Genesis 7:17
(17-19) The waters increased . . . --The swelling of the flood is told with great power in these verses but every stage and detail has reference to the ark, as if the author of the narrative was one of those on board. First, the "waters increased," and raised up the ark till it floated. Next, "they became strong and increased exceedingly"--the word rendered "prevailed" really signifying the setting in of mighty currents (see on Genesis 8:1), as the waters sought the lower ground--and at this stage the ark began to move. Finally, they "became strong exceedingly, exceedingly," rushing along with ever-increasing force, and carrying the ark high above every hill in its course. Of these it is said--

All the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered.--Interpreting this by the English Version, many regard it as a proof of the deluge having been universal. But omitting the well-known fact that in the Bible the word "all" means much less than with us, we must also remember that the Hebrew language has a very small vocabulary, and "the whole heaven" means simply the whole shy. We with our composite language borrow a word for it from the Greek, and say "the whole horizon," that is, the whole heaven, bounded by the line of the spectators vision. So then here. Far and wide, in every direction, to the utmost reach of the beholder's gaze, no mountain was in sight. All was a surging waste of flood. But there is no idea here of the mountains of Auvergne, with the ashes of old-world volcanoes still reposing upon their craters, extinct from a time probably long anterior to the creation even of man. The mountains were those of the Noachian world, as limited as the Roman world of Luke 2:1, or even more so.

Verses 17-19. - And the flood was forty days upon the earth. Referring to the forty days' and nights' rain of ver. 4 (τεσσαράκοντα ἡμέρας καὶ τεσσαράκοντα νύκτας, LXX.), during which the augmentation of the waters is described in a threefold degree. And the waters increased. Literally, grew great. The first degree of increase, marked by the floating of the ark. And bare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth. Literally, it was high from upon the earth, i.e. it rose above it. And the waters prevailed. Literally, were strong; from גָּבַר, to be strong; whence the Gibborim of Genesis 6:4. And were increased greatly on the earth. Literally, became great, greatly. The second degree of increase, marked by the going of the ark. And the ark went - i.e. floated along; καὶ ἐπεφέρετο, LXX. (Psalm 104:26) - upon the face of the waters. And the waters prevailed exceedingly. Literally, and the waters became strong, exceedingly. The third degree of increase, marked by the submergence of the mountains. And all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered. A clear assertion of the universality of the Flood (Keil, Kalisch, Alford, Bush, Wordsworth); but the language does not necessarily imply more than that all the high hills beneath the spectator s heaven were submerged (cf. Genesis 41:57; Exodus 9:25; Exodus 10:15; Deuteronomy 2:25; 1 Kings 10:24; Acts 2:5; Colossians 1:25, for instances in which the universal terms all and every must be taken with a limited signification); while it is almost certain that, had the narrator even designed to record only the fact that all the heights within the visible horizon had disappeared beneath the rising waters, he would have done so by saying that "all the high hills under the whole heaven were covered." While, then, it is admitted that the words may depict a complete submergence of the globe, it is maintained by many competent scholars that the necessities of exegesis only demand a partial inundation (Peele, Murphy, Taylor Lewis, 'Speaker's Commentary,' Inglis).

7:17-20 The flood was increasing forty days. The waters rose so high, that the tops of the highest mountains were overflowed more than twenty feet. There is no place on earth so high as to set men out of the reach of God's judgments. God's hand will find out all his enemies, Ps 21:8. When the flood thus increased, Noah's ark was lifted up, and the waters which broke down every thing else, bore up the ark. That which to unbelievers betokens death unto death, to the faithful betokens life unto life.And the flood was forty days upon the earth,.... This is said with respect to what follows, and the meaning is, that when and after the flood had been upon the earth so long, then

the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth; after this they were so many and so strong that they lifted up the ark from the place where it stood, and bore it up, that it touched not the earth; and Aben Ezra from hence infers, that the ark did not remove from its place after the flood began, until forty days.

Genesis 7:16
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