What does Genesis 7:4 mean?
ESV: For in seven days I will send rain on the earth forty days and forty nights, and every living thing that I have made I will blot out from the face of the ground.”
NIV: Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made.'
NASB: For after seven more days, I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights; and I will wipe out from the face of the land every living thing that I have made.'
CSB: Seven days from now I will make it rain on the earth forty days and forty nights, and every living thing I have made I will wipe off the face of the earth."
NLT: Seven days from now I will make the rains pour down on the earth. And it will rain for forty days and forty nights, until I have wiped from the earth all the living things I have created.'
KJV: For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth.
In the prior verses, God instructed Noah to board the ark along with his family, and all the animals God intends to save. As one would expect, this took quite some time to complete. God reveals His final deadline for the flood to Noah: seven days. In seven days from this moment, the rain would start. It would continue for 40 days and 40 nights, a deluge that would end all life "from the face of the ground."
Noah had one week to get everything inside the ark which would be needed during the coming wrath of God. Everything left outside, including the rest of the human race, would be utterly destroyed. According to verse 13, they are able to complete this task in exactly the amount of time they have left.
The word used for "earth" here is from the Hebrew root 'erets. Some Bible scholars interpret this account as a local flood—one covering the territory of men, but not necessarily the entire globe. Terms such as this are part of that discussion. There are other Hebrew terms used to explicitly describe the entire planet, such as tebel, but these are not used in the flood accounts.
Regardless of a local or global interpretation, what's clear is both the intent and the effect of this catastrophe: the complete elimination of the human race, except for Noah and his family.
Genesis 7:1–10 confirms that Noah fulfilled all that he was commanded in chapter 6. In addition to the two pairs of all animals, Noah is also told to bring seven (total) pairs of ''clean'' animals, most likely for sacrificial purposes. God gives Noah a last-minute warning of the coming flood. As the preparations are completed, the great catastrophe occurs, just as God said it would. The next passage describes the colossal event.
Genesis 7 tells the story of the actual flood itself. God again commends Noah for his righteousness. The animals of every kind come to the ark. God shuts Noah and his family and the animals in, and it begins to rain. Water pours from above and bursts forth from below with incredible intensity. This outpouring of water lasts for 40 days, and covers the surface of the earth for another 110 days. The ark floats, rises, moves across the surface of the water. Outside of it, every land-dwelling, air-breathing thing dies. God wipes it all out, including every human being other than Noah and his family.
In chapter 6, God saw the wickedness and violence of humanity and resolved to wipe it all out. He revealed that plan to Noah, and He commanded Noah to build the ark. In chapter 7, the ark is finished, the animals arrive, the door is shut, and the rain begins on a specific date in the history of the world. All life aboard the ark is saved; all land-dwelling, air-breathing life outside of it is ended. The waters burst from below the earth and pour from above with great intensity for 40 days and then covered the earth for another 110. In the following chapter, the ark will come to rest, and the remade earth will begin to dry out.
The book of Genesis establishes fundamental truths about God. Among these are His role as the Creator, His holiness, His hatred of sin, His love for mankind, and His willingness to provide for our redemption. We learn not only where mankind has come from, but why the world is in its present form. The book also presents the establishment of Israel, God's chosen people. Many of the principles given in other parts of Scripture depend on the basic ideas presented here in the book of Genesis. Within the framework of the Bible, Genesis explains the bare-bones history of the universe leading up to the captivity of Israel in Egypt, setting the stage for the book of Exodus.
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