Talk:Global flood chronology

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Forty Days and Forty Nights[edit]

One of the issues you run into with biblical chronology is that in Hebrew the number 'forty' is generally not meant to be taken literally but is instead sort of an idiomatic shorthand for, "a lot", much like we might say in English, "I've been standing in line here for about a million years." It's why the number forty shows up in so many places in the Bible....Jesus fasting for forty days, the Hebrews wandering in the desert for forty years, the flood lasting forty days here and then a different number there. There are plenty of other "forty" examples you can find if you look hard enough.

This obviously doesn't clear up all the Bible's numerical contradictions, but it does explain a few. It also really, really, pisses off certain varieties of Biblical literalists, many of whom flatly refuse to really consider the often enormous effect linguistics and translation have on a text to cloud original meaning. — Unsigned, by: Kaffir / talk / contribs 11:21, 4 March 2009

I knew that forty was meant to refer to "a lot" in general. However, I've never looked into why. Or, more to the point, why forty? Why is forty considered "a lot"? Is it a modern vs. ancient thing? I can't think of too many things in which forty of them would be considered "a lot". Is it that ancient people just didn't run into a quantity of forty of anything all that often? --Edgerunner76Save me Jebus! 10:30, 4 March 2009 (EST)
It seems to me you're assuming there is some overarching rationality governing the foibles of language—I assure you there isn't. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 10:40, 4 March 2009 (EST)
Interesting. Sounds like the emphatic plural. Do you have a good source? Neveruse513 10:42, 4 March 2009 (EST)
Dunno about the States, but over here we have a word: "umpteen" that fulfills the "lot" function. ToastToastand marmite 10:44, 4 March 2009 (EST)
I'd appreciate it if you didn't use checkuser to load your spiteful responses with my personal geographic location. Neveruse513 10:46, 4 March 2009 (EST)
A source for 40? You can generally find it in any basic (non-fundimentalist) text that studies the bible and the history of the bible. Forty is a sacred number, being 10 of the number 4 (a very sacred number for hebrews). Many other cultures you see 3, 4, 7 and then multiples of those. In English, "a score" was "a big number" even though it meant specifically 20. It depended on context. --Sun mowse.pngEn attendant Godot"«I think like a genius, I write like a distinguished author, and I speak like a child. --V.Nabokov» 10:51, 4 March 2009 (EST)

Quote Mining[edit]

This whole article reeks of quote mining. I mean, just placing Genesis 8:6 and 8:5 in correct order shows that neither of those verses are talking about the total length of the flood. Now, I haven't spent much time studying the Bible, but looking through the relevant chapters, this chronology seems pretty clear to me:

1. God announces a coming flood in seven days, which will be initiated by forty days and forty nights of rain. (Gen. 7:4)

2. On the seventeenth day of the second month, the flooding initiates. (Gen. 7:11)

3. Rains fall for forty days. (Gen. 7:12)

4. During the forty days, the ark was lifted on the water and started floating above what was dry land. (Gen 7:17) (Note that it's not said that the flood ends after this time; I think the forty days are relevant because that's the already announced time of incoming water.)

5. For one hundred and fifty days, the water covers the earth completely. (Gen. 7:24) (It is not clear if this period includes the previous forty days, but in my opinion it doesn't, since during the forty days the water was still rising. This is important later on.)

6. After those one hundred and fifty days the waters start to subside (Gen. 8:1)

7. It seems that this is also the time when the rains stop, which is a contradiction with (1) and (3) (Gen. 8:2)

8. After one hundred and fifty days, the waters have decreased. (Gen. 8:3) (It could be read that they have receded completely, but "to abate" can also mean "to decrease"; I don't think this is a solid case of contradiction, though it is one of the many moot points.)

9. The ark comes to rest on the mountains of Ararat. This happens exactly five months from the start of the flood. (Gen. 8:4) (It turns out the one-fifty days from (8) are in fact from the start of the flood, not from the point when the last of the dry land got submerged. I think this is a clear contradiction with (5).)

10. The waters keep receding for further two and a half months approximately, at which point the tips of mountains appear above the surface. This is the first day of the tenth month. (Gen. 8:5) (I guess it's the other mountains around Ararat. It is a possible contradiction.)

11. At the end of yet another forty days, Noah releases the raven and the dove. (Gen. 8:7, 8:8) (It is unclear which forty days these are, but to me it seems it's forty days after the first day of the of the tenth months as seen in (10). I don't feel this is a contradiction concerning the total duration of the flood.)

12. After further seven days, he releases the dove again. (Gen. 8:10)

13. Seven days more pass, and the dove is released for the last time. (Gen. 8:12)

14. A new year comes. The water has dried off the earth. On the first day of the new year, Noah removes the covering from the ark and notices that the earth looks dry. (Gen. 8:13) (I have no idea how long this is since the start of the flood, since I don't know the durations of months of the calendar used. Anyone?)

15. On the twenty seventh day of the second month of the new year, the earth is completely dry. (Gen. 8:14) (Wasn't the earth dry nearly three months before this? To me it reads as if the water had evaporated from the surface, but the earth itself was still too soaked to get out of the ark. Since this is not clear, I still call contradiction with (14).)

