The Bible and Scientific Mysteries
by Ernest L. Martin, Ph.D., March 1994
Transcribed and edited by David Sielaff, December 2009
Read the accompanying Newsletter for December 2009
The scriptures were written by Almighty God. Because they were, I feel there are secrets therein that only God knows at present, and that includes scientific mysteries. I think that the teachings of the factors that will disclose these scientific mysteries will be found in the text of the Holy Scripture. That is right, in the Bible are many, many things to be discovered, and the scientists of this world, as well as the historians and others, will come to realize that the Bible has clues to solving the mysteries of the universe. That includes physical and scientific mysteries that people have wanted to find out for generations.
Most of the major scientific developments which we will come to a knowledge of in the years ahead of us before the second coming of Christ, will come about through motivations that are found from the literary texts of the Holy Scripture. The Holy Bible is the only document that we have that represents the words of the Living God, the creator of heaven and earth. Within those Scriptures are enough truths that we who love science ought to look at them, and we will understand things as never before.
As an example, scientists of the last 15 years have suggested that the earth, on which we live at the present time, once had rings around it in outer space, like the planet Saturn and Uranus have, and so do other planets in our solar system. In fact, some scientists these days are saying that in most solar systems that they are able to theorize about a planet the size of the earth, it would be an extraordinary thing if it did not have some kind of rings, or some particles of mass around it.
When they look at Saturn, they see that it has ice crystals around it in many, many bands. We have seen those beautiful pictures that have come back from outer space from Voyager I and Voyager II unmanned spacecraft. Saturn has been known for years to have these beautiful rings around it and at the present, it seems like those rings in most cases, are made up of ice crystals of some kind. That would be a tremendous amount of water surrounding the planet Saturn, though it is water in the form of ice, frozen water.
Some are now suggesting that the earth at one time also had rings around it. The most logical substance would be the kind that we find around the planet Saturn — ice crystals. When we look at what God says in the Bible we can find what was actually in outer space surrounding the earth at any given time in history — that is, if God discusses it. 1
When He gave the blueprint of creation found Genesis 1:1–2:3, that blueprint was given in a regular order of days. 2 It shows a sequence of events of creation, which can give us hints on the method or manner in which God created the heavens and the earth, and particularly the earth that we are on at the present time.
It says in the 1st chapter of Genesis that there were waters under the earth, which would be equated with our oceans today, and then a firmament in which many types of life exist and there would be clouds within that firmament. Above that firmament, we are told, there were waters, waters similar to those found in the ocean (Genesis 1:6–7). Those waters were above our earthly atmosphere. When you look at the text carefully, you would think it is talking about those very rings that scientists are now suggesting were possibly around the earth at one time.
New information from the Bible definitely suggests that in the period from Adam’s creation and up unto the flood of Noah, representing 1,656 years, there were indeed rings around this earth like at present around the planet Saturn. Those rings also were made up primarily of ice crystals. Ice is nothing more than frozen water, so waters “were above the firmament.” It surrounded this entire earth, not as a complete canopy but as a ring system around the earth. 3
This suggests very strongly to me that the water above the firmament was not something that completely covered the sphere itself because you could see out into the universe and see stars. When you can see stars, obviously, that means there were certain sections of the sky that were seen to outer space.
How substantial were these ice rings that existed at one time around the earth? How many rings were there? How thick were they? How large were they in any criteria we can relate to? As far as the Bible is concerned, we are not told these dimensions. What kind of consistency were those waters? We are only told that water surrounded the earth near the time of Adam and I believe that continued until the time of Noah when out of the sky came forth water that produced what we call the flood of Noah today.
When they disappeared in the time of Noah and came out of the heavens, those waters were sufficient in quantity and consequence to cause a great flood on this earth. That means that the waters in the heavens must have been seen conspicuously for 1656 years, from the time of Adam to the flood of Noah.
These waters caused considerable hardship and death on earth at the time of the flood. But there is evidence in scripture that they also caused hardships on earth, as far as the people and animal life were concerned, from the time of Adam and down to the time of Noah. If you look at the biblical revelation carefully in the first 6 chapters of Genesis, it states that the earth was cursed during those 1656 years when civilization was on earth from the time of Adam to Noah.
Noah’s name itself means “comfort.” We are told in the 5th chapter of Genesis of a prophecy by Enoch that a man would be born whose name was to be Noah, which means “comfort.” In the days of his life, the earth (not mankind) would be comforted; a great hardship causing the earth to be under a curse at the time would be eliminated.
In the pre-flood period from Adam through 10 generations to the time of Noah, 1656 years, people were living long lives up to 900 years. Methuselah lived to be the oldest man ever recorded, 969 years of age. That is what scripture says and I have no reason to doubt it.
God was dealing with each one of those ancient patriarchs back then. There is no doubt about that. In fact, the name Methuselah, when you extend it into its elements, it means in Hebrew, “when he dies, it will be sent.” Enoch was Methuselah’s father and Enoch was a prophet. He lived in a middle period between Adam and Noah. He had this son called Methuselah. Enoch is mentioned in the New Testament in the Book of Jude verses 14–15. In his time he gave prophecies about (1) the end of his age, (2) our end of our age right on the horizon to us, and (3) even beyond that unto the end of the millennium when the earth will be burned up by fire and a new heavens and a new earth will come along.
Back before the flood, Enoch was giving prophecies about our end time, about the very end of the earth. Not only did he give prophecies about the end of the earth, he also gave prophecies concerning intermediate stages of the history of the earth. One of them was about his son Methuselah: “when he dies, it will be sent.” Enoch was saying that at the time when Methuselah would die, something would be sent that he was prophesying about. The prophecies indicated that the earth would first be destroyed by water. The prophecies indicated secondly and lastly that the earth would be destroyed and rejuvenated by fire. The first destruction was to be by water, the second was to be by fire.
