Was Noah’s Flood Global or Local?

25 Sep
Noahic Flood (Image from Google Images)

Noahic Flood
(Image from Google Images)

In the next couple of blog-posts I will address whether or not the Genesis Flood was local or global. They will assume **a** flood occurred, and I shall seek to establish the extent to which the waters flowed over the earth. I will not, however, entertain judgments concerning the authenticity of the faith of those who hold an opposing point of view about the Genesis Flood. One’s faith is between a brother and Christ. I am interested only in what is true about that event. Since I am not familiar with many of the arguments of a local flood, I will be guided by what I read on the web, hopefully treating the beliefs found there with respect though not necessarily embracing the argument. So with an open[1] but not an empty[2] mind, I embark on this course.

In Genesis 7:20 we are told that the flood waters covered the mountains (H2022), and in verse-19 it is said that the waters covered **all** the high hills (H2022) – the same word for mountains in verse-20. So, which is it—hills or mountains? In Genesis 22:14 we read of the mount (H2022) of the Lord, and in 2Kings 19:31 it is Mount (H2022) Zion.

Local flood advocates believe Genesis 7 describes a local flood that covered a number of hills; the word “all” in Genesis 7:19 is taken as a relative term, not meaning every hill, but many, perhaps “all” in a given area, but certainly not “all” over the world. I have several problems with this interpretation. First, the text says all the **high** hills were covered. High is H1364 in the Hebrew and means high, haughty, exalted, proud, tall, lofty. I don’t believe the continents were laid out in ancient times as they are today. I don’t believe the high mountains like Mt. Everest or Mt. McKinley existed before the Flood. The mountains were lower, and a “high hill” is not a grassy knoll or mound of dirt along a roadway. A “high” hill would be like Mt. Olivet or the Mt. Zion upon which Jerusalem sits. I believe I am trying to make an honest, fair assessment here. I don’t believe one could live on Mt. Everest, but one could live on any of the “high hills” like Jerusalem and Mt. Olives.

A scripture that is used by both local and global flood advocates is Psalm 104:1-9 with both concluding that the waters could not overflow the earth once God set the boundary (verse-9). Quite frankly, I believe the local flood advocates have the better argument here in that the Psalm concerns creation and not the Genesis Flood. Psalm 104:9 points to God bringing up the land out of the water in Genesis 1:9, and the verses in Psalm 104 seem to follow the same sequence as Genesis 1. Having said that, the context of the Psalm has to do with the waters never again breaking the boundary God set for them (Proverbs 8:29). It has absolutely nothing to do with tying the hands of God when it pleases him to judge the world. He didn’t promise anything in Genesis 1 concerning the waters never flooding the earth, but he does in Genesis 9:11-17. There he says he will never again flood the whole earth to destroy mankind and the world in which man lives. This covenant makes no sense at all if it concerned a local flood. In fact, it makes a mockery out of God and his promise, since the world has had many local floods since Noah’s day, and hundreds, even thousands have perished in them.

A concluding fact seems incontrovertibly true. If the waters of the Genesis flood covered a “high hill” like Mt. Olives[3] or Mt. Zion, then it would have had to have been a worldwide flood. Water seeks its own level and rather quickly. So, since the flood lasted a year according to the Genesis account (unlikely if it were local), then the water level over the entire globe would have been above the “all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven” (Genesis 7:19).

[1] That is, I believe I can change my understanding, if I meet with an undeniable truth in the opposing point of view or faced with an undeniable falsehood about what I currently believe concerning this event.

[2] Alas, many folks think, because what they believe is undeniable for them, it follows that their argument must be undeniable for me as well. Not to disappoint, but my mind is not an empty place waiting to be filled. It contains precious, believed truths, and I guard what I embrace as true.

[3] Mt. Olives is 2683 feet above sea level. See Edward Hull (1885); Mount Seir, Sinai and Western Palestine; Richard Bentley and Son, London; page 152.

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Posted by on September 25, 2013 in Genesis Flood, Noahic Flood


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