(Calvin, Genesis 1. part 14)

Winter, which binds the joy of sky and earth in sharp and rugged frost,
has now passed away; and the Lord has chosen the moment for destroying
the world, in the very season of spring. For Moses states that the
commencement of the deluge was in the second month. I know, however, that
different opinions prevail on this subject; for there are three who begin
the year from the autumnal equinox; but that mode of reckoning the year
is more approved, which makes it commence in the month of March. However
this might be, it was no light trial for Noah to leave of his own accord,
the life to which he had been accustomed during six hundred years, and to
seek a new mode of life in the abyss of death. He is commanded to forsake
the world, that he may live in a sepulchre which he had been labouriously
digging for himself through more than a hundred years. Why was this?
Because, in a little while, the earth was to be submerged in a deluge of
waters. Yet nothing of the kind is apparent: all indulge in feasts,
celebrate nuptials, build sumptuous houses; in short, everywhere,
daintiness and luxury prevail; as Christ himself testifies, that that age
was intoxicated with its own pleasures, (Luke 17: 26.) Wherefore, it was
not without reason, that the Lord encouraged and fortified the mind of
his servant afresh, by the renewal of the promise, lest he should faint;
as if he would says 'Hitherto thou hast laboured with fortitude amid so
many causes of offence; but now the case especially demands that thou
shouldst take courage, in order to reap the fruit of thy labour: do not,
however, wait till the waters burst forth on every side from the opened
veins of the earth, and till the higher waters of heaven, with opposing
violence, rush from their opened cataracts; but while everything is yet
tranquil, enter into the ark, and there remain till the seventh day, then
suddenly shall the deluge arise.' And although oracles are not now
brought down from heaven, let us know that continual meditation on the
word is not ineffectual; for as new difficulties perpetually arise before
us, so God, by one and another promise, establishes our faith, so that
our strength being renewed, we may at length arrive at the goal. Our
duty, indeed, is, attentively to hear God speaking to us; and neither
through depraved fastidiousness, to reject those exercises, by which He
cherishes, or excites, or confirms our faith, according as he knows it to
be still tender, or languishing, or weak; nor yet to reject them as
superfluous. "For thee have I seen righteous." When the Lord assigns as
his reason for preserving Noah, that he knew him to be righteous, he
seems to attribute the praise of salvation to the merit of works; for if
Noah was saved because he was righteous, it follows, that we shall
deserve life by good works. But here it behaves us cautiously to weigh
the design of God; which was to place one man in contrast with the whole
world, in order that, in his person, he might condemn the unrighteousness
of all men. For he again testifies, that the punishment which he was
about to inflict on the world was just, seeing that only one man was left
who then cultivated righteousness, for whose sake he was propitious to
his whole family. Should any one object, that from this passage, God is
proved to have respect to works in saving men, the solution is ready;
that this is not repugnant to gratuitous acceptance, since God accepts
those gifts which he himself has conferred upon his servants. We must
observe, in the first place, that he loves men freely, inasmuch as he
finds nothing in them but what is worthy of hatred, since all men are
born the children of wrath, and heirs of eternal malediction. In this
respect he adopts them to himself in Christ, and justifies them by his
mere mercy. After he has, in this manner, reconciled them unto himself,
he also regenerates them, by his Spirit, to new life and righteousness.
Hence flow good works, which must of necessity be pleasing to God
himself. Thus he not only loves the faithful but also their works. We
must again observe, that since some fault always adheres to our works, it
is not possible that they can be approved, except as a matter of
indulgence. The grace, therefore, of Christ, and not their own dignity or
merit, is that which gives worth to our works. Nevertheless, we do not
deny that they come into the account before God: as he here acknowledges
and accepts the righteousness of Noah which had proceeded from his own
grace; and in this manner (as Augustine speaks) he will crown his own
gifts. We nay further notice the expression, "I have seen thee righteous
before me;" by which words, he not only annihilates all that hypocritical
righteousness which is destitute of interior sanctity of heart, but
vindicates his own authority; as if he would declare, that he alone is a
competent judge to estimate righteousness. The clause, "in this
generation," is added, as I have said, for the sake of amplification; for
so desperate was the depravity of that age, that it was regarded as a
prodigy, that Noah should be free from the common infection.