Then we have a man after that by the name of Lamech who came from Methuselah. Lamech was the father of Noah, and Noah’s name also had prophetic significance. Noah’s name means “comfort.” It meant that (1) in the days of Noah comfort would be given to the earth and (2) the great curse on the earth from the time of Adam to the flood would be taken away at that time, according to Genesis 3:17–19. Note also:
“And he called his name Noah, saying, ‘This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which YHWH has cursed.’”
That pre-flood period, when patriarchs were living long lives, was not a very pleasant time on earth. It was nothing like the earth that we have today because something was happening that caused seed time not to occur in regular habitual time periods, seasons, and cycles that you and I are familiar with today.
Now God, even in our environment and civilization, if He wants to bring judgment upon a person, a people, or any nation, He can change the weather patterns if He wishes to do so. From the time of Noah up to modern times, God has done so at various times. But nothing has ever occurred on this earth, since the time of Noah like the conditions that occurred from the time of Adam to Noah. The whole earth was under a curse during that time. After the flood, God said chaos would end:
“And YHWH smelled a sweet savor; and YHWH said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for [though] the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.”
When you analyze the biblical evidence carefully, you find that the rings around the earth were actually part of the cause of the difficulties. They could not depend upon the earth to raise crops properly because the sun’s rays could be cut off very quickly when these rings in the heavens were obscuring the sun’s rays. 4 By the rotation of the earth on its axis, the rings would move aside and the sun would be brought out again. It was a very chaotic period from the time of Adam to Noah. It was a time of a curse on the earth.
Methuselah gave Lamech, his firstborn son, the prophecy about a man to come whose name would be “comfort,” Noah. (Noah was Lamech’s firstborn son and Methuselah’s grandson, Genesis 5:25–29.) In Noah’s time the great curse would be removed from the earth in the 600th year of Noah’s life, 1656 years from Adam.
In the time of Christ, there was a man by the name of Philo Judaeus who lived in Alexandria, Egypt. He was a Jewish individual who interpreted much of what, from his opinion, was meant by the Old Testament text. He mentions Methuselah. Philo knew that the name Methuselah meant “when he dies, it will be sent.” 5 People at that time were well aware that the patriarchal names had prophetic significance attached to them.
Philo knew that when Methuselah would die the prophecies given by Enoch (Methuselah’s father) would find fulfillment. They would take place in the time of Noah, the man called “comfort.” In the 600th year of Noah’s life, the floodwaters came down out of the heavens. Also, “the fountains of the great deep”(Genesis 7:11, 8:2) exploded up from the bowels of the earth. Water came from both sources, from below and from above. The 600th year of Noah was the very year in which Methuselah died. When he died the great curse was to end on the earth, but it ended with a great destruction. That destruction was to be by water.
Methuselah means, “when he dies, it will be sent.” What will be sent? The flood will be sent. Waters will come down out of the heavens and waters will come up out of the bowels of the earth. Really though, the floodwaters mainly came from outer space, from above the firmament. In Genesis chapter 1 we find there was water up there, not just in the form of vapor, but massive quantities of water like the oceans (Genesis 1:6–7). Even in the King James Version this is clear.
These waters were going to come down (and did come down) in the year that Methuselah died according to Enoch’s prophecy. God was very concerned about the time periods of things here on this earth. Philo Judaeus from Alexandria, Egypt, recognized these principles in the time of Christ.
I feel Methuselah survived to be of the longest-lived individual on earth, 969 years, because God kept putting off his death giving people the opportunity to repent of their sins. Of course, when they did not repent God let Methuselah die in the 969th year of his life. Before that year ended, the great floodwaters came down to earth.
So let us pay close attention even to what the names of the patriarchs meant. Noah’s name had a prophetic meaning. “Methuselah” had a prophetic meaning. In the 8th chapter of Isaiah, that prophet said that his name and the names of his two sons have prophetic significance to them (Isaiah 8:18). In the New Testament you find the same thing. By paying close attention to the meanings of words in the Old and the New Testaments it is amazing what an abundance of truth you can arrive at.
The first destruction of the earth was to be by water. The last one would be by fire. The first came about when Methuselah died. The other is given in the chronological and prophetical information of the Old and the New Testaments which God has given us about these future events.
But in the year that Methuselah died, the waters came down out of the heavens and the great fountains of the deep burst forth. Be careful in understanding this: these waters came out of the sky. This was not ordinary rain that you find here in the present weather system. Oh, there was rain all right. We are even told that there was rain, but it was not rain like you and I are familiar with today. The water that destroyed the civilization in the time of Noah was water that came from outer space. That may sound silly to some, but there was at one time (as the Bible says in the book of Job) a band around this earth, like a swaddlingband put around a baby and so forth. It was like a band or ring system that we see around Saturn today. The Bible says they once existed around this earth.
As I said before, scientists now think, there were once rings around this earth. About 10 years ago, Time magazine had an article on the subject about what scientists were discovering and suggesting. They were saying that in earlier times there were rings around this earth of some kind. The scientists were not sure what they were made of, but they were obviously of some substance. The book of Genesis in the 1st chapter tells us what that substance was. It was water. But it was water in the form of ice crystals like those that we find around Saturn today.
When I went to college in Pasadena, California back in 1955, I had just come out of the United States Air Force. I had been a meteorologist. I forecasted the weather for the United States government, primarily for the Air Force. As a meteorologist, though a young man, I was beginning to get interested in the scripture. When I looked at the 1st chapter of Genesis, I came up with some conclusions even back then which are similar to those I have at the present. I gave a speech in my freshman year at college on how it must have looked from the vantage point of earth, as well as how it must have looked to view the firmament and beyond to see the water that was surrounding the earth.
