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Holman Bible Dictionary [1]

 Genesis 6:1-9:19  Genesis 1-11 Genesis 12:3

Its Structural Background The literary theme of a flood was a natural motif for the Sumerian and Akkadian peoples who resided between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in a plain prone to flood. The oft-repeated flood experience found literary expression in a Sumerian flood story and in two or more Akkadian ones: the Atrahasis Epic and the Epic of Gilgamesh. The Akkadian and Hebrew stories parallel each other in the following ways: the naming of the hero (Utnapishtim/Noah), the divine announcement of a flood, instructions to build a ship, the inclusion of animals in the ship, the dispatch of birds, the sacrifice the hero offered after the waters subsided, and other related details. From all of this, it is the studied judgment of scholars “that the Babylonian and Hebrew versions (of the flood stories) are genetically related is too obvious to require proof” (Alexander Heidel. The Gilgamesh Epic and Old Testament Parallels. Chicago, 1949,269). However, the community of parallels is structural; it does not extend to the religious meaning. There the Sumero-Akkadian and Hebrew stories are distinctly different.

The structural background of the Flood in Genesis derives from the fact that the early ancestors of Abram were resident in the Mesoptamian valley and were exposed to the prevailing cultural patterns. It was there that the forebears of Abram practiced a polytheistic religion, first in the Ur of the Chaldees and then in Haran ( Genesis 11:31-32:6;  Joshua 24:2 ,Joshua 24:2, 24:14-15 ).

It must be admitted that the identification of a flood that gave rise to the Sumero-Akkadian and Hebrew Flood accounts has proved illusive. In every geological or archaeological endeavor to use sedimentary deposits to develop a time frame for such a catastrophic deluge and all efforts to recover an ark have failed. Such scientific efforts have not proven the Flood narrative.

The drama of Israel's Flood story is the drama of God reacting to the habitual sin of His creatures. Scene after scene exhibits a disclosure of God, the moral nature of His acts, His self-consistent righteousness, His ever abiding love, His determined will to extricate humanity from its self-inflicted ruin, His determination never to see wrong as ultimately victorious, but to see the fulfilment of His purposes finally and fully. These magnificent vistas of divine glory are dramatic in character, symbolic in nature, and religious in purpose. Since they are addressed to Noah in whom is incorporated the new race, the proclamation is applicable to all people in whatever situation they discover themselves.

To an ancient story form known widely in the Ancient Near East, the inspired Hebrew writer joined Israel's theological affirmation to form an educational means to teach the community of Israel the ways of Yahweh ( Genesis 18:19 ).

Theological Proclamation of the Flood God took account of earth's wickedness, the persistent human bent toward evil, the corruption that filled the earth with injustice. Still, God did not overlook Noah. Self-consistency demanded justice equal to the wickedness and prompted a determination to blot out mankind. This was a matter of deep regret and sorrow, but the purpose invested in human creation was not to be thwarted. God announced His intentions to Noah and instructed him to build an enormous ark for himself, his family, and the lower orders—even for unclean, creeping things! The expansiveness of the ark was expressive of the greatness of God's love; the extension of safety to “every” type of fauna elaborates the wideness of His concern. The destruction of all people existing before the Flood indicated the abhorrence of evil. The rescue of the family of Noah shows God's yearning love to save. When Noah offered a sacrifice to Yahweh after the Flood, the act prompted God to exercise His concern for the new race. Accordingly, He vowed never to doom the world again despite the enormous, continuing evil of the human creatures, an evil inconsistent with all God made and intended. Rather than destroy, God affirmed the continuity of seasons without respite. Moreover, the narrative pictured the equal rights and opportunities for all members of the new race based on each person representing the image of God. Most notable of all was the covenant of continued earthly security for mankind and the rainbow as the symbol of that everlasting covenant. Hebrew has no special word for rainbow, only for a bow as the archer's weapon. When abroad in the fray, the archer used this weapon to fight enemies. When he returned to his tent, he put the bow on the wall since home offered peace, love, and security. So Yahweh is likened to a man of war with bow and arrows. Now, with bow unslung and hung high in the heavens, He publicized His good will and eternal covenant with mankind. He is not hostile. Our God is our friend. Separated from God, the essential human structure is carnal (flesh). As such, each individual will corrupt self in self-idolatry by seeking to control everything.  Genesis 1-11 graphically depicts the defection of Adam and Eve, the disaster of Cain, and the alienation at the tower of Babel. Here is another instance of the same theme in the preamble to the Flood: humanity became enormously wicked. The human mind was ever bent on nothing but evil. God's creature had corrupted the earth and filled it with lawlessness. As such God accorded a fitting fate for the rebels.

