Genesis, Noah and the Flood

This page is an exerpt from Cycles of Salvation History by Ulrich Utiger

Michelangelo: the Flood
Michelangelo: the Flood

Page description
The Genesis account of the flood refers to several local floods and one global flood occurring with the primordial ocean 4 billion years ago. The flood account furthermore delivers dates of the biological evolution, Earth history and the universe such as the big bang occurring about 13.7 billion years ago. It also refers to future times.

Contents of this page
The flood cycle
The glacial era
Several paradises and floods
The flood of fire of the end times
Modern dates from the patriarchs’ ages
Classical biblical dates
Comment this page

Short summary of the previous pages
Thanks to the interpretation by multi-reference, Genesis 1-3 is compatible with modern science such as cosmology, evolution and common descent, while there remains enough place for intelligent design and creation. The same multi-reference is applied to Genesis 4-11 on this page.


The Era of the Patriarchs

The account of the flood

The flood cycle

In this chapter, we essentially restrict ourselves to the era of the patriarchs, which comprises four cycles. Each revival phase of these cycles is centered around a patriarch who survives the preceding punishment phase and then becomes the ancestor of a new people. This is described in Genesis 4-11, the flood account, which contains multiple references as usually. Thus the same text may refer to different cycles that happened at diverse epochs.

First, we need to analyze the structure of the account, that is to say, to localize the multi-significant passages referring to the four phases. The flood as punishment phase at first attracts our attention. The two phases preceding this judgment are, however, clearly distinguishable as well. The peace of the first phase is relative, for in the beginning it is expressed by a weak social violence as compared to its ulterior increase, which culminated on the day when God “saw that the wickedness of man was great on earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually”. So God decided: “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the ground, man and beast and creeping things and birds of the heaven, for I am sorry that I have made them” (Gen 6:5-7).

This increase of violence is perceptible through numbers: after Cain had killed his brother Abel, God cursed him to be “a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth” (Gen 4:9-12). Cain however complained of this destiny. This is why God granted him a particular protection: any possible aggressors should be revenged sevenfold (Gen 4:13-15). Some generations later a man named Lamech emerged, who no longer revenged himself sevenfold but seventy-sevenfold (Gen 4:24). This is why it is certainly not fortuitous that the age of 777 years is attributed to another Lamech, who died five years before the flood (Gen 5:28-31). This is a hidden allusion to the culmination of the violence of all the antediluvian society and does not exclusively concern Lamech.

Mankind therefore behaved contrary to the teaching Jesus gave to St. Peter some millennia later: “I do not say to you [to forgive] seven times, but seventy-seven times” (Mt 18:22). Although it would be disproportioned to compare the society of Cain’s lifetime with these Christian values, we can nevertheless conclude that the violence was still more or less tolerable since God granted Cain, not revenge, but just dissuasion through the threat of a relatively weak revenge, because it is only multiplied by 7 and not by 777 at the time shortly before the flood. This is why Cain’s lifetime can be considered the relatively peaceful first phase, passing slowly into the phase of sin characterized by the increase of violence up to the flood, which therefore corresponds to the consecutive punishment phase.

The survival of Noah, his family, and the animal species he took on board his ark is the corresponding revival, which initiated a second creation. Thus Noah became a new ancestor for a renascent humanity. This is why he and his sons received from God a benediction of fertility (Gen 9:1) similar to that already given to Adam and Eve (Gen 1:28).

The revival also comprised a relief from work, which equally issued from Noah (Gen 5:29), and may be a hint at the establishment of governmental structures, the specialization of the different labors and therefore their rationalization. In any case, the following account on the construction of the tower of Babel mentions the birth of a civilization (Gen 11:1-9), which is in the service of everyone’s welfare, although it also expresses the tendency of superpowers to megalomania.

The glacial era

Let us now analyze the multi-reference of this flood cycle, which indeed refers to an entire era of four cycles including the history of humanity’s predecessors, namely Homo erectus and Homo neanderthalensis (or Homo sapiens neanderthalensis if considered a subspecies of modern humans) as well as the early history of humanity. Both Homo erectus and Homo neanderthalensis populated first Africa and then Eurasia during the Pleistocene, which knew several climatic changes, alternately shrinking and enlarging the ice caps of the two poles of the globe. In more southern regions of Eurasia, the very thriving tundra, which grew instead of forests, attracted a rich fauna and consequently hunting hominids migrating from Africa towards the north.

