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After having shut Noah in the ark God waits for another seven days before the flood begins,nothing significant seems to take place during those seven days.

4 For in seven days I will send rain on the earth forty days and forty nights, and every living thing[c] that I have made I will blot out from the face of the ground.”

Could the seven days have been a reprieve for the world or they signified something before God destroyed it

Why did God wait seven days after shutting Noah in the ark before sending the rains?

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  • Interesting point - up-voted +1. And also I notice, on re-reading the passage, that God says 'Come thou ... into the ark.' The presence of God was. as it were, already inside. And he invites Noah in.
    – Nigel J
    Oct 19 at 8:56
  • @NigelJ The Hebrew is ambiguous. It is not limited to the concept of "come". It can also be translated as "go into the ark." Perhaps the best translation would actually be simply "enter the ark." The Hebrew gives no indication of where God's presence is in relationship to His giving of the command.
    – Polyhat
    Oct 19 at 9:11
  • @Polyhat I am following KJV and YLT and also I can see in Green's Literal that he is translating 'come' and the preposition 'into' so I would need a very strong authority to move me on this.
    – Nigel J
    Oct 19 at 12:45
  • @NigelJ I like those sources too, and especially enjoy having J. P. Green's interlinear. This Hebrew root is translated in KJV as "went in" in vs. 7 (six verses later), as well as vs. 9, as "entered" in vs. 13, as "pulled [her] in" in 8:9, and BOTH as "comest" and "goest" in Gen. 10:19. The Strong's notes gives its translation counts as follows: AV — come 1435, bring 487, ... in 233, enter 125, go 123, carry 17, ...down 23, pass 13, ...out 12, misc 109.
    – Polyhat
    Oct 19 at 13:01
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The number seven occurs 39 times in Genesis and is a running theme in the story of Noah.

Genesis 7:

1The Lord then said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation. 2Take with you seven pairs of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and one pair of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, 3and also seven pairs of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth. 4 Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made.”

5And Noah did all that the Lord commanded him.

6Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters came on the earth. 7And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives entered the ark to escape the waters of the flood. 8Pairs of clean and unclean animals, of birds and of all creatures that move along the ground, 9male and female, came to Noah and entered the ark, as God had commanded Noah. 10And after the seven days the floodwaters came on the earth.

What did the seven day reprieve signify in Genesis 7:4?

Ellicott suggests this:

After seven days.—Said, in Jewish tradition, to have been the seven days of mourning for Methuselah, who died in the year of the flood.

Matthew Henry suggests that it is related to the 7-day Sabbath week:

God granted seven days' longer space for repentance. But these seven days were trifled away, like all the rest. It shall be but seven days. They had only one week more, one sabbath more to improve, and to consider the things that belonged to their peace.

This theme of seven goes on to Genesis 8:

6 After forty days Noah opened a window he had made in the ark 7and sent out a raven, and it kept flying back and forth until the water had dried up from the earth. 8Then he sent out a dove to see if the water had receded from the surface of the ground. 9But the dove could find nowhere to perch because there was water over all the surface of the earth; so it returned to Noah in the ark. He reached out his hand and took the dove and brought it back to himself in the ark. 10He waited seven more days and again sent out the dove from the ark. 11When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth. 12He waited seven more days and sent the dove out again, but this time it did not return to him.

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Those seven days were significant. They may have more than one significance. One of them, however, connects with a prophetic time formula.

For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night. (Psalm 90:4, KJV)

But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. (2 Peter 3:8, KJV)

Each day in God's sight is as a thousand years, and vice versa. Many people mistakenly assume that this very precise time equation simply means that time is not important to God. If it were not important, why would He bother to give us such a clear A = B and B = A definition statement?

Peter actually wrote this definition statement within the context of earth's week, including the Flood.

And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. (2 Peter 3:4-7, KJV)

Those are the verses just prior to Peter's declaration of the thousand-year-day principle. He speaks of creation, of the word of God during those days of creation, and mentions specific events of the creation connected with days 2 and 3 of creation week.

If we look at the generations from Adam to Noah and follow the years of the lives of these patriarchs, we discover that the Flood occurs well into the second millennium after creation. Considering each day of creation to represent a thousand years (which is also why Adam died in the "day" that he ate the forbidden fruit), the Flood would have come on the "second day." And this is exactly what Peter seems to be saying.

Notice carefully:

Day 2/3 of Creation Fulfillment of Prophecy
For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: (vs. 5) Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: (vs. 6)

Did the Flood come during creation week? Obviously not. Why, then, does Peter indicate so?

...and Peter seems to understand that what he has just said will perplex many minds, so he makes the prophetic time formula plain in the next verses, saying...

But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. (vs. 8)

Just as creation week prophesied of seven millennia to come in the history of this earth, so also do the seven days of Noah's waiting in the ark. Noah waited seven days before the destruction of the earth came and sinners were wiped away. So also will the earth wait for seven millennia for the final destruction of sin and sinners in the fires of hell.

Jesus also referenced this time of Noah and applied it to the time of the end--the end of earth's history.

But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. (Matthew 24:36, KJV)

But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. (Matthew 24:37, KJV)

For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, (Matthew 24:38, KJV)

And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. (Matthew 24:39, KJV)

Conclusion

The seven days in the ark represent the seven millennia of probationary time allotted to the sin experiment on earth. However, this may not be their only significance.

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What did the seven day reprieve signify in Genesis 7:4?

To best understand this verse, let us examine the timeline of events.

Beginning in Genesis chapter 6, Jehovah God sees the increased wickedness of mankind (vss 1-8). We are then introduced to Noah and the declaration of the flood (vss 9-13). Jehovah God then instructs Noah to build the ark (vss 14-16) and the survival of Noah, his family, and the animals (vss 18-21). Note that the wording in verses 18-21 is what will happen in the future after the building of the ark.

Now in chapter 7, Noah is told to go into the ark and to take the animals with him. This of course could only occur after the construction of the ark. This is all said in "one breath" so to speak.

Then in verse 4:

For in seven days I will send rain on the earth forty days and forty nights, and every living thing that I have made I will blot out from the face of the ground.” [ESV]

Now, Jehovah God is letting Noah know what will shortly occur. Noah now realizes that he must be diligent in his work so that he, his family, or the animals perish due to a lack of urgency. So when Noah was told of the impending rain, he had not entered the ark yet.

The seven days could not have been a reprieve for the rest of mankind because Jehovah God had seen "that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." (Genesis 6:5 ESV) And He told Noah, "I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you." (Genesis 6:18 ESV) No other humans had been included in that covenant.

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