2. "Of every clean beast." He again repeats what he had before said
concerning animals, and not without occasion. For there was no little
difficulty in collecting from woods, mountains, and caves, so great a
multitude of wild beasts, many species of which were perhaps altogether
unknown; and there was, in most of them, the same ferocity which we now
perceive. Wherefore, God encourages the holy man, lest being alarmed with
that difficulty, and having cast aside all hope of success, he should
fail. Here, however, at first sight, appears some kind of contradiction,
because whereas he before had spoken of pairs of animals, he now speaks
of sevens. But the solution is at hand; because, previously, Moses does
not state the number, but only says that females were added as companions
to the males; as if he had said, Noah himself was commanded not to gather
the animals promiscuously together, but to select pairs out of them for
the propagation of offspring. Now, however, the discourse is concerning
the actual number. Moreover, the expression, "by sevens," is to be
understood not of seven pairs of each kind, but of three pairs, to which
one animal is added for the sake of sacrifice. Besides, the Lord would
have a threefold greater number of clean animals than of others
preserved, because there would be a greater necessity of them for the use
of man. In which appointment, we must consider the paternal goodness of
God towards us, by which he is inclined to have regard to us in all

3. "To keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth." That is, that
hence offspring might be born. But this is referred to Noah; for
although, properly speaking, God alone gives life, yet God here refers to
those duties which he had enjoined upon his servant: and it is with
respect to his appointed office, that God commands him to collect animals
that he may keep seed alive. Nor is this extraordinary, seeing that the
ministers of the gospel are said, in a sense, to confer spiritual life.
In the clause which next follows, "upon the face of all the earth," there
is a twofold consolation: that the waters, after they had covered the
earth for a time, would again cease, so that the dry surface of the earth
should appear; and then, that not only should Noah himself survive, but,
by the blessing of God, the number of animals should be so increased, as
to spread far and wide through the whole world. Thus, in the midst of
ruin, future restoration is promised to him. Moses is very earnest in
showing that God took care, by every means, to retain Noah in obedience
to his word, and that the holy man entirely acquiesced. This doctrine is
very useful, especially when God either promises or threatens anything
incredible, since men do not willingly receive what seems to them
improbable. For nothing was less accordant with the judgment of the
flesh, than that the world should be destroyed by its Creator; because
this was to subvert the whole order of nature which he had established.
Wherefore, unless Noah had been well admonished of this terrible judgment
of God, he never would have ventured to believe it; lest he should
conceive of God as acting in contradiction to himself. The word "haykum",
which Moses here uses has its origin from a word signifying to stand; but
it properly means whatever lives and flourishes.

5. "And Noah did according to all that the Lord commanded." This is not a
bare repetition of the former sentence; but Moses commends Noah's uniform
tenor of obedience in keeping all God's commandments; as if he would say,
that in whatever particular it pleased God to try his obedience, he
always remained constant. And, certainly, it is not becoming to obey one
or another commandment of God only, so that when we have performed a
defective obedience, we should feel at liberty to withdraw; for we must
keep in memory the declaration of James, 'He who forbade thee to kill,
forbade thee also to steal, and to commit adultery,' (James 2: 11.)

6. "And Noah was six hundred years old." It is not without reason that he
again mentions the age of Noah. For old age has this among other evils,
that it renders men more indolent and morose; whence the faith of Noah
was the more conspicuous, because it did not fail him in that advanced
period of life. And as it was a great excellence, not to languish through
successive centuries, so big promptitude deserves no little commendation;
because, being commanded to enter the ark, he immediately obeyed. When
Moses shortly afterwards subjoins, that he had entered on account of the
waters of the deluge, the words ought not to be expounded, as if he were
compelled, by the rushing of the waters, to flee into the ark; but that
he, being moved with fear by the word, perceived by faith the approach of
that deluge which all others ridiculed. Wherefore, his faith is again
commended in this place, because, indeed, he raised his eyes above heaven
and earth.

