.” Of course this word doesn’t describe Noah’s outward appearance but his character – it is unblemished, and he is “blameless.” The final phrase that describes Noah is the summation of the previous two adjectives: Noah “walked” with God. Noah wasn’t just a “good” man; he also walked with God in that he had a personal relationship with Him. Many people can be described as moral and blameless, but unless they walk with God all of their good deeds are as filthy rags in the sight of God (cf. Isaiah 64:4). This is the goal of all who call on the name of Jesus Christ for salvation. It’s not just a confession, it’s a “walk.” Noah’s walk with God is noteworthy as it is mentioned by Isaiah (54:9) and Ezekiel (14:14, 20) who lists Noah as one of the three most righteous men who ever lived. Luke also notes that Noah is in the official line of Christ (3:36). So he’s not mythological; he’s “righteous & blameless.”
Noah’s three sons (Shem, Ham, and Japheth) were fathered when he was 500 years old (Gen. 5:32) – 20 years after the 120 year decree in Gen. 6:3 because Noah was 600 years old when the floodwaters came (7:6). God would repopulate the earth through Noah’s sons. Shem is the Jewish Patriarch, and this is why they are known today as “Semites.”
Verses 11-12 once again point to the “corruption” (literally “rottenness”; “rubbish”) on the earth during Noah’s day. It was filled with “violence” (Hamas) – the same Hebrew word for the Palestinian terrorist group associated with Islamic Jihad. The earth is still filled with them! As a result of this corruption and violence God tells Noah in verse 13 that He will destroy not only the people who are corrupt but the earth as well. Now Noah is told to build an “ark” – a really big boat – so as to avoid God’s judgment. Verse 17 is God’s words to Noah about how that judgment will come about: floodwaters to destroy all flesh which contains the breath of life that He Himself gave to that flesh; everything shall perish according to the word of God in verse 17.
Food for Thought
The ark Noah was to build for his own salvation and that of his family is akin to Jesus Christ who delivers those who enter into Him for salvation. Hebrews 11:7 says, “By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in obedience prepared an ark for the salvation of his household…” In the same way that God’s wrath was poured out on the wicked generation of Noah’s day, but was withheld from righteous Noah, so it will be in the end of time when God’s wrath is poured out on all who do not call upon the Lord Jesus Christ alone for salvation. In the same way that the ark alone provided salvation for Noah, Jesus alone offers salvation to all.
Genesis 6:14-16… Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood; you shall make the ark with rooms, and shall cover it inside and out with pitch. 15 And this is how you shall make it: the length of the ark three hundred cubits, its breadth fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. 16 You shall make a window for the ark, and finish it to a cubit from the top; and set the door of the ark in the side of it; you shall make it with lower, second, and third decks.
The ark Noah was to build was going to be a spectacular sight and feat that would preserve he and his family. Gopher wood is and unknown type of wood, and the NIV calls it “cypress” wood because it was a type of wood used by the shipbuilders of old due to the fact that it won’t rot easily. It was to have rooms, a window, a door, and three decks.
The biblical cubit is equal to 18 inches. This means that the ark Noah built was at least 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. That’s one and a half football fields in length! This ark was the largest boat ever built up to the 19th century when metal ships began to be built. The ark’s size was six times longer than it was wide, but the norm of the ancients after the Flood was ten to one. The proportions of Noah’s ark are the same used in modern-day ship building. The “unsinkable” Titanic was 823 feet long by 98 feet wide and had a cargo capacity of 45,000 tons. Though this is a bit larger than Noah’s ark (longer and wider) it’s noteworthy of the similarities.
The six to one dimension ratio of Noah’s ark gave it outstanding stability, making it almost impossible to capsize. The stability came as a result of the low center of gravity. The cargo made the boat extremely heavy, and the deeper it sank into the floodwaters, the more stable it became. The ark was never meant to be a boat to navigate, for it had no rudder. It was simply designed to float on the surface of the waters and preserve the lives of Noah, his family, and the animals God brought to him.
Some have noted that the three decks Noah built housed Noah, his family, and the lighter animals on the first deck, the larger animals on the second, and the third for the ballast & waste. The capacity of the entire ark was right at 1.4 million cubic feet of cargo space. This has been equated by scholars to 522 railroad stock cars – about five miles long! Given that the average size of all animals is a single sheep, this means that the ark could contain 130,500 animals. One man who worked for Union Pacific Railroad claims that the average number of full-grown animals capable of being loaded in one standard stockcar is: cattle—about 25; hogs—about 75; and sheep—about 125 per deck. This means that at least 250 animals of the size of sheep could be accommodated in a standard two-decked stockcar. However, in light of the fact that there are only about 18,000 different kinds of animals on the earth today (not the sea) this means that the ark didn’t even need all the room it had. Drs. Henry Morris & John Whitcomb in The Genesis Flood reveal that of the land-dwelling mammals that exist today there are about 3,500; of the birds there are about 8,600; of the reptiles & amphibians there are about 5,500. Since there were two of each on the ark, this means that the numbers must double. Now Noah is left with about 36,000 animals to house on a boat that has enough room for over 130,000! And none of these numbers reflects the many extinctions of animals that have come about through the centuries.
