Noah and the Great Flood
The biblical story of Noah’s flood is world renowned. A deluge of rain that covered the earth with water and purged all evil from mankind. The survivors of the great flood went on to repopulate the planet and hence, were the originators of mankind. What most people do not know however, is that the historical recording of a great flood is a widespread theme throughout many cultures. For true skeptics, including scientists who scoff at the idea, the evidence presented below is overwhelming. Believers rejoice and naysayers place your heads firmly in the sand. Practically every major civilization in existence believed a flood story lending credence to the idea that something catastrophic did indeed occur on earth many thousands of years ago – and made us who we are today.
The Sumerian Version
The earliest extant flood legend is contained in the fragmentary Sumerian Eridu Genesis, datable by its script to the 17th century BCE. The story tells how the god Enki warns Ziusudra of the his decision to destroy mankind in a flood. The God Enki instructs Ziusudra to build a large boat and to repopulate the earth. The flood lasts for seven days after which Ziusudra thanks Enki for sparing his life.
Babylonian (Epic of Gilgamesh) and the Deluge Tablet
The “Deluge tablet” (tablet 11) of the Epic of Gilgamesh in Akkadian talks of a great flood. The hero Gilgamesh, seeking immortality, searches for a man named Utnapishtim. Utnapishtim tells how he has been warned him of the gods’ plan to destroy all life through a great flood and instructed Gilgamesh to build a vessel in which he could save his family, his friends, and his wealth and cattle. After the Deluge the gods repented their action and made Utnapishtim immortal.
Jewish Version from the Book of Genesis
The best-known version of the Jewish deluge legend is contained in the Book of Genesis (Genesis 6–9). Two non-canonical books, the Enoch and Jubilees, both later than Genesis, contain elaborations on the Genesis story. Genesis tells how “…the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and was grieved in His heart. So the Lord said, ‘I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am grieved that I have made them.'”
God selects Noah, a man who “found favor in the eyes of the Lord” and commands him to build an ark to save Noah, his family, and the Earth’s animals and birds. After Noah builds the ark, “all the fountains of the great deep burst open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened”. Rain falls for 40 days, the water rises 150 days, and all the high mountains are covered. The ark rests on the mountains, the water recedes for 150 days, until the waters are gone and Noah opens up the ark. At this point Noah sends out a raven and then a dove to see if the flood waters have receded. Noah and the animals leave the ark, Noah offers a sacrifice to God, and God places a rainbow in the clouds as a sign that he will never again destroy the Earth by water.
The apocryphal 2nd century BCE 1st Book of Enoch adds to the Genesis flood story by saying that God sent the Great Flood to rid the earth of the Nephilim, the titanic children of the Grigori, the “sons of God” mentioned in Genesis, and of human females.
Islamic Version from the Koran
The Quran tells a similar story to the Judeo-Christian Genesis flood story, the major differences being only Noah and few believers enter the ark. Noah’s son (one of four) and his wife refused to enter the ark believing that they could survive the flood on their own. The Quranic ark comes to rest on Mount Judi, traditionally identified with a mountain near Mosul in modern Iraq.
China Version from the Book of History
Shujing, or “Book of History”, probably written around 500 BCE or earlier, states in the opening chapters that Emperor Yao is facing the problem of flood waters that “reach to the Heavens”. The translator of the 1904 edition dated the Chinese deluge to 2348 BCE, calculating that this was the same year as the biblical flood. Shanhaijing, “Classic of the Mountain & Seas”, ends with the Chinese ruler Da Yu spending ten years to control a deluge whose “floodwaters overflowed [to] heaven”.
Chuci, Liezi, Huainanzi, Shuowen Jiezi, Siku Quanshu, Songsi Dashu, and others, as well as many folk legends, all contain references to a woman named Nüwa. Nüwa repairs the broken heavens after a great flood or calamity, and repopulates the world with people.
The ancient Chinese civilization concentrated at the bank of Yellow River near present day Xian also believed that the severe flooding along the river bank was caused by dragons (representing gods) living in the river being angered by the mistakes that the people had made.
