Did Noah Have a Rain Gauge?
the waters in the firmament that finally came down to earth? In what form were
they before they came to earth?
An interesting question now presents itself for our attention. If 15 cubits of water (276 inches of rainfall) descended upon earth, from where did that water have its origin? That is what we want to determine if possible, and it may be shown in the Bible itself. Since the results of the flood, according to Moses, were worldwide in extent, it can reasonably be believed that there was a uniform (or practically so) amount of rainfall over the whole of the globe during the time of the flood. After all, Moses tells us that all life in which there was the breath of air in the land perished in this prodigious downpouring. Great amounts of water must have been located somewhere above the earth and somehow encircling it. Indeed, this is what Moses tells us in the first creation account.
On the second day of God’s creation plan, he separated the waters which were above the firmament. This is a term which in the Bible describes any region from the surface of the earth (the lithosphere) into the outermost parts of space, even where lunar and other planetary bodies exist. This watery reservoir is depicted in the Book of Genesis in the same way as the oceans and this seems to show that it was some kind of watery mass above the earth which was quite visible from earth. From the account of Moses, it could be understood that this water was either in a liquid or a solid (frozen) state. See Genesis 1:6-10.
Since Moses tells us in chapters seven and eight of Genesis that the "windows (or floodgates) of heaven" were opened to cause 276 inches of water to descend to earth (and he further says that those 15 cubits of water came "from above"), this would indicate that much of this watery mass once visible from earth is no longer in its former position above the earth. This water which was once in space has come to earth and is now part of the oceans and is found in some of the basin areas of the world. This must be the case because, let’s face it, no one since the time of the flood has recorded being able to look into the heavens to see this massive reservoir of water located within the planetary environment of this earth. But in the first chapter of Genesis, Moses seems to show that this watery reservoir could be seen in the pre-flood period.
There is one important point to be aware of in regard to this watery mass. Since Moses recorded that the sun, moon and even the stars (those normally visible to the naked eye) were capable of being seen by the fourth day of creation (Genesis 1:14-19), this watery reservoir could not have been some kind of canopy or mantle that surrounded the complete sphere of the earth. Stars (which were part of the heavenly hose that helped to give signs on earth and to determine periods of time – Genesis 1:14) would normally not be seen through such a watery mantle – unless there were extensive breaks or clear areas in various parts of the canopy.
But what was this watery reservoir located above the earth? Is there some kind of indication in the Bible that might identify it in greater detail to inform us what it really was? Yes, there is. And interestingly, the account in which it occurs also speaks about the increase of ocean water (the shorelines leaving their former positions and coming more inland) at a time when the wicked were destroyed from the earth. This is found in a section of Scripture in which God is speaking about his creative and judgmental powers in matters dealing with the physical attributes of nature within the heavens and the earth. It is an account recorded in Job 38:8-16. Let us notice it.
The Bible describes an event in which wicked men were destroyed out of the earth (job 38:13, 15), so this time of destruction had to have occurred since the time of Adam – the first man. The destruction also had to have happened before the time of Job (about a hundred years before the birth of Moses) because God called Job’s attention to it. Job was fully aware of this major judgment of God. And interestingly, this judgment involved the waters of the oceans as well as waters above the oceans. This record in the Book of Job speaks of a time when God had set the boundaries of the oceans (the shorelines had been established) at the time the original waters of the oceans "burst forth from the womb" (Job 38:8). This could have been a poetic reference to the "fountains of the deep" mentioned by Moses in Genesis 7:11 from whence came the original waters that made up the oceans from the time of Adam until the flood of Noah.
But then something happened. While the original oceans had clouds associated with them, there was something else connected with the oceans called (in the Book of Job) the "thick darkness" that resembled a "swaddling band" (Job 38:9). What was this band-like "darkness" that was positioned somewhere above the oceans? Lange’s Commentary says that the Hebrew word that describes this "band" is so unique and emphatic that only the deepest darkness can adequately illustrate its essential meaning. Besides that, the Commentary informs us that the Hebrew word has the connotation of a "dropping or distillation" and that it denotes "a kind of flowing or floating darkness having some kind of black visibility" (Lange’s Commentary, vol. IV, p.155, italics theirs). This mass of "whatever it was" appeared as a swath of intense darkness (looking like a swaddling band) that was located over the oceans and its blackness (or perhaps its shadow) was clearly visible to people on earth. Indeed, there is a certain mysteriousness about the meaning of the word. The scholars who wrote Lange’s Commentary did not know what was being described by this account in the Book of Job. They felt compelled to transliterate the Hebrew which indicated an "intensely dark band." They simply rendered it: "The dark araphel for its swaddling band" (Job 38:9).
