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The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia
(Genesis 6:9-9:17): When God on account of man's wickedness resolved to destroy by a flood all mankind and all the animal world, only Noah and his family and two (or seven) pairs of every living species were excepted. To save them Noah was bidden by God to build a huge chest or ark, in which they were hidden during the Flood. When the waters abated and the ark rested on one of the mountains of Ararat, Noah sent forth a raven and doves, and when the second dove returned with an olive-leaf in her mouth, while the third dove did not return, it was proof that the ground was dry. On leaving the ark, Noah built an altar and offered sacrifice, which God accepted, promising to curse the earth no more. He blessed Noah and made a covenant with him and his descendants, signified by the rainbow. In later literature this event is alluded to in Ezekiel 14:14,20; Isaiah 24:5,18; 54:9; Psalms 29:10; Job 22:15 et seq.
âIn Rabbinical Literature:
When Noah was four hundred and eighty years old all the righteous sons of men were dead, except Methuselah and Noah himself. At God's command they both announced that one hundred and twenty years would be given to men for repentance; if in that time they had not mended their evil ways, the earth would be destroyed. But their plea was in vain; even while Noah was engaged in building the ark the wicked made sport of him and his work, saying: "If the Flood should come, it could not harm us. We are too tall; and, moreover, we could close up with our feet [which were of monstrous size] the springs from below." (Being descendants of the "sons of God," they were of immense stature; see see FALL OF ANGELS; GIANTS). In fact, they resorted to these tactics; but God heated the water, and their feet and the flesh of their bodies were scalded (Pirá¸³e R. El. xxii, end).
Causes of Flood.
According to another version (Midrash ha-Gadol, ed. Schechter, p. 145), Noah was asked what kind of flood was to come upon the wicked: if a flood of fire, they had a fire-animal, 'alitha, the name of which would act as a spell against fire; if of water, they had sheets of iron wherewith to cover the earth so that no water could come through from below; but in case the waters descended from above, they had another contrivance by which to escapeâthe "'aá¸³ob" or "'aá¸³osh" (sponge; Sanh. 108a, b). The sins of the "men of the generation of the Flood" (Sanh. 38b et passim) are variously given. They were proud and therefore shameless, parading the earth in a state of absolute nudity (Tanna debe Eliyahu, ). They were licentious and lascivious (Sanh. 108; Midrash ha-Gadol, pp. 142-146), so that even the animals followed their example (ib. p. 153; Tan., Noaá¸¥, ed. Buber, p. 5). They were robbers; in daytime they marked the houses of the rich with balsam, to find them by means of the odor in the dark (Midrash ha-Gadol, p. 142; Gen. R. , ). They denied God (Midrash ha-Gadol, pp. 144, 145). A respite of 120 years was granted that Methuselah might complete his allotted life (ib. p. 144; "Sefer ha-Yashar," ); after his death seven more days were allowed as days of mourning ("shib'ah"). During these seven days God changed the natural order of things, converting day into night and vice versa, to remind the wicked of their perversion (Midrash ha-Gadol, p. 155; Sanh. 108b).
Noah himself had not much faith; he did not enter the ark until the water had reached his knees (Gen. R.). God covenanted with him that the fruit he took with him would not spoil or mildew, or lose color; also that none of the giants would stop up the abyss. The lion came to him tamed and with teeth dulled (Gen. R. ). As the waters rose the true character of Noah's contemporaries became evident; with extreme cruelty they hurled their own children into the abyss in an endeavor to stay therising flood (Tan., Noaá¸¥, 10). To convince these robbers and murderers that they could not destroy the ark, Noah had to enter it in full daylight (Midrash ha-Gadol, p. 158; Gen. R. 32:8; Sifre, p. 141a). Water was chosen as the instrument of destruction because man was made of dust, and water is the exact opposite of dust; because it was the first element to sing God's praises; because it enters into the composition of all that has life; because it recalled the haughty eye of the sinners (Midrash ha-Gadol, p. 152; Mek., Beshallaá¸¥, 37b; Gen. R.; Sanh. 108). The waters from above met those from beneath as though the former were male and the latter female, their union producing new floods (Pirá¸³e R. El. ).
By displacing two stars in the constellation of Kimah (CONSTELLATIONS) God brought on the Deluge (Midrash ha-Gadol, p. 156; comp. Ber. 58b, 59a). The land of Israel was exempt from the Flood (Pirá¸³e R. El. ). Noah was in the ark one whole year, during which time he did not sleep; hence his anxiety to be released (Tan., Noah, 14). He sent out a raven, which, alighting upon a dead body on a high mountain, forgot its errand in the feast. The dove brought back a twig of the olive-tree, which, though bitter, she preferred, as coming from God, to any sweet thing at the hand of man; hence the proverb, "A fool employs an unclean messenger" (Pirá¸³e R. El. ). Noah was exceedingly annoyed by the odor of the beasts of prey (ib.). For the reasons for the forty days and forty nights of the flood see Forty.