8. "Of clean beasts." Moses now explains,--what had before been
doubtful,--in which manner the animals were gathered together into the
ark, and says that they came of their own accord. If this should seem to
any one absurd, let him recall to mind what was said before, that in the
beginning every kind of animals presented themselves to Adam, that he
might give them names. And, truly, we dread the sight of wild beasts from
no other cause than this, that seeing we have shaken off the yoke of God,
we have lost that authority over them with which Adam was endued. Now, it
was a kind of restoration of the former state of things when God brought
to Noah those animals which he intended should be preserved through
Noah's labour and service. For Noah retained the untamed animals in his
ark, in the very same way in which hens and geese are preserved in a
coop. And it is not superfluously added, that the animals themselves
came, as God had instructed Noah; for it shows that the blessing of God
rested on the obedience of Noah, so that his labour should not be in
vain. It was impossible, humanly speaking, that in a moment such an
assemblage of all animals should take place; but because Noah, simply
trusting the event with God, executed what was enjoined upon him; God, in
return, gave power to his own precept, that it might not be without
effect. Properly speaking, this was a promise of God annexed to his
commands. And, therefore, we must conclude, that the faith of Noah
availed more, than all snares and nets, for the capture of animals; and
that, by the very same gate, lions, and wolves, and tigers, meekly
entered, with oxen, and with lambs, into the ark. And this is the only
method by which we may overcome all difficulties; while,--being
persuaded, that what is impossible to us is easy to God,--we derive
alacrity from hope. It has before been stated that the animals entered in
by pairs. We have also related the different opinions of interpreters
respecting the month in which the deluge took place. For since the
Hebrews begin their year in sacred things from March, but in earthly
affairs from September; or,--which is the same thing,--since the two
equinoxes form with them a double commencement of the year, some think
that the sacred year, and some the political, is here intended. But
because the former method of reckoning the years was Divinely appointed,
and is also more agreeable to nature, it seems probable that the deluge
began about the time of spring.

11. "The same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up."
Moses recalls the period of the first creation to our memory; for the
earth was originally covered with water; and by the singular kindness of
God, they were made to recede, that some space should be left clear for
living creatures. And this, philosophers are compelled to acknowledge,
that it is contrary to the course of nature for the waters to subside, so
that some portion of the earth might rise above them. And Scripture
records this among the miracles of God, that he restrains the force of
the sea, as with barriers, lest it should overwhelm that part of the
earth which is granted for a habitation to men. Moses also says, in the
first chapter, that some waters were suspended above in the heaven; and
David, in like manner, declares, that they are held enclosed as in a
bottle. Lastly, God raised for men a theatre in the habitable region of
the earth; and caused, by his secret power, that the subterraneous waters
should not break forth to overwhelm us, and the celestial waters should
not conspire with them for that purpose. Now, however, Moses states, that
when God resolved to destroy the earth by a deluge, those barriers were
torn up. And here we must consider the wonderful counsel of God; for he
might have deposited, in certain channels or veins of the earth, as much
water as would have sufficed for all the purposes of human life; but he
has designedly placed us between two graves, lest, in fancied security,
we should despise that kindness on which our life depends. For the
element of water, which philosophers deem one of the principles of life,
threatens us with death from above and from beneath, except so far as it
is restrained by the hand of God. In saying that the fountains were
broken up, and the cataracts opened, his language is metaphorical, and
means, that neither did the waters flow in their accustomed manner, nor
did the rain distil from heaven; but that the distinctions which we see
had been established by God, being now removed, there were no longer any
bars to restrain the violent irruption.

12. "And the rain was upon the earth." Although the Lord burst open the
floodgates of the waters, yet he does not allow them to break forth in a
moment, so as immediately to overwhelm the earth, but causes the rain to
continue forty days; partly, that Noah, by long meditation, might more
deeply fix in his memory what he had previously learned, by instruction,
through the word; partly, that the wicked, even before their death, might
feel that those warnings which they had held in derision, were not empty
threats. For they who had so long scorned the patience of God, deserved
to feel that they were gradually perishing under that righteous judgment
of his, which, during a hundred years, they had treated as a fable. And
the Lord frequently so tempers his judgments, that men may have leisure
to consider with more advantage those judgments which, by their sudden
eruption, might overcome them with astonishment. But the wonderful
depravity of our nature shows itself in this, that if the anger of God is
suddenly poured forth, we become stupefied and senseless; but if it
advances with measured pace, we become so accustomed to it as to despise
it; because we do not willingly acknowledge the hand of God without
miracles; and because we are easily hardened, by a kind of superinduced
insensibility, at the sight of God's works.

13. "In the selfsame day entered Noah, and Shem, &c." A repetition
follows, sufficiently particular, considering the brevity with which
Moses runs through the history of the deluge, yet by no means
superfluous. For it was the design of the Spirit to retain our minds in
the consideration of a vengeance too terrible to be adequately described
by the utmost severity of language. Besides, nothing is here related but
what is difficult to be believed; wherefore Moses the more frequently
inculcates these things, that however remote they may be from our
apprehension, they may still obtain credit with us. Thus the narration
respecting the animals refers to this point; that by the faith of holy
Noah they were drawn from their woods and caverns and were collected in
one place from their wandering courses, as if they had been led by the
hand of God. We see, therefore, that Moses does not insist upon this
point without an object; but he does it to teach us that each species of
animals was preserved, not by chance, nor by human industry, but because
the Lord reached out and offered to Noah himself, from hand to hand, (as
they say,) whatever animal he intended to keep alive.

