"One mark of the coherence of the flood narrative is to be found in its
literary structure. The tale is cast in the form of an extended palistrophe,
that is a structure that turns back on itself. In a palistrophe the first item
matches the final item, the second item matches the penultimate item, and
so on. The second half of the story is thus a mirror image of the first. This
kind of literary structure has been discovered in other parts of Genesis, but
nowhere else is it developed on such a large scale. This may be partly due
to the fact that a flood narrative is peculiarly suited to this literary
form. . . .
"Particularly striking are the references to days (lines H, I, L, O). (Only
the references to days form part of the palistrophe; the 40 days and nights
[vii 4, 12] and the dates do not.) The periods of time form a symmetrical
pattern, 7, 7, 40, 150, 150, 40, 7, 7. The turning point of the narrative is
found in viii:1 'God remembered Noah.'
"What then is the function of the palistrophe? Firstly, it gives literary
expression to the character of the flood event. The rise and fall of the
waters is mirrored in the rise and fall of the key words in its description.
Secondly, it draws attention to the real turning point in the saga: viii 1,
'And God remembered Noah.' From that moment the waters start to
decline and the earth to dry out. It was God's intervention that was
decisive in saving Noah, and the literary structure highlights this fact."302
The following diagram illustrates this palistrophe (chiasm) simply.
"Introduction: Noah's righteousness and Noah's sons (6:9-10).
A God resolves to destroy the corrupt race (6:11-13).
B Noah builds an ark according to God's instructions (6:14-22).
C The Lord commands the remnant to enter the ark (7:1-9).
D The flood begins (7:10-16).
E The flood prevails 150 days and the water covers
the mountains (7:17-24).
F God remembers Noah (8:1a).
E' The flood recedes 150 days, and the mountains
are visible (8:1b-5).
D' The earth dries (8:6-14).
C' God commands the remnant to leave the ark (8:15-19).
B' Noah builds an altar (8:20).
A' The Lord resolves not to destroy humankind (8:21-22)."303
301 - Mathews, pp. 349-50.
302 - Gordon J. Wenham, "The Coherence of the Flood Narrative," Vetus Testamentum 28:3 (1978):337, 339-
40. See also idem, Genesis 1—15, pp. 155-58. There is a helpful chart of the chronology of the Flood in
The Bible Knowledge Commentary: Old Testament, p. 39.
303 - Ross, Creation and . . ., p. 191. See also the charts in Mathews, p. 354; and Waltke, Genesis, p. 125.
6.3 shall not abide... The footnote for the esv has contend as and alternative for abide, which make more sense in the context. It would be interesting to look up the Hebrew word that would support both meanings.
6.9 blameless in his generation... We generally think of blameless as an absolute attribute, so the description in his generation is interesting.
7.5 I like this verse.
7.16 And the Lord shut him in. A really cool thing to think about. I guess that God could have let Noah do it. It is a significant statement/action.
8.19 went out by families... I am not sure that I have noticed this before. Another interesting tidbit to include in the account.
9.10 and with every living creature... God making a covenant with the animals is an interesting thought.
9.22 his nakedness... This is a somewhat ambiguous expression. Evidently Noah became so drunk that he took off all his clothes and then passed out naked in his tent. There is no explicit indication that Ham disrobed his father or committed some homosexual act.348 However, because the expression "to see one's nakedness" is sometimes used of sexual intercourse, it is possible that sexual immorality was involved.349
348 - See Mathews, pp. 417, 419.
349 - Wolf, pp. 106-7.
It is interesting that decendents are given for some brothers, but not others.
10.9 a mighty hunter before the Lord... I find the phrase before the Lord to be intriging. I am unclear of what it means, but feel pretty sure it is significants. It would be a good one to look up.