I was showing that the Bible made scientific sense going back to the 1st chapter of the Bible. Genesis said that there was water beneath the earth that is like our oceans, that there was a firmament or an expanse in between the oceans that were on the surface of the earth, and “above the firmament.” The firmament was in between. There was a massive amount of water, not just a little bit. And it was not in the form of clouds but water like in the oceans. Yes, when you get out in space where it gets very cold, water goes below freezing, the temperature obviously will turn it to ice.
When I made that speech, I thought it was simply water vapor up there. I had not quite realized then, nor had I read, of course, about scientists saying that there were once rings around this earth. At that time, no one was suggesting that. I thought that perhaps there was a canopy of some kind. But I had difficulty understanding that because stars could be seen on the 4th day. So it could not have been a canopy. However, about 10 years ago once these articles came out in Time magazine and in scientific journals suggesting that rings were around the earth, then it became very clear what was meant.
We have to grow in grace and in knowledge (2 Peter 3:18). That is what the Bible is all about in the first place. You must be willing to give up false teaching or a lack of understanding that you had previously. As you continue to grow, and new developments and discoveries begin to take place, the mysteries of the universe will be disclosed by various means. Then you can look into the scriptures when you see scientists discovering certain things, and lo and behold, you will find that the scriptures are validating them. I have come to respect the Holy Scripture over the years even from a scientific point of view.
Back then I thought there was some kind of thick water vapor. I really did not think it could have been ice crystals. But ice crystals are frozen water. Scientists have come to believe that there were once visible rings around this earth. I later found in Job chapter 38 that there was a swaddlingband around this earth that had to do with waters. When I saw that and put the two together, it became clear that there were indeed rings around this earth as we find around the planet Saturn. They were made up of ice crystals containing a tremendous amount of water.
We do not see rings around earth at the present time. They have disappeared from surrounding the earth. We have no such ice ring surrounding the earth today, although there may be some wispy residue of those rings. We certainly have particles rushing around the earth like the remnants of asteroids or comets. We can look into the heavens at night anywhere from earth on a clear night and see the stars.
There are no rings around the earth at the present, so what happened? It seems very clear. At the time of Noah, the waters from the rings came down to earth. Before that event, people living at the time must have seen rings up in the heavens and that ring system caused chaos on this earth. They were able to live long lives, but not comfortably. It was a time of a great curse on the earth. In Noah's time, though the floodwaters were devastating to civilization and to the earth, it brought in a new type of earth, the earth that you and I are familiar with today. The earth has been “comforted” ever since. God also gave one promise because of that. He said that he will never allow the floodwaters to come on the earth again like in a time of Noah.
There have been floods, we know that. Even in the United States we experience floods, especially in the mid portion of our country, and they were devastating in many cases. But they are nothing like the floods that took place in Noah’s time. That is assured. Such things will not occur any more. God has promised that. The reason is because all the water in the form of ice that were in rings around the earth in the pre-flood period all came to earth and is now filling the oceans that we have today.
There were oceans before the flood, but a great amount of water came from outer space and entered the earth’s atmosphere, and joined the oceans at the time of Noah. Because those rings disappeared, there cannot again be a flood like the time of Noah. Genesis 1:6 says there was “a firmament in the midst of the waters” and it divided “the waters from the waters.”God is telling us things that scientists are now beginning to believe are true. This word “firmament”really means an “expanse.” It signifies our atmosphere. It means that there was an atmosphere above the earth, obviously, and waters under the atmosphere, which we call our oceans. And these were waters above the atmosphere, those rings made of ice. There were waters below and waters above.
In our atmosphere today we have clouds. They are our atmosphere and they are in “the expanse” which we live. We live in a vaporous canopy surrounding the earth known as our atmosphere. We do not see waters up there as they did in the 1,656 years before the flood:
“And God make the firmament [the expanse], and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. [The heaven where the clouds and the birds are.] And the evening and the morning were the second day.”
This describes a condition of the earth that was covered entirely by water at first. Then there came to be the firmament, and then there was water above the firmament. After this, the land came forth. If you read carefully, the land did not emerge on earth until the 3rd day in this blueprint. This description of the waters above the firmament and below happened on the 2nd day. On the 1st day, these waters covered the entire surface of the earth. Only on the 2nd day do we find the firmament (the expanse) and the waters above the firmament.
What was this water? Below it was in the form of ocean. Above it must have been the form of ice crystals. There was a tremendous amount of this water in the heavens surrounding the earth. Because we do not see the rings anymore, that water must have come down in the time of Noah, from outer space. It was not just from water in the original oceans.
The rain, snow, and precipitation we have today all originate from the oceans. Winds and heat cause water vapors to rise from the oceans. The water vapors are absorbed into the air. Wind currents carry the vapors over land and they ascend into the upper atmosphere, or maybe through things like mountain ranges or other land formations, the air ascends. As it gets colder, it reaches the dew point, it creates clouds, and precipitation takes place in the form of rain, snow, or hail. The rains come down on the earth and they flow into rivulets, small streams, into bigger streams, and finally into rivers. The water goes back to the oceans and the process starts again.
You and I know that pattern today. If you look at the flood that took place in Noah’s time, you might imagine there was just an excessive amount of rain for the 40 days and 40 nights when it says rain came down precipitously. If only the oceans were generating that water, where did the extra water come from? Most people think that when the waters came down out of heaven, they came down with such force and in such an amount that the waters began to rise. They rose until they covered the highest of the mountains. When you read it in the King James Version you almost get that conclusion. I would definitely feel, by reading such an account in our modern versions, including the King James Version, that that is what actually happened.
You must look at it very carefully in the Hebrew. You will find that is not what Moses was stating. If you look at all of the evidence concerning the flood, it shows that the waters that came down for 40 days and 40 nights, that covered the mountains with a thick cloud layer to where the tops of the mountains could not be seen almost to a year in some occasions, those waters were not generated from the oceans here on earth. They came down from this ring system, this swaddlingband system that surrounded the earth at one time, as is described in the 1st chapter of Genesis and in the 38th chapter of Job.