If God saw the evil in the earth, He saw also the righteous Noah—blameless in his generation, one who walked with God. Noah had found grace in the eyes of God. Informed, instructed, provided for, covenanted with to become the head of a new race and blessed to be productive and to increase on earth, Noah was made the mediator of a world-encompassing covenant where the image of God would guarantee equality in society. Here the Flood account highlights a person's potential: to walk with God, to be blameless and righteous in a wicked world, to be a mediator of divine grace possible for all people, and to know that the future was safe and sure by the oath God had sworn. Such was and is the revelation God committed to Abram to herald and to bring the blessing of the knowledge of God to the whole world.

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [2]

A — 1: Κατακλυσμός (Strong'S #2627 — Noun Masculine — kataklusmos — kat-ak-looce-mos' )

"a deluge" (Eng., "cataclysm"), akin to katakluzo, "to inundate,"  2—Peter 3:6 , is used of the "flood" in Noah's time,  Matthew 24:38,39;  Luke 17:27;  2—Peter 2:5 .

A — 2: Πλήμμυρα (Strong'S #4132 — Noun Feminine — plemmura — plame-moo'-rah )

akin to pletho and pimplemi, "to fill, a flood of sea or river," the latter in  Luke 6:48 . In the Sept.,  Job 40:18 (ver. 23 in the EV).

A — 3: Ποταμός (Strong'S #4215 — Noun Masculine — potamos — pot-am-os' )

"a river, stream, torrent," is translated "flood" in  Matthew 7:25,27; in  Revelation 12:15,16 , AV, "flood," RV, "river." See River , Water

B — 1: Ποταμοφόρητος (Strong'S #4216 — Adjective — potamophoretos — pot-am-of-or'-ay-tos )

signifies "carried away by a stream or river" (A, No. 3, and phero, "to carry"),  Revelation 12:15 , RV, "carried away by the stream" (AV, "of the flood").

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [3]

Rebellion against God was such a consistent and widespread characteristic of early human history that God announced he would destroy the rebels through a great flood ( Genesis 6:5-7;  Genesis 6:17). He would, however, preserve the godly man Noah and his family, and through them build a new people. God’s means of preserving Noah’s family, along with enough animals to repopulate the animal world, was through an ark that God told Noah to build ( Genesis 6:8-22; see  Hebrews 11:7;  1 Peter 3:20; see Ark ; Noah ).

The natural causes God used to bring about the flood were twofold – forty days heavy rain combined with what seems to have been earthquake activity that sent the waters of the sea pouring into the Mesopotamian valley ( Genesis 7:11-12). Even after the rain stopped and the earth settled, the flood waters took a long time to go down. Almost four months after the rain stopped, the ark came to rest in the Ararat range ( Genesis 8:3-4). Seven months later, grass and plants had grown sufficiently to allow Noah, his family and the animals to leave the ark and begin life afresh on the earth ( Genesis 8:14-19).

It appears that the area affected by the flood was the region of the Bible’s story in the previous chapters. The information that Noah was able to obtain confirmed to him that the flood covered it all. (Expressions of universality such as ‘all the earth’, ‘everywhere’, ‘all people’, ‘everyone’, etc. are often used in the Bible with a purely local meaning, as they are today; cf.  Genesis 41:57;  Deuteronomy 2:25;  1 Kings 4:34;  1 Kings 18:10;  Daniel 4:22;  Daniel 5:19;  John 1:4-5;  Acts 2:5;  Acts 11:28;  Colossians 1:23.)

The important point of the flood story is that the flood was a total judgment on that ungodly world (except for Noah and his family), as God had warned ( Genesis 6:17). It is a reminder that, at the return of Jesus Christ, sudden judgment will again fall on an ungodly world, though again God will preserve the righteous ( Matthew 24:36-39;  2 Peter 2:5;  2 Peter 2:9; cf.  Genesis 9:13-15;  2 Peter 3:5-7).