16. "And the Lord shut him in." This is not added in vain, nor ought it
to be lightly passed over. That door must have been large, which could
admit an elephant. And truly, no pitch would be sufficiently firm and
tenacious, and no joining sufficiently solid, to prevent the immense
force of the water from penetrating through its many seams, especially in
an irruption so violent, and in a shock so severe. Therefore, Moses, to
cut off occasion for the vain speculations which our own curiosity would
suggest, declares in one word, that the ark was made secure from the
deluge, not by human artifice, but by divine miracle. It is, indeed, not
to be doubted that Noah had been endued with new ability and sagacity,
that nothing might be defective in the structure of the ark. But lest
even this favour should be without success, it was necessary for
something greater to be added. Wherefore, that we might not measure the
mode of preserving the ark by the capacity of our own judgment, Moses
teaches use that the waters were not restrained from breaking in upon the
ark, by pitch or bitumen only, but rather by the secret power of God, and
by the interposition of his hand.

17. "And the flood was forty days, &c." Moses copiously insists upon this
fact, in order to show that the whole world was immersed in the waters.
Moreover, it is to be regarded as the special design of this narrations
that we should not ascribe to fortune, the flood by which the world
perished; how ever customary it may be for men to cast some veil over the
works of God, which may obscure either his goodness or his judgments
manifested in them. But seeing it is plainly declared, that whatever was
flourishing on the earth was destroyed, we hence infer, that it was an
indisputable and signal judgment of God; especially since Noah alone
remained secure, because he had embraced, by faith, the word in which
salvation was contained. He then recalls to memory what we before have
said; namely how desperate had been the impiety, and how enormous the
crimes of men, by which God was induced to destroy the whole world;
whereas, on account of his great clemency, he would have spared his own
workmanship, had he seen that any milder remedy could have been
effectually applied. These two things, directly opposed to each other, he
connects together; that the whole human race was destroyed, but that Noah
and his family safely escaped. Hence we learn how profitable it was for
Noah, disregarding the world, to obey God alone: which Moses states not
so much for the sake of praising the man, as for that of inviting us to
imitate his example. Moreover, lest the multitude of sinners should draw
us away from God; we must patiently bear that the ungodly should hold us
up to ridicule, and should triumph over us, until the Lord shall show by
the final issue, that our obedience has been approved by him. In this
sense, Peter teaches that Noah's deliverance from the universal deluge
was a figure of baptism, (1 Pet. 3: 21;) as if he had said, the method of
the salvation, which we receive through baptism, degrees with this
deliverance of Noah. Since at this time also the world is full of
unbelievers as it was then; therefore it is necessary for us to separate
ourselves from the greater multitude, that the Lord may snatch us from
destruction. In the same manner, the Church is fitly, and justly,
compared to the ark. But we must keep in mind the similitude by which
they mutually correspond with each other; for that is derived from the
word of God alone; because as Noah believing the promise of God, gathered
himself his wife and his children together, in order that under a certain
appearance of death, he might emerge out of death; so it is fitting that
we should renounce the world and die, in order that the Lord may quicken
us by his word. For nowhere else is there any security of salvation. The
Papists, however, act ridiculously who fabricate for us an ark without
the word.

Chapter VIII.

1 And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle
that [was] with him in the ark: and God made a wind to pass over the
earth, and the waters asswaged;
2 The fountains also of the deep and the windows of heaven were stopped,
and the rain from heaven was restrained;
3 And the waters returned from off the earth continually: and after the
end of the hundred and fifty days the waters were abated.
4 And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the
month, upon the mountains of Ararat.
5 And the waters decreased continually until the tenth month: in the
tenth [month], on the first [day] of the month, were the tops of the
mountains seen.
6 And it came to pass at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the
window of the ark which he had made:
7 And he sent forth a raven, which went forth to and fro, until the
waters were dried up from off the earth.
8 Also he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters were abated
from off the face of the ground;
9 But the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot, and she returned
unto him into the ark, for the waters [were] on the face of the whole
earth: then he put forth his hand, and took her, and pulled her in unto
him into the ark.
10 And he stayed yet other seven days; and again he sent forth the dove
out of the ark;
11 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.
12 And he stayed yet other seven days; and sent forth the dove; which
returned not again unto him any more.
13 And it came to pass in the six hundredth and first year, in the first
[month], the first [day] of the month, the waters were dried up from off
the earth: and Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and,
behold, the face of the ground was dry.
14 And in the second month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month,
was the earth dried.
15 And God spake unto Noah, saying,
16 Go forth of the ark, thou, and thy wife, and thy sons, and thy sons'
wives with thee.
17 Bring forth with thee every living thing that [is] with thee, of all
flesh, [both] of fowl, and of cattle, and of every creeping thing that
creepeth upon the earth; that they may breed abundantly in the earth, and
be fruitful, and multiply upon the earth.
18 And Noah went forth, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives
with him:
19 Every beast, every creeping thing, and every fowl, [and] whatsoever
creepeth upon the earth, after their kinds, went forth out of the ark.
20 And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean
beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.
21 And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I
will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the
imagination of man's heart [is] evil from his youth; neither will I again
smite any more every thing living, as I have done.
22 While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat,
and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.

