Chapter 8

Submitted by admin on Mon, 2019-11-18 15:36.

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After the flood had overwhelmed the land for 150 days (7:24), YHWH remembered or directed his attention to Noah and all the other occupants inside the ark and caused a drying wind to blow across the earth. Then the waters began to recede. (8:1)

“The fountains of the deep” (abyss [LXX]) and the “windows of the heavens” (“cataracts of heaven” [LXX]) were stopped up. At the start of the deluge, the “fountains” were the source of water that had burst forth from the land below, and the “windows of the heavens” were like floodgates that had been opened to let huge quantities of water descend as rain from the sky above. The stopping up of all sources for additional water made it possible for the floodwaters to recede progressively after the period of 150 days. (8:2, 3)

On the seventeenth day of the seventh month (Nisan [Targum Jonathan], mid-March to mid-April), the floodwaters had diminished sufficiently for the ark to come to rest on the mountains of Ararat. In his Antiquities (I, iii, 5), Josephus referred to the place where the ark rested as a “certain mountain in Armenia” (a mountain in what is today eastern Turkey). The floodwaters continued to recede until the tenth month (Tammuz [Targum Jonathan], mid-June to mid-July). On the first day of the tenth month (eleventh month [LXX] or Ab, mid-July to mid-August), the tops of the mountains became visible. (8:4, 5)

Noah had made a “window” in the ark. He opened this window at the “end of 40 days” and released a raven. As the raven flew to and fro until the floodwaters had dried up from the earth, Noah was unable to determine anything specific about the conditions outside the ark. Therefore, he next released a dove to see whether the floodwaters had receded from the surface of the land. With the floodwaters still covering the land, the dove located no place to settle and flew back to the ark. Noah then reached out his hand to the bird and brought it inside through the open window. He waited another seven days and again sent out the dove. This time the bird returned toward evening with a freshly plucked olive leaf in its beak. Josephus, in his Antiquities (I, iii, 5), added that the dove was “covered with mud.” Based on the evidence from the return of the dove, Noah knew that the floodwaters had diminished. When, after seven days, he sent forth the dove once more, the bird did not return to him. (8:6-12)

By the first day of the first month (Tishri [Targum Jonathan]; mid-September to mid-October) in the 601st year of Noah’s life, the floodwaters had begun to dry off from the surface of the land. Upon removing the cover of the ark, probably meaning a section thereof that made it possible for him to see the terrain, Noah determined that the ground was dry. On the twenty-seventh day of the second month (Marchesvan (Targum Jonathan), Heshvan; mid-October to mid-November), the earth or land was found to be dry. (8:13, 14)

God directed Noah and his family, together with every bird, land animal, and crawling creature, to leave the ark after having been inside for over one year. (Compare Genesis 7:11 with 8:14.) The living creatures that had survived inside the ark were to breed and increase greatly on the land. Noah, his wife, his three sons, and their wives, and every beast, crawling creature, and bird came out of the ark according to their respective kinds or “families” as had been divinely commanded. (8:15-19) In his Antiquities (I, iii, 5, 6), Josephus commented about the place where all the occupants of the ark made their exit. “The Armenians call this place (Apobatérion) The Place of Descent; for the ark being saved in that place, its remains are shown there by the inhabitants to this day. Now all the writers of barbarian histories make mention of this flood, and of this ark” Among them is Berosus the Chaldean. After describing the circumstances of the flood, Berosus continued: “It is said there is still some part of this ship in Armenia, at the mountain of the Cordyaeans; and that some people carry off pieces of the bitumen, which they take away, and use chiefly as amulets for the averting of mischiefs.” Hieronymus the Egyptian who wrote the Phoenician Antiquities, and Mnaseas, and a “great many more, make mention of the same.” Nicolaus of Damascus, in his ninety-sixth book, is quoted as having written: “There is a great mountain in Armenia, over Minyas, called Baris, upon which it is reported that many who fled at the time of the Deluge were saved; and that one who was carried in an ark came on shore upon the top of it; and that the remains of the timber were a great while preserved. This might be the man about whom Moses the legislator of the Jews wrote.”

Likely in gratitude for having been saved from the deluge, Noah built an altar and sacrificed creatures from among the clean ones as holocausts or burnt offerings. These creatures would have been domestic animals like bovines, sheep, and goats, and birds like doves. YHWH is represented as “smelling” the “pleasing odor” of the sacrificial victims or as recognizing the offerings as acceptable. (8:20, 21) Targum Jonathan says that Noah “took of all clean cattle, and of all clean fowl, and sacrificed four upon that altar. And the Lord accepted his oblation with favor.” Josephus did not identify Noah’s offering up clean animals on the erected altar as an expression of thanksgiving. He wrote, “As for Noah, he was afraid, since God had determined to destroy mankind, lest he should drown the earth every year; so he offered burnt offerings, and entreated God that nature might hereafter go on in its former orderly course, and that he would not bring on so great a judgment any more, by which the whole race of creatures might be in danger of destruction.” Josephus also referred to Noah as entreating God “to accept of his sacrifice, and to grant that the earth might never again undergo the like effects of his wrath; that men might be permitted to go on cheerfully in cultivating the [land]; to build cities, and live happily in them; and that they might not be deprived of any of those good things which they enjoyed before the flood.” (Antiquities, I, iii, 7)

“In his heart” or within himself, YHWH is represented as saying that he would never again curse the ground on man’s account, the reason being that, from youth onward, the inclination of the human “heart” or the inmost self has been toward bad. Although a corrupt human society perished in the deluge, this did not eradicate the serious moral flaw with which Adam infected his offspring by the transgression that alienated him from God. The frightening atrocities, acts of violence, oppression, fraud, and other evils that humans have committed in past centuries down to the present time undeniably prove that the serious moral flaw continues to exist. In view of inherent human sinfulness, YHWH purposed not again to destroy every living creature as he had by means of the deluge. (8:21)

“All the days,” or for as long as, the earth remained, the natural cycles would not end. “Seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter [spring (LXX)], and day and night would not cease. Targum Jonathan is more specific in referring to “sowing in the season of Tishri” (mid-September to mid-October), “harvest in the season of Nisan” (mid-March to mid-April), “coldness in the season of Tebeth” (mid-December to mid-January), and “warmth in the season of Tammuz” (mid-June to mid-July). (8:22)