Those waters that caused the flood in the time of Noah came down from outer space. It has to be that way. Waters generated from the oceans themselves, if the topographical features of the earth remain the same. That is if you have the mountains, the valleys, the great basin areas, and the oceans that we have at the present time, that water vapors and clouds generated from those oceans that surround the earth today, if those waters come up and cause precipitation upon the mountain tops, those waters run right back to the ocean from whence they were generated at first. You will not find the oceans increasing in size. Waters that come from the rivers into the oceans came from oceans in the first place.
We have here in Portland, Oregon, the Columbia River, which is a very large river. Now it is not as large as the Mississippi. It is not as large as the Nile. But it is a very large river. It brings in water from western Canada as well as from the western part of the United States north of the Great Basin. A tremendous amount of water comes down the Gorge of the Columbia here. It goes into the oceans. Just as the book of Psalms says, we do not find the oceans rising because of all of this water in the wintertime or in the summer going into the oceans. The Mississippi, the Nile, the Yangtze, the Rhine River in Europe, the Columbia here, and other rivers of the world, they all flow into the oceans. We do not find that the waters are rising. It is true that lands can rise and lands can sink, and the ocean level has changed from time to time. Geologists have verified that and we know that to be true. But the waters generated from the oceans falling on the land cannot cause the oceans themselves to rise because it is a circular and a closed system.
The waters will not decrease nor increase, because it is the same water being used all the time. It is simply going through its various phases of water, then vapor, and then water again (or perhaps ice if it is cold enough, the ice will melt, and the circulation will continue). The rains that we have today in no way could explain water vapor or water coming out of the earth in such prodigious amounts that it would cause even mountains to be covered. I will explain what was meant by those mountains being covered and it is not as many of us have thought in the past.
Ocean waters themselves cannot generate the quantity of waters that were coming out of the heavens mentioned in the time of Noah. Those waters coming out of the heavens were the waters described in Genesis that were there “above the firmament” at the time (Genesis 1:7). Those waters disappeared after the period of Noah because they came down to earth. There was once a swaddlingband of water above this earth, rings of water no doubt, in frozen form like around Saturn today that existed in the pre-flood period. Those waters came down from outer space, and much of the water in the basin areas of the world today are waters that were once in outer space surrounding this earth that came down in the time of Noah.
The Biblical revelation vindicates what scientists today are saying in their findings and suggestions that there were once rings around this earth. The Bible can give us in literary form teachings that show whether or not the scientists are correct in their suggestions for what was happening in the past or what might happen in the future dealing with asteroids and things like that. This is why we need to pay close attention to the scriptures as we get closer to the time of the end. Knowledge of prophecy will increase and those prophecies will include an ever-greater understanding of the secrets of the universe.
When the waters came down out from space to earth, the English reading of the biblical account might suggest that even the tops of the mountains were submerged by this vast amount of extra terrestrial water coming to earth. This is not what the Hebrew language suggests at all if we will look carefully at the matter. Some have suggested that perhaps the mountains were much lower in elevation than they are today and that is how this water was able to submerge these mountains that were only high hills. We can show clearly from scripture that this cannot be the case.
When Adam and Eve were created they were placed in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:8). That garden was watered by four rivers. Two of which we can easily identify, the Tigris and the Euphrates. It means that in the time of Adam, the Tigris and Euphrates river system were a very much in existence. That system in the time of Adam was long before Noah’s flood, when the Garden of Eden was there. That suggests very strongly that the mountain regions surrounding Mesopotamia were in existence at that time to form the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.
If the mountains were much lower, you would not have the Tigris and Euphrates that we are familiar with today. Moses however said in his time (around 1500 years before the birth of Christ, and some 800 odd years after the flood) that the Tigris and Euphrates River systems were very much in existence at the time of Adam and Eve. This is reasonable proof. Nothing in a geographical sense was drastically altered when the flood came in the time of Noah. This means that the mountains of Cush (Genesis 2:13) and Havilah (Genesis 2:11) near Mesopotamia that are mentioned in the Bible, they must have been around 14,000 feet in elevation as they are now. In fact, Mount Ararat near the sources of the Euphrates and the Tigris happens to be over 17,000 feet in elevation at present. These mountain ridges must have existed back in Adam’s time (as they do today) to give rise to the Euphrates and Tigris. This is a substantial hint to show us that the topographical features of the earth in the time of Adam were similar to today.
These indications present major problems to traditional concepts supplied by most biblical literalists who believe that all the mountains around the globe were submerged by water in the time of Noah’s flood. If they were submerged by the floodwaters, then where did the waters drain in order for the mountains and the dry land to appear? Now that is a good question. Were deep trenches created in the oceans so that the floodwaters could flow into them, thus forming our present oceans? The Bible gives no support to this theory at all.
We are told in the first creation account of chapter one that there were oceans before the formation of man. In the narrative of the flood of Genesis Moses spoke about “the fountains of the great deep.” But in the time of Adam the mountain ranges were at or near the same heights as they are today. There were already ocean areas on earth. If this is the case, then where did the water go that supposedly submerged all the mountains as we are told today. I mean even submerged the highest, such as Mount Everest, over 29,000 feet into the atmosphere.
This submergence theory presents an impossible scenario that defies rational explanation. It is no wonder that scientists today laugh at the whole thing and they believe the Bible is nothing more than a myth. What some think is one thing, but what the Bible says is quite another. The Bible in no way indicates that the mountains themselves were submerged during the time of Noah’s flood. If Moses was endeavoring to give us literal information about the submergence of the mountains, then his account really becomes unexplainable by any physical laws we are acquainted with today. This is the reason scientists scoff at the account of the flood normally understood by people, because of the thinking that the mountains were submerged by those floodwaters.