Homo erectus appeared about 1.8 million years ago (Ma). This was the first hominid to leave Africa for Eurasia, approximately 0.8-0.9 Ma, during the glacial period termed Donau, for the region of the Alps.[26] The tundra fed a megafauna similar to that of the African continent and consequently also supported Homo erectus hunting the large mammals. When the climate became hotter once again during the Donau-Günz interglacial, the situation reversed and it became less favorable to our ancestors, for the tundra retreated and the forests spread again. As a consequence, the large mammals considerably decreased in numbers because they no longer found the same quantity of food as before and the food basis equally disappeared for Homo erectus. Afterwards, these hominids ceased to exist in Eurasia.

Homo erectus also disappeared in Africa, making room for Homo neanderthalensis some 500’000 years ago (ya). In turn the Neanderthals tempted fate and set out for Eurasia 200’000 ya when another glacial period, the Riss[27], caused the forests to withdraw again and give space to the tundra, the ideal biotope for large mammals such as the mammoth. The Neanderthals nevertheless suffered, like the earlier Homo erectus, from the interglacial, which caused forests to grow and the megafauna they hunted to decrease. They must nevertheless have been craftier and more robust than Homo erectus, for they did not die out as soon as the first climatic change arrived but survived two of them.[28] However, when the last glacial period, the Würm,[29] drew to an end, about 12’500 ya, the climatic changes were probably more intense, with the result that the Neanderthals abruptly disappeared together with the extinction of the major part of the megafauna accustomed to the tundra.

Each time the megafauna were in danger of dying out during an interglacial, rain played a key role in their diminution or their extinction. Researchers have often wondered why the mammoths entirely disappeared, the sole explanation of the extension of forests not being sufficient. According to Reichholf,[30] one probable hypothesis is that the pelage of mammoths was adapted to the very dry weather of the glaciations, so it did not grease itself like those of most mammals and was very sensitive to humidity. The intensified rainfall during the climatic change 12’500 ya consequently played a key role in their decimation and therefore also in that of the Neanderthals, which gives us an approximate approach to the flood account.

A so-called archaic form of Homo sapiens appeared in Africa approximately 200’000 ya and began to spread over Eurasia 70’000 ya. These dates, as well as those of the Neanderthals, can be calculated with the patriarchs’ list of ages (see appendix B: Modern dates from the patriarchs’ ages). Modern humans also spread over Australia 40’000 ya and America 15’000 ya (or possibly earlier). Unlike their predecessors, they did not leave their homeland in south-eastern Africa during a glacial period but during the Riss-Würm interglacial.[31]

A deeper analysis of the reasons of this exodus will allow us to establish a surprising parallel with the biblical account of the expulsion from paradise: again according to Reichholf, the cradle of humanity of south-eastern Africa was first a sort of terrestrial paradise. Humans were at peace with nature, had practically no need to work and were naked. But when the Riss-Würm interglacial brought more rain than usual, their living conditions abruptly changed. The tsetse fly, whose bite transmits sleeping sickness, rapidly multiplied because of the increased humidity and became a real plague. Its preferred prey was the naked bodies of humans, who were finally obliged to leave Africa through the north.

Similarly to the cherubs described in Genesis 3:24, the tsetse flies therefore hunted humans out of their native country, where they were naked (Gen 2:25). Since it was colder in the north, they had to wear clothes, according to Genesis 3:21. Moreover, for the first time they experimented with agriculture in Mesopotamia, the plain of the Euphrates and the Tigris (Gen 3:17-19). This made them less dependent on hunting, but it was also necessary that humans worked the ground “in the sweat of their face” (Gen 3:19). However, through their work, they transformed this plain little by little into a new garden of Eden, which will bring us to another cycle.

The rain, which made the tsetse fly proliferate, decimating humans and hunting them out of their original country, therefore again played a key role within this context. Thus, we have another approach to the account of the flood, although the references are also contained in Genesis 2-3 and not only in Genesis 4-11. This shows that these accounts are intermingled and multi-significant, which we will further analyze in the next section.

If we leave the history of the Neanderthals at the point where Homo sapiens appears, there are four cycles during the glacial era with four interglacials as phases of judgment that touched the genus Homo: one concerning Homo erectus, two Homo neanderthalensis and another one Homo sapiens, who was obliged to leave Africa at the conquest of Eurasia during the second interglacial the Neanderthals survived. This is why we can consider this period as a pre-era with four cycles like the following eras of salvation history.

