The Genesis Flood: Global or Local?

‘The Animals Entering Noah’s Ark’
-Jacopo Bassano

Contrary to popular belief, the flood of Noah did not cover the entire globe. The “earth” or “land” of the flood was only that land known to antedeluvian Adamic man; the Fertile Crescent and Mediterranean Basin.

There are many obvious problems with the interpretation of the Genesis flood as a global event: how did Noah gather animals from all across the globe and house them aboard the ark? Where could such a vast a volume of water come from and go?

Why do many civilizations continue uninterrupted through the time of the flood (late 4th millennium BC following the LXX chronology) if the entire planet was submerged in water?

Many other troubling questions could be posed, but that is not my purpose here. Rather I will provide a much simpler explanation for the Genesis flood narrative which avoids such absurd dilemmas and which is demonstrable from Scripture itself.

The word usually translated “earth” throughout the flood narrative is erets/ארץ in the Hebrew (Strong’s H776), which is defined as “country, earth, field, ground, land” (Strong’s s.v.), “country, territory” or “district, region” (Brown-Driver-Briggs s.v.).

In the Greek of the Septuagint the word rendered usually as “earth” is ge/γῆ (Strong’s G1093), which is defined as “soil; by extension a region” (Strong’s s.v.) or “soil, land, region, country” (Dodson s.v.).

Other races which existed throughout the planet would have been largely unaffected. Thus we see both the Kenites and Nephilim survived after the flood (Genesis 15.19) despite their absence on the ark (Genesis 7.13, 1 Peter 3.20).

Kenite (H7017) is a patronym derived from Cain (H7014). This is obvious in Numbers 24.21-22 where the Kenites are mentioned in v. 21 and are refered to collectively as Cain in v. 22. All life in the outside the ark in the affected land perished in the flood (Genesis 7.21-23), therefore the Kenites must have been absent from the affected land.

The Nephilim also appear both before and after the flood. Genesis 6.4 says “The Nephilim were upon the earth in those days, and also afterward”, and later in Numbers 13.33 the Nephilim are again mentioned as inhabitants of Canaan.

The belief that the flood of Noah was not a global event was also known to ancient Judaeans such as Flavius Josephus and Nicolaus of Damascus (Josephus’ Antiquities of the Judaeans 1.3.6). It is also evident that the early Christian writer Justin Martyr realized that the fallen Angels had survived the flood (Second Apology, chapter 5).

I’m sure many are thinking of Genesis 7.19 which says the floodwaters covered “all the high mountains which were under heaven”. In Colossians 1.23 St. Paul refers to “the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven”.

Paul lived and wrote in the first century AD and in his lifetime Christianity existed only in Europe, West Asia and North Africa. The phrase “under heaven” cannot be assumed to refer to everything under the sky across the globe in a Biblical context.

Published by SloanVSutherland

"I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord"

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