Genesis 8:6-7 ESV

6 At the end of forty days Noah opened the window of the ark that he had made 7 and sent forth a raven. It went to and fro until the waters were dried up from the earth.

In the above text we are told that after being sent out by Noah the raven went back and forth.Its not clear whether the raven returned to Noah after its initial mission to scout the land.

Did the raven return back to Noah?

2 Answers 2


The pulpit commentary has this remark:

and it went forth going and returning, i.e. flying backwards and forwards, from the ark and to the ark, perhaps resting on it, but not entering into it (Calvin, Willet, Ainsworth, Keil, Kalisch, Lunge, Bush, 'Speaker's Commentary');

That is, the last half of the Gen 8:6 could be amplified to be:

It went to (ie from the ark) and fro (back to the ark) until the waters were dried up from the earth (but not entering the ark but just kept from from and to the ark until Noah exited the ark).

Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament has this:

The raven went out and returned until the earth was dry, but without being taken back into the ark, as the mountain tops and the carcases floating upon the water afforded both resting-places and food.


By the expression "to a fro" we can infer that the raven was going back and forth from the ark. The Hebrew verbs to which this preposition phrase is converted in English mean "going out and returning." This implies that the raven came back to rest on the ark after finding no place to land elsewhere--but apparently the raven never returned inside the ark because it says the raven continued to go to and fro until the waters were dried up.

Ravens can fly for quite awhile, but they are not the kind of bird that can fly continuously, without ever stopping for rest or sleep, as perhaps a storm petrel, swift, or albatross might. Ravens like to rest on some high point where they have a view--and Noah likely counted on this fact when he sent the raven out, knowing that if there were not some place to rest, the raven would return.

I would submit, therefore, that while the raven is not said to have returned to Noah, nor to have re-entered the ark, it did come back to rest on the ark itself until it found rest elsewhere.

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