The Genesis Flood
Why the Bible Says It Must be Local
by Rich Deem


The Bible says the flood was global?

"The Bible says it. I believe it. That settles it!" The phrase is a common argument used for those who call for the "literal reading" of the Bible. I have no complaints against reading the Bible literally. However, many who claim to be literalists apparently do not believe everything the Bible says. Creation passages clearly say that God caused the original global seas to be restricted - never to cover the entire earth again. The Genesis flood passage itself says that the water covered "the entire earth" even though Noah could see the distant mountains, indicating that the "earth" was just the entire land of Mesopotamia.

Rich Deem

Many Christians maintain that the Bible says that the flood account of Genesis requires an interpretation that states that the waters of the flood covered the entire earth. If you read our English Bibles, you will probably come to this conclusion if you don't read the text too closely and if you fail to consider the rest of your Bible. Like most other Genesis stories, the flood account is found in more places than just Genesis. If you read the sidebar, you will discover that Psalm 104 directly eliminates any possibility of the flood being global (see Psalm 104-9 - Does it refer to the Original Creation or the Flood?). In order to accept a global flood, you must reject Psalm 104 and the inerrancy of the Bible. If you like to solve mysteries on your own, you might want to read the flood account first and find the biblical basis for a local flood.

The Bible's other creation passages eliminate the possibility of a global flood

The concept of a global Genesis flood can be easily eliminated from a plain reading of Psalm 104,1 which is known as the "creation psalm." Psalm 104 describes the creation of the earth in the same order as that seen in Genesis 1 (with a few more details added). It begins with an expanding universe model (reminiscent of the Big Bang) (verse 2,1 parallel to Genesis 1:1). It next describes the formation of a stable water cycle (verses 3-5,1 parallel to Genesis 1:6-8). The earth is then described as a planet completely covered with water (verse 6, parallel to Genesis 1:9). God then causes the dry land to appear (verses 7-8,1 parallel to Genesis 1:9-10). The verse that eliminates a global flood follows: "You set a boundary they [the waters] cannot cross; never again will they cover the earth." (Psalm 104:9)1 Obviously, if the waters never again covered the earth, then the flood must have been local. Psalm 104 is just one of several creation passages that indicate that God prevented the seas from covering the entire earth.2 An integration of all flood and creation passages clearly indicates that the Genesis flood was local in geographic extent.

The Bible says water covered the whole earth... Really?

When you read an English translation of the biblical account of the flood, you will undoubtedly notice many words and verses that seem to suggest that the waters covered all of planet earth.3 However, one should note that today we look at everything from a global perspective, whereas the Bible nearly always refers to local geography. You may not be able to determine this fact from our English translations, so we will look at the original Hebrew, which is the word of God. The Hebrew words which are translated as "whole earth" or "all the earth" are kol (Strong's number H3605), which means "all," and erets (Strong's number H776), which means "earth," "land," "country," or "ground."4 We don't need to look very far in Genesis (Genesis 2) before we find the Hebrew words kol erets.

Obviously, the description of kol erets is modified by the name of the land, indicating a local area from the context. In fact, the term kol erets is nearly always used in the Old Testament to describe a local area of land, instead of our entire planet.5

The "whole earth" often refers to the people not geography

Holman QuickSource Guide to Understanding CreationHowever, there are many more examples of where kol erets is used without reference to any specific land, although the context clearly indicates a local area. For example, in Genesis 11 (the Tower of Babel) the text says, "the whole [kol] earth [erets] used the same language."6 We know that this reference is not really to the earth at all (and certainly not to the "whole earth"), but to the people of the earth, who all lived in one geographic location. It wasn't until later that God scattered the people over the face of the earth.7 There are many other examples of where kol erets actually refers to people rather than the geography of the "whole earth":

The "whole earth" usually refers to local geography

Examples of where kol erets refers to a local area include the following verses:

As can be seen above, in the majority of instances kol erets does not refer to the entire planet earth. In fact, of the 205 instance of kol erets in the Old Testament, it might refer to the entire planet just 40 times,9 and even some of those are questionable. About half of those instance occur in the books of Psalms and Isaiah. The Genesis flood narrative also uses the phrase "the face of the earth." This is the exact phrase used by Cain when he was banished by God (Genesis 4:14). Are we to think that Cain was banished to outer space? In addition, the flood narrative says that "the water increased and lifted up the ark, so that it rose above the earth" (Genesis 7:17). If "earth" really refers to the planet, this text would imply that the ark somehow levitated above the planet. Obviously, "earth" refers to the local land on which the ark was sitting, and not to planet earth.

How could the text have more clearly indicated a global flood?

I am glad you asked! There is a Hebrew word that always refers to the entire earth or the entire inhabited earth. The word is tebel (Strong's H8398), which is found 37 times in the Old Testament. Curiously, this word is never used to describe the flood, although it is used extensively to describe the creation of the earth and the judgment of the peoples of the earth.

The Local Flood - from the Genesis text

Erets revisited

Let's look at the actual Genesis flood passage to determine if it can be interpreted from a local viewpoint. As we determined above, the word erets, often translated "earth" can also refer to the people of the earth. Is it used this way in the actual Genesis flood passage?

Genesis 6, verses 11 and 12 both tells us that the earth was corrupt, although we understand this verse to refer to the people of the earth. Likewise, in Genesis 9:13, the verse tells us that God made a covenant between Himself and the earth. However, later verses clarify that the covenant is between God and the creatures of the earth.10 The Genesis text clearly establishes (along with the New Testament11) that God's judgment of humans was universal (with the exception of Noah and his family).

