Genesis (Part 32)

Hi! Welcome back to my study of Genesis. If you’re interested in prior posts, please visit the menu on my page, click on “Books” in the drop-down, and then click on Genesis.

Just a reminder, not everything that I share about the verses is something that I personally believe, endorse, etc. I just want to give a wide range of thoughts and theories to let people make up their own mind.

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Genesis 7:6-12

Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters came upon the earth. And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him went into the ark to escape the waters of the flood. Of clean animals, and of animals that are not clean, and of birds, and of everything that creeps on the ground, two and two, male and female, went into the ark with Noah, as God had commanded Noah. 10 And after seven days the waters of the flood came upon the earth.

11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. 12 And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights. 

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From David Guzik:

3. (Gen 7:10-12) God brings the waters upon the earth.

And it came to pass after seven days that the waters of the flood were on the earth. In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. And the rain was on the earth forty days and forty nights.

a. After seven days that the waters of the flood were on the earth: Noah, the animals, and his family had to wait in the ark seven days for the rain to come. They had never seen rain up to this time. This was a real test of faith – to wait a week after more than 100 years of preparation.

b. The windows of heaven were opened: This is when the great waters which were above the firmament (Genesis 1:7) broke up. These waters formed the huge “blanket” of water in the upper part of the earth’s atmosphere since creation.

c. The fountains of the greet deep that were broken up: Waters came up from under the earth also, no doubt accompanied by great geological catastrophe.

d. Forty days and forty nights: The number 40 becomes associated with testing and purification, especially before coming into something new and significant. This is seen in Moses’ time on Mount Sinai (Exodus 24:18Deuteronomy 9:25), the spies’ trip to Canaan (Numbers 13:25), Israel’s time in the wilderness (Numbers 14:3332:13), Elijah’s miraculous journey to Sinai (1 Kings 19:8), and Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness (Mark 1:13).

God told them in advance that they need to wait on the Ark for seven days. The text says that they did wait that long. The length of the wait feels important or symbolic. God created everything in seven days. He then waits seven days to blot out everything.

I am also reminded of Genesis 1:2: …and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. In the Creation reboot story, featuring Noah, the Spirit of God – through a righteous Noah – is on the face of the waters… in an ark.

Since Guzik brings it up, this seems like a good time to examine the concept of “the firmament.”

Genesis 1:7 And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so.

  • For a long time, the canopy model was based on the idea that the earth was once covered in a dome of water.
  • Thus, when the canopy was broken with Noah, the water from the atmosphere was released causing a massive Flood.
  • The canopy of water is thought to explain the lifespan differences before and after The Flood.
  • The discussion of Creation science often is portrayed as though the view does not havea a “science” component. However, that seems unfair from my perspective.
  • I find the FAQ at this link useful in providing science-based parameters for the Creationism POV: http://www.creationscience.com/onlinebook/FAQ33.html
The shortening of lifespans after the Flood did not occur rapidly.
  • The Canopy theory is not without criticism.
    * For example, in an article on apologeticspress, Dr. Jeff Miller writes

    “The typical interpretation of raqia and “heaven” in Genesis 1:6 is that God created the sky on day two, separating water vapor in the sky (clouds) from liquid water. Most commentators and translators support this interpretation.”

    * He also explains the origin of the word firmament:

    “The translation “firmament,” however, is not so much a translation of the original Hebrew term as it is a transliteration of a term used in the Latin Vulgate (i.e., firmamentum) which was translated from the Greek Septuagint term (stereoma) that was used for the Hebrew raqia. The uninspired translators of the Septuagint, who were translating for an Egyptian pharaoh in Egypt,2 were apparently influenced by the then conventional belief in Egypt that the heavens are a stone vault.3 The Hebrew term raqia, however, does not suggest such a meaning. Rather, it refers to something that has been stretched, spread, or beaten out—like metal.4 The idea is that on day two, God divided the waters of Earth, spreading them out from one another and moving some above the Earth, and creating that which holds those waters apart—much like what a solid would do.

