Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Genesis 7

By Joseph Benson


Verse 1
Genesis 7:1. Come thou, and all thy house, into the ark — His family consisted only of eight persons, 1 Peter 3:20, namely, Noah and his three sons, and their four wives, Genesis 6:18. By this it appears that each man had but one wife, and consequently it is probable, that, as polygamy began in the posterity of Cain, so it was confined to them, and had not, as yet, got footing among the sons of God. For if ever polygamy had been allowable, it must have been now for repeopling of the perishing world. For thee have I seen righteous before me — With the righteousness of faith, as it is explained Hebrews 11:7, evidenced by the fruits of righteousness and true holiness. Those are righteous indeed, that are righteous before God; that have not only the form of godliness, by which they appear righteous before men, who may easily be imposed upon; but the power of it, by which they approve themselves to God, who searcheth the heart.

Verse 2
Genesis 7:2. Here are necessary orders given concerning the brute creatures that were to be preserved alive with Noah in the ark. He must carefully preserve every species, that no tribe, no, not the least considerable, might entirely perish out of the creation. Even the unclean beasts, that were least valuable, were preserved alive in the ark. For God’s tender mercies are over all his works, and not only over those that are of most use; yet more of the clean were preserved than of the unclean. 1st, Because the clean were most for the service of man; and therefore, in favour to him, more of them were preserved, and are still propagated. Thanks be to God, there are not herds of lions as there are of oxen; nor flocks of tigers, as there are of sheep. 2d, Because the clean were for sacrifice to God; and therefore, in honour to him, more of them were preserved, three couple for breed, and the odd seventh for sacrifice, Genesis 8:20.

Verse 4
Genesis 7:4. Yet seven days — Or after seven days, which time the long- suffering of God (1 Peter 3:20) granted to the world, as a further space for repentance, of which, therefore, it is probable, Noah gave them notice. And it is not unlikely that many of them, who slighted the threatening when it was at the distance of one hundred and twenty years, now hearing another threatening, and considering the nearness of their danger, might be more affected, and brought to repentance. And although destroyed, as to their bodies, by the flood, for their former and long-continued impenitence, yet might be saved in their spirits, 1 Peter 4:6. And as it is likely that some, who were preserved from the waters by the ark, nevertheless, at last, perished in hell; so some that were drowned in the deluge might be eternally saved into heaven. With respect, however, to the generality, this reprieve was certainly in vain: see Luke 17:26, and 2 Peter 2:5. These seven days were trifled away after all the rest, and they continued secure until the day that the flood came. While Noah told them of the judgment at a distance, they were tempted to put off their repentance: but now he is ordered to tell them that it is at the door; that they have but one week more to turn them in, to see if that will now at last awaken them to consider the things that belong to their peace. But it is common for those that have been careless for their souls during the years of their health, when they have looked upon death at a distance, to be as careless during the days, the seven days of their sickness, when they see it approaching, their hearts being hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Reader, art thou the man?

Verse 11
Genesis 7:11. In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, second month, the seventeenth day — It must be observed here, that the year among the Hebrews was two-fold: the one sacred, for the celebration of feasts, beginning in March, Exodus 12:12; the other civil, for men’s political or civil affairs, beginning in September. Accordingly this second month has been thought by some to have been part of April and part of May, the most pleasant time of the year, when a flood was least expected or feared; by others, part of October and part of November, a little after Noah had gathered in the fruits of the earth and laid them up in the ark: so that the flood came in with the winter, and was, by degrees, dried up by the heat of the following summer. And this latter opinion seems more probable, because the most ancient and first beginning of the year was in September; and the other beginning of it in March, a later institution, which took place among the Jews, with respect to their feasts and religious affairs only, which are not concerned here. The fountains of the great deep were broken up — There needed no new creation of waters; God has laid up the deep in storehouses, Psalms 33:7; and now he broke up those stores. God had, in the creation, set bars and doors to the waters of the sea, that they might not return to cover the earth, Psalms 104:9; Job 38:9-11; and now he only removed these ancient mounds and fences, and the waters returned to cover the earth, as they had done at first, chap. Genesis 1:9. And the windows of heaven were opened — And the waters which were above the firmament were poured out upon the world; those treasures which God, has reserved against the time of trouble, the day of battle and war, Job 38:22-23. The rain, which ordinarily descends in drops, then came down in streams. We read, Job 26:8, that God binds up the waters in his thick clouds, and the cloud is not rent under them; but now the bond was loosed, the cloud was rent, and such rains descended as were never known before or since.

Verse 12
Genesis 7:12. Forty days and forty nights — By proceeding in this gradual way, God, it is hoped, both awakened many to repentance, and gave them space for it.

Verse 14
Genesis 7:14. Every beast after his kind — According to the phrase used in the history of the creation, Genesis 1:21, to intimate, that as many species as were created were now saved. Every fowl and every bird — The former word in the original signifies the larger, the latter, the less sort of birds; of every sort — The Hebrew is, of every kind of wing, whether feathered, as the wing is in most birds, or skinny, as in bats.

Verse 19-20
Genesis 7:19-20. All the high hills, and the mountains were covered — Therefore, there were hills and mountains before the flood. Deists, and other infidels, would persuade us that this was impossible, because of the vast height of divers hills and mountains. But, not to mention here that this fact has been established by the universal consent of all nations, that there was a general deluge which over-flowed the whole world, and that it has been demonstrated by different writers that there is in nature a sufficient quantity of water to deluge it, concerning both which see the Encyclopędia Britannica; it will be sufficient to observe here, that this cannot be thought impossible by any one who believes in the existence of such a being as Jehovah, a God of infinite power, to whom it surely was as easy to bring forth a sufficiency of water for this purpose, as it was to create all things by the word of his power, or to say, Let there be light, and there was light. It is evident Moses, the historian, makes no difficulty on this subject. So far from questioning whether the quantity of water in the earth and atmosphere was sufficient, he thought the sources from whence it came were not exhausted, since both of them required to be stopped by the same almighty hand that opened them, lest the flood should increase more than it actually did.

Verse 21
Genesis 7:21. All flesh died; all that was on the dry land — And why so? Man only had done wickedly, and justly is God’s hand against him, but these sheep, what have they done? I answer, 1st, We are sure God did them no wrong. He is the sovereign Lord of all life; for he is the sole fountain and author of it. He that made them as he pleased, might unmake them when he pleased, and who shall say unto God, What dost thou? 2d, God did admirably serve the purposes of his own glory by their destruction, as well as by their creation. Herein his holiness and justice were greatly magnified: by this it appears that he hates sin, and is highly displeased with sinners, since even the inferior creatures, because they are the servants of man, and part of his possession, and because they had been abused to be the servants of sin, are destroyed with him. It was likewise an instance of God’s wisdom. As the creatures were made for man when he was made, so they were multiplied for him when he was multiplied; and, therefore, now mankind was reduced to so small a number, it was fit that the beasts should proportionably be reduced, otherwise they would have had the dominion, and would have replenished the earth, and the remnant of mankind that was left would have been overpowered by them.