Genesis 8:1-5

Verses covered in this passage:

  • Genesis 8:1
  • Genesis 8:2
  • Genesis 8:3
  • Genesis 8:4
  • Genesis 8:5

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 eight, the flood subsides, and God gives mankind a new start. Noah, his family and all the animals exit from the ark. Noah builds an altar to the Lord. Noah rightly worshipped God as the means of their deliverance. God promises to never curse the ground again even though intent in man’s heart is evil even from man’s youth. God also promises to sustain the earth as a refuge for humanity so long as the earth remains. The flood account demonstrates God’s justice, but also his grace. It also shows the impact one man’s simple obedience can have on human history.

The rain stopped, and the underground waters were closed. God caused a wind to dry up the flood waters. The ark came to rest on the mountain tops of Ararat. Soon the tops of the mountains were visible. Specific dates are recorded, emphasizing that this is a historical record of an actual event.

The floodwater’s cessation and recession begins in these verses. God remembered Noah. God had grace and compassion for Noah and began to bring the flood to an end, God caused a wind to pass over the earth and the water subsided.

In verse two the fountains of the deep were closed stopping the flooding and water upheaval from underground the earth. The rain was withdrawn as well, so that the flood water began to recede or diminish. The receding waters became a testimony of God’s faithfulness to all in the ark.

An ecologic upheaval of this magnitude is impossible to fully comprehend. As we are told in 2 Peter 3:6, the earth that then existed perished in the flood. All that was, was no more. The earth Noah and his family were about to occupy was substantially different. The geologic, climate and ecological upheavals that destroyed the former earth would have also created a new earth. From the Biblical descriptions, it seems clear that the new earth is a hostile environment in comparison to the earth Noah had previously known.

New lakes and seas could have been created as the waters receded. The massive upheavals that caused the waters of the deep to gush forth likely included massive shifts in the tectonic plates, causing continents to shift, and creating new mountain ranges. It is possible to view some mountain ranges or geologic upheavals as a memorial to God’s judgment of the earth during Noah’s flood. A massive upheaval of this magnitude could have caused enormous geologic faults to appear, and continents could have formed and shifted because of this calamity. We are not told many details, but 2 Peter 3:6 tells us that the old earth had perished. It is reasonable to speculate that the atmosphere would have changed substantially as well.

The earth’s current atmosphere does not seem to have adequate volumes of water vapor to support the amount of rain described in Genesis. 2 Peter 3:5 tells us by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water. It could be that the pre-Noahic atmosphere included a canopy of water vapor. The likely higher atmospheric pressure and blockage of radiation that probably would have attended such a water canopy could be a partial explanation for the substantially longer life-spans prior to the flood. It could be that the climate that perished supported vastly larger forms of plants and animals that would have no longer existed after the flood.

Such a water canopy would have created a more uniform climate. Assuming the water canopy collapsed, vast new temperature extremes would be expected. Areas like the tropics and arctic could have appeared at this time, and animals could have adapted and found places to suit their needs. Some species could have gone extinct, not being able to live in the new environment. This thought model could explain the sort of violent shift in temperature required to freeze wooly mammoths that have been discovered in ice packs, still having edible meat and enzymes in their stomachs.

Five months after Noah entered the ark, it rested upon the mountains of Ararat. It is not stated exactly or specifically where the ark came to rest, simply within this mountain range or region. There are present day mountains called Ararat on the border of eastern Turkey near Armenia. The mountain range is 17,000 feet high at its highest peak. In the foothills, there is a city called Naxuana which means, “here Noah settled.” Armenian tradition says that in Northern Armenia about twelve miles south of Erivan, the ark settled on a peak called Macis (known as the mountain of Noah). For hundreds of years, archaeologists have been searching for remains of the ark in this area. So far, their attempts have not been fruitful. This is not particularly surprising. It is reasonable to believe that wood and supplies from the ark would have been immediately put to use, and the ark largely salvaged. It is also reasonable to expect that any wood remaining after such a period of time would likely have decayed if exposed to the air, or not be visible if buried in the earth.

In verse five we see the flood waters decrease continually until the tops of the mountains could be seen. It only took forty days for the rains to submerge the whole earth, the water’s recession would take much longer.

Biblical Text

1 But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the cattle that were with him in the ark; and God caused a wind to pass over the earth, and the water subsided. 2 Also the fountains of the deep and the floodgates of the sky were closed, and the rain from the sky was restrained; 3 and the water receded steadily from the earth, and at the end of one hundred and fifty days the water decreased. 4 In the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark rested upon the mountains of Ararat. 5 The water decreased steadily until the tenth month; in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains became visible.

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