    God then defined the raqia as “heaven(s)” (shamayim). Shamayim, however, was used in three distinct ways by the Hebrews (and by God through His inspired spokesmen). It could mean the sky or atmosphere where the birds fly and the clouds gather (Jeremiah 4:25; Matthew 6:26). It could mean outer space where the stars are situated (Genesis 1:14-15; Psalm 19:4,6; Isaiah 13:10), and it could also mean the place where God dwells (Psalm 2:4; Hebrews 9:24). Context must be used to determine which heaven is referenced. In this case, the heaven identified would affect one’s identification of the water that God separated.

    The typical interpretation of raqia and “heaven” in Genesis 1:6 is that God created the sky on day two, separating water vapor in the sky (clouds) from liquid water.”
  • The criticism here that “firmament” is in part, a translation controversy, regarding a word that was intended simply to mean “expanse” or “sky.” I covered the original language in Part 5.

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What does it mean that the fountains of the deep burst forth?

fountain is translated from מַעְיָן maʻyân, mah-yawn’; or מַעְיְנוֹ maʻyᵉnôw; (Psalm 114:8), or (feminine) מַעְיָנָה maʻyânâh; from H5869 (as a denominative in the sense of a spring); a fountain (also collectively), figuratively, a source (of satisfaction):—fountain, spring, well.

deep is translated from תְּהוֹם tᵉhôwm, teh-home’; or תְּהֹם tᵉhôm; (usually feminine) from H1949; an abyss (as a surging mass of water), especially the deep (the main sea or the subterranean watersupply):—deep (place), depth.

Reminder: the word here for “deep” has a literal translation, shown above, and a more mystical interpretation. We covered this in Part 2.

Back in chapter 7, windows is translated from אֲרֻבָּה ʼărubbâh, ar-oob-baw’; feminine participle passive of H693 (as if for lurking); a lattice; (by implication) a window, dovecot (because of the pigeon-holes), chimney (with its apertures for smoke), sluice (with openings for water):—chimney, window.

heaven is translated from שָׁמַיִם shâmayim, shaw-mah’-yim; dual of an unused singular שָׁמֶה shâmeh; from an unused root meaning to be lofty; the sky (as aloft; the dual perhaps alluding to the visible arch in which the clouds move, as well as to the higher ether where the celestial bodies revolve):—air, × astrologer, heaven(-s).

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The Flood occurred as waters rushed forth from “the deep” and as it poured down from the sky.

One hypothesis for the origin of the Flood, scientifically, is that a comet strike on an ice sheet simultaneously caused a tsunami and threw up enormous amounts of water vapor into the atmosphere. The tsunami would happen as enormous sections of ice are throw into the ocean. The instantly vaporized vapor would come back down as rain.

The problem with the Young Dryas hypothesis, as it relates to Noah, is that the timeline does not match up very well. The Younger Dryas impact hypothesis is thousands of years before Noah – at least insofar as the Biblical timeline is to be taken literally.

Another theory relates to an overflow flood from the Mediterranean into the Black Sea.

It was this event that Pitman and Ryan believe could be the flood recorded in the Book of Genesis. The salt water poured through the deepening channel, creating a waterfall 200 times the volume of Niagara Falls (anyone who has ever traveled to the base of the falls on the Maid of the Mist will have a sense of the power involved). In a single day enough water came through the channel to cover Manhattan to a depth at least two times the height of the World Trade Center, and the roar of the cascading water would have been audible at least 100 miles away. Anyone living in the fertile farmlands on the northern rim of the sea would have had the harrowing experience of seeing the boundary of the ocean move inland at the rate of a mile a day.

In addition, Pitman and Ryan point out what archaeologists who study ancient civilizations have known for a long time: that at roughly the time of the flood, a number of people and new customs suddenly appeared in places as far apart as Egypt and the foothills of the Himalayas, Prague and Paris. The people included speakers of Indo-European, the language from which most modern European and Indian languages are derived. Pitman and Ryan suggest that these people might, in fact, represent a diaspora of Black Sea farmers who were driven from their homes by the flood, and that the flood itself might have been the cause of the breakup of Indo-European languages.