People's Dictionary of the Bible [4]

Flood. One of the most remarkable events in the history of our world. The biblical narrative is given in  Genesis 6:1-22;  Genesis 7:1-24;  Genesis 8:1-22. The scripture account of It says, "And I, behold, I do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; every thing that is in the earth shall die."  Genesis 6:17; comp.  Genesis 7:4;  Genesis 7:21;  Genesis 7:23. "And all the high mountains that were under the whole heaven were covered. Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail: and the mountains were covered.... And every living thing was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and creeping things, and fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth; and Noah only was left, and they that were with him in the ark."  Genesis 7:19-23, R. V. There is no fact in history better attested, independent of the word of God, than the flood; and none more universally acknowledged by all nations, accounts of it being in their legends. Many evidences of some such great catastrophe exist at the present day. The highest mountains in every part of the earth furnish proofs that the sea has spread over them, shells, skeletons of fish and sea monsters being found on them. The universality of a flood is shown by the fact that the remains of animals are found buried far from their native regions. Elephants and skeletons of whales have been found buried in England; mammoths near the north pole; crocodiles in Germany, etc. It is well to bear in mind that God has said, "I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of the flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth."  Genesis 9:11;  Genesis 9:15. And also has said, "The world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: but the heavens that now are, and the earth, by the same word have been stored up for fire, being reserved against the day of judgment,... in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall be dissolved with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up."  2 Peter 3:5-10. There is an abundance of material stored up in the earth and in the atmosphere to produce such a combustion at any moment.

Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [5]

 Genesis 6:17 (c) This is emblematic of the great judgment of GOD upon those who are out of Christ even as this flood came upon those who were out of the ark. (See also  Psalm 90:5).

 Psalm 29:10 (c) Perhaps this indicates the great, surging mass of humanity over which our Lord Jesus rules, reigns and controls.

 Isaiah 28:2 (a) This word graphically describes the overwhelming wrath and power of GOD in punishing Israel.

 Isaiah 59:19 (b) From this we understand something of the great force and power of the wicked who seek to overthrow GOD's people and to hinder GOD's work.

 Jeremiah 46:7 (a) The power of Egypt is thus described. (See also  Jeremiah 47:8;  Jeremiah 47:2;  Amos 8:8;  Amos 9:5).

 Daniel 9:26 (a) By this we understand the power of the army of the Romans who destroyed Jerusalem.

 Daniel 11:22 (b) This type describes the power of the antichrist as he seeks to destroy all that belongs to Christ Jesus and to establish Satanic rule.

 Nahum 1:8 (a) Thus is described the power of the invading army that conquered the city of Nineveh. Jonah was sent to Nineveh with a warning, and the people repented. About seventy-five years later Nahum wrote his prophecy of the destruction of Nineveh because they had returned to their wicked ways.

 Matthew 7:27 (a) This word is a type of the adversities, oppositions and sorrows which suddenly overwhelm and overcome those who are not resting on the Rock of Ages, Christ Jesus (See also  Luke 6:4,  Luke 6:8).

 Revelation 12:15 (a) This word describes the terrible persecution of Israel by satanic forces which made them slaves for many years, and finally scattered them throughout the world. During the tribulation Israel will again suffer persecution.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [6]

FLOOD . See Deluge. And notice that the word is used generally for a stream or river, as   Isaiah 44:3 ‘I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground’ (RV [Note: Revised Version.] ‘streams’). Sometimes a particular river is meant, the Euphrates, the Nile, or the Jordan. (1) The Euphrates is referred to in   Joshua 24:2 (‘your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood,’ RV [Note: Revised Version.] ‘beyond the River’)   Joshua 24:14-15 , 2Es 13:44 , 1Ma 7:8 . (2) The Nile in   Psalms 78:44 ,   Amos 8:8 to   Amos 9:5 ,   Jeremiah 46:7-8 . (3) The Jordan in   Psalms 66:6 (‘they went through the flood on foot’). The word is also frequently used in AV [Note: Authorized Version.] as now, of a torrent, as   Psalms 69:2 ‘I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me’ (Heb. shibboleth , the word which the Ephraimites pronounced sibboleth ).

Webster's Dictionary [7]

(1): ( v. i.) The flowing in of the tide; the semidiurnal swell or rise of water in the ocean; - opposed to ebb; as, young flood; high flood.

(2): ( v. i.) A great flow or stream of any fluid substance; as, a flood of light; a flood of lava; hence, a great quantity widely diffused; an overflowing; a superabundance; as, a flood of bank notes; a flood of paper currency.

(3): ( v. t.) To overflow; to inundate; to deluge; as, the swollen river flooded the valley.

(4): ( v. i.) A great flow of water; a body of moving water; the flowing stream, as of a river; especially, a body of water, rising, swelling, and overflowing land not usually thus covered; a deluge; a freshet; an inundation.