According to the Matsya Purana and Shatapatha Brahmana, Manu was washing his hands in a river when a little fish swam into his hands and begged him to save its life. He put it in a jar, which it soon outgrew; he successively moved it to a tank, a river and then the ocean. When returned to the ocean, the fish then warned him that a deluge would occur in a week that would destroy all life. Manu then built a boat which the fish towed to a mountaintop when the flood came, and thus he survived along with some “seeds of life” to re-establish life on earth.
In legends of the aboriginal tribes inhabiting the Andaman Islands people became remiss of the commands given to them at the creation. Puluga, the god creator, ceased to visit them and then without further warning sent a devastating flood. Only four people survived this flood: two men, Loralola and Poilola, and two women, Kalola and Rimalola. When they landed they found they had lost their fire and all living things had perished. The God Puluga then recreated the animals and plants.
Indonesia and the giant snake
In Batak traditions, the earth rests on a giant snake, Naga-Padoha. One day, the snake tired of its burden and shook the Earth off into the sea. However, the God Batara-Guru saved his daughter by sending a mountain into the sea, and the entire human race descended from her. The Earth was later placed back onto the head of the snake.
Australia Aborigine Frog
According to the Australian aborigines, in the Dreamtime a huge frog drank all the water in the world and a drought swept across the land. The only way to finish the drought was to make the frog laugh. Animals from all over Australia gathered together and one by one attempted to make the frog laugh. When finally the eel succeeded, the frog opened his sleepy eyes, his big body quivered, his face relaxed, and, at last, he burst into a laugh that sounded like rolling thunder. The water poured from his mouth in a flood. It filled the deepest rivers and covered the land. Only the highest mountain peaks were visible, like islands in the sea. Many men and animals were drowned.
Malaysia – Legend of the Temuan
According to the legend of the Temuan, one of the 18 indigenous tribes of peninsular Malaysia, the “celau” (storm of punishment) is for the sin of the people who angered the gods and ancestors so much that a great flood was sent in punishment. Only two of the Temuan tribes, Mamak and Inak Bungsuk, survived the flood by climbing the Eaglewood tree at “Gunung Raja” (Royal Mountain), which thereafter became the birth place and ancestral home of the Temuan tribe.
Greek and the Three Floods
Greek mythology knows three floods. The flood of Ogyges, the flood of Deucalion and the flood of Dardanus, two of which ended two Ages of Man: the Ogygian Deluge ended the Silver Age, and the flood of Deucalion ended the First Bronze Age.
The Ogygian flood is so called because it occurred in the time of Ogyges, a mythical king of Attica. Ogyges is somewhat synonymous to “primeval”, “primal”, “earliest dawn”. The Ogygian flood is said to have covered the whole world and was so devastating that Attica remained without kings until the reign of Cecrops. Plato in his Laws, Book III, estimates that this flood occurred 10,000 years before his time. Also in Timaeus and in Critias, Plato describes the “great deluge of all” happening 9,000 years before the time of Solon, during the 10th millennium BCE.
The Deucalion legend as told by Apollodorus in The Library has some similarity to Noah’s Ark: Prometheus advised his son Deucalion to build a chest. All other men perished except for a few who escaped to high mountains. The mountains in Thessaly were parted, and all the world beyond the Isthmus and Peloponnese was overwhelmed with water. Deucalion and his wife Pyrrha, after floating in the chest for nine days and nights, landed on Parnassus.
German and Norse Mythology
In Norse mythology, there are two separate deluges. According to the Prose Edda by Snorri Sturluson, the first occurred at the dawn of time before the world was formed. Ymir, the first giant, was killed by the god Odin and his brothers Vili and Ve, and when he fell, so much blood flowed from his wounds that it drowned almost the entire race of giants with the exception of the frost giant Bergelmir and his wife. They escaped in a ship and survived, becoming the progenitors of a new race of giants. Ymir’s body was then used to form the earth while his blood became the sea.