Several paradises and floods

Before examining what the multi-reference of the flood account still has in store, let us first consider an apparent paradox: on the one hand, Adam is explicitly described as the first man on earth, on the other hand, some passages implicitly indicate that Adam and Eve were surrounded by other people.[32] For instance, the dissuasive protection of Cain (Gen 4:15) was certainly only aimed at his equals and not at animals. He assuredly did not find his spouse (Gen 4:17) among unnamed sisters[33] but among neighboring tribes or peoples. The same passage equally indicates that Cain became the founder of a town, which would obviously have been too large just for the members of his family.[34] In addition, towns were only constructed in a very late period of human history, that is to say, with the first civilizations.

We rediscover here that Adam has multiple meanings: just as this figure refers to the predecessors of humanity, it also points to several events in human history in the contexts of both the expulsion from paradise and the flood.[35] This is why we have not one single paradise and flood but several, of which we have to determine the historical context. Concerning humanity, the first Adam is the real first man, who lived in south-eastern Africa, the first paradise, about 200’000 ya, opening the fourth cycle of the glacial era, as seen above, and ending with the first Noah. Because of the long history of this cycle, the biblical patriarchs do not refer to precise persons within this context but designate populations. The first Noah therefore represents the generations trying to escape from the sleeping sickness plague that was originally provoked by abundant rains during the Riss-Würm interglacial, a prefigurative flood, by leaving northwards for the conquest of Eurasia.

These conquerors also settled in the plain of the Euphrates and the Tigris and transformed it into a new paradise during the last glaciation. At that time, the sea level was about 120 meters lower than today, drying out the bed of the Persian Gulf, whose major part presently has an average depth of about 40 meters. Genesis 2:10 states that four rivers converged in the garden of Eden. The Euphrates and the Tigris still have the same names today, whereas the Gihon is traditionally believed to be the Karun. The identity of Pishon is still debated, though archeologist Juris Zarins found the fossil river Wadi Batin flowing formerly in the dry Persian Gulf, where it joined the other rivers (see figure 14). These rivers correspond well to the description Genesis gives of them. When the last glaciation ended, the ice caps retreated and the sea level started to rise, submerging this garden of Eden in the upper part of the Persian Gulf, which immediately brings to mind the flood.

The superior part of the bed of the Persian Gulf as former Garden of Eden with the four confluent rivers, Euphrates, Tigris, Gihon and Pishon, according to archeologist Juris Zarins.
Figure 14: The superior part of the bed of the Persian Gulf as former Garden of Eden with the four confluent rivers, Euphrates, Tigris, Gihon and Pishon, according to archeologist Juris Zarins (source: Has the Garden of Eden been located at last?).

However, this event does not seem to fit in the timeline supplied by the patriarch ages when they fathered their sons (Gen 5 and 11). According to this calculation, the flood took place in 2513 BC and Adam was born in 4169 BC (see appendix C: Classical biblical dates), whereas the end of the last glaciation occurred several thousands of years earlier in time, as figure 15 shows concerning the mean sea level.

This diagram of the mean sea level rise since the last glaciation reveals that a part in the Persian Gulf, lying about 35 meters under the actual sea level, was flooded about 9500 years ago.
Figure 15: This diagram of the mean sea level rise since the last glaciation reveals that a part in the Persian Gulf, lying about 35 meters under the actual sea level, was flooded about 9500 years ago (adapted from Current sea level rise).

As we have seen previously, there are several meanings for the patriarchs. Within the context of this second flood, they also indicate generations of tribes, as in the previous one. This is why their whole ages must be added to calculate a timeline of this flood cycle. This has to be done from Adam to Terah, the father of Abraham, because Adam can be considered a prefigurative Abraham. Thus we get 11’571 years, which – in order to obtain a date in BC – have to be added to the birth date in 4169 BC of the last Adam. This way we obtain the birth date of the second Adam, which thereby was in 11’571 + 4169 BC = 15’740 BC, say at about 18’000 ya. This hits the end of the last glacial maximum when the sea level starts rising slowly, according to figure 15, but still without flooding the Persian Gulf paradise.