1. "And God remembered Noah." Moses now descends more particularly to
that other part of the subject, which shows, that Noah was not
disappointed in his hope of the salvation divinely promised to him. The
remembrance of which Moses speaks, ought to be referred not only to the
external aspect of things, (so to speak,) but also to the inward feeling
of the holy man. Indeed it is certain, that Gods from the time in which
he had once received Noah into his protection, was never unmindful of
him; for, truly, it was by as great a miracle, that he did not perish
through suffocation in the ark, as if he had lived without breath,
submerged in the waters. And Moses just before has said that by God's
secret closing up of the ark, the waters were restrained from penetrating
it. But as the ark was floating, even to the fifth month, upon the
waters, the delay by which the Lord suffered his servant to be anxiously
and miserably tortured might seem to imply a kind of oblivion. And it is
not to be questioned, that his heart was agitated by various feelings,
when he found himself so long held in suspense; for he might infer, that
his life had been prolonged, in order that he might be more miserable
than any of the rest of mankind. For we know that we are accustomed to
imagine God absent, except when we have some sensible experience of his
presence. And although Noah tenaciously held fast the promise which he
had embraced, even to the end, it is yet credible, that he was grievously
assailed by various temptations; and God, without doubt, purposely thus
exercised his faith and patience. For, why was not the world destroyed in
three days? And for what purpose did the waters, after they had covered
the highest mountains rise fifteen cubits higher, unless it was to
accustom Noah, and his family, to meditate the more profitably on the
judgments of Gods and when the danger was past, to acknowledge that they
had been rescued from a thousand deaths? Let us therefore learn, by this
example, to repose on the providence of God, even while he seems to be
most forgetful of us; for at length, by affording us help, he will
testify that he has been mindful of us. What, if the flesh persuade us to
distrust, yet let us not yield to its restlessness; but as soon as this
thought creeps in, that God has cast off all care concerning us, or is
asleep, or far distant, let us immediately meet it with this shield, 'The
Lord, who has promised his help to the miserable will, in due time, be
present with us, that we may indeed perceive the care he takes of us.'
Nor is there less weight in what is added that God also remembered the
animals; for if, on account of the salvation promised to man, his favour
is extended to brute cattle, and to wild beasts; what may we suppose will
be his favour towards his own children, to whom he has so liberally, and
so sacredly, pledged his faithfulness?
  "And God made a wind to pass over the earth." Here it appears more
clearly, that Moses is speaking of the effect of God's remembrance of
Noah; namely, that in very deed, and by a sure proof, Noah might know
that God cared for his life. For when God, by his secret power, might
have dried the earth, he made use of the wind; which method he also
employed in drying the Red Sea. And thus he would testify, that as he had
the waters at his command, ready to execute his wrath, so now he held the
winds in his hand, to afford relief. And although here a remarkable
history is recorded by Moses, we are yet taught, that the winds do not
arise fortuitously, but by the command of God; as it is said in Psalm
104: verse 4, that 'they are the swift messengers of God;' and again,
that God rides upon their wings. Finally, the variety, the contrary
motions, and the mutual conflicts of the elements, conspire to yield
obedience to God. Moses also adds other inferior means by which the
waters were diminished and caused to return to their former position. The
sum of the whole is, that God, for the purpose of restoring the order
which he had before appointed, recalled the waters to their prescribed
boundaries so that while the celestial waters, as if congealed, were
suspended in the air; others might lie concealed in their gulfs; others
flow in separate channels; and the sea also might remain within its

