1 But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded. 2 Now the springs of the deep and the floodgates of the heavens had been closed, and the rain had stopped falling from the sky. 3 The water receded steadily from the earth. At the end of the hundred and fifty days the water had gone down, 4 and on the seventeenth day of the seventh month the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. 5 The waters continued to recede until the tenth month, and on the first day of the tenth month the tops of the mountains became visible.
6 After forty days Noah opened the window he had made in the ark 7 and sent out a raven, and it kept flying back and forth until the water had dried up from the earth. 8 Then he sent out a dove to see if the water had receded from the surface of the ground. 9 But the dove could find no place to set its feet 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. 10 He waited seven more days and again sent out the dove from the ark. 11 When 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. 12 He waited seven more days and sent the dove out again, but this time it did not return to him.
It's interesting how this story suddenly becomes far more detailed than the fairly sketchy narratives we've seen so far. I'm not sure what the meaning of all this detail is supposed to be. I do want you to note, however, that the representatives of the 1.4 million species of terrestrial animals -- including all the carnivores -- subsisted off of the stored provisions in the ark for, by my calculations, a total of more than 300 days. Then the earth must have been instantaneously recovered with vegetation, and off they all went.
I really think the details are just to make this a better yarn. Overall, the literary quality and narrative cohesion are gradually improving -- the stories and the characters are getting to be better developed. If this were just a campfire story, we wouldn't be inclined to look for the symbolism or deep meaning, so I won't do that here and I'll just take it as it is. I can't resist pointing out, however, that the problem of lack of available sexual partners and enforced incest that confronted the children of Adam and Even is about to be recreated for the children of Noah. God certainly does work in mysterious ways.
Sorry I haven't posted here lately, been awfully busy.