a term specifically applied in modern times to Noah's flood, as related in Ge 7:8. SEE FLOOD.
I. Biblical History of the Flood. — The sacred historian informs us that in the ninth generation from Adam, when the race of man had greatly multiplied on the face of the earth, wickedness of every kind had fearfully increased, that every imagination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil continually, that the earth was filled with violence, and that to such a degree of depravity had the whole race come, that "it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart." We are further told, in graphic and impressive language, that the Creator determined to purge the earth from the presence of the creature whom he had made. "I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them." — SEE ANTHIOPOMORPHISM. In the midst of a world of crime and guilt there was, however, one household, that of Noah, in which the fear of God still remained. "Noah was a just man, and perfect in his generations, and walked with God. And Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord." He was commanded to make an ark of gopher wood, three hundred cubits long, fifty broad, and thirty high. Into this large vessel he was to collect a pair of "every living thing of all flesh," fowls, cattle, and creeping things after their kind, along with a suitable amount of food. He was to enter it himself, taking with him his wife, and his three sons with their wives, but with no other human company. The reason of these preparations was made known in the solemn decree. "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 everything that is in the earth shall die." The ark thus commissioned was slowly prepared by Noah. See ARK. At length, in the six hundredth year of his age, the ark was finished, and all its living freight was gathered into it as in a place of safety. Jehovah shut him in, says the chronicler, speaking of Noah. And then there ensued a solemn pause of seven days before the threatened destruction was let loose. At last the flood came; the waters were upon the earth. The narrative is vivid and forcible, though entirely wanting in that sort of description which in a modern historian or poet would have occupied the largest space. We see nothing of the death-struggle; we hear not the cry of despair; we are not called upon to witness the frantic agony of husband and wife, and parent and child, as they fled in terror before the rising waters. Nor is a word said of the sadness of the one righteous man who, safe himself, looked upon the destruction which he could not avert. But one impression is left upon the mind with peculiar vividness, from the very simplicity of the narrative, and it is that of utter desolation. This is heightened by the contrast and repetition of the two ideas. On the one hand we are reminded no less than six times in the narrative in chaps. 6, 7, 8, who the tenants of the ark were (6. 18-21; 7:1-3, 7-9, 13-16; 8:16, 17, 18, 19), the favored and rescued few; and, on the other hand, the total and absolute blotting out of everything else is not less emphatically dwelt upon (6. 13,17; 7:4, 21-23). This evidently designed contrast may especially be traced in chap. 7. First, we read in ver. 6, "And Noah was six hundred years old when the flood came — waters upon the earth." Then follows an account of Noah aid his family and the animals entering into the ark. Next verses 10-12 resume the subject of ver. 7: "And it came to pass after seven days that the waters of the flood were upon the earth. In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on tne seltsame day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows (or floodgates) of heaven were opened. And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights." Again the narrative returns to Noah and his companions, and their safety in the ark (ver. 13-16). And then in ver. 17 the words of ver. 12 are resumed, and from thence to the end of the chapter a very simple but very powerful and impressive description is given of the appalling catastrophe,: "And the flood was forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased and bare up the ark, and it was lift up from off the earth. And the waters prevailed and increased exceedingly upon the earth: and the ark went on the face of the waters. And the waters prevailed very exceedingly upon the earth, and all the high mountains which [were] under the whole heaven were covered. Fifteen cubits upwards did the waters prevail, and the mountains were covered. And all flesh died which moveth upon the earth, of fowl, and of cattle, and of wild beasts, and of every creeping thing which 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 substance which was on the face of the ground was blotted out, as well man as cattle, and creeping thing and fowl of the heaven: they were blotted out from the earth, and Noah only was left, and they that were with him in the ark. And the waters prevailed on the earth a hundred and fifty days." The waters of the Flood increased for a period of 190 days (40+150, comparing 7:12 and 24). And then "God remembered Noah," and made a wind to pass over the earth, so that the waters were assuaged. The ark rested on the seventeenth day of the seventh month on the mountains of Ararat. After this the waters gradually decreased till the first day of the tenth month, when the tops of the mountains were seen. It was then that Noah sent forth, first, the raven, which flew hither and thither, resting probably on the mountain-tops, but not returning to the ark; and next (? after an interval of seven days; comp. ver. 10), the dove, "to see if the waters were abated from the ground" (i.e. the lower plain country). "But the dove," it is beautifully said, "found no rest for the sole of her foot, and she returned unto him into the ark." After waiting for another seven days he again sent forth the dove, which returned this time with a fresh (טָרָŠ) olive-leaf in her mouth, a sign that the waters were still lower. Once more, after another interval of seven days, he sent forth the dove, and she "returned not again unto him any more," having found a home for herself upon the earth. No picture in natural history was ever drawn with more exquisite beauty and fidelity than this: it is admirable alike for its poetry and its truth. Respecting two points, we may here remark (1) that the raven was supposed to foretell changes in the weather both by its flight and its cry (AElian, II. A. 7:7; Virg. Georg. 1:382, 410). According to Jewish tradition, the raven was preserved in the ark in order to be the progenitor of the birds which afterwards fed Elijah by the brook Cherith. (2) The olive-tree is an evergreen, and seems to have the power of living under water, according to Theophrastus (Hist. Plant. 4:8) and Pliny (H. N. 13:50), who mention olive-trees in the Red Sea. The olive grows in Armenia, but only in 'the valleys on the south side of Ararat, not on the slopes of the mountain. It will not flourish at an elevation where even the mulberry, walnut, and apricot are found (Ritter, Erdkunde, 10:920).
