Ancient Flood Legends Compared to the Biblical Account of Noah’s Flood
By Roger Marshall*
Overview from the Bible
- It came from God as judgment on MAN’S GREAT WICKEDNESS (Gen. 6: 5-7,11-13)
- God had patiently WAITED for mankind to REPENT (Gen. 6: 3; 1 Pet. 3: 20)
- God instructed Noah to build a large ark i.e. a BOAT/SHIP (Ge. 6: 14-16)
- Only RIGHTEOUS Noah and his family of EIGHT, along with TWO of every animal and FOOD SUPPLIES were saved aboard the ark (Gen. 6: 17-21; 7:1-16; cf. 1 Pet. 3: 20)
- The flood came when all the fountains of THE GREAT DEEP BROKE UP and the windows of heaven were opened (Gen 7:11)
- The flood covered ALL THE EARTH AND IT’S MOUNTAINS (Gen.7: 18)
- Noah released two BIRDS a RAVEN and DOVE from the Ark to search for dry land. The RAVEN DID NOT RETURN but THE DOVE RETURNED with a LEAF in its beak indicating to Noah the water had receded from the earth (Gen. 8: 6-12)
- At the end of the flood THE ARK RESTED ON THE MOUNTAINS of Ararat and Noah offered animal SACRIFICES to God (Gen. 8: 20)
- God set a RAINBOW in the sky as a sign that he will never destroy the whole earth with a flood (Ge. 9: 12-16)
- After the flood Noah’s three sons and their wives REPOPULATED the earth (Gen. 10: 1-32)
Let’s now compare these ten key points of the biblical flood account with just a few of the well over 500 flood stories/legends found in ancient cultures all over the world long before some of the descendants of these ancient people heard about the Bible and Christianity.
YOU WILL SEE THAT THESE EXTRA-BIBLICAL ACCOUNTS OF A GLOBAL FLOOD ARE ALL ESSENTIALLY TELLING THE VERY SAME STORY AS THAT RECORDED IN THE BIBLE!
Ancient Australian Aborigines
Long, long ago there was a great flood. Ngowungu, the Great Father became very angry and decided to drown the people. The flood rose higher and higher till all the land was covered except the tops of two or three mountains.
From further west a man and his wives with a dog were battling their way in a canoe (a BOAT) when a BIRD with a LEAF in its mouth flew in front of them showing them the way to MT. BROOME.
A man named Tapi lived a long time ago. Tapi was a very PIOUS/RIGHTEOUS man. The creator told Tapi to BUILD A BOAT that he would live in. He was told that he should take his wife, A PAIR of every animal that was alive into this boat. Naturally everyone thought he was crazy. Then the rain started and the flood came. The men and animals tried to climb the mountains but THE MOUNTAINS BECAME FLOODED AS WELL. Finally the rain ended. Tapi decided that the water had dried up when he let a DOVE loose that did not return.
In another account the Aztecs believed that only Coxcox and his wife, Xochiquetzal, survived the flood. They took refuge in the hollow trunk of a cypress, which floated on top of the water and finally banked on a MOUNTAIN in Culhuacan. They had many children, but all of them were dumb. The Great Spirit took pity on them, and sent a DOVE, which attempted to teach the children how to speak. Fifteen of them succeeded and from these, the Aztecs believed, the Toltecs and Aztecs were descended.
In yet another account, the Nahua god Tezcatlipoca (seen at right) spoke to a man named Nata and his wife Nana, saying: “Do not busy yourselves any longer making pulque, but hollow out for yourselves a large boat of an ahuehuete [cyprus] tree, and make your home in it when you see the waters rising to the sky.” When flood waters came, the Earth disappeared and THE HIGHEST MOUNTAIN TOPS were covered in water. All other men perished, being transformed into fish. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coxcox).
Still another says that “During the era of the fourth sun, the Sun of Water, THE PEOPLE GREW VERY WICKED and ignored the worship of the gods. The gods became angry and Tlaloc, the god of rains, announced that he was going to DESTROY THE WORLD with a flood. However, Tlaloc (the rain god) was fond of a DEVOUT couple, Tata and Nena, and he warned them of the flood. He instructed them to hollow out a great log and take two ears of corn-one for each of them-and eat nothing more.
So Tata and Nena entered the tree trunk with the two ears of corn, and it began to rain. When the rains subsided and Tata and Nena’s log landed on dry land, they were so happy that they caught a fish and ate it, contrary to the orders of Tlaloc. It was only after their stomachs were full that they remembered Tlaloc’s command.
Tlaloc then appeared to them and said, ‘This is how I am repaid for saving your lives?’ They were then changed into dogs. It was at this point, where even the most righteous people were disobedient, that the gods destroyed the world, ushering in the present era of the Fifth Sun” (http://www.bigorrin.org/archive33.htm)
The god Ea warned Utnapishtim of the imminent destruction of the earth; the ARK built was cube-shaped, and held his family of EIGHT persons and all animals. At the end of the flood a RAVEN and DOVE were used to search for dry land (The Epic of Gilgamesh 2500 to 2000 B.C.)
