And the dove came in to him in the evening
It having been out all day delighting itself in a free air, and perching upon the trees, but yet not finding sufficient food, or a proper lodging, it returned to Noah at the evening for food and dwelling in the ark:
and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf plucked off:
which might easily be done, and even an "olive branch", as the word sometimes signifies, and is by some F16 rendered; for it being now the summer season, young branches sprouted out, which being tender, were easily cropped: the Targum of Jonathan adds,
``which it had took from the mount of Olives;''but there is no necessity to suppose it went so far from the ark, since Assyria, a country nearer, was a land of olive oil, like that of Judea; ( 2 Kings 18:32 ) and besides, olives grew in Armenia itself, where the ark rested. Gogarene, in Armenia, is said by Strabo F17 to produce olive trees; though a modern author says F18
``I do not see where the dove which was sent out of the ark could find an olive branch, if the ark be supposed to have rested on Mount Ararat, or any of the mountains in Armenia; for this sort of trees is not found hereabout, where the species must be lost, and yet olives are known to be a kind of trees which never die:''but the above accounts show it to be otherwise in ancient times:
so Noah knew the waters were abated from off the earth:
by this he perceived not only that they were gone off the mountains, but the lower grounds, at least the hills on which olive trees delight to grow; and yet that they were only abated, and not entirely gone off, since the dove returned to him: this dove sent out the second time, and returning, may be considered as an emblem of a Gospel minister, comparable to a dove, for the dove like gifts of the Spirit of God, by which he is qualified for his work, and for his simplicity, harmlessness, meekness, and humility; and the olive leaf in its mouth may be an emblem of the Gospel, which is from Christ, the good olive; is the Gospel of peace, which an olive branch is a symbol of, proclaiming and publishing peace and reconciliation by Christ; and as that is ever green, the Gospel always continues, and is the everlasting Gospel, and which was brought, and more fully and clearly dispensed in the evening of the world; and by it, it is known that the waters of divine wrath are assuaged, and the people of God may be assured they will never return to come upon them.
F16 (tyz hle) "ramum olivae", V. L. so Ainsworth, see Neh. viii. 15.
F17 Geograph. l. 11. p. 363.
F18 Tournefort's Voyage to the Levant, vol. 3. p. 173.