The Geographical Distribution of Ancient Flood Traditions
THE PURPOSE OF THIS CHAPTER is to demonstrate that ancient astral catastrophes, or threatening astral catastrophes, continued to plague mankind and his planet for perhaps 20 centuries following the Flood catastrophe, and this theme permeated ancient literatures, architectures, cosmologies, folklores and religions. The geographical distribution of these ancient traditions illustrates that elliptical orbits and a semi-orderly solar system were a recent but historical condition in our small corner of the galaxy. An understanding of the principle of the astral motif in ancient sources will contribute to and undergird an understanding of the mechanics of the Flood; and similarly, an understanding of the mechanics of the Flood will prepare for a broader and deeper understanding of the geophysical and psychological crises of ancient civilizations, where cities were destroyed periodically by earthshakings and then rebuilt upon their own rubble.
Experiences of a great Flood were recorded in the traditions
from every continent, Antarctica excepted. Various scholars in the past
have noted and correlated this phenomenon. The following list is not to
be considered exhaustive; it is merely representative of the societies
possessing Flood traditions:
WESTERN HEMISPHERE AND OCEANIA
|North America||Indonesia and Polynesia||South America|
The post-diluvian theme of astral chaos or threatening astral havoc includes motifs of fire and brimstone: comets, earthquakes, meteors, pestilences, tumults, and earthshakings. These events do not mean that another Flood recurred, but they do indicate that this kind of astral phenomenon persisted over many centuries. If there were eccentric orbits, persistently intersecting orbits, conflicts, and near oppositions, then catastrophes would be mathematically inevitable. This phase of ancient history strengthens the case of the astrophysical mechanism of the Flood.1,2 The only variables would be the type of havoc, the intensity of the chaos, and the location of the occasion, which would vary from time to time, and from opposition to opposition.
Since this subject is a monumental one in its own right, for the sake
of brevity this chapter will consider only a few areas, among which will
be India, Japan, Mexico and Peru, and the Middle East.
The Astral Motif In India
India has been settled historically by two major races: the Aryans and the Dravidians, both of whom had their principles of astral worship. The sky gods of the Aryans were quite comparable to the celestial pantheon of the Persians, the Greeks, and the Phoenecians. For instance, the Indo-European Dyaus Pitar was the Aryan or Indian counterpart for the Greek Zeus, the Roman Jupiter, the Egyptian Horus, and the Babylonian Bel.
The Indo-Aryans migrated into Northern India at approximately the same
time Abraham was migrating westward toward Palestine from the famed Ur
of the Chaldees, some 4,000 years ago. The Aryans spoke a language related
to Old Persian and Sanskrit. Concerning the similarity of their sky gods
with those of other peoples of the Middle East, E. O. James makes the following
The mighty warrior, Indra, the god of the thunder, had his headquarters in the atmosphere, between sky and earth, and Agni, the god of fire, was all pervading as the wind. Behind all these celestial gods was the ancient Indo-European Dyaus Pitar, the counterpart of the Greek Zeus and the Roman Jupiter.3
The Dravidians were also to be found with astronomical and astrological themes in their literature and religion. They were concerned about perishable versus imperishable worlds, about ages, catastrophes, cycles, and new ages, and they were also concerned about mathematics, causes of natural phenomena, planets, orbits, and zodiacs.
The astrologer was an important person in ancient Hindu life. This astrology motif recurs among such peoples as the Chaldeans, Druids, Egyptians, Germans, Greeks, Incas, and Mayans, all of whom also had astronomer-priests and astrologically oriented oracles. In Hinduism, the Sun, the Moon, the movements of the planets, the zodiac, meteor showers, earthquakes, and eclipses were (and still are) areas of fear, of worship, and of study. This is a holdover from ancient times when astral catastrophes, or impending catastrophes, were very imminent concerns.
During these times, astral catastrophes periodically threatened to occur.
Their close approach might well be associated with great destruction; cities
might be ruined, oceans might surge, fire and brimstone might again rain
from the sky. Their approach or regress, night after night, was very much
visible, and it was to these celestial bodies that the Hindus offered their
propitiations. Kenneth W. Morgan has given the following description:
Eclipses of the Sun or Moon are times of great importance in the life of the Hindus. Mythologically it is said that the eclipses are caused by the demon Rahu. At the time of the churning of the oceans to make nectar, which would have given immortality, Rahu tasted the nectar without permission. When the Sun and Moon called this to the attention of Vishnu, the god immediately cut off Rahu's head, but since he had drunk the nectar, his head became immortal.
The head was placed in the heavens, and Rahu was allowed as a means of revenge on the Sun and Moon to approach them at certain times, and thus render them unclean so that their bodies at those times would become black and thin . . . During the eclipse, conch shells are sounded, devotional songs are sung, and the women bathers utter shrill cries, all of which are considered to be auspicious and help drive Rahu away from the Sun or Moon. (Italics ours)4,5
Rahu is parallel in motif to celestial concerns of other ancient religions. Rahu may refer to a historical semi-regular or periodical wanderer within our solar system. For instance, the story of the Phoenix in Egyptian mythology carries all of these elements of the Rahu story. Similarly, the story of Sosa no wo no Mikoto in Japanese mythology carries these elements, as does the ancient Druid traditions of the screeching witch, periodically crossing the heavens on a celestial broomstick and threatening the inhabitants with dire calamities, fearful and evil. Again, the Aztec counterpart of this theme is Quetzacoatl, a deity described as a fierce, feathered, flying serpent, periodically threatening to engulf the world in fire. The dragon in Chinese folklore also has comparable elements in its theme.
Thus, Hinduism, in being nature-oriented, was like so many of the ancient religions. However, two kinds of nature were involved within its orientation to nature worship. One involved the worship of astral phenomena which were comparable to the Apollo, Pallas Athene, Minerva, Hera, Aphrodite, Ares, Electra, Deimos, Phobos, Zeus system of the Greeks. And the second involved nature worship relative to geophysical phenomena--it included worship of winds, typhoons, oceans, thunderings and lightnings, rain, mountains, rivers, and seasons. And again, Greece, for instance, had a parallel complement of nature gods, oriented to the geophysical as well as to the astronomical.
