Genesis vii. 13-16.

July 23, 2010

In the selfsame day Noe, and Sem, and Cham, and Japheth his sons: his wife, and the three wives of his sons with them, went into the ark: they and every beast according to its kind, and all the cattle in their kind, and every thing that moveth upon the earth according to its kind, and every fowl according to its kind, and every fowl according to its kind, all birds, and all that fly went in to Noe into the ark, two and two of all flesh, wherein was the breath of life.  And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the Lord shut him in on the outside.

13-16. Confirmation of the entrance into the ark; God shuts Noe in

a. “In the selfsame day”

St. Bede: “Therefore, all the animals entered the ark on one and the same day, for Noe did not toil with much labor or for a long time to collect them and lead them or force them into the ark.  Rather, compelled by the divine will, they came of their own accord in their respective numbers, with Noe preceding with his children and their wives, followed him in order, and through the Lord’s action entered their respective little rooms, as if of their own accord.  This holds true for what is said of the birds, that they entered to Noe in the ark, and for this passage in general: from everything that moves on the earth, two and two entered to Noe in the ark” (In Principium Genesis II. col. 95).

b. “Went into the ark”

Cornelius: “That is: finally and completely, Noe entered the ark with all the rest.  For it should be noted from verses 1, 4 and 7 that Noe began to enter the ark seven days before the flood, and during those days gradually brought food and the animals into the ark, so that on the day of the flood itself, which was the seventeenth day of the second month, everything would be perfect and unharmed.  The ingressus [lit. “having entered”], therefore, here signifies an action, not merely begun, but completed and perfected.  For the mercy of God wished by these seven days, by the structure that Noe was making, by the continual leading of animals and food into the ark, to warn men of the impending flood, and move them to penitence.  Thus St. Ambrose, Tostatus and Pererius” (Commentaria, p 144).

c. “And the Lord shut him in on the outside”

Cornelius: “That is, by lining the door of the ark from the outside with pitch against the waters, which Noe, already enclosed within the ark, was not able to do.  Whence the Hebrew has, the Lord closed for him; or, as Vatablus translates, after him.  See what care and providence God has for Noe and all his” (ibid.).

Calmet: “The Lord shut him in, by an angel besmearing the door with pitch, to prevent the waters from penetrating, while Noe did the like in the inside” (HB).

Worthington: “Thus God supplies our wants when we are not able to provide for ourselves, and though he could do all by himself, yet he requires us to co-operate with him, and often makes use of secondary causes” (HB).

St. Chrysostom: “Pay attention here, too, to the accommodation of the wording to our weakness.  God closed the ark on the outside, to teach that He had placed the just man in great security.  Therefore it says, He closed, and adds, on the outside, so that the just man was not able to see the destruction of all outside the ark, which might be a source of great pain to him.  For if he had reflected to himself on that most terrible tempest, and had written on his mind the destruction of the human race, the common ruin of all the brute animals, and men, and beasts of burden, and the obliteration, if I may say so, of the earth itself, he would have been seized by sadness and would have been very disturbed.  For although those who perished were wicked, nevertheless the souls of good men are usually affected with great commiseration when they see men punished; and you will find all the prophets and many just men beseeching God for them, as the patriarch did for the Sodomites, and as the prophets were continually accustomed to do” (xxv. 4.).

St. Ambrose: “This passage is clear according to the letter.  The ark was to be closed, and surrounded with a safe defense, lest the wandering waves of the flood penetrate it.  Also, in the interpretation of a deeper and not unfitting sense, if what is written here of the ark symbolizes the human body, we may judge it to be defended from cold and heat by the defense of skin, which God the craftsman used to clothe all the members of the body, and cover with a kind of surrounding covering, lest the body freeze with cold or melt in the heat of summer” (De Noe et Arca, xv. 50.).

St. Bede: “Now this is the eighth day from that on which the construction of the ark was finished.  From which it is clear that it is a great mystery that the ark was finished on the tenth day of that second month.  For the first month may fittingly be taken as that ancient people of God collected of the Hebrews.  But the second month is the people of the New Testament.  For it is for this reason that it is taught in the law that whoever is not able to celebrate the pasch in the first month, whether because they are unclean from a corpse, or are far away on a journey, or occupied by any other necessity, may celebrate it in this second month with the blood of a lamb and unleavened bread on the fourteenth day at evening.  In the addition of this month we are signified, who were unable to celebrate the sacrament of the Lord’s passion with the first people of God, as we were still a long way off from the communion of saints, and unclean; nay, dead in our sins – but who, after we came to the same faith once the Lord’s Incarnation had occurred, celebrate the Lord’s pasch as though in the light of the second month: on the tenth day of which month the ark was finished, because when the Lord appeared in the flesh He promised us the denarius (ten-cent coin) of the heavenly kingdom, and granted that we be able to accomplish the law of the Decalogue with the grace given by the Holy Ghost.  Now this grace can be represented by the seven days’ wait after the ark was finished for the complete entrance and the coming of the flood, for certainly, with the promise of the kingdom received, represented by the denarius, the faithful receive the Spirit’s grace, by which they may be united to the members of Holy Church.  We can also rightly understand it thus, that the flood poured through on the seventeenth day of the month and not before, because it is necessary for each of the faithful, in the faith of receiving true rest and the heavenly denarius, that is, the image of the eternal king, first to be cleansed, and thus to be admitted to the society of the Church through the laver of regeneration.  Now as for the breaking up of the fountains of the deep and the opening of the flood gates – that is, the windows – of heaven: by the great deep is symbolized the Scripture of the Old Testament, which, for so long shut up under the veil of the letter, could not open the veins of spiritual knowledge for the world, but was revealed by God and now serves the lavish fountains of the Church with the knowledge of salvation.  And the open flood gates of heaven signify the pouring out of the evangelical and apostolic preaching, which manifestly irrigate earthly hearts with heavenly things.  Therefore, because we are confirmed in the faith of regeneration both by the revealed words of prophecy and by the open preaching of the heralds of the New Testament, it is rightly said that for the making of the flood all the fountains of the deep were broken up and the flood gates of heaven were opened.

“Now the Lord shut in the ark from the outside, because He always defends His Church with heavenly protection as she rejoices in the holy ablution of baptism, lest any of those whom He has preordained to life should perish without cause, and guards her on all sides as she labors amid the waves of the world, lest she be overwhelmed or sunk by the pressures or delights of the age.  For the Lord shall send His angel to encamp around them that fear Him, and shall deliver them.  But the Lord also shuts in Noe with the other inhabitants of the ark on the day of judgment, when, with His elect gathered with Him in His Father’s house, He blocks up forever the door of the kingdom from the entrance of the lost, even if they repent, but too late, according to the parable in the Gospel of the ten virgins, where it is said that those who were ready entered with Him to the wedding, and the door was closed, and the rest” (In Principium Genesis II. col. 95-96).


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