(5): ( v. t.) To cause or permit to be inundated; to fill or cover with water or other fluid; as, to flood arable land for irrigation; to fill to excess or to its full capacity; as, to flood a country with a depreciated currency.

(6): ( v. i.) Menstrual disharge; menses.

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [8]

This word is particularly and perhaps especially applicable only to the deluge, when the Lord by a flood of waters destroyed every thing that lived upon the earth of his creatures. But the word in Scripture is made use of to denote many things of an overwhelming nature. Thus, floods of sin, floods of sorrow, floods of ungodly men, and the like. So that there is one of the sweetest promises in the Bible, in allusion to the graces of the Lord the Spirit, made use of in a way of illustration, by the figure of a flood. "When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him." ( Isaiah 59:19) Yea the Lord Jesus himself adopts the figure in reference to his own personal sufferings. "I am come, saith Christ, into deep waters, where the floods overflow me." ( Psalms 69:2) But the church takes comfort from hence, that no water spouts of divine wrath can cool the warm love of the heart of Jesus to his church and people. "Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it." ( Song of Song of Solomon 8:7)

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [9]

FLOOD. —The Flood is referred to only in  Matthew 24:38-39 and its parallel  Luke 17:27. Jesus is speaking of the concealment of the day and hour of the coming of the Son of Man, and He uses the Flood as an illustration which would be well known to His hearers. Men and women were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark; and did not know until the Flood came and took them all away. So it would be at the time of the coming of the Son of Man. Jesus was, at the time of speaking, warning men of His coming, and the warning was intended, doubtless, to be sufficient to turn them, if they would be turned, from their evil. The emphasis in the use of the illustration is upon the indifference and wickedness of the antediluvians, as paralleled by that of men in the future who would not receive and act upon the warnings now given. The Gospel use, then, of the Flood is, like the meaning of the word used (κατακλυσμός), neutral as to the important questions raised by the OT story of the Deluge. See art. ‘Flood’ in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible, vol. ii.

O. H. Gates.

King James Dictionary [10]

FLOOD, n. flud.

1. A great flow of water a body of moving water particularly, a body of water, rising, swelling and overflowing land not usually covered with water. Thus there is a flood, every spring, in the Connecticut, which inundates the adjacent meadows. There is an annual flood in the Nile, and in the Mississippi. 2. The flood, by way of eminence, the deluge the great body of water which inundated the earth in the days of Noah. Before the flood, men live to a great age. 3. A river a sense chiefly poetical. 4. The flowing of the tide the semi-diurnal swell or rise of water in the ocean opposed to ebb. The ship entered the harbor on the flood. Hence flood-tide young flood high flood. 5. A great quantity an inundation an overflowing abundance superabundance as a flood of bank notes a flood of paper currency. 6. A great body or stream of any fluid substance as a flood of light a flood of lava. Hence, figuratively, a flood of vice. 7. Menstrual discharge.

FLOOD, To overflow to inundate to deluge as, to flood a meadow.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [11]

 Genesis 7,8Deluge  Joshua 24:2,3,14,15 Psalm 66:6

Smith's Bible Dictionary [12]

Flood. See Noah .

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [13]

See Deluge .

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [14]

(See Noah .)

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [15]

(the rendering of several Heb. words (See Rain), but especially of מִבּוּל , Mabbul', Κατακλυσμός ), an event related in the book of Genesis (ch. vii and viii), by which, according to the usual interpretation of the description, the whole world was overwhelmed and every terrestrial creature destroyed, with the exception of one human family and the representatives of each species of animal, supernaturally preserved in an ark, constructed by divine appointment for the purpose. (See Ark).

1. The successive stages of its progress were in order and at intervals as follows. In the 600th year of his life, Noah was commanded to enter the ark, taking with him his wife, and his three sons with their wives. One week afterwards, on the 17th day of the 2d month (answering nearly to our November),)there began a forty-days' rain, and the fountains of the great deep were broken up, so that its waters rose over the land until all the high hills under the whole heavens were covered. Fifteen cubits (twenty-seven feet) upward did the waters prevail (rise). On the 17th day of the 7th month (about April), or 150 days after the deluge began, the ark rested on the mountains of Ararat, or Armenia, the waters having begun to abate. They continued to decrease till the 1st day of the 10th month (July), when the tops of the mountains were visible. Forty days after this, Noah sent forth a raven from the ark, which never returned. He next (apparently after seven days) sent forth a dove, which came back. Seven days afterwards he dispatched the dove again to ascertain the state of the earth, and in the evening she returned with an olive-leaf in her mouth. After an interval of seven days the dove was sent forth a third time, and returned no more. On the first day of the 1st month of the new year (Sept.-Oct.) the waters were dried from off the earth, and on the 27th day of the 2d month,(Nov.) Noah came out of the ark, built an altar, and offered sacrifice. (See Noah).

