Genesis 8:11 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 8:11, NIV: "When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth."

Genesis 8:11, ESV: "And the dove came back to him in the evening, and behold, in her mouth was a freshly plucked olive leaf. So Noah knew that the waters had subsided from the earth."

Genesis 8:11, KJV: "And the dove came in to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf pluckt off: so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth."

Genesis 8:11, NASB: "And the dove came to him in the evening, and behold, in its beak was a fresh olive leaf. So Noah knew that the water was low on the earth."

Genesis 8:11, NLT: "This time the dove returned to him in the evening with a fresh olive leaf in its beak. Then Noah knew that the floodwaters were almost gone."

Genesis 8:11, CSB: "When the dove came to him at evening, there was a plucked olive leaf in its beak. So Noah knew that the water on the earth's surface had gone down."

What does Genesis 8:11 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

In the previous verse, Noah sent out a dove from the ark, for a second try at finding dry land. If the bird did not come back, Noah would assume it had found dry land to occupy and that the earth was close to being ready to support all of the life sheltered aboard the ark.

This time, the dove returns again, but this time with a gift in her beak: a freshly plucked olive leaf. Noah's conclusion was that the waters had finally subsided from the earth. It has been some time since the first peaks of land emerged from under the flood (Genesis 8:5), and now those exposed areas of land are once again producing plant life. There is not enough food or shelter to keep the dove from returning to the ark, but this is a wonderful sign of the future.

We're not told anything of Noah's emotional reaction to this moment. It's not hard to guess that it would have been a significant experience. After nearly a year shut in the ark, with no awareness of the outside world, this bit of leaf in a bird's beak proved that life was happening outside. It was the first visual evidence that the land would once again support them after the destruction of the flood.