Counting the Days to Dryness
I always find it interesting when reading through the Bible yearly that I find remarkable facts that I sometimes forget or miss years before. These facts feel like bits of new information that until now were undiscovered by myself. It may be that I never noticed them before. Or it may be that some time during the year prior, I was engaged in a discussion that involved them. Whatever the reason, I still love the shock of finding something that takes me by surprise. Just two days into 2007, and here it is – the period of the flood.
The story of the flood, as people have communicated, generally mention that Noah was in the Ark for forty days and forty nights. It has always meant to me (as many others I know) that on the forty-first day, Noah stepped back onto dry land. But this is not so. In fact, Noah spent more than one year on that massive boat with his family and all of those animals.
Here is is how it panned out. In Genesis 7:4, God tells Noah that seven days after the Ark is loaded, God will begin the rain. (This was likely to give the sinners a time to repent – yet none did.) So Noah loads the Ark with his family (1 wife, 3 sons, 3 daughter-in-laws) and the animals. They wait inside for seven days as the dry land remains – there is no sign of flooding. On the eighth day, God sends rain.
The rain is said to fall for forty days and forty nights (Genesis 7:4,12). This is where we get the phrase (also from Genesis 8:6). The Bible says that not only from above did waters come, but also from the “fountains of the great deep” below (Genesis 7:11). It was as if all the waters of the earth (from the canopy above in the heavens to the waters below the earth’s floor) began to gather on the surface. The flood came. Apparently, God completely flooded the earth with all of its waters in forty days and nights.
“The water prevailed upon the earth one hundred and fifty days” (Genesis 7:24). God had flooded the earth in forty days and nights, but now those in the Ark were to wait until the waters were absorbed by the earth. They waited another one hundred and fifty days. So, for about seven months they have lived in the giant boat. (I would have died of motion sickness by day two!)
After these seven months passed, the water finally receded and the Ark rested on Ararat (Genesis 8:3-4). But Noah was not getting off the boat since God had not commanded him (until Genesis 8:16). The waters were still receding according to Genesis 8:5. The tops of mountains were becoming visible. It was now ten months later.
Noah still did not touch land. He sent a raven and a dove to forty days after the tenth moth. It was not in well into the eleventh month. The birds found no real land so Noah waited another week. He did this twice more (Genesis 8:6-12). After the dove found nesting ground, Noah knew it was safe outside. He waited another one month and twenty-six days before he left the Ark (Genesis 8:14-15).
God commanded Noah to “Go out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and your sons’ wives with you.” They left the ark after being shipmates for over one year and ten days (Genesis 7:11-8:14). This is far different from only forty days and nights. In fact this is well over 12 times that.
This is just a fact that I have finally marked down although I read it many times before. Oh what “new” things I will read this year!
In closing, I just want to note that I would have preferred it be forty days and nights had it been me!