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Flood, the

by Rabbi Geoffrey W. Dennis
The Biblical account of God flooding the entire world in response to the wicked devolution of creation (Gen. 6:5-9:17) is a wholly miraculous tale. Its supernatural aspects include the marvelous assembly of all the earth's animal species and forty days of continuous rain. God effectively reversed the creative process, unleashing the watery chaos that He had tamed in the creation account of Genesis. Rabbinic literature adds these fantastic details: The corruption of the world prior to the Flood was so complete that even animals sought to have sex with different species. The generation of the flood made various attempts to prevent the flooding, including plating the earth in iron and using a miraculous sponge. The race of giants refused to repent because they believed they could simply stand above the flood waters. Some giants did in fact survive, most notably Og of Bashan. God mingled the rain water (which is male) with the water of the abyss (which is female) to procreate even more floods. The Land of Israel, however, was spared from the flood waters.

(Gen. R. 26; Tanh. Buber; PdRE 22); Midrash ha-Gadol; PdRE; B.T. Sanh.; Zeb. 113a; Nid. 61a)

Article copyright 2004 Geoffrey Dennis.


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