Genesis 8

Introduction
 
"There is another matter connected with the flood so marked and striking as to claim our special attention. It is that the remembrance of the flood has been preserved in the traditions of so many nations, so widely separated and so independent of each other, that it is impossible to doubt that they have all been derived from one and the same original source. As might be expected, they contain many legendary details, and they generally fix the locality of the flood in their own lands; but these very particulars mark them as corruptions of the real history recorded in the Bible, and carried by the different nations into the various countries where they settled...
 
"Though it needs not such indirect confirmations to convince us of the truth of the narratives in the Bible, it is very remarkable how all historical investigations, when really completed and rightly applied, confirm the exactness of what is recorded in the Holy Scriptures." (Edersheim, Alfred, Old Testament Bible History, chapter 6)
 
Gen 8:3 after... the hundred and fifty days the waters were abated
 
The water built up for 150 days and then it took another 225 days for the earth to dry out sufficient for Noah and his family to leave the ark (v. 14). That is a lot of water evaporation! The Lord sent a wind to help clear the water, but the fountains of the deep must have begun again to absorb what they had put forth. Much of this water evaporated; much more must have returned to its subterranean location.
 
Gen 8:4 the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month
 
Can you imagine what the ark smelled like 5 months into the voyage? Perhaps Shem, Ham, and Japheth got a little tired of cleaning out the elephants' enclosure! Can you imagine how anxious they would have been to get off the ark? Well, the ark ran aground on the heights of Ararat 7 full months before they would disembark. For 5 months, they floated; for 7 months they stayed in the ark after its hull had stuck in the mountainside.
 
From the time the ark rested, it took 3 months before the peaks of other mountains became visible (v. 5) and 5 ½ months before the earth was dry. But they would not exit the ark yet. The Lord was in charge; HHe would say when they could leave. The word of the Lord to "Go forth" would not come until 7 months from the time the ark came to rest, or a full year and 10 days from the time they entered the ark (Gen. 7:11-13; 8:14-16).
 
Chieko Okazaki
That's a long time to be cooped up in a floating zoo-a year, a month, and six days! (According to my addition)
 
So the story of Noah teaches us that there will be adversity, that it will last a long time, and that it will require reserves of patience that seem superhuman. I'm not telling you that you won't have adversity, any more than I'm telling you that it will be easy to handle. I am telling you that you can handle it. (Aloha! [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1995], 156.)
 
Gen 8:4 the ark rested...upon the mountains of Ararat
 
"The snow-clad summit of Mt. Ararat (now called Agri Dagi), traditional landing place of Noah's ark, rises to a height of 17,000 feet above the rugged terrain of eastern Turkey near the Soviet border." ("Ancient Lands: A Photo Essay," Ensign, Sept. 1980, 33)
 
Peculiar to the Latter-day Saints is the doctrine that Noah floated from America to Asia Minor. President Kimball expressed it this way, "Noah carried his family through the flood. Civilization moved from the Mississippi River to Mount Ararat." ("Living the Gospel in the Home," Ensign, May 1978, 102) President George Q. Cannon stated:
 
Men have supposed that because the ark rested on Ararat that the flood commenced there, or rather that it was from thence the Ark started to sail. But God in His revelations has informed us that it was on this choice land of Joseph where Adam was placed and the Garden of Eden was laid out. (Journal of Discourses, 11: 337.)
 
Certainly, 150 days is long enough to traverse that distance. But any student of geology knows that the continents were once joined together. The term pangea refers to the idea that the continents were once one landmass. The Bible agrees with the substance of the Geologists but not the timetable. The geologists suggest pangea existed over 100 million years ago (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pangaea). The Bible suggests that the timetable was much more recent, declaring that the continents separated in the days of Noah' great grandson, Peleg (Gen. 10:25). The point is that Noah's ark would not have had to travel today's distance between North America and Mt. Ararat if the land masses were not yet divided.
 