Food for Thought
Noah’s ark was quite a boat. He had over 100 years to build it, but he had God’s helping hand and provisions to guide His way. In the same way God taught Noah the way of salvation in the ark, He has also done so in His inspired Word – the Bible. God has given us the way of salvation in Jesus Christ alone, and like the ark, Jesus is the only way a man can attain it.
Genesis 7:1-5… 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 40 days and 40 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.
God tells Noah in Genesis 6:18 that He will establish His covenant with him (explained further in Gen. 9:9-17), and Noah obeys all that the Lord told him to do in building the ark, taking his family upon the ark, and loading two of every land-dwelling animal on the ark in Genesis 6:22. Noah is said to have obeyed all that the Lord commanded of him in 6:22, 7:5, and 7:9. Obedience to God is the true mark of all men and women who truly “walk” with God.
In Gen. 7:5 above, God told Noah to enter the ark that he had built (this is now 120 years after God had originally spoken of judgment on the earth in Gen. 6:3). Verses 2-3 speak of the clean animals coming by “sevens” – a new twist to what was originally said to be just two (6:19). There is no indication in Genesis about which animals are clean and unclean. This is made very clear under the Mosaic Law but not here. Possibly Noah already knew which animals were acceptable for sacrifice, but the reader is not informed. At any rate, Noah is to bring in one pair of each unclean animal, male and female, and he is to bring in seven pairs of what he deems are clean animals. This makes perfect sense when we understand that these animals will be used for food and sacrifice, and if there was only one pair preserved on the ark, then Noah would render each one that he ate and/or sacrificed extinct the moment he did so. This is clearly one of the main reasons he is instructed to bring seven pairs, both male and female, of the clean animals. Verse 3 also gives the obvious reason why God preserved animals along with man when He says that they are to “keep offspring alive on the face of all the earth.” God didn’t reconsider His formation of man and animals. He loved His creation and preserved a remnant on the ark.
Verse 4 shows that Noah entered the ark seven days prior to the rains. God tells him specifically that it will begin to rain after seven days, but Noah must have wondered what “rain” actually was. After all, it had never rained on the earth before. The earth was covered with a vapor canopy that kept it at a uniform greenhouse-like constant temperature, and the ground was watered by a mist that rose up from the earth (Gen. 2:6). This rain was going to last for 40 days and nights so as to “blot out” all living things from the face of the land. The verb literally means “to destroy,” and that is exactly what the Flood did (the fossil record attests to massive death in a worldwide catastrophic event that produced so many fossils at one time). It is important to note that if all the clouds on the planet dropped their moisture, they still could not produce enough water to rain for 40 days and nights. It’s also noteworthy that all the moisture in the clouds today could only measure up to 2 inches of rain worldwide. Thus, this rain that produced the flood was the collapse of the vapor canopy and the explosion of “fountains of the great deep.”
Food for Thought
The final phrase in verse 5 says, “And Noah did according to all that the LORD had commanded him.” This is a description of one who truly walks with God. He built a boat in a time when there was no rain, and he boarded it when it made no sense. He had great faith indeed, and he was preserved from God’s judgment. So it is when we place our full faith in Jesus Christ.
Genesis 7:11-8:14… The Elapsed Time of the Flood
Many suppose that the Great Flood of Noah’s day lasted 40 days and nights. At first glance this may seem accurate, but a closer look at the text reveals that it only rained for 40 days and nights. The time Noah and his family, along with all the animals, were on the ark was over one full year. Take a look:
First of all, Genesis 7:6 says that Noah was 600 years old when the flood water came upon the earth. Genesis 7:11 is more specific when it says, “In the 600th year of Noah's life, in the 2nd month, on the 17th day of the month, on the same day all the fountains of the great deep burst open, and all the floodgates of the sky were opened.” Then if we skip over to Genesis 8:13 it says, “Now on the first month of the 601st year of Noah, on the first of the month, the water was dried up from the earth. Then Noah removed the covering of the ark, and the surface of the ground was dried up.” This means that it was more than a year from the time Noah stepped onto the ark until the day he stepped off the ark.
Noah entered the ark on month two, day 10 (7:7-9). Seven days later, on day 17, the rains began to fall (7:10-11). Now it rained for 40 days and nights (7:12), so by the end of that time it was month three, day seven (the Jews used a 30-day month calendar. All months were 30 days long, and their year equaled 360 days). The text says that the waters “prevailed upon the earth 150 days” (7:24) which just adds 110 days to the 40 days and nights bringing us to month seven, day 17. This is the day that the ark “rested upon the mountains of Ararat” (8:4). Up to this point, Noah and the inhabitants of the ark have been in the ark for 157 days.