The final sum is not perfectly clear due to the last contradiction; it could either be around 319 days, or 375 days. This is impossible to calculate independently by adding up the lengths of the various intervals mentioned in the account, so it relies completely on the verses 13 and 14 of Genesis 8.

All in all, the account indeed is very imprecise and self-contradictory at points. I think these points should be identified correctly and clearly, without resorting to dishonest creationist tactics. Otherwise, what's the point?-- (talk) 22:07, 24 March 2010 (UTC)

Indeed, but the 40 days is supported by 7:17. Of course the real explanation is that 8:6 is from the 40 day version of the story, so it does refer to 40 days after the beginning, but it can be explained away as 40 days after Gen 8:5, especially since the NIV translates it as "after 40 days" instead of "at the end of 40 days" -- Nx / talk 22:32, 24 March 2010 (UTC)
I tried to insert this into the article but gave up. It needs a serious rewrite, instead of plucking quotes out at random and then drawing conclusions from that, it should list them in order. There are still plenty of contradictions, e.g. how the ark settled on the top of Mount Ararat on the 7th day of the 7th month, but the tops of the mountains only became visible on the first day of the tenth month. -- Nx / talk 22:42, 24 March 2010 (UTC)
Gen. 7:17 states that the ark rose above the ground during the forty days. If it was meant to be the whole length of the flood, wouldn't it also describe how the water subsided and the ark came to rest on the ground again? The whole "forty days" thing is somewhat unclear as discussed in the talk section above this one. It is, though, very possible that there were originally at least two different accounts/legends, one lasting forty days, and another one hundred and fifty.
I've quickly looked through the Serbian translation as well. I wouldn't consider it a better translation than the English versions, but reading some parts in a different language created a somewhat different picture of those events in my mind. In particular, I realised that the ark could have rested on the summit of Ararat before it broke the surface. It only needed to be close enough to the surface for the bottom of the ark to touch it. Not a rock solid explanation (pardon the pun), but it makes sense to me. Anyway, I agree a rewrite is in order, and I agree there still are contradictions that should be pointed out. It is perfectly clear that the whole story is a myth and it makes no sense trying to read it as a historical account. -- (talk) 20:56, 26 March 2010 (UTC)

To answer some of the points made above:

  • All months are 30 days long (because 150 days equals 5 months)
  • The flood story (not the flood) is measured in months, and there are 14. They begin with the 1st month of Noah's 600th year, in which nothing happens, and reach a peak (along with the flood) in the 7th month; then the same period for the flood to receded, ending in month 2 of year 601 (the 14th month from month 1 of year 600). There's a good reason for this, which I'll come to.
  • The dates mentioned in the story itself are off-set from the 14-month framework (i.e. they don't start on the 1st of each month because of other things that are happening. The first of these happens in month 2: God has sat out 40 days from the beginning of month 1, because 40 signifies completion of an earthly cycle of time (as in the 40 years in the wilderness, the 40 years that David reigns, and even the 40 days that Christ spends in the wilderness after his baptism). Day 40 from the beginning of month 1 is day 10 of month 2, which the text says is the day God announces that he'll begin the flood after 7 more days. (You'll be aware of how often things happen in sevens in the bible - 7 days of Creation, the 7 branches on the Menorah, etc - it symbolises heavenly completion). So that initial 40 days, followed by the 7 days, both with mystical significance, skew the entire count from then on.
  • So the flood starts on day 17 of month 2. It then rises for 5 months (expressed as 150 days, which is 5 months of 30 days each). Add the 1st month in which nothing happened and you have 6 months. Then in the 7th month the flood reaches a peak and covers all the mountains to a depth of 15 cubits. Then in month 8 it starts going down, and continues to go down for a further 150 days/5 months, which brings us to month 12, the end of year 1 (year 600 of Noah's life). In the 2nd month of year 2 it ends - add those two months to the 5 of falling water and you have 7 months again. So the full cycle from no-flood to no-flood takes 14 months, or two sets of 7.
  • So why is this important? It's important because the flood/ark story isn't just a nautical adventure. It's theology. It's about God's destruction, through water, of the world he created from water (remember in Genesis 1 how, at the very beginning, there's nothing but water, darkness, and the "wind of God"? Not "spirit", bu the way - the Hebrew word "ruah" in that context can't mean spirit, because in Judaism God has no spirit, he simply is spirit). In Month 1 everything is normal, except that God has decided to destroy the world. But he doesn't act yet. He waits 40 days. Then he gives Noah 7 days warning (brings us to Day 17, Month 2). On that day he opens the firmament which he put in place on Day 2 of Creation. (Remember the firmament? it separates the waters above the earth from the waters below - now the windows in the firmament are opened, along with the fountains of the Deep, meaning the under-earth ocean). The waters pour in for 5 months, until (adding Month 1) Month 7, which is the equivalent of Day 7 of Creation. On that day God rested; in this month, so does the Ark, on the highest mountain peak. (And the water over the mountain is 15 cubits deep, and the Ark is 30 cubits high, giving it a draft of 15 cubits - wow, the detail!) And then the "wind of God" is over the waters again, just like in Genesis 1:2, and then the waters fall as the world is re-created.

And that's what it's all about.— Unsigned, by: / talk / contribs