Patriarch Age at birth of
next patriarch
Age Birth from Joseph’s
birth BC
Birth by adding
the ages from
Adam to Abraham
Adam 130 930 4169 0 5:3-5
Seth 105 912 3039 930 5:6-8
Enosh 90 905 3934 1842 5:9-11
Kenan 70 910 3844 2747 5:12-14
Mahalalel 65 895 3774 3657 5:15-17
Jared 162 962 3709 4552 5:18-20
Enoch 65 365 3542 5514 5:21-24
Methuselah 187 969 3482 5879 5:25-27
Lamech 182 777 3295 6848 5:28-31
Noah 503[36] 950 3113 7625 5:32; 9:28
Shem 100 600 2612 8575 11:10-11
Arpachshad 35 438 2510 9175 11:12-13
Shelah 30 433 2475 9613 11:14-15
Eber 34 464 2445 10046 11:16-17
Peleg 30 239 2411 10510 11:18-19
Reu 32 239 2381 10749 11:20-21
Serug 30 230 2349 10988 11:22-23
Nahor 29 148 2319 11218 11:24-25
Terah 130[37] 205 2290 11366 11:26-12:4
Abram 100 175 2160 11571 21:5; 25:7
Isaac 60 180 2060 25:26; 35:28
Jacob 91[38] 147 2000 47:28
Joseph 110 1909 50:26

Figure 16: Chronology of the patriarchs allowing the calculation of several floods.

According to the same calculation, the second Noah was born 7625 years after the second Adam (see figure 16), that is, in 15’740 BC – 7625 = 8115 BC. His flood took place 600 years later in 7515 BC, say at about 9500 ya. This is when the sea level reached 35 meters below the actual sea level (see figure 15). The deepest point of the Persian Gulf is about 90 meters, so it was flooded over a long period from around 14’000 ya. Some parts of it are very flat (see figure 17), hence rapid flood events may have occurred in conjunction with special meteorological conditions. The date of 9500 ya may point to such an event in the upper part where the four rivers converged, eventually touching a dense population.

The flat bathymetry of the Persian Gulf suggesting major flood events some thousands of years ago.
Figure 17: The flat bathymetry of the Persian Gulf suggesting major flood events some thousands of years ago. The white area was flooded about 14’000 years ago and is at 80 meters below the actual sea level. The other levels indicate 60, 40 and 20 meter below actual sea level (source: Persian Gulf Once Dry, Green, and Inhabited by Humans).

When the sea level rise slowed down about 7000 ya, we enter the new context of a third flood cycle centered around the last and third Adam, whose birth is calculated traditionally according to the ages when the patriarchs fathered their sons. We are at 4169 BC, the date young earth creationists consider the time of the six days of creation of the whole world. However, this was when the history of Sumer began. This is why the generations from the third Adam symbolize the Sumerian people who survived a series of important inundations in the plain of the two rivers from about 4000 to 2600 BC.[39] These inundations may be the origin of the Epic of Gilgamesh.

However, if this third flood initially was a natural catastrophe, it finally became a political event: towards 2500 BC, Eannatum of Lagash conquered all of Sumer, foreshadowing its final fall, and towards 2340 BC the Sumerian empire temporarily disappeared, succumbing to the Akkadians, Semitic tribes who assimilated the way of life of the Sumerians thereafter. But this did not last for long because the Akkadian empire in turn collapsed, towards 2230 BC, under the invasion by the Gutian people, highlanders from present-day Kurdistan, who committed massive destruction and only adopted the Sumerian civilization superficially. From 2150 BC on, the Sumerians knew a last and short rebirth, invading all Mesopotamia under the reign of Goudea, recovering the hegemony during the third dynasty of Ur and reaching their zenith. In 2006 BC, however, under unceasing invasions of Elamites and especially of Semites, the Sumerian empire definitively crumbled and the first Babylonian empire, constituted of Semitic peoples, began to take shape after 2000 BC.

These different waves of Semitic peoples breaking on the plain of the two rivers, like the tidal waves during the floods after 4000 BC, constitute the continuation of the judgment phase concerning the Sumerians. It must have been survived by the third Noah, since according to Genesis it took place around 2513 BC, a date that corresponds with the first submission of Sumer to Eannatum around 2500, and the first Semitic invasion in 2340. This is why we have to correlate the survival of the third Noah with the ascension of the Semitic culture. His survival constitutes the revival phase and the Semitic ascension the beginning phase of the next cycle, centered around the patriarch Abraham.

