The fifth chapter of Genesis gives account of the early generations descending from Adam. We are told of each that they lived an exceptionally long time by present human standards: Adam lived 930 years, his son, Seth, live 105 years, Enosh 905 years, and Enoch lived 365 years during which he “walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.” Genesis 5:24.
In the next chapter, Genesis 6:2, 4 we are told, “The sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.… There were giants in the earth in those days, and also… mighty men… men of renown.” KJV.
In Genesis 6:11, 12, we are told that mankind had become corrupt and violent. Therefore, God decided to destroy all life on earth, humankind and animal, by a great flood. However, one man, Noah, found favor with God and God decided to save Noah and his family, and through Noah to save remnants of animal life.
In Genesis 6:14 – 16, God tells Noah the material and the manner in which he is to make the art which will save his family and select animals. In Genesis 6:19-22, Noah is told to gather two of every living thing, and gather sufficient food to keep them alive on the ark. Noah obeyed.
In Genesis 7:2 – 4, God tells Noah to gather seven of each clean animal and two of those that are not clean; he is to gather by sevens foul, and in seven days the flood will begin. Noah obeyed.
Then, “were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. And the rain was upon the earth 40 days and 40 nights.” Genesis 7:11 – 12. It rained for the number of days signifying trial, tribulation, and purification: 40.
To the writers of this biblical story, there were two sources of the waters. It was not “just rain.” Rather, two great sources of water were tapped: the windows of the heavens and the fountains of the great deep were opened. This cosmological view was maintained, even to the time of Jesus.
Thereafter, “the fountains of the deep and the windows of heaven were stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained; and the waters returned from off the earth continually: and after the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters were abated. The rains began in the second month and the waters decreased sufficiently that the ark came to rest upon the mountains of Ararat on the on the 17th day of the seventh month. Genesis 8:2 – 4.
The waters continued to recede. On the first day of the 10th month, the tops of the mountains became visible. After 40 days, Noah opened the window of the ark and released a Raven that flew “back and forth” until “the water had dried up from the earth.” Noah then sent out a dove, but the dove could find no place to perch “because there was water over all the surface of the earth; so it returned to Noah in the ark.” He waited another seven days and sent a dove out again. This time it returned with a freshly plucked olive leaf. Noah waited yet another seven days, sent the dove out, and it did not return. “By the twenty-seventh day of the second month the earth was completely dry.” God then told Noah to come out of the ark. Genesis 8:6 – 16. Noah built an altar and sacrificed to the Lord. God promised never to destroy life upon the earth again “as I have done.” And as a sign of that covenant, God set a rainbow in the sky. Genesis 9:12 – 15.
Flood stories abound in many civilizations around the world. The Chaldean story accords closely to that of the Bible. There are Assyrian clay tablets that tell a similar story. A similar story appears in Hindu sacred writings in which Satyavrata is the Noah figure, the righteous man, for whom a great ship is sent. The Chinese have a similar story of the opening of the vaults of heaven causing the whole earth to be flooded. Even in Greek mythology Zeus becomes disturbed by the violence of human society and destroys life with a flood. And Josephus, writing in the first century A.D., notes that the flood is a common element in Babylonian histories. Similar stories appear in Celtic and Scandinavian mythologies, even that of remote and isolated Mexico. Some writers subscribe some basis to the stories because certain areas of the world, such as Nebraska, USA, abound in fossils of sea life despite its relatively high levels above sea level, which may have some influence in the formulation of these stories.
The divine, the transcendent is revealed throughout the world.
Would you please share your own faith story?