Outside Genesis one (through Genesis 2:5), the entire Genesis account through the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11) specifically refers to local geography. All the place names mentioned are in the Mesopotamian flood plain. Therefore, all the instances of the word erets can and should be translated "land," instead of "earth," since it all refers to local geography. There is no reason to think that the flood account is any different from the rest of the Genesis account through chapter 11.

When "all" does not mean "all"

The flood passage uses many universal descriptions, which suggest global proportions. However, the universal text contradicts itself, if it is to be interpreted globally. For example, the Genesis text tells us that all flesh had become corrupted.12 However, the same passage tells us that Noah was a "righteous man, blameless in his time."13 It is clear from the text that "all flesh" did not actually refer to all flesh, since there was at least one exception.

Local perspective of the flood

Does the Genesis text indicate that the flood was local? If you read it carefully, you can determine that the perspective is local. Most English translations are actually interpretations that are intentionally skewed to favor a global flood interpretation. For example, Genesis 7:20 is usually translated as:

The water prevailed fifteen cubits higher, and the mountains were covered. (Genesis 7:20)

In reality, the Hebrew word ma‛al, translated "higher" really means "upward." So, in essence, the text is saying that the flood was 15 cubits (20 feet) deep, in total, not 15 cubits above the mountains. In addition, the Hebrew word har really refers most often to hills rather than mountains. See below.

The translators of most English Bibles use the word "earth," which to us means "planet earth." However, their mistranslation can clearly be seen in the following passage:

We see that in the tenth month, the mountains became visible to Noah (Genesis 8:5). Some 40+ days later (Genesis 8:6), Noah sent a dove out of the ark (Genesis 8:8). However, the dove was unable to land because of all the water (Genesis 8:9). Then, the text tells us that water was "on the surface of all the earth." This is obviously a bad translation of kol erets, since we know that the water had not covered the mountains for at least 40 days. The context makes it clear that kol erets must refer to local geography and should be translated as the "all the land" or "all the ground." In fact, all our major English translations (NASB, NIV, KJV, etc.) make this same error. It is no wonder that people who read the English translation of the Bible "literally" come to the conclusion that the flood must have been global. However, it is apparent that our English "translations" of the Genesis flood text are more than just "translations," but actually interpretations (and probably incorrect ones at that).

There is another indication in the text that the flood did not cover the highest mountains. Again, from Genesis 8:

So he waited yet another seven days; and again he sent out the dove from the ark. And the dove came to him toward evening; and behold, in her beak was a freshly picked olive leaf. So Noah knew that the water was abated from the earth. (Genesis 8:10-11)

If the ark had come to rest on the top of Mount Ararat, this would be at 17,000 foot elevation. Olive trees (and every other tree) do not grow at 17,000 feet. In fact, you will not find olive trees growing much above 5,000 feet. Therefore, we know from the Bible that the ark did not come to rest on or near the top of Mount Ararat, but probably somewhere on the foothills of the mountain.

The method by which the flood ended also tells us that the flood was local. According to Genesis, the water receded and was dried by the wind.14 If the flood were global, there would be no place for the waters to recede to. Likewise, a wind would not significantly affect a global flood, further suggesting that the Genesis flood was local in extent.

Planet Earth became a desert after the flood!

Another problem for the global flood interpretation is what happened to the "earth" after the flood. Read the following verses and see if you can see why the word "earth" does not refer to the entire planet:

If one were to interpret these verses from a global perspective, one would have to conclude that the entire earth became a desert after the flood. Obviously this interpretation is false, so the translations must be bad. In these verses, the dryness of the earth is obviously referring to the local land area of the flood and not the entire planet earth.

New Testament perspective

What does the New Testament tell us about the flood? As mentioned previously, the New Testament tells us that the flood was universal in its judgment.11 Besides this, there is an interesting passage from 2 Peter that gives some insight into the nature of the flood:

For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the land was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. (2 Peter 3:5-6)

Peter, instead of just telling us that the entire planet was flooded, qualifies the verse by telling us that the "world at that time" was flooded with water. What was different about the world "at that time" compared to the world of today? At the time of the flood, all humans were in the same geographic location (the people of the world were not scattered over the earth until Genesis 11).7 Therefore, the "world at the time" was confined to the Mesopotamian plain. There would be no reason to qualify the verse if the flood were global in extent.

Early Jewish interpretation

Many Christian believe that a local flood interpretation is a recent invention of those who are trying to reconcile science with the Bible. However, the first century Jewish writer, Josephus wrote about other writers who indicated that the flood was local and that some inhabitants survived by seeking higher ground:

"Now all the writers of barbarian [Greek] histories make mention of this flood and of this ark: among whom is Berosus the Chaldean... Hieronymous the Egyptian.... Nicolaus of Damascus, in his ninety-sixth book, hath a particular relation about them, where he speaks thus: 'There is a great mountain in Armenia, over Minyas, called Baris, upon which it is reported that many who fled at the time of the Deluge were saved; and that one who was carried in an ark came on shore upon top of it; and that the remains of the timber were a great while preserved. This might be the man about whom Moses, the legislator of the Jews wrote'."15

Josephus does not seek to correct their narrative. So, the idea that the flood was a local event is not just a 20th century phenomenon.

Common objections to a local flood

Why didn't God send Noah on a long trip?