The religious life of the Hindus, therefore, involved idolatrizing of the geophysical elements upon our own planet and also of themes celestial. Both involved nature worship; one was terrestrial; one was astral. They worshipped both phases of nature because it was nature that they couldn't understand, and hence it was nature that they feared.
Ancient people oriented many things toward astral phenomena. Architecture is an illustration. Many ancient peoples had obelisks, sun caves, sundials, sun temples, solar discs, solar and lunar calendars, and they observed solar and lunar festivals. The Egyptians, Druids and Mayans all built temples architecturally planned so that the first rays of the Sun on the autumnal and vernal equinoxes would fall upon the altar at the heart of the temple.6 The Egyptians built one such temple on the west bank of the Upper Nile, above Luxor; the Druids at Stonehenge, some 3,000 miles distant, as did the Mayans some 8,000 miles distant.
Thus, there seems to have been an historical concern that was in reality
based on these ancient periodic astral catastrophes, and on whether the
Earth's orbit remained regular or became perturbed. Calendars of the ancients
were confused from time to time. For instance, ancient Syrian sundials
prior to the ninth century B.C. point about 1° away from true east.
Originally, archaeologists concluded that the ancients were poor mathematicians.
They weren't. Early Babylonian astronomer-priests had mastered some phases
of calculus. It would appear, for instance, that our 360° circle is
actually based on the ancient Babylonian calendar involving 360 days in
the solar cycle.7
The Astral Motif in Japan
As in so many areas of the world, Japan's supreme deities were also nature-oriented. They represented terrestrial (or geophysical) nature, such as mountains, oceans, winds, and seasons. They also represented celestial nature. Some of the ancient Japanese traditions were codified in the Nihongi where there is a tradition of creation which is remarkably similar to that in Genesis. There is also a tradition of a rupture between the sun-god and the moon-god. This is somewhat similar to the Hebrew tradition in the time of Joshua and of the extended day in which meteorites (fire and brimstone) rained from above, and the Sun and Moon were in irregular motion--again comparable to the Egyptian story of Phaethon, being drawn across the sky in a solar chariot by steeds gone wild.
The tradition of the Japanese Sosa no wo no Mikoto is comparable in
theme: a wandering and vicious, evil, and astral principle, periodically
afflicting one generation and then another. Note the similarities in themes:
They next produced the moon-god . . . His radiance was next to that of the sun in splendor. This god was to be the consort of the sun-goddess, and share in her government. They therefore sent him also to heaven. Next they produced the leech-child . . . They therefore placed it in the rock-camphor-wood boat of Heaven, and abandoned it to the winds. Their next child was Sosa no wo no Mikoto . . .
This god had a fierce temper and was given to cruel acts. Moreover he made a practice of continually weeping and wailing. So he brought many of the people of the land to an untimely end. Again he caused green mountains to become withered. Therefore the two gods, his parents, addressed Sosa no wo no Mikoto, saying: Thou art exceedingly wicked, and it is not meet that thou shouldst reign over the world. Certainly thou must depart far away to the Nether Land. So they at length expelled him.8
The Astral Motif in Mexico and Peru
Astral themes seem to be equally in evidence in the Western Hemisphere as in the Eastern Hemisphere. Evidences are particularly clear among the Aztecs, Incas, and Mayas, since their cultures were more highly developed; yet similar themes are in evidence among many more primitive Indian tribes. For instance, there is the story of the Indian boy who tried to rope a rabbit and roped the Sun instead, and brought it back a little way.
In the Mayan religion, the most important deities were the Sun, the
Moon, and the planet Venus. This, of course, is directly parallel to the
deities of Phoenicia, Egypt, and Babylonia. Eric Thompson describes something
of the Mayan religion as follows:
The Aztecs believed that the world had been created five times and had been destroyed four times, the present age being the fifth. Each age had been brought to a violent end, the agents being respectively ferocious jaguars, a hurricane, volcanic eruptions, and a flood. Traditions that have survived among the Maya on the number of creations and destructions of the world are somewhat at variance. That we are now in the fourth age is the view expressed in two sources. Nevertheless, it is probable that Maya belief was in agreement with the Aztec in assigning the number five to the present age.9
Aztec and Mayan traditions, like that of the Hindus, were concerned about world ages, cycles, catastrophes, and new ages. The structure of their astral temples reflected this, as did that of so many other ancient peoples. Their mathematics and their religion also reflected their concern with astral cosmology.
In South America, the Incas built the capital of their immense empire at Cuzco, high in the Peruvian Andes. The center of Cuzco was their temple, along with the palace. At the center of the temple was a huge image of the Sun. It was made of solid slabs of gold and was placed on an altar. Within this splendid Inca temple, the mummified bodies of the Inca chiefs were placed on great golden chairs. The high point of the religious year was celebrated by the gathering of the priests and temple virgins in a great formation to repeat their sacred vows to their great god, the central body in our solar system, also known as Apollo in Greece. Similar themes of worship occurred in Memphis in Egypt, where sacred vows were made unto Ra, the sun-god of Egypt.
When Pizarro arrived in Cuzco, he was overwhelmed. He had heard stories of golden splendor at Cuzco. But being essentially barbaric and mercenary-minded, he was interested only in plunder and lacked an appreciation for historical or artistic values. He had all of the priceless items of Cuzco melted and shipped in galleons to Spain where they were converted into coin. Only the surrounding traditions remained, and many of these were preserved only piecemeal.
Another Inca tradition goes as follows:
Perhaps the stories about the ancients were right . . . Legend says that in those days of the jaguar-faced gods called huaca, the Andes were split apart and the Callejon was formed, when the sky made war on the earth. 10
The Egyptian traditions are similar; only the god was hawk-faced, and he periodically flew across the celestial sea, bringing fire and smoke and occasionally earth quakings with his flight. Again the phoenix tradition is one of these comparable themes. And similar traditions occur regarding an interruption in the Sun's progress and natural calamities among the Arapahoes, the Comanches, the Polynesians, the Snoqualmies, and the Tlingits, to name but a few.
