The Flood Subsides (v. 1-19)
God remembered Noah and all those in the ark with him, so he made a wind blow and turned of the fountains of the deep and the windows of heaven to make the waters subside. After 150 days the water subsided and the Ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat on the 17th day of the 7th month. The waters continued to abate until the 1st day of the 10th month when the tops of mountains can be seen.
My first thought here was that this seems much faster than the story I remember, but the next line starts with "after 40 days Noah opened a window". It doesn't seem to follow properly from the first paragraph. My best guess is the first paragraph is God's perspective, and then the second paragraph (that we are about to get to) starts the story over from Noah's perspective. I'll be interested to see what the Christian commentaries have to say, perhaps there is a different way to look at it, this seems like the best explanation to me at the moment though.
If I'm reading Matthew Henry's interpretation correctly, he seems to be saying that it is simply a continuation. It was 40 days after the tops of the mountains appeared that God sent forth the birds. On one hand this makes some sense, obviously if the tops of mountains have just barely become visible it will be too early for them to come out, on the other hand, if the tops of the mountains have come out, wouldn't the birds that he releases have a place to go? (I'm not trying to make a point here, I don't think this actually matters all that much, but I do find it somewhat interesting). Jamieson, Fausset & Brown also seem to agree with Matthew Henry here.
At the end of 40 days Noah opened a window and let out a raven who "went to and fro until the waters were dried up from the earth".
Wait, the raven never came back? Does that mean he flew around for at least a week? I'm confused as to the point the raven is supposed to convey.
Again, both commentaries mentioned above agree that the raven probably just circled above the ark and rested on top of it. When it says the raven went "to and fro" it could include resting on the ark. The distinction is that the dove came back inside the ark. Apparently ravens are carrion birds, and could have been eating bodied that floated up to the surface...eww.
He sent out a dove who flew around but couldn't find land so came back to the ark. Noah sent it out again in 7 days and it came back with an olive leaf, showing that some land was emerging from the water. He waiting 7 more days and let the dove out and it didn't come back, indicating that dry land was out there and Noah opened up the ark. God told Noah to go out on the earth, be fruitful and multiply.
|pic found here|
When they got out of the ark, the first thing Noah did was build an altar to the lord and sacrifice some of every clean animal and bird. God smelled the pleasing aroma and said he would never curse the ground again and he will never strike down every living thing as he has done here because of man, whose heart is evil from his youth.
Oh, so that is why God told Noah to bring extras of the clean animals, so he could sacrifice them. I find it interesting that the pleasing aroma of the sacrifice is what prompted God to say he'd never do this again. I'm reminded of friends (and myself) waking up in the morning with a huge hangover swearing up and down "never again".
Also, what is the deal with the line shoved in there that every man is evil in his heart from his youth?This is one of the huge problems I have with Christianity, this idea that people are evil is pervasive. The idea is just thrown in there, people are all evil.
Matthew Henry addresses this issue, other commentaries seemed to ignore it altogether. He just takes the idea that man is inherently bad for granted and says that it would be easy to think it should follow that people be wiped out. Then he explains that God doesn't do that, man is pitied for all the sin he is surrounded in. He also says that we are a degenerate race. This is the kind of bullshit mentality that I hate, and it does come from the church. Look at how insidious it is though, it is just this one little line in there, easy to miss. 2 out of the three commentaries I read didn't even acknowledge it, but it's there, they read it even if they didn't realize it. awful.
For the Verses of Note post:
Genesis 8:21 man is inherently evil
"...for the intention of man's heart is evil from his youth..."