If the Genesis flood were local, why didn't God just sent Noah and his family packing. Once they were out of the Mesopotamian flood plain, God could have judged the unrighteous without making Noah go to all the trouble of building a huge ark. It is true that God could have done this, although there are some good biblical reasons why He chose not to do so. Why did God make the Israelites march around Jericho for seven days prior to the wall falling down? Why did God make the Israelite look upon the bronze serpent to be healed of snake bite in the wilderness? Why did Jesus make the blind man go to the Pool of Siloam to heal his blindness? Were any of these things actually required for God to do His work? No! God could have just wiped out all the evil people in the world, as He did later to the all the Egyptians' first-born. Maybe God had good reasons for Noah to build the ark? God has a purpose for each person of faith to join Him in preaching His message. God's plan will be accomplished regardless of our participation in it. However, God gives obedient humans the privilege of participating in God's plans. Likewise, God had a plan for Noah, part of which was for him and his sons to demonstrate their commitment and perseverance to the Lord.

One will notice in the judgments that God renders, He almost always gives a warning to those who are being judged. For example, God sent angels to Sodom before it was to be destroyed,15 sent Jonah to Nineveh to warn them of the judgment to come,16 and will send two prophets to warn the people of the earth of the final judgment.17 The building of the ark was a great testimony of the coming judgment, since it was preached for 100 years during the building of the ark. The New Testament states this idea directly, since it says that Noah was a "preacher of righteousness":

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; (2 Peter 2:4-5)

If God had told Noah to just migrate away from the flood area, the people would not have been warned of the impending judgment. Ultimately, they were without excuse in their rebellion against God, since the impending judgment was proclaimed to them for 100 years before it happened. Likewise, God will send two preachers for 1260 days prior to the ultimate judgment of God.17 Those who get on God's ark (Jesus Christ) will be saved from the judgment and pass from death to eternal life.

God promised no more floods like the Genesis flood

What about the Genesis 9:11 and 9:15. If the flood was local, did God lie, since floods have destroyed local areas since the Genesis flood.

"And I establish My covenant with you; and all flesh shall never again be cut off by the water of the flood, neither shall there again be a flood to destroy the earth." (Genesis 9:11)
and I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh. (Genesis 9:15)

The first part of the verse is a promise not to exercise universal judgment by means of a flood, "all flesh shall never again be cut off by the water of the flood." The flood, although local in extent, was global in judgment, since all humanity lived in the same locale. It wasn't until God confused the languages (Genesis 11) that people began to spread over the earth. So, God promised to never again execute universal judgment of humans by means of a flood. The second part, "never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth" can be explained by other verses found in the Genesis flood account.

Gen 6:11 Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence.
Gen 6:12 And God looked on the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth.

The passage in this instance refers to the people of the earth, since planet earth itself was not corrupt. Likewise, Genesis 9:11 is referring to the people of the earth rather than the planet itself. Ultimately, even if the flood were global, it did not "destroy the earth," but just the people on the earth. As stated above, "people" is often understood from the Hebrew word erets.

Why were birds on the ark?

If the Flood was local, why would birds have been sent on board? They could simply have flown to a nearby mountain range. Most birds (other than a few migratory birds) have a very localized territory. They would have been killed in the local flood, since they are not designed to fly long distances. Certainly archaeopteryx was not a strong flyer. Hummingbirds would drop dead in 20 minutes or less. One thing that you will notice when there is a strong rain is that birds do not fly. Flying in heavy rain is not easy. They would have sat on their perches until the water drowned them.

Why did God required Noah to take animals if the flood was local?

Some animals are indigenous only to the Mesopotamian area. More importantly, it would have taken hundreds of years longer to replace the fauna if everything had been wiped out and had to migrate back in. In addition, Noah would have had a huge problem replacing his herds.

How could the flood waters rise 15 cubits (8 meters) above the mountains in a local flood (Genesis 7:20)?

Didn't the flood cover the highest mountains? The Hebrew word "har," translated "mountains," occurs 649 times in the Old Testament. In 212 instances, the word is translated "hill" or "hills" or "hill country". In Genesis, it is translated "hill" in 10 out of 19 occurrences. Of course, 4 out of 9 times that it is translated as "mountain" is in the flood passage (the translators were wearing their global glasses when they did that translation!). In every instance in Genesis, the text could be translated "hill". Since no specific mountain range is mentioned in this verse, it is likely that the word refers to the hills that Noah could see.

Conclusion Top of page

This paper has shown that the Bible declares the Genesis flood to be local in extent, though universal in its judgment of humans (with the exception of Noah and his family). The evidence presented here is purely biblical, although a strong case could also be given for extra-biblical reasons. A global interpretation of the Genesis flood requires that certain non-flood-related verses of the Bible contradict each other. In addition, a global interpretation of the Genesis flood would require the Genesis text to contradict itself. The lack of global references in the book of Genesis through chapter 11 (with the exception of Genesis 1), reveals that all the early events of Genesis occurred in a small geographic area. In addition, an examination of the original Hebrew text of the Genesis flood passage demonstrates that the global wording of our English translations misrepresents the original intent of the account. Your assignment at this point is to re-read the Genesis flood text with the words "land" or "people" (depending upon the context) substituted where for the word "earth." When you are finished, you will discover a remarkably different flood account than what you have read before.