2. The truth of the Mosaic history of the deluge is confirmed by the tradition of it which universally obtained. A tradition of the deluge, in many respects accurately coinciding with the Mosaic, account, has been preserved almost universally among the ancient nations. It is a very remarkable fact concerning the deluge that the memory of almost all nations begins with the history of it, even of those nations which were unknown until they were discovered by enterprising voyagers and travellers; and that traditions of the deluge were kept up in all the rites and ceremonies Of the Gentile world; and it is observable that, the farther we go back, the more vivid the traces appear, especially in those countries which were nearest to the scene of action. Such narratives have formed part of thee rude belief of the Egyptians, Chaldaeans, Greeks, Scythians, and Celtic tribes. They have also been discovered among the Peruvians and Mexicans, the aborigines of Cuba, North America, and the South-Sea Islands. (See Ararat).

3. The account furnished by the sacred historian is circumstantially distinct, and the whole is expressly ascribed to divine agency: but in several of the lesser particulars secondary causes, as rain, "the opening of the windows of heaven" ( Genesis 7:11), and the "breaking up of the fountains of the great deep," are mentioned, and again thee effect of wind in drying up the waters ( Genesis 8:1). It is chiefly to be remarked that the whole event is represented as both commencing and terminating in the most gradual and quiet manner, without anything at all resembling the catastrophes and convulsions often pictured in vulgar imagination as accompanying it. When the waters subsided, so little was the surface of the earth changed that the Vegeta tion continued uninjured; the olive-trees remained from which the dove brought its token. We allude particularly to these circumstances in the narrative as being those which bear most upon the probable nature and extent of the event, which it is our main object in the present article to examine, according to the tenor of what little evidence can be collected on the subject, whether from the terms of the narrative, or from other sources of information which may be opened to us by the researches of science. See Cockburn, Inquiry into the Truth and Certainty of the Mosaic Deluge (London, 1750).

The evidence which geology may disclose, and which can in any degree bear on our present subject, must, from the nature of the case, be confined to indications of superficial action attributable to the agency of water, subsequent to the latest period of the regular geological format-ions, and corresponding in character to a temporary inundation of a quiet' and tranquil nature, of a depth sufficient to cover thee highest mountains and, lastly (as indeed this condition implies), extending over the whole globe; or, if these conditions should not be fulfilled, then indications of at least something approaching to this, or with which the terms of the description may be fairly understood and. interpreted to correspond. (See Prof. Hitchcock, on - The Historical and Geological Deluges compared," in the Bib. Repos. January, 1837; April, 1837; April, 1838; also Brown's. translation of " twelve dissertations" [on the Flood] out of Le Clerc [Commentary, i, 66-70, 1710] on Genesis, London, 1696.) Of those geological facts which seem to bear at all upon such an inquiry, the first, perhaps, which strikes us is the occurrence of what was formerly all included under the common name of dilivium, but which more modern research has separated into many distinct classes. The general term may, however, not in aptly describe superficial accumulations, whether of soil, sand, gravel, or loose aggregations of larger blocks, which are found to prevail over large tracts of the earth's surface, and are manifestly superinduced over the deposits of different ages, with which they have no connection. An examination of the contents of this accumulated detritus soon showed the diversified nature of the fragments of which it is composed in different localities. The general result, as bearing on our present subject, is obviously this: the traces of currents, and the like, which the surface of the earth does exhibit, and which might be ascribed to diluvial action of some kind, are certainly not the results of one universal simultaneous submergence, but of many distinct, local, aqueous forces, for the most part continued in action for long periods, sand of a kind precisely analogous to such agency as is now at work.