Joseph Fielding Smith
Without any question a considerable distance separated the point where the Ark commenced the journey and where it landed. There can be no question to contradict the fact that during the flood great changes were made on the face of the earth. The land surface was in the process of division into continents. (Answers to Gospel Questions, 5 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1957-1966], 2: 93.)
 
Gen 8:4 Finding Noah's Ark on Ararat
 
Whether it is finding the ark of the covenant, the holy grail, Jesus' shroud, or the gold plates, believers want to have tangible evidence of scriptural events. Proving the reality of the Flood by finding evidence of Noah's ark on the side of Ararat has been a recurring theme. Perhaps the most interesting account is that related by the ancient Jewish historian Josephus:
 
"Now all the writers of barbarian histories make mention of this flood, and of this ark; among whom is Berosus the Chaldean. For when he is describing the circumstances of the flood, he goes on thus: 'It is said there is still some part of this ship in Armenia, at the mountain of the Cordyaeans (Ararat); and that some people carry off pieces of the bitumen, which they take away, and use chiefly as amulets for the averting of mischiefs.' Hieronymus the Egyptian also, who wrote the Phoenician Antiquities, and Mnaseas, and a great many more, make mention of the same. Nay, Nicolaus of Damascus, in his ninety-sixth book, hath a particular relation about them; where he speaks thus: 'There is a great mountain in Armenia, over Minyas, called Baris, upon which it is reported that many who fled at the time of the Deluge were saved; and that one who was carried in an ark came on shore upon the top of it; and that the remains of the timber were a great while preserved.'" (Antiquities of the Jews, Book 1; 3:6)
 
Less impressive reports have surfaced more recently:
 
"In 1977, Ron Wyatt promoted a site on the lower slopes of Mount Ararat which he claimed was the remnants of Noah's Ark. However, his findings have since been discredited by a variety of sources including mainstream archaeologists and other Young Earth Creationists prompting Creation Ministries International and Answers in Genesis, two of the world's largest creationist ministries, to make a general statement that Young Earth Creationists should not use Wyatt's claims since they are at best highly dubious." (http://www.conservapedia.com/Noah's_Ark)
 
Some satellite images have been found which seem to leave an impression on the earth which corresponds to the size of the ark. These have not been universally received. More recently:
 
"A team of scientists and researchers from Hong Kong and Turkey claimed to have discovered the remains of Noah's Ark on top of Mount Ararat in Turkey. In the summer of 2007, the fourth expedition conducted on Mount Ararat yielded results. Inside a cave on the mountain they discovered a wooden structure measuring 11.5 meters in width and 2.6 meters in height. The findings are not only a significant breakthrough in the search for the remains of the Ark but are also backed by filmed documentation and material evidence." (http://www.xzone-radio.com/news/adiscovery.htm)
 
These researchers have found petrified wood that came from a cave on Ararat. That hardly convinces an unbelieving world. As always, it would seem, faith is more important than tangible evidence in the search for Noah's ark.
 
Gen 8:11 the dove came... in her mouth was an olive leaf
 
"Since early biblical times and the early history of mankind, the olive leaf has symbolized peace and has heralded new life and hope." (Monte S. Nyman and Charles D. Tate, Jr., eds., Jacob through Words of Mormon: To Learn with Joy [Provo: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1990], 88.)
 
Joseph Fielding Smith
It was an olive leaf that the dove brought to Noah indicating that the water of the flood was abated. From that time on the olive leaf or branch and the dove have been emblems of peace and purity. In many parables in the scripture, the olive tree is mentioned as symbolic of righteousness and having reference to the kingdom of God or the Church. (Answers to Gospel Questions, 5 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1957-1966], 1: 150.)
 
Gen 8:13 Noah... looked, and behold, the face of the ground was dry
 
Orson Pratt
The first ordinance instituted for the cleansing of the earth, was that of immersion in water; it was buried in the liquid element, and all things sinful upon the face of the earth were washed away. As it came forth from the ocean floor, like the new-born child, it was innocent; it rose to newness of life. It was its second birth from the womb of mighty waters-a new world issuing from the ruins of the old, clothed with all the innocence of this first creation. (Journal of Discourses, 1:333.)
 