Potopul Genezei: De ce spune Biblia că trebuie să fie local (Romanian)

References Top of page

  1. Psalms 104 explicitly says the original creation waters of the earth would never again cover the entire planet:
    • Praise the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, You are very great; You are clothed with splendor and majesty. (Psalm 104:1)
    • He wraps himself in light as with a garment; He stretches out the heavens like a tent (Psalm 104:2)
    • and lays the beams of His upper chambers on their waters. He makes the clouds His chariot and rides on the wings of the wind. (Psalm 104:3)
    • He makes winds His messengers, flames of fire His servants. (Psalm 104:4)
    • He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved. (Psalm 104:5)
    • You covered it with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains. (Psalm 104:6)
    • But at Your rebuke the waters fled, at the sound of Your thunder they took to flight; (Psalm 104:7)
    • they flowed over the mountains, they went down into the valleys, to the place You assigned for them. (Psalm 104:8)
    • You set a boundary they cannot cross; never again will they cover the earth. (Psalm 104:9)
  2. Other creation passages tell the same story:
    • When He set for the sea its boundary So that the water would not transgress His command, When He marked out the foundations of the earth; (Proverbs 8:29)
    • "Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding... Or who enclosed the sea with doors When, bursting forth, it went out from the womb; (Job 38:4, 8)
    • By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, And by the breath of His mouth all their host. He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap; He lays up the deeps in storehouses. (Psalm 33:6-7)
  3. Flood waters covered the whole earth:
    • "And behold, I, even I am bringing the flood of water upon the earth, to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life, from under heaven; everything that is on the earth shall perish. (Genesis 6:17)
    • also of the birds of the sky, by sevens, male and female, to keep offspring alive on the face of all the earth. (Genesis 7:3)
    • but the dove found no resting place for the sole of her foot, so she returned to him into the ark; for the water was on the surface of all the earth. Then he put out his hand and took her, and brought her into the ark to himself. (Genesis 8:9)
  4. Brown-Driver-Briggs' Hebrew Definitions:
    erets erets (Strong's H776)
    1. land, earth
      1. earth
        1. whole earth (as opposed to a part)
        2. earth (as opposed to heaven)
        3. earth (inhabitants)
      2. land
        1. country, territory
        2. district, region
        3. tribal territory
        4. piece of ground
        5. land of Canaan, Israel
        6. inhabitants of land
        7. Sheol, land without return, (under) world
        8. city (-state)
      3. ground, surface of the earth
        1. ground
        2. soil
      4. (in phrases)
        1. people of the land
        2. space or distance of country (in measurements of distance)
        3. level or plain country
        4. land of the living
        5. end(s) of the earth
      5. (almost wholly late in usage)
        1. lands, countries
          1. often in contrast to Canaan
    Part of Speech: noun feminine
    A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: from an unused root probably meaning to be firm
    Same Word by TWOT Number: 167
  5. Kol erets nearly always refers to a local area of land, instead of our entire planet:
    • for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever. (Genesis 13:15)
    • "And I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God." (Genesis 17:8)
    • and he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the valley, and he saw, and behold, the smoke of the land ascended like the smoke of a furnace. (Genesis 19:28)
    • "And lo, seven other cows came up after them, poor and very ugly and gaunt, such as I had never seen for ugliness in all the land of Egypt; (Genesis 41:19)
    • "Behold, seven years of great abundance are coming in all the land of Egypt; (Genesis 41:29)
    • And Pharaoh said to Joseph, "See I have set you over all the land of Egypt." (Genesis 41:41)
    • And he had him ride in his second chariot; and they proclaimed before him, "Bow the knee!" And he set him over all the land of Egypt. (Genesis 41:43)
    • Moreover, Pharaoh said to Joseph, "Though I am Pharaoh, yet without your permission no one shall raise his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt." (Genesis 41:44)
    • Now Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh, king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went through all the land of Egypt. (Genesis 41:46)
    • and the seven years of famine began to come, just as Joseph had said, then there was famine in all the lands; but in all the land of Egypt there was bread. (Genesis 41:54)
    • So when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried out to Pharaoh for bread; and Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians, "Go to Joseph; whatever he says to you, you shall do." (Genesis 41:55)
    • "Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt. (Genesis 45:8)
    • 'And do not concern yourselves with your goods, for the best of all the land of Egypt is yours.'" (Genesis 45:20)
    • And they told him, saying, "Joseph is still alive, and indeed he is ruler over all the land of Egypt." But he was stunned, for he did not believe them. (Genesis 45:26)
    • Now there was no food in all the land, because the famine was very severe, so that the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan languished because of the famine. (Genesis 47:13)
    • So the people scattered through all the land of Egypt to gather stubble for straw. (Exodus 5:12)
    • Then the LORD said to Moses, "Say to Aaron, 'Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt, over their rivers, over their streams, and over their pools, and over all their reservoirs of water, that they may become blood; and there shall be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood and in vessels of stone.'" (Exodus 7:19)
    • And the fish that were in the Nile died, and the Nile became foul, so that the Egyptians could not drink water from the Nile. And the blood was through all the land of Egypt. (Exodus 7:21)
    • Then the LORD said to Moses, "Say to Aaron, 'Stretch out your staff and strike the dust of the earth, that it may become gnats through all the land of Egypt.'" (Exodus 8:16)
    • And they did so; and Aaron stretched out his hand with his staff, and struck the dust of the earth, and there were gnats on man and beast. All the dust of the earth became gnats through all the land of Egypt. (Exodus 8:17)
