Comments on “Exploring the Extent of the Flood: Part One”

With the very first issue, Volume 1 , No.1,  of the “New Reasons to Believe”, RTB launches their an apologetic by Dr. Ross  for why we don’t need to believe the Bible when it says Noah’s flood did not cover the whole earth.  This is  a logical topic to include because this is a major point of divergence between young and old earth creationism, and a sensitive point for old earthers.  Dr. Ross and his followers are forced into the position that the whole surface of the earth was not covered by water during Noah’s flood because of Ross’s decision to agree with everything that Science teaches, and Science cannot hold to a global Noachian flood.  A recent global flood would allow for the rapid creation all the geologic layers that evolution depends on to create in illusion of billions of years.  Billions of years are a vital underpinning of evolution.  Without them, one cannot visualize premordial slime becoming people, even though billions is not even a drop in the bucket compared to the time that you would need to produce even one protein by random chance.Many Christians don’t realize the local flood teaching is so widely believed.  We learn about all the animals that were on the ark coming out and repopulating the whole earth and we assume that everyone means “the whole earth”, but unfortunately old earth believers mean “the small part of the whole of the earth that we call the whole earth when talking about Noah”.  This small part of the earth where Noah lived, somewhere in the Mideast fertile crescent or the Black Sea area of Russia is all that Ross needs for the local flood to cover to wipe out the population of the world.  Ross must impose upon us to believe that in the sixteen hundred years from creation to the flood, the entire population of the world, which could have been as large as a hundred million people, never strayed past this small boundary.  And what is the reason Ross must believe this?  It is the only way that he can reconcile Science with the Bible.Where does the Bible say the flood was?  Let’s look at the words used:In Hebrew, the word “earth” is a translation of ‘erets.  Strong’s defines ‘erets as:

‘erets (eh’-rets)  From an unused root probably meaning to be firm; the earth (at large, or partitively a land): -  X common, country, earth, field, ground, land, X nations, way, + wilderness, world.

‘erets is used 309 times in Genesis alone.  It occurs 79 times in the first eleven chapters, where it is translated as the “land” or “country” where a people group dwells, or as “earth”, but not earth as in ground.  Later in Genesis, starting with the story of Lot, it is translated “ground”, usually with reference to bowing one’s face to the ‘erets.  On the other hand, “ground”, as in dirt, is ‘ădâmâh.Forced into a local flood, Ross explains why the Hebrew word ‘erets means a small part of the earth, rather than all of the earth:

“Ancient readers (mostly hearers, because manuscripts and reading ability were limited) never even imagined a terrestrial ball. “Earth” or “world” to them meant “land” or implied people and societies.

The purely speculative ideas that ancient readers didn’t know the earth was a ball (the people just after the flood mapped the whole earth, the  Greeks even knew its diameter) and didn’t know how to read,  stem from the evolutionary belief that we gradually over time emerged from apes into less intelligent humans, and then into homo sapiens.  Ross apparently forgets the origin of this belief in evolution, and holds to it in spite of the Bible’s specifically mentioning that before the flood these were not primitive people:

Gen 4:20  Adah gave birth to Jabal; he was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock.Gen 4:21  His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe.Gen 4:22  As for Zillah, she also gave birth to Tubal-cain, the forger of all implements of bronze and iron…

We agree that in the first eleven chapters, ‘erets could mean “the land of a people”.  But did it just mean that? Obviously in Genesis 1:1 it means the whole earth.  All the way up to Genesis 6 it means the whole earth, but suddenly when the story of Noah starts, we must stop believing the Bible when it says “whole earth”.  Why?  The text still seems to be saying “the whole earth.  A reader without an agenda to force fit the Bible into Science would never have it cross their mind, especially when God uses the word “all” over forty times in Genesis 6-11 to describe the extent of the flood.Then how does the Bible use the word ‘erets that we translate “earth”?  Let’s take a look at Genesis 1:10 where God actually defines it for us.  (I have included the Strong’s Dictionary numbers here to let you track the original words, not the words the translators decided to use):

Gen 1:9  Then GodH430 saidH559, “Let the watersH4325 belowH4480 H8478 the heavensH8064 be gatheredH6960b into oneH259 placeH4725, and let the dryH3004 landH3004 appearH7200″; and it was soH3651.Gen 1:10  GodH430 calledH7121 the dryH3004 landH3004 earthH776, and the gatheringH4723b of the watersH4325 He calledH7121 seasH3220; and GodH430 sawH7200 that it was goodH2896a.

