18

This question asks why the flood didn't end on the 18th of Cheshvan (one year after the start). My question is more basic: why does the torah give us precise dates here at all? Bereishit 7:11 tells us it began on the 17th of the second month and Bereishit 8:14 tells us it ended on the 27th of the second month a year later -- but I don't think we get another precise date before the exodus begins. (One can of course question which month is meant by the second month -- the other question assumes Cheshvan -- but regardless of which it is, the torah identifies a specific month and specific dates.)

Why is it important to tell us the flood began and ended on these exact dates?

  • To tell us it was a complete solar year? – Menachem Oct 31 '13 at 5:07
  • similar judaism.stackexchange.com/q/17810/759 – Double AA Oct 31 '13 at 6:50
  • @Menachem, we get durations without dates all over the place; we know how old people were, that Avraham circumcised Yitzchak on the 8th day, how long the famine in Mitzrayim was... the text is clearly able to tell us about durations without giving us exact dates. So why the exact dates here? – Monica Cellio Oct 31 '13 at 12:38
4

Ralbag in his commentary to the Flood Narrative writes as follows:

והנה השלים זה הסיפור והפליג להאריך בו לרוב התועלת המגיע ממנו ולזה דקדק במספר הימים אשר ירד הגשם בלי הפסק ובשאר הפרטים לישב יותר בלבנו אמיתת זה הסיפור כי כבר נאמין יותר בספורים כשיסופר מענינם פרטים רבים

And behold it completed this narrative and elaborated on it extensively due to the abundance of benefit that comes from it. And for this it was precise in the number of days that the rain fell nonstop, and in the other details, in order to settle more in our hearts the truth of this narrative. For we believe more in narratives when many of their details are told.

More generally, he writes a bit earlier:

עם שזה דרך התורה לזכור קצת הפרטים ולעזוב קצת

It is the way of the Torah to mention some of the details and to leave out some of them.

(You can see my answers here and here for some of Ralbag's comments about the Torah's general brevity and redundancy.)

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  • You have a special gift of finding the exact source that speaks about the subject. The problem, however, with most of those sources, they are short-sighted, they only explain one phenomenon completely neglecting the rest of the Torah. Bereyshis is full of stories but none mentioned exact dates. – Al Berko Oct 13 '18 at 21:07
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    @AlBerko I guess I’ll take that as a compliment? – Alex Oct 13 '18 at 23:29
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See Rashi on chapter 8 verse 4 where he deduces based on the dates given how submerged in the water the Teiva was - 11 cubits. An interesting point from which we can derive with a bit of calculation and Archimedes' priniciple, a possibly even more fascinating point: that it weighed around 15,645 metric tonnes (based on Rabbi Hadar Margolin's proposition that the Ama was 46.5 cm - ספר הידורי המידות).

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A book written by a human claiming to be divine will not include dates (or any specific details) lest someone spot an error in them and then claim that it is not divine. The Torah being divine is not afraid to include specific details; thus this proves that the Torah is a Divine Document.

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