According to a careful adjustment of the chronology of the Hebrew Bible, the Noachian deluge appears to have occurred (begun) in the year from the creation of Adam 1657, and before Christ 2516. It continued twelve lunar months and ten days, or exactly one solar year (Browne, Ordo Saeclorum, p. 325 sq.), as the following tabular exhibit of the incidents will show:
The word specially used to designate the Flood of Noah (הִמִּבּוּל, ham- mabbul') occurs in only one other passage of Scripture (Ps 29:10). The poet there sings of the majesty of God as seen in the storm. It is not improbable that the heavy rain accompanying the thunder and lightning had been such as to swell the torrents, and perhaps cause a partial inundation. This carried back his thoughts to the great flood of which he had often read, and he sang, "Jehovah sat as king at the Flood," and looking up at the clear face of the sky, and on the freshness and glory of nature around him, he added, "and Jehovah remaineth a king forever." In Isa 54:9, the Flood is spoken of as "the waters of Noah." God himself appeals to his promise made after the Flood as a pledge of his faithfulness to Israel: "For this is as the waters of Noah unto me; for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee nor rebuke thee." In the N.T. our Lord gives the sanction of his own authority to the historical truth of the narrative, Mt 24:37 (comp. Lu 17:26), declaring that the state of the world at his second coming shall be such as it was in the days of Noah. Peter speaks of the "long suffering of God," which "waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls, were saved by water." and sees in the waters of the flood by which the ark was borne up a type of baptism, by which the Church is separated from the world. Again, in his second Epistle (2. 5), he cites it as an instance of the righteous judgment of God, who spared not the old world, etc.
II. Traditions. — The legends of many nations have preserved the memory of a great and destructive flood from which but a small part of mankind escaped. It is not always very clear whether they point back to a common center, whence they were carried by the different families of men as they wandered east and west, or whether they were of national growth, and embody merely records of catastrophes, such as especially in mountainous countries are of no rare occurrence. In some instances, no doubt, the resemblances, between the heathen and the Jewish stories are so striking as to render it morally certain that the former were borrowed from the latter. We find, indeed, a mythological element, the absence of all moral purpose, and a national and local coloring, but, discernible among these, undoubted features of the primitive history.
The account of the Flood in the Koran is apparently drawn partly from Biblical and partly from Persian sources. In the main, no doubt, it follows the narrative in Genesis, but dwells at length on the testimony of Noah to the unbelieving (Sale's Koran, chap. 11, p. 181). He is said to have tarried among his people one thousand save fifty years (chap. 29, p. 327). The people scoffed at and derided him, and Òthus were they employed until our sentence was put in execution and the oven poured forth water." Different explanations have been given of this oven, which may be seen in Sale's note. He suggests (after Hyde, De Rel. Pers.) that this idea was borrowed from the Persian Magi, who also fancied that the first waters of the Deluge gushed out of the oven of a certain old woman named Zala Cufa. But the tanner (oven), he observes, may mean only a receptacle in which waters are gathered, or the fissure from which they broke forth. Another peculiarity of this version is, that Noah calls in vain to one of his sons to enter into the ark: he refuses, in the hope of escaping to a mountain, and is drowned before his father's eyes. The ark, moreover, is said to have rested on the mountain Al Judi, which Sale supposes should be written Jordi or Giordi, and connects with the Gordysei, Cardu, etc. or Kurd Mountains on the borders of Armenia and Mesopotamia (ch. 11, p. 181-183, and notes). SEE ARARAT.
1. The traditions which come nearest to the Biblical account are those of the nations of Western Asia. Foremost among these is the Chaldean. It is preserved in a Fragment of Berosus, and is as follows: "After the death of Ardates, his son Xisuthrus reigned eighteen sari. In his time happened a great Deluge, the history of which is thus described: The Deity Kronos appeared to him in a vision, and warned him that on the 15th day of the month Daesius there would be a flood by which mankind would be destroyed. He therefore enjoined him to write a history of the beginning, course, and end of all things, and to bury it in the City of the Sun at Sippara; and to build a vessel (σκαφος), and to take with him into it his friends and relatives; and to put on board food and drink, together with different animals, birds, and quadrupeds; and as soon as he had made all arrangements, to commit himself to the deep. Having asked the Deity whither he was to sail, he was answered, 'To the gods, after having offered a prayer for the good of mankind.' Whereupon. not being disobedient (to the heavenly vision), he built a vessel five stadia in length and two in breadth. Into this he put everything which he had prepared, and embarked in it his wife, his children, and his personal friends. After the flood had been upon the earth and was in time abated, Xisuthrus sent out some birds from the vessel, which, not finding any food, nor any place where they could rest, returned thither.' After an interval of some days Xisuthrus sent out the birds a second time, and now they returned to the ship with mud on their feet. A third time he repeated the experiment, and then they returned no more; whence Xisuthrus judged that the earth was visible above the waters, and accordingly he made an opening in the vessel (?), and, seeing that it was stranded upon the site of a certain mountain, he quitted it with his wife and daughter and the pilot. Having then paid his adoration to the earth, and having built an altar and offered sacrifices to the gods, he, together with those who had left the vessel with him, disappeared. Those who had remained behind, when they found that Xisuthrus and his companions did not return, in their turn left the vessel and began to look for him, calling him by his name. Him they saw no more, but a voice came to them from heaven, bidding them lead pious lives, and so join him who was gone to live with the gods, and further informing them that his wife, his daughter, and the pilot had shared the same honor. It told them, moreover, that they should return to Babylon, and how it was ordained that they should take up the writings that had been buried in Sippara and impart them to mankind, and that the country where they then were was the land of Armenia. The rest, having heard these words, offered sacrifices to the gods, and, taking a circuit, journeyed to Babylon. The vessel being thus stranded in Armenia, some part of it still remains in the mountains of the Corcyraeans (or Cordyeans, i.e. the Kurds or Kurdistan) in Armenia, and the people scrape off the bitumen from the vessel and make use of it by way of charms. Now, when those of whom we have spoken returned to Babylon, they dug up the writings which had been buried at Sippara; they also founded many cities and built temples, and thus the country of Babylon became inhabited again" (Cory's Ancient Fragments, p. 26-29). Another version abridged, but substantially the same, is given from Abydenus (Ibid. p. 33, 34). The version of Eupolemus (quoted by Eusebius, Praep. Evang. 10:9) is curious: "The city of Balmylon," he says, "owes its foundation to those who were saved from the Deluge; they were giants, and they built the tower celebrated in history."