The year of the Flood is not included in Noah's years (Gen. R. ). The number of those coming out of the ark was exactly that of those who entered it, none having been born in the meantime (Gen. R. ). Twelve months was the duration of the punishment of the generation of the Flood. The rain lasted during the months of á¸¤eshwan and Kislew; the waters increased in á¹¬ebet, Shebaá¹, Adar, Nisan, and Iyyar; the ark rested in Siwan on Mount Kartunja (see Midrash ha-Gadol, p. 161; 'Eduy. 2:10; Seder 'Olam R. ). The confusing notation, according to both solar and lunar years, in the Biblical account is noticed by the Rabbis (Gen. R. ). The generation of the Flood has no share in the world to come (Sanh. 108a). According to the "Sefer ha-Yashar," severe storms frequently occurred during Noah's voyage, frightening the beasts as well as Noah and his family.
The Sources of the Old Testament Account.
This story has been shown, by a careful study of the Hebrew text by scholars throughout the last century (see Cheyne, "Founders of Old Testament Criticism: Biographical, Descriptive, and Critical Studies," New York, 1893), to be a compilation by a late redactor from two (or even three) different sources, which, while agreeing in general outlines, differ considerably in details, style, and character of language. The collection or codification, in writing, of the oral traditions concerning these legends was not done by one hand nor at one period, but in the course of a very long process and by several or many hands. Many collections must have been made from time to time. Among these several have survived. Two stages are still noticeable (J1 and J2), to the earlier of which are referred the collections of the Jahvist (J) document and the Elohist (E) narrative; while the later is a thorough revision known as the "priestly writing" or "priests' code" (P), whose common theme was "the choice of Israel to be the people of Yhwh" (Wildeboer). The oldest strata of J did not know the story of the Flood: it is preserved in the later strata (J2, about 650 B.C.).
The sections of the narrative of the Flood (see Budde, "Die Biblische Urgeschichte," pp. 248 et seq.; JÃ¼licher; Holzinger; Driver, "Introduction to the Literature of the Old Testament," 7th ed., pp. 14 et seq.; W. E. Addis, "Documents of the Hexateuch," London; Carpenter and Harford-Battersby, "The Hexateuch. According to Revised Version," etc., New York) ascribed to J2 are: 6:5-8 (after which a considerable portion of the story is missing, as, for example, God's first appearance and command to build an ark, thereby testing Noah's trust and obedience); 7:1-2b (God's second appearance to Noah), [3a], 3b, 4, 5, 10, 7 [8, 9], 16b, 12, 17b, 23ad, 22, 23b; 8:6a, 2b, 3a (after which a sentence is missing), 6b, 8-12, 13b, 20-22. To P are assigned: 6:9-22 (14-16 and 17-22 correspond to J2's account in 6:8 and 7:1; comp. Budde, "Die Biblische Urgeschichte"; Cheyne and Black, "Encyc. Bibl." s. "Deluge"); 7:6,11,13-16a, 17a, 18-21, 24; 8:1-2a, 3b-5, 13a, 14-19; 9:1-17,28,29.
The story of the Flood and similar stories show that in J2 are contained separate legends and legend cycles; delicate and coarse elements exist side by side; they do not bear the stamp of a single definite period or time, and still less of a single personality. There is a decided anthropomorphic flavor in the account of J which is not found in P; and yet it is much purer and more spiritual than the cuneiform account of the Deluge. P preserves the more detailed account, aiming at legal clearness and minuteness, having always the same expressions and formulas, and observing a tone of prosaic pedantry, dry and monotonous; giving the early stories, and few of them at best, only as a sort of preamble to the genealogies, the chief aim of this collection. In his account P manifests a wide contrast with the vivid colors of the older narratives, lacking all the concrete elements of a story. He attaches to the legends a detailed chronology which is absolutely out of keeping with the simplicity of the old legends. Noticeable, also, are the precise form of God's promises and the sign of the covenant made with Noah. Only the objective element is considered as the important feature of his religion, which to him consists in the prescription of ceremonies, etc. He does not, in the account of the Deluge, distinguish between clean and unclean. The theophanies are not of a character usually found in the Old Testament; God appears, speaks, and then ascends; and everything characteristic of other stories is omitted (see PRIESTLY CODE). P was written from its own definite point of view after the catastrophe of the people and the kingdom of Judah, when, overwhelmed by the tremendous impression of theirmeasureless misfortune, they recognized that their fathers had sinned and that a great religious reformation was necessary.