Gen 8:16 Go forth of the ark, thou, and thy wife, and thy sons, and thy sons' wives
 
Bruce R. McConkie
When the Lord cleansed and baptized the very earth itself, the man Noah was a mighty prophet, a preacher of righteousness, a legal administrator who represented his God. Noah entered the ark as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ, as a saint in the congregation of Zion, and when he stepped forth onto dry ground one year and [ten] days later, there was no change in his status. He was still the Lord's agent; he still held the priesthood; the gospel was still on earth. True worship continued.
 
One of Noah's first acts after the flood was to build an altar and offer sacrifices in similitude of the coming sacrifice of the Lamb of God. After his day the gospel continued as it had after Adam's day. Each was the father of all living in his day, and their faithful descendants hearkened to their words and continued to worship Him who is eternal. Thus, pure religion was preserved through the flood, and men continued to work out their salvation as they had before the wicked and ungodly were destroyed in earth's one great deluge. (The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, 4 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1979-1981], 1: 54.)
 
Gen 8:19 Every beast, every creeping thing... after their kinds, went forth out of the ark
 
One of the criticisms of skeptics is that the ark was not large enough to keep all the different forms of animal life. This is where the idea of evolution can be helpful. Evolution, on a small scale, must certainly have occurred since Noah's day. Let's imagine that Noah only brought seven finches, all of one species, on the ark. Could it be that variations over time could have produced the myriad of finch species currently cataloged? How absurd is it to think that Noah had over 100 distinct finch species in the ark? The same could be said of many other beasts, creeping things, fowl, etc.
 
Evolution, at least on a small scale, can be witnessed regularly among different plants and animals. Does the Book of Genesis allow for such change? The answer is a surprising, yes! Similarly, the Abraham account would suggest that the propagation of species occurs based on specific patterns that are completely consistent with current scientific understanding of reproductive biology. The reproductive restriction in the Abraham account is that the tree, for instance, could only produce seeds that would make more trees. The seeds of grass would make more grass. The offspring of birds would be birds. The offspring of whales would be whales. The divine mandate was that "the earth [was] to bring forth the tree from its own seed, yielding fruit, whose seed could only bring forth the same in itself, after his kind." (Abr. 4:12) What if all the animals on Noah's ark were able to reproduce after their kind but with enough variability that over time, divinely allowed evolution would produce many different varieties of cats, dogs, bears, etc.?
 
Nowhere does the scriptural record disallow variability within species. There is no restriction which says blue birds can't produce gray birds; that flat-tailed lizards couldn't give birth to round-tailed lizards; that large finned fish couldn't on occasion produce progeny with smaller fins. Nowhere does the Genesis account assert that all forms of life must be exact clones of their progenitors. In fact, it would imply quite the opposite-that variety in different phenotypic expressions is favorable.
 
If we allow for variety in biologic life forms to be the product of evolution, the landscape has changed dramatically. The silliness and absurdness of Noah's story actually begins to merge with the current understanding of biology. The scientist has much less to laugh at-much less to mock and ridicule.
 
"God created a number of different types of animals with much capacity for variation within limits... For example, horses, zebras and donkeys are probably descended from an equine (horse-like) kind, since they can interbreed, although the offspring are sterile. Dogs, wolves, coyotes and jackals are probably from a canine (dog-like) kind. All different types of domestic cattle (which are clean animals) are descended from the Aurochs, so there were probably at most seven (or fourteen) domestic cattle aboard. The Aurochs itself may have been descended from a cattle kind including bisons and water buffaloes. We know that tigers and lions can produce hybrids called tigons and ligers, so it is likely that they are descended from the same original kind." (http://www.answersingenesis.org/creation/v19/i2/animals.asp)
 