Xisuthrus was warned of a coming flood by the god Chronos, who ordered him to build a BOAT in which to carry family, friends totaling EIGHT persons, and TWO of every kind of animal. At the end of the flood BIRDS were used to find land.
Hihking; The Chinese classic record details of how Fuhi survived a great flood by gathering his wife, three sons and three daughters (totaling EIGHT persons) together in a LARGE BOAT, whereupon they REPOPULATED the earth afterwards.
Another Chinese account tells of Nu Wa who saved the earth from the water god Gong Gong who smashed his head against MOUNT Buzhou, a pillar holding up the sky, collapsing it and causing great floods and suffering among the people (see http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Nuwa)
The Egyptian flood legend begins with the sun god Ra, who feared that people were going to overthrow him. He sent the goddess Hathor to punish the people. But she killed so many that their blood, flowing into the Nile River and the ocean, caused A FLOOD. The SURVIVORS of her bloodbath STARTED THE HUMAN RACE ANEW.
In ancient Egypt, the Flood hero was Toth who survived the Deluge along with the Seven Sages totaling EIGHT persons (http://nwcreation.net/articles/ancientsknew.html)
Additionally in ancient Egypt, Nun (oldest of the ancient Egyptian gods also spelled Nu) and his female counterpart, Naunet, and three further pairs together formed the Ogdoad (group of EIGHT gods). The ancient Egyptians believed the Ogdoad were directly responsible for the creation (rebirth) of the human race in the new world as well as its upkeep.
In ancient Egyptian art the Ogdoad are depicted in a BOAT held aloft by Nun/Nu (seen at right) whose name means “primeval waters,” as he represented the waters of chaos out of which Re-Atum began creation. A pyramid-shaped mound, called the benben, was the first thing to emerge from the waters like a MOUNTAIN peak.
Deucalion and Pyrrha were warned by the god Prometheus about the flood and told to build a chest; they survived when the chest LANDED ON A HIGH MOUNTAIN called Mt. Parnassus (The Parian Chronicle 1581 B.C. to 264 BC)
A man named Nu’u built a GREAT canoe (BOAT) to escape a great flood. He landed his vessel on top of Mauna Kea (a MOUNTAIN) on the Big Island. The man accidently attributed the cause of his safety to the moon god, and made SACRIFICES to the wrong god. Kane, the actual creator god descended to the man from a RAINBOW telling him of his error.
In various Hindu traditions, Manu, is a title accorded to the progenitor of mankind, and also the very first king to rule this earth, who saved mankind from the great flood, after being warned of it by the Matsya avatar of Vishnu, who told him to build A GIANT BOAT and populate it with his family of EIGHT people, animals, and nine types of seeds. The boat was perched after the flood on the top of the Malaya MOUNTAINS.
Matsya avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu (seen above left) while a depiction of the Manu and the seven sages (seen above right) shows Vishnu in his avatar of the fish as he guides Manu’s boat through the waters of the great flood.
The Malay Peninsula’s flood myth says that the land we live on is a skin covering water and that long ago a deity BROKE IT UP and the world was flooded and destroyed aside from one man and woman that the deity saved by placing in a SHIP.
Found in the histories of the Toltec Indians of ancient Mexico is a story of the first world that lasted 1,716 years and was destroyed by a great flood that covered even THE HIGHEST MOUNTAINS. The story tells of a few men who escaped the destruction in a “toptlipetlocali,” which means a closed chest.
The Yoruba of southwest Nigeria talk about an adrogynous god Olokun who in a fit of rage, destroyed nearly everybody in a great flood.
Ancient Native North American Choctaw people
The Great Spirit destroyed a CORUPT AND WICKED human race and all life on earth, except a PROPHET who went in vain to warn the people to REPENT or die. The prophet survived by building a raft of sassafras logs.
When the floods came the prophet floated safely on the waters for several weeks. He saw a large black BIRD circling the raft and asked for help, but the bird uttered a few croaks and flew away, never to be seen again.
After more time had lapsed a small blue BIRD was seen which guided him to an island. Once on land the prophet was surprised to discover that every variety of animal known prior to the flood had been saved.
Amongst the birds he noticed the large black bird that had visited and deserted him while he was on the raft. He named the bird ‘fulushto’ – the RAVEN. Since that time the Choctaws consider this bird as a sign of an ill omen.
After a few days the prophet saw the blue bird who had guided him to safety and called it Puchi Yushuba. Once the waters had finally subsided the Great Spirit changed Puchi Yushuba into a beautiful woman who became his wife. THEIR CHILDREN REPOPULATED the Earth.
Ancient Native North American Ojibwe people
There came a time when the harmonious way of life did not continue. Men and women disrespected each other, families quarreled and soon villages began arguing back and forth. This saddened Gitchie Manido [the Creator] greatly, but he WAITED. Finally, when it seemed there was no hope left, Creator decided to purify Mother Earth through the use of water. The water came, flooding the Earth, catching all of creation off guard. All but a few of each living thing survived.