While, further, many parts of the existing surface show no traces of such operations; and the phenomena of the volcanic districts prove distinctly that 'during the enormous periods which have elapsed since the craters were active, no deluge could possibly have passed over them without removing all those lighter portions of their exuviae which have evidently remained wholly untouched since they were ejected. Upon the whole, it is thus apparent. that we have no evidence whatever of any great aqueous revolution at any comparatively recent period having affected the earth's surface over any considerable tract: changes, doubtless, may have been produced on a small scale in isolated districts.' The phenomena presented by caves containing bones, as at - Kirkdale and other localities, are not of a kind forming any breach in the continuity of the analogies by which all the changes in the surface are more and more seen to have been carried on,, But a recent simultaneous influx of water covering the globe, and ascending above the level of the mountains, must have left-'indisputable traces of its influence, which not only is' not the case, but against which we have seen positive facts standing out. Such traces must especially be expected to be found in the masses of human remains which such a deluge must have imp bedded in the strata of soil and detritus, if these were formed by that event. Now it is quite notorious that no bed indisputably attributable to diluvial action has ever been found containing a single bone or tooth of the human species. We must therefore contend that no evidence hems yet been adduced of any deposit which can be identified with the Noachian deluge. (See Geology).

Apart from the testimonies of geology, there are other sciences which must be interrogated on such a subject. These are, chiefly, terrestrial physics, to assign the possibility. of a supply of water to stand all over the globe five miles in depth above the level of the ordinary sea; natural history, to count the myriads of species of living creatures to be preserved and continued in the ark; mechanics, to construct such a vessel; with some others -not less necessary' to the case. But we have no space to enter more minutely on such points: the reader will find them most clearly and candidly stated in Dr. Pye Smith's Geology and Scripture, etc., p. 130, 2d edit. (See Ark).

Let us now glance at the nature and possible solutions of the difficulty thus presented. We believe only two main solutions have been attempted. One is that proposed by Dr. Pye Smith (ib. p. 294), who expressly contends that there is no real contradiction between these facts and the description in the Mosaic record, when the latter is correctly interpreted. This more correct interpretation then refers, in the first instance, to the proper import of the Scripture terms commonly taken to imply the universality of the deluge. These the author shown by a large comparison of similar passages, are only to be understood as expressing a great extent; often, indeed, the very same phrase is applied to a very limited region or country, as in  Genesis 41:56;  Deuteronomy 2:25;  Acts 2:5, etc. Thus, so far as these expressions are concerned, the description may apply to a local deluge. Next, the destruction of the whole existing human race does not by any means imply' this universality, since, by ingenious considerations as to the multiplication of mankind at the alleged era of the deluge, the author has- shown that they probably had not extended beyond a comparatively limited district of the East. A local destruction of animal life would also allow of such a reduction of the numbers to be included in the ark as might obviate objections on that score; and here again the Oriental idiom may save the necessity of the literal supposition of every actual species being included. This is a consideration of very great importance when we take into account the countless varieties of animated beings for which the ark itself made no provision, such as reptiles, insects, and even fishes, which could not exist in the brackish waters, even if they survived the collisions of the flood.. The other difficulties above alluded to, arising from kindred sciences, such as the lack of water, the effect of so large an accession of water upon the temperature and upon the rotation of the earth, the unfitness of such a place as the ark for the long confinement of so many animals, the actual existence of trees in different parts of the world older than. the deluge, and the impossibility of preserving even vegetable life for so long a time under water, are all likewise obviated by the supposition of a local deluge. Again, the difficulties in the way of the descent of so many animals from so lofty, bleak, and craggy a mountain as Ararat, and their dissemination thence over all the world, are obviated in this way, by supposing that it was on one of its lower eminences that the ark grounded, as it floated by the force of the southerly irruption towards the great mountain barriers of Armenia. Lastly, this author suggests considerations tending to fix the region which may have been the scene of the actual inundation described by Moses in about that part of Western Asia where there is a large district now considerably depressed below the level of the sea (see the Bibliotheca Sacra, July, 1867, p. 465): this might have been submerged by the joint action of rain, and an elevation of the bed of the Persian and Indian Seas. Finally, he quotes the opinions of several approved divines in confirmation of such a view, especially as -hearing upon all the essential religious instruction which the narrative is calculated to convey.

