The flood story continues…

The Deluge by Antonio Carracci 1615-1618

The Deluge by Antonio Carracci 1615-1618

Noah et al get into the ark and God repeats once more that “every living thing that I have made I will blot out from the face of the ground” (Gen. 7:4). Seven days after everyone packs into the ark, “the waters of the flood came upon the earth” (Gen. 7:10).

We’re told that the flood occurs when “all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened” (Gen. 7:11), so it seems that the rain only accounts for part of the flood. Water is welling up as well (from where?). The rain lasts for forty days and forty nights. As the water levels rise, the ark is born up. Eventually, “all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered” (Gen. 7:19) – which blows my local flood justification out of the water (ah ha, pun!).

We’re told that “all flesh died that moved upon the earth, birds, cattle, beasts, all swarming creatures that swarm upon the earth, and every man” (Gen. 7:21), proving that God makes good on his word – which is a good thing, I guess… I’m still having trouble imagining the kinds of great sins cattle and babies can get up to, but whatever I guess. The next three verses go on about blotting out, and list a second time all the things that are so blotted. We’re then told that the waters “prevailed upon the earth a hundred and fifty days” (Gen. 7:24).

Biblical math

So here’s the timeline of the flood, as presented in Chapter 7:

  • Noah et al get in the ark.
  • Day 7: The rain starts and the fountains of the deep overflow.
  • Day 47: Rain finally stops, having gone on for 40 days.
  • Day 197: The waters no longer prevail upon the earth, after 150 rainless but still very wet days.

But biblical math is never quite so straightforward. These calculations start with Genesis 7:9-10 – The animals “went into the ark with Noah, as God had commanded Noah. And after seven days the waters of the flood came upon the earth.” Unfortunately, we then get this: “And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights. On the very same day Noah and his sons, Shem and Ham and Japheth, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons with them entered the ark” (Gen. 7:12-13). So did they enter the ark seven days before the rain started, or on the very same day?

How many animals?

LOLcatsWe found out last week that God commanded Noah to bring “two of every sort” (Gen. 6:19), one male and one female. And, indeed, we find out that “they went into the ark with Noah, two and two of all flesh in which there was the breath of life” (Gen. 7:15), a male and a female. Perfect!

Ah, dear reader! You know better than that!

Indeed, we see God tell Noah to “take with you seven pairs of all clean animals, the male and his mate; and a pair of the animals that are not clean, the male and his mate; and seven pairs of the birds of the air also, male and female” (Gen. 7:2-3).

But not to worry – Noah just completely disregards God’s momentary memory lapse and simply follows the original command. “Of clean animals, and of animals that are not clean, and of birds, and of everything that creeps on the ground, two and two, male and female, went into the ark with Noah, as God had commanded Noah” (Gen. 7:8-9). So we’re told specifically that he was commanded to bring 7 pairs of each clean animal and each bird, but we’re also told specifically that Noah only brought one pair of each clean animal and each bird. Somehow, this counts as Noah doing as God commanded him. Excellent!