Ancient Southwest Tanzania
Once upon a time the rivers began to flood. The god told two people to get into a ship. He told them to take lots of seed and to take lots of animals. The water of the flood eventually COVERED THE MOUNTAINS. Finally the flood stopped. Then one of the men, wanting to know if the water had dried up let a DOVE loose. THE DOVE RETURNED. Later he let loose a hawk which DID NOT RETURN. Then the men left the boat and took the animals and the seeds with them.
The god Enki warns Ziudsura, PIOUS, GOD-FEARING and humble king, to build a LARGE BOAT due to the coming destruction of the earth. According to one source, the ancient Sumerian text recounting the flood says in part: “All the windstorms, exceedingly powerful, attacked as one, the deluge raged over the surface of the earth.”
After the flood which lasted seven days and seven nights, Ziudsura opened a window of the huge boat (cf. Gen. 8: 6), disembarked and offered SACRIFICES to the gods.
SOME CLOSING THOUGHTS
Since the ancient Egyptians like many other ancient cultures also knew about the world-wide, devastating, chaotic flood of Noah’s day it sheds much light on the true identity of Nun/Nu his wife Naunet and the three other pairs (totaling EIGHT in all) who form the Ogdoad (group of EIGHT gods).
Nun/Nu, is the ancient Egyptians name for Noah, his female counterpart Naunet, was their name for Noah’s wife and the three further pairs Amun and Amaunet (invisibility), Heh and Hauhet (infinity) and Kek and Kauket (darkness) are their three sons and their wives who together formed the Ogdoad who create mankind (i.e. repopulate the earth) after the flood.
The waters of “Noah’s flood” (as it is still commonly called today) were personified by the ancient Egyptians and in a similar way given the name of the patriarch himself thus the waters were known as “Nu/Nun” i.e. “the primeval waters” of chaos which catastrophically flooded the earth. It was from these very waters that the earth and the entire universe were originally created (see Genesis 1: 1-31). As 2 Peter 3: 3-6 says: “…long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed OUT OF WATER and BY WATER. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.”
The ancient Egyptians also knew this fact as attested to in the “Egyptian Book of the Dead, the Book of Going Forth by Day” translated by Raymond Faulkner in which we find these words: “People had become rebellious. The god Atum said he will destroy all he made and return the earth to the Primordial Water (Nun) which was its original state…” (https://www.mythoreligio.com/15-flood-myths-similar-to-the-story-of-noah/)
“Nu” was a common name referring to “Noah” which was used by other ancient cultures besides the Egyptians. For example to the ancient Hawaiians (cited earlier) Noah was known as “Nu’u”. While Noah’s name is preserved in ancient Hindu culture as the god “Vishnu” THE PRESERVER. Etymologically “Vishnu” is just the Sanskrit (an ancient Indic language of India) form of the Chaldee “Ish-nuh”. Chaldee is an ancient Sanskrit sister language from Babylonia. In Chaldee “Ish” means “man” “nuh” means “Noah”. Thus “Ishnuh” from which “Vishnu” is derived means “the man Noah” (see Rev. Alexander Hislop, “The Two Babylons”, p. 135, pub. 1916).
It was Vishnu (“the man Noah”) in his avatar of the fish who told Manu, the Hindu flood hero, to build a giant boat and populate it with his family of EIGHT people, animals, and 9 types of seeds.
Understanding that in Hinduism “Manu” is the name of the archetypal man, or the first man (progenitor of humanity) who is thus the equivalent of the biblical Adam, I submit that the Hindu depiction of Manu and the seven sages being led and guided to safety by Vishnu the preserver through the waters of the great flood is symbolic of Noah (represented by the fish) and his family PRESERVING Adam’s seed (represented by Manu on the boat) via their survival on the Ark.
As the saying goes when there is smoke there is fire. All these ancient stories above from vastly different places and cultures are telling the very same story corroborating the truthfulness of the account found in the Bible which is exactly what we would expect. For if the flood did occur it would be expected that many other cultures all over the world would also recall the event since they are descended from Noah and his children who were eventually deified as “gods” by some of those said descendants. It would also be expected that though oral transcription might change the details through time the key points of the story would yet prevail. That’s exactly what we do find!
Some may ask “how do we know the Bible’s account is accurate?” That is a reasonable question. It could easily say that the Bible claims that its ancient writings are God inspired and thus accurate (see 2 Tim.3: 16) but in addition to that, internal biblical evidence, supported by archeological findings, strongly suggest that the account of the Flood in Genesis are the actual eye witness written accounts of Noah and his three sons which were later compiled by Moses in his book of beginnings (see Who Wrote Genesis? http://creation.com/who-wrote-genesis-are-the-toledoth-colophons)
Noah’s flood was a literal historical event just as the Bible says. The Bible is trustworthy!!
*Roger Marshall is executive director of Project PROBE Ministries, a Barbados based Christian apologetics organisation.