Many people would be surprised at the answer to ‘How how long did Noahs flood last?’ because it is a long time and is a realistic timescale.
A myth probably puts it at a few days, or at most a month or two, but Noah was on the Ark for just over a year!
This article will look at ‘How many days was Noah on the Ark.’
To answer ‘How long did Noah wait for the flood?’ we need to look at Genesis 6:3 which states:
Then the Lord said, ‘My Spirit will not contend with humans for ever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.’Genesis 6:3 NIV
So that probably means that it would be 120 years from God’s warning to the Ark being built.
Then it states:
The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.Genesis 6:5-8 NIV
The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled.
So the Lord said, ‘I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created – and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground – for I regret that I have made them.’
But Noah found favour in the eyes of the Lord.”
Then God told Noah how to build a boat and to what proportions.
1. Preliminary tasks after the Ark was built
Noah and his family then had to stock up the Ark with all the food and supplies:
You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them.”Genesis 6:21 NIV
Many people say that it would have been an impossible task in finding every animal and creature, but actually, God SENT them to Noah.
All those creepy crawlers and things could have nestled away on the Ark without Noah having to find them and put them on board!
Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive.“Genesis 6:20 NIV
Only the larger animals would have to be guided to their place.
The fact that all the animals came to Noah without having to be rounded up is repeated in these verses:
Pairs of clean and unclean animals, of birds and of all creatures that move along the ground, male and female, came to Noah and entered the ark, as God had commanded Noah.Genesis 7:8-10 NIV
And after the seven days the floodwaters came on the earth.”
It is also possible that younger pairs came to Noah which would save on space within the Ark.
Also, the Genesis 6:20 verse says: “every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature”, that could mean that every species was NOT there, but a ‘kind’ which can be the genus or group.
For more on this subject see: Do dogs prove evolution and are Bible kinds species?
2. The great flood starts – what happened during the flood?
all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened.Genesis 7:11-13 NIV
And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.
On that very day Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, together with his wife and the wives of his three sons, entered the ark.”
In this Noah’s flood timeline, notice that it wasn’t just rain that caused the flood.
Water was coming up from the ground as well as falling from the sky.
The Ark started to float and was at the mercy of the currents and wind (obviously the Lord was overseeing their safety!)
After forty days of this thorough drenching, all the land was covered.
(Some scientists believe that the taller mountains were pushed up at the end of this worldwide flood – if we date it in the early Cambrian). 1
John D. Morris wrote:
Regarding mountain building, uniformity maintains that the necessary tectonic forces have always acted, and there should be mountains of every age.‘When Did the Mountains Rise?’ by John D. Morris, PH.D 2
Catastrophists/creationists, however, consider mountains to be largely the result of Noah’s Flood, which first deposited strata, then folded and eroded them, then later still uplifted them into modern mountain chains.
Intense geologic processes were operating at rates, scales, and intensities, far in excess of today’s “uniform” norms.
Creationists believe some mountains may have risen during the early Flood (for example, the Appalachian Mountains), but most mountains (Sierra Nevada, Rocky Mountains, etc.) were elevated in the latest Flood or earliest post-Flood times.
Thus, creationists would expect the world’s mountain chains to be among its most recent geologic features.”
Therefore, the flood waters would not have to be so high as now to cover the hills at that time.
For forty days the flood kept coming on the earth, and as the waters increased they lifted the ark high above the earth.Genesis 7:17-20 NIV
The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water.
They rose greatly on the earth, and all the high mountains* under the entire heavens were covered.
The waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than fifteen cubits.”
‘mountains*’ in Hebrew means: ‘hill, mountain, hill country, or mount’3
So taking the Hebrew meaning of the word: ‘mountains’ above as being ‘hill, mountain, hill country, or mount’, then it would not be like trying to cover Mount Everest with flood waters.
3. The flood waters started to recede – how long did that take?
Slowly the water started to seep away and evaporate.
How long would we give for this to happen?
If this was a myth perhaps they would have said a week or two, but the Bible tells us:
The waters flooded the earth for a hundred and fifty days.”Genesis 7:24 NIV
That is five months from the flood waters starting (May 17th) to them subsiding and the Ark grounding on Mt Ararat (Oct 17th).
Now the springs of the deep and the floodgates of the heavens had been closed, and the rain had stopped falling from the sky.Genesis 8:2-4 NIV
The water receded steadily from the earth.
At the end of the hundred and fifty days the water had gone down, and on the seventeenth day of the seventh month the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat.”
4. So how long from the Ark resting on Mt Ararat to the soil being dry?
The Bible is again realistic in its time scale:
A further five and a half months from the Ark grounding on Mt Ararat (Oct 17th) to the ground being dry (Apr 1st).
So surely that was enough time, but no, the Bible states that even more time was required for all that ‘sogginess’ to go and for the plants to start regrowing:
Then a further 2 months from the ground being dry (Apr 1st) to being completely dry enough to come out of the Ark (May 27th).