Other Western Asiatic notices of a Flood may be found (a) in the Phoenician mythology, where the victory of Pontus (the sea) over Demarous (the earth) is mentioned (see the quotation from Sanchoniathon in Cory, as above, p. 13); (b) in the Sibylline Oracles, partly borrowed, no doubt, from the Biblical narrative, and partly perhaps from some Babylonian story. In these, mention is made of the Deluge, after which Kronos, Titan, and Japetus ruled the world, each taking a separate portion for himself, and remaining at peace till after the death of Noah, when Kronos and Titan engaged in war with one another (lb. p. 52). To these must be added (c) the Phrygian story of king Annakos or Nannakos (Enoch) in Iconium, who reached an age of more than 300 years, foretold the Flood, and wept and prayed for his people, seeing the destruction that was coming upon them. Very curious, as showing what deep root this tradition must have taken in the country, is the fact that so late as the time of Septimius Severus a medal was struck at Apamea on which the Flood is commemorated. "'The city is known to have been formerly called ' Kibotos,' or 'the Ark;' and it is also known that the coins of cities in that age exhibited some leading point in their mythological history. The medal in question represents a kind of square vessel floating in the water. Through an opening in it are seen two persons, a man and a woman. Upon the top of this chest or ark is perched a bird, whilst another flies towards it carrying a branch between its feet. Before the vessel are represented the same pair as having just quitted it, and got upon the dry land. Singularly enough, too, on some specimens of this medal, the letters ΝΩ, or ΝΩΕ, have been found on the vessel, as in the annexed cut. (See Eckhel, 3, 132, 133; Wiseman, Lectures on Science and Revealed Religion, 2:128, 129.) This fact is no doubt remarkable, but too much stress must not be laid upon it; for, making full allowance for the local tradition as having occasioned it, we must not forget the influence which the Biblical account would have in modifying the native story. SEE APAMEA.
As belonging to this cycle of tradition must be reckoned also
(1) the Syrian, related by Lucian (De Dea Syrd, c. 13), and connected with a huge chasm in the earth near Hieropolis, into which the waters of the Flood are supposed to have drained; and
(2) the Armenian, quoted by Josephus (Ant. 1:3) from Nicolaus Damlascenus, who flourished about the age of Augustus. He says: "There is above Minyas, in the land of Armenia, a great mountain, which is called Baris [i.e. a ship], to which it is said that many persons fled at the time of the Deluge, and so were saved; and that one in particular was carried thither upon an ark (ἐπὶ λάρνακος), and was landed upon its summit, and that the remains of the vessel's planks and timbers were long preserved upon the mountain. Perhaps this was the same person of whom Moses, the legislator of the Jews, wrote an account."
2. A second cycle of traditions is that of Eastern Asia. To this belong the Persian, Indian, and Chinese. The Persian is mixed up with its cosmogony, and hence loses everything like a historical aspect. "The world having been corrupted by Ahriman, it was necessary to bring over it a universal flood of water, that all impurity might be washed away. The rain came down in drops as large as the head of a bull; the earth was under water to the height of a man, and the creatures of Ahriman were destroyed." The Chinese story is, in many respects, singularly like the Biblical according to the Jesuit M. Martinius, who says that the Chinese computed it to have taken place 4000 years before the Christian era. Fah-he, the reputed author of Chinese civilization, is said to have. escaped from the waters of the Deluge. He reappears as the first man at the production of a renovated'world, attended by seven companions-his wife, his three sons, and three daughters, by whose intermarriage the whole circle of the universe is finally completed (Hardwick, Christ and other Masters, 3, 16). Dr. Gutzlaff, in a paper "On Buddhism in China," communicated to the Royal Asiatic Society (Journal, 16:79), says that he saw in one of the Buddhist temples, "in beautiful stucco, the scene where Kwanyin, the Goddess of Mercy, looks down from heaven upon the lonely Noah in his ark, amidst the raging waves of the deluge, with the dolphins swimming around as his last means of safety, 'and the dove with an olive-branch in its beak flying towards the vessel. Nothing could have exceeded the beauty of the execution." The Indian tradition appears in various forms. Of these, the one which most remarkably agrees with the Biblical account is that contained in the Mahabharata. We are there told that Brahma, having taken the form of a fish, appeared to the pious Manu (Satya, i.e. the righteous, as Noah is also called) on the banks of the river Wirini. Thence, at his request, Manu transferred him when he grew bigger to the Ganges, and finally, when he was too large even for the Ganges, to the ocean. Brahma now announces to Manu the approach of the Deluge, and bids him build a ship and put in it all kinds of seeds, together with the seven Rishis or holy beings. The Flood begins and covers the whole earth. Brahma himself appears in the form of a horned fish, and, the vessel being made fast to him, he draws it for many years, and finally lands on the loftiest summit of Mount Himarat (i.e. the Himalaya). Then, by the command of God, the ship is made fast, and in memory of the event the mountain called Naubandhana (i.e. ship-binding). By the favor of Brahma, Manu, after the Flood, creates the new race of mankind, which are hence termed Manudsha, i.e. born of Manu (Bopp, Die Siund. fluth). The Puranic or popular version is of much later date, and is, "according to its own admission, colored and disguised by allegorical imagery." Another, and perhaps the most ancienversion of all, is that contained in the (patapatha-Brahmana. The peculiarity of this is that its locality is manifestly north of the Himalaya range, over which Manu is supposed to have crossed into India. Both -versions will be found at length in Hardwick's Christ and other Masters, 2:145-152.