It is clear, then, that J2 contains the early popular legends, while P represents the later learned redaction, preserving at the same time some very old traditions. To an entirely different collection may have originally belonged 8:7, which was inserted when the two collections J (J2) and E were later on combined by an editor, the Jahvist (Wellhausen), prior to the addition of the still later priests' code. To the final redactor (R) who united J, E, and P may be ascribed some of the brief additions and glosses.
The accounts as found now may be grouped under four headings:
- The Cause of the Flood (6:5-8: J2).
- The Preparation of Noah (6:9-7:5): Here there is a first and a second account.
The Accounts of J2 and P Combined.
- The first account (6:9-22: P) is incorporated in the text entire, including the minute instructions concerning the building of an ark, or chest (see also Exodus 2:3), that would float on the water. The Hebrew word is of disputed origin; it is translated by ÎºÎ¹Î²ÏÏÃ³Ï in the Septuagint and "arca" in the Vulgate (see Gesenius, "Th." 13th ed.; Jensen, in "Zeit. fÃ¼r Assyr." 4:272 et seq., explains the word as of Babylonian origin). The Babylonian Noah, PÃªr-napishtim, builds a ship. "It is most probable that the narrator of P wishes to indicate that in the time of the Patriarchs ships were unknown" (Mitchell). Lenormant ("Beginnings of History," ch. ) and others maintain that the Biblical narrative bears the stamp of an inland nation ignorant of things appertaining to navigation. The ark is to be made of wood, perhaps cypress (Lagarde, "Symmicta," 2:93; idem, "Mittheilungen," 1:227; idem, "NominalÃ¼bersicht," pp. 213, 218 et seq.; Cheyne, in Stade's "Zeitschrift," 1898, pp. 163 et seq.); it is to be built in three stories and divided wholly into cells (Lagarde, "Onomastica Sacra," 2d ed., p. 367; comp. the Babylonian account of the building of the ship). The seams are to be stopped by smearing outside and in with bitumen or asphalt. Its length is to be 300 (comp. Ezek. 5) cubits = 487.2 feet; its breadth 50 cubits = 81.2 feet; its height 30 cubits = 48.72 feet; contents, 1,927,394.38 cubic feet. A roof is to be constructed, capable of being turned from above on a hinge, in order to admit of opening and closing (see 8:13b); a door is to be at the side of the Ark. The making of the ark was God's test of Noah's confidence and obedience. Noah did as he was commanded, and brought his family into the ark, and two of every kind of living creature, male and female, as well as food for himself and for them. Notice the making of the first covenant (5:18).
- The second account (7:1-5: J) is a mere fragment. The story of the ark and its construction, no doubt originally also in J, connecting it with 6:8, is omitted by the redactor as a mere repetition. Preserved is the command to enter into the ark with the whole family and with representatives of the whole animal kingdom, of clean animals by sevens (or seven pairs ?) suitable for sacrifices and for food (8:20), and of unclean by twos. The Hebrew text says "two," perhaps indicating only one pair, which would favor the interpretation of "by sevens" as "three pairs and one [male ?]." All this is to be done in seven days.
- The Waters of the Flood (7:6-8:14): (1) Here is to be noticed the duration of the Flood (7:6-24; P and J2 combined). The two narratives separated stand as follows: With P the Flood begins (7:11) in the six hundredth year of Noah, the second month and the twenty-seventh day (so with LXX.; Haupt, in Ball, "Genesis," p. 118). "This gives exactly a lunar year for the duration of the Flood (see 8:14) instead of a year and eleven days, for which there seems no reason. Such errors in numerals are common enough" (Haupt). The waters rose for 150 days, and at the end of these 150 days they began to subside. When the Flood began Noah had lived for 600 years, e., a Babylonian "neru." To go further into details, Noah had reached in his life the six hundredth year, the second month, and the twenty-seventh day, when the Flood began; the six hundredth year, the seventh month, and the twenty-seventh day (LXX.), when the Flood was at its height; the six hundredth year, the tenth month, and the first day, when the highest mountain-peaks began to reappear; the six hundred and first year, the first month, and the first day, when the waters had disappeared [This number is important inasmuch as P therewith indicates that the old world has ceased to be; the new will now begin. This, and not the beginning of the Flood, is the new terminus a quo. This beginning of the year is not the old Israelitish New-Year's Day in the autumn, when the rainy season sets in, but the beginning of the Babylonian year, the first of Nisan, when the wet season ends. P usually reckons after the Babylonian system.]; the six hundred and first year, the second month, and the twenty-seventh day, when the earth was dry, and he was able to leave the ark (see B. W. Bacon, "The Chronology of the Account of the Flood in P," in "Hebraica," 1892, 8:79-88).