3. "And after the end of the hundred and fifty days." Some think that the
whole time, from the beginning of the deluge to the abatement of the
waters, is here noted; and thus they include the forty days in which
Moses relates that there was continued rain. But I make this distinction,
that until the fortieth day, the waters rose gradually by fresh
additions; then that they remained nearly in the same state for one
hundred and fifty days; for both computations make the period a little
more than six months and a half. And Moses says, that about the end of
the seventh month, the diminution of the waters appeared to be such that
the ark settled upon the highest summit of a mountain, or touched some
ground. And by this lengthened space of time, the Lord would show the
more plainly, that the dreadful desolation of the world had not fallen
upon it accidentally, but was a remarkable proof of his judgment; while
the deliverance of Noah was a magnificent work of his grace, and worthy
of everlasting remembrance. If, however, we number the seventh month from
the beginning of the year, (as some do,) and not from the time that Noah
entered the ark, the subsidence of which Moses speaks, took place
earlier, namely, as soon as the ark had floated five months. If this
second opinion is received, there will be the same reckoning of ten
months; for the sense will be, that in the eighth month after the
commencement of the deluge, the tops of the mountains appeared.
Concerning the name Ararat, I follow the opinion most received. And I do
not see why some should deny it to be Armenian the mountains of which are
declared, by ancient authors, almost with one consents to be the highest.
The Chaldean paraphrase also points out the particular part, which he
calls mountains of Cardu, which others call Cardueni. But whether that be
true, which Josephus has handed down respecting the fragments of the ark
found there in his time; remnants of which, Jerome says, remained to his
own age, I leave undecided.

6. "At the end of forty days." We may hence conjecture with what great
anxiety the breast of the holy man was oppressed. After he had perceived
the ark to be resting on solid ground, he yet did not dare to open the
window till the fortieth day; not because he was stunned and torpid, but
because an example, thus formidable, of the vengeance of God, had
affected him with such fear and sorrow combined, that being deprived of
all judgment, he silently remained in the chamber of his ark. At length
he sends forth a raven, from which he might receive a more certain
indication of the dryness of the earth. But the raven perceiving nothing
but muddy marshes, hovers around, and immediately seeks to be readmitted.
I have no doubt that Noah purposely selected the ravens which he knew
might be allured by the odour of carcasses, to take a further flight, if
the earth, with the animals upon it, were already exposed to view; but
the raven, flying around did not depart far. I wonder whence a negation,
which Moses has not in the Hebrew text, has crept into the Greek and
Latin version, since it entirely changes the sense. Hence the fable has
originated, that the raven, having found carcasses, was kept away from
the arks and forsook its protector. Afterwards, futile allegories
followed, just as the curiosity of men is ever desirous of trifling. But
the dove, in its first egress, imitated the raven, because it flew back
to the ark; afterwards it brought a branch of olive in its bill; and at
the third time, as if emancipated, it enjoyed the free air, and the free
earth. Some writers exercise their ingenuity on the olive branch; because
among the ancients it was the emblem of peace, as the laurel was of
victory. But I rather think, that as the olive tree does not grow upon
the mountains, and is not a very lofty tree, the Lord had given his
servant some token whence he might infer, that pleasant regions, and
productive of good fruits, were now freed from the waters. Because the
version of Jerome says, that it was a branch with green leaves; they who
have thought, that the deluge began in the month of September, take this
as a confirmation of their opinion. But the words of Moses have no such
meaning. And it might be that the Lord, willing to revive the spirit of
Noah, offered some branch to the dove, which had not yet altogether
withered under the waters.

15. "And God spake unto Noah." Though Noah was not a little terrified at
the judgment of God, yet his patience is commended in this respect, that
having the earth, which offered him a home, before his eyes, he yet does
not venture to go forth. Profane men may ascribe this to timidity, or
even to indolence; but holy is that timidity which is produced by the
obedience of faith. Let us therefore know, that Noah was restrained, by a
hallowed modesty, from allowing himself to enjoy the bounty of nature,
till he should hear the voice of God directing him to do so. Moses winds
this up in a few words, but it is proper that we should attend to the
thing itself. All ought indeed, spontaneously, to consider how great must
have been the fortitude of the man, who, after the incredible weariness
of a whole year, when the deluge has ceased, and new life has shone
forth, does not yet move a foot out of his sepulchre, without the command
of God. Thus we see, that, by a continual course of faith, the holy man
was obedient to God; because at God's command, he entered the ark, and

(continued in part 15...)

file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-01/cvgn1-14.txt