The flood of fire of the end times

The account of the flood also refers to the end times. It is Jesus himself who suggests this:

As it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of man. They ate, they drank, they were given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. [...] So will it be on the day when the Son of man is revealed (Lk 17:26-30).

The day of the Son of man means the glorious return of Christ. As we will see in The Era of the Spiritual Kinship, this will be a time of tribulation. In the book of Revelation, this tribulation is predicted as a judgment against Babylon, which is often referred to in connection with the Babylonian exile by the ancient prophets. However, Revelation uses Babylon as a timeless synonym for any society at the height of its decadence at the example of the society that constructed the tower of Babel (Gen 11:1-9). This is why Babylon can be applied to the end of the world because at this time the decadence will culminate.

Isaiah, for example, writes concerning Babylon:

Wail, for the day of the Lord is near, as destruction from the Almighty it will come. Therefore all hands will be feeble, and every man’s heart will melt, and they will be dismayed. Pangs and agony will seize them, they will be in anguish like a woman in travail. They will look aghast at one another, their faces will be aflame (Isa 13:8).

And elsewhere:

For behold, the Lord will come in fire, and his chariots like the stormwind, to render his anger in fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire (Isa 66:15).

St. John writes that the ten apocalyptic kings will “devour the flesh” of Babylon, the prostitute, “and burn her up with fire, for God has put into their hearts to carry out his purpose” (Rev 17:12-18). This suggests that the ten kings have the power to use the fire of God in order to destroy Babylon. This is often attributed to mass destruction with nuclear weapons during a third World War, but it may also mean something else. The prophet Daniel also uses the term flood regarding the judgment of the prince of the seventy weeks (Dan 9:26), which has several meanings through history. In particular, it refers to the future Antichrist, as we shall see.

Whatever this tribulation will be, it will not only touch a small region of our planet, as in the time of Noah, but have a global extent:

So the Lord said, ‘I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the ground, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them’ (Gen 6:7)

Mankind will become “rarer than fine gold” (Isa 13:12). Faith resists fire like gold (1 Co 3:12-15). This is why only those persisting in faith will survive this end-time tribulation, whatever its exact unfolding will be. They will find refuge in the saving Church, not necessarily in the buildings but in the Church as the mystical body of Christ, the ark of Noah, which will shelter people of all colors and nations from around the world, like the species that were embarked in the ark gathering from every place on earth (Gen 6:20).

From this global extend of Jesus’ prophecy can be inferred that the flood account does not refer to a global deluge in the past. The prototype of the flood may just have been the survival of a family and some domestic animals in a boat during the Mesopotamian inundations after 4000 BC (see here).

The deferring of the global character of the flood to the future also explains God’s intention to never again exterminate the inhabitants on earth (Gen 8:21), for if this was valid for a distant past, there should effectively have been a worldwide flood in ancient times, which, however, does not correspond to reality. The only global flood covering the entire planet occurred when the primitive ocean formed (see here). But at this time there were still no humans around. To mention also that in the past there were several mass extinctions through natural catastrophes. So the end-time judgment may also consist in such an event rather than in a direct divine action, which would confer on God a distorted image of an angry and gruesome person.

As we are going to see, the revival phase following this end-time tribulation starts with the millennial reign. The new world order described by Genesis 9 consequently also applies in the first place to the future, that is, to the time of peace during a thousand years.

Appendix B: Modern dates from the patriarchs’ ages

In this appendix, some modern scientific dates regarding human evolution are calculated through the patriarchs’ ages. This requires some simple mathematical skills, but the reader may also just consider the results. While it is not possible to determine conclusively whether these results point to real events, because the possible scientific dates lie inside rather large time intervals, the correspondence of the obtained biblical data with the scientific timeline does nevertheless not seem to be just a coincidence.