Date of the Flood.
The Hebrew year originally began in the fall (see Dillmann's "Ueber das Kalenderwesen der Israeliten vor dem Babylonischen Exil," in "Monatsberichte der Berliner Akademie," Oct. 27, 1881; Muss-Arnolt, "The Names of the Assyro-Babylonian Months and Their Regents," in "Journal of Biblical Literature," 11:72 et seq.); and since P elsewhere (Exodus 12:2) distinctly attributes to Moses the change in the method of reckoning time, he would naturally reckon from Tishri in the period preceding the advent of the Lawgiver. The second month would be "BÃ»l" (1 Kings 6:38), later Mará¸¥eshwan, beginning about the middle of October; so that the twenty-seventh of the month would correspond to the first half of November, the period when the rainy season in Palestine and the neighboring countries usually sets in. With J2 the Flood begins seven days after the announcement by God. It lasts forty days and forty nights (6:4,12). The rain then ceases, and after seven days, during which the waters begin to decrease (8:3a), Noah sends out the first dove (7:6b); after another seven days, another dove (7:10); after a third seven days, a third dove (7:12),which returns no more. He then uncovers the ark, and lo! the face of the earth is dry. Then he disembarks and offers a sacrifice, which in its description recalls very vividly the Babylonian account. This account mentions seven days of preparation, six (seven?) days of storm, and seven days of waiting after the flood-storm.
- The gradual subsidence is described in 8:1-14, and belongs mostly to J2. The waters had risen fifteen cubits above the highest mountainpeaks. As soon as they began to subside the ark grounded on one of the mountains of the land of Ararat (the "Urará¹u" of the Assyrians; see Belck, in "Zeit. fÃ¼r Assyr." 9:351; Jensen, in ib. pp. 306 et seq.; Belck and Lehmann, ib. 12:1-3 et seq.; Streck, ib. 14:103 et seq.; Billerbeck, "Das Sandschack Suleimania und dessen Persische Nachbarlandschaften zur Babylonischen und Assyrischen Zeit," Leipsic, 1898; Lehmann, "Armenien und Nordmesopotamien in Altertum und Gegenwart," Berlin, 1900; NÃ¶ldeke, "Untersuchungen zur Kritik des Alten Testaments"; Hastings, "Dict. Bible,"; Cheyne and Black, "Encyc. Bibl." 1:288-290; Jew. Encyc. 2:173,174), precisely as in the Babylonian account the ship rests on a mountain in the land of Nisir (see Muss-Arnolt, "Concise Dict. of the Assyrian Language," pp. 716. 717; "Zeit. fÃ¼r Assyr." 15:272). Mount Mas(s)is (see Friedrich Murad, "Ararat und Masis, Studien zur Armenischen Altertumskunde und Litteratur," Heidelberg, 1900; F. C. Conybeare, in "American Journal of Theology," 1901, pp. 335-337) is commonly identified with the one on which the ark rested; it is 17,000 feet high (so Targum, Syriac version; Berosus; see Cory, "Ancient Fragments," p. 63). Others identify it with Mount Judi in Kurdistan, southwest of Lake Van. The fact that the ark grounded on the very day the waters began to subside proves that the narrator assumes that of the 30 cubits of the ark's height, 15 were under water. In this he differs from the Babylonian account.(3) Birds are sent out as messengers (8:6-12: J). After 8:3a there must originally have followed an account of the settling of the ark on a mountain, perhaps in the East (Babylonia? comp. 11:2: Wellhausen). The sending out of the three doves is a proof of the sagacity of Noah, who thereby shows himself as the Old Testament equivalent of the Babylonian Hasis-adra. The first dove returns at once; the second, with a fresh olive-leaf, at eventide, when birds return to their nests; the third does not return.Ch. 8:7 does not belong to the account of J (Wellhausen, "Composition des Hexateuch," p. 15; Gunkel, p. 59; Mitchell, pp. 213, 214). It is imported from another source, perhaps by the redactor of J and E (from the Babylonian story?). Ball ("Genesis," in "S. B. O. T.") would retain the verse, but change the order of sentences, placing verse 7 after 8 and 9. "This arrangement has the additional advantage of agreement with the cuneiform account, in which version the dove comes first." But it is evident that Ball's suggestion does not solve the difficulties as well as does Wellhausen's rejection of 8:7. The two accounts, J and the cuneiform story, agree in the mainâfor instance, in the sending out of the birdâbut they differ in details. Winckler ("Altorientalische Forschungen," 3d series, vol. , part 1) holds that in the present J there is the combination of an older and shorter E account, according to which there were seven days of preparation, forty days of the Flood (the number of the Pleiades, the rain-constellation), and seven days preceding the sending out of the dove which returned no more. This would make fifty-four days altogether, about two lunar months. The other and longer account speaks of the threefold sending out of birds, which will have to be identified, in accordance with the cuneiform account, as swallow, dove, and raven.