Actually, this very problem, which seems impossible to explain, provides us with the clue to show what really did occur at the flood. By realizing that there was no major mountain building or the creation of deep ocean trenches during the time of Noah’s flood, we are required to look in another direction in our inquiry concerning what Moses meant when he said the waters covered the mountains (Genesis 7:20). By looking in that other direction, we can obtain the precise answer because it will tell us the truth.
Moses was indeed presenting to his readers literal descriptions of what happened during the time of Noah’s flood. Moses truly meant that the influence of the floodwaters was worldwide and that the mountains, even the very highest were affected by the floods waters. I said affected by the floodwaters. I did not say submerged by those waters, but they certainly were affected by them.
What has not been understood by most interpreters is the fact that when Moses said the mountains were covered, he did not mean they were submerged. The two words are very different indeed. He did say the tops of the mountains were covered but he did not say they were submerged. He simply said that they were totally covered by the waters that came down from heaven and this means every mountain on earth. We need to understand what Moses really meant by the word “covered.” By paying close attention to what Moses said, his account turns out to be very different from what most commentators have imagined over the past 1900 years.
Moses is revealing scientific knowledge about the origins of the flood that any scientist today would be able to understand. So, let us ask the question, just what did Moses mean by his descriptions concerning the flood of Noah? What Moses shows is not only interesting, but it is profoundly important in comprehending the early history of mankind as well as the physical history of the earth.
To understand what Moses was saying we need to once more remind ourselves of the key to biblical knowledge that I mentioned at the beginning. It is this: when the Bible uses words to describe events, prophecies, or doctrines, one must use the meanings of those words that God places on them, not what we think they mean. Take for example the word “Methuselah.” We think of it as just a name of an individual, but when you break it down into its elements, it has a particular prophetic meaning. It is God’s intention, God’s meaning of words, that we must use and not our own or mankind’s.
When He said that “Noah” would come along, his name meant “comfort.” It had prophetic significance to it. We must ask, what did God mean by a “comfort” coming to the earth at the time this man would be living. We must get God’s meanings of the words in the Bible, in the biblical context, not take them out of context, or give modern meaning that has nothing to do with the Bible.
Let me give an example of the word “day,” which in Hebrew is yom. It has a variety of meanings in the Bible. One must stay close to the narrative in which it is used to realize what God means by its use in any particular context. The same thing must be done with the words that are used by Moses to describe events associated with the flood.
Those Hebrew words, or even Greek in the New Testament, used in the various contexts as God uses them, once we have those meanings we are better able to understand what they were actually intended to convey. What God said or meant in various contexts is quite different from what most people have thought. If one will pay close attention to His usage of the words (common, plain words in biblical usage, not strange or exotic meanings) one will be amazed at what Moses really said. Let us now look at what Moses taught. It will help to explain what those waters of the flood really were and how those mountains were covered by water, but not submerged under water.
The ordinary words that Moses used to describe the dynamics of the flood of Noah show that there was no submergence of the mountains under floodwaters. The geographical features of the earth in the Middle East are mentioned for the time of Adam, as I said before, and the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers were there then as they are now. This suggests that the topographical features associated with the geography of that area were virtually the same as they were in the time of Moses, and as they are now. It seems to say in chapters 7 and 8 of Genesis that the mountains were indeed submerged. How can one, for even a moment, suggest something contrary to this? The truth is Moses did not say what most people have assumed.
Note the two sources of the waters that brought on the flood. Moses tells us clearly that the fountains of the deep broke up and the windows of heaven were open (Genesis 7:11). Just how springs in the bottom of the ocean can cause the oceans to rise is not known, but Moses said it happened, and this phenomenon must be considered as a factor in causing the waters to rise. This springing up of water from the ocean depths was not emphasized by Moses in the text. The main source of the waters, as he recorded, was the forty days of rain that came down from the heavens in Genesis 7:12. It appears certain that most of the water that caused the flood came down from the heavens and in the New Testament the apostle Peter said the waters were “down poured upon the earth,”2 Peter 3:6, when you get it in the original Greek. Those waters caused the mountains to be covered, not submerged.
The waters came down from some kind of watery reservoir that once surrounded the earth as mentioned by Moses in Genesis 1:3–5. This watery mass from the heavens was in sufficient quantity to cause continual rain for 40 days and 40 nights, causing a tremendous cloud cover. These rains would continue and flow into the oceans. The water was coming from somewhere else than the oceans themselves. 6
When one translates the words of Moses correctly, the bulk of this water, as Peter said, “down poured upon the earth,” the main bulk of the water descended from above. Moses even tells us the amount of water that fell to the earth over the 40-day period.
The theologians who translated the King James Version completely misunderstood what Moses meant in Genesis 7:20 by rendering the Hebrew as “fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail and the mountains were covered.” That was how the King James people translated the word that spoke about the waters coming down. Note the word “upward.” Because most theologians automatically assumed that Moses meant that even the highest mountains were completely submerged by floodwaters, they were led to translate the Hebrew word, “malemelah” which actually means “from above,” by the word “upward.”
This is a major mistake. It gives the English reader the opposite impression from what the Hebrew intended. Whereas our English word “upward” means to proceed from the bottom to a higher position. The Hebrew word used by Moses that the King James scholars incorrectly translated as “upward,” actually means, “to descend from above.” To come from above means to fall downward, not to rise upward. Indeed in Joshua 3:13 and 3:16 the same word refers to the waters of the river Jordan and it shows that the waters of the Jordan flowed from above, downward toward the Red Sea. Obviously, water in all rivers flows downward not upward.
In a variant of the same word, the prophet Isaiah reported in Isaiah 45:8, “Drop down you heavens from above and let the skies pour down righteousness.” That is the word Moses was using. So the King James translators, followed by a host of others, have given a diametrically opposite meaning of this Hebrew that was used that they say means “upward,” when in fact it means “from above.” They missed the point entirely of what Moses was intending to convey. It is no wonder that people over the centuries have been confused in understanding the flood narrative.