As the water receded, and allowed the ark to rest upon the mountains, the text says that Noah was doing his own experiments by testing the earth using birds. The tops of the mountains became visible in the tenth month on the first day of the month (8:5), so this is actually 74 days after the initial 150 days, bringing the total to 224 days on the ark. Forty days after this, in month 11, day 11, Noah sent out a dove and a raven (8:6-9) that both returned to him. Seven days after that (month 11, day 18) he sent the dove out again which returned to him with an olive leaf (8:10-11) signifying that the water had indeed abated from the earth. Noah then waits another seven days (month 11, day 25) and sends the dove out again only to have it not return (8:12). We know from Genesis 8:3 that the total time it took the water to recede was 150 days, so 22 days after the dove did not return, in month 12, day 17, the waters had completely abated (360 days after Noah stepped onto the ark). In Gen. 8:12 Noah saw dry land in month one, day one, and Noah exited the ark month two, day 27 (8:14-19). The total time Noah spent in the ark was one year, 17 days – 377 days (Morris & Whitcomb cite 371 days).
Food for Thought
The inhabitants of the ark must have gasped when they saw the waters of the Flood cover over the tops of the mountains. Through the window of the ark they must have observed the death of the animals and the millions of people dying – some probably pounding on the outside of the boat begging for rescue. This is what Matthew 7:22-23 & 25:12 speaks of when Jesus comes back to take those who walk with Him through obedience. Many, like those who perished in the Flood, will beg of Jesus to let them follow Him into His eternal kingdom, but He will reply, “I never knew you; depart from me you who practice lawlessness.” In the same way that those who were saved on the ark because of their faith and God’s mercy, so will be those who are not the recipients of God’s wrath when He comes to take His Own. Are you ready for that?
Genesis 8:1-2, 4, 7-11… But God remembered Noah… and caused a wind to pass over the earth, and the water subsided… 2 the fountains of the deep and the floodgates of the sky were closed… 4 the ark rested upon the mountains of Ararat… 7 Noah sent out a raven, and it flew here and there until the water was dried up from the earth. 8 Then he sent out a dove from him, to see if the water was abated from the face of the land; 9 but the dove found no resting place for the sole of her foot, so she returned to him into the ark; for the water was on the surface of all the earth… and he brought her into the ark to himself. 10 So he waited yet another seven days; and again he sent out the dove from the ark… 11 and returning, behold, in her beak was a freshly picked olive leaf. So Noah knew that the water was abated from the earth.
When the text says that God “remembered” Noah, it is not referring to God recalling something after having forgotten it for a time. God made a covenant with Noah in 6:18 to save him, his family, and two of every animal He brought to him in the midst of destroying all life on the planet. Now God “remembers” – He acts on behalf of Noah due to his previous commitment to deliver him from judgment. God is always trustworthy, and He sends a wind (Hebrew spirit) over the planet and causes the waters to subside (cf. Gen. 1:2 where this “spirit” hovers over the waters of the chaotic mass). This isn’t a quick-dry-up but one that lasts 150 days (8:3-4). It’s the time when God shuts the reservoirs of the deep and closes the windows of the sky. He opens them to spew enough water to flood the entire planet above the mountains, then He closes them.
Verse 4 says that the ark came to rest on the “mountains of Ararat.” This location is the modern-day mountainous region of Armenia in the northern part of Iran, bordering on both Turkey and Iraq. Though modern-man believes he has located the exact mountain range, it must be noted that even the narrator of the biblical account is vague, showing his own uncertainty.
Now Noah sends out a raven in verse seven. This is a bird that eats dead carcasses, of which there was likely a great abundance as the waters subsided. The adventurous raven is a resilient bird that is unaffected by very cold temperatures and who seems to bask in mud and carrion. It did not return to Noah, nor did it need to, for it is a solitary bird that likely found rest on top of the ark or on the carrion surrounding it. Seven days later (implied) he sends out a dove. This bird is capable of flying long distances, but it’s also naturally inclined to return to its original abode. The dove is a low-flying bird that tends to only land on clean dry surfaces. Noah knew this, and of course it made for the perfect choice to send after the raven failed to return. He sends out the dove again seven days later, and when she returns with an olive branch Noah knew that the waters were almost abated – though olive branches do grow under water. Noah then waits another full month while waiting for the earth to dry and for God’s permission to exit the ark.
Food for Thought
From the events of Genesis 8, the olive branch has become the symbol of peace – a symbol of the resurrection of Christ, and the dove is the emblem of the Comforter (Holy Spirit) – the messenger of peace. Christians, like Noah’s dove, continue to be the heralds of peace and of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. They, like the dove in 8:9, always return to their Keeper and find rest in Him. Noah’s selection of the raven and dove marked the distinction in their natures. The raven seeks food by finding, settling, and feeding on death. The dove, by contrast, settles only upon what is dry and clean. Such is the contrast b/t the redeemed and unredeemed. Many, like the raven, are at peace with lifestyles that lead to death, but the truly regenerate children of God, like the dove with Noah, “walk” with God by resting in Him alone.