After the Subsidence.
- The Future of the Survivors (8:15-9:17): This includes: Noah's offering, composed of the account by P of the exit from the ark (15-19), serving as an introduction to the extract from J2; the sacrifice in which Noah expressed his gratitude for deliverance (20-22); instructions given to Noah on the sacredness of life, of men as well as of beasts, stating emphatically that "whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed" (9:1-7: P); the making and proclaiming of a covenant, the sign of which was to be God's bow, the rainbow (9:8-17; P). The Babylonian account does not have this last feature. It suggests the Hindu myth in which the bow used by Indra in shooting bolts of lightning at his enemies, when the storm is over becomes the rainbow, a promise of peace to mankind. It is also found among the Arabians. P preserved this old mythological account simply because he desired for the construction of his world-scheme three covenant signs for the three covenants made with Noah, Abraham, and Mosesâthe rainbow, circumcision, and the Sabbath. Wellhausen ("Prolegomena zur Geschichte Israels," 4th ed., p. 317), Keil, and others stoutly defend the statement of the author, which implies that hitherto there had been no such thing as a rainbow; others, again, maintain that P is here explaining the origin, not of the rainbow, but of its adoption as a sign (see J. G. Murphy, "Genesis").In proof of the separate origin of the two documents J2 and P, attention may be called to: (1) the many repetitions; (2) the contradictions, such as 6:19 et seq. and 7:14-16 as against 7:2 et seq.; 7:11 (a poetic and mythological description) as against 7:12 (a prosaic narrative); 7:12 as against 7:24 (the duration of the Flood); (3) the many linguistic differences. On the other hand, there are also points of agreement, such as (1) the cause of the Deluge, (2) the persons saved, (3) the new relationship between God and man, (4) the words for "flood" and "ark." "Mabbul" is perhaps from the same root as Assyrian "nabÃ¢lu" = "destroy," and corresponds to the Assyro-Babylonian "abÃ»bu," whence perhaps its vocalization (see Gesenius, "Th." p. 550, and the literature cited in Muss-Arnolt, c. p. 636, col. 2, note). On "tebah" see above. But Budde ("Die Biblische Urgeschichte," pp. 417 et seq., 467 et seq.) is incorrect in maintaining that J2 has been the only source for P, nor is Cheyne right in making P dependent on J2. P, as it now stands, is fuller than J2 in (1) the announcement to Noah of the impending Deluge, and the command to build an ark, whose measurements are given in detail; (2) the notice ofthe place where the ark grounded; and (3) the appointment of the rainbow as the sign of the covenant between God and man.Of the account in J2 it may in general be said that the tradition of the Flood was known very early in Israel, but that, on the other hand, the present form of the tradition is of a more recent date. The traces of great antiquity are: (1) the closing of the ark by Yhwh Himself (7:16); (2) the sacrifice offered by Noah after the Flood, and especially the expression "And Yhwh smelled the pleasant odor"; (3) the sending out of the birds; (4) the terms for "flood" and "ark." In the mixture of Noah the pious and Noah the wise and prudent there is the combination of a later and an earlier tradition, the latter, perhaps, originally of a more secular, worldly character, the remnant of an old hero-song.Of the account in P it may in general be said that there are now and then traces of very old traditions. Thus, 7:11 (and 8:2a), the origin of the Flood, which in the minute and on the whole prosaic account of P is all the more remarkable because of its highly poetical coloring: (for example, the conception of the primeval man, just as in the Babylonian tradition [see Creation account, Rawlinson, , lines 139, 140], of the waters above the heavenly expanse held back by bars and sluices [comp. Genesis 49:25; Psalms 24:2]); the proverb or saying in 9:6; the very old story of the rainbow; the tradition concerning the termination of the period of peace and the new order of things; the account of the covenant, including also the animal creation, alluded to in Deutero-Isaiah 54:9 (Kraetzschmar). Further, the sources used by P also mentioned Mount Ararat, and perhaps also the "150 days." These and some minor points indicate for P a source very similar to that of J; but the considerations just given weigh against the assumption that P was directly dependent on J2 (Wellhausen, c., 4th ed., p. 399; Budde, c. pp. 467 et seq.; Holzinger, "Genesis," pp. 85 et seq.; Cheyne and Black, "Encyc. Bibl." s. "Deluge," Â§ 10). Nor can it be maintained with Kosters ("Theol. Tijdschrift," 19:335 et seq.) that P is remarkably similar to the account in Berosus, a view which would assume the later Babylonian tradition as a source (see Dillmann, "Genesis," p. 136). The tradition as found in P must have been known in Israel in early times.