3. A third cycle of traditions is to be found among the American nations. These, as might be expected, show occasionally some marks of resemblance to the Asiatic legends. The one in existence among the Cherokees reminds us of the story in the Mahabharata, except that a dog here renders the same service to his master as the fish there does to Manu. "This dog was very pertinacious in visiting the banks of a river for several days, where he stood gazing at the water and howling piteously. Being sharply spoken to by his master and ordered home, he revealed the coming evil. He concluded his prediction by saying that the escape of his master and family from drowning depended upon their throwing him into the water; that, to escape drowning himself, he must take a boat and put in it all he wished to save; that it would then rain hard a long time, and a great overflowing of the land would take place. By obeying this prediction the man and his family were saved, and from them the earth was again peopled" (Schoolcraft, Notes on the Iroquois, p. 358, 359).
"Of the different nations that inhabit Mexico," says A. von Humboldt, "the following had paintings resembling the deluge of Coxcox, viz. the Aztecs, the Mixtecs, the Zapotecs, the Tlascaltecs, and the Mechoacans. The Noah, Xisuthrus, or Manu of these nations is termed Coxcox, Teo- Cipactli, or Tezpi. He saved himself, with his wife Xochiquetzatl, in a bark, or, according to other traditions, on a raft. The painting represents Coxcox in the midst of the water waiting for a bark. The mountain, the summit of which rises above the waters, is the peak of Colhuacan, the Ararat of the Mexicans. At the foot of the mountain are the heads of Coxcox and his wife. The latter is known by two tresses in the form of horns, denoting the female sex. The men born after the Deluge were dumb: the dove from the top of a tree distributed among them tongues, represented under the form of small commas." Of the Mechoacan tradition he writes, that "Coxcox, whom they called Tezpi, embarked in a spacious acalli with his wife, his children, several animals, and grain. When the Great Spirit ordered the waters to withdraw, Tezpi sent out from his bark a vulture, the zopilote, or vultur aura. This bird did not return on account of the carcasses with which the earth was strewed. Tezpi sent out other birds, one of which, the humming-bird, alone returned, holding in its beak a branch clad with leaves. Tezpi, seeing that fresh verdure covered the soil, quitted his bark near the mountain of Colhuacan" (Vues des Cordilres et Monumens de l'Amerique, p. 226, 227). A peculiarity of many of these American Indian traditions must be noted, and that is, that the Flood, according to them, usually took place in the time of the First Man, who, together with his family, escape. But Müller (Americanischen Urreligionen) goes too far when he draws from this the conclusion that these traditions are consequently cosmogonic, and have no historical value. The fact seems rather to be that all memory of the age between the Creation and the Flood had perished, and that hence these two great events were brought into close juxtaposition. This is the less unlikely when we see how very meager even the Biblical history of that age is.
It may not be amiss here to mention the legend still preserved among the inhabitants of the Fiji Islands, although not belonging to this group. They say that "after the islands had been peopled by the first man and woman, a great rain took place by which they were finally submerged; but, before the highest places were covered by the waters, two large double canoes made their appearance. In one of these was Rokora, the god of carpenters; in the other, Rokola, his head workman, who picked up some of the people, and kept them on board until the waters had subsided, after which they were again landed on the island. It is reported that in former times canoes were always kept in readiness against another inundation. The persons thus saved, eight in number, were landed at Mbenga, where the highest of their gods is said to have made his first appearance. By virtue of this tradition, the chiefs of Mbenga take rank before all others, and have always acted a conspicuous part among the Fijis. They style themselves Ngali-duv-a-ki- langi — subject to Heaven alone" (Wilkes, Exploring Expedition).
In the wild Scandinavian Edda the earth is allegorized as the great giant Ymir, whose bones and flesh are represented by the rocks and soil. This giant was killed by the gods, and his blood (the ocean) poured forth in such a flood that it drowned all the lesser giants-his offspring-except one, who saved himself and his wife by escaping in time to his ship.
4. Greece has two versions of a flood, one associated with Ogyges (Jul. Afric. as quoted by Euseb. Praep. Ev. 10:10), and the other, in a far more elaborate form, with Deucalion. Both, however, are of late origin they were unknown to Homer and Hesiod. Herodotus, though he mentions Deucalion as one of the first kings of the Hellenes, says not a word about the Flood (i. 56). Pindar is the first writer who mentions it (Olymp. 9:37 sq.). In Apollodorus (Biblio. 1:7) and Ovid (Metam. 1:260) the story appears in a much more definite shape. Finally, Lucian gives a narrative (De Dea Syr. c. 12, 13), not very different from that of Ovid, except that he makes provision for the safety of the animals, which Ovid does not. He attributes the necessity for the Deluge to the exceeding wickedness of the existing race of men, and declares that the earth opened and sent forth waters to swallow them up, as well as that heavy rain fell upon them. Deucalion, as the one righteous man, escaped with his wives and children, and the animals he had put into the chest (λάρνακα), and landed, after nine days and nine nights, on the top of Parnassus, while the chief part of Hellas was under water, and nearly all men perished, except a few who reached the tops of the highest mountains. Plutarch (de Sollert. Anim. § 13) mentions the dove which Deucalion made use of to ascertain whether the flood was abated. Most of these accounts, it must be observed, localize the Flood, and confine it to Greece, or some part of Greece. Aristotle speaks of a local inundation near Dodona only (Meteorol. 1:14). It must also be confessed that the later the narrative the more definite the form it assumes, and the more nearly it resembles the Mosaic account. This old Greek legend of Deucalion and Pyrrha is the best known of all the traditions next to the narrative of the Bible. (See Jackson, "Noah's and Deucalion's Flood," Works , 1:103; "The Deluges of Ogyges and Deucalion," Bibliotheca Sacra, 1849, p. 75.) According to this version, mankind, for their impiety, were doomed to destruction. The waters accordingly broke from the earth, accompanied by violent rains from heaven. In a short time the world was whelmed in the floods, and every human being perished save Deucalion and his wife, with his sons and their wives. They escaped in a large vessel, in which they had previously placed pairs of every kind of animal. While in the ark Deucalion sent forth a dove, which in a little time returned. On being let free a second time it came not back, or, as another version has it, it alighted again on the ark with mud- stained claws, whence Deucalion inferred that the subsidence of the waters had begun. It may be mentioned, in reference to this tradition, as a very singular coincidence, that just as, according to Ovid, the earth was repeopled by Deucalion and Pyrrha throwing the bones of their mother (i.e. stones) behind their backs, so among the Tamanaki, a Carib tribe on the Orinoko, the story goes that a man and his wife, escaping from the flood to the top of the high mountain Tapanacu, threw over their heads the fruit of the Mauritia-palm, whence sprung a new race of men and women. This curious coincidence between Hellenic and American traditions seems explicable only on the hypothesis of some common center of tradition.