The purpose in recounting these ancient astral themes is three-fold.
One is to establish that astral phenomena, such as eccentric orbits, cosmic
chaos, and planetary oppositions, were not limited to the Flood era. Another
purpose is to establish that ancient astral traditions were independent
and global rather than interrelated and regional in derivation. A third
purpose is to establish that these traditions were deep and persistent,
even though they are three and four thousand years old. All of these considerations
do not directly concern the century of the Flood; yet these themes reinforce
the mechanism or the principle needed to properly understand the cause
and scope of the Biblical Flood. Thus, the astral catastrophe known as
the Flood was not the last encounter of the Earth with elliptically traveling
astral phenomena. It was merely the worst.
The Astral Motif in the Middle East
The Middle East is the region of the cradle of Western Civilization. It was in this region that the Ark landed and its passengers disembarked. It was here that Western Civilization was re-established, and it was from here that the Western World was repopulated with people of Caucasian phenotype. It was here that Caucasian peoples multiplied and migrated, and it was here that they worshipped, speculated, counted, measured, and wrote.
There have been numerous sources of information on the ancient conditions
in the Middle East which have been lost or destroyed; among those which
have survived are the writings of Moses (Genesis, Exodus, etc.), Job, Josephus
(The Antiquities of the Jews), and the Psalms. Moses, the author of Genesis
and Exodus, has already been considered briefly in Chapter IV regarding
his source material on the Flood. We turn now, and again only briefly,
to a consideration of Josephus, the historian, and his source material.
JOSEPHUS. Josephus' account of the times of the Flood and
early post-diluvian times is more extensive than that of Genesis. It is
interesting to note that Josephus had acquainted himself with Flood stories
of other Middle Eastern nations through literature which is no longer extant.
Some of his comments reflect ancient concern with regularity versus irregularity
of astral phenomena and our solar system. Other comments regard whether
or not another Flood might recur. Both types are most significant, and
each reflects catastrophism in its own way. Our first quotation regards
the Flood; the second regards post-diluvian conditions several centuries
However the Armenians call this place * * * * *, the place of descent, for the ark being saved in that place, its remains are shown there by the inhabitants to this day.
Now some writers of barbarian histories make mention of this flood, and of this ark; among whom is Berosus the Chaldean. For when he was describing the circumstances of the flood, he goes on thus: 'It is said there is still some part of this ship in Armenia, at the mountain of the Cort-yaeans; and that some people carry off pieces of the bitumen, which they take away, and use chiefly as amulets, for the averting of mischiefs.' Hieronymus the Egyptian also who wrote the Phoenician Antiquities, and Manaseas, and a great many more, make mention of the same. Nay, Nico-laus 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 and came on shore upon the 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...11
But let no one upon comparing the lives of the ancients with our lives, and with the few years which we now live, think that what we have said of them is false; or make the shortness of our lives at present an argument, that neither did they attain to so long a duration of life, for those ancients were beloved of God, and (lately) made by God himself; and because their food was then fitter for the prolongation of life, might well live so great a number of years; and besides, God afforded them a longer time of life on account of their virtue, and the good use they made of it in astronomical and geometrical discoveries, which would have not afforded the time for foretelling (the periods of the stars), unless they had lived six hundred years, for the great year is completed in that interval.
Now I have for witnesses to what I have said, all those that have written Antiquities, both among the Greeks, and Barbarians; for even Manetho, who wrote the Egyptian history, and Berosus, who collected the Chaldean monuments, and Mochus, Hestiaeus, and besides these Hieronymus the Egyptian, and those that composed the Phoenecian history, agree to what I here say: Hesiod also and Hecataeus, and Hellanicus, and Acuslaus; and besides these Ephorus and Nicolaus relate, that the ancients lived a thousand years. But as to these matters, let every one look upon them as they think fit.12
If Josephus is to be trusted (and few ancient historians were more thorough), then the ancients were not inclined to doubt whether or not there had been a great, overwhelming and universal Flood. They may have debated the dating of it. They may have wondered as to which part of Armenia contained the remains of the Ark. And it is known that they did debate the proper names of the survivors of the Ark and the migration patterns which ensued. For instance, the Hebrew gives the leader's name as Noah, whereas the Greek gives it as Noeus and then seemingly combines or confuses the story with an ancient King Deucalion and his wife. The Babylonian account gives the name of the builder of the Ark as Ut-napishtim, and another account gives it as Xisuthrus. Interestingly enough, the Aztecs have a similar story of two persons who survived in a boat which landed on the mountainside after the rain stopped. The Aztec name for the survivor was Coxcox.
Now it also appears that the ancient Chaldeans built ziggar-ats as something
more than architectural feats; they built them in response to a pervading
Flood psychology. The Chaldeans did not debate whether or not there had
been a Flood. They debated whether or not there might be another. And if
there were to be another, they would need a place of great elevation for
refuge from the flat plain of the Tigris-Euphrates Valley. In order to
be ready to cope with it, they were going to build mighty mounds for safety.
One of these was the Tower of Babel, which, interestingly enough, had an
astral temple at its top, the climax of the endeavor:
Now it was Nimrod who excited them to such an affront and contempt of God. He was the grandson of Ham, the son of Noah, a bold man, and of great strength of hand. He persuaded them not to ascribe it to God, as if it was through His means that they were happy, but to believe that it was their own courage which procured that happiness. He also gradually changed the government into tyranny, seeing no other way of turning men from the fear of God, but to bring them into a constant dependence upon his power. He also said "He would be revenged on God, if he should have a mind to drown the world again;" for that he would build a tower too high for the waters to be able to reach; and that he would avenge himself on God for destroying their forefathers.