Gen 8:20 Noah builded an altar unto the Lord
 
"Noah, whose name means 'rest,' was a type of Jesus Christ. He was 'a just man, and perfect in his generation' (Moses 8:27), officiated in the Melchizedek Priesthood (D&C 107:52), offered sacrifices unto the Most High God (Gen. 8:20), and preached the gospel and declared repentance unto those of his generation (JST, Gen. 8:7-8). In similitude to the spiritual salvation which Jesus brings, Noah, through building the ark, saved his posterity 'with a temporal salvation' (Moses 7:42)." (Joseph Fielding McConkie and Donald W. Parry, A Guide to Scriptural Symbols [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1990], "Noah")
 
James E. Talmage
While the Biblical record expressly attests the offering of sacrifices long prior to Israel's exodus from Egypt-e.g. by Abel and by Cain (Gen. 4:3, 44); by Noah after the deluge (Gen. 8:20); by Abraham (Gen. 22:2, 13); by Jacob (Gen. 31:54; 46:1)-it is silent concerning the divine origin of sacrifice as a propitiatory requirement prefiguring the atoning death of Jesus Christ. (Jesus the Christ: A Study of the Messiah and His Mission According to Holy Scriptures Both Ancient and Modern [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1983], 50.)
 
Gen 8:21 I will not again curse the ground any more
 
Doctrine and Covenants 61 gives an interesting insight into the curse of Jehovah, "I, the Lord, in the beginning cursed the land, even so in the last days have I blessed it, in its time, for the use of my saints, that they may partake the fatness thereof." (DC 61:17)
 
Also, "I the Lord, in the beginning blessed the waters; but in the last days, by the mouth of my servant John, I cursed the waters." (DC 61:14)
 
The curse upon the land, it would seem was removed after the Flood. Still, it would produce according to a telestial law, but never again would the land be as barren and cursed as in Noah's day.
 
Joseph Fielding Smith
In the beginning the Lord blessed the waters and cursed the land, but in these last days this was reversed, the land was to be blessed and the waters to be cursed. A little reflection will bear witness to the truth of this declaration. In the early millenniums of this earth's history, men did not understand the composition of the soils, and how they needed building up when crops were taken from them. The facilities at the command of the people were primitive and limited, acreage under cultivation was limited, famines were prevalent and the luxuries which we have today were not obtainable. Some one may rise up and say that the soil in those days was just as productive as now, and this may be the case. It is not a matter of dispute, but the manner of cultivation did not lend itself to the abundant production which we are receiving today. It matters not what the causes were, in those early days of world history, there could not be the production, nor the varieties of fruits coming from the earth and the Lord can very properly speak of this as a curse, or the lack of blessing, upon the land. (Church History and Modern Revelation, 4 vols. [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1946-1949], 1: 206 - 207.)
 
Gen 8:22 While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest... summer and winter
 
Bruce R. McConkie
Seasons of the year (summer, fall, winter, and spring) are first referred to in the Bible as being in existence after the flood. "While the earth remaineth" (meaning in its present or fallen state) the Lord promised Noah, "seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease." (Gen. 8:22.) The inference is that it was not until after the flood that it became necessary to plant in a particular time so that a harvest might be reaped. Presumptively before that earth-changing event both seedtime and harvest prevailed at all times the year around.
 
Seasons as we know them with their varied climatic and other conditions come about because the axis of the earth is tilted 23 1/2 degrees. Revealed knowledge of all the great changes the earth has undergone is not presently available to men. We do know that the earth was created in a paradisiacal or terrestrial state; that it fell to its present telestial condition; that it will be renewed and receive again its paradisiacal glory during the millennium; and that eventually it is to become a celestial sphere.
 
Some have speculated that the earth's axis tipped, possibly incident to the flood, so that seasons as we know them had their beginning. This speculation would account for some of the so-called prehistorical periods during which, according to geologists and others, climatic conditions on the earth were radically different from those that have prevailed during known time periods. This line of speculation also assumes that when the millennial era commences, when the whole earth again becomes a garden, that the axis thereof will return to its upright position so that seasons in the sense that they now exist will cease. (Mormon Doctrine, 2d ed. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966], 684.)