What was this dark band over the oceans called in Hebrew "the araphel." Whatever it was, the light of the sun, moon and stars could not penetrate through its mass simply because the Book of Job said that it somehow presented the aspect of a "black band" located above the earth. Yet in some way it was associated with water. It was some kind of flowing or floating darkness which had to do with the dropping of liquid by some kind of distillation process. This would be the meaning if one is allowed to wring every bit of meaning out of the word araphel. Certainly, water was associated with it and it was primarily situated above some part of the oceans.
But then something happened to this "dark araphel." After stating that it looked like a swaddling band over the oceans, Job 38:9 says: "And I broke my boundary [or, decree] for it." The King James translates it: "And brake up for it my decreed place." This shows that the decree of God that kept the araphel in place over the oceans was rescinded (he broke down the barrier for its place). This resulted in the shorelines of the oceans (as the next verse shows) being changed because new "bars and doors" had to be made for those ocean areas. In Hebrew the use of the term "bars and doors" for the oceans simply means their shorelines or their coasts. So what we see in this section of job is a description of the former "doors" (shorelines) of the original oceans (verse eight) being disturbed by God breaking up the decreed place for "the dark araphel" verse nine). This brought about new "bars and doors" for the oceans (verse ten). Or, as it says in the King James’ Version: "Hitherto shalt thou some, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed" (Job 38:10). This all occurred at a time when the wicked were destroyed out of the earth (verses thirteen and fifteen). This seems clearly to refer to the judgment of God when the "windows (or the floodgates) of heaven" were opened at the time of Noah’s flood.
With this in mind, let us see if we can identify what this mysterious "dark araphel" actually was. Since it is certain that humans from the time of Adam to Noah were able to view the stars in heaven and that the heavenly bodies could be used for "signs" (that is, to measure the times for the seasons), it is not possible that it was a canopy or mantle of thick clouds (or water vapor) that totally blanketed the earth in the pre-flood period. Even in the Book of Job, clouds (or any visible water vaporous phenomena) are actually distinguished from this "dark araphel" (Job 38:9). Indeed, we are plainly told by God (as recorded in job 38:9) that the "dark araphel" was like a swaddling band, not like a blanket that would have covered the totality of the earth. A swaddling band is a very different thing. It is a type of cloth which provides a swath of protection encircling the body of an infant. This description is a major clue to what the "dark araphel" was.
God was saying to the patriarch Job that there was once some kind of a dark watery band (or ring) around the earth that was so thick that it caused a darkness to appear on parts of the ocean surface. This surely means that at certain places on earth the sun was obscured by the presence of this "dark araphel" in the heavens. What we find Job 38:9 describing is a "ring of water" encircling the earth – either in liquid or solid (frozen) form. This "ring" must have been like the rings around the planet Saturn (which, by the way, are basically made up of water, that is, ice particles). But not only does Saturn have rings of water (ice) around it, scientists have now found through recent space exploration that the planets Jupiter, Neptune and Uranus also have rings around them. Indeed, Dr. Esposito, chairman of the Voyager Rings Science Working Group, has stated that all the planets in our solar system may well have had rings around them at one time in the past – and that includes the earth (Astronomy, Sept., 1987, pp.9-17).
And when one looks at the statements in the earlier parts of the Bible, this is precisely what the Bible describes. But, instead of being millions or even billions of years ago, the watery ring system which surrounded this earth from the time of Adam to Noah became extinct just over 4300 years ago. That water (probably ice) that made up the ring (or rings) system around the earth was the major cause of the flood of Noah. There may be a thousand or more explanations of what caused the water (ice) rings to slow down and enter the earth’s atmosphere. Scientists can theorize on the cause, but in this research study all we have to realize is that God said he "broke up the dark araphel" and the waters came down to earth. And the Bible tells us that 15 cubits of water (about 276 inches which could be measured by a rain gauge) came down from the heavens. This bit of information can give scientists the clues to accurately calculate the amount of mass of that watery ring system that once circled the earth.
The water coming from this ring system around the earth raised the level of the oceans at least 15 cubits (about 23 feet), with run-off from the land areas of the earth, one must think that the oceans were increased in depth by about 30 feet. Thus, as stated in the previous question of this book, the Persian Gulf was probably about 30 feet lower in depth before the flood of Noah. So, the flood raised the level of the oceans about 30 feet.
But some might say that such a thing can hardly seem possible. The truth is, there is no difficulty in understanding the dynamics of nature that this interpretation suggests. Such things are shown as possible in an article in the prestigious journal from Britain called the New Scientist which was published on May 12, 1988. The article is titles "Snowballs From Space ‘Filled Earth’s Oceans’." This article shows that there is not the slightest problem in believing that great chunks of ice could enter the atmosphere of earth from outer space. Such bombardment of ice chunks could very well raise the level of the oceans. This article in the New Scientist shows that scientists are now beginning to recognize that some of the waters of our oceans may well have come from outer space. And this is what the Book of Job tells us actually happened when that "dark araphel" broke up.
-- Dr. Ernest L. Martin
Hope of Israel Ministries
P.O. Box 853
Azusa, CA 91702, U.S.A.