What does Flood, The mean in the Bible?

Dictionary

1910 New Catholic Dictionary - Flood, the
Catastrophe described in the Bible (Genesis 6; 7; 8). The deluge is referred to in several passages of Scripture as a historical fact; the writings of the Fathers consider the event in the same light; and this view is confirmed by the tradition existing in all places and at all times as to occurrence of a similar catastrophe. Early geologists considered the biblical deluge identical with the diluvium at the beginning of the quaternary period, but recent authors distinguish the two. Till about the 17th century it was commonly held that the entire globe was submerged in the deluge, but this opinion is now rarely held for the following reasons:
The sources of the water mentioned in the Bible are not sufficient to cover the entire globe.
Aquatic animals would have been killed by the mixture of sea and fresh water.
The collecting, housing in the ark, and feeding of such an enormous number of animals seems impossible.
The text does not necessarily imply such a flood, since the words arez and adamah may just as well be translated by "region" and "land." Universal expressions in the Bible are frequently taken in a relatively universal sense.
The biblical narrative was written by an eyewitness, or by some one writing not long after the event, and must be understood, not according to our ideas, but according to his, who wrote of things in as far as known to him.
Hence, while most modern expositors deny the geographical universality of the flood, many defend at least its ethnographical universality; others hold that the flood did not extend to the entire human race but is limited by the Bible itself (Genesis 4,5) to the descendants of Cain and Seth. To corroborate this opinion they adduce arguments from ethnology, languages, and ancient traditions. It is impossible to fix the time of the deluge, since the dates mentioned in the three available texts of Scripture disagree both as to the year from Adam and as to the year before Christ that it occurred. The earliest year before Christ mentioned in the texts and ancient traditions Isaiah 3100, but scientists demand for many reasons that the deluge be placed at a much earlier time.
Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Flood, the
Terminology . The Genesis flood is denoted in the Old Testament by the technical Hebrew term mabbul [ 2 Peter 3:6 ).
Extrabiblical Parallels . Ancient flood stories are almost universal (up to 230 different stories are known). Floods are by far the most frequently given cause for past world calamities in the folk literature of antiquity. The stories nearest to the area of the dispersion at Babel are the closest in detail to the biblical account.
Four main flood stories are found in Mesopotamian sources: the Sumerian Eridu Genesis (ca. 1600 b.c.), the Old Babylonian Atrahasis Epic (ca. 1600 b.c.), the Gilgamesh Epic (Neo-Assyrian version, ca. eighth to the seventh centuries b.c.), and Berossus' account (Babylon, third century b.c.).
The Unity of the Genesis Flood Account . The detailed chiastic literary structure of Genesis 6-9 argues for the unity of the flood narrative instead of small textual units (J and P) as suggested by the Documentary Hypothesis. A close reading of the flood narrative as a coherent literary whole, with particular attention to the chiastic structure, resolves apparent discrepancies in the Genesis account.
Theology of the Flood. Theology as History: The Historical Nature of the Flood . In the literary structure of the flood narrative the genealogical frame or envelope construction (Genesis 5:32,9:28-29 ) plus the secondary genealogies (Genesis 6:9-10,9:18-19 ) are indicators that the account is intended to be factual history. The use of the genealogical term toledot [6:9) as throughout Genesis (13 times, structuring the whole book), indicates that the author intended this narrative to be as historically veracious as the rest of Genesis. A number of references in the Book of Job may allude to the then-relatively-recent flood (9:5-8; 12:14-15; 14:11-12; 22:15-17; 26:10-14; 27:20-22; 28:9; 38:8-11). The occurrence of the flood is an integral part of the saving/judging Acts of God in redemptive history, and its historicity is assumed and essential to the theological arguments of later biblical writers employing flood typology.
The Motive or Theological Cause of the Flood . In contrast with the ancient Near Eastern flood stories, in which no cause of the flood is given (Gilgamesh Epic) or in which the gods decide to wipe out their human slaves because they are making too much noise (Atrahasis Epic and Eridu Genesis), the biblical account provides a profound theological motivation for the flood: humankind's moral depravity and sinfulness, the all-pervading corruption and violence of all living beings ("all flesh") on earth (Genesis 6:1-8,11-12 ), which demands divine punishment.
The God of the Flood (Theodicy) . The theological motivation provides a divine justification (theodicy) for the flood. In contrast to the other ancient Near Eastern stories, in which the gods are arbitrary, acting out of unreasoning anger, selfishness, and caprice, seeking to deceive the people and not inform them of the impending flood, the biblical picture of the God of the flood is far different. God extends a probationary period during which his Spirit is striving with humanity to repent (Genesis 6:3 ). God warned the antediluvian world through Noah, the "preacher of righteousness" (2 Peter 2:5 ; cf. 1 Peter 3:19-20 ).
