Genesis 7:24—Did the flood rains last forty days or one hundred fifty days?

Problem: Genesis 7:24 (and 8:3) speak of the flood waters lasting for 150 days. But, other verses say it was only 40 days (Gen. 7:4, 12, 17). Which is correct?

Solution: These numbers refer to different things. Forty days refers to how long “the rain fell” (7:12, niv), and 150 days speaks of how long the flood “waters prevailed” (cf. 7:24).

At the end of the 150 days “the waters decreased” (8:3). After this it was not until the fifth month after the rain began that the ark rested on Mt. Ararat (8:4). Then about eleven months after the rain began, the waters dried up (7:11; 8:13). And exactly one year and ten days after the flood began, Noah and his family emerged on dry ground (7:11; 8:14).

See All Problems

This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.