A question was recently raised about the validity of Noah’s flood and whether it could possibly be a true story or just a fable found in the Bible. Case in point–there’s NO way that Noah could have possibly gathered a pair of all animals from every corner of the earth and brought them all onto the ark prior to this supposed flood. Also, there’s NO way that this supposed flood covered the entire earth! That would have required the floodwaters to be over 29,000 feet high in order to be higher than Mt. Everest, the highest point on earth!
To my skeptical friends, they are absolutely correct on both points. But that doesn’t make the story of Noah’s flood untrue. To fully understand this historic event, we need to clear our minds of what we think the Bible says and simply read the words it actually DOES say.
Point number one: No way Noah or his family could have somehow traveled to the furthest reaches of the earth, captured two of every animal species and brought them safely back to the region of modern day Iraq. This herculean task would have been difficult enough, let alone finding both the male and female of every species on earth that depended on air to breathe. If Noah and his family had 100 years to attempt this, it would be pure luck to have found every species and even greater luck to have kept them all alive until the day they were gathered into the ark.
Also, since all flesh would be killed from the flood, Noah would not have recruited any other persons to seek out and bring the male and female of every species on earth to him. The margin of error would have been virtually 100% failure and Yahweh was not going to leave such an important moment to chance. Therefore, Yahweh himself brought all of the animals, male and female, to Noah at precisely the right time to begin boarding the ark.
Point number two: No way that the earth was completely underwater, ever. This would have required such an impossible volume of water to have been upon the earth, there’s no way it could have magically dissipated in less than a year. Where would all that water have gone? Besides, the earth is a planet in a solar system that maintains a precise orbit around the sun. If the volume of water that would have been on earth was sufficient to cover 29,000 foot peaks, the earth’s total weight would have caused the planet to swerve off of her orbit and soon become a dead planet flying randomly in space. Again, I am in complete agreement with the skeptic’s argument number two, which I’ll explain in detail shortly.
Here is what Noah was instructed to do and the evidence of how he succeeded in accomplishing this task.
Gen. 6:13–“And Elohim said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth…. 17 And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die.”
Next, to allow every living creature that breathes air to survive, Yahweh brought them to Noah. All Noah had to do is escort them into the ark, but he did not have to track them down and find them. People are very familiar with the verses that tell us that two of every kind of animal came aboard the ark, but they overlook HOW they came there. In the following passage, pay close attention to verse 20.
Gen. 6:19–“And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female. 20 Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort SHALL COME UNTO THEE, to keep them alive.”
This is a near-perfect translation from the Hebrew words “ibau ali-k”, or “they-shall-come to-you”. To the skeptic who justifiably dismissed the impossibility of humans successfully capturing every living species on earth and housing them on the ark when the waters came, you no longer have to be a skeptic. Obviously, I can’t help you if you do not believe in the existence of Yahweh. But for the vast majority of people who DO believe in our heavenly father, THIS explains exactly HOW the animals arrived. It was a supernatural event without any human involvement at all.
To reinforce this point, we need to simply look at the next chapter and read about the moment that Noah and his family were loading the ark with their precious cargo, which included many species which arrived as pairs of seven, not just two. Each species that was identified as clean, arrived in pairs of seven, while those which were considered unclean came in pairs of two.
Gen. 7:2–“Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female. 3 Of fowls also of the air by sevens, the male and the female; to keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth.” Most students of the Bible are already familiar with this fact, but I thought it would be appropriate to mention it here, since the common-knowledge of Noah’s ark is that he only brought two of each.
Gen. 7:7–“And Noah went in, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons’ wives with him, into the ark, because of the waters of the flood. 8 Of clean beasts, and of beasts that are not clean, and of fowls, and of every thing that creepeth upon the earth, 9 There went in two and two UNTO NOAH into the ark, the male and the female, as God had commanded Noah.”
Again, Noah did not have to do a thing to bring the animals to the ark. They came UNTO him. In fact, we’re told that Noah was already ON the ark, as the animal came TO HIM and boarded themselves!
Gen. 7:15–“And they went in unto Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh, wherein is the breath of life.” This is a very different description that what we’re always been told. Can you just picture the scene of Noah standing inside the ark while the animals obediently marched right on and took their places where they were directed to go?
This resolves the dilemma of how the animals arrived to begin this brief journey, but what about all that water? How do you explain that? Ans.: I don’t. I let the Bible explain it, thank you very much. What happened when the rains came?
Gen. 7:17–“And the flood was forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth.”
At this point, all we know is that the ark, which had previously been sitting upon dry land, was now afloat. Does the Bible tell us how high it was floating above the earth?
Gen. 7:18–“And the waters prevailed, and were increased greatly upon the earth; and the ark went upon the face of the waters. 19 And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered.”
And this, ladies and gentlemen, is where everyone immediately pictures all of the mountains as being underwater. Is that a correct understanding of this verse? Exactly how much water fell during those 40 days?
Gen. 7:20–“Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered.”
See? There, it says it again. The mountains were COVERED with water! What more proof do we need to understand this passage?
