ALL is How Big ?
When considering the Biblical Flood ?

Subject: the Biblical Flood! Biblical research into the Biblical flood including scientific evidences and Biblical Hebrew meanings. How destructive and extensive was the Biblical Flood? Many have interpreted it to having reconfigured the entire surface of the earth, a super super flood! But is this the true interpretation of the Biblical Flood story? The Hebrew word translated all, every, any, whole, is used many times in the Biblical flood account, how inclusive is this word, is it global or regional?

For a first example look at Genesis 3:20 where per the King James Version Adam pronounces Eve as

"the mother of all living"

How big is this all ?

Is it totally inclusive of all living matter, plants, bacteria, aquatic life, bugs, fowl, and all the mammals and all primates?
Was she "mother nature" ?

Or on a slightly smaller scale lets rule out plants and just assign her as mother of all non-plant life, does this seem more reasonable ?
But we know that per chapter 1 all plant life and all the animals were created before Eve!

So how about only the primates ?

Or how about only the humanoids ?

Or how about only Adam's offspring ?

Just by a straight translation of the Hebrew of this verse only, we are not really exactly sure what is the true meaning and therefore James Moffatt decided to translate it as

"all living persons"
A small subset of "all living matter" and the word "persons" is not in the Hebrew!

And our preferred translation considering the context and the total creation record is only all of Adam's offspring.

In the flood chronicle of Genesis 6:9 through 8:22 the Hebrew word "kol" or "kowl" (Strong's #3605) is used 46 times and it is translated as all, every, any, or whole depending upon the context. The question is, is this a universal all, meaning that totally everything is effected without any exception, or is it a figurative all effecting only those things within a limited scope of a reference area? Many have interpreted that it means that all living breathing animals on the surface of the earth were destroyed, except for those creatures on the ark. And on the other hand many contend that the destruction of the flood was limited to a smaller subset of the living breathing land animals and that the flood covered only that land surface within the scope of the Biblical narratives.

Let us take a look at the story of the dove as a second example. In verse 8:5, before the release of the dove, we find that "in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, were the tops of the mountains seen". Then the dove is released in verse 8:9, 40 days later, and "the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot" ... "for the waters were on the face of the whole earth:" But we know that the tops of the mountains were now visible! Why didn't the dove fly to the tops of the mountains and there find rest for the sole of her foot? It would seem that the tops of the mountains, though visible, were either too far off for the dove to fly to them in one day, or they were not suitable for a resting area for the dove. We could thereby conclude that the phrase "for the waters were on the surface of the whole earth:" is referring only to that area which the dove covered in its search and does not refer to the land surface area of the entire globe. Also see the Appendix for more examples.

Then how about the totality of the destruction of the land animals? In verse 7:21 of the King James Translation we see the phrases "of foul", "of cattle", "of beast", and "of every creeping thing". To translate it as "among" would also be proper. This translation is from the prefixing of the Hebrew letter Beyth before the noun. And in verse 22 we also see "of all that was in the dry land, died". In order for these "of/among" phrases to be satisfied you do not have to destroy every living one of these living categories, you only have to destroy at least one or some of every kind of these categories and you will have legally satisfied the requirement in that you have destroyed "of/among" every kind but not having destroyed every living one of that particular category. And thus the flood story is interpreted to indicate that portions of each of the land animal categories were destroyed, and not total breathing land animal population over the entire globe. And the standing flood waters did not totally cover all the global land surface mountains to the tip of Mount Everest, when simple calculations indicate that there is presently not enough water on the earth to do so.

Conclusion: We have hopefully illustrated why it is preferable to interpret the Hebrew Scriptures such that the Genesis flood record is describing a deluge that impacted all land animal types and rained on all the land surface of the globe, but was somewhat less than a global catastrophe that involved complete reconfiguration of the total surface of the earth and killed totally all breathing animals on the global land surfaces as some have interpreted.