It seems tolerably certain that the Egyptians had no records of the Deluge, at least if we are to credit Manetho. Nor has any such record been detected on the monuments, or preserved in the mythology of Egypt. They knew, however, of the flood of Deucalion, but seem to have been in doubt whether it was to be regarded as partial or universal, and they supposed it to have been preceded by several others.
On all these and many similar traditions in civilized and savage nations, see the works of Bryant (Ancient Mythology, Lond. 1774 6, 3 vols. 4to, vol. in) and Harcourt (Doctrine of the Deluge, Lond. 1838, 2 vols. 8vo), in which, after rejecting what is fanciful, enough remains to attest the wide- spread existence and minute agreement of these traditionary recollections of a flood coextensive with the human race.
III. Extent of the Flood. — On this question two opinions have been entertained: one, that it was general over the whole globe; the other, that it was partial, affecting only those regions over which the human race had extended. In all inquiries into this subject, it is well to bear in mind the design to be fulfilled by the "flood of waters." That design was plainly not to destroy and remodel the surface of the earth. Although the inferior animals were involved in a like fate with the human race, it was not for their destruction that the great catastrophe came. The wickedness of man had evoked the divine anger; to sweep him and his crimes, therefore, from the face of the earth, the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened; hence we may reasonably infer that no greater devastation would be permitted than was unavoidable to secure the destruction of the human family. Against the first opinion there is, accordingly, this preliminary objection, that either it takes for granted that the whole world was peopled in the days of Noah, or it represents as involved in ruin large tracts of land, fair and fertile, though uninhabited by man. For the first alternative there is no evidence in Scripture. Indeed, the whole narrative of the preparation of the ark, and Noah's intercourse with his fellowmen, leads us to infer that the population of the globe at the time was not so extensive but that the warnings of the patriarch could be everywhere heard and known. It would have been a vain task if his single voice had been required to sound in all lands. The second alternative is equally adverse to the opinion of the universality of the deluge, for it necessitates our belief in the destruction of large portions of the earth's surface where man had never been, and which could not, therefore, have become tainted and defiled by sin — a view that is opposed to the known modes of God's dealings with his creatures. But against the idea of a general flood over the whole globe simultaneously, many arguments of much greater force may be brought forward. These are derived from a consideration of the laws by which the present economy of nature is regulated. If it be objected to these arguments that the deluge was a miracle, and must, accordingly, be judged apart from the operation of law, it is sufficient to reply that, whether a miracle or not, it was brought about by the ordinary agencies of nature "the fountains of the deep were broken up" — that is, the land was depressed and the sea rolled over it; "the windows of heaven were opened" — in other words, a constant and heavy rain was sent upon the earth; and again, when the waters were to be dried off the land, a wind was made to blow upon them. In short, from the beginning to the end of the narrative in Genesis, we meet with no setting aside of the laws of nature. Everything is done in strict accordance with those laws, as if to teach a truth which is very apt to be forgotten in the present day, that what we call the laws of nature is only the constant mode in which the Creator acts, and that by the operation of these was, directed as he sees fit, he works out his purposes in creation.
1. The astronomical difficulties in the way of the theory of the absolute universality of the flood over the earth's surface are insuperable. Granting, for an instant, that from some unknown source a vast body of water was introduced on the surface of our planet, we are led to ask what would be the result? It can be shown that there was no general collapse of the earth's crust, and the water must therefore have risen five miles above the sea- level, so as to cover the top of the highest mountain. The effect of this would be to increase the equatorial diameter of the earth by some ten or twelve miles. The orbit round the sun would consequently be altered.. The influence of its attraction on the planets would be increased, and thus the element of disorder would reach to the remotest regions of space. But let us suppose that a change of this kind was permitted to extend through the universe, what is the next step in this series of impossible suppositions? After a period of less than a year the waters assuage, and the earth is once more as it used to be. Here, again, another change must have extended through the firmament. The old relations of the heavenly bodies are re- established, and-the orbits continue as they were before the flood. Thus we must suppose a serious alteration to have disturbed every celestial body throughout the whole universe, to have lasted while our earth performed some three hundred revolutions on its axis, and then to have ceased by the return of everything to the original condition. And this stupendous system of aberration had for its object the destruction of a race of creatures inhabiting a mere speck among the planetary systems! No one will pretend that this hypothesis has any shadow of probability.
