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?

4 Answers 4


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.


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.


Did the raven return back after being sent out by Noah? Short answer is: we don't know.

However, we of course can speculate.

In the Enduring Word Commentary it says:

He sent out a raven, which kept going to and fro: Apparently the raven did not return to the ark. Perhaps this was because the raven is a scavenger, and might rest and feed upon dead, floating carcasses.

it continues:

The dove found no resting place… she returned into the ark: Being a clean, non-scavenging bird, the dove would not land upon the earth until there was a dry, suitable place to land. When the dove returned into the ark, Noah knew that the waters had not yet drained enough to leave the ark.

An additional source that agrees with this is Got Questions which says:

A raven was released and apparently never returned. No reason is provided regarding why a raven was selected rather than another bird. However, a raven can eat carrion and would feed off dead animals in the water. A dove, on the other hand, would return to its point of origin if no land was found.

So perhaps the raven didn't return which could serve as a reason to send out the dove.

Finally, the New English Translation of the Septuagint (NETS), a modern translation of the Septuagint says:

6 And it came about after forty days that Noe opened the window of the ark that he had made 7 and sent out the raven to see if the water had subsided, and after it had gone out it did not return until the water was dried up from the earth.


I don’t suppose it flew to and fro nonstop without resting so yes I think it returned to the ark during the (fro)

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    – agarza
    Commented Oct 29, 2023 at 13:37
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    This does not provide an answer to the question. Once you have sufficient reputation you will be able to comment on any post; instead, provide answers that don't require clarification from the asker. - From Review
    – agarza
    Commented Oct 29, 2023 at 13:37
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    @ Kudzai - To be a valid answer one must give "reasons" beyond suppositions or opinions for conclusions. Do more research in the commentaries for these, then submit another answer. Keep doing Bible study; it's great for the soul!
    – ray grant
    Commented Oct 30, 2023 at 20:50

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