Many other nations have traditions of an early flood. These have been carefully collected and sifted by Richard Andree ("Die Flutsagen, Ethnographisch Betrachtet," Brunswick, 1891), Hermann Usener ("Die Sintfluthsagen Untersucht," Bonn, 1899), Franz von Schwarz ("Sintflut und VÃ¶lkerwanderungen," Stuttgart, 1894), and Winternitz ("Die Flutsagen des Altertums und der NaturvÃ¶lker," in "Mitteilungen der Anthropologischen Gesellschaft in Wien," , No. 6). Winternitz believes that the widely spread legends are the outgrowth of local traditions based on actual local occurrences. The fact that many peoples have flood-legends can not justify the assumption that they all go back to one great prehistoric event, for there are many other nations and groups of nations without such legends.
Of greatest interest and importance for the study of the Old Testament account, among all these legends, is the cuneiform account of the Deluge. This was mentioned and epitomized by Berosus and Abydenus, preserved by Eusebius, "Chronicon," 1:19, edited by Schoene in "Fragmenta Historicorum GrÃ¦corum," 2:50 et seq., 4:281 (translated by Usener, "Flutsagen," pp. 13-15), and is fully known since George Smith's discovery, in 1872, of the cuneiform text, on editions and translations of which see Muss-Arnolt, "Assyrian and Babylonian Literature," pp. 350, 351, New York, 1902.
PÃªr-napishtim, the ancestor of Gilgamesh and the favorite of the gods, relates to Gilgamesh the story of the Flood, in which he and his family and his belongings were alone saved. Owing to the corruption of the citizens of Shurippak, the gods decided to bring about a deluge, destroying all mankind. In a dream the god Ea revealed their intention to a man of the city named "PÃªr-napishtim" (Scheil in Maspero's "Recueil des Travaux," 1898, 20:55 et seq.), who, in accordance with Ea's instructions, saved himself, and his family, and every kind of beast, by building a ship in which they escaped from the Flood. The ship was built in seven days. Its sides were 120 cubits high; its beam was 120 cubits also (see Haupt in "Am. Jour. Philology," 9:419 et seq.). After PÃªr-napishtim had stowed away his family and belongings, and living creatures of every kind, the storm, called "abÃ»bu," broke loose so fearfully that even the gods became affrighted. Everything was destroyed. The storm ceased after the sixth day, and after twelve (double) hours there rose out of the water a strip of land. To Mount Nisir the ship drifted and stuck fast. And when the seventh day drew nigh PÃªr-napishtim sent forth a dove. The dove flew hither and thither, but as there was no resting-place for her, she returned. Then he sent forth a swallow. The swallow flew hither and thither, but as there was no resting-place for her, she also returned. Then he sent forth a raven. The raven flew away, saw the land emerging, alighted upon it, waded about, croaking, and returned no more (comp. with this the account of J2). PÃªr-napishtim then disembarked, and offered to the gods a sacrifice, whose savor the gods smelled, gathering like flies around the sacrificer. The anger of BÃªl, the god who was the prime mover of the Flood, and who was displeased at the salvation of PÃªr-napishtim, is assuaged; he goes up into the ship, takes PÃªr-napishtim and his wife, blesses them, and makes them dwell far away at the mouth of the rivers. The character and actions of BÃªl and of Ea, as described here, appear united in Yhwh by J2, whose account, of course, is strictly monotheistic, purer, and loftier.
The Deluge fragment discovered by Scheil is dated in the reign of Ammizadugga, one of the last kings of the first dynasty of Babylon, and may be ascribed to about 2100 B.C. It was found at Sipparâwhere the Deluge is placed by Berosusâand represents the local form of the legend current in that city during this early period. Tablet seven of this fragment mentions PÃªr-napishtim, and tablet eight speaks of Atrakhasis; both occur in the account which was found by Smith. Atrakhasis (Hasisatra) is the "Xisuthrus" of Berosus (the "Sisithros" ofAbydenus). The conjectures on the relationship between the two names are given in Muss-Arnolt, "Assyrian and Babylonian Literature," p. 358. On the etymology of the two names see idem, "A Con cise Dictionary of the Assyrian Language," pp. 134, 712. See also Zimmern in "Zeitschrift fÃ¶r Assyriologie," 14:277 et seq. The story of the Deluge had originally no connection with the story of Gilgamesh.