Moses said that the waters came down “from above.” He even gave details about those waters that show the exact amount of precipitation that came from above. He said that the waters prevailed or they came from above “in their strength” to the tune of 15 cubits. In a word Moses was reporting that 23 feet of water, that is 276 inches of rainfall or water, fell to the earth in that 40 day period. This would answer to about 7 inches of rain falling continually on each of the 40 days. This represents about 1/3 of an inch per hour. That was a lot of rain. We get sometimes, if it is a heavy thunderstorm, an inch of rain an hour, even more. Sometimes even as much as 5 inches have come. If you get 5 inches in an hour, you are getting a tremendous amount of rain. But suppose you had a 1/3 of an inch of rain an hour for 40 days and 40 nights with no let up. That would be a sheet of rain coming down that you could hardly see 50 yards in front of you.
Moses was saying 15 cubits of water came from above. He did not say 15 cubits of water rose up above the mountains. Over that 40-day period 276 inches of rain came down. How did Noah know that there were 15 cubits of rain coming down in that 40-day period? He could have been told that by divine revelation. Or, you know, he could have had a rain gage, a simple device to make, who knows? Noah could have also measure the height of the waters after the flood against the height of some known mountain or rock formation near where the ark landed, and he could have found his 15 cubits higher or more, depending upon his location.
How can all of this be true? Does not Moses record that even the mountains were covered by the waters that came down from heaven? Of course the mountains were covered. The word “covered” does not mean submerged. It just says that the mountains were covered.
There is a perfectly good Hebrew word that is used in 2 Samuel 22:5 and in Jonah 2:5 which, without ambiguity, means submerged. It could have been used by Moses if he intended to convey that the mountains were submerged. Moses is simply telling his readers that the mountains as well as the landmasses including the oceans were completely dowsed by 276 inches of rain that fell on every area of this earth. That is what the word “covered” means.
Even here in Oregon, we often look at our mountains in the wintertime and say how beautiful they are covered with snow. We look at Mount Hood east of us and it is covered by snow in the wintertime. In no way do we mean that the snow is so deep that the whole state of Oregon is under 11,000 feet of snow to the top of Mount Hood.
While it is easily recognized that the word “covered” does not of itself mean submerged, does not Moses tell us that on the first day of the 10th month, some 223 days after the rains began to come from above, that the tops of the mountains finally became visible (Genesis 8:5)? This makes perfectly good sense. With about 276 inches of water in the form of rain entering the atmosphere, coming from outer space, once it fell and began to sublimate, it would through distillation evaporate into water vapor and clouds, etc, and then it would come to earth as rain coming to the surface.
Such a phenomenon as coming from space into the atmosphere of the earth would have caused a supersaturated atmosphere making very thick clouds within intensely heavy foggy conditions all over the earth. This cloudy and rain-filled mantel surrounding the surface of the earth for a period of several months could have easily caused all the mountains to be obscured from sight. In fact, Noah probably could not see more than 20 yards in any direction from the ark for about 5 months at least. This supersaturated condition of the atmosphere would no doubt have made it impossible for any animals to live that required air to breath. As Moses indicated all forms of life depending on the breathing of air, either suffocated or drowned during this time.
Noah and those in the ark, however, were in an enclosed area during the time of the flood’s greatest intensity. Genesis 8:6 shows that the ark was somehow sealed from the outside atmosphere. Exactly how that was done we are not told, but they were seemingly sealed from the outside atmosphere. Those in the ark were protected from this suffocating environment for the 150 days, about 5 months of intense supersaturation of the atmosphere. At the end of that period, God caused a wind to pass over the earth (Genesis 8:1). The atmosphere gradually began to clear up from the impenetrable fog and the dense clouds. At this time the waters began to recede because of the drying effect of the wind, it may be that the lower parts of the mountains could be observed through the gradual lessening of the foggy and cloudy conditions.
By the 10th month, as Moses said, one could then look into the distance and see that the clouds and fog had cleared enough to allow even the tops of the mountains to be seen. That is what Moses wrote in Genesis 8:5 that the tops of the mountains could be seen after 5 months. If one reads the text carefully, Moses is only stating that the tops of the mountains could be seen, not that they emerged from under of oceans of water that submerged even the 17,000 foot Mount Ararat. He simply meant that the wind that God produced on earth caused the fog and clouds to disperse and the tops of the mountain could be seen. It can be shown from the Hebrew words that he used.
Notice carefully, when Moses said the floodwaters were coming from above, causing the mountains to be covered, the Hebrew word was “kasah,” which means to hide or to conceal. It is translated “to hide” in Genesis 18:17 and numerous other places. It is translated “to conceal” in Proverbs 11:13 and 12:23. It is often used to mean hiding ones flesh by putting on clothing. With this in mind, it should be mentioned that Moses could easily have meant that the supersaturated atmosphere with its thick clouds, fog, and rain caused the mountains to be hidden from view by the waters that were coming from above. This in fact was the case. Only after a 5-month period of supersaturation of the atmosphere, and a 2-month drying out period, was it possible once again to see the tops of the mountains. That is exactly what Moses said. By Moses using the word “kasah” in Genesis 7:19–20, he meant that the mountains had been hidden from view for seven months. He did not mean that they were submerged. This is a major difference. It is time we pay close attention to what Moses was saying and not to assume from what we have learned from tradition.
These common meanings, with the context of the narrative that Moses gave, make perfectly good sense. The way-out meaning is forced on the Hebrew to support the idea that Mount Ararat itself, and even Mount Everest in India and Nepal, were actually submerged by the waters. That was not what Moses meant at all.