Let’s start with the measurement of 15 cubits. In the Bible, a cubit is a unit of measurement that can mean either 22″ or 16″, depending on the culture that is defining this measurement. The Egyptian cubit was the shorter unit so we can be assured that in this case, Moses is describing the 22″ length. Therefore, verse 20 reveals that this flood brought 330 INCHES of rain! WOW!
As recent as 2016, portions of the U.S. experienced rains of such catastrophic proportions that many cities in the south and southeastern U.S. saw the greatest devastation in recorded history. Some places got over 12″ of rain in less than 24 hours. And this caused such widespread destruction, many places in the south are still recovering a year later. If 12″ of rain in 24 hours can cause such destruction, can you even imagine what 330″ of rain would do as it fell for 40 straight days?
But even though the volume of water spoken of in verse 20 would have been 30 times as much rain as we experienced last year, how could this water have caused the mountains to have also been covered?
The answer can be found in the Hebrew translation of each of the verses that contain the word “covered”. In verses 19 and 20, the word rendered covered in our Bibles is from the Hebrew word “u-iksu”, meaning “and they-are-being-covered”. In this case, the word “u-iksu” means covered in exactly the same way that we would see the mountains in the winter and correctly say that the mountains are “covered” with snow. When Moses wrote that all the high hills and the mountains were covered, it is no different than saying that the rains fell upon them (covered them), but did not submerge them.
Think about it. My house is two stories with a roof line which is about 30 feet from the ground. If 330 inches of rain fell, or approximately 27.5 feet of rain, the top of my roof would still be visible. How in the world could whole mountains have been “covered” by this water, as Moses said?
It’s because Moses deliberately used the word “u-iksu” instead of another Hebrew word “leetslol” which means “submerged”.
If the mountains were UNDERWATER, Moses would have written “leetslol”, to identify them as being completely submerged. They were not. They were merely covered in all the rains that fell.
Obviously, as these waters cascaded down the mountain sides, the low-lying areas below would have filled with 100’s of feet of water, and those areas were where humans lived and cities and towns existed. This the geography where the ark was built and this is why it was lifted up above the earth. As it floated, it would have been many 100’s of feet above the earth, but it would NOT have been floating at 30,000 feet above it. Even the skeptic would find logic in the impossible notion of 27 feet of rain causing the ark to be floating at 30,000 feet. Where did the other 29, 973 feet of rain (additional 360,000 inches or additional 16,300 cubits) of rain come from? Moses said it was 15 cubits. I’ll stick with that fact.
One final piece of evidence that the ark never floated at a height equal to the highest mountains is found in the next chapter.
Gen. 8:4–“And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat.”
The ark’s journey had come to an end. It had now run aground in the Ararat Mountain region. It does not say that it came to rest upon Mount Ararat itself. This region, named for the highest peak at 16,854 feet, is located in eastern Turkey. How do we know that the ark did not strike ground on the actual Mount Ararat?
Gen. 8:5–“And the waters decreased continually until the tenth month: in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, were the tops of the mountains seen.”
This is the point where everybody uses their imagination and pictures the tippy-top of the mountain peak just beginning to poke through the waters as they are receding. And this is where everybody would be wrong.
90 days prior to seeing the mountain tops, the ark was ALREADY AGROUND ON THE EARTH. If it had already run aground, why did it take another 3 months before the mountain peaks were visible? Why weren’t these peaks visible on the very day that the ark was no longer floating? The answer to both questions is found in verse 1.
Gen. 8:1–“And Elohim remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him in the ark: and Elohim made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters assuaged;”
Until this moment in history, the earth had never experienced any kind of rain that had just occurred. Elohim used three tools to cause the waters to be removed. One, he stopped the fountains of the deep, allowing waters to return to that location. Two, he windows of heaven were stopped, preventing any more rains while the drying process was underway (Gen. 8:2). But verse 1 reveals the key to the third method of drying the earth. He made a wind to pass over the earth.
This wind would have been a warm wind and with the introduction of wind, water and warmth, you get a common phenomena that we see all the time, called FOG. Another component of this super-saturated air would have been nearly 100% humidity. If you’ve ever tried to look across great distances on an extremely humid day, it’s impossible. The air is so thick everything 10 miles away becomes just a cloud. If you’ve ever watched a sunset on a very humid evening, you can stare directly into the sun without squinting because the sun’s strength is filtered through all the moisture in the air.
Verse 5–When Moses wrote that the tops of the mountains were finally seen, he is telling us that they are being seen from below, looking up! The ark had been aground for over 3 months, and now–finally–the ground was dried up. And the winds that had been blowing for months had finally cleared the air, allowing Noah to see the mountain peaks ABOVE where he had hit land.
The mountains were finally seen after Noah had run aground 90 days before this, and the only direction that he would have looked is uphill, at a higher elevation than where the ark came to rest.
So, our skeptical friends have two less things to ponder. One, the animals came to Noah all by themselves. That is, there was no human involvement in how every animal on the planet arrived at Noah’s ark at the right time. That was a miraculous event. Two, the earth WAS covered with water, but at no time was the earth SUBMERGED underwater.
Hebrew texts often can, in this case, really do allow the true meaning of what is written in scripture to jump off the page in a way that few understand. But now you do.