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HAYDOCK CATHOLIC BIBLE COMMENTARY ON THE OLD TESTAMENT



GENESIS 8

 

CHAPTER VIII

 

Ver. 1.  Remembered; not as if God had ever forgotten Noe, but he now shews his remembrance of him by the effects.  M. --- A wind, literally a spirit, which S. Amb. and Theodoret understood of the Holy Ghost, that, as he moved over the waters at first, (C. 1. 2.) to give them fecundity, and to exercise his power in establishing order, so he may shew the same care and providence for this new world, emerging, like the former, from the waters.  H. --- Most interpreters, however, understand this of a violent wind, (Prov. xxv. 23.  Ex. xiv. 21.) a strong blast, such as was sent to divide the Red sea.  M.

 

Ver. 3.  And the waters returned, &c.  S. Jerom on this passage remarks, "that all waters and torrents repair to the womb of the abyss, through the hidden veins of the earth," and by the abyss understands the sea: according to that of Ecclesiastes, 1. 7, all the rivers run into the sea.  But as the sea itself, on this occasion, exceeded its limits, (otherwise its waters would not have been higher than the land) the sense perhaps confined to this, that the waters by degrees were diminished; as we may say of the inundations of land, that the waters are gone off, not by the regular course of ditches, but from the effects of the sun and winds which dry them up.  E.

 

Ver. 4.  And the ark rested on the mountains of Armenia.  The Hebrew word is Ararat, which also occurs in the 37th chap. of Isaias, and the 51st of Jeremias; for in these places our interpreter retained the Hebrew word, but in the 4th book of Kings, xix. 37, where the same history is related, it is translated by the land of the Armenians.  E. --- Seventh month, of the year, not of the deluge, as appears from ver. 13, &c.  M. --- Seven and twentieth.  So also the Sept., but the Heb. &c. have the 17th.  It is not easy to decide which is right.  On the seventeenth the waters only began to decrease, and some hence argue for the Vulgate, as they say it is not probable the ark would stop that very day.  C. --- This, however, might be the only mean by which Noe could discern that the waters were abating.  H. --- The ark being about fourteen cubits sunk in the water, might soon touch the summit of the highest mountains, such as M. Taurus, of which the Ararat, here mentioned in the Hebrew, a mountain of Armenia, forms a part, according to S. Jerom.  The Armenians still boast that they have the remains of the ark.  Berosus, the Pagan historian, says bitumen was taken from it as a preservative.  Jos. Ant. 1. 3.  Eus. præp. ix. 4.  The Chaldee has Cordu for Ararat, whence some have supposed, that the ark rested on the Cordyean or Gordiean mountains.  The Armenians call the mountain near Erivan, Mesesonsar, or the mountain of the ark.  C.

 

Ver. 7.  Did not return.  The negotiation Not, is not to be found in any Hebrew copy now extant; though it is still retained by the Septuagint, and several Latin manuscripts, according to the testimony of Liranus.  If we add here, therefore, to the Hebrew text, we must translate it with S. Jerom, thus; It went forth, going and returning, (Egredicbatur exiens et revertens,) sometimes repairing to the mountains, where it found carcasses to feed on, and at other times returning not unto the ark, but to rest upon the top of it.  E.  Ch. --- Or receded farther from it; as the Hebrew may be explained, agreeably to the Vulgate, Sept. Syr. &c. which admit the negation.  C. --- Till, as long as the waters covered the earth, not that it returned to the ark afterwards.  M.

 

Ver. 9.  Whole earth, excepting the mountains; so that the dove presently returned.  H.

 

Ver. 11.  Green leaves.  The olive tree preserves its verdure and grows even at the bottom of the Red sea, and other seas in the East.  Plin. xii. 25. --- Many other trees and seeds will live for a long time under the waters. C. --- This tender branch of the olive seems to agree better with the spring than autumn; whence Tirin infers, that the deluge began and ended in spring.

 

Ver. 13.  Year of Noe's age, who, we may suppose, was born on the first day of the year.  So that his 601st year corresponds with the 1657th of the world, B.C. 2343, on which day the deluge ended.  Still Noe waited for God's order to leave the ark till the 27th of the ensuing month, when the earth was more perfectly dried.  H. --- Covering.  Some think that the window was at the top, like a sky-light.  C.

 

Ver. 17.  Increase.  Heb. "let them increase."  This is spoken of the brute creation, the blessing is given to men.  C. ix. --- Neither Noe's family, nor any of the animals, had any young in the ark.  C.

 

Ver. 20.  Holocausts, or whole burnt offerings.  In which the whole victim was consumed by fire upon God's altar, and no part was reserved for the use of priest or people.  Ch. --- This is the first time we read of an altar, though Abel had surely made use of one.  M. --- Noe delays not to shew his gratitude to God.  S. Amb.  W.

 

Ver. 21.  Smelled, &c.  A figurative expression, denoting that God was pleased with the sacrifices which his servant offered, (Ch.) and in this sense it is expressed in the Chaldee, "God received his offering gratefully."  God requires sacrifices of us, to testify his dominion, and not for any advantage he derives from them; but rather to bless us, if we perform our duty with fervour. --- For the sake of, or on account of men's sins.  They are so prone to evil, that, if I were to punish them as often as they deserve, new deluges might be sent every day.  I take pity on their weakness.  I will punish the most criminal, but not as I have done, by cursing the earth.  These words of God, are by some addressed to Noe, by others to God the Son.  Heb. "he said to his heart;" Onkelos, "he said in his word;" Sept. "he said with reflection."  C. --- Noe was beloved by God, and therefore may be called his heart.  To speak to the heart, often means to comfort.  H.

 

Ver. 22.  Seed-time, according to the Targum of Jonathan, is the equinox of September; harvest, that of March; winter and summer denote the solstice of December and of June.  But the Hebrews probably divided the year into summer and winter; or perhaps they might also admit the season of spring, with the Egyptians and the ancient Greeks, who represented the seasons by the three hours, daughters of Jupiter.  C.

 

 








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