Ver. 2. Of all clean. The distinction of clean and unclean beasts, appears to have been made before the law of Moses, which was not promulgated till the year of the world 2514. Ch.
--- Clean: not according to the law of Moses, which was not yet given, but such as tradition had described---fit for sacrifice; (M.) though they might be of the same species as were deemed clean in the law, which ratified the ancient institution.
--- And seven: (Heb.) simply seven, three couple and an odd female, for sacrifice after the deluge: one couple was to breed, the other two perhaps for food. H.
--- Some imagine, that there were fourteen unclean and four clean animals, of every species, in the ark, because the Sam., Sept., and Vulg. read, "seven and seven." Origen, &c.
--- But our Saviour, sending the Disciples to preach two and two, did not appoint a company of four to go together, but only of two, as is generally allowed. Mark vi. 7. C.
Ver. 11. Seventeenth day. On the tenth, God had given the last warning to the wretched and obstinate sinners, to whom Noe had been preaching, both by word and by building the ark, for 120 years; all in vain. This second month is, by some, supposed to be the month of May; by others, that of November. Usher makes Noe enter the ark on the 18th Dec. 1656. The waters decreased May 17, mountains appear July 31, he sends out the raven Sept. 8, and leaves the ark Dec. 29, after having remained in it a year and ten days, according to the antediluvian computation, or a full year of 365 days. The systems of those pretended philosophers, who would represent this flood as only partial, affecting the countries which were then inhabited, are all refuted by the plain narration of Moses. What part of the world could have been secure, when the waters prevailed fifteen cubits above the highest mountains? To give a natural cause only for this miraculous effect, would be nugatory: but as waters covered the earth at first, so they surely might again, by the power of God. H.
--- Fountains and flood-gates. These are the two natural causes which Moses assigns for the deluge, the waters below, and those above in the sky or firmament. Heaven is said to be shut when it does not rain, (Luc. iv. 25.) so it is here opened, and flood-gates, or torrents of rain, pour down incessantly. But God attributes not the deluge to these causes alone; he sufficiently intimates that it would be miraculous, (v. 4. I will rain,) and still more emphatically, (C. vi. 17.) Behold I. Heb. "I, even I myself, do bring on a flood of waters." The idea which Moses give of the flood, corresponds with that which he before gave of chaos, when earth and water were undistinguished in one confusing mass. c. i. 6. The Hebrews look upon it as a continual miracle, that the earth is not always deluged, being founded, as they represent it, on the waters. Jer. v. 22. Calmet and others have proved, both from Scripture and from philosophical arguments, the universality of the deluge, against Isaac Vossius, &c. H.
Ver. 16. The Lord shut him in, by an angel besmearing the door with pitch, to prevent the waters from penetrating, while Noe did the like in the inside. C.
--- Thus God supplies our wants when we are not able to provide for ourselves, and though he could do all by himself, yet he requires us to co-operate with him, and often makes use of secondary causes. W.
Ver. 24. Days: counting from the end of the forty days, when the deluge was at its height. C.