2. The geological objections to a universal deluge are also formidable. Many years have not elapsed since it was believed that the revelations of geology tended in a very marked manner to confirm the commonly received view of the deluge. Over the greater part of Great Britain and Ireland, and throughout Central and Northern Europe as well as North America, there exists immediately under the vegetable soil a deposit of clay, sand, or gravel, often very tumultuously arranged. This deposit, in the infancy of geological science, was set down as the result of some great rush of waters; and, as it was plainly one of the most recent formations of the globe, it came to be regarded as beyond question the result of that old deluge by which the human race had been destroyed. It received, accordingly, the name diluvium; and, from its very general occurrence in both hemispheres, it was held to be a confirmation of the Bible narrative of the flood that covered "all the high hills that were under the whole heaven." But the identification proved too hasty. A more careful examination of the diluvium showed that it belonged to many different periods, and had, to a considerable extent, resulted from local causes, acting over limited areas. It was ascertained, however, that one kind of diluvium, having a wide diffusion over the northern parts of Europe and America, must have been produced by one. great cause acting in the same geological period. The agency which gave rise to this "drift" was nevertheless shown to be not a rush of water, but ice coming from the north, either in the form of a glacier or as icebergs, and bearing with it enormous quantities of sand, mud, and stones. Thus the last hope of sustaining the doctrine of a universal deluge by an appeal to geological facts fell to the ground. Not only does geology afford no evidence in favor of such a doctrine, but it tends to support the opposite view. The notion of a simultaneous and universal desolation of the globe finds no countenance among those stony records in which the primeval history of our planet is graven as with a pen of iron in the rock forever. There are, indeed, many gaps in the chronicle, many passages that have been blotted out in whole or in part, and some pages that seem never to have been inscribed among rocks at all, but these are only local. What is wanting in one place is often made up in another; and, though even at the best the record is full of imperfections, the geologist can confidently affirm that its whole tenor goes to disprove any universal catastrophe, and to show that the extinction of successive races of plants and animals has been imperceptibly effected during immensely protracted periods of time.
Another geological argument has often been adduced as bearing strongly against a general deluge. In Auvergne, and other districts of Central France, there occurs a series of volcanoes which have not been in action within the historical period. From the association of the remains of long extinct animals among the products of these volcanoes, it has been inferred that the era of eruption must be assigned to a time long anterior to the appearance of man. Yet these volcanic cones are in many instances as perfect as when they were first thrown up. Travelers who have climbed their sides and descended into their craters bear testimony to the fact that they consist of dust and cinders still so loosely aggregated that the traveler sometimes sinks over the ankle in volcanic debris. Such light material has assuredly been exposed to the action of no large body of water, which would have swept it at once away, like Graham's Island, which arose in the Mediterranean, July, 1831, to a height of 200 feet and a circumference of three miles, but in a few months was washed down to a mere shoal (Bibliotheca Sacra, July, 1867, p. 465). Hence, since these volcanoes belong to a period earlier than that of man, the deluge cannot have extended over Central France.
Formerly, the existence of shells and corals at the top of high mountains was taken to be no less conclusive evidence the other way. They were constantly appealed to as a proof of the literal truth of the Scripture narrative. So troublesome and inconvenient a proof did it seem to Voltaire, that he attempted to account for the existence of fossil shells by arguing that either they were those of fresh-water lakes and rivers evaporated during dry seasons, or of land-snails developed in unusual abundance during wet ones; or that they were shells that had been dropped from the hats of pilgrims on their way from the Holy Land to their own homes; or, in the case of the ammonites, that they were petrified reptiles. It speaks ill for the state of science that such arguments could be advanced, on the one side for, and on the other against, the universality of the Deluge. This is the more extraordinary — and the fact shows how very slowly, where prejudices stand in the way, the soundest reasoning will be listened to — when we remember that so early as the year 1517 an Italian named Fracastoro had demonstrated the untenableness of the vulgar belief which associated these fossil remains with the Mosaic Deluge. "That inundation," he observed, "was too transient; it consisted principally of fluviatile waters; and, if it had transported shells to great distances, it must have strewed them over the surface, not buried them at vast depths in the interior of mountains.... But the clear and philosophical views of Fracastoro were disregarded, and the talent and argumentative powers of the learned were doomed for three centuries to be wasted in the discussion of these two simple and preliminary questions: first, whether fossil remains had ever belonged to living creatures; and, secondly, whether, if this be admitted, all the phenomena could not be explained by the deluge of Noah" (Lyell, Principles of Geology, p., 20, 9th edit.). Even within the last thirty years geologists like Cuvier and Buckland (Reliquice Diluviance, Lond. 1823, 4to) have thought that the superficial deposits might be referred to the period of the Noachian Flood. Subsequent investigation, however, showed that if the received chronology were even approximately correct, this was out of the question, as these deposits must have taken place thousands of years before the time of Noah, and, indeed, before the creation of man. Hence the geologic diluvium is to be carefully distinguished from the historic. Although, singularly enough, the latest discoveries give some support to the opinion that man may have been in existence during the formation of the drift, yet even then that formation could not have resulted from a mere temporary submersion like that of the Mosaic Deluge, but must have been the effect of causes in operation for ages. So far, then, it is clear, there is no evidence now on the earth's surface in favor of a universal deluge. SEE GEOLOGY.
3. But perhaps the most startling of all the difficulties in the way of the belief in a universal deluge are presented to us in the researches of the zoologist. From him we learn that, even taking the cubit by which the ark was measured to have been of the longest, the ark was totally inadequate to contain the animals even of a single continent. It would occupy too much space to enter here into the details of this part of the subject. We refer the reader to one of the lectures of Hugh Miller (Testimony of the Rocks, p. 267). Sir Walter Raleigh thought he had exhausted the capabilities of the ark when, after calculating the amount of space that would be occupied by the animals known to himself at the time, he concluded that "all these two hundred and eighty beasts might be kept in one story or room of the ark, in their several cabins, their meat in the second, the birds and their provisions in the third, with space to spare for Noah and his family, and all their necessaries" (History of the World, p. 57). Since Raleigh's time, however, the known number of terrestrial animals has been enormously increased. Of mammalia alone there are now known between 1600 and 1700 species. To these must be added upwards of 6000 birds, 650 reptiles, and 550,000 insects, all of which would require room and a provision of food in the ark. It is needless to remark that no vessel ever fashioned by man could have accommodated a tithe of these inmates. SEE NOAHS ARK.