Since we can obtain two different dates for Adam, by adding either the whole patriarchs’ ages for the second Adam or the ages when they fathered their sons for the third Adam (see here), it is straightforward to ask if these dates can be extrapolated to obtain the date of birth of the first Adam or even his predecessors. Evidently, this could be done in an infinite number of ways. However, this number reduces considerably if imposing some simple conditions. One natural condition is that the same time structure be kept. This structure can be expressed by the following times:

F3 = time from 3rd flood to Abraham born in 2160 BC
A3 = time from 3rd Adam to 3rd flood
F2 = time from 2nd flood to 3rd Adam
A2 = time from 2nd Adam to 2nd flood

Accordingly, the same time structure is kept with these times

F1 = time from 1st flood to 2nd Adam
A1 = time from 1st Adam to 1st flood
F0 = time from some other flood to 1st Adam
A0 = time from some other Adam to some other flood,

requiring that the ratios of the first four known times be kept. This can be expressed by

A3 / F3 = A1 / F1
F2 / A3 = F0 / A1
A2 / F2 = A0 / F0.

So this yields three equations defining three times. However, we have four unknown times F1, A1, F0 and A0. So we can freely define one of these variables. It is straightforward to ask that F1 depend on all four known quantities F3, A3, F2 and A2 rather than to make it depend only on a restricted number or even on none of them because they are the only dates provided by the Bible, so all should be taken into account. Rather than to require a complex dependency, it is straightforward to ask the simplest possible dependency. This is without doubt a sum of the known times. Thus, we have the following system of equations:

F1 = F3 + A3 + F2 + A2
A1 = F1 × A3 / F3
F0 = A1 × F2 / A3
A0 = F0 × A2 / F2

The date of F3, that is, the beginning of this period, is the lifetime of Abraham in years ago, say 4160 ya, plus F3. The other dates are obtained correspondingly. So the date of A2 is 4160 + F3 + A3 + F2 + A2. We have some liberty in choosing the method for calculating the date of F1, which can be done either in the same manner by retreating back from Abraham or from the date of A2. Since F1 is the sum of the known times, the first method implies that the date of F1 and A2 is the same. This would mean that a flood date may also be a date indicating a step in human evolution attributed to some Adam, and vice versa. This fits in with the fact that both the time after the third Adam (see here) and the expulsion from the paradise during the Riss-Würm interglacial (see here), which could be the time of the first Adam as we are going to see, were flood times. This is why we choose the first method.

For an accurate calculation, it is necessary to add the nine months of pregnancy from the conception to the birth for all the 19 patriarchs from Adam to Terah. According to figure 16, we then get:

F3 = sum of ages at birth from Noah to Terah minus 600 = 360.5
A3 = sum of ages at birth from Adam to Lamech plus 600 = 1662.75
F2 = sum of ages from Noah to Terah minus 600 = 3346
A2 = sum of ages from Adam to Lamech plus 600 = 8225

This yields

F1 = 13’594
A1 = 62’701
F0 = 126’176
A0 = 310’160.

Summing them up from the birth of Abraham 4160 ya, we get the three following dates: 80’455 ya (date of A1), 206’631 ya (date of F0) and 516’791 ya (date of A0). As already mentioned, Homo neanderthalensis appeared in Africa about 500’000 ya and set out for Eurasia 200’000 ya. This is also the date for the appearance of an archaic form of Homo sapiens. The 80’455 date of the first Adam could refer to a modern form of Homo sapiens who also left Africa for Eurasia during the Riss-Würm interglacial. So we see that these results correspond very well with the paleontological dates, even though they are still under debate and may change in the future.

Appendix C: Classical biblical dates

This date must be obtained by calculating back in time from a known historical event, using the data supplied by the Bible like the patriarchs’ ages. Frequently, the construction date of Solomon’s temple is often used for this purpose, even though this is a disputed date. There are even claims that this first temple of the Jews never existed. Indeed, archaeological evidence for its existence is slim because it has been destroyed, renovated and rebuilt several times. The Wailing Wall, for instance, on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, where the first temple is supposed to have been build, is a piece of the temple constructed by Herod the Great in the first century BC. Furthermore, archaeological excavations on the Temple Mount, which is also the place of the Islamic Dome of the Rock, are not allowed for evident political reasons. There is nevertheless a certain consensus that Solomon’s temple was constructed around 960 BC with a possible error of some ten years.

This is the date from which we can calculate back in time by using direct biblical data. The first of such data is 1 Kings 6:1, which claims that the first temple was built by Solomon 480 years after the Exodus. This is still a disputable claim because the books of the Judges and Samuel seem to indicate a longer time of about 600 years. However, it is assumed here that the 480 years are more accurate than the long and complicated chronologies in Judges and Samuel, which are subject to interpretation errors. So the Exodus took possibly place in 480 + 960 = 1440 BC, which must be considered an approximate date.

