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Survivors of the Flood


In most versions of the Noachian flood stories, the flood hero and his family are said to be the only people who survived the flood. Everyone else drowned according to Genesis 7:21-23: "All flesh died that moved upon the earth... and every man. Only Noah was left and those that were with him in the ark. But were there nephilim survivors outside the spectrum of the waters that surrounded Noah's ark?

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"Were there survivors after the great biblical deluge?"

deluge: a severe flood

This element of the flood story is clearly mythical, because it presents incredible facts, without evidence, about which neither Noah nor his story tellers could have knowledge. Noah could not possibly have searched all of the cities of the earth after the flood looking for survivors or even all of the cities of the ancient Near East.

Genesis 7:13 mentions only eight people surviving the flood, but according to Berossus at least two more people, the flood hero's daughter and his boatman, were also on board during the flood. If some story tellers neglected to mention the daughter and boatman, how many other people did the story tellers neglect to mention? How many survivors did Noah find in the cities he visited after the ark grounded? The received texts are silent on these questions, because it is not the job of a story teller to discuss people who are beyond the scope of the story. The overly broad words "all" and "every" are a story teller's generalizations based on the fact that his received text did not mention other survivors.

The Tigris–Euphrates river flood of 2900 BC occurred at the end of the Jemdet Nasr period in ancient Sumer, but the Early Dynastic I period that immediately followed the flood did not have a population shortage. Many people probably died in the six-day river flood, but many, many more survived, especially in cities that had little or no flood damage. According to archaeologist Max Mallowan, "no flood was ever of sufficient magnitude to interrupt the continuity of Mesopotamian civilization."

According to Genesis 7:19 "all the high hills that were under the whole sky were covered [by] the waters." As the storm began Noah and the others would see the river rising next to the barge. During the storm they would not have been able to see much of anything when "one person could not see another person." After the storm Noah looked out over the water and saw no land. He may have concluded that the nearby hills were flooded, but he would have no knowledge about hills that were too far away to see. If there were hills near the cities on the Euphrates River that were not submerged, there were other survivors in the valley in addition to people living in distant lands that were not affected by the storm.

Berossus alluded to other survivors when he wrote that Noah’s relatives were to "recover the writings at Sippar and publish them to men." To publish writings implies that potential readers were not all dead. In the cities in the Euphrates valley that escaped the flood or suffered only minor flooding, there were many survivors and Noah probably met some of them after the barge grounded. In the original version of the flood story some of these other survivors were probably mentioned. But with retelling of the story, references to these survivors were deleted or disguised because they conflicted with the story teller's objective of portraying Noah as a super hero who accomplished what nobody else had accomplished. Some of these other survivors are identified in chapter 5 of the Noah's Ark book.

At least two different verses of the Bible clearly state there were eight, only eight, survivors of Noah's flood. Most people have been taught the eight people who survived the flood were Noah, his wife, his three sons and their wives. If we look at all this in more detail, however, another possibility might just come to the surface.

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