God himself makes provision for the saving of humankind (Genesis 6:14-16 ). He "repents"—he is sorry, moved to pity, having compassion, suffering grief (Genesis 6:6 ). God takes up humanity's pain and anguish (Genesis 6:6 ; 3:16-17 ). The divine act of destruction is not arbitrary. God "destroys" what humanity had already ruined or corrupted; he mercifully brings to completion the ruin already wrought by humankind.
The God of the biblical flood is not only just and merciful; he is also free to act according to his divine will, and he possesses sovereign power and full control over the forces of nature (in contrast to the weakness and fright of the gods during the flood, according to ancient Near Eastern stories). Yahweh's omnipotent sovereignty seems to be the theological thrust of Psalm 29:10 , the only biblical reference outside Genesis employing the term mabbul [1]: "Yahweh sat enthroned at the flood."
The choice of divine names throughout the flood narrative, instead of indicating separate sources, seems to highlight different aspects of God's character: the generic Elohim when his universal, transcendent sovereignty or judicial authority is emphasized; and the covenant name Yahweh when his personal, ethical dealings with Noah and humankind are in view.
Human Moral Responsibility . The portrayal of humanity's moral depravity as the cause of the flood highlights human responsibility for sin. Noah's response of faith/faithfulness (Hebrews 11:7 ) underscores that accountability to God is not only corporate but individual: Noah found "favor" in God's sight, he was "righteous, " "blameless, " and "walked together" in personal relationship with God (Genesis 6:8-9 ); he responded in implicit obedience to God's commands (Genesis 6:22 ; 7:5,9 ; cf. Ezekiel 14:14,20 ).
Eschatological Judgment . When God announced the coming of the flood to Noah he said, "I have determined to make an end of all flesh" (Genesis 6:13 ). The "eschatological" term qes ( end ), later became a technical term for the eschaton. The divine judgment involved a period of probation (Genesis 6:3 ), followed by a judicial investigation ("The Lord saw " Genesis 6:5 ; "I have determined, " Genesis 6:13 ; RSV ), the sentence (Genesis 6:7 ), and its execution (the bringing of the flood, Genesis 7:11-24 ). The New Testament recognizes the divine judgment of the Genesis flood as a typological foreshadowing of the final eschatological judgment.
The Noahic Covenant . The word berit [ Genesis 6:18 ; 9:8-17 ), and the covenant motif is an integral part of the flood narrative. The Noahic covenant comes at God's initiative, and demonstrates his concern, faithfulness, and dependability. He covenants never again to send a flood to destroy the earth. This covenant promise flows from the propitiatory animal sacrifice offered by Noah (Genesis 8:20-22 ).
Unlike the other biblical covenants, the Noahic covenant is made not only with humankind but with the whole earth (Genesis 9:13 ) including every living creature (Genesis 9:10,12,15,16 ), and is thus completely unilateral and unconditional upon the response of the earth and its inhabitants. The sign of this everlasting covenant is the rainbow, which is not primarily for humankind, but for God to see and "remember" the covenant he has made with the earth (Genesis 9:16 ).
The Flood Remnant . The flood narrative contains the first mention in the biblical canon of the motif and terminology of remnant: "Only Noah and those who were with him in the ark remained [2]" (Genesis 7:23 ). The remnant who survived the cosmic catastrophe of the flood were constituted thus because of their right relationship of faith and obedience to God, not because of caprice or the favoritism of the gods, as in the extrabiblical ancient Near Eastern flood stories.
Salvific Grace . God's grace is revealed already before the flood in his directions for the building of the ark to save those faithful to him (Genesis 6:14-21 ); and again after the flood in his covenant/promise never again to destroy the earth with a flood, even though human nature remained evil (Genesis 8:20-22 ; 9:8-17 ).
But the theological (and literary, chiastic) heart of the flood account is found in the phrase "God remembered Noah" (Genesis 8:1 ). The memory theology of Scripture does not imply that God has literally forgotten; for God to "remember" is to act in deliverance (see Exodus 6:5 ). The structural positioning of God's "remembering" at the center of the narrative indicates that the apex of flood theology is not punitive judgment but divine salvific grace.