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Appendix

  • Brown-Driver-Briggs' Hebrew Definitions:

    erets (Strong's H776)

    1. land, earth
      1. earth
        1. whole earth (as opposed to a part)
        2. earth (as opposed to heaven)
        3. earth (inhabitants)
      2. land
        1. country, territory
        2. district, region
        3. tribal territory
        4. piece of ground
        5. land of Canaan, Israel
        6. inhabitants of land
        7. Sheol, land without return, (under) world
        8. city (-state)
      3. ground, surface of the earth
        1. ground
        2. soil
      4. (in phrases)
        1. people of the land
        2. space or distance of country (in measurements of distance)
        3. level or plain country
        4. land of the living
        5. end(s) of the earth
      5. (almost wholly late in usage)
        1. lands, countries
          1. often in contrast to Canaan
    Part of Speech: noun feminine
    A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: from an unused root probably meaning to be firm
    Same Word by TWOT Number: 167


    In the majority of instances kol erets does not refer to the entire planet earth. In fact, of the 205 instance of kol erets in the Old Testament, it might refer to the entire planet just 40 times, and even some of those are questionable. About half of those instance occur in the books of Psalms and Isaiah. Here are some more examples.

  • "Is not the whole [kol] land [erets] before you? Please separate from me: if to the left, then I will go to the right; or if to the right, then I will go to the left." (Genesis 13:9) (The "whole land" was only the land of Canaan)
  • And the people of all [kol] the earth [erets] came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe in all the earth. (Genesis 41:57) (The people from the Americas did not go to Egypt)
  • Then God said, "Behold, I am going to make a covenant. Before all your people I will perform miracles which have not been produced in all [kol] the earth [erets], nor among any of the nations; and all the people among whom you live will see the working of the LORD, for it is a fearful thing that I am going to perform with you. (Exodus 34:10) (There would be no need to add "nor among any of the nations" if "all the earth" referred to the entire planet.)
  • 'You shall then sound a ram's horn abroad on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the day of atonement you shall sound a horn all [kol] through your land [erets]. (Leviticus 25:9) (The Hebrews were not required to sound a horn throughout the entire earth)
  • 'Thus for every [kol] piece [erets] of your property, you are to provide for the redemption of the land. (Leviticus 25:24) (The law does not apply only to those who own the entire earth)
  • behold, I will put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece only, and it is dry on all [kol] the ground [erets], then I will know that Thou wilt deliver Israel through me, as Thou hast spoken." (Judges 6:37, see also 6:39-40) (kol erets could not refer to the entire earth, since it would not be possible for Gideon to check the entire earth)
  • And Jonathan smote the garrison of the Philistines that was in Geba, and the Philistines heard of it. Then Saul blew the trumpet throughout [kol] the land [erets], saying, "Let the Hebrews hear." (1 Samuel 13:3) (Obviously, Saul could not have blown a trumpet loud enough to be heard throughout the entire earth)
  • For the battle there was spread over the whole [kol] countryside [erets], and the forest devoured more people that day than the sword devoured. (2 Samuel 18:8) (No, the battle did not take place over the entire earth.)
  • So when they had gone about through the whole [kol] land [erets], they came to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days. (2 Samuel 24:8) (No they didn't go through the entire earth, just the lands of Palestine.)
  • And all [kol] the earth [erets] was seeking the presence of Solomon, to hear his wisdom which God had put in his heart. (1 Kings 10:24) (It is unlikely that the Native Americans went to see Solomon.)
  • Then the fame of David went out into all [kol] the lands [erets]; and the LORD brought the fear of him on all the nations. (1 Chronicles 14:17) (It is unlikely that the Native Americans knew about David.)
  • And David said, "My son Solomon is young and inexperienced, and the house that is to be built for the LORD shall be exceedingly magnificent, famous and glorious throughout all [kol] lands [erets]. (1 Chronicles 22:5) (The temple was famous to all the lands in the Middle East, but was destroyed before the advent of globalism.)
  • And they were bringing horses for Solomon from Egypt and from all [kol] countries [erets]. (2 Chronicles 9:28) (It is unlikely that the Chinese brought horses to Solomon)


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