Sitting here, writing this, it is raining outside...again. We have had a lot of rain over the past few months. Not too long ago, just a few years, we were in what seemed like a cycle of drought. No more. Yesterday, driving to work at the pie shop (which my voice-to-text translates as "pot shop", much to my friends' amusement), I noticed in one spot that the water nearly was over the roadway. Most of us north GA locals are not pleased. We post memes about how tired we are of all this rain. Our discontent is nothing, compared to the year+ which Noah's family spent on the Ark, I'm quite sure!
Today, we are going to look at how long the biblical Great Flood lasted.1 The Bible gives a great deal of specificity as to the timeline, and it's quite interesting (or, at least, I think it is).
Let's start with Genesis 7:10-11 (Berean Study Bible):
10And after seven days the floodwaters came upon the earth. 11In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month, all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. 12And the rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights.
The rain began to fall (it had never rained on the Earth prior to this) and the great "fountains of the deep" were broken open, when Noah was 600 years old. We can infer that Noah had entered the Ark 7 days prior, the week during which all the animal pairs were sent to him. (We can only imagine the organization that went on during that week...)
When I was a child I had this little plastic statue that sat in my bedroom window. There was this little woebegone figure holding an umbrella, and printed on the base of the statue were these words: "Into each life some rain must fall, but this is ridiculous." I think of that as I think of the ferocity of the Flood. I wonder if Noah's family believed they would survive it? During this time, continents actually broke apart and new oceans were formed. The Earth was completely reconfigured!2
Genesis 7:19-24 (BSB):
19Finally, the waters completely inundated the earth, so that all the high mountains under all the heavens were covered.
20The waters rose and covered the mountaintops to a depth of fifteen cubits.b 21And every creature that had moved upon the earth perished—birds, livestock, animals, every creature that swarms upon the earth, and all mankind. 22Of all that had been on dry land, everything that had the breath of life in its nostrils died. 23And every living thing on the face of the earth was destroyed—man and livestock, crawling creatures and birds of the air; they were blotted out from the earth, and only Noah remained, and those with him in the ark.
24And the waters prevailed upon the earth for 150 days.
Sometime between the 40th day, when the rain stopped, and the 150th day, the flood waters reached their highest point, which was at least 20 feet above the highest mountains on Earth. They then began to recede. By the 150th day (Genesis 8:4), the Ark had found ground, coming to rest somewhere in the mountains of Ararat. (Notice this is not the same as today's Mt. Ararat. More on that in the next Genesis post)
74 days later (Genesis 8:5), the tops of the surrounding mountains were visible, as waters continued to recede. This puts the timeline at Day 224. 40 days after that (Day 64) (Genesis 8:6), Noah sent out a raven to explore the surrounding area.
5And the waters continued to recede until the tenth month, and on the first day of the tenth month, the tops of the mountains became visible.
After forty days Noah opened the window he had made in the ark 7and sent out a raven. It kept flying back and forth until the waters had dried up from the earth.
Genesis 8:5-6 (BSB)
Then, Noah sent out a dove, which returned to him as it could find no landing place. He did this again 7 days later, and again 7 days later, at which time the dove did not return. 264 + 21 = Day 285, the day the dove was sent out the last time. (We can infer there were seven days between the raven and the dove's first flight because in Genesis 8:10 the text states Noah waited "another 7 days".)
29 days later (Day 314) on "the first day of the first month", Noah removed the Ark's cover, where he discovered the surface of the land was dry. (Genesis 8:13). 57 days later (Day 370), God commanded Noah and his family to "disembark" (that is, leave the ark), because the Earth was dry and once again able to sustain life. They emerged, to find the physical world tremendously changed.
13And it came to pass in the six hundredth and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried up from off the earth: and Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and, behold, the face of the ground was dry.
14And in the second month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month, was the earth dried.
Genesis 8:13-14 (BSB)
So, the inundation lasted approximately five months and the waters returning to their places another five months, with an additional two months or so required to dry everything up, cause plant life to re-grow, etc. Amazing, isn't it?!
5Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed forever.
6You covered it with the deep as with a garment: the waters stood above the mountains.
7At your rebuke they fled; at the voice of your thunder they hastened away.
8They go up by the mountains; they go down by the valleys unto the place which you have founded for them.
9You have set a bound that they may not pass over; that they turn not again to cover the earth.
Psalm 104:5-9 (King James 2000)