“Then Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and behold, the surface of the ground was dried up.” Genesis 8:13
We may think of a few numbers in regards to the story of the ark; we know it rained for 40 days for example. So we may attempt to answer to the question “How long was Noah on the ark?” with the answer “40 days”, but that would be wholly incorrect. Below is a rough timeline of the flood according to Genesis 7 and 8:
- Noah’s 600th year – 2nd month, 17th day: The flood begins (7:11)
- 40 days of rain (7:12)
- 150 days until water decreases (8:3)
- 40 more days (8:6)
- 7 days – 1st sending of the dove (8:10)
- 7 days – 2nd sending of the dove (8:12)
- 601st year, 1st month, 1st day of the month – Noah opens the window of the ark (8:13)
- 2nd month, 27th day of the month, the earth was dry (8:14)
As you can see by the dates given above, the individual days add up to 244 days. However, Genesis 8:14 tells us that in the 601st year, 2nd month, and 27th day that the earth was finally dry. When did the flood begin again? In Noah’s 600th year, 2nd month, 17th day. So by the way that a year was measured by their standards, Noah and his family did not step out of the ark until it had been a full year and 10 days! We do not know if the ancient Jewish calendar had been established yet, but if so they would have spent roughly been 370 days in the ark.
It is interesting how time seems to become relative in this story; we do not know the historical year of the flood – but rather we know the length of the flood based on Noah’s age, not from any calendar date. I suppose if you are considered righteous in the eyes of God, and are the one of the only people left on the planet, why not measure time based on your own birthday? Who needs a civil calendar?
I mention this because I find it fascinating that today as I write this, it is by US standards, and by most of the world – 2009 A.D., or Anno Domini, which, in Medieval Latin means “In the year of our Lord.” So another came along after Noah, considered righteous in the eyes of God — the Messiah Jesus Christ — and by His birthday we now count our years.