How Much Time Passed From the Beginning of the Flood until Noah Came out of the Ark?


The Chronology of the Flood

The downpour of rain and the spewing of water by the great fountains of the deep lasted for forty days, but the flood level continued to be above the highest mountain for 150 days.  Some Bible-believing scientists hold that the Flood, in the following 110 days, maintained its level as a result of the fountains of the deep continuing to flow for another 110 days.  These things are difficult to sort out and we do not make light of any legitimate attempt to come to grips with this great story and these enormous events.  Even so, chapter 8, verse 2 says that both sources of water were stopped simultaneously and that the waters receded from day 40 to day 150, at which time they had receded enough so that the Ark could come to rest in the 17th day of the seventh month, which was 150 days after it all began.

Isostasy, Tectonic Activity, and Other Strange Goings On

During this time, the ocean's bottom was sinking due to the fracturing of the earth's crust, the voids left by the escaping water and volcanic material, and the enormous weight of the huge accumulation of sediment.  This in turn was pushing up the mountains by the principle of isostasy, which means balancing off of forces, especially weight, so that there is a condition of equal pressure on all sides, or a hydrostatic equilibrium.  Another way of putting it is that when something heavy pushed down on the surface of the earth in one spot, something lighter was pushed up in another.  It can be analogized as trying to put an inflated inner-tube in a tire that is too small for it.  If you push it in at one place it will pop out at another.

The Prevailing Waters of the Flood

The water vapor canopy had all fallen and the fountains of the deep were stopped at the end of forty days.  For another 110 days the water prevailed.  The word prevailed, is the Hebrew word gabar (gaw-bar')[1] which means: to be haughty, to exalt one's self, to lift up, to mount up, to be proud, to raise up great height, to go upward.  It is true that the phrase to be haughty could mean to refuse to subside, or to stand one's ground, but the text says to the effect that they continued to cover the earth, though they were subsiding.

The Raging, Mighty Wind

After 40 days and for the duration of the 150 days and perhaps longer, God caused a great wind, not only to blow but to pass over the whole earth according to verse 1 of chapter 8.  The word for wind is ruwach (roo'-akh)[2].  It is quite versatile in what it means.  It can mean anger, a blast, or something very distabilizing.  The purpose of this wind was to cause the waters to asswage.  It is the Hebrew word shakak (shaw-kak')[3] and it carries with it the thought of hiding, or secreting, weaving over, or trapping.  It seems to say that the waters were going back into hiding, or into the earth from whence they came, and being sealed off again by the sediments or the shifting bottom.  God caused this wind to pass over the earth.  This is an interesting phrase.  The word pass is the Hebrew `abar (aw-bar')[4].  It is one of those primitive root words which has a multitude of meanings.  It means to transition over, to cover, to crisscross, to alienate, to alter, to meddle, to overrun, to make to go away, to provoke to anger, wrath, to transgress, or the way of the wayfarer.  The word for over is the Hebrew 'al (al)[5].  It is a preposition and it means over, above against, beside, between, beyond, because of, concerning, through and a host of other like expressions.  It is the word used by King David in Psalm 42:7, when he said:  “Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts:  all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me.”  He used it again when he said, in Psalm 124:5.  “Then the proud waters had gone over our soul.”  In these passages the Holy Ghost used the language of the Great Deluge to dramatize the depths of Christ's suffering in hell and of the awesome fear and destruction of one being triumphed over by his enemies.

The Receding Waters of the Flood

Verse 3 says that the waters returned continually from off the earth.  The word returned is the Hebrew shuwb (shoob)[6] and it means:  to turn back, to return to the starting point, to retreat, to go home again, to refresh, to restore, to go backward, to withdraw.  The word continually is halak (haw-lak')[7] and it means to go forward, go around, go about, to depart, to return, to come, to go, backward, forward, to go too and fro, and to wander, like a nomad or a wayfarer.  In verse 7 we are told that the waters were dried up.  This is the word yabesh (yaw-bashe')[8] which means ashamed, confused, disappointing, withered away.