So it was the “dry land” that God called ‘erets (earthH447).   Notice that “dry land” comes from H3004:H3004יבּשׂהyabbâśâhyab-baw-shaw’From H3001; dry ground: - dry (ground, land).The word is repeated in the Hebrew, which is significant.  For example in Genesis 2:17 God tells them to not eat of the tree:

Gen 2:17  but from the treeH6086 of the knowledgeH1847 of goodH2896b and evilH7451b you shall not eatH398, for in the dayH3117 that you eatH398 from it you will surelyH4191 dieH4191.”

The word die, H4191, is repeated.  If you search the Old Testament you will find that everywhere else that H4191 is repeated it is translated as “put to death” except for this verse.  And isn’t that what God is saying here, that Adam and Eve would be put to death for eating of the tree?  Why is this verse mistranslated?  But I digress.So God says He called the “dry dry” land ‘erets.   If you read through all the verses where ‘erets is used in Genesis 1-11 and put “dry land” in place of ‘erets, you will find it makes perfect sense.  Everywhere ‘erets is used it is talking about dry land.  It is not used in reference to any animals that live in the ocean.  It refers to the “dry land” occupied by specific people groups.  And most importantly, it makes sense in chapters six and seven when relating the events of the flood.  There was only one continent at the time of the flood, and God called it all ‘erets.Finally Hugh tries to use verses later in the Bible to interpret the use of ‘erets in Genesis:

Two familiar Old Testament passages narrate “worldwide” events other than the Flood: Genesis 41:56–42:6 and 1 Kings 10. The same Hebrew word, ’eres, translated as “the earth” in the Flood account, is translated as “the world” in these passages. So their meaning is essentially interchangeable.

In Genesis 41:57 we read, “[A]ll the countries came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe in all the world.” Genesis 42:5–6 clarifies that the famine had spread throughout the whole of the Egyptian Empire and the land of Canaan. “The world” in this context refers to a major region of human civilization rather than to the entire globe.

Justifying the age of the earth, the miles thick layers of sediment laid down by water, the fossil layers, the entire arguments regarding cosmology, all on the interpretation of the word that the author of the chronicle of Joseph chose to call  the extent of the famine is putting one’s self a bit out on a limb.  The Mediterranean was a well traveled area for ocean going trade vessels.  How can we say that Joseph was not supplying a large part of the world with grain for that seven year period?  It would not be pertinent to the story of Joseph as passed down to us in the Bible.  It was only important to recount Egypt and Canaan as being in drought to explain why Joseph’s brothers were forced to come to Egypt for aid.  The same can be said about 1 Kings 10: can we really assume that our ancestors were unable to sail around the world in ships?  Again, evolutionary teaching that we are descended from apes prevents Hugh from acknowledging that these people were capable of this and more.  There is much evidence that they did, but that will be a topic for another day.

Hugh’s other examples are as easily dismissed:

In Romans 1:8 Paul says of the Roman Christians, “Your faith is being reported all over the world.” 

  One cannot take an example from New Testament Greek and use it to interpret Hebrew writing from another culture written thousands of years before.  One cannot ever use verses written later to interpret earlier writings.  How would we expect the people in Moses’ day to understand what was being written about creation if they had to wait for 1 Kings or Romans to be written to understand what the text meant?  We cannot expect them to wait for Paul to be born to know what God was saying to the patriarchs.

 So Part 1 of Ross’s apologetic ends and the Emperor has no clothes as yet.  Let’s see what Part 2 brings.

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