Numerous thematic and verbal parallels between the accounts of Noah's salvation and Israel's exodus deliverance reveal the author's intent to emphasize their similarity. Various references in the psalms to God's gracious deliverance of the righteous from the "great waters" of tribulation, may contain allusions to the Genesis flood (Psalm 18:16 ; 32:6 ; 65:5-8 ; 69:2 ; 89:9 ; 93:3 ; 124:4 ).
Flood Typology . The typological nature of the flood account is already implicit in Genesis. Isaiah provides an explicit verbal indicator that the flood is a type of covenantal eschatology (54:9), along with several possible allusions to the flood in his descriptions of the eschatological salvation of Israel (24:18; 28:2; 43:2; 54:8). The prophets Nahum (Nahum 1:8 ) and Daniel (9:26) depict the eschatological judgment in language probably alluding to the Genesis flood.
The New Testament writers recognize the typological connection between flood and eschatology. The salvation of Noah and his family in the ark through the waters of the flood finds its antitypical counterpart in New Testament eschatological salvation connected with water baptism (1 Peter 3:18-22 ). The flood is also a type of the final eschatological judgment at the end of the world, and the conditions of pre-flood morality provide signs of the endtimes (Matthew 24:37-39 ; Luke 17:26-27 ; 2 Peter 2:5,9 ; 3:5-7 ).
Universality of the Flood . One of the most controversial aspects of flood theology concerns the extent of the flood. Three major positions are taken: (1) the traditional, which asserts the universal, worldwide, nature of the deluge; (2) limited flood theories, which narrow the scope of the flood story to a particular geographical location in Mesopotamia; and (3) nonliteral (symbolic) interpretation, which suggests that the flood story is a nonhistorical account written to teach theological truth. Against the third interpretation, we have already discussed the historical nature of the flood. Of the two first positions, the limited flood theories rest primarily on scientific arguments that set forth seemingly difficult physical problems for a universal flood. These problems are not insurmountable given the supernatural nature of the flood; numerous recent scientific studies also provide a growing body of evidence for diluvial catastrophism instead of uniformitarianism. Only the traditional universalist understanding does full justice to all the biblical data, and this interpretation is crucial for flood theology in Genesis and for the theological implications drawn by later biblical writers.
Many lines of biblical evidence converge in affirming the universal extent of the flood and also reveal the theological significance of this conclusion: (1) the trajectory of major themes in Genesis 1-11 creation, fall, plan of redemption, spread of sinis universal in scope and calls for a matching universal judgment; (2) the genealogical lines from both Adam (Genesis 4:17-26 ; 5:1-31 ) and Noah (Genesis 10:1-32 ; 11:1-9 ) are exclusive in nature, indicating that as Adam was father of all preflood humanity, so Noah was father of all postflood humanity; (3) the same inclusive divine blessing to be fruitful and multiply is given to both Adam and Noah (Genesis 1:28 ; 9:1 ); (4) the covenant (Genesis 9:9-10 ) and its rainbow sign (Genesis 9:12-17 ) are clearly linked with the extent of the flood (Genesis 9:16,18 ); if there was only a local flood, then the covenant would be only a limited covenant; (5) the viability of God's promise (Genesis 9:15 ; cf. Isaiah 54:9 ) is wrapped up in the universality of the flood; if only a local flood occurred, then God has broken his promise every time another local flood has happened; (6) the universality of the flood is underscored by the enormous size of the ark (Genesis 6:14-15 ) and the stated necessity for saving all the species of animals and plants in the ark (Genesis 6:16-21 ; 7:2-3 ); a massive ark filled with representatives of all nonaquatic animal/plant species would be unnecessary if this were only a local flood; (7) the covering of "all the high mountains" by at least twenty feet of water (Genesis 7:19-20 ) could not involve simply a local flood, since water seeks its own level across the surface of the globe; (8) the duration of the flood (Noah in the ark over a year, Genesis 7:11-8:14 ) makes sense only with a universal flood; (9) the New Testament passages concerning the flood all employ universal language ("took them all away" [1]; "destroyed them all " [4]; Noah "condemned the world " [2]); and (10) the New Testament flood typology assumes and depends upon the universality of the flood to theologically argue for an imminent worldwide judgment by fire (2 Peter 3:6-7 ).
The theology of the flood is the pivot of a connected but multifaceted universal theme running through Genesis 1-11 and the whole rest of Scripture: creation, and the character of the Creator, in his original purpose for creation; uncreation, in humankind's turning from the Creator, the universal spread of sin, ending in universal eschatological judgment; and re-creation, in the eschatological salvation of the faithful remnant and the universal renewal of the earth.