Of course, it is possible for the comet theory AND the Black Sea theory to both be true. The first could set the stage for a global Flood story and the second could provide the basis for the more specific story of Noah.

It’s also possible for neither to be the *real* story of Noah’s Great Flood.

Scholars have pointed out the similarities between Noah’s Flood story and the Epic of Gilgamesh Flood story.

Andrew George submits that the Genesis flood narrative matches that in Gilgamesh so closely that “few doubt” that it derives from a Mesopotamian account. What is particularly noticeable is the way the Genesis flood story follows the Gilgamesh flood tale “point by point and in the same order”, even when the story permits other alternatives. In a 2001 Torah commentary released on behalf of the Conservative Movement of Judaism, rabbinic scholar Robert Wexler stated: “The most likely assumption we can make is that both Genesis and Gilgamesh drew their material from a common tradition about the flood that existed in Mesopotamia. These stories then diverged in the retelling.” ZiusudraUtnapishtim and Noah are the respective heroes of the Sumerian, Akkadian and biblical flood legends of the ancient Near East.

From the perspective of personal faith, though, it bears repeating that the Noah Flood account was said to be authored by Moses – a man who personally met with God. From a Christian perspective, too, Jesus refers to Noah specifically. We are not told of Jesus making reference Gilgamesh or any other regional Flood account.

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Also note that the Bible carefully tells us with specificity when the Flood began. The problem as a modern reader, in using this to date the Flood, is that the dating relies on a dating determined by Creation. There is not agreement on when Creation occurred.

The Masoretic Text of the Torah places the Great Deluge 1,656 years after Creation, or 1656 AM (Anno Mundi, “Year of the World”). Many attempts have been made to place this time-span at a specific date in history. At the turn of the 17th century CEJoseph Scaliger placed Creation at 3950 BCEPetavius calculated 3982 BCE, and according to James Ussher‘s chronology, Creation took place in 4004 BCE, dating the Great Deluge to 2348 BCE.

Note that the Flood by these dating efforts occurred roughly around 2350 BCE. That date is thousands of years after the hypothetical date for the Black Sea Flood given above. The Black Sea Flood is itself thousands of years after the Younger Dryas Comet Impact hypothesis is said to have occurred.

What was going on around the world in the 24th century BCE?

A century earlier?

The 23rd Century BCE:

The Doggerland Tsunami (Storega Landslides) took place between 6225–6170 BC.

So looking at the historical record in and around the proposed dating of Noah’s Flood, we do not find much archaeological or geological evidence of said Flood either in the Middle East or around the world. Most of the indices of a “Great Flood” point toward a much earlier Flood.

That does not mean that the Flood did not occur, that it did not occur exactly at the point of the Creationist timeline, that the archaeological record is perfect, etc. It just means that right now the scientific evidence for a Flood seems to point us to a time that is far earlier than the timeline as provided for Noah’s Flood.

Is it possible that the Biblical timeline is misinterpreted? Yes, though, it is easy to say yes and another thing to demonstrate explain *how* that might have occurred.

The Biblical word for year is pretty consistent in its translation and interpretation: שָׁנֶה shâneh, shaw-neh’; (in plural or (feminine) שָׁנָה shânâh; from H8138; a year (as a revolution of time):— whole age, × long, old, year(× -ly).

The Biblical word for day, though, is not. יוֹם yôwm, yome; from an unused root meaning to be hot; a day (as the warm hours), whether literal (from sunrise to sunset, or from one sunset to the next), or figurative (a space of time defined by an associated term), (often used adverb):—age, always, chronicals, continually(-ance), daily, ((birth-), each, to) day, (now a, two) days (agone), elder, × end, evening, (for) ever(-lasting, -more), × full, life, as (so) long as (… live), (even) now, old, outlived, perpetually, presently, remaineth, × required, season, × since, space, then, (process of) time, as at other times, in trouble, weather, (as) when, (a, the, within a) while (that), × whole ( age), (full) year(-ly), younger.

One might start there if looking for a misinterpretation of the given timeline.

So what do you think? I will look some more into the issues regarding the timeline and report back with what I find.

3 thoughts on “Genesis (Part 32)

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