Facts About Noah's Flood

Noah's Ark by Thomas Dalziel
Noah's Ark by Thomas Dalziel. Getty Images/Fine Art Photographic

Noah's Flood is recorded in the book of Genesis, chapters 6-9.  A careful reading of the text answers many questions about the event.

Before the Flood

  • The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. (Genesis 6:6, NIV)  Every bent of the human heart was evil all the time. God did not make a mistake in creating human beings. Humanity made the mistake by turning away from God and becoming violent. 
  • God decided to wipe out "all life under the heavens...Everything on earth will perish." (Genesis 6:17, NIV). This indicates the Flood was universal and not regional.
  • While Noah and his family worked on the ark -- over 100 years -- Noah preached repentance to everyone around. No one listened. God warned the people, but they were too fond of their evil ways. 
  • Despite the ridicule, hard work, and long wait, Noah believed God instead of his feelings or doubts. The Bible twice says Noah did all God commanded him.

During the Flood

  • Rain began and lasted 40 days and 40 nights. In addition, springs burst forth under the oceans, pouring in more water. The water was so deep it covered the tops of the mountains by more than 20 feet.
  • The ark drifted for 150 days. God sent a wind, then for 150 days the water steadily went down.
  • After the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat, it still wasn't safe to go out. The waters were receding but the earth was covered in thick mud.
  • During the Flood, every living creature on earth perished, including mankind. Noah, his wife, his three sons and their wives, and the animals they had gathered into the ark represented the new life that would repopulate the earth.

Life After the Flood

  • Noah first sent out a raven, which flew back and forth but could find no place to land. Then he sent out a dove, which came back. The second time it came back with an olive leaf in its beak, symbolizing peace. The third time it did not return. It had found a safe place to live.
  • Only after God commanded him did Noah leave the ark, along with his family and all the animals. They had been on the ark over a year. As soon as he stepped on dry land, Noah built an altar of stones and offered sacrifices to God in thanksgiving.
  • God promised to never send another flood to destroy the earth. He made a covenant with Noah, marking it with his rainbow.
  • Noah and his sons received the same command from God as Adam and Eve: Be fruitful and multiply. They were to repopulate the earth.
  • Before the Flood, people ate only vegetables. After the Flood, God gave Noah and his family permission to eat meat from animals. (Genesis 9:3)
  • The water of the Flood symbolized baptism (1 Peter 3:20-21). Just as the Flood washed away evil and gave the world a fresh start, baptism cleanses a person for entry into a new life. However, after the Flood, sin remained.

Sources: gotquestions.org, New Unger's Bible Dictionary, R.K. Harrison, editor; New Bible Commentary, D.A. Carson, R.T. France, J.A. Motyer, G.J. Wenham, contributing editors; Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Trent C. Butler, general editor.