--- In all the histories of past ages, there is nothing so terrible as this event. What became of all those myriads of human beings who perished on this occasion? We know not. Some have charitably supposed, that, although the far greater part perished everlastingly, a few who had been incredulous while Noe preached, opened their eyes at last, when it was too late to save their bodies, and by sincere repentance rescued their souls from the flames, and were consigned to do penance, for a time, in the other world. These heard the preaching of J. C., or believed in his redemption, while they were yet living, and so deserved to partake of his mercies, and joyfully beheld his sacred person when he came to visit them in their prison of purgatory. 1 Pet. iii. 19. He came and preached to those spirits that were in prison: which had been sometime incredulous, when they waited for the patience of God in the days of Noe, when the ark was a building: wherein a few, that is eight souls, were saved from drowning by water. Whereunto baptism, being of the like form, now saves you also, &c. See F. S. Bellarmine, &c. In these last words of S. Peter, we may also notice, that the ark was a figure of baptism, which is so necessary, that without its reception, or desire of it at least, no man can be saved. It is also a figure of the cross, and of the one true Church, as the Fathers remark, with S. Aug. de C. D. xv. i. M. &c. S. Greg. hom. 12 in Ezech. &c. --- This is so striking that it deserves to be seriously considered. It was only one, though God could have ordered many smaller vessels to be made ready, perhaps with less inconvenience to Noe, that we might reflect, out of the Church the obstinate will surely perish. S. Jer. ep. ad Dam.: In this ark all that were truly holy, and some imperfect, like Cham, were contained, clean beasts and unclean dwelt together, that we need not wonder if some Catholics be a disgrace to their name. The ark had different partitions, to remind us of the various orders of Clergy and Laity in the Church, with one chief governor, the Pope, like Noe in the ark. It was strong, visible, &c. and pitched all over with the durable cement, bitumen, and riding triumphant amid the storms, the envy of all who were out of it, till at last it settled upon a rock. So the Church is built on a rock, against which the gates of hell shall not prevail: she is not less obvious to the sincere seeker, than a city built on the top of the highest mountain, &c. We might here take a retrospective view of the chief occurrences and personages of the former world; we should observe the same order of the things from the beginning,---the conflict of virtue and vice, the preservation of the true faith and worship of God among a few chosen souls, who preferred to be persecuted by worldlings, rather than to offend God. They contended earnestly for the fiath once delivered to the Saints, to Adam and Eve, once innocent, and afterwards penitent. We behold original sin, and the promised remedy for mankind; while the rebel angels are abandoned, without redress. There was kept up a communion of saints: sacrifice to the one God was performed generally by the heads of families, who were priests in the law of nature. Even Cain, though a bad man, through hypocrisy, chose to offer sacrifice before he had quite broken off from the society of the faithful, and resolved to become the father of all excommunicated persons, and of all seceders. C. iv. 16. He was admonished by God that he had free will, and might merit a reward by a different conduct. His sentence, as well as that pronounced upon Adam, and upon all mankind, before the flood, reminds us of the particular and general judgment; as the translation of Henoch sets before us the happy state of the blessed, and the immortality, of which it was an earnest. See Douay Bible, where the chief mysteries of faith are pointed out as the creed of the Antediluvians. Even the B. Trinity was insinuated, or shewn to them, at a distance, in various texts: the unity and indissolubility of marriage were clearly expressed; the true Church continued in Noe, while the chain of schismatics and heretics was broken, and Cain's progeny destroyed. In this period of time, we may discover what the ancients so often describe respecting the four ages: --- the golden age is most perfectly found in Paradise; but only for a few days, or perhaps only a few hours, during which our first parents preserved their innocence. The silver age may have lasted rather longer, till the murder of Abel, or 128 years, when Cain began to disturb the peace of the world. From that time, till the giants make their appearance, we may reckon the age of brass. But that of iron had continued for may years before the flood. The like deterioration of morals we may discover after the deluge, and again after the renovation of the world, by the preaching of the gospel. For some time after these two great events, things bore a pleasing aspect; Noe was busy in offering sacrifice to God, Christians wee all one heart and one soul, enjoying all things in common, and God gave a blessing to the earth, and confirmed his covenant with men. Then Cham, Nemrod, and Babel appear, heresies in the new law break forth, and disturb the lovely harmony of mankind: but still a sufficient number preserve their integrity, till about the days of Abraham and Arius, in their respective periods, and may be said to have lived in the silver age, when compared with the brazen insolence of the great majority of those who came after. The iron age of these two periods, may be dated from the persecution of Epiphanes against the Jews, when so may apostatized from the faith, and from that much more terrible persecution which will be raised against Christians by Antichrist, the man of sin, (of which the former was a type) when the charity of many shall grow cold, and Christ will hardly find faith upon the earth. To that age may just be applied, those strong expressions of disapprobation which God made use of before the flood. G. vi. 3. 6. 12. He will punish the crimes of that age with a deluge of fire, and say, The end of all flesh is come before me, &c. v. 13. Time shall be no longer. Apoc. x. 6. H.