Great Flood

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The Great Deluge, by Gustave Doré.
Genesis 6:13
...The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth.

The Great Flood refers to the most catastrophic flood and the most catastrophic event that has ever taken place in human history. This flood was the means of God's judgment on the evil of the hearts and actions of mankind at the time.

God warned Noah that He was going to destroy the world with a flood, because of the wickedness of mankind. Noah was to build an ark and take his family and some animals in it in order to be saved from the flood.

After Noah and his family and all the creatures were on board, God shut the door of the ark. The flood was brought on by the bursting open of the fountains of the great deep and the opening of the floodgates of the sky. The rain lasted nearly six weeks (40 days and nights). The flood waters apparently continued to rise for 150 days, but it was just over a year before the waters had receded enough for the occupants of the ark to leave.

The ark came to rest on one of the mountains of Ararat. God put a rainbow in the clouds as a sign that he would never again destroy the world in a flood.[1]

Flood accounts

One of strong pieces of evidence in support of a worldwide flood are the many stories that exist amongst people groups all over the world. These stories describe a world-destroying flood, which is very unusual to have this type of similarity. Dr. John Morris wrote regarding the historicity of the biblical flood:

One of the strongest evidences for the global flood which annihilated all people on Earth except for Noah and his family, has been the ubiquitous presence of flood legends in the folklore of people groups from around the world. And the stories are all so similar.[2]

Gilgamesh Epic

The best known of the flood accounts is, firstly, the biblical account in Genesis, and secondly, the one found in the Gilgamesh Epic. Both are written accounts. The Genesis account is the most detailed of any of the accounts, and the one against which others are usually compared. It has also been studied the most, with a number of terms used in reference to it, including the Flood, Noah's Flood, the Deluge, the Great Flood, and the Noahic flood. The terms pre-diluvian and post-diluvian refer to the times prior to and following the flood event, respectively.

The council of the gods decided to destroy mankind with a flood, but Utnapishtim was warned by the god who had made man, Ea, to build a boat to take all living beings. The length, width, and height were each 120 cubits (about 180 feet). It had seven stories.

The gods got frightened by the flood and retreated to heaven where they cowered and wept. The flood lasted six days and seven nights, and was accompanied by wind and storm. Utnapishtim send out a dove followed by a swallow, but both returned, unable to find land. He then sent a raven, which didn't return.

Dr. Jonathan Sarfati comments on the Gilgamesh Epic:

It is common to make legends out of historical events, but not history from legends. ... For instance, in Genesis, God’s judgment is just, he is patient with mankind for 120 years (Genesis 6:3), shows mercy to Noah, and is sovereign. Conversely, the gods in the Gilgamesh Epic are capricious and squabbling, cower at the Flood and are famished without humans to feed them sacrifices. That is, the human writers of the Gilgamesh Epic rewrote the true account, and made their gods in their own image.[3]

Common Themes in Flood Accounts

There are parallel themes going through most of the accounts of the Great Flood. Here are some of them.

Cause

Many of the accounts say that the flood was caused by God or some equivalent being. In Genesis, it was Yahweh[4]. In the Gilgamesh Epic, it was the council of the gods[3]. In the Bundaba (Australian aboriginal) flood story, it was Ngowungu, the Great Father.[5] The Greeks recorded it as being Zeus.[6]

Purpose

When the cause of the flood is attributed to a god, the reason is frequently said to be for mankind's wickedness. Genesis adds that "every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time".[7] The Miao account from China says, in verse, "These did not God's will nor returned His affection. / But fought with each other defying the Godhead. / Their leaders shook fists in the face of the Mighty."[8] A Navajo account says that it was because of "their sins of adultery and constant quarreling".[9]

What saved the people

People were generally saved either by floating out the flood, or fleeing to the top of a mountain. In the former case, the vessel took a variety of forms. A Hopi Indian story has them surviving in the hollow stems of giant reeds[10] The Greek story has them surviving in a chest.[6] In Genesis, Noah was instructed by God to build an ark to dimensions and other specifications included in the account.

Who was saved?

The survivors were often a single family. An Australian aboriginal account has Ngadgja, the Supreme One, telling Gajara to take his wife, his sons, and his sons' wives.[11] The Masai account from East Africa has Tumbainot taking his two wives, his six sons, and their wives.[12] A Hawaiian story has Nuu taking his wife and three sons.[13] Noah took his wife, his three sons, and their wives.[14]

Birds sent out

Genesis describes Noah sending out birds to see if there was yet dry land.[15] Initially this was unsuccessful, but a subsequent attempt was successful when a dove didn't return. In the Hopi account also, they unsuccessfully sent out birds to find land.[10] An Australian aboriginal account has a cuckoo not returning because it found land.[11] The Masai account has Tumbainot sending out a dove, which returned because it had no place to rest.[12]