Richard M. Davidson
See also Genesis, Theology of
Bibliography . D. J. A. Clines, CBQ 38 (1976): 483-507; idem, Faith and Thought 100/2 (1972-73): 128-42; W. A. Gage, The Gospel of Genesis: Studies in Protology and Eschatology ; G. F. Hasel, Origins 1 (1974): 67-72; idem, Origins 2 (1975): 77-95; idem, Origins 5 (1978): 83-98; W. C. Kaiser, Jr., New Perspectives on the Old Testament ; J. P. Lewis, A Study of the Interpretation of Noah and the Flood in Jewish and Christian Literature ; B. C. Nelson, The Deluge in Stone: A History of the Flood Theology of Genesis ; A. A. Roth, Ministry 59 (July 1986): 24-26; idem, Origins 12 (1985): 48-56; idem, Origins 15 (1988): 75-85; W. H. Shea, Origins 6 (1979): 8-29; G. J. Wenham, Genesis ; idem, VT 28 (1978): 21-35; J. C. Whitcomb and H. M. Morris, The Genesis Flood: The Biblical Record and Its Scientific Implications ; R. Youngblood, The Genesis Debate: Persistent Questions About Creation and the Flood .
Morrish Bible Dictionary - Flood, the
This judgement of God upon the earth, when the whole world had become corrupt before Him, has often been thought to be a subject full of difficulties, the principal of which it may be well to consider. First, as to its extent, was the flood universal? Language can scarcely be more explicit than is the scripture on this point. We read that "all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered. Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered. And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man: all in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died. And every living substance was destroyed . . . . and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark." Genesis 7:19-23 . After the flood God said He would not any more smite 'every thing living,' as He had done, Genesis 8:21 ; "neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth. " Genesis 9:11 : cf. also 2 Peter 2:5 ; 2 Peter 3:6,7 . Words cannot be plainer than the above to signify a universal deluge: the world that then was is distinguished from the earththat now is, and it is easy for faith to accept God's statement. It was a miracle, and it would require as great a miracle to cover all the highhills in one district only, without the water flowing to other parts, as to submerge the whole earth. The quantity of water required to cover the whole earth could easily be formed by God the Creator of all things, and be dispersed into its elements afterwards.
It has often been contended that as man only was the guilty creature, the destruction of all mankind would have entirely met the case. It might have been thus if God had so pleased, but He has taken pains to tellus that all cattle, beasts, and creeping things were destroyed; and we mustbelieve Him. Man was the head of creation, and all was involved in the consequences of his sin, and there must be a new start under the figureof the death and resurrection of Noah in the ark. God commenced a new economy as to the earth, in connection with the sweet savour of Noah's sacrifice. The flood was about 1700 years after the creation of Adam, and it is impossible to say how many millions of people there were on the earth at the time, or how far they had been dispersed.
Another difficulty felt is as to the great number of species being all preserved in the ark, such, it is said, as 1500 mammalia, 6000 species of birds, and some hundreds of thousands of reptiles and insects! It is very probable that at that time a great many of these did not exist. God fore-knew that the flood would sweep away the great bulk of them, and He could have restrained the forming of species, and have kept them to a comparatively few genera. Compare the statement that 'every living creature' was brought to Adam to be named. All the original generic types then existing were gathered into the ark, from which the species, under many varying circumstances, may have greatly increased. This would be from naturalcauses, as has been known to have been the case, without in anyway agreeing with or falling under the modern theory of evolution. The clean animals were doubtless only four in number: the ox, the sheep, the goat,and the pigeon — those offered in sacrifice; the distinction between clean and unclean animals for food was made long after.
Again it has been asked, How could the animals have been fed for a full year? and what could have prevented the wild animals devouring one another? Scripture does not say how the animals were fed. God may have caused many of them to have slept the greater part of the time, as some do now constantly in the winter. In Paradise the green herb was the food for every beast, every fowl, and every creeping thing, as well as for man, Genesis 1:29,30 ; and they may not have become carnivorous until after the flood, when flesh was given to man to eat. Genesis 9:3 . If, on the other hand, because sin had come in, they had been previously living on one another, God could have altered this while in the ark, as He certainly will do in the millennium. Isaiah 11:6-9 ; Isaiah 65:25 ; Ezekiel 34:25 . Men, and even professing Christians, scoff at this, because of their knowledge of physiology; but even history proves that carnivorous animals will feed upon vegetation when they cannot get animal food, and vice versa.
