Did Noah enter the ark 7 days before the flood or on the day of that the flood began?

וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יְהֹוָה֙ לְנֹ֔חַ בֹּֽא־אַתָּ֥ה וְכׇל־בֵּיתְךָ֖ אֶל־הַתֵּבָ֑ה כִּֽי־אֹתְךָ֥ רָאִ֛יתִי צַדִּ֥יק לְפָנַ֖י בַּדּ֥וֹר הַזֶּֽה׃

Then the LORD said to Noah, “Go into the ark, with all your household, for you alone have I found righteous before Me in this generation. (Genesis 7:1)

כִּי֩ לְיָמִ֨ים ע֜וֹד שִׁבְעָ֗ה אָֽנֹכִי֙ מַמְטִ֣יר עַל־הָאָ֔רֶץ אַרְבָּעִ֣ים י֔וֹם וְאַרְבָּעִ֖ים לָ֑יְלָה וּמָחִ֗יתִי אֶֽת־כׇּל־הַיְקוּם֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר עָשִׂ֔יתִי מֵעַ֖ל פְּנֵ֥י הָֽאֲדָמָֽה׃

For in seven days’ time I will make it rain upon the earth, forty days and forty nights, and I will blot out from the earth all existence that I created.” (Genesis 7:4)

וַיַּ֖עַשׂ נֹ֑חַ כְּכֹ֥ל אֲשֶׁר־צִוָּ֖הוּ יְהֹוָֽה׃

And Noah did just as the LORD commanded him. (Genesis 7:5)

וַיָּ֣בֹא נֹ֗חַ וּ֠בָנָ֠יו וְאִשְׁתּ֧וֹ וּנְשֵֽׁי־בָנָ֛יו אִתּ֖וֹ אֶל־הַתֵּבָ֑ה מִפְּנֵ֖י מֵ֥י הַמַּבּֽוּל׃

Noah, with his sons, his wife, and his sons’ wives, went into the ark because of the waters of the Flood. (Genesis 7:7)

One understanding of these verses is that Noah was warned of the flood seven days in advance, at which he point he entered the ark and waited for the flood to begin.

בִּשְׁנַ֨ת שֵׁשׁ־מֵא֤וֹת שָׁנָה֙ לְחַיֵּי־נֹ֔חַ בַּחֹ֙דֶשׁ֙ הַשֵּׁנִ֔י בְּשִׁבְעָֽה־עָשָׂ֥ר י֖וֹם לַחֹ֑דֶשׁ בַּיּ֣וֹם הַזֶּ֗ה נִבְקְעוּ֙ כׇּֽל־מַעְיְנֹת֙ תְּה֣וֹם רַבָּ֔ה וַאֲרֻבֹּ֥ת הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם נִפְתָּֽחוּ׃

In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day All the fountains of the great deep burst apart, And the floodgates of the sky broke open. (Genesis 7:11)

בְּעֶ֨צֶם הַיּ֤וֹם הַזֶּה֙ בָּ֣א נֹ֔חַ וְשֵׁם־וְחָ֥ם וָיֶ֖פֶת בְּנֵי־נֹ֑חַ וְאֵ֣שֶׁת נֹ֗חַ וּשְׁלֹ֧שֶׁת נְשֵֽׁי־בָנָ֛יו אִתָּ֖ם אֶל־הַתֵּבָֽה׃

That same day Noah and Noah’s sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, went into the ark, with Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons— (Genesis 7:13)

But here it seems definite that Noah entered the ark on the same day that "the fountains of the great deep burst apart, And the floodgates of the sky broke open."

What is the correct interpretation of the above verses?

Could it be that 7:11 refers to a point at the beginning of the seven days where the storm started but the water did not yet accumulate into a flood? Or is this interpretation in contradiction with 7:4 "For in seven days’ time I will make it rain upon the earth..."

  • The Ramban writes Noah entered the Ark when the rain started to fall
    – mbloch
    Oct 20, 2021 at 9:03

1 Answer 1


The Radak writes an answer distinguishing between Noah's entering and then exiting, and entering permanently:

בעצם היום הזה, on this very date, the 17th day of the second month, after Noach had entered the ark. How do we reconcile this statement with the verses 4-6 from which we deduced that Noach entered the ark already 7 days before the onset of the deluge? We must conclude that whereas the animals entered the ark at the beginning of the seven day period, Noach, who entered with them and made things comfortable for them, still commuted between the ark and his regular home. It is possible that even the animals and the birds still grazed in the vicinity of the ark, knowing that as soon as the rains would start their place was only inside the ark. They did not look forward to having to spend any more time than absolutely necessary for their survival inside the ark. On the seventh day, i.e. the 17th of the month, they all entered the ark for the last time prior to the earth having dried sufficiently after the deluge to enable them to disembark. As soon as everybody was inside, Noach locked the exit door, as well as the window which he had built into the roof of the ark, seeing the waters of the deluge would commence to descend on this very day.

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