But over and above the impossibility of constructing a vessel large enough to contain all the species of terrestrial animals that inhabit the globe, it would have been equally impossible in the days of Noah, just as it would be utterly impossible in our own day, to collect all these creatures alive into one corner of the earth. No one needs to be informed that the animal tribes are not all represented in any one country; that certain races are confined to high latitudes, that others roam among the temperate zones, while others are found only between the tropics. Nor is it necessary to do more than allude to the fact that there is a similar grouping on all high land, altitude above the sea being thus representative of recession from the equator, so that the bald head of a lofty mountain may be white with the snows of an eternal winter, its shoulders clad with the spring-like vegetation of the temperate latitudes, while its feet lie rich in the glories of a tropical summer. But besides this arrangement, according to climate and temperature, there is a still further subdivision into provinces, and these again into generic and specific centers. Thus, while each zone of latitude has its peculiar facies of animal and vegetable life, it contains so many distinct and independent areas, in which the animals and plants are to a large extent generically or specifically different from those of contiguous areas. The evidence of these localized groups of organisms points in part to old geological changes of sea and land, and possibly to other causes which are still far from being understood. Professor Edward Forbes treated them as centers of creation, that is, distinct areas in which groups of plants and animals had been created, and from which, as a common center, they had gradually radiated, so as to encroach more or less upon the neighboring areas. Hence, to collect specimens of all the species of terrestrial creatures inhabiting the earth, it would be necessary not only to visit each parallel of latitude on both sides of the equator, but to explore the whole extent of each parallel, so as to leave out none of the separate provinces. With all the appliances of modern civilization, and all the labors of explorers in the cause of science throughout every part of the world, the task of ascertaining the extent of the animal kingdom is probably still far from being accomplished. Not a year passes away without witnessing new names added to the lists of the zoologist. Surely no one will pretend that what has not yet been achieved by hundreds of laborers during many centuries could have been performed by one of the patriarchs during a few years. It was of course necessary that the animals should be brought alive. But this, owing to their climatal susceptibilities, was in the case of many species impossible, and even with regard to those which might have survived the journey, the difficulties of their transport must have been altogether insuperable. Noah, moreover, was busy with his great vessel, and continued to be "a preacher of repentance" to his fellow-men — occupations which admitted of no pereginations to the ends of the earth in search of inmates for the ark. It is indeed beyond our power to follow up the train of impossibilities which such a notion implies. Dr. J. Pye Smith remarks that the idea of a collection of all the terrestrial animals of the globe brought by Noah to the ark cannot be entertained, without bringing up the idea of miracles more stupendous than any that are recorded in Scripture, even what appear appalling in comparison; the great decisive miracle of Christianity — the resurrection of the Lord Jesus — sinks down before it." The existence of distinct provinces of plants and animals is a fact full of the deepest interest, and opens out many wide fields of inquiry. Its bearing on the question of the deluge is of course that phase which more especially requires to be noticed here. In addition to what has just been said, it may be remarker further, that these provinces have a geological as well as a zoological significance. Laying aside as utterly impossible the idea of the representation in the ark of every terrestrial species, we may obtain some confirmatory evidence that the existing races of plants and animals have never been interrupted by a general catastrophe. A careful study of these provinces shows that some are older than others, just as some parts of the earth's surface are geologically older than other parts. In certain cases a province is found to contain within itself the relic of an older province which once occupied the same spot. In the profounder depths of the maritime lochs that indent the western coast of Scotland, there exist little groups of shell-fish which are not now found alive in the shallower parts. Yet they once lived even in the shallower water, and their remains are now found fossil along the shores of the Firth of Clyde and elsewhere. They have become gradually extinct in the upper part of the sea, owing probably to a change of climate, and are now confined to the very deepest zones. These and other facts of the same kind point to slow and gradual changes unbroken by any great cataclysmal event. Among plants, too, similar phenomena abound. It should not be lost sight of, that, had the whole earth been covered for a year by a sheet of water, the greater part of our terrestrial plants must have perished. On the disappearance of the flood there would hence require to be a new creation, or rather re-creation, all over the world-a supposition for which there is no evidence either in Scripture or nature, and which is opposed to all that, we know of the method of the divine working. Plants are grouped, like animals, in greater and lesser provinces; and these, too, differ greatly from each other in antiquity. Some assemblages of plants have spread over wide districts, and either extirpated those which had previously occupied the ground or driven them into sheltered corners. In Great Britain and Ireland, for instance, there are five distinct groups of plants which have also corresponding suites of animals. The successive migrations of these groups can still be traced, leading us to a knowledge of certain vast changes which have taken place among the British islands within a comparatively recent geological period. England was still united to the Continent when the oldest group of plants began to flourish. The northern half of the island, with the whole of Scotland, was submerged beneath the sea, and again elevated before the great mass of the British plants crept westward across the plains that united the islands with the Continent. It was after the whole of our present groups of plants and animals had become fixed in their existing habitats that the isthmus was broken through by the waves and Britain became an island. These changes could not have been brought about save during, the lapse of a protracted series of ages. They give evidence of no sudden break, no temporary annihilation and subsequent creation, such as the idea of a general flood would require, but, on the contrary, show very clearly that the present races of plants and animals have gone on in unbroken succession from a time that long preceded the advent of man.