Now the multitude were very ready to follow the determination of Nimrod, and to esteem it a piece of cowardice to submit to God; and they built a tower, neither sparing any pains, nor being in any degree negligent about the work ... It was built of burnt bricks, cemented together with mortar, made of bitumen, that it might not be liable to admit water. (Italics ours)13
Again it is interesting to note that it was not a historical Flood which they debated; it was the possibility of another one which they feared. And this quotation is also interesting in philosophical ways. It seems that man had his difficulties even in those early post-diluvian days. Among those difficulties was the struggle of the traditional faith of a holy Creator and Judge versus the corruption of this into idolatry and a humanistic pantheism. Another struggle was the retaining versus the abrogation of personal freedom. As civilization developed in this valley, so also did idolatry and tyranny arise.
And it was this tyranny, but even more particularly the engulfing idolatry
in Ur, the jewel of the Chaldees, which provoked Abraham to protest. Josephus
gives to us a bit of Abraham's not-so-serene life as a citizen of Ur of
the Chaldeans--a recount of some of Abraham's difficulties prior to his
migration to Palestine:
Now Abram, having no son of his own, adopted Lot, his brother Haran's son, and his wife Sarai's brother; and he left the land of Chaldea, when he was 75 years old, and at the command of God went into Canaan, and therein he dwelt himself, and left it to his posterity. He was a person of great sagacity, both for understanding all things, and persuading his hearers, and not mistaken in his opinions; for which reason he began to have higher notions of virtue than others had, and he determined to renew and to change the opinion all men happened then to have concerning God; for he was the first to venture to publish the notion that there was but one God, the Creator of the universe; and that as to other gods, if they contributed anything to the happiness of men, that each of them afforded it only according to his appointment, and not by their own power. This his opinion was derived from the irregular phenomena that were visible both at land and sea, as well as those that happened to the sun and moon, and the heavenly bodies thus: 'If (said he) these bodies had power of their own they would certainly take care of their own regular motions ; but since they do not preserve such regularity, they make it plain that so far as they cooperate to our advantage, they do it not of their own abilities, but as they are subservient to him that commands them, to whom alone we ought to justly offer our honour and thanksgiving.'
For such doctrines, then the Chaldeans and the people of Mesopotamia raised a tumult against him, he thought fit to leave that country; at the command, and by the assistance of God, he came and lived in the land of Canaan; and when he was there settled, he built an altar and performed a sacrifice to God. (Italics ours)14
In Abraham's time, there must have been, even as Josephus indicates, a concern about celestial bodies and their motions and periodicity. Some bodies were observed as regular and predictable; some were observed but their periodicity or predictability was not understood. These early Mesopotamian scholars, in their study of mathematics and the stars, had discovered some of the principles in both geometry and calculus, but so far as it is known, they never grasped the principle of gravitation. It is interesting to note that Newton also studied mathematics and the solar system, and he conceived the idea of universal gravitation after inventing differential calculus, integral calculus, and the binomial theorem--all of which assisted him in his understanding of gravitational law.
Like the Hindus, the Chaldeans drifted into the tendency to worship that part of nature which they failed to understand. They pantheized the planetary system. This is the source of the ancient sky gods which occurred throughout this entire area. Abraham determined to worship the Almighty, the Creator, and objected to the pantheizing of these bodies into nature worship. The Creator, rather than the created, merited man's worship. Abraham was lonely in his convictions, and he emerges as one of those persistent, stubborn, and even cantankerous individualists of history--a protestor and reformer. He might be classified as a twentieth century B.C. non-conformist who, though his life was filled with difficulties and trials, yet was great among the greatest.
Abraham was concerned about the irregular phenomena which occurred among
the heavenly bodies: periodicity, planets, cometary phenomena, and other
related conditions. In fact, Josephus relates that when Abraham temporarily
migrated to Egypt, he was considered an authority from the Chaldees concerning
matters astronomical, historical, and mathematical.15
THE PSALMS. It is being shown in the Psalms that catastrophism is in evidence among many of the portions of the Hebrew scriptures, the Old Testament, just as it is in evidence among the literatures of the non-Hebrew ancients. We have just considered some of Josephus' accounts, and now turn to the Psalms, where again is found the catastrophic motif.
The Psalms date from different periods. Many are Davidic, some are from
the period of the Exodus. Among the Exodus Psalms which contain the catastrophic
motif are Psalms 46, 68, 74, 78, 97, 104, and 114. The following are excerpts:
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth should change,
Though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
Though its waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains tremble with its tumult. (Psalm 46:1-3 R.S.V.)
O God, when thou didst go forth before thy people, when thou didst march through the wilderness,
The earth quaked, the heavens poured down rain, at the
presence of God; Yon Sinai quaked at the presence of God,
the God of Israel. (Psalm 68:7-8)
Thou didst divide the sea by thy might;
Thou didst break the heads of the dragons on the waters.
Thou didst crush the heads of Leviathan,
Thou didst give him as food for the creatures of the wilderness.
Thou didst cleave open springs and brooks;
Thou didst dry up ever-flowing streams.
Thine is the day, thine also the night;
Thou hast established the luminaries and the sun.
Thou hast fixed all the bounds of the earth;
Thou hast made summer and winter. (Psalm 74:13-17)
He divided the sea and let them pass through it,
and made the waters stand like a heap.
In the daytime he led them with a cloud,
and all the night with a fiery light. He cleft rocks in the wilderness,
and gave them drink abundantly as from the deep.
He made streams come out of the rock,
and caused waters to flow down like rivers. (Psalm 78:13-16)
The Lord reigns; let the earth rejoice;
let the many coastlands be glad!
Clouds and thick darkness are round about him;
righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
Fire goes before him, and burns up his adversaries round about.
His lightnings lighten the world;
the earth sees and trembles.
The mountains melt like wax before the Lord
before the Lord of all the earth. (Psalm 97:1-5)
Bless the Lord, O my soul!
O Lord my God, thou art very great!
Thou art clothed with honor and majesty,
Who covered thyself with light as with a garment,
Who hast stretched out the heavens like a tent,
Who hast laid the beams of thy chambers on the waters,
Who makest the clouds thy chariot,
Who ridest on the wings of the wind,
Who makest the winds thy messengers, fire and flame thy ministers.
Thou didst set the earth on its foundations,
so that it should never be shaken.
Thou didst cover it with the deep as with a garment;
the waters stood above the mountains.
At thy rebuke they fled;
at the sound of thy thunder they took to flight.
The mountains rose, the valleys sank down to the place
which thou didst appoint for them.
Thou didst set a bound which they should not pass,
so that they might not again cover the earth.
Thou hast made the moon to mark the seasons;
the sun knows its time for setting.
May the glory of the Lord endure for ever,
may the Lord rejoice in his works,
who looks on the earth and it trembles,
who touches the mountains and they smoke! (Psalm 104:1-4, 5-9, 19, 31-32)
When Israel went forth from Egypt,
the house of Jacob from a people of strange language,
Judah became his sanctuary, Israel his dominion.
The sea looked and fled, Jordan turned back.
The mountains skipped like rams, the hills like lambs.
What ails you, O sea, that you flee?
O Jordan, that you turn back?
0 mountains, that you skip like rams?
O hills, like lambs?
Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord,
at the presence of the God of Jacob,
who turns the rock into a pool of water,
the flint into a spring of water. (Psalm 114) (Italics ours)
At the time of the exodus from Egypt (Exodus 7, 8 and 9), the following themes, considered by Velikovsky, occur in a catastrophic syndrome, and lead to the suspicion that here is another celestial crisis, awesome and destructive:
(1) A universal red dust, possibly iron oxides, covered the land.
(2) Meteorites (hail mingled with fire) repeatedly shelled and wasted the land.
(3) Repeated earthquake activity occurred, leaving most buildings in shambles.
(4) The crescendo of the earthquake activity occurred at the tenth plague, the climax.
(5) An extended, unusually long period of night, as if the Earth's rotation temporarily was interrupted, the ninth plague.
(6) Renewed volcanic action from within the Earth's magma, as illustrated by the Mount of Lawgiving.
(7) Possible tidal phenomenon on the Red Sea, allowing it to remarkably open (allowing the Hebrews to pass across) and, six hours later, its remarkably rapid resurgence, engulfing the pursuing Egyptian army.
(8) A most remarkable astral phenomena, a "cloud by day" but a "pillar of fire" by night, passing not through Egypt, but rather, over Egypt.
This catastrophic motif, found in Exodus, seems to be given in a repeat performance, not quite as severe, not quite as long, but nevertheless something of a return engagement, some 50 years later, as reported by Joshua, standing on Mount Perazim, overlooking the Valley of Gibeon. Note the parallel themes:
(1) Earthquake activity, one seeming illustration being evidenced in the collapse of the walls of Jericho.
(2) Meteorites (astral hail mingled with fire) falling in devastating proportions, and concentrated in certain locations while avoiding others.16
(3) An extended, unusually long period of day, as if the Earth's rotation were again temporarily interrupted.
(4) Only this time it was during the Palestinian daytime, as contrasted with the extended nighttime during the previous crisis.
(5) The observed disturbance of the ordinary course of the Sun and Moon, a phenomena so similar to the Phaethon story from Egypt, where the celestial steeds, drawing the heavenly chariot, suddenly went wild.
(6) "They fought from heaven; the stars in their courses (or paths) fought against Sisera"--a theme so strikingly similar to Homer's interpretation of celestial events and earthian repercussions during the Greek-Trojan conflict and the destruction of Troy.
These observations obviously deserve fuller comment; however, this chapter endeavors only to emphasize the presence of a catastrophic theme rather than endeavoring to portray the full scope of these circumstances.
Here again, as in the traditions of India, Greece, the Aztecs, and other
ancient peoples, is seen a concern about periodicity, planets, celestial
paths, watery upheavals, earthquakes, volcan-ism, and related phenomena.
These are among the earliest literary observations which remain in the
possession of the human race, now some 35 to 40 centuries removed from
that era. Very possibly the earliest of all extant literature is the Book
of Job which similarly contains data about trembling mountains, circuits
of heaven, names of astral bodies, and the shaking of the foundations of
JOB. Job, like Abraham, was another twentieth century (B.C.)
non-conformist. He lived in the western portion of Arabia. Job's attitude
toward astral idolatry appears to have been similar to that of Abraham,
for he also objected to the pantheizing of the solar system in Arabia.
God alone was to be worshipped:
If I beheld (as objects of worship) the sun when it shone, or the moon when I was walking in its brightness; and my heart has been secretly enticed by them, or my mouth has kissed my hand (in homage to them); This also would have been a heinous and principal iniquity . . . (Job 31:26-28, Amplified)
Just as Abraham was concerned about regularity versus irregularity of the movements within our solar system, so was Job:
God, who removes the mountains, and they know it not, when He overturns them in His anger. Who shakes the earth out of its place, and the pillars of it tremble; Who commands the sun and it apparently rises not, and seals up the stars (from view); Who alone stretches out the heavens, and treads upon the waves and high places of the sea; Who made (the constellations) the Bear, Orion and the (loose cluster) Pleiades, and the (vast starry) spaces of the south. (Job 9:5-9, Amplified)
There are other similar passages in the Book of Job which discuss the former Flood, the stars, the circuit of heaven, and the trembling of the crust (pillars) of the Earth. One of the more interesting portions is found in chapter 38:
Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion? Canst thou bring forth the Mazzoroth in his season? Or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons? Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven; canst thou set the dominion thereon in the earth? (Job 38:31-33, Amplified)
A reference has already been seemingly made to the Milky Way (Job 9:9). Here, in chapter 38, Pleiades, Orion, and Arcturus appear to be bodies moving across the zodiac. Among the three, note, Orion was visible with bands. Arcturus was visible apparently with its sons, or luminaries, or satellites. What could this mean? This question is much deeper than might appear on the surface. And what about Mazzaroth and its irregularity versus its periodicity? It is known, for instance, that the Greeks had names for both of the moons of Mars (Deimos and Phobos) which were discovered in 1877 by Asaph Hall. The Greeks also had a name for a planet, not now extant, named Electra. As has been mentioned in an earlier chapter, the Greeks explained her disappearance from the heavens by saying that she withdrew at the time of one of her conflicts with Ares.
Interlude: Recognition of Scientific Validity of Ancient Cosmology
At this juncture we shall consider events some 3,500 years after the time of Job which may shed further light on the circumstances which Job considered and to which we shall return for further consideration.
HALLEY, NEWTON AND WHISTON. Edmund Halley had posited the periodicity of comets, even as Copernicus had posited the heliocentricity of the solar system a century previously. Having searched the astronomical records which he could locate in both England and Germany, he came to the conclusion that comets were not occasional celestial phenomena, but regular members of our solar system, even as planets were. Halley had traced records back 1,500 years to come to this conclusion.
Meanwhile, his friend Newton was discovering several forms of calculus in his endeavor to measure and calculate the orbits of the planets. Having noticed that all bodies move more rapidly when nearer the Sun, and that this applied to each planet within its particular elliptical orbit, Newton came to the understanding of gravitation. His conclusions, set forth in Principia Mathe-matica, had been based in part on his understanding of Kepler's laws regarding planetary motion and particularly the third law.
Both Halley and Newton had gone farther than Copernicus, who had rejected the Ptolemaic notion that the Earth was the center of the solar system. But Ptolemy had also implied that the motions of our solar system were regular and everlasting. Halley and Newton, also William Whiston, his assistant, all rejected this second assumption of Ptolemy. They all presumed that the past of our solar system may have been markedly different from the present arrangement.
Whiston's writings upon the catastrophic circumstances and the astral nature of the Flood upheaval established some basic concepts for eighteenth century catastrophism and were a decided advance. Newton and Halley followed Whiston's conclusions in ancient cosmology even as Halley and Whiston followed Newton's theory in gravitation.
JONATHAN SWIFT (1667-1745). The Halley-Newton-Whiston breakthrough in astronomical, historical, and mathematical knowledge was a major event of that century. This is perhaps best illustrated by Jonathan Swift, a novelist, political malcontent and contemporary of Whiston's in London. Swift wrote many satires, one of which reflects Whistonian thought, and more. It is Gulliver's Travels, with its famous story about the Lilliputian, a race of six-inch pygmies, and with its essay about the Laputans, an imaginary race of people on the other side of the world who were more intelligent than the Europeans. They had developed superior telescopes; and with their telescopes they had discovered two moons orbiting around Mars which were unknown to Europeans.
Swift proceeded to describe the circumstances of these mythological moons orbiting about Mars. He described (1) their sizes, (2) their respective distances from the planet, and (3) the direction of revolution of these moons in their orbits. In his imaginative essay, Swift stated that the inner moon revolved about Mars faster than the planet itself rotated. Thus, said he, to a Martian it would seem to rise in the west and set in the east. Each of these three sets of conditions comprised the situation discovered some 150 years later by Asaph Hall in 1877.
Swift's allegorical essay is related by a skeptical but astounded modern,
scientific writer, Isaac Asimov, in a current volume on scientific thought,
This is an amazing coincidence. Of course, Swift might have reasoned as follows: It was known that Earth had 1 moon, Jupiter had 4 and Saturn had 7 at the time he was writing his book. It was reasonable to suppose that Saturn might have an 8th moon hidden somewhere and, in that case, if Mars had 2 moons, there would be a nice list of numbers.
As one moved outward from the sun, beginning at Earth, the number of moons for each planet would be 1, 2, 4, 8. Then too, the moons of Mars would have to be small and close to the planet, or even Europeans with their "poor" telescopes would have discovered them.
So far, Swift's thinking can be followed. However, his guess that Phobos would rise in the west and set in the east because of its speed of revolution is uncanny. It is undoubtedly the luckiest guess in literature.17
Asimov assumes that Swift was guessing. Actually, Asimov is doing the guessing. Furthermore, he is rationalizing, and his rationalization may be far from satisfactory. Whiston and Swift both lived in London for over fifty years of their lives, and contemporaneously. They were both educated men and writers. They were both idealists and men with sufficient courage to qualify as non-conformists (Whiston in mathematics, astronomy, classics and theology and Swift in literature and political science). London in 1726 was a city of about 300,000, comparable in size to metropolitan Tacoma, Washington; Grand Rapids, Michigan, or Charlotte, North Carolina. It is reasonable to suppose that the two men may have been acquaintances, and, indeed, may have been very good friends.
Swift probably got much of his material for his imaginative essay from Whiston and, rather than guessing, he seemed to be interpreting ancient Greek cosmology rather correctly.18 He believed that there had been several irregularities in the solar system and at least one had involved Mars. He, like Whiston, realized that large bodies as well as small bodies could travel in eccentric orbits, following Halley's thinking. Halley did not really discover the periodicity of comets, for Seneca had reported that the ancient Babylonian astronomers were of this opinion. Halley, in reality, only affirmed what Seneca had reported.19
This study suspects that Asimov had guessed about Swift rather than probed into catastrophic theory because his mind was subconsciously conditioned by the prevailing uniformitarianism. Asimov was assuming, whereas Swift and Whiston were basing their conclusions on correct interpretations of ancient Babylonian, Egyptian, Greek, Hebrew, and Roman cosmology.
JOB. We will now return to our original point of departure,
Job, chapter 38, where Job is discussing "Arcturus and his sons," This
portion is requoted:
Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion? Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season? Or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons? Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven; canst thou set the dominion thereon in the earth? (Job 38:31-33, Amplified)
Let us examine the term "Mazzaroth." In Hebrew, "roth" means beard and "mazza" means star. We seem to have here a descriptive term: the bearded, or hairy, star. This is descriptive of cometary phenomena. Orbits were understood only with difficulty by the ancients. Highly eccentric orbits were the most difficult of all to understand, partly because of the chance of being disturbed by some of the larger and remoter planets, such as Jupiter and Saturn. Comets would disappear into the remote oceans of our solar system, and then they would return with renewed brilliance--sometimes in the same orbit and sometimes not, sometimes on schedule and sometimes not--a generation or so later. Apparently, bodies following highly elliptical orbits at that time were of sufficient mass to threaten and occasionally disturb the Earth.
One or two involvements with a large celestial body and the resulting celestial havoc would be remembered as a dreadful ordeal. An approach of even a major comet would be a dire portent. Fear and wonder of such encounters form the basis of the astrology and the sky-gods of the ancients and reflect the motivation of their astrally oriented religious architecture. For this reason an astral observatory or planetarium was reportedly built at the top of the Tower of Babel. For this reason Stonehenge was built. And this ancient concern for understanding the ordinances of heaven was fully shared by Abraham and Job. One difference, however, was that these early patriarchs were determined to maintain the traditions, the standards, and the faith of their forebears. Another great difference, in harmony with the one already described, was the religious determination of the Hebrews to keep records without alteration or loss. Priests and scribes were careful that not one mark of punctuation should be misplaced in the copying of manuscripts. And their emphasis on accurate transcription allowed the scriptures to survive, whereas the valuable Sybilline and Delphine oracles, as well as the Egyptian oracles at Memphis and later Alexandria did not survive the ravages of time.
The Book of Job, therefore, is one of the most profound of all works of literature. It is profound in its spiritual values. It is equally profound in its contemporary observations for that early patriarchal age. Consider, for instance, the animals discussed in the dialogue: the lion, the ass, the cow, the ox, the jackal, and the ostrich. These animals do not exist in Arabia today; rather, they are often found in the savanna grassland climate of East Africa. This is because the climate of Arabia at that time was cooler and more humid since the oceans of the Earth were yet cold from the melting of the ice mass. Because there were cooler oceans, there were cooler planetary wind systems. The climate was more temperate than arid, and there was more rain and less evaporation. This is but one of the many indications that the Ice Epoch was simultaneous with the Flood, a magnetic phase of that global catastrophe.
Let us return briefly to a passage in Genesis:
And unto Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg; for in his days was the earth divided. (Genesis 10:25, Amplified)
This particular Eber may be the origin of the word Hebrew; that is to say, Eber was four generations from Noah, even as the aforementioned Nimrod was three generations from Noah. And at this early date, approximately 200 to 300 years after the Flood, it is believed that the ice sheet had substantially melted. The oceans, in receiving this juvenile water, increased and flooded the continental shelves. It was in this age that the seas found their new mean sea level. Rising waters divide lands, as was described, whereas diminishing waters would have united the lands.
Scriptures also state that the southern end of the Dead Sea region (Sodom
and Gommorah's hinterland) was well watered, undoubtedly meaning that it
was skillfully irrigated. Today this region hardly possesses an itinerant
wadi, much less a creek or river. It is one of the hottest and driest parts
of the Earth. Likewise, rivers are frequently mentioned in Job's Arabia,
rivers which are no longer in existence. Snows, also, are occasionally
mentioned. Three such significant passages are found in the Book of Job:
Have you entered the storehouse of the snow,
or have you seen the storehouses of the hail,
which I have reserved for the time of trouble,
for the day of battle and war?
From whose womb did the ice come forth,
and who has given birth to the hoarfrost of heaven?
The water become hard like stone,
and the face of the deep is frozen.
(Job 38:22-23, 29-30,
God's first speech to Job, R.S.V.)
This is another indication of the Ice Epoch and its rather recent demise. What further evidence is required to conclude that the Arabian peninsula, along with other regions in a similar latitude, had a more temperate climate at that time? And does not this suggest an historical shift in climatic zones? And what, then, would be more likely to cause a shift in climatic zones than a shift in the temperatures of the oceans?
For instance, even in Roman times it is recorded that olive groves extended 100 miles into Cirenaica (Eastern Libya). Today, this region has been engulfed by the expanding Sahara desert. It is also well established that the immense Sahara desert is also expanding on its southern flanks in the Sudan. Similarly, it is well recognized that the higher latitude land masses (such as Scandinavia and the Baltic Regions) have experienced a historical warming effect. The reason appears to be that the Ice Epoch was simultaneous with the Floodtide Cataclysm. It took many months for the waters to drain off the Earth. It took many decades and possibly several centuries for the ice to outflow from its concentrations. It took several centuries for the ice to melt sufficiently for the new mean sea level to be achieved. But it took many centuries and, in fact, several millennia, for the ocean to achieve a new temperature equilibrium. And temperatures of the oceans are the primary determinants for the temperatures of the Earth's planetary wind systems. Thus, the shift in historical climatic zones, as indicated in Job and elsewhere, serves as a further evidence of the totality of the Flood and Ice Cataclysm, commonly known as the Biblical Flood.
Throughout the Book of Job evidences of the concern of the ancients
about the ordinances of heaven have been found, including planetary movements,
lunar movements, cometary movements, and references to the Deluge. Elihu,
in his attempts to explain natural and spiritual principles to the stricken
Job, and comfort him, acknowledged the wondrous powers of God in nature,
By the breath of God ice is given, and the breadth of the waters is frozen over. (Job 37:10, Amplified)
This very likely refers to ice formed climatologically, as are snows and frosts. However, in the Lord's speech in Job 38 is found the following, which hardly suggests climatological ice, especially coming as it does just prior to the discussion of the constellations, of Mazzaroth, the sons of Arcturus, and of the ordinances of heaven:
Out of whose womb came the ice? And the hoary frost of heaven, who has given it birth? The waters are congealed like stone and the face of the deep is frozen. (Italics ours)
Again note that ice here is termed in association with the constellations, the periodic and semi-periodic astral phenomena, and the ordinances of the heavens in contrast to the ordinances of the Earth.
There is ample evidence that civilization after the Flood developed very rapidly, and for reasons in part given in Chapter IX. There is ample evidence that not only were the Chaldean ancients well versed in geometry, astronomy, and even in some forms of calculus; there is also ample evidence that they understood a good deal about structural engineering (the Babylonian ziggarats and the Egyptian pyramids serving as illustrations). Further, this study posits that in the age following the Flood-Ice catastrophe, when the ice mass was yet melting and when Chaldean climates were cooler, moister, and more temperate, exploring parties very likely had been sent out and had given reports of the vast icy reaches in the north, where the "face of the deep was yet frozen." Thus, although the Book of Job is profound in its spiritual context, it is equally profound in its historical scope of analyses and observations of matters astronomical, geophysical, climatological and zoological.
Concerning further observations in matters zoological and astronomical, review God's first speech in Job, chapters 38 and 39. Animals are used broadly, denoting only the regional ecology of that day. In chapters 40 and 41, however, Behemoth and Leviathan are discussed--they have been mistranslated as "hippopotamus" and "crocodile"; they carry a much different meaning.
William Ward, who hardly has any idea of the catastrophic picture of
these times, has nevertheless made the following observation in his excellent
The detailed descriptions of these two animals, occupying most of two chapters, seems exaggerated and out of place here...
The descriptions are not of ordinary animals, as in God's first speech, but are of two symbolic creatures which played a most significant role in ancient mythology. The great sea monster was a symbol of the primeval chaos God had to conquer to bring his creation under control. One of the earliest stories of the creation was of God's destroying the monster of the deep, Tiamat, or Rahab, or Leviathan, representing the primeval chaos, to make the universe an orderly one under his control. This story is often referred to in ancient apocalyptic literature and occasionally in the Old Testament.20
The descriptions being made are comparable to Quetzacoatl of the Aztecs, Sosa no wo no Mikoto of the Japanese, Rahu of India, and some of the Greek mythology. Tiamat or Rahab appears to be complementary to the dragon motif of China, to the celestial witch motif of the ancient Druids of Great Britain, and to comparable motifs which have a global distribution.
Thus it can be understood why Phoenicians were concerned about erecting
planetariums on hilltops to worship Astarte and Baal; why the ancient Chaldeans
erected ziggarats in the Tigris-Euphrates Valley and built astral temples
at the apexes. Astral themes permeate ancient traditions, and we see why
the sky-gods of these various peoples may have differed a little in detail,
though not in theme. Although this chapter has given no room for discussion
of the astral traditions among the Germans, Norse, Icelanders, Polynesians,
Melanesians, and others, these cultures also had their celestial pantheons
and their traditions of world destructions.
The Significance of Catastrophic Motifs in Ancient Literature
Today, we use a term called "imagination" to describe something which is conceived, and does in fact exist, but is not easily perceived. We also use a term called "fancy" for something purported to exist which in fact does not. Are these ancient astral mythologies, then, imagination or fancy? It is feared that too often these mythologies have been relegated to mere fancy, whereas they in reality had a core of historical truth involving celestial mechanics. They were the best explanations ancient man could give to describe and understand his times and the causes of catastrophism which troubled his centuries.
Both the capacities and the times of the ancients have been greatly underestimated by the moderns. It has been shown that motifs of cosmological traditions are present on every continent, Antarctica excepted. The astronomical themes inherently correlate with mechanics of the Flood catastrophe. Since the sequence of ancient times is often garbled in ancient legends, folklores, and literatures, and since an understanding of such a sequence is necessary for comprehension of ancient times, here is presented an approximate time scale for post-diluvian astral catastrophism:21
2800 B.C. +/- 500 yrs.
Mosaic-Joshuaic Cycle 1450-1400 B.C. +/- 50 yrs.
Amos-Homeric-Isaiahic Cycle 775- 700 B.C. +/- 15 yrs.
Following the Flood catastrophe, the fifteenth and the eighth centuries B.C. were the ones in which major catastrophes overtook and shook the Earth, providing the major source for fire and brimstone perspectives of the ancients. Other centuries in which catastrophes threatened were the twenty-first, the twelfth, and the eleventh centuries B.C.22
Some of the purportedly great thinkers of the nineteenth century, following Ptolemaic thought with regard to ancient conditions, thought that they had discovered a great new truth, the uniformitarian proposition. Ptolemy's assumptions of geocentricity were in error. Similarly, his assumptions of Earth regularity (uniformitarianism) were also in error. But Ptolemy had no telescope, no calculus, no computers, little in the way of travel, and meager libraries. That his assumptions were erroneous is understandable and even forgivable.
Halley, Newton, and Whiston made great steps toward correcting the Ptolemaic viewpoint of uniformitarianism, even as Copernicus made great steps in correcting the Ptolemaic viewpoint of geocentricity. Why then did the nineteenth century humanists fall back into the Ptolemaic error? And why has the twentieth century similarly become so dominated by this apparent absurdity? And how important is this uniformitarian error? These are questions which will be considered prior to the conclusion of this volume.
First, however, a further analysis of catastrophism and uniformitarianism is in order. Catastrophism has been discussed relative to evidences beyond our planet and evidences within our planet. Catastrophism has been discussed relative to matters gravitational and matters magnetic. Catastrophism has been discussed relative to tides (upheavals) in both oceans of water (hydrosphere) and in oceans of magma (lithosphere).
But the Earth is more than a two-component fluid; it is a three-component
fluid. It is composed of hydrosphere, lithosphere and atmosphere, man's
essential habitat. A derangement of man's atmospheric environment could
be the most profound effect of a cataclysmic period. It is to this subject,
that of paleoclimatology and atmosphere, that the next chapter is directed.
"The Biblical Flood and the Ice Epoch" by Donald W. Patten - is ©1966 by Pacific Meridian Pub. Co.