The second, in the Norse mythological time cycle, is destined to occur in the future during the final battle between the gods and giants, known as Ragnarök. During this apocalyptic event, Jormungandr, the great World Serpent that lies beneath the sea surrounding Midgard, the realm of mortals, will rise up from the watery depths to join the conflict, resulting in a catastrophic flood that will drown the land. However, following Ragnarök the earth will be reborn and a new age of humanity will begin.
Aztec Flood after the Sun Age
When the Sun Age came, there had passed 400 years. Then came 200 years, then 76. Then all mankind was lost and drowned and turned to fishes. The water and the sky drew near each other. In a single day all was lost, and Four Flower consumed all that there was of our flesh. The very mountains were swallowed up in the flood, and the waters remained, lying tranquil during fifty and two springs. But before the flood began, Titlachahuan had warned the man Nota and his wife Nena, saying, ‘Make no more pulque, but hollow a great cypress, into which you shall enter the month Tozoztli. The waters shall near the sky.’ They entered, and when Titlacahuan had shut them in he said to the man, ‘Thou shalt eat but a single ear of maize, and thy wife but one also’. And when they had each eaten one ear of maize, they prepared to go forth, for the water was tranquil.
In Inca mythology, Viracocha destroyed the giants with a Great Flood, and two people repopulated the earth. Uniquely, they survived in sealed caves.
Maya Huracan God of Wind and Storm
In Maya mythology, from the Popol Vuh, Part 1, Chapter 3, Huracan was a wind and storm god who caused the Great Flood (of resin) after the first humans (made of wood) angered the gods by being unable to worship them. He lived in the windy mists above the floodwaters and spoke the word “earth” until land came up again from the seas.
Hopi Indians Anger Sotuknang
In Hopi mythology, the people moved away from Sotuknang, the creator, repeatedly. He destroyed the world by fire, and then by cold, and recreated it both times for the people that still followed the laws of creation, who survived by hiding underground. People became corrupt and warlike a third time. As a result, Sotuknang guided the people to Spider Woman, and she cut down giant reeds and sheltered the people in the hollow stems. Sotuknang then caused a great flood, and the people floated atop the water in their reeds. The reeds came to rest on a small piece of land, and the people emerged, with as much food as they started with. The people traveled on in their canoes, guided by their inner wisdom (which is said to come from Sotuknang, through the door at the top of their head). They travelled to the northeast, passing progressively larger islands, until they came to the Fourth World. When they reached the fourth world, the islands sank into the ocean.
Caddo Indians and the Four Monsters
In Caddo mythology, four monsters grew in size and power until they touched the sky. At that time, a man heard a voice telling him to plant a hollow reed. He did so, and the reed grew very big very quickly. The man entered the reed with his wife and pairs of all good animals. Waters rose, and covered everything but the top of the reed and the heads of the monsters. A turtle then killed the monsters by digging under them and uprooting them. The waters subsided, and winds dried the earth.
Menominee and Manabus the Trickster
In Menominee mythology, Manabus, the trickster, “fired by his lust for revenge” shot two underground gods when the gods were at play. When they all dived into the water, a huge flood arose. “The water rose up …. It knew very well where Manabus had gone.” He runs, he runs; but the water, coming from Lake Michigan, chases him faster and faster, even as he runs up a mountain and climbs to the top of the lofty pine at its peak. Four times he begs the tree to grow just a little more, and four times it obliges until it can grow no more. But the water keeps climbing “up, up, right to his chin, and there it stopped”: there was nothing but water stretching out to the horizon. And then Manabus, helped by diving animals, and especially the bravest of all, the Muskrat, creates the world as we know it today.
Mi’kmaq Tribe and the Sad Sun God
In Mi’kmaq mythology, evil and wickedness among men causes them to kill each other. This causes great sorrow to the creator-sun-god, who weeps tears that become rains sufficient to trigger a deluge. The people attempt to survive by traveling in bark canoes, but only a single old man and woman survive to populate the earth.