A rainbow

The Masai account has four rainbows signifying that God's wrath was over.[12] A Hawaiian account has the god Kane leaving a rainbow as a perpetual sign of his forgiveness.[13] From an Australian aboriginal story comes this account:

Ngadja, the Supreme Being, put the rainbow in the sky to keep the rain-clouds back. The rainbow lies bent across the sky; he ties up the clouds behind it and the rain does not come. The rainbow keeps the clouds back and protects us so that the rainfall does not rise too high. Our people understand the significance of it. When we see the rainbow we say, ‘There will not be any abnormally heavy rain.’[11]

Genesis says that the rainbow would be a reminder that God would never again destroy the world with a flood.[16]

Criticisms

See more criticisms in the article on Noah's Ark and Flood Geology.

Critics of the global flood suggest that the flood accounts are unrelated accounts of local floods, or stories influenced by the arrival of missionaries.

However, Nozomi Osanai responds that "...the detailed nature of the widely spread statements has common elements to the Bible. In fact, even people who live far from the sea or in mountainous areas have flood traditions which are similar to the Genesis account."[17]

And Murray Adamthwaite responds regarding the missionary influence, "...that explanation fails since in many cases secular anthropologists gathered the stories before missionaries reached these tribes with the Gospel. In other cases missionaries have related how they indeed told the story of Noah, only to find that the tribal folk already had a similar tale in their own legends."[18]

Other ancient references

The Assyrian King Ashurbanipal, who lived in the seventh century B.C., recorded, "I have read intricate tablets inscribed with obscure Sumerian or Akkadian...inscriptions on stone from before the Flood."[19]

Effects of the Flood

Natural Effects

Flood Geology

Main article: Flood Geology

Flood geology is the study of the Earth's geology in the search of evidence for the Flood in the geology of the Earth.

Ice Age

Spiritual Effects

Modern explanations

Black Sea theory

In 2000, explorers discovered evidence that humans lived where the Black Sea now is and speculated the sea was created during a great flood[20]. Dr. Robert Ballard expanded on this theory, postulating that the Black Sea was much lower during the Ice Age (including the finding of a beach thousands of feet underwater), and when the walls holding back the Mediterranean Sea at the Bosporus broke, the sea rushed in and drowned the inhabitants; those who survived told the tale orally, and according to Ballard this became the basis for the flood accounts of Genesis and Gilgamesh[21]. This theory is for a local flood, and not the world-wide flood as recorded in Genesis and many other cultural traditions. It also doesn't fit with many other details of the Genesis account.[22]

Crustal Displacement Theory

In When the sky fell: In search of Atlantis (1996), Rand Flem Ath[23] expanded on Professor Charles Hapgood's theory of crustal displacement whereby the entire earth's crust moved with respect to the core. The suggested date for this was about 10,000 years BC. If a displacement had occurred then it would have caused enormous disruption to the the earth's oceans with massive tsunamis and heavy rain. Although the book was nominally about the disappearance of Atlantis, the theory of crustal displacement not only explains the discrepancies in ice thickness in Greenland and Antarctica but also the sudden demise of the mammoths. This theory could also potentially explain the widespread existence of flood accounts throughout different cultures.

External links

References

  1. Genesis does not say that this was the first ever rainbow.
  2. http://www.icr.org/article/570/
  3. 3.0 3.1 Noah’s Flood and the Gilgamesh Epic by Jonathan Sarfati, Creation, vol. 28 No. 4 pp.12-17
  4. Genesis 6:3
  5. Australian Aboriginal Flood Stories, Creation Vol. 5 No. 1, pp. 6-9.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Greek, in Flood Stories from Around the World by Mark Isaak.
  7. Genesis 6:5 (NIV)
  8. Genesis According to the Miao People, by Edgar A. Truax, Impact, April 1991
  9. Navajo (Four Corners area), in Flood Stories from Around the World by Mark Isaak
  10. 10.0 10.1 Hopi, in Flood Stories from Around the World by Mark Isaak.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Aboriginal Flood Legend, by Howard Coates, Creation Vol. 4 No.3, pp.9-12
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Masai (East Africa), in Flood Stories from Around the World by Mark Isaak.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Hawaii, in Flood Stories from Around the World by Mark Isaak.
  14. Genesis 7:13
  15. Genesis 8:6-12
  16. Genesis 9:12-17
  17. A comparative study of the flood accounts in the Gilgamesh Epic and Genesis, chapter 7, by Nozomi Osanai.
  18. Animals, a Deluge and Noah’s Ark
  19. Ashurbanipal
  20. http://archives.cnn.com/2000/NATURE/09/13/great.flood.finds.ap/
  21. http://www.nationalgeographic.com/blacksea/ax/frame.html
  22. Proof of Noah's Flood at the Black Sea? by Creation Ministries International.
  23. http://www.flem-ath.com