Together with the word wind we can very legitimately and very necessarily put together this interpretation:  God, in His anger, caused a great furious blast to rage over the whole earth for five months or more, driving the confused waters in all directions with great speed and force, thoroughly ripping apart, destroying, washing clean, and reshaping the whole face of the earth.

This whipping to and fro of this unfathomable mass of shoreless waters by the great wind caused them to either go back into the earth to be sealed off again, or to be withered, by evaporation, back up into the canopy from whence they fell.  This was a raging, turbulent, and confused sea.  It wandered aimlessly like a wayfarer, its great currents from all parts of the earth, slamming violently into land masses, and going back out again, until it lowered enough that the mud, or the soil could be seen.  

But the earth at this point had no low grounds or sprouting shrubs and plants.  It was a wasted, muddy mess.  Ten days later the lowlands, or the mud flats, were visible and plant life had started to grow.  The dove found food and nesting and did not come back.  The word for dried in verse 13 is the Hebrew charab (khaw-rab')[9] or chareb (khaw-rabe') which means: desolate, destroyed, decayed, and wasted.  It was a desolation of decay and death, which were everywhere.  This verse means only to tell us that the waters had receded off of the land, or ground.

The Earth Begins to Dry

In verse 14, which was 50 days later, the earth was dried.  Here the word is again yabesh (yaw-bashe')[10].  It was a grim, shameful, disappointing scene of destruction and confusion but the waters had withered or evaporated away so that Noah, his family, and the animals could get out of the Ark.

The Chronology of the Flood from Start to Finish

So the chronology of the Great Flood was this: 

1.  The rains fell and the fountains of the deep flowed for 40 days, at which time the great wind came and the waters began to asswage, though they continued to cover the highest mountain for another 110 days to the 150th day. 

2.  At the end of the 40 days and during the 110 days the waters began to either go back into the crust of the earth (not as much as had come out because the sinking ocean floor had diminished the size of the voids) or to be evaporated back up as a canopy (never to come anywhere near the size of the original canopy as we shall see).

3.  On the 224th day the tops of the mountains could be seen. 

4.  Forty days later, on the 10th of November, or the 10th day of the eleventh month, which was the 264th day, Noah sent out a raven and a dove through a window in the Ark.  The raven was apparently able to feed on the carrion floating on the water and to find some place to rest, presumably in the mountains or on the top of the Ark, so he never returned, but, because there was no nesting places and no vegetation for food, the dove came back. 

5.  On the 271st day Noah sent out the dove again, and it came back with the olive leaf. 

6.  7 days later he sent out the dove yet again, and it did not come back. 

7.  On the 1st day of the 601st year, Noah removed the cover from the Ark but the ground areas were too muddy and sloppy to go out onto.  He waited until the 27th day of the 2nd month of the 601st year, and then went out of the Ark, at which time the ground was dry enough to start cultivating and building on. 

How Long Was Noah in the Ark?

So how long was Noah in the Ark?  If a year was 365 days long, he was in the Ark 375 days from the 17th day of the 2nd month of the 600th year until the 27th day of the 2nd month of the 601st year.

However, some Bible scholars say that the Hebrew calendar only had 30 days in a month.  This would seem to be borne out by verse 4 of chapter 8 which says that from the 2nd month and the 17th day to the 7th month and the 17th day was exactly 150 days, though by our calendar that would be 151 days.  If that is true, the time in the Ark would be 370 days.  These are things I am not sure about, but I do know that it was from the 17th day of the year 600 until the 27th day of the year 601, or in other words, a year and 10 days.  The Ark was moving upon the waters for 150 of those days until it came to rest on Mt. Ararat.


[1]   Strong’s Enchanced Hebrew Lexicon, #1396

[2]   Ibid., #7307.

[3]   Ibid., #7918.

[4]   Ibid., #5674.

[5]   Ibid., #5921.

[6]   Ibid., #7725.

[7]   Ibid., #1980.

[8]   Ibid., #3001.

[9]   Ibid., #2717.

[10]   Ibid., #3001.



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