Genesis 7:15-20

Verses covered in this passage:

  • Genesis 7:15
  • Genesis 7:16
  • Genesis 7:17
  • Genesis 7:18
  • Genesis 7:19
  • Genesis 7:20

Genesis is a book about many beginnings. The beginnings of the world, the human race, sin and redemption, and the nation of Israel to name a few. In fact, the word Genesis from the Greek means “origin,” and in Hebrew it means “beginning.” The book of Genesis contains the events of the flood, tower of Babel, Sodom and Gomorrah, and the lives of the Patriarchs.

In the beginning, God created everything by simply speaking, “God said…and it was so” (Genesis 1:6-7, 9, 11, 14-15). This is not a scientific technical account of creation, but it shows a loving God creating a universe and mankind to rule it and fellowship with God. Man was formed especially from the ground and given the breath of life from God. The woman was made from the man’s rib (Genesis 2:7).

After man fell into sin, things began to spin out of control quickly. Cain murdered his brother Abel and the human race became so violent that God decided to destroy them all with a flood. God saved one righteous man (Noah) and his family in an ark filled with animals to deliver the human race from extinction. God chose Abraham and blessed a special group of people named “Israel.” God began to unfold a plan of salvation from a coming famine by sending Joseph to rule in Egypt. The failure of man in every circumstance is met by the salvation of God. We fail, but the good news is God saves us.

In Genesis chapter seven the flood comes. Noah’s family and all the animals on the ark were saved. It rained for forty days. The flood waters lasted more than a year covering the whole earth. This terrible judgment wiped out all living creatures (including humans) everywhere on the earth. The basic theme of Genesis 7 is that God is both just and gracious and keeps His promises. The ark reveals both the judgment and grace of God.

By twos (male and female) they entered the ark, and God sealed the ark. The rain came and lifted the ark. It floated as the waters continued to rise even covering the mountains.


After entering the ark as God had commanded him, God closed the door of the ark behind him. Noah and his family with all the inhabitants were safe and secure inside the ark, where they spent over one year.


Then the flood came upon the earth forty days. The raging rain lasted on the earth for forty days and nights. However, the flood waters continued for one hundred and ten days. We are not told how long it rained before the ark was able to float on the water, but we are told that the ark floated on the surface of the water.


Verses 18-19 prove the flood was a worldwide event, not a local flood and show the scale of destruction. The waters did not merely rise, the flood was violent and mighty, overwhelming the earth. Whole mountain ranges were covered by the water. In fact, all the high mountains everywhere under the heavens were covered with water. The text even repeats for emphasis that this was a worldwide event: The water prevailed fifteen cubits higher, and the mountains were covered. In verse 20, fifteen cubits are equal to about twenty-two feet of water over and above the mountains. We are not told how high the mountains were at that time.


It is possible the mountain summits were much lower than we know today early in the time of the flood. Later in the time of the flood, and after the flood, mountains could have been rising as the flood waters were receding. We are not told how high the mountains were or how deep the water was. We do know however that however high the mountains were, water covered them by fifteen cubits. It seems God would be revealing this detail, as it seems  Noah would not have the ability to make such an assessment. God is emphasizing the complete destruction and worldwide judgment He brought to the earth.

Biblical Text

15 So they went into the ark to Noah, by twos of all flesh in which was the breath of life. 16 Those that entered, male and female of all flesh, entered as God had commanded him; and the Lord closed it behind him. 17 Then the flood came upon the earth for forty days, and the water increased and lifted up the ark, so that it rose above the earth. 18 The water prevailed and increased greatly upon the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. 19 The water prevailed more and more upon the earth, so that all the high mountains everywhere under the heavens were covered. 20 The water prevailed fifteen cubits higher, and the mountains were covered.

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