In fact, in the pre-Adamic period the entire globe was submerged by water, before God created the dry land, mentioned in Genesis 1:2 and 9. At that time, the waters stood above the mountains (Psalm 104:6). But Psalm 104 also mentions the period of Noah’s time and it does not say that in that period the mountains were submerged. In fact, it says that God laid the foundations of the earth back in the time when Adam was here. Even geology indicates that in the pre-Adamic period all mountain regions were under water, but when it comes to the time of Noah there is nothing to suggest that the mountains were submerged by water.
In the pre-Adamic floods the mountains were covered by the ocean waters. In other words, when one would look at the globe without any of the dry land showing, all you would see would be water. So the tops of the mountains have been under water at one time. But this was not the water of Noah’s flood. It goes back to pre-Adamic time when the waters did cover the entire earth in that period. But the Bible describes an event in which wicked men were destroyed out of the earth in Job 38:13 and 15. Look at these scriptures. Read the entire section of Job 38:8–16. In verses 13 and 15 of that section Job mentions an event in the past in which wicked men were destroyed out of the earth.
When did this destruction occur? We know that it occurred after the time of Adam. Chronologically Job does not tell us the precise year it occurred, but we know it happened since Adam the first man because after all, here were men being destroyed out of the earth by an event mentioned in Job 38:13, 15.
What was that event? The destruction also had to happen before the time of Job (who lived about 100 years before the birth of Moses) because God called Job’s attention to this past destruction. Job was fully aware of this major judgment of God that occurred previous to him. Interestingly this judgment involved the waters of the oceans as well as the waters above the oceans. This record in the book of Job speaks of a time when God would set the boundaries of the oceans, that means the shorelines, at the time the original waters of the oceans “burst forth from the womb,” as the Hebrew says in Job 38:8. This could well have been a poetic reference to the fountains of the deep, mentioned by Moses in Genesis 7:11 from whence came the original waters that made up the oceans of the time of Adam until the flood of Noah.
But then something happened. While the original oceans had clouds associated with them, there was something else connected with the oceans called, in this same section of the book of Job, the “thick darkness” that resembled “a swaddlingband”that was up above the oceans (Job 38:9). This is interesting. What was this band-like darkness positioned above the oceans? Lange’s Commentary says that the Hebrew word that describes this band is so unique and emphatic that only the deepest darkness can adequately explain or illustrate its essential meaning. Besides that, the commentary goes on to inform us that the Hebrew word has the connotation of a “dropping or a distillation”and that it “denotes kind of a flowing or floating darkness having some kind of black visibility”(Lange’s Commentary, vol. IV, p. 155, italics theirs).
This mass of whatever it was in the heavens above the oceans, appeared as a swath of intense darkness looking like “a swaddlingband” that was located over the oceans and its blackness, or perhaps its shadow, was clearly visible to people on earth at the time. Indeed, there is a certain mystery about the meaning of the word. The scholars who wrote Langers Commentary did not know what was being described by this account in the book of Job. They felt compelled to transliterate the Hebrew that indicated an intensely dark band. They simply referred to it as the dark “araphal” for its swaddlingband.
What was this dark band over the oceans, called the “araphal”? Whatever it was, the light of the sun, moon, and stars could not penetrate through its mass because the book of Job said that it somehow presented the aspect of a black band above the earth, like a belt around the earth. Yet in some way it was associated with water. It was some kind of flowing or floating darkness that had to do with the dropping of liquid or some kind of distillation process. This would be the meaning if one allowed every bit of significance to be read out of the word araphal. It means the darkness above the surface of the waters.
Certainly water was associated with it, and it was primarily situated above some part of the oceans. But then something happened to this dark araphal. After stating that it looked like a swaddlingband over the oceans (Job 38:9), God says, “and I broke up my boundary or decree for it.” The King James translates it “and brake up for it my decreed place”(Job 38:10). This shows that the decree of God that kept the dark band in place over the oceans was rescinded. He broke down the barrier from its place, wherever that was; He allowed the barrier to disappear. This resulted in the shorelines of the oceans, as verse 10 states, that the borders of the oceans were changed. The “bars and the doors”which he had made for these ocean areas began to change.
In Hebrew the use of the words “bars and doors” for oceans simply means their shorelines or their coasts. We see in this section of Job a description of the former doors or shorelines of the original oceans in Job 38:8 being disturbed by God. He is breaking up his “decreed place.” This dark band (Job 38:9) will be eliminated. He will destroy it. This brought about new bars and doors for the oceans, verse 10. That means new shorelines, or as it says in the King James Version: “Hitherto shall you come, but no further: and here shall your proud waves be stayed” (Job 38:11). It meant that the present oceans you and I are familiar with came into existence at this time when wicked men were destroyed out of the earth.
What wicked men? When did waters come down out of the heavens that destroyed civilization on this earth? When did the ocean levels that we are familiar with come into existence? These questions are all answered by the cause and events of Noah’s flood. That was when this swaddlingband of darkness or water came down to earth, which is why we do not see it at the present time. It means there were once rings of ice around this earth in great quantity. We can know how much was up there because all over the earth for a 40-day period the waters came down to the amount of 15 cubits, 276 inches of water.
It can actually be calculated how much water there was in those rings, just like it can be calculated how much water there is at present around in the rings of ice around the planet Saturn. This means that the earth at one time (as stated in the word of God) had a swaddlingband of ice rings around this earth from the time of Adam to the time of Noah. It caused a great curse to occur on earth because those swaddlingbands caused a dark shadow to appear on earth. Presently we have 12 hours of sunshine at the time of the equinoxes and 12 hours of darkness at night in the temperate zones of the earth. At that time, because of this dark swaddlingband that was around the earth, the sun would be obscured for several hours during the day while the ice band was between the sun and the earth. This caused a great disturbance in raising crops on earth. It was a time of great difficulty, or as it says in the 5th chapter of Genesis, a great curse was on the earth in those days.