    • Then the LORD did so. And there came great swarms of insects into the house of Pharaoh and the houses of his servants and the land was laid waste because of the swarms of insects in all the land of Egypt. (Exodus 8:24)
    • "And it will become fine dust over all the land of Egypt, and will become boils breaking out with sores on man and beast through all the land of Egypt." (Exodus 9:9)
    • Now the LORD said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand toward the sky, that hail may fall on all the land of Egypt, on man and on beast and on every plant of the field, throughout the land of Egypt." (Exodus 9:22)
    • So there was hail, and fire flashing continually in the midst of the hail, very severe, such as had not been in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. (Exodus 9:24)
    • And the hail struck all that was in the field through all the land of Egypt, both man and beast; the hail also struck every plant of the field and shattered every tree of the field. (Exodus 9:25)
    • And the locusts came up over all the land of Egypt and settled in all the territory of Egypt; they were very numerous. There had never been so many locusts, nor would there be so many again. (Exodus 10:14)
    • For they covered the surface of the whole land, so that the land was darkened; and they ate every plant of the land and all the fruit of the trees that the hail had left. Thus nothing green was left on tree or plant of the field through all the land of Egypt. (Exodus 10:15)
    • So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and there was thick darkness in all the land of Egypt for three days. (Exodus 10:22)
    • 'Moreover, there shall be a great cry in all the land of Egypt, such as there has not been before and such as shall never be again. (Exodus 11:6)
    • For Heshbon was the city of Sihon, king of the Amorites, who had fought against the former king of Moab and had taken all his land out of his hand, as far as the Arnon. (Numbers 21:26)
    • and His signs and His works which He did in the midst of Egypt to Pharaoh the king of Egypt and to all his land; (Deuteronomy 11:3)
    • "There shall no man be able to stand before you; the LORD your God shall lay the dread of you and the fear of you on all the land on which you set foot, as He has spoken to you. (Deuteronomy 11:25)
    • "And if the LORD your God enlarges your territory, just as He has sworn to your fathers, and gives you all the land which He promised to give your fathers-- (Deuteronomy 19:8)
    • "And it shall besiege you in all your towns until your high and fortified walls in which you trusted come down throughout your land, and it shall besiege you in all your towns throughout your land which the LORD your God has given you. (Deuteronomy 28:52)
    • And Moses summoned all Israel and said to them, "You have seen all that the LORD did before your eyes in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh and all his servants and all his land; (Deuteronomy 29:2)
    • 'All its land is brimstone and salt, a burning waste, unsown and unproductive, and no grass grows in it, like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, which the LORD overthrew in His anger and in His wrath.' (Deuteronomy 29:23)
    • Now Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho. And the LORD showed him all the land, Gilead as far as Dan, (Deuteronomy 34:1)
    • and all Naphtali and the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah as far as the western sea, (Deuteronomy 34:2)
      for all the signs and wonders which the LORD sent him to perform in the land of Egypt against Pharaoh, all his servants, and all his land, (Deuteronomy 34:11)
    • "From the wilderness and this Lebanon, even as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and as far as the Great Sea toward the setting of the sun, will be your territory. (Joshua 1:4)
    • And the king of Jericho sent word to Rahab, saying, "Bring out the men who have come to you, who have entered your house, for they have come to search out all the land." (Joshua 2:3)
    • And they said to Joshua, "Surely the LORD has given all the land into our hands, and all the inhabitants of the land, moreover, have melted away before us." (Joshua 2:24)
    • So the LORD was with Joshua, and his fame was in all the land. (Joshua 6:27)
    • So they answered Joshua and said, "Because it was certainly told your servants that the LORD your God had commanded His servant Moses to give you all the land, and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land before you; therefore we feared greatly for our lives because of you, and have done this thing. (Joshua 9:24)
    • Thus Joshua struck all the land, the hill country and the Negev and the lowland and the slopes and all their kings. He left no survivor, but he utterly destroyed all who breathed, just as the LORD, the God of Israel, had commanded. (Joshua 10:40)
    • And Joshua struck them from Kadesh-barnea even as far as Gaza, and all the country of Goshen even as far as Gibeon. (Joshua 10:41)
      Thus Joshua took all that land: the hill country and all the Negev, all that land of Goshen, the lowland, the Arabah, the hill country of Israel and its lowland (Joshua 11:16)
    • So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the LORD had spoken to Moses, and Joshua gave it for an inheritance to Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. Thus the land had rest from war. (Joshua 11:23)
    • to the south, all the land of the Canaanite, and Mearah that belongs to the Sidonians, as far as Aphek, to the border of the Amorite; (Joshua 13:4)
      So the LORD gave Israel all the land which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they possessed it and lived in it. (Joshua 21:43)
    • 'Then I took your father Abraham from beyond the River, and led him through all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his descendants and gave him Isaac. (Joshua 24:3)
    • 'And the LORD, the God of Israel, gave Sihon and all his people into the hand of Israel, and they defeated them; so Israel possessed all the land of the Amorites, the inhabitants of that country. (Judges 11:21)
    • Now no blacksmith could be found in all the land of Israel, for the Philistines said, "Lest the Hebrews make swords or spears." (1 Samuel 13:19)
    • And when he had brought him down, behold, they were spread over all the land, eating and drinking and dancing because of all the great spoil that they had taken from the land of the Philistines and from the land of Judah. (1 Samuel 30:16)
    • Ben-hesed, in Arubboth (Socoh was his and all the land of Hepher); (1 Kings 4:10)
    • and all the storage cities which Solomon had, even the cities for his chariots and the cities for his horsemen, and all that it pleased Solomon to build in Jerusalem, in Lebanon, and in all the land under his rule. (1 Kings 9:19)