Here in general there is a similarity between J2 and the Babylonian account, but as a vehicle of moral and religious instruction the superiority of the Old Testament account is at once apparent. The Babylonian account is polytheistic, its gods capricious, jealous, quarrelsome; the hero a favorite of only one of these gods. The Old Testament tradition, even in its earliest known form, is thoroughly monotheistic; its God commands instant and unreserved reverence; its hero is saved on account of his righteousness.
Source of the Hebrew Tradition.
It is maintained by many that the Hebrew tradition, especially as preserved in J2, was directly borrowed from the Babylonian at the time of the ascendency of Assyria, that is, about 700 B.C., when Judah was a vassal kingdom of Assyria (see Haupt, "Sintflut Bericht," 1881, p. 20; Usener, c. p. 256; Stade's "Zeitschrift," 1895, p. 160; Budde, c. p. 457; "Am. Jour.of Theology," Oct., 1902, pp. 706, 707). It is, however, more correct to assume with Zimmern ("Biblische und Babylonische Urgesch." p. 40) that these Babylonian legends were first made known about the Tell el-Amarna period among the original Canaanite inhabitants of Palestine, from whom they passed to the Israelites when the latter settled in the land. Others assume later Aramean or Phenician mediation (see Gunkel, "Genesis," pp. 67, 68; Winckler, "Altorientalische Forschungen," 2:140 et seq., 160 et seq.).
In the Babylonian, and especially in the Hebrew, tradition there is the blending of two still earlier legends, the one of the destruction of mankind, wholly or in part, by the punitive judgment of the divine powers, owing to man's wickednessâa legend of a character similar to that of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, or the story of Philemon and Baucis in classic lore; the other, that of a flood as such, either local or universal. The Flood was not in the tradition's view universal, as "universal" would be understood at present, simply because the world of the early writers was a totally different world from that of to-day. This latter legend again undoubtedly goes back ultimately to a nature-myth representing the phenomena of winter, which in Babylonia especially is a time of rain. The hero rescued in the ship must originally have been the sun-god. Thus the Deluge and the deliverance of PÃªr-napishtim are ultimately but a variant of the Babylonian Creation-myth (Zimmern; see also Cheyne, s. "Deluge," Â§ 18).
- Hermann Gunkel, Genesis Uebersetzt und ErklÃ¤rt, in Handkommentar zum Alten Testament, pp. 55-71, GÃ¶ttingen, 1901;
- H. Holzinger, Genesis ErklÃ¤rt, in Kurzer Hand-Commentar zum Alten Testament, pp. 68-89, Freiburg, 1898;
- Dillmann, Genesis ErklÃ¤rt, 6th ed., 1892, pp. 127-156: Eng. transl., 1:245-300, Edinburgh, 1897;
- Franz Delitzsch, Neuer Commentar Ã¼ber die Genesis, 5th ed., pp. 146-191. Leipsic, 1887;
- H. G. Mitchell, The World Before Abraham According to Genesis -, with an Introduction to the Pentateuch, pp. 84-90, 194-227, Boston, 1901;
- Budde, Die Biblische Urgeschichte, 1893;
- Heinrich Zimmern, Biblische und Babylonische Urgesch. (= Der Alte Orient, , No. 3), Leipsic, 1901:
- Eng. transl., The Hebrew and Babylonian Genesis, London, 1902;
- B. N. Bacon, The Genesis of Genesis;
- NÃ¶ldeke, Untersuchungen zur Kritik, pp. 145 et seq., Kiel, 1869;
- Theophilus G. Pinches, The Old Testament in the Light of the Historical Records and Legends of Assyria and Babylonia, pp. 85-117, London, 1902;
- Schrader, K. A. T. 3d ed., pp. 547 et seq.;
- Julius Wellhausen, Composition des Hexateuch;
- idem, Prolegomena zur Gesch. Israels;
- idem, History of Israel and Judah;
- Winer, B. R. 3d ed., 1847, 2:161-166;
- Diestel, Die Sintflut und die Flutsagen des Alterthums, in Sammlung GemeinverstÃ¤ndlicher Wissenschaftlicher VortrÃ¤ge, series , No. 137 (1871);
- E. SÃ¼ss, Die Sintfluth, a geological study, Prague and Leipsic, 1883 (with an important contribution by Professor Haupt);
- J. Prestwich, On Certain Phenomena Belonging to the Close of the Last Geological Period, and on the Bearing upon the Tradition of the Flood, New York, 1895;