But with Noah, the grandson of Methuselah who died in the very year of the flood in his 600th year, that dark araphel, that dark swaddlingband, disappeared and the waters came down as described there in the 6th, 7th, and 8th chapters of the book of Genesis.
Those waters caused great cloudy and foggy conditions to exist with the rain, whereas all the tops of the mountains and everything were obscured almost for a year. It caused the ark to rise up, but the ark came down just shortly after a year. When Noah and his children, with the animals, came out of that ark, they saw a brand new type of an earth. They looked up into the heavens and that dark band that had been there before, that looked like a belt of darkness especially when the sun and the stars would be obscured — it was gone. That band was not there anymore. All those waters came down out of space and filled the oceans to the extent that we have now, and also waters in some of the great basin areas of the earth. 7
Our type of earth came on the scene, the earth that you and I are familiar with, which is beautiful and lovely. God can send chastisements upon us, He can send floods, droughts, and things like that, and He does occasionally. He says He will do so in the future. But He says that the waters covering the earth (that came out of heaven in the time of Noah) will be no more. One reason is simply that there are no ice crystal bands up there now. They are still around Saturn, but not around the earth.
We have the type of earth now that is very beautiful. It has been this way since the time of Noah. It will continue until the new earth and the new heavens come into existence in the future. They will be cleansed and changed by fire not by water. If scientists will look into the scriptures they will be given an understanding of the past, but it will also help them to understand the future. It will give them clues that come from God Himself to help them understand the mysteries of science. It is important that we understand this. Once we do, we will find it is God who gives these things, and that the Bible is the key to it all.
There are words in the scripture, particularly in the book of Job, that are very mysterious to Hebrew scholars. 8 The book of Job is the oldest of the books of the Bible. It goes back to a time when people then living were from the time of Noah, and Noah, of course, lived before the flood 600 years. Noah could have talked to people who even knew Adam.
A great deal of knowledge was known back then. Some of the words that we find in the book of Job have scientific meanings that if we could fully know what they signify, they would give us teachings to help us understand many scientific truths. Many scientific discoveries can come by understanding the contexts that God has given us (particularly in the book of Job) for the meanings of these words. I have been trying to get people to realize this for years.
This matter of the dark belt that surrounded the earth comes from Job chapter 38. The keys to understand these things come from scriptural teachings. I believe God has actually given to us, if we have wisdom and understanding to perceive it, that there are meanings in those words to unlock many secrets of knowledge in the universe. They are waiting to be discovered. They will be discovered and many will come to our understanding before the second advent of Christ.
Get ready to see new developments take place, new scientific understandings and mysteries cleared up dealing with medicine, astronomy, mathematics, physics, all scientific aspects of this earth, psychology and spiritual understanding as well. A “flood” of new understanding will come soon, because God says knowledge shall be increased. It means the knowledge of the prophecies, but the prophecies include things dealing with science as well. Believe me, we will see things come forth that will amaze us all.
Ernest L Martin, March 1994
Edited by David Sielaff, December 2009
Read Part 1 of this article
1 In a September 1987 article in Astronomy Magazine, pp. 9–17, the chairman of the Voyager Rings Science Working Group, a Dr. Esposito, stated that all the planets in our solar system may well have had rings around them at one time in the past — and that includes the earth. ELM See the NASA website “Saturn: Rings” which discusses the current scientific understanding of the ice and rock composition of the rings around Saturn. Besides Saturn, the gas giant planets of Jupiter, Neptune, and Uranus also have rings. Accessed November 2009. DWS
2 Brief explanations in some of the matters discussed in this article are found in “Secret Number 97,” “Secret Number 98,” and “Secret Number 99” from Dr. Martin’s book 101 Bible Secrets That Christians Do Not Know, available online FREE or for purchase at http://www.askelm.com/books/book005.htm. DWS
3 It would have to be rings because in Genesis chapter one on the 4th day, when the planets were first seen, if a canopy of clouds or water existed, completely surrounding the sphere of the earth, the stars would never be seen. But Genesis chapter one says that stars were able to be seen on the 4th day, including the sun and the moon from the vantage point on the surface of the earth. ELM
4 These rings were likely hundreds, perhaps thousands of miles wide. They did not cut off the suns rays for just a short time, but for extended and variable periods of time. Furthermore, the cut-off of the sun was not like a thick cloudcover, it was a total obscuration of the sun’s rays, a complete blockage, which would have severe effects on plant growth cycles. DWS
5 Philo, On the Posterity and Exile of Cain 1:44 (Yong translation):
“… let us now proceed in regular order to the name of Methuselah; and this name is interpreted, a sending forth of death. Now there are two meanings contained in this word; one, that according to which death is sent to any one, and the other, that according to which it is sent away from any one. He, therefore, to whom it is sent, immediately dies, but he, from whom it is sent, lives and survives.”
Philo, On the Posterity and Exile of Cain 1:73:
“And this is named Methuselah, the interpretation of which name is, ‘the sending out of death …’” DWS
6 If the water came from the oceans, then the oceans would not rise. But if the water came from somewhere else, then the oceans would rise. Even at the area where Noah built an ark, the waters would begin to rise and the ark rose up. These waters were coming from the heavens as well as from the fountains of the great deep. They were causing an excess amount of water and the water came down prodigiously 40 days and 40 nights. In fact, it was coming down to such an extent that a flood began to take place on earth. That is what Moses tells us. ELM
7 Dr. Martin means areas like the Caspian Sea, Lake Baikal, the Great Lakes, the Dead Sea, etc. In fact, all lakes and ponds in the world qualify as basins that collect water. DWS
8 See my article “Science and Unique Words,” which discusses unique words in the Bible that occur only one time, technically called hapax legomena. DWS
© 1976-2021 Associates for Scriptural Knowledge - ASK is supported by freewill contributions