Did You Know There Are Two Riddles in the Timing of the Flood Epic?

The story of Noah’s ark and the flood is one of the oldest nursery legends in the world and it has captivated the imaginations of children and adults alike throughout the ages. The epic told of a floating zoo with every species of animals and birds on board a titanic ark, which began its maiden voyage on the 17th day of the second month. From our childhood memories we know that it rained for 40 days and 40 nights and the rising waters lifted the ark up off the earth. Some of the details after that may be a little sketchy but it tells us that the waters kept on rising for a period of 150 days. Few will remember hearing of so many days but they may recall that the tops of the mountains finally disappeared below the waves. Perhaps we rubbed our sleepy eyes when we listened to how the ark docked on Mount Ararat and missed out on the fact that it was on the 17th day of the seventh month. Noah’s ark seemed so real then right up to where the saga ended with a rainbow on the horizon. It was the ultimate image of a colorful finale but never did anyone realize that the scribes had posed two riddles within the timing of the flood epic.

The first riddle was where there was an error with the ages of Noah and his son Shem. This was where it stated in the Book of Genesis that Noah was 500 years old when he became the father of triplets, one of whom was Shem. The story outlined how the flood started at the beginning of Noah’s 600th year and it ended one year later when he was 600 years old. However, it outlined later in Genesis that Noah’s son Shem became a father when he was 100 years old, which was listed as two years after the flood. Those two statements with Shem born when Noah was 500 years old and he becoming a father when he was 100 years old, two years after the flood were in conflict by those two years. Had the biblical scribes made a dating blunder? Or had they tempted us with an intellectual challenge to find out what lay behind the riddle?

I came across the second anomaly while trying to trace the dating events in the saga of the flood as outlined in Chapters 6 to 8 in the Book of Genesis. The relevant times given for the events at the beginning of the flood are listed below and to make the presentation more user-friendly, I have used the names of the months that we use today. The timing details were as follows:

  • All went into the Ark on the 17th day of the 2nd month and the rain started:                                                                 17th February
  • It rained for 40 days and 40 nights and the waters rose for 150 days until the ark was 15 cubits above the mountains. This would date the event forward to 17th day of 7th month:   17th July      
  • But it then stated that the ark rested on Mount Ararat on the 17th day of 7th month, which was also the 17th day of July.

There was a major problem for how could the ark rest on Mount Ararat on the 17th day of the 7th month (July) when the waters were 15 cubits above the mountains on the same day and had not the time to recede?

Well all you guys put your thinking caps on and have a go to see can you spot the wonderful formula, which lay behind those two Riddles?

About the Author
Michael Hearns is retired from Independent Newspapers in Dublin where he managed their telecommunications requirements. He holds a BA degree in HRM and also City & Guilds in Telecommunications engineering. He also attended biblical lectures at Trinity College Dublin.
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