By the twenty-seventh day of the second month the earth was completely dry.Genesis 8:14-17 NIV
Then God said to Noah,
‘Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives.
Bring out every kind of living creature that is with you—the birds, the animals, and all the creatures that move along the ground—so they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number on it.”
Therefore, the total length of time for the flood waters to start going down and for the ground to dry out was twelve and a half months.
These are very realistic figures, whereas many myths (as opposed to a true story) would not even consider facts like how long it would take for the land to completely dry out.
5. Sweeping statements about the Flood without studying the facts
The article in Wikipedia ‘Genesis Flood Narrative’ 4 has obviously been written by a sceptic with sweeping statements.
For example, the writer states:
The flood narrative is made up of two stories woven together. 5Wikipedia ‘Genesis Flood Narrative’
As a result many details are contradictory, such as how long the flood lasted (40 days according to Genesis 7:17, 150 according to 7:24)
So if we look at verse 17 it states:
For forty days the flood kept coming on the earth, and as the waters increased* they lifted the ark high above the earth.”Genesis 7:17 NIV
The Hebrew word for where we see the English word ‘increased*’ is ‘רָבָה’ ra.vah which means ‘to multiply’.
In other words, the flood was continuing to multiply for forty days.
The second verse that Wikipedia quotes is verse 24 which states:
The waters flooded** the earth for a hundred and fifty days.”Genesis 7:24 NIV
The Hebrew word for where we see the English word ‘flooded**’ is ‘גָּבַר’ ga.var ‘to prevail’.
In other words, the flood then prevailed, remained flooded without multiplying, for a further 150 days, or the mountains were covered for 150 days.
These are NOT two contradictory statements, nor two stories brought together – just look at the original Hebrew.
As the Wikipedia article speaks so authoritatively, we need to look at another example, it states:
The flood narrative is part of what scholars call the primeval history, the first 11 chapters of Genesis.[iv]Wikipedia ‘Genesis Flood Narrative’
These chapters, fable-like and legendary, form a preface to the patriarchal narratives which follow, but show little relationship to them. 6 7
For example, the names of its characters and its geography—Adam (“Man”) and Eve (“Life”), the Land of Nod (“Wandering”), and so on—are symbolic rather than real, and much of the narratives consist of lists of “firsts”: the first murder, the first wine, the first empire-builder.
Few of the people, places and events depicted in the book are mentioned elsewhere in the Bible.” 8
Phrases like “fable-like and legendary” immediately label and judge the subject.
Again the phrase: “its characters and its geography—Adam (“Man”) and Eve (“Life”), the Land of Nod (“Wandering”), and so on—are symbolic rather than real” is a sweeping statement.
The writer’s ‘evidence’ is: “much of the narratives consist of lists of ‘firsts’ ” which I see no real problem with that, and “Few of the people, places and events depicted in the book are mentioned elsewhere in the Bible.”
Let’s look at their evidence for this, of what is mentioned outside of the first eleven chapters of Genesis and how many times:
- ‘Adam’ is mentioned 8 times.
- ‘Eve’ 2 times.
- “Garden of Eden” 2 times.
- “Euphrates” (river or province) 57 times.
- The land of “Havilah” 4 times.
- River “Gihon” 5 times.
- The land of “Cush” 25 times.
- River “Tigris” 1 time.
- “Ashur” 5 times, although Ashur is the same as “Assyria” so a further 120 times.
- Adam and Eve’s first son “Cain” 3 times.
- Adam and Eve’s second son “Abel” 4 times.
- The person “Noah” 12 times.
- The person “Enoch” 4 times.
- The person “Lamech” 2 times.
- The person “Seth” 2 times.
- The person “Enosh” 2 times.
- The person “Shem” 4 times, etc, etc.
The list could go on, but I think you are getting the gist that the writer in Wikipedia is flippantly saying that the first 11 chapters of Genesis are ‘fable-like and legendary’ because based on part of their evidence that: “Few of the people, places and events depicted in the book are mentioned elsewhere in the Bible” which is actually incorrect when looking at the facts.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s official student handbook, Academic Integrity at MIT, informs students that Wikipedia is not a reliable academic source…”
See an article covering this.
There are other things within the Wikipedia article but I don’t want to let this distract from the main subject of this article: ‘How long did Noah’s flood last?’.
References – open in new tabs:
Cline, Eric H. (2007). ‘From Eden to Exile: Unraveling Mysteries of the Bible’. National Geographic. ISBN 978-1-4262-0084-7. ↩
Alter, Robert (2008). ‘The Five Books of Moses’. W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 9780393070248. ↩
Sailhamer, John H. (2010). The Meaning of the Pentateuch: Revelation, Composition and Interpretation. InterVarsity Press. ISBN 9780830878888. ↩
Blenkinsopp, Joseph (2011). ‘Creation, Un-creation, Re-creation: A discursive commentary on Genesis 1-11.’ New York: Bloomsbury T&T Clark. ISBN 978-0-567-37287-1. ↩