The only other mode of viewing the subject is that which, accepting the letter of the scriptural narrative, makes the deluge strictly universal; and allowing (ass they must be allowed) all the difficulties, not to say contradictions, in a natural sense, involved in it, accounts for them all by supernatural agency. In fact, the terms of the narrative, strictly taken, may perhaps be understood throughout as representing the whole event, from beginning to end, as entirely of a miraculous nature. If so, it may be said, there is an end to all difficulties or question, since there are no limits to omnipotence, and one miracle is -not greater than another. In a word, if we suppose the flood to have been miraculously produced, and all the difficulties thus overcome, we must also suppose that it was not only miraculously terminated also, but every trace and mark of it supernaturally effaced and destroyed. Now, considering the immense amount of supernatural agency thus rendered necessary, this- hypothesis has appeared to some quite untenable. Dr. Pye Smith, in particular (whom no one will suspect of any leaning to scepticism), enlarges on the difficulty (p. 157, and note), and offers some excellent remarks on the general question of miracles (p. 84-89); and there can be no doubt that, however plausible may be the assertion that all miracles are alike, yet the idea of supernatural agency to so enormous an amount as in the present instance is, to many minds at least, very staggering, if not wholly inadmissible. In fact, in stretching the argument to such an extent, it must be borne in mind that we may be trenching upon difficulties in another quarter, and not sufficiently regarding the force of the evidence on which any miracles are supported. (See Miracle).

If we look to the actual tenor of the whole narrative as delivered by Moses (Genesis 7, 9), we shall observe that the manifest immediate purport of it is the same as that of the rest of the early portion of his history, viz. as forming part of the introduction TO THE LAW. Thus we find, in thee first instance, the narrative dwelling on the distinction of clean and unclean beasts ( Genesis 7:2); afterwards on the covenant With Noah; the promise of future enjoyment of the earth and its fruits; the prohibition of eating blood; the punishment of murder ( Genesis 9:4, etc.); all constituting, in fact, some of the rudiments out of which the Mosaic law was framed, and which were thus brought before the Israelites as forming an anticipatory sanction for it. Regarded in a Christian light, the narrative is important solely in respect to the applications made of it is- the New Testament, and these are only of the following kind: it is referred to as a warning of Christ's coming ( Matthew 24:38;  Luke 17:27); as an assurance of judgment on sin ( 2 Peter 2:5),; and of God's long- suffering; while the ark is made a type of baptism and Christian salvation ( 1 Peter 3:20); and, lastly, Noah is set forth as an example of faith ( Hebrews 11:7). In these applications no reference is made to the physical nature of the event, nor even to its literal universality. They are all allusions, not to the event abstractedly, but only in the way of Argument With The Parties Addressed In. support of Other truths; an appeal to the Old Testament a addressed to those who already believed in it-in the first of the instances cited, to the Jews in the others, to Jewish converts to Christianity (compare  1 Peter 1:1, and  2 Peter 3:1).

Indeed, if the terms "earth" ( אֶיֶוֹ ) and,"heavens" ( שָׁמִיַם ) be referred in the Mosaic -narrative itself to the visible extent of Land and superincumbent arch of Sky (as they often signify), all direct statement of the universality of the deluge over the surface of the globe will at once disappear. - That it was coextensive with the spread of the human race at the time is indeed demanded by the conditions of the sacred history (See Antediluvians);- but there is no evidence that the population before the flood was either so extensive or so widely disseminated as many have imagined, calculating upon the inapposite rate of modern increase and later usages. On the contrary, it appears that even after the deluge the inhabitants were still so greatly inclined to cluster around one native centre that the catastrophe of Babel was requisite in order to induce a fulfilment of the divine behest that mankind should "fill the earth." Undoubtedly, if read from the present advanced stage of the world's history, it would be impossible to understand the language otherwise than of an absolute. universality; for, now that every region of the world is known, and known to be more or less occupied by man and beast, it must have been in the strictest sense a world-embracing catastrophe which could be described as enveloping in a watery shroud every hill under the whole heaven, and destroying every living thing that moved on the face of the earth. But here it must be remembered, the sacred narrative dates from the comparative infancy of the world, when but a limited portion of it was peopled or known; and it is alsias one of the most- natural, as well as s-most fertile sources of error, respecting. the interpretation of such early records, that one is apt to overlook the change of circumstances, and contemplate what is written from a modern point of view. Hence thee embarrassments so often felt, and the misjudgments sometimes actually pronounced, respecting those parts of Scripture which speak of the movements of the heavenly bodies in language suited to the apparent, but at variance, as has now been ascertained, with the real phenomena. In such cases it is forgotten that the Bible was not intended to teach the truths of physical science, or point the way to discoveries in the merely natural sphere. Of things in these departments of knowledge it uses the language of common life. So, whatever in the scriptural account of the deluge touches on geographical limits or matters strictly physical, ought to be taken with the qualifications inseparable from the bounded horizon of men's views and relations' at the time. Accordingly, there were not wanting theological writers who, long before any geological fact, or well-ascertained fact of any sort in physical science, had appeared to shake men's faith in a strictly universal deluge, actually, put the interpretation now suggested as competent upon the narrative of the deluge.