    • So Ben-hadad listened to King Asa and sent the commanders of his armies against the cities of Israel, and conquered Ijon, Dan, Abel-beth-maacah and all Chinneroth, besides all the land of Naphtali. (1 Kings 15:20)
    • from the Jordan eastward, all the land of Gilead, the Gadites and the Reubenites and the Manassites, from Aroer, which is by the valley of the Arnon, even Gilead and Bashan. (2 Kings 10:33)
    • In the days of Pekah king of Israel, Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria came and captured Ijon and Abel-beth-maacah and Janoah and Kedesh and Hazor and Gilead and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali; and he carried them captive to Assyria. (2 Kings 15:29)
    • Then the king of Assyria invaded the whole land and went up to Samaria and besieged it three years. (2 Kings 17:5)
    • 'Behold, you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the lands, destroying them completely. So will you be spared? (2 Kings 19:11)
    • And David said to all the assembly of Israel, "If it seems good to you, and if it is from the LORD our God, let us send everywhere to our kinsmen who remain in all the land of Israel, also to the priests and Levites who are with them in their cities with pasture lands, that they may meet with us; (1 Chronicles 13:2)
    • and Baalath and all the storage cities that Solomon had, and all the cities for his chariots and cities for his horsemen, and all that it pleased Solomon to build in Jerusalem, in Lebanon, and in all the land under his rule. (2 Chronicles 8:6)
    • And he acted wisely and distributed some of his sons through all the territories of Judah and Benjamin to all the fortified cities, and he gave them food in abundance. And he sought many wives for them. (2 Chronicles 11:23)
    • Now when Asa heard these words and the prophecy which Azariah the son of Oded the prophet spoke, he took courage and removed the abominable idols from all the land of Judah and Benjamin and from the cities which he had captured in the hill country of Ephraim. He then restored the altar of the LORD which was in front of the porch of the LORD. (2 Chronicles 15:8)
    • he also tore down the altars and beat the Asherim and the carved images into powder, and chopped down all the incense altars throughout the land of Israel. Then he returned to Jerusalem. (2 Chronicles 34:7)
    • And Josiah removed all the abominations from all the lands belonging to the sons of Israel, and made all who were present in Israel to serve the LORD their God. Throughout his lifetime they did not turn from following the LORD God of their fathers. (2 Chronicles 34:33)
    • "Nevertheless hear the word of the LORD, all Judah who are living in the land of Egypt, 'Behold, I have sworn by My great name,' says the LORD, 'never shall My name be invoked again by the mouth of any man of Judah in all the land of Egypt, saying, "As the Lord GOD lives." (Jeremiah 44:26)
    • Therefore behold, days are coming When I shall punish the idols of Babylon; And her whole land will be put to shame, And all her slain will fall in her midst. (Jeremiah 51:47)
  6. Now the whole [kol] earth [erets] used the same language and the same words. (Genesis 11:1)
  7. So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of the whole earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth. (Genesis 11:8-9)
  8. More examples of where kol erets refers to a local area of land:
    • And in all the land no women were found so fair as Job's daughters; and their father gave them inheritance among their brothers. (Job 42:15)
    • In place of your fathers will be your sons; You shall make them princes in all the earth. (Psalm 45:16)
    • Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth, Is Mount Zion in the far north, The city of the great King. (Psalm 48:2)
    • People will come there with bows and arrows because all the land will be briars and thorns. (Isaiah 7:24)
    • For a complete destruction, one that is decreed, the Lord GOD of hosts will execute in the midst of the whole land. (Isaiah 10:23)
    • They are coming from a far country From the farthest horizons, The LORD and His instruments of indignation, To destroy the whole land. (Isaiah 13:5)
    • "This is the plan devised against the whole earth; and this is the hand that is stretched out against all the nations. (Isaiah 14:26)
    • 'Behold, you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the lands, destroying them completely. So will you be spared? (Isaiah 37:11)
    • "Truly, O LORD, the kings of Assyria have devastated all the countries and their lands, (Isaiah 37:18)
    • "Now behold, I have made you today as a fortified city, and as a pillar of iron and as walls of bronze against the whole land, to the kings of Judah, to its princes, to its priests and to the people of the land. (Jeremiah 1:18)
    • Disaster on disaster is proclaimed, For the whole land is devastated; Suddenly my tents are devastated, My curtains in an instant. (Jeremiah 4:20)
    • For thus says the LORD, "The whole land shall be a desolation, Yet I will not execute a complete destruction. (Jeremiah 4:27)
    • From Dan is heard the snorting of his horses; At the sound of the neighing of his stallions The whole land quakes; For they come and devour the land and its fulness, The city and its inhabitants. (Jeremiah 8:16)
    • "It has been made a desolation, Desolate, it mourns before Me; The whole land has been made desolate, Because no man lays it to heart. (Jeremiah 12:11)
    • Woe to me, my mother, that you have borne me As a man of strife and a man of contention to all the land! I have neither lent, nor have men lent money to me, Yet everyone curses me. (Jeremiah 15:10)
    • but, 'As the LORD lives, who brought up the sons of Israel from the land of the north and from all the countries where He had banished them.' For I will restore them to their own land which I gave to their fathers. (Jeremiah 16:15)
    • "Then I Myself shall gather the remnant of My flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and shall bring them back to their pasture; and they will be fruitful and multiply. (Jeremiah 23:3)
    • but, 'As the LORD lives, who brought up and led back the descendants of the household of Israel from the north land and from all the countries where I had driven them.' Then they will live on their own soil." (Jeremiah 23:8)
    • "Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts concerning the prophets, 'Behold, I am going to feed them wormwood And make them drink poisonous water, For from the prophets of Jerusalem Pollution has gone forth into all the land.'" (Jeremiah 23:15)
    • 'And this whole land shall be a desolation and a horror, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. (Jeremiah 25:11)
