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  Noah and The Flood

Noah and his times

When Lamech had lived 182 years, he fathered a son and called his name Noah, saying, “Out of the ground that the LORD has cursed, this one shall bring us relief from our work and from the painful toil of our hands.” Lamech lived after he fathered Noah 595 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Lamech were 777 years, and he died. After Noah was 500 years old, Noah fathered Shem, Ham, and Japheth.  Genesis 5:28-32

 

When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.

 

The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD… Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.  Genesis 6:1-9

This is a fascinating story that may seem incredible to the modern mind. The general gist of it is that the times became extremely corrupted with the weak faith of those few remaining descendants of believing biblical patriarchs (“sons of God“) being further diluted by intermarriage with the offspring of unbelieving members of the community (“daughters of man“). When we graduate into Heaven we can ask who the Nephilim were, but speculation has it that they were genetically large human beings who prospered on the earth for a while, of whom Goliath, the Philistine that David slew, was one of the last. How the line continued after the Flood is part of the mystery. Be that as it may, Genesis makes it clear that Noah and his family lived in hard times for those who believed in God.

The Specific Call of Noah

Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark 300 cubits, its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits. Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above, and set the door of the ark in its side. Make it with lower, second, and third decks. 

For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die. But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female. Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you to keep them alive. Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up. It shall serve as food for you and for them.” Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.     Genesis 6:11-22

A Favorite Story

The story from this point on is very familiar to any child who has grown up with exposure to Bible stories. Noah builds a huge ark as described and then fills it with his immediate family and a selection of animals that are brought to him. Apparently his monumental project attracted nothing but scorn; the skies opened up for 40 days; and the earth was flooded. One supposes that microbes, insects, bugs, reptiles, and the inhabitants of the sea were able to survive the long period of heavy flooding that ensued. However, the remainder didn’t fare so well noted:

The waters prevailed above the mountains, covering them fifteen cubits deep. And all flesh died that moved on the earth, birds, livestock, beasts, all swarming creatures that swarm on the earth, and all mankind. Everything on the dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life died. He blotted out every living thing that was on the face of the ground, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens. They were blotted out from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those who were with him in the ark. And the waters prevailed on the earth 150 days.     Genesis 7:20-24

 

But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the livestock that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided. The fountains of the deep and the windows of the heavens were closed, the rain from the heavens was restrained, and the waters receded from the earth continually. At the end of 150 days the waters had abated…  At the end of forty days Noah opened the window of the ark that he had made and sent forth a raven. It went to and fro until the waters were dried up from the earth. Then he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters had subsided from the face of the ground. But the dove found no place to set her foot, and she returned to him to the ark, for the waters were still on the face of the whole earth. So he put out his hand and took her and brought her into the ark with him. He waited another seven days, and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark. And the dove came back to him in the evening, and behold, in her mouth was a freshly plucked olive leaf. So Noah knew that the waters had subsided from the earth. Genesis 8:1-3, 6-11

 

And Noah removed the covering of the ark and looked, and behold, the face of the ground was dry. In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth had dried out. Then God said to Noah, “Go out from the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you. Bring out with you every living thing that is with you of all flesh—birds and animals and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth—that they may swarm on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.” So Noah went out, and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him. Every beast, every creeping thing, and every bird, everything that moves on the earth, went out by families from the ark.    Genesis 8:13-19

 

Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.      Genesis 8:20-22, 9:1

The Sign of the Covenant

Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, “Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the livestock, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark; it is for every beast of the earth. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”       Genesis 9:8-17

A contemporary note: In a remarkably unchallenged case of cultural appropriation, the late 20th century AD has seen the Judeo-Christian Biblical sign of the rainbow as a promise of God’s merciful favor after His judgment for wickedness completely reversed in meaning by a movement that celebrates lifestyles and behaviors that have met with His clear approbation throughout the Word of God.

Flags with the LGBTQ+ rainbow fly, perhaps in ignorance, not only the face of God’s people but of God Himself. They seem to say, “You think we’re wrong? Well, we think You and your people are!” Is it only a matter of time before Noah’s dove of peace is converted into a symbol of the abortion rights movement? Or will a reawakening of godly spiritual insight occur in the interval?

Noah’s descendants disperse

Genesis 9 goes on to describe what happened after the Ark came to rest on Mount Ararat and the waters receded:

The sons of Noah who went forth from the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan.) These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the people of the whole earth were dispersed.

The end result is depicted graphically in the accompanying map, which opens up as a different map in a separate tab when you click on it to demonstrate the initial dispersion described in detail in what is known as the Table of Nations outlined in Genesis 10. Challenging questions arise in most modern minds about whether, or even how, every human being on earth could possibly trace their genetic ancestry to Noah and his family. And what about the diversity of other life we see on earth today?

How extensive was the Flood?

As just noted, questions remain about how extensive the flood was and whether or not the entire human race on the earth can be traced to this one family, as would appear to be clearly stated by the OT account in Genesis 7:23 (He blotted out every living thing that was on the face of the ground, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens. They were blotted out from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those who were with him in the ark.) and further corroborated by the NT testimony of 2 Peter 2:5 which proclaims that “He did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly.

The meaning of these and other similar verses depends on the meaning of the OT Hebrew word “harares” which is translated “ground: and “earth” in Genesis, and the Greek word “cosmos” which is consistently translated “world” in the NT. Fortunately, Anna Groves has done a wonderful exegesis of the Biblical meaning of “harares” for us, and “cosmos” has a similarly fluid  definition which usually refers to what we might call “the known world” or “the human world of common perception” rather than the planetary globe we call Earth. Understanding these two words opens up a way of reconciling contemporary findings with the Biblical record and transforming “stories” into a meaningful part of history.

Elsewhere in the world

Written records, confirmed by archaeological studies, tell us that in about 3300 BC early civilization developed in India’s Indus Valley, with similar evidence documenting the Norte Chico civilization in Peru dating from 3000 BC. Around the same time, the first Egyptian dynasty was in place and Great Pyramid building had begun in North Africa.

By 2800 BC predynastic China was well established in eastern Asia, followed in 2700 BC by the emergence of the Bronze Age Aegean civilization in ancient Greece and the Nubian state in Africa in about 2500 BC. It appears that Earth was richly populated with diverse people and civilizations in various geographic locations around the globe around the time of Noah, all of which were socially and culturally disconnected from the Biblical Mesopotamian world of the Patriarchs.

Navigation Notes

Look below and you’ll notice Up and Down buttons in the middle. Using these buttons you can navigate directly through our timelines. For each timeline we will take a detailed tour using the outside buttons to investigate historical events and people noted on the current chart (the preferred route, especially for your early visits to our website). Our Chart 2 tour is allowing us to look more closely at the lives and times of the Patriarchs in Genesis in the context of concurrent events in world history. From the Noah’s ark and family we will be going on to investigate the Biblical story of the Tower of Babel.

God intervenes