Thus Poole, who flourished in the middle of the 17th century, says in his Synopsis on  Genesis 7:19 : "It is not to be supposed that the entire globe of the earth was covered with water, Where was the need of overwhelming those regions in which there were no human beings? It would be highly unreasonable to suppose that mankind had so increased before the deluge as to have penetrated to all the corners of the earth. It is, indeed, not probable that they had extended beyond the limits of Syria and Mesopotamia. It would be absurd to affirm that the effects of the punishment inflicted upon men alone applied to places in which there were no men." Hence he concludes that "if not so much as the hundredth part of the globe was overspread with water, still the deluge would be universal, because the extirpation took effect upon all the part of the world which was inhabited." In like manner Stillingfleet, a writer of the same period, in his Origines Sacrae (book 3, chapter 4), states that "he cannot see any urgent necessity from the Scripture to assert that the flood did spread over all the surface of the earth. The flood was universal as to mankind; but from thence follows no necessity at all of asserting the universality of it as to the globe of the earth, unless it be sufficiently proved that the whole earth was peopled before the flood which I despair of ever seeing proved." Indeed, this view dates much farther back than the comparatively recent time when these, authors lived; for while bishop Patrick himself took the other and commoner view, we find him thus noting in his commentary on  Genesis 7:19 : "There were those anciently (i.e., in the earlier ages), and they have their successors now, who imagined the flood was not universal Ἀλλ᾿ Ἐν Ω῏ / Οἱ Τότε Ἄνθρωποι ᾬκουν but only there where men then dwelt; as the author of the Questiones Ad Orthodoxos tells us, Quaest. 34." It is certain, therefore, that this is not a question between scientific naturalists on the one side, and men of simple faith in Scripture on the other. Apart from the cultivation or the discoveries of science, we have two classes of interpreters of Scripture, one of which find no reason to believe in more than a restricted universality, while the other press the language to its farthest possible extent take it, not as descriptive of God's judgment upon the earth, in so far merely as it was occupied by men, but with reference to the globe at large, and to an event in its natural history. See Offerhaus, De Diluvio Noetico (Franeck. 1694); Hardt, Historia Diluvii Noachi (Helmst. 1728); Diecke, Ueber Die Sundfluth (St. Gall, 1861); Rendell, History Of The Flood (Lond. 1851, 1864). (See Deluge).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [16]

flud  : In the King James Version not less than 13 words are rendered "flood," though in the Revised Version (British and American) we find in some passages "river," "stream," "tempest," etc. The word is used for: the deluge of Noah, מבּוּל , mabbūl ( Genesis 6:17 ); κατακλυσμός , kataklusmós ( Matthew 24:38 ,  Matthew 24:39;  Luke 17:27 ); the waters of the Red Sea, נזל , nāzal ( Exodus 15:8 ); the Euphrates, נהר , nāhār , "Your fathers dwelt of old time on the other side of the flood". (the Revised Version (British and American) "beyond the River"  Joshua 24:2 ): the Nile, יאור , ye'ōr , "the flood (the Revised Version (British and American) "River") of Egypt" ( Amos 8:8 ); the Jordan, נהר , nāhār , "They went through the flood (the Revised Version (British and American) "river") on foot" ( Psalm 66:6 ); torrent, זרם , zerem , "as a flood (the Revised Version (British and American) "tempest") of mighty waters" ( Isaiah 28:2 ); ποταμός , potamós , "The rain descended and the floods came" ( Matthew 7:25 ); πλημμύρα , plēmmúra , "When a flood arose, the stream brake against that house" ( Luke 6:48 ).

Figurative: נחל , naḥal , "The floods of ungodly men (the Revised Version (British and American) "ungodliness," the Revised Version, margin "Hebrew Belial") made me afraid" ( 2 Samuel 22:5;  Psalm 18:4 ); also אר , 'ōr ( Amos 8:8 (the King James Version)); שׁבּלת , shibbōleth ( Psalm 69:2 ); שׁטף , sheṭeph ( Daniel 11:22 (the King James Version)); שׁטף , shēṭeph ( Psalm 32:6 (the King James Version)); ποταμοφόρητος , potamophórētos ( Revelation 12:15 (the King James Version)). See Deluge Of Noah .

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [17]

Flood [DELUGE]