40 Days and Nights

Mentioned 146 times in Scripture, the number 40 generally symbolizes a period of testing, trial or probation.

Timeline of The Great Flood

A 7-day period of grace is allowed to get all the animals onto the ark (Genesis 7:1-10):

And the Lord said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation. Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female. Of fowls also of the air by sevens, the male and the female; to keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth. For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth. And Noah did according unto all that the Lord commanded him. And Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters was upon the earth. And Noah went in, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons’ wives with him, into the ark, because of the waters of the flood. Of clean beasts, and of beasts that are not clean, and of fowls, and of every thing that creepeth upon the earth, There went in two and two unto Noah into the ark, the male and the female, as God had commanded Noah. 10 And it came to pass after seven days, that the waters of the flood were upon the earth.

17 Ziv (Iyyar) — on the 600th year of Noah’s life

11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep* broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. 12 And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights. 13 In the selfsame day entered Noah, and Shem, and Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah’s wife, and the three wives of his sons with them, into the ark;

Rain: amidst the 40 days and nights, at some point, the ark floats and eventually the waters reach a height (15 cubits) such that the earth is covered under water …

17 And the flood was forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth.

18 And the waters prevailed, and were increased greatly upon the earth; and the ark went upon the face of the waters. 19 And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered. 20 Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered.

And the waters prevailed on the earth an hundred and fifty days …

21 And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man: 22 All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died. 23 And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark. 24 And the waters prevailed upon the earth an hundred and fifty days.

And the waters abated …

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 assuaged; The fountains also of the deep and the windows of heaven were stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained; And the waters returned from off the earth continually: and after the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters were abated.

17 Tishri — Ark comes to rest atop Ararat

And the ark rested in the seventh month on the seventeenth day of the month upon the mountains of Ararat.

1 Tevet — mountaintops sighted

And the waters decreased continually until the tenth month – in the tenth of the first of the month where the tops of the mountains seen

40 Days — window of ark first opened and a raven is released, and then a dove is released (and returns) …

And it came to pass at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made: And he sent forth a raven, which went forth to and fro, until the waters were dried up from off the earth. Also he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters were abated from off the face of the ground; 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.

7 Days — Noah waits before releasing the dove again, this time it returns with an olive leaf

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.

7 Days — Noah waits and releases the dove a third time, after which it does not return …

12 And he stayed yet other seven days; and sent forth the dove; which returned not again unto him any more.

1 Nisan (601st year of Noah’s life) — Noah removes the covering of the ark

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.

27 Ziv (Iyyar) — the earth was dried

14 And in the second month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month, was the earth dried.

Not counting the seven days’ grace, one year and ten days have passed …

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.

Noah

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.

— ♣ —

Ed:

  • from the first raindrop to disembarkation = 1 year and 10 days
  • 360-day years of 30-day months
  • Notice the numeric sequence: 7 — 40 — 150 — 40 — 7, and 7
  • Genesis Chapters 7 and 8 (KJV)

*A modern explanation for the “fountains of the great deep” — see Earth may have underground ‘ocean’ three times that on surface. The more inquisitive of you may want to look at Water, Melting, and the Deep Earth H2O Cycle at Annual Reviews

Featured Image: The Deluge, John Martin (1834). Oil on canvas. Yale University [Wikimedia Commons]

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