There is, however, other evidence conclusive against the hypothesis of a universal deluge, miracle apart. "The first effect of the covering of the whole globe with water would be a complete change in its climate, the general tendency being to lower and equalize the temperature of all parts of its surface. Pari passu with this process . . would ensue the destruction of the great majority of marine animals. This would take place, partly by reason of the entire change in climatal conditions, too sudden and general to be escaped by migration; and, in still greater measure, in consequence of the sudden change in the depth of the water. Great multitudes of marine animals can only live between tide-marks, or at depths less than fifty fathoms; and as by the hypothesis the land had to be depressed many thousands of feet in a few months, and to be raised again with equal celerity, it follows that the animals could not possibly have accommodated themselves to such vast and rapid changes. All the littoral animals, therefore, would have been killed, The race of acorn-shells and periwinkles would have been exterminated, and all the coral-reefs of the Pacific would at once have been converted into dead coral, never to grow again. But, so far is this from being the case, that acorn-shells, periwinkles, and coral still survive, and there is good evidence that they have continued to exist and flourish for many thousands of years. On the other hand, Noah was not directed to take marine animals of any kind into the ark, nor, indeed, is it easy to see how they could have been pre. served. Again, had the whole globe been submerged, the sea-water covering the land would at once have destroyed every fresh-water fish, mollusk, and worm; and as none of these were taken into the ark, the several species would have become extinct. Nothing of the kind has occurred. Lastly, such experiments as have been made with regard to the action of sea-water upon terrestrial plants leave very little doubt that submergence in sea-water for ten or eleven months would have effectually destroyed not only the great majority of the plants, but their seeds as well. And yet it is not said that Noah took any stock of plants with him into the ark, or that the animals which issued from it had the slightest difficulty in obtaining pasture. There are, then, it must be confessed, very strong grounds for believing that no universal deluge ever occurred. Suppose the Flood, on the other hand, to have been local; suppose, for instance, the valley of the Euphrates to have been submerged; and then the necessity for preserving all the species of animals disappears. For, in the first place, there was nothing to prevent the birds and many of the large mammals from getting away; and, in the next, the number of species peculiar to that geographical area, and which would be absolutely destroyed by its being flooded, supposing they could not escape, is insignificant." We are thus compelled to adopt the opinion that the flood of Noah was (like other deluges of which we read) a local event confined to one part of the earth's surface, and that it was "universal" only inasmuch as it effected the destruction of the whole human race, the family of Noah alone excepted. Against this opinion no objections of any weight can be urged. It is borne out by the evidence to be derived from a study of the phenomena of nature; and it is not at variance with any statement in holy Scripture. The universality of the language in which Moses describes the extent of the Deluge — "all the high hills that were under the whole heaven were covered" — has indeed been regarded as a testimony to the universality of the catastrophe. But such general expressions are of frequent occurrence in the sacred writings to denote a tract of country which, though large relatively to its inhabitants, yet formed only a very small portion of the earth's surface. No authentic traces of the action of the flood have yet been detected in the East, where the area of submersion was probably situated, not indeed is it likely that any such traces will ever be found. They might confirm our faith, but they are by no means necessary, for the fact of the former destruction of the human race is made known to us in the sacred volume, and has been handed down by tradition in almost every nation of the earth, even the most barbarous and the farthest removed from the early cradle of the human race. It is natural to suppose that the writer, when he speaks of "all flesh," "all in whose nostrils was the breath of life," refers only to his own locality. This sort of language is common enough in the Bible when only a small part of the globe is intended. Thus, for instance, it is said that "all countries came into Egypt to Joseph to buy corn" and that "a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed." In these and many similar passages the expressions of the writer are obviously not to be taken in an exactly literal sense. Even the apparently very distinct phrase "all the high hills that were under the whole heaven were covered" may be matched by another precisely similar, where it is said that God would put the fear and the dread of Israel upon every nation under heaven. It requires no effort to see that such language is framed with a kind of poetic breadth. The real difficulty lies in the connecting of this statement with the district in which Noah is supposed to have lived, and the assertion that the waters prevailed fifteen cubits upward. If the Ararat on which the ark rested be the present mountain of the same name, the highest peak of which is more than 17,000 feet above the sea, it would have been quite impossible for this to have been covered, the water reaching fifteen cubits, i.e. twenty-six feet above it, unless the whole earth were submerged. The author of the Genesis of the Earth, etc. has endeavored to escape this difficulty by shifting the scene of the catastrophe to the low country on the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates (a miraculous overflow of these rivers being sufficient to account for the Deluge), and supposing that the "fifteen cubits upward" are to be reckoned, not from the top of the mountains, but from the surface of the plain.' By "the high hills" he thinks may be meant only slight elevations, called "high" because they were the highest parts overflowed. But fifteen cubits is only a little more than twenty-six feet, and it seems absurd to suppose that such trifling elevations are described as "all the high hills under the whole heaven." At this rate the ark itself must have been twice the height of the highest mountain. The plain meaning of the narrative is that, far as the eye could sweep, not a solitary mountain reared its head above the waste of waters. On the other hand, there is no necessity for assuming that the ark stranded on the high peaks of the mountain now called Ararat, or even that that mountain was visible. A lower mountain range, such as the Zagros range for instance, may be intended. In the absence of all geographical certainty in the matter, it is better to adopt some such explanation of the difficulty. Indeed, it is out of the question to imagine that the ark rested on the top of a mountain which is covered for 4000 feet from the summit with perpetual snow, and the descent from which would have been a very serious matter both to men and other animals. The local tradition, according to which the fragments of the ark are still believed to remain on the summit, can weigh nothing when balanced against so extreme an improbability. Assuming, then, that the Ararat here mentioned is not the mountain of that name in Armenia, we may also assume the inundation to have been partial, and may suppose it to have extended over the whole valley of the Euphrates, and eastward as far as the range of mountains running down to the Persian Gulf, or further. As the inundation is said to have been caused by the breaking up of the fountains of the great deep, as well as by the rain, some great and sudden subsidence of the land may have taken place, accompanied by an inrush of the waters of the Persian Gulf, similar to what occurred in the Runn of Cutch, on the eastern arm of the Indus, in 1819, when the sea flowed in, and in a few hours converted a tract of land 2000 square miles in area into an inland sea, or lagoon (see the account of this subsidence of the Delta of the indus in Lyell's Principles of Geology, p. 460-63). Compare FLOOD.