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Was Noah’s Flood Universal or Local?

Other Flood Theories:

Aside from the Biblical account of the flood written by Moses in the book of Genesis, there are over two hundred and fifty stories or versions of the flood scattered all over the world. These flood versions are considered “myths” or “legends” about a great flood and how the world repopulated.

Even though there are details of the myths that has distinct differences, all have similar ideas and key points – the ultimate creator wants to cleanse the whole earth through a great flood; a family or a certain person is chosen to warn other people about the coming end and are commanded to build an ark; a pair of each creature was taken in the ark; every creature and everything not boarded in the ark died; that single family who boarded the ark was responsible of repopulating the whole world. All the flood legends point to one single truth that can be traced in the holy Bible.

Was the flood universal? Or did the flood happen in a small area where Noah and the rest of mankind resided? The Bible doesn’t explicitly say whether it was either universal or local.

If we look at the original Hebrew, we can translate it either as “the land was covered with water or, as in King James, “the earth was covered with water”. Here are the arguments from each side.

Yes the Flood Covered the Whole Planet Earth
1. The omnipotence of our Creator
– God promised never to send another flood like Noah’s Flood (Genesis 9:11, 15), but there have been many local floods, even regional floods, since Noah’s time.

2. God destroyed all mankind because of their corrupt doings.
– People who did not live in the vicinity were also affected by the flood. They would have escaped God’s judgment on sin.

3. Mankind scattered all over the earth but can still be traced in one genealogy.

4. Global world-destroying flood is described in Genesis 6:13 & 17.
– Also Peter based his prophecy that the existing planet will ‘melt with fervent heat’ (II Peter 3:10) and an entire new heavens and new earth will be recreated (3:13).
– Waters rise to 15 cubits (8 meters) above the mountains (Genesis 7:20)

5. The Design of the Ark
Noah had up to 120 years’ warning (Genesis 6:3), long enough to walk to the other side of the mountains and avoid the flood yet he made an ark.
– The Ark was big enough to hold all kinds of land vertebrate animals that have ever existed. Ark could have been much smaller if only Mesopotamian animals were aboard.

6. The Gathering of Animals
– Animals were sent to the Ark to escape death. There would have been other animals to reproduce that kind if these particular ones had died.
– Birds could simply have flown across to nearby mountain range yet they were sent on board.

7. Today’s Science
– Vast fossil graveyards are found on every continent and large amounts of coal deposits that would require the rapid covering of vast quantities of vegetation.
– Oceanic fossils are found upon mountain tops around the world.

Although many accept Noah’s Flood as factual, there are also others who disclaim this and try to prove the Biblical account refers to a local flood. Listed are the common key points used to prove the Flood was local:

No The Flood Did NOT Cover the Whole Earth but DID Destroy All Mankind

1. The Design of the Ark
– the design of the ark having only one window will not support proper
ventilation of the ark
– the size of the ark can’t carry all the animals by pairs
– wood is not a strong material for arks, not unless it is supported by metal
– God commanded Noah to build an ark instead to just migrate away from flood
area. God gives obedient humans the privilege of participating in God’s plans. God had plans for Noah, for him and his sons to demonstrate their commitment

2. The Gathering of the Animals
– there are certain animals species that need special diets and need the correct
temperature to survive
– animals of every kind can’t be found in Noah’s area
– Some animals are indigenous only to the Mesopotamian area.
– Most birds (other than few migratory birds) have very localized territory. They
would have been killed in local flood, since they are not designed to fly long
distances and flying in heavy rain is not easy.
It would have taken hundreds of years longer to replace the fauna if
everything had been wiped out and had to migrate back in.

3. Today’s Science
– according to scientists, the rain of forty days would be impossible
– dryness of the earth is referring to the local land area and not the entire planet
earth (Genesis 8:14) else the entire earth became a desert after the flood.

4. Bible’s Other Creation Passages
– Psalm 104 is just one of several creation passages that indicate God prevented
seas from covering the entire earth.
– An integration of all flood and creation passages clearly indicates that the
Genesis flood was local in geographic extent.

5. English Translations
– Description of kol (“whole earth” or “all the earth”) erets (“all”) is modified by
the name of the land, indicating a local area from the context:
– Genesis 13: 9 (The “whole land” was only the land of Canaan)
– Genesis 41:57 (The people from the Americas did not go to Egypt)
– Exodus 34:10 (There would be no need to add “nor among any of the nations” if “all the earth” referred to the entire planet.)
– Judges 6:37 (“kol erets” could not refer to the entire earth, since it would not be possible for Gideon to check the entire earth)
– 2 Samuel 18:18 (No, battle did not take place over the entire earth.)
Term kol erets is nearly always used in the Old Testament to describe a local
area of land, instead of our entire planet.

6. Rise of Water Level
Hebrew word ma‛al, translated “higher” really means “upward.” Hence, the
flood was 15 cubits (20 feet) deep, in total, not 15 cubits above the mountains.
Hebrew word har really refers most often to hills rather than mountains.

7. God’s Promise
Genesis 9:11 & 15 reflects a promise not to exercise universal judgment by
means of a flood, “all flesh shall never again be cut off by water of the flood.”
The flood, although local in extent, was global in judgment, since all
humanity lived in the same locale.

Related Articles
Did it rain on the earth before the Great Flood?
How long is a cubit?
Can God Forget? Or Why the rainbow “reminds” God

Reference Sites:

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