    • "Behold, I will gather them out of all the lands to which I have driven them in My anger, in My wrath, and in great indignation; and I will bring them back to this place and make them dwell in safety. (Jeremiah 32:37)
    • "But now, behold, I am freeing you today from the chains which are on your hands. If you would prefer to come with me to Babylon, come along, and I will look after you; but if you would prefer not to come with me to Babylon, never mind. Look, the whole land is before you; go wherever it seems good and right for you to go." (Jeremiah 40:4)
    • Likewise also all the Jews who were in Moab and among the sons of Ammon and in Edom, and who were in all the other countries, heard that the king of Babylon had left a remnant for Judah and that he had appointed over them Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan. (Jeremiah 40:11)
    • "Thus you are to say to him, 'Thus says the LORD, "Behold, what I have built I am about to tear down, and what I have planted I am about to uproot, that is, the whole land." (Jeremiah 45:4)
    • "How the hammer of the whole earth Has been cut off and broken! How Babylon has become An object of horror among the nations! (Jeremiah 50:23)
    • Babylon has been a golden cup in the hand of the LORD, Intoxicating all the earth. The nations have drunk of her wine; Therefore the nations are going mad. (Jeremiah 51:7)
    • "Behold, I am against you, O destroying mountain, Who destroys the whole earth," declares the LORD, "And I will stretch out My hand against you, And roll you down from the crags And I will make you a burnt out mountain. (Jeremiah 51:25)
    • Consecrate the nations against her, The kings of the Medes, Their governors and all their prefects, And every land of their dominion. (Jeremiah 51:28)
    • "How Sheshak has been captured, And the praise of the whole earth been seized! How Babylon has become an object of horror among the nations! (Jeremiah 51:41)
    • Indeed Babylon is to fall for the slain of Israel, As also for Babylon the slain of all the earth have fallen. (Jeremiah 51:49)
    • "Therefore behold, the days are coming," declares the LORD, "When I shall punish her idols, And the mortally wounded will groan throughout her land. (Jeremiah 51:52)
    • All who pass along the way Clap their hands in derision at you; They hiss and shake their heads At the daughter of Jerusalem, "Is this the city of which they said, 'The perfection of beauty, A joy to all the earth'?" (Lamentations 2:15)
    • on that day I swore to them, to bring them out from the land of Egypt into a land that I had selected for them, flowing with milk and honey, which is the glory of all lands. (Ezekiel 20:6)
    • "And also I swore to them in the wilderness that I would not bring them into the land which I had given them, flowing with milk and honey, which is the glory of all lands, (Ezekiel 20:15)
    • "You have become guilty by the blood which you have shed, and defiled by your idols which you have made. Thus you have brought your day near and have come to your years; therefore I have made you a reproach to the nations, and a mocking to all the lands. (Ezekiel 22:4)
    • "And I will leave you on the land; I will cast you on the open field. And I will cause all the birds of the heavens to dwell on you, And I will satisfy the beasts of the whole earth with you. (Ezekiel 32:4)
    • 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "As all the earth rejoices, I will make you a desolation. (Ezekiel 35:14)
    • "For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands, and bring you into your own land. (Ezekiel 36:24)
      While I was observing, behold, a male goat was coming from the west over the surface of the whole earth without touching the ground; and the goat had a conspicuous horn between his eyes. (Daniel 8:5)
    • "Righteousness belongs to Thee, O Lord, but to us open shame, as it is this day-- to the men of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and all Israel, those who are nearby and those who are far away in all the countries to which Thou hast driven them, because of their unfaithful deeds which they have committed against Thee. (Daniel 9:7)
    • Then he said to me, "This is the curse that is going forth over the face of the whole land; surely everyone who steals will be purged away according to the writing on one side, and everyone who swears will be purged away according to the writing on the other side. (Zechariah 5:3)
    • And I said, "What is it?" And he said, "This is the ephah going forth." Again he said, "This is their appearance in all the land (Zechariah 5:6)
    • "And it will come about in all the land," Declares the LORD, "That two parts in it will be cut off and perish; But the third will be left in it. (Zechariah 13:8)
    • All the land will be changed into a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem; but Jerusalem will rise and remain on its site from Benjamin's Gate as far as the place of the First Gate to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the king's wine presses. (Zechariah 14:10)
  9. Instances of kol erets in the Old Testament where it might refer to the entire planet:
    • Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." (Genesis 1:26)
    • Then God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; (Genesis 1:29)
    • "For this time I will send all My plagues on you and your servants and your people, so that you may know that there is no one like Me in all the earth. (Exodus 9:14)
    • "But, indeed, for this cause I have allowed you to remain, in order to show you My power, and in order to proclaim My name through all the earth. (Exodus 9:16)
    • 'Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; (Exodus 19:5)
    • but indeed, as I live, all the earth will be filled with the glory of the LORD. (Numbers 14:21)
    • "Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is crossing over ahead of you into the Jordan. (Joshua 3:11)
    • "And it shall come about when the soles of the feet of the priests who carry the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off, and the waters which are flowing down from above shall stand in one heap." (Joshua 3:13)
    • "This day the LORD will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you. And I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, (1 Samuel 17:46)
    • in order to change the appearance of things your servant Joab has done this thing. But my lord is wise, like the wisdom of the angel of God, to know all that is in the earth." (2 Samuel 14:20)
    • When he returned to the man of God with all his company, and came and stood before him, he said, "Behold now, I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel; so please take a present from your servant now." (2 Kings 5:15)
    • "For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His. You have acted foolishly in this. Indeed, from now on you will surely have wars." (2 Chronicles 16:9)
    • (For the choir director; on the Gittith. A Psalm of David.) O LORD, our Lord, How majestic is Thy name in all the earth, Who hast displayed Thy splendor above the heavens! (Psalm 8:1)
    • O LORD, our Lord, How majestic is Thy name in all the earth! (Psalm 8:9)
    • Their line has gone out through all the earth, And their utterances to the end of the world. In them He has placed a tent for the sun, (Psalm 19:4)
    • For the LORD Most High is to be feared, A great King over all the earth. (Psalm 47:2)
    • For God is the King of all the earth; Sing praises with a skillful psalm. (Psalm 47:7)
    • Be exalted above the heavens, O God; Let Thy glory be above all the earth. (Psalm 57:5)
    • Be exalted above the heavens, O God; Let Thy glory be above all the earth. (Psalm 57:11)
    • And blessed be His glorious name forever; And may the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen, and Amen. (Psalm 72:19)
    • That they may know that Thou alone, whose name is the LORD, Art the Most High over all the earth. (Psalm 83:18)
    • The mountains melted like wax at the presence of the LORD, At the presence of the Lord of the whole earth. (Psalm 97:5)
    • For Thou art the LORD Most High over all the earth; Thou art exalted far above all gods. (Psalm 97:9)
    • Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, And Thy glory above all the earth. (Psalm 108:5)
    • And one called out to another and said, "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory." (Isaiah 6:3)
    • And my hand reached to the riches of the peoples like a nest, And as one gathers abandoned eggs, I gathered all the earth; And there was not one that flapped its wing or opened its beak or chirped." (Isaiah 10:14)
    • Praise the LORD in song, for He has done excellent things; Let this be known throughout the earth. (Isaiah 12:5)
    • He will swallow up death for all time, And the Lord GOD will wipe tears away from all faces, And He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth; For the LORD has spoken. (Isaiah 25:8)
    • And now do not carry on as scoffers, Lest your fetters be made stronger; For I have heard from the Lord GOD of hosts, Of decisive destruction on all the earth. (Isaiah 28:22)
    • "For your husband is your Maker, Whose name is the LORD of hosts; And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, Who is called the God of all the earth. (Isaiah 54:5)
    • "Arise and thresh, daughter of Zion, For your horn I will make iron And your hoofs I will make bronze, That you may pulverize many peoples, That you may devote to the LORD their unjust gain And their wealth to the Lord of all the earth. (Micah 4:13)
    • "But the LORD is in His holy temple. Let all the earth be silent before Him." (Habakkuk 2:20)
    • Neither their silver nor their gold Will be able to deliver them On the day of the LORD'S wrath; And all the earth will be devoured In the fire of His jealousy, For He will make a complete end, Indeed a terrifying one, Of all the inhabitants of the earth. (Zephaniah 1:18)
    • "Therefore, wait for Me," declares the LORD, "For the day when I rise up to the prey. Indeed, My decision is to gather nations, To assemble kingdoms, To pour out on them My indignation, All My burning anger; For all the earth will be devoured By the fire of My zeal. (Zephaniah 3:8)
    • "Behold, I am going to deal at that time With all your oppressors, I will save the lame And gather the outcast, And I will turn their shame into praise and renown In all the earth. (Zephaniah 3:19)
    • So they answered the angel of the LORD who was standing among the myrtle trees, and said, "We have patrolled the earth, and behold, all the earth is peaceful and quiet." (Zechariah 1:11)
    • "For who has despised the day of small things? But these seven will be glad when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel-- these are the eyes of the LORD which range to and fro throughout the earth." (Zechariah 4:10)
    • Then he said, "These are the two anointed ones, who are standing by the Lord of the whole earth." (Zechariah 4:14)
    • And the angel answered and said to me, "These are the four spirits of heaven, going forth after standing before the Lord of all the earth, (Zechariah 6:5)
    • And the LORD will be king over all the earth; in that day the LORD will be the only one, and His name the only one. (Zechariah 14:9)
  10. "When the bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon it, to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth." And God said to Noah, "This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth." (Genesis 9:16-17)
  11. The New Testament tells us the flood was universal in its judgment:
    • "For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, they were marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so shall the coming of the Son of Man be. (Matthew 24:38-39)
    • they were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. (Luke 17:27)
    • By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. (Hebrews 11:7)
    • who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. (1 Peter 3:20)
    • and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; (2 Peter 2:5)
  12. All flesh had become corrupted:
    • And God looked on the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth. (Genesis 6:12)
    • Then God said to Noah, "The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth. (Genesis 6:13)
    • "And behold, I, even I am bringing the flood of water upon the earth, to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life, from under heaven; everything that is on the earth shall perish. (Genesis 6:17)
  13. These are the records of the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God. (Genesis 6:9)
  14. According to Genesis, the flood waters receded and were dried by the wind:
    • But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded. (Genesis 8:1)
    • The water receded steadily from the earth. At the end of the hundred and fifty days the water had gone down, (Genesis 8:3)
    • The waters continued to recede until the tenth month, and on the first day of the tenth month the tops of the mountains became visible. (Genesis 8:5)
  15. Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews: Book 1, Chapter 3, Section 6.
  16. Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening as Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. (Genesis 19:1)
  17. So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, a three days' walk. (Jonah 3:3)
  18. "And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth." (Revelation 11:3)
Last Modified December 3, 2014


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