By faith Noah prepared the ark. Hebrews 11:7 . Everything concerning the flood was arranged by God; Noah had simply to follow out the instructions given. The same faith believes that it was fully carried out as described; and there is no real difficulty in the matter, except by shutting out God, which must not be, for it was His flood, The old world was then destroyed except those in the ark, and they were perfectly safe,for God shut them in. The promise was afterwards given that God would not again destroy the world with a flood; but it is, alas, reserved to be destroyed by fire. 2 Peter 3:7,10 . This is a prophecy as little believed by many, as was the deluge that was proclaimed by Noah; but which will as certainly come to pass. The details of the deluge are given in full in Genesis 6 - 8. In almost all heathen countries there exist ancient traditions of the flood, though with many variations. The descendants of Noah would carry the record of the solemn judgement wherever they roamed. See ARK.

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Rainbow - Others judge it to be more probable that the rainbow had not been seen prior to the Flood, the state of the atmosphere being different from what it became after the deluge
Mizraim - Mizraim geographically was the center from whence colonies went forth in the age just after the Flood, the Philistines, the Lehabim (Libyans), etc
Flood - "When the enemy shall come in like a Flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him
Curse, the - After the Flood, the Lord smelled a sweet savour from Noah's sacrifice, and said in His heart, "I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth
Figure - , pointing to the present time, not "then present," AV (see below); (b) "a corresponding type," 1 Peter 3:21 , said of baptism; the circumstances of the Flood, the ark and its occupants, formed a type, and baptism forms "a corresponding type" (not an antitype), each setting forth the spiritual realities of the death, burial, and resurrection of believers in their identification with Christ
Ham - ) Noah and his family being the sole survivors of the Flood, the whole earth was populated by their descendants ( Genesis 9:18 f
Flood - When Noah offered a sacrifice to Yahweh after the Flood, the act prompted God to exercise His concern for the new race
Deluge - The name given to Noah's Flood, the history of which is recorded in Genesis 7,8
Flood, the - In contrast to the other ancient Near Eastern stories, in which the gods are arbitrary, acting out of unreasoning anger, selfishness, and caprice, seeking to deceive the people and not inform them of the impending Flood, the biblical picture of the God of the flood is far different. ...
Many lines of biblical evidence converge in affirming the universal extent of the flood and also reveal the theological significance of this conclusion: (1) the trajectory of major themes in Genesis 1-11 creation, fall, plan of redemption, spread of sinis universal in scope and calls for a matching universal judgment; (2) the genealogical lines from both Adam (Genesis 4:17-26 ; 5:1-31 ) and Noah (Genesis 10:1-32 ; 11:1-9 ) are exclusive in nature, indicating that as Adam was father of all preflood humanity, so Noah was father of all postflood humanity; (3) the same inclusive divine blessing to be fruitful and multiply is given to both Adam and Noah (Genesis 1:28 ; 9:1 ); (4) the covenant (Genesis 9:9-10 ) and its rainbow sign (Genesis 9:12-17 ) are clearly linked with the extent of the flood (Genesis 9:16,18 ); if there was only a local Flood, then the covenant would be only a limited covenant; (5) the viability of God's promise (Genesis 9:15 ; cf
Nile - As it is, from the joint operation of the regularity of the Flood, the deposit of mud from the water of the river, and the warmth of the climate, it is the most fertile country in the world; the produce exceeding all calculation
Symbol - Such were the rainbow at the Flood, the stone Ebenezer, the symbolical names often given to children, as Moses, Ichabod , and the names in Jacob’s family, the Urim and Thummim, the white stone, and the number of the beast, etc
Evil - Noah's Flood, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the fall of Jerusalem are examples
Deluge - From this Flood, the state of the world is divided into diluvian and ante-diluvian
Foreigner - ...
After the judgment of the Flood, the Book of Genesis records the Table of Nations (chap
Flood, the - The same faith believes that it was fully carried out as described; and there is no real difficulty in the matter, except by shutting out God, which must not be, for it was His Flood, the old world was then destroyed except those in the ark, and they were perfectly safe,for God shut them in
Archaeology - When a town was destroyed, whether by conquest, earthquake, storm or Flood, the usual practice for the new generation of builders was simply to level off the ruins and build on top of the flattened rubble and dirt
Tongues, Confusion of - Whatever differences of tongue arose before the Flood, the original unity of speech was restored in Noah
Genesis, Theology of - Garrett...
See also Abraham ; Adam ; Create, Creation ; Eve ; Fall, the ; Flood, the ...
Bibliography
Moses - ...
To Moses we owe that important portion of Holy Scripture, the Pentateuch, which brings us acquainted with the creation of the world, the entrance of sin and death, the first promises of redemption, the Flood, the peopling of the postdiluvian earth, and the origin of nations, the call of Abraham, and the giving of the law