- L. Dupare, Le DÃ©luge Biblique:
- Essai d' InterprÃ©tation Scientifique, Paris, 1898;
- J. E. C. de Kirwan, La Localistion du DÃ©luge et les PÃ©ripÃ©ties de la Question, pp. 45 et seq., Paris, 1899;
- idem, Un Adversaire du DÃ© luge et de Sa Localistion: RÃ©ponse Ã S. Reinach, pp. 44 et seq., Paris 1899;
- Cheyne and Black, Encyc. Bibl. s. Deluge;
- Hastings, Dict. Bible;
- Dillmann, SÃ¼ndflut, in Schenkel, Bibel-Lexikon, 1875, 5:434-437;
- A. Loisy, Notes sur la GenÃ¨se:
- V., Le DÃ©luge, in Revue d'Histoire et de LitÃ©rature RÃ©ligieuses, 1898, pp. 167-183;
- Ch. Pergameni, Une Explication Scientifique du DÃ©luge, in Revue de l'UniversitÃ© de Bruxelles, No. 8, May, 1898;
- Th. NÃ¶ldeke, Der Mythus von der SÃ¼ndfluth, in Im Neuen Reiche, 1872, 247-259;
- J. HalÃ©vy, La Date du DÃ©luge d' AprÃ¨s les Textes Principaux, in Journal Asiatique, April, 1899, pp. 353-356;
- A. GittÃ©r, Les LÃ©gendes du DÃ©luge Devant l'Ethnographie et l'Histoire, in Revue Belgique, Nov.-Dec., 1899;
- Paul Carus, The Legend of the Flood, in The Monist, July, 1901:
- G. F. Wright, The Geological Confirmations of the Noachian Deluge, in Bibliotheca Sacra, April and July, 1901;
- idem, Geology and the Deluge, in McClure's Magazine, June, 1901.
- See Sunday School Times, July 6, 1901;
- Science, June 21, 1901;
- Popular Science Monthly, Aug. and Sept., 1901;
- Wright, in Advance, Aug. 29, 1901;
- idem, in The Independent, Aug. 8, 1901;
- M. Gander, Die Geologie und die SÃ¼ndflut, in Katholik, Dec., 1897.
âIn Mohammedan Literature:
In the Koran Noah is mentioned not less than eleven times. The Koranic term for "flood" ("tufan") betrays an Aramaic origin, and leads one to infer that Mohammed had heard the story from Jews or Christians in Syria, probably from both. The most concise and accurate account is given in sura 29:13-14: "We sent heretofore Noah to his people; he remained with them one thousand years save fifty years. Then the Flood seized them while they were acting wickedly. But we rescued him and those who were in the ark, and we made it a sign unto all creatures." This quotation shows that Mohammed had not read the account of the Flood in the Bible, but had heard it in the form of the Jewish Haggadah. According to the latter, Noah was bidden to spend one hundred and twenty years in building the ark, so that people might take warning.
Moslem tradition renders the story in a more elaborate form. Noah planted an ebony-tree brought to him by Gabriel. After it had grown for many years he cut it down and prepared the planks. When he commenced to build the ark, the people taunted him in the following words: "At first thou wert a prophet; now thou hast turned carpenter." As soon as the ark was finished, Noah dug up Adam's body and placed it therein. Then the rain poured down for forty days and forty nights. All mankind and all animals perished save those in the ark. Two luminous disks in the walls of the ark marked day and night, as well as the hours of prayer. For forty days (according to other reports, seven times) the ark floated round the Kaaba in Mecca; and after six months it settled on the top of a mountain in Mesopotamia. Noah sent out a dove, which returnedwith an olive-leaf in its beak. When the water had disappeared he saw the rainbow, and then he knew that it was time to leave the ark. The accounts in the Koran (suras 11:42, 23:27) end with the words: "Then our decree came [true] and the oven boiled." This is evidently a reproduction of the Talmudical saying, "The generation of the Flood was judged with boiling water" (Sanh. 108). See Ark of Noah in Mohammedan Literature.
- Geiger, Was Hat Mohammed aus dem Judentum Aufgenommen? Bonn, 1833;
- Weil, Biblische Legenden der MuselmÃ¤nner;
- Rehatsek, Rauá¸at al-Safa, part , 1:78 et seq., London, 1891-94.
These files are public domain.
Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Flood, the'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tje/f/flood-the.html. 1901.