Genesis chapter 7

English Standard Version

New International Version

New American Standard Bible

Christian Standard Bible

New Living Translation

King James Version

What does Genesis chapter 7 mean?

Genesis 7 tells the story of the coming of rain, and the terrible destruction God's flood brought on the world. In the prior chapter, Noah is given instructions for building a massive box—an ark—meant to hold a small number of people and a massive number of animals. This chapter begins after Noah has completed his task. After restating that Noah is being saved from the flood because of his righteousness, as compared to the rest of his generation, God commands Noah to go into the ark. He's not meant to go alone, though. Along with his wife, three sons, and their wives, Noah is to bring all the animals that God is sending to him, so they too can be saved.

Those animals include seven pairs each of the "clean" animals. The idea of clean and unclean animals will become common in the rest of Genesis, but this is the first we hear of it. What we will learn later is that, at least in part, the extra pairs of clean animals are meant for sacrificial offerings to God after the flood is over.

Birds, animals, and insects of every kind will be sent to Noah to occupy the ark. God reveals that the rain will start in seven days, and that is what happens. God shuts Noah and his family and the animals into the ark, and the rain begins on a specific date in the history of the world.

For 40 days and nights, a torrential rain falls while at the same time the fountains of the great deep burst forth. The language is poetic, but the picture is of a great upheaval sending waters from below the earth and emptying out the waters stored above the "expanse" described in Genesis 1.

The ark rises with the flood and rides the surface of the waters. The waters are said to prevail or triumph over all the earth, including the highest summits of the highest mountains "under the whole heaven." There is debate, at times, over whether the extent of this flood was planetary, or confined to the region occupied by mankind. The terms for "whole earth," "land," and "hills / mountains" can be interpreted in ways consistent with either possibility.

Regardless, the Bible's claim is clear: The flood covered the surface of the earth such that every land-dwelling, air-breathing creature in its path died, including every single human being not aboard the ark. The devastation is unimaginable. God exercised His authority as Creator, Judge, and Lord to end sin on the earth and to destroy so much of what He had made. Just as God transformed the newly-created earth from water to dry land (Genesis 1:9–10), He now seems to be "resetting" His creation by returning it to water.

We can't help but ask: If that is God's response to unchecked human sin in the world, what hope is there for any of us? How can any sinful, mortal human be loved by God and find peace with Him? That's the question the rest of the Bible is written to answer.

After the 40 days of rain, the waters continue to triumph on the earth for another 110 days before the ark finally comes to rest.
What is the Gospel?
Download the app: