The Receding Phase of the Genesis Flood: Exegetical and Geological Notes on Genesis 8:1–12 (Open Access)

CRSQ Summer Volume 59 Number 4


The Receding Phase of the Genesis Flood:Exegetical and Geological Notes on Genesis 8:1–12

Jeffrey P. Tomkins*

This multidisciplinary research paper examines Genesis 8:1–12 which describes a critical late-Flood phase of the global Genesis deluge. Johnson and Clarey had previously performed a geological and exegetical analysis of Genesis 7 which documented the immediate pre-Flood events and the majority of the progressive inundation of the Earth from Day 1 through Day 150 (the high-water mark). The present analysis picks up at the beginning of Chapter 8, immediately following the high-water mark of the Flood at the top of the Zuni Megasequence, where the Ark comes to rest in the mountains of Ararat. At this point the Floodwaters began to violently recede off the continents in an important period of late-Flood runoff that created the sedimentary layers of the Tejas Megasequence (Paleogene and Neogene). The important segment of the Flood described in Genesis 8:1–12 encompasses 135 days of significant Earth-shaping activity and is responsible for producing approximately 33% of the total volume of the fossil-bearing layers of the geological column (Phanerozoic). This segment of the Flood is also responsible for the burying of numerous amounts of mammals, angiosperms, and many other plants and creatures living at higher pre-Flood elevations that are not found in lower (pre-Tejas) layers of the rock record.

The Receding Phase of the Genesis Flood: Exegetical and Geological Notes on Genesis 8:1-12

Jeffrey P. Tomkins*

Key Words: Genesis Flood, receding phase, Tejas megaseqeunce, N-Q Flood boundary, Hebrew exegesis, Genesis-Chapter 8
*Jeffrey P. Tomkins, PhD, is a research scientist at the Institute for Creation Research, Dallas, TX


The global Flood was forewarned of and preliminarily prepared for in Genesis 6. In Chapter 7 the Flood initiates with the bursting of the fountains of the great deep on Day 1 with the Flood waters progressively rising until they reached the Ark on Day 40 (Johnson and Clarey, 2021). The first 40 days of the Flood were largely responsible for the deposition of marine ecosystems and involved the initial megasequences of the Sauk (Cambrian), Tippecanoe (Ordovician, Silurian), and Kaskaskia (Devonian, Mississippian, and Pennsylvanian). At about Day 40, we not only get the floating of the Ark, but the initial burial of tropical coastal land ecosystems which progressively continue with the global sedimentation of higher and more inland environments represented in the fossil-bearing layers of the Absaroka and Zuni Megasequences. The Flood peaks at the end of Genesis 7 with the high-water mark being about Day 150 where all the highest hills were covered with at least 15 cubits of water (about 22.5 - 30 feet) represented by the top of the Zuni Megasequence, corresponding to just above the top of the Cretaceous System (Johnson and Clarey, 2021). For a timeline of the global Flood integrated with the megasequences/geological column and global sea level fluctuations, see Figure 1.
 Figure 1

Figure 1. Megasequence/geologic column chart and relative sea level curve for the Flood Year.

While the majority of the initiation and progression of the global Flood occurs within Genesis, Chapter 7, it should be noted that one of the most critical parts of the global Flood occurs during Genesis, Chapter 8. This is interpreted as the receding phase in which huge amounts of Flood runoff are occurring globally on the newly separated continents (Clarey, 2020a). This action is facilitated by the rapid uplift of most of the world's mountain ranges like the Rocky Mountains in North America and the Andes Mountains in South America. In fact, this phase of the global Flood is so important, that the most recent stratigraphic analysis of five continents indicates that 36% of the total global volume of the Phanerozoic section (Cambrian - Tertiary) of the geological column is composed of Flood runoff sediments known as the Tejas Megasequence (Clarey and Werner, 2023). For a global map of the Tejas Megasequence distribution for the five continents currently mapped, see Figure 2.
This final phase of the Flood not only has strong significance for explaining the vast amount of sediments in the Tejas, but it also affects the critical paradigm of where the end of the Flood exists in the rock record. The location of the Flood/post-Flood boundary has been hotly debated in creationist circles for the past several decades (Holt, 1996; Oard, 2004; Oard, 2010a; Oard, 2010b; Oard, 2011; Ross, 2012; Oard, 2013a; Oard, 2013b; Clarey, 2017; Clarey, 2018; Clarey and Werner, 2019; Clarey, 2020a; Clarey, 2020b).
A proper determination of the post-Flood boundary is actually a critical issue to understand because it has direct connections to explaining the enormity of global Tejas strata (about 36% of the total geologic column above the Cambrian) along with massive amounts of first appearances of Cenozoic animals and plants (including extensive and thick Cenozoic coal seams). Thus, based on extensive global stratigraphy and paleontology, the post-Flood boundary has been determined to be at the end of the Neogene and beginning of the Quaternary and is known as the N-Q Flood Boundary (Clarey, 2017; Clarey and Werner, 2019; Clarey et al. 2021; Tomkins and Clarey, 2021). In addition, a proper post-Flood model also has direct impact on key events such as human and animal dispersal from the Ark and the necessity of land bridges associated with the post-Flood Ice Age (Tomkins, 2021c).

Exegetical Methods

Hebrew text analyses were facilitated by Accordance Bible Software (version 14) with the following packages: Biblia Hebraica with Westminster Morphology, Hebrew Masoretic Text with Andersen-Forbes Morphology and Syntax Database, and the Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (HALOT). A hard copy of Owen's "Analytical Key to the Old Testament" (Volume 1-Genesis to Joshua) was also consulted (Owens, 1991) along with a variety of Hebrew reference grammars as cited in the text. The Hebrew transliterations in the following text are performed in SBL Academic format. English translation unless otherwise noted, will be in the King James Version.

Genesis 8 Is Historical Narrative

Like Genesis, Chapter 1, and many other parts of the Old Testament, Genesis 8 is Hebrew narrative giving historical truth - not poetry or mytho-history (Johnson, 2011; Drake, 2020; Tomkins, 2021a). This fact is distinctly defined by the Hebrew grammar where the majority of the verbal forms occur in what is known as a waw-consecutive in which the verb is prefixed by the letter waw and the verb itself is in the imperfect tense. This waw + imperfect tense grammatical construct effectively changes the normal imperfect tense (uncompleted action) into a perfect tense (completed action) - hence the alternate, but less preferred definition of waw-conversive. Murphy notes, "The waw + imperfect (wayyiqtol) forms the backbone of BH [Biblical Hebrew] historical narrative" (Murphy, 2003). Thus, these verbal forms consecutively and repeatedly describe completed historical events, otherwise termed historical narrative. Since most of the verbal forms in Genesis 8 are waw-consecutives, I won't redundantly repeat this grammatical fact in the following exegesis. If a verbal construct is of a different form and this conveys a significant and insightful meaning, I will take note of that. The style and format of Hebrew exegesis employed in this paper will be the same as that which I have used previously (Tomkins, 2022).

Genesis 8:1

וַיִּזְכֹּר אֱלֹהִים אֶת־נׄחַ וְאֵת כָּל־הַחַיָּה וְאֶת־כָּל־הַבְּהֵמָה אֲשֶׁר אִתּוֹ בַּתֵּבָה וַיַּעֲבֵר אֱלֹהִים רוּחַ עַל־הָאָרֶץ וַיָּשֹׁכּוּ הַמָּיִם
"But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the livestock that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided."
The first verse of Chapter 8 continues the historical Flood narrative of Chapter 7 with the waw-consecutive prefixed verb of zāḵar (to remember or acknowledge) with the subject being Elohim (God). Instead of the covenant name of God (Yahweh), Elohim (a plural of majesty) is used here to indicate God's care not just for Noah and his family but all the creatures on the Ark. A parallel would be the sole use of Elohim in Genesis, Chapter 1, where the universe, the Earth and all its life were created. In this case, Elohim is also used to indicate the key act of God in bringing forth a new post-Flood world out of the catastrophe of the Genesis deluge that literally destroyed the former world - even creating a new multi-continent Earth as opposed to the nearly singular mega-continent of the pre-Flood world (Clarey, 2020a). Second Peter 3:6 says, "Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished."
The phrase "But God remembered Noah" (wayyizkōr ʾĕlōhîm ʾet̲-nōaḥ) is not that God had actually forgotten him, but a Hebrew idiom meaning that God began to act on behalf of Noah (Leupold, 1942; Fruchtenbaum, 2009). Kenneth Mathews called it, "covenant language, designating covenant fidelity" in which "God is acting in accordance with his earlier promise to Noah" (Mathews, 1996). It is also noteworthy that the term "remembered" is often found in the circumstance of God's deliverance based on His prior covenantal commitments such as in Israel's exodus and occupation of Canaan (Exodus 2:24; 6:5; Numbers 10:9). But importantly for the progress of the Flood, this phrase marks a key time-point in the Flood narrative in which God acts on behalf of Noah and the entirety of the living contents of the Ark at the specific point of the high-water mark of the Flood (Figure 1). In the sedimentary rock record, this corresponds to the top of the Zuni Megasequence or just above the top of the Cretaceous (Clarey, 2020a; Tomkins, 2021b).
And at this high-water mark, we are told that God initiates the process of Floodwater recession with another waw-consecutive of 'āḇar in the causative active Hiphil stem in which He causes a wind (rûaḥ) to pass over the Earth and the waters asswaged or subsided (wayyāšōkkû hammāyim). Because the word rûaḥ could mean spirit or wind depending on the context, Henry Morris conjectured that it probably meant an "invisible force" (Morris, 1976) - referring to God's mighty power at work and His Spirit being the agent. An early Biblical parallel is Genesis 1:2 at the beginning of the Creation Week; "and the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." An even more significant parallel is later in the book of Exodus 14:21 where Yahweh sent (wayyôlek̲; hiphil waw-consecutive of hālak̲) "a strong east wind" (bərûaḥ qād̲îm ʿazzâ) to dry up the waters of the Red Sea before his people so they could pass over on dry ground. Here in Genesis 8, as in Exodus, they (Noah, his family, and Ark creatures) will eventually also go "through...on dry ground" to disperse out of the Ark thanks to God's mighty working power of His Spirit in causing the Floodwaters to recede.
This beginning of Floodwater recession or abatement corresponds to the initiation of the Tejas Megasequence sedimentation in the lowermost Paleogene System - the final megasequence of the Flood (Figure 1) (Clarey, 2017; Tomkins, 2021d). The initial sediments of the Paleogene System would be the Paleocene Epoch (Figure 1). For a global map of Tejas sediments on five continents, see Figure 2.
 Figure 2

Figure 2. Thickness and extent map of the Tejas Megasequence for the entire world excluding the lower part of Southeast Asia, Australia, and Antarctica. The isopach legend depicts sequence depth in meters by color.


Genesis 8:2

וַיִּסָּכְרוּ מַעְיְנׄת תְּהוֹם וַאֲרֻבֹּת הַשָּׁמָיִם וַיִּכָּלֵא הַגֵּשֶׁם מִן־הַשָּׁמָיִם
"The fountains also of the deep and the windows of heaven were stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained"
Genesis 8:2 in the continuation of historical narrative begins with another waw-consecutive of the verb "to close" (sāḵar) in the third masculine plural. The plural object is the fountains (ma'yān) of the great deep (ṯəhôm) and the windows of heaven were stopped/closed. It can be logically assumed that this entails the near stoppage of new continental separation and rifting that had completely separated the pre-Flood mega-continent (Pangea), beginning in the Triassic System (part of the Absaroka Megasequence). By the end of the Zuni Megasequence (end of the Cretaceous), all of the world's major continents had been completely separated from one another. However, much new seafloor continued to be made after this separation, right up to the Late Neogene System (N-Q post-Flood boundary). In addition, while the most severe rain occurred during the first 40 days of the Flood, it can also be assumed in this verse that all ongoing rain during the first 150 days of the Flood had also been stopped at this point with the rain (g̱ešem) being held back (ḵālâ) or restricted to facilitate the eventual drying of the earth.

Genesis 8:3

וַיָּשֻׁבוּ הַמַּיִם מֵעַל הָאָרֶץ הָלוֹךְ וָשׁוֹב וַיַּחְסְרוּ הַמַּיִם מִקְצֵה חֲמִשִּׁים וּמְאַת יוֹם
"And the waters returned from off the earth continually: and after the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters were abated."
This verse is key to the action and nature of the receding phase of the Flood. The sentence starts with the waw-consecutive of the verb šûḇ in the third plural indicating that the waters were returning to the oceans from off the earth (the newly separated continents). The English gloss "continually" is taken from the verb hālaḵ (qal infinitive absolute) plus the verb šûḇ (qal infinitive absolute) to form what Bandstra calls a "circumstantial abstract of manner" (p. 429) that indicates the progress of the verbal process (Bandstra, 2008). Joüon and Muraoka helpfully say concerning this grammatical construction (p. 397), "and the waters receded in a continuous fashion (the second infinitive strengthens the idea of continuity expressed by הָלוֹךְ)" (Joüon and Muraoka, 1991). Waltke and O'Connor note that this construction typically involves "main verbs of motion" often using hālaḵ and that "the intensifying infinitive does signify repetition or continuance" (p. 589). Thus, the literal gloss of the two connected verbs (hālôk̲ wāšôb̲) is a continuous "going and returning" which shows that the initial phase of Flood runoff involved a massive directional movement with an ebb and flow action.
An additional observation is that the Hebrew verb hālaḵ (to walk) is used in other places of the Old Testament to refer to the directional movement of water. An early instance of this usage of water-flow in a specific direction is Genesis 2:14, "And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it which goeth toward (hālaḵ) the east of Assyria." Another water flow example is Psalm 104:10, "You make springs gush forth in the valleys; they flow (hālaḵ) between the hills."
As noted in the introduction, this action was facilitated by mountain range uplift and accompanied by the formation of large basins on land (adjacent to the mountains) and immediately offshore in the oceans (Figure 2). In this regard, Hebrew scholar William Barrick has been involved in authoring several exegetical papers which convincingly show that Psalm 104:6-9 clearly discusses several important aspects of the final phase of the global Flood (Barrick, 2018; Barrick et al., 2020). Specifically in Psalm 104:8, Barrick et al. note, "the grammar and structure of the Hebrew text itself is to take the normal word order of a Hebrew sentence (the verb followed by the grammatical object) and translate "the mountains rose; the valleys went down." " Indeed, John J. Owens, the late Hebrew scholar in his classic Analytical Key to the Old Testament (Vol. 3) also takes the same normal grammatical approach to Psalm 104:8 - giving a similar analytical exegesis, but helpfully saying that the valleys "sank down" (Owens, 1991). As noted by Barrick et al. in regard to Psalm 104:8, "Such terminology fits well with tectonic activity occurring as the Floodwaters sought the lowest elevation as the mountains were rising" and "This corresponds with the only way for a global Flood to drain: some areas of the crust and mantle must rise and others must sink" (Barrick et al., 2020).
Thus, Psalm 104:8 is directly connected with the text of Genesis 8:3, but adding more tectonic detail that actually fits perfectly with global geological data. For example, directly adjacent to the Rocky Mountains (which are Tejas sediments) are large basins that are filled with thousands of meters of Tejas sediment and corresponding Tertiary fossils (e.g. Green River Basin, Powder River basin, etc.), including massive amounts of coal formed from huge temperate forests that were living at higher pre-Flood elevations. These massive vegetation mats were from plant material torn off and deposited in large intermountain basins (Clarey et al., 2021). The same basin-based geological and paleontological features are also found associated with the Andes Mountain range in South America (Tomkins and Clarey, 2021). Furthermore, massive amounts of sediments also poured into offshore ocean regions (Figure 2), forming large regions of Tejas ocean deposits like the Whopper Sand in the Gulf of Mexico (Clarey, 2015), and many offshore oceanic coal seams in Southeast Asia and in the Arctic Ocean (Clarey et al., 2021).
One of the reasons that about 80% of the world's mountains formed in the early receding phase (Tejas or Tertiary) is the crustal thickening along continental boundaries due to runaway subduction during the Flood Year. This overthickening caused simultaneous isostatic adjustments all over the globe. Thicker crust sinks lower and rises higher. As creation geophysicist John Baumgardner said:
Under conditions of isostatic equilibrium, continental regions with thicker crust usually display higher surface topography. For example, relative to a region with a 35 km crustal thickness, a zone with a 60 km crustal thickness, for the densities quoted above, would have a surface 14,500 feet higher (Baumgardner, 2005).
The end to verse 8:3 also gives us the time-point of the Flood being at the 150-day mark. This part of the verse also includes the word miqṣēh which means "from the end." From this end point of the high-water mark of the Flood at Day 150, the highly significant runoff phase of the global Flood begins which involves the deposition of a whopping 36% of the total global volume of the fossil-rich geological column (Clarey and Werner, 2023).

Genesis 8:4

וַתָּנַח הַתֵּבָה בַּחֹדֶשׁ הַשְּׁבִיעִי בְּשִׁבְעָה־עָשָׂר יוֹם לַחֹדֶשׁ עַל הָרֵי אֲרָרָט
"And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat."
The phrase "And the ark rested" (wattānaḥ hattēb̲â) begins with the waw-consecutive-prefixed verb nûaḥ meaning to come to rest or settle and indicates a completed action. Bandstra indicates that the verbal mood to be in the declarative past for a material event (2008, p. 430). The object of the verb is the arthrous noun for "the ark," hattēb̲â.
We are also told that the Ark rested in the seventh month on the seventeenth day on the mountains of Ararat which would have occurred 150 days after the Flood started. While the exact location of the Ark landing has been debated, we can assign it with some certainty to a mountainous region in modern Turkey known as the Kagizman Ridge which formed at the end of the Zuni Megasequence, fitting perfectly with the high-water mark of the Flood to provide the most logical geological structure to rest on (Clarey, 2019). Kagizman Ridge is part of the same range of mountains that contains present-day Mount Ararat (Figure 3). However, Mount Ararat was primarily formed post-Flood during the Pleistocene (Ice Age) and is mostly of volcanic origin. Therefore, present day Mount Ararat is likely not the landing site for the Ark. But the mountains in the ridge directly to the west of it would be ideal. Kagizman Ridge formed at the high point of the Flood (end Cretaceous or Day 150) and extends over 100 miles east-west with some peaks over 10,000 feet. No younger sediments were deposited on top of the ridge after it formed either, only on its flanks, supporting this interpretation (Figure 4). It is referred to as a paleo-ridge (Clarey, 2019). Because the Hebrew word for mountain is in the plural 'al harê 'ărārāt (the mountains of Ararat) this ridge of mountains makes it a strong candidate for the landing site.
Figure 3

Figure 3. Google Earth image of the area around Mt. Ararat, including Kagizman Ridge. The line of the section (north-south) depicted in Figure 2 is shown.

Figure 4

Figure 4. Schematic of north-south section (from Figure 3) showing the geology of Kagizman Ridge; adapted from an earlier study (Keskin, 1994).

Genesis 8:5

וְהַמַּיִם הָיוּ הָלוֹךְ וְחָסוֹר עַד הַחֹדֶשׁ הָעֲשִׂירִי בָּעֲשִׂירִי בְּאֶחָד לַחֹדֶשׁ נִרְאוּ רָאשֵׁי הֶהָרִים
"And the waters decreased continually until the tenth month: in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, were the tops of the mountains seen."
The Flood-water recession narrative continues in verse five where we are told that the recession of the Floodwaters was still occurring after the Ark rested on high ground with the descriptive phrase, "And the waters decreased continually." This progressive abatement of the Floodwaters went on from the initial resting of the Ark on the mountains of Ararat for 2 ½ months until the point when the tops of the newly uplifted mountains were finally visible. The fact that it took another 45 days to get to this point illustrates the truly horrific nature of this massive global event.
This verse actually starts off with the plural noun for "waters" and tells us that they were (hāyâ) going (using the verb hālaḵ as discussed above in verse 3) and the verb ḥāsēr (to diminish). The Hebrew clause "wəhammayim hāyû hālôk̲" is a similar construction to that noted in 8:3. Once again we have the main verb followed by an infinitive absolute plus another infinitive absolute. The infinitive absolute of hâlaḵ in this verse as noted in one Hebrew reference grammar, "vividly expresses the gradual progression of the main verb" (van der Merwe et al., 2017). Furthermore, because the chain of three verbs includes the qal perfect of hāyâ followed by the two qal infinitives hālaḵ and ḥāsêr, this means that the whole clause denotes a process (Bandstra, 2008). The use of the two infinitives is also considered to be an emphatic combination (halôk wəḥasôr) - meaning "going and decreasing" (Leupold, 1942). This emphatic and directional process being described is the violent Flood runoff across the continents and into the oceans as noted above beginning with its initiation in Genesis 8:3 at the time of the Ark resting in the mountains of Ararat.
The Hebrew text also tells us that the "heads" (rô'šî) of the mountains (hehārîm) were "caused" to be seen or observed (niphal perfect of rā'â). The plural noun "heads" is typically translated as the tops of the mountains. Not only were the Flood waters receding at this time as indicated by the text, but we know from the geological data that many of the world's major mountain ranges were formed while the Tejas was being deposited (late-Flood sediments). This also indicates that widespread mountain uplift was still occurring at this time which would have facilitated and increased the velocity of continental runoff.

Genesis 8:6-7

וַיְהִי מִקֵּץ אַרְבָּעִים יוֹם וַיִּפְתַּח נׄחַ אֶת־חַלּוֹן הַתֵּבָה אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה
וַיְשַׁלַּח אֶת־הָעֹרֵב וַיֵּצֵא יָצוֹא וָשׁוֹב עַד־יְבֹשֶׁת הַמַּיִם מֵעַל הָאָרֶץ
"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."
While the Ark was securely settled, Noah and the others needed to wait until the Floodwaters had receded enough and the land was dry enough and vegetation had time to grow for them to leave the Ark. However, this would take another seven months. But this was also a time of continuing continental and mountain-range uplift, facilitating the recession process as noted previously. In total, Noah, his family and the animal contents of the Ark would end up being inside the Ark for slightly over a year (371 days altogether).
Noah begins the process of testing the condition of the Earth forty days after the point at which the tops of the mountains were seen in verse 8:5. We are told that Noah opened a window that he had made in the Ark. Presumably this is the window that God told Noah to make in the Ark in Genesis 6:16. The verb used to elaborate Noah's action is p̱āṯaḥ and is the basic verb "to open" and is here used to refer to a previously made window that must have been cut high up in a side wall of the Ark (Genesis 6:16). And it must have been of such a kind that it could be opened just for this purpose. In the text, the clause "which he had made" (ʾăšer ʿāśâ) clearly modifies the noun "window" even though it follows the word "ark" in Hebrew.
So, is this the first instance of Noah opening a window on the Ark? In verse five it says, "on the first day of the month, were the tops of the mountains seen" implying that Noah was possibly watching the Flood recede somehow. Nevertheless, Noah does not send any birds out to ascertain the state of the earth until 40 days after the Ark had come to rest. Calvin's commentary on the verse is thought-provoking. He says, "After he had perceived the ark to be resting on solid ground, he yet did not dare to open the window till the fortieth day; not because he was stunned and torpid, but because an example, thus formidable, of the vengeance of God, had affected him with such fear and sorrow combined, that being deprived of all judgment, he silently remained in the chamber of his ark" (Calvin, 1554 (translation reprint 2009)).
Noah initially tests the condition of the earth by sending forth a raven ('ōrēb) - a scavenger bird that would have no problem landing on most types of exposed terrain and eating carrion of the decaying carcasses of creatures not buried in the sediments but perhaps could be found on the exposed points of land. In fact, we are told that Noah sent (šālaḥ) out the raven which is described flying back and forth which according to the Hebrew literally means "he went forth, going forth and coming back" (wayyēṣēʾ yāṣôʾ wāšôb̲). The verb yātsā' is used with the absolute infinitive of šûḇ indicating that it merely flew back and forth. Perhaps it was repeatedly coming back and landing on the Ark or just making the distinctive noise of a raven as it flew around the Ark. At this point, the preliminary raven test does indicate that portions (high points) of the earth are not Flooded anymore and eventually the raven does not return anymore and the verse ends with "until the waters were dried up from off the earth" (ʿad̲-yəb̲ōšet̲ hammayim mēʿal hāʾāreṣ).

Genesis 8:8-9

וַיְשַׁלַּח אֶת־הַיּוֹנָה מֵאִתּוֹ לִרְאוֹת הֲקַלּוּ הַמַּיִם מֵעַל פְּנֵי הָאֲדָמָה
וְלֹא־מָצְאָה הַיּוֹנָה מָנוֹחַ לְכַף־רַגְלָהּ וַתָּשָׁב אֵלָיו אֶל־הַתֵּבָה כִּי־מַיִם עַל־פְּנֵי כָל־הָאָרֶץ וַיִּשְׁלַח יָדוֹ וַיִּקָּחֶהָ וַיָּבֵא אֹתָהּ אֵלָיו אֶל־הַתֵּבָה
"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."
Another bird is chosen by Noah for the continuing purpose of gathering information on the status of Floodwater recession and drying of the ground. In this case, the dove (yônâ) with generic article is a more clean-natured bird. Doves, and the larger species known as pigeons, also have very large flight muscles and can cover vast areas of territory quickly and efficiently. But in contrast to ravens, they normally don't eat carrion, prefer valleys to mountainous regions, and like clean and dry areas for nesting (Sarfati, 2018).
That seven days had elapsed since the sending of the raven can be deduced from the use of the words "to add or do again" (yāsap̱) and "another" ('aḥēr) (see verse 10). These elapsed week-long periods between successive missions of the birds implies Noah's patience coupled with his desire to monitor how far the Floodwater abatement had progressed. Interestingly, the word for ground ('ăḏāmâ) is used at the end of verse 8 as opposed to 'ereṣ which in the Flood context infers the earth. Perhaps Noah is clearly looking for some dry ground - even if it is just the region immediately around the Ark.
The initial mission of the dove was that it; "found no rest for the sole of her foot, and she returned unto him into the ark" before evening. This clearly conveyed the information that some water was still upon the surface of all the Earth. The narrative tells us how he put out his hand and took her and brought her to him into the Ark. Additionally, the dove in verse 8 had been sent forth, "from with him," (mē'ittô) - a phrase not used in reference to the raven denoting that the tamed and friendly dove was closer to Noah than the raven (Cassuto, 1964). This is also implied when the dove is said to return "to him." In fact, the verbal form for "he put out his hand" is šālaḥ is in the intensive Piel.
The key geological point in this passage is that "the waters were on the face of the whole earth" and the receding phase of the Flood is still in force and has more recession yet to occur.

Genesis 8:10-11

וַיָּחֶל עוֹד שִׁבְעַת יָמִים אֲחֵרִים וַיּׄסֶף שַׁלַּח אֶת־הַיּוֹנָה מִן־הַתֵּבָה
וַתָּבֹא אֵלָיו הַיּוֹנָה לְעֵת עֶרֶב וְהִנֵּה עֲלֵה־זַיִת טָרָף בְּפִיהָ וַיֵּדַע נׄחַ כִּי־קַלּוּ הַמַּיִם מֵעַל הָאָרֶץ
"And he stayed yet other seven days and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark; And the dove came in to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf plucked off: so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth."
The time space between dove excursions was one week apart. Noah stayed or waited (yḥl) another seven days which implies his continuing patience (wayyāḥel ʿôd̲ šib̲ʿat̲ yāmîm). In this second outing, the dove is sent forth from the Ark and returns in the evening (ʿereḇ). The fact that we are told that the dove returned in the evening implies that this second outing took longer than the first. The freshly plucked (ṭāraap̱) olive leaf indicates that the olive trees were starting to sprout. Olives not only grow from seeds, but also from cuttings and can tolerate salinity, a wide pH range, and stony ground (Sarfati, 2018). Thus, olives would be some of the first vegetation to begin producing foliage in the aftermath of the Flood. Research into the recovery of the volcanic ash-covered desolate ground of the Mount Saint Helens region in Western Washington following the 1980 eruption showed a rapid recovery of vegetation exhibited within a year of the eruption (Clarey and Sherwin, 2020; Thomas, 2020).
Verse 11 ends with the completed action of Noah knowing that the waters were abated from off the earth (wayyēdaʿ nōaḥ kî-kallû hammayim mēʿal hāʾāreṣ). This does not necessarily mean that the land surrounding the Ark was dry enough to disembark, but that there were dry pockets of vegetation recovery that contained the beginning sprouts of olive trees and other plants - probably at higher elevations.

Genesis 8:12

וַיִּיָּחֶל עוֹד שִׁבְעַת יָמִים אֲחֵרִים וַיְשַׁלַּח אֶת־הַיּוֹנָה וְלֹא־יָסְפָה שׁוּב־אֵלָיו עוֹד
"And he stayed yet other seven days; and sent forth the dove; which returned not again unto him any more."
This final outing of the dove a week after the last excursion when it had returned with a freshly plucked leaf brings the series of bird tests to a conclusion. The clause "which returned not again unto him any more" (wəlōʾ-yāsəp̲â šûb̲-ʾēlāyw ʿôd̲) is very interesting. The verb yāsap̱ in the qal perfect is negated which literally means not to do something again (or add to) and it is followed by the qal infinitive of šûb̲ (to return). Bandstra does a wooden translation of this clause as "and not she more returned to him again" (Bandstra, 2008). In other words, before, the dove would go and return, but not again. This previous process has now been terminated. Thus, this verse largely concludes the receding phase of the Flood narrative.
We can assume at this point that the Floodwaters have mostly receded off the continents although the majority of the land is still not totally dry. This also infers that the activity of mountain range uplift has also largely ceased. However, from evidence of Pleistocene volcanic activity (immediate post-Flood) we can also assume that aerosols of ash particulates are still being added to the atmosphere which will facilitate the post-Flood Ice Age and its accompanying development of land bridges for global human and animal dispersal from the Middle East (Tomkins, 2021c). I will elaborate on this post-Flood narrative contained in Genesis 8:13-22 in a following companion paper.

Conclusion and Summary

In a previous paper, Johnson and Clarey published a geological and exegetical analysis of Genesis, Chapter 7 (2021). Genesis 7 documents the immediate pre-Flood events and the majority of the progressive inundation of the global Flood from Day 1 through Day 150 (the high-water mark), near the top of the Zuni Megasequence which corresponds to just above the top of the Cretaceous. This current analysis continues the Flood narrative at the beginning of Chapter 8 where immediately following the high-water mark of the Flood, the Ark comes to rest in the mountains of Ararat. At this stage the Floodwaters begin to violently recede off the continents in an important period of late-Flood runoff that creates the sedimentary layers of the Tejas Megasequence (Paleogene and Neogene) both onshore and offshore (Figure 2).
Genesis, Chapter 8:1-12 encompasses a total of 135 days of significant Earth-shaping and sediment deposition activity. In fact, this key sectional narrative of the late-Flood phase of the Genesis Deluge in which the recession of the Floodwaters take place creates a huge 36% of the total volume of the fossil-bearing global geological column (Phanerozoic). This phase of the Flood also accounts for most of the continental mountain range uplift, massive basin formation (at the base of mountain ranges), huge offshore oceanic sediment deposits, and global canyon formation (e.g., Grand Canyon in North America) (Clarey, 2018; Clarey, 2020a; Clarey et al., 2021; Tomkins and Clarey, 2021). This part of the Flood is also responsible for the burying of numerous mammals, angiosperms (including large coal seams), and many other plants and creatures living at higher pre-Flood elevations that are not found in lower (pre-Tejas) layers of the rock record (Clarey et al., 2021). In addition, this receding Flood narrative in Genesis 8 fits with the conclusion that the post-Flood boundary is at the top of the Tejas (Neogene), known as the N-Q Boundary (Clarey, 2017; Clarey and Werner, 2019; Clarey et al. 2021; Tomkins and Clarey, 2021).
Figure 1

Figure 1. Megasequence/geologic column chart and relative sea level curve for the Flood Year.

Figure 2Figure 2. Thickness and extent map of the Tejas Megasequence for the entire world excluding the lower part of Southeast Asia, Australia, and Antarctica. The isopach legend depicts sequence depth in meters by color.
Figure 3Figure 3. Google Earth image of the area around Mt. Ararat, including Kagizman Ridge. The line of the section (north-south) depicted in Figure 2 is shown.
Figure 4Figure 4. Schematic of north-south section (from Figure 3) showing the geology of Kagizman Ridge; adapted from an earlier study (Keskin, 1994).

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