The Flood Story – Genesis 6-9

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In the first 6 verses of chapter 6 God is offended that the people of the land, הָאָדָם (ha·eretz), encouraged their women to mate with the sons of God1)Little is known of the sons of God. Michael Heiser and others suggest they were “fallen angels” and therefore verbotin to humans. However, all theories as to who were the sons of God are very controversial..

Genesis 6:7

וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶמְחֶה אֶת־הָאָדָם אֲשֶׁר־בָּרָאתִי מֵעַל פְּנֵי הָאֲדָמָה מֵאָדָם עַד־בְּהֵמָה עַד־רֶמֶשׂ וְעַד־עוֹף הַשָּׁמָיִם כִּי נִחַמְתִּי כִּי עֲשִׂיתִם

 

Mechanical Translation:

And-said [the-]LORD, I-shall-wipe the-mankind who-I-created from-on the-faces-of the-red-soil; from-mankind up-to beast, up-to-creeping-things and-up-to-flying-creatures-of the-sky because sorried-am-I that I-made-them.

Literal translation:

And the LORD said, “I shall wipe mankind from the {ground, land}; from mankind unto beasts, unto creeping things, and unto flying creatures of the sky because I regret that I made them.”

Commentary:

מֵעַל פְּנֵי הָאֲדָמָה: The NIV, NRS, NLT, KJV, and the LXE2)An English translation of the Greek Septuagint. misunderstands הָאֲדָמָה (haadamah) by translating adamah as ‘earth'3)This is confusing, since in modern times, earth can also be understood as the “planet earth”, a concept unknown to the ancient Hebrews of the Ancient Near East.. In ancient Hebrew, adamah literally meant the red arable soil of the Canaan highlands.  However, adamah is used more frequently to mean any cultivated, plantable ground or property. The key here is that adamah almost always refers to settled land. For example, Ezekiel uses adamah almost exclusively to mean the “land of Israel” – land settled by the people of Israel.

A more correct understanding this verse, therefore, is not that God intends to eliminate all of mankind from the planet earth. The planet earth is simply not in view. Rather, His intention is to rid the settled areas that had been cultivated or otherwise civilized – of all life.

In verse 6:17 we have the first mention of the flood

Genesis 6:17

וַאֲנִי הִנְנִי מֵבִיא אֶת־הַמַּבּוּל מַיִם עַל־הָאָרֶץ לְשַׁחֵת כָּל־בָּשָׂר אֲשֶׁר־בּוֹ רוּחַ חַיִּים מִתַּחַת הַשָּׁמָיִם כֹּל אֲשֶׁר־בָּאָרֶץ יִגְוָע

Mechanical Translation:

And-I, behold, will-cause-making the-flood waters over-the-land to-spoil all-flesh which-in-it [is] breath-of the-living. From-underneath the-skies all which-in-the-earth [will]-die.

Literal translation:

Behold! I will cause the flood waters over the land to destroy all living flesh. From below the skies, all which [is] in the land will die.

 

עַל־הָאָרֶץ (al-ha·aretz): can be reasonably translated as “over all the land“, “over all the earth“, or “over all the country”. In no case is ha·aretz ever to be translated as “over all the planet“.  This rule is similar to the translation of הַשָּׁמָיִם (ha·shammayim). In many English Bibles these two words are translated as “the heavens”. In the Old Testament the concept of Heaven as understood by modern Christians, simply did not exist. Shammayim literall means skies.

 

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