According to Exodus 12:40, the people of Israel stayed in Egypt for 430 years. This can again be interpreted in different ways. Using Galatians 3:16-17, some scholars link the 430 years, not to the Exodus, but to the promise made to Abraham. Though, St. Paul, the author of the Epistle to the Galatians, is himself referring to Exodus 12:40 in order to estimate the duration from the promise to the Law in an approximate manner. So it is safer to use directly Exodus 12:40.

The people of Israel were born with Jacob’s twelve sons, from whom issued the twelve Israelite tribes. They arrived in Egypt with their father Jacob, who was 130 years old at this moment (Gen 47:9). This is why Jacob was born around 1440 + 430 + 130 = 2000 BC using the dates from above. Abraham was 100 when Isaac was born (Gen 21:5) and Isaac 60 when Jacob was born (Gen 25:26), so Abraham was 160 years old at Jacob’s birth. This is why Abraham was born around 2160 BC. According to the ages of the patriarchs indicated in Genesis 5 and Genesis 11:10-26, 2009 years passed from Adam’s birth to that of Abraham (see figure 16). Therefore, Adam must have been born around 2160 + 2009 = 4169 BC. 953 years passed from Noah’s birth to that of Abraham (Gen 5:32; 11:10-26). When the flood arrived, Noah was 600 years old (Gen 7:6). Therefore, about 353 years passed from the flood to Abraham’s birth in 2160 BC. The flood of Noah consequently took place around 353 + 2160 = 2513 BC.


[26] See Early Human Migrations.

[27] Illinoian for North America or Wolstonian for the British Isles.

[28] They possibly did not depend entirely on hunting, as shown by recent research.

[29] Wisconsin for North America.

[30] Josef Reichholf, Das Rätsel der Menschwerdung, 2001.

[31] The one that the Neanderthals survived. It lasted from about 90’000 to 130’000 ya.

[32] For science this may not be a paradox, because evolution is considered to have taken place on a wide front and humanity to have several ancestors. Independently from the fact that this scientific claim is far from being proven, in order to determine if there is a paradox in the account, it is necessary to follow its own logic. Considering the whole context, this logic insists on a monogenism, which does not allow conjugal relationships outside the lineage stemming from Adam and Eve.

[33] This is true though for the real first man. In connection with that, we have already seen that Adam and Eve must have been brother and sister (see The incarnation prefigured by Adam).

[34] Unless one argues that the patriarchs literally lived for hundreds of years as believed by young earth creationists.

[35] Do not confuse these multiple meanings of Adam with the first and the new Adam (see The incarnation prefigured by Adam) or the reference to the angels (see A celestial and terrestrial Adam).

[36] According to Genesis 5:32 and 9:28, Noah was 500 years old when he fathered Shem, Ham and Japheth. Since Noah was 600 years old when the flood began and it lasted a year (Gen 7:11; 8:13), Shem would have been 103 years old two years after the flood. This stands in contradiction with Genesis 11:10, which states that Shem was 100 years old two years after the flood (when he fathered Arpachshad). The solution to this contradiction is that Noah did not father his three sons at the same time but consecutively, only the eldest at the age of 500 and Shem at the age of 503 years. So Shem is not the eldest of them although mentioned the first.

[37] According to Acts 7:4, God called Abraham to leave Haran only after his father Terah died there at the age of 205 years (Gen 11:32). According to Genesis 12:1-4, Abraham left Haran at the age of 75 years. This is why Terah must have been at least 205 – 75 = 130 years old at the birth of Abraham. Here we have a similar situation to the birth of the three sons of Noah (see note 36): according to Genesis 11:26, Terah consecutively fathered three sons, the eldest at the age of 70 years, but this is not Abraham although he is mentioned the first.

[38] Joseph was 30 years old when he foresaw the seven years of plenty and seven years of famine (Gen 41:46). It was in the second year of famine that his father and brothers came to him in Egypt (Gen 45:6). So at this time, Joseph was 39 years old. Jacob stayed 17 years in Egypt and died at the age of 147 years (Gen 41:28). Hence, he died when Joseph was 39 + 17 = 56 years old. This is why Joseph was born when Jacob was 147 – 56 = 91 years old. Since Jacob was born in 2000 BC (see appendix C: Classical biblical dates), this was in 1909 BC.

[39] See

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