The Rainbow as a Token in Genesis

Covenants and Promises in the Flood Story

Aaron P. Schade

Aaron P. Schade, “The Rainbow as a Token in Genesis: Covenants and Promises in the Flood Story,” in From Creation to Sinai: The Old Testament through the Lens of the Restoration, ed. Daniel L. Belnap and Aaron P. Schade (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book), 115‒62.

Though most readers are probably familiar with the story of Noah and the flood, they may not know that flood stories circulated throughout the ancient Near East, which resulted in a body of literature discussing a great deluge. Moreover, Restoration scripture and prophetic commentary offer further insights into the purposes of the biblical narrative as well as the symbols used throughout that narrative. In particular, the Latter-day Saint material reveals the relationship between the flood account and the Enoch narrative that preceded it. The result is the fulfillment of a covenant that preserves and binds God’s children and family within the template of salvation. —DB and AS

If you were to ask the question “What is the meaning of the rainbow in the flood story?,” a common response would be the following: “The rainbow represented a promise from the Lord assuring his people that he would never again send a flood to destroy the earth.” This response is, of course, correct; however, such an explanation only constitutes part of the story. Many Bible scholars recognize the role that flood narratives have in constructing a universal theme of salvation,[1] and Restoration scripture also contributes to this theme by defining the relationship between Noah and the flood and the stories of Enoch. Defining this relationship also explicitly highlights the continuity of the priesthood and the covenant from the preflood community up to Abraham and his seed and beyond. As such, the flood narratives are more than a resetting of human history—they are a narrative in which humans’ covenantal relationship with God is firmly established.[2] With this covenantal focus in mind, this chapter explores the flood in relation to ancient Near Eastern literature, to biblical scholarship, and, most importantly, with the unique insights provided by Restoration scripture. This chapter then concludes that the story of Noah and the flood offers a covenantal picture of salvation that would bridge heaven and earth and link generations of people to the presence of God, as symbolized within the token of the rainbow.

Comparative analyses of ancient Near Eastern flood accounts with the Bible have been conducted, among other things, for exegetical purposes that examine the influence that one source may have had upon another.[3] One purpose of this paper is to examine the biblical flood through the lens of another source: the Restoration and its scripture. In taking this approach, I acknowledge that I am deviating from conventional scholarly consensus and practice in approaching the flood narratives. I am deliberately drawing upon Restoration scripture, such as the Book of Moses, the Doctrine and Covenants, and modern-day texts from prophets and apostles that are admittedly not a part of the standard academic repertoire. Nonetheless, these texts constitute scripture and canonized sources that have been legitimized by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and are thus used as significant sources throughout this study in conjunction with the Bible.

Ancient Flood Stories

Flood stories began emerging in the ancient Near East as early as the twentieth to the seventeenth centuries BC.[4] Sumerian and Old Babylonian versions of flood stories, in the form of The Tale of Ziusudra (ca. 2000 BC), the Epic of Gilgamesh (ca. thirteenth and seventh centuries BC), and Atrahasis (ca. 1700 BC), were in circulation before the time of Moses.[5] Because of the circulation of these stories throughout the region, it is possible that while Moses was recording his revelations of the biblical record of the flood, a process possibly derived from both written and revelatory communication, he might have had at least some exposure to oral or written traditions of other Near Eastern flood stories from around the region in which he was raised.[6] This does not mean that Moses drew upon those sources for the composing and recording of the biblical flood account, but it simply implies that floods and flood stories constituted historical realities in various forms that numerous civilizations recorded and from which they found meaning.[7] Regardless of the similarities or differences between these accounts (and there are many differences between the extrabiblical and biblical texts), the various versions (including the biblical one) preserve and establish the relevance of flood stories in these ancient cultures’ religious conceptions by describing gods who act, react, and interact with humankind.[8] Depending on the audience and purpose of the writer, the stories highlight societal conceptions of deity and humankind’s relationship to it, and the stories also describe mortals’ quest for immortality, their ability to be saved from the destructions that were coming upon the earth, and mortals’ potential to become deified. In the Bible, these themes revolve around obedience, repentance, covenant, and sacrifice, and the themes focus on God’s attempts to save—not destroy. There are differences that set the biblical flood story apart from other Near Eastern literature that involve flood stories. The following analysis accepts the historicity and reality of the events of a great flood.

The contributions of modern-day revelation and Restoration scripture provide brilliant insights into the meaning and purposes of the biblical flood by augmenting and accentuating the specifics provided in the Genesis account, specifically with the reference to the rainbow as a token of the Noahic covenant. The rainbow, this celestial symbol in the heavens, has become a focal point in the story, a token of the covenant established between God and his creations. Further, the “[rain]bow and the signs of other biblical covenants consecrate already common events and invest them with new sacred significance.”[9] Restoration scripture and prophetic commentary inform us that the rainbow became a token of the same covenant that can be traced back to Adam through Enoch and from Noah to the present.[10] It is thus imperative to understand the antediluvian covenant that Enoch entered into in order to understand how it plays a crucial role in the covenant established with Noah. We get no better glimpse of this role than through Restoration scripture. As will be seen, the Book of Moses includes an additional focus on Enoch’s future role and return with the Lord at his Second Coming (Moses 7:63).[11] With the covenant Noah received through Enoch and with Enoch’s appearance at the Second Coming, the description of this covenant holds a quintessential position in understanding the gospel during the patriarchal age and acts as a bridge to the current dispensation in its covenantal context—Enoch being a key figure in the equation as well as in our understanding of Noah and the flood.

Prelude to the Flood—The State of Affairs[12]

The Bible and the Book of Moses describe the people of Noah’s day in the following manner:

Genesis 6:5–7, 13Moses 8:22–26, 30
5 And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.22 And God saw that the wickedness of men had become great in the earth; and every man was lifted up in the imagination of the thoughts of his heart, being only evil continually.

23 And it came to pass that Noah continued his preaching unto the people, saying: Hearken, and give heed unto my words;

24 Believe and repent of your sins and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, even as our fathers, and ye shall receive the Holy Ghost, that ye may have all things made manifest; and if ye do not this, the floods will come in upon you; nevertheless they hearkened not.

6 And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.25 And it repented Noah, and his heart was pained that the Lord had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at the heart.
7 And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.26 And the Lord said: I will destroy man whom I have created, from the face of the earth, both man and beast, and the creeping things, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth Noah that I have created them, and that I have made them; and he hath called upon me; for they have sought his life.
13 And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.30 And God said unto Noah: The end of all flesh is come before me, for the earth is filled with violence, and behold I will destroy all flesh from off the earth.[13]

Both accounts describe an awful scene of wickedness, violence, and the continually evil state of the thoughts and hearts of the people. Such behavior might suggest that the actions of the people had undone the Creation and its purpose in bringing to pass the “immortality and eternal life” (Moses 1:39) that God had designed for them. “Indeed, what God decided to ‘destroy’ (13) had been virtually self-destroyed already.”[14] Genesis 6:13 describes that the violence came “through” the people, not from God. In fact, the Moses account portrays Noah as God’s messenger preaching repentance, baptism, and the reception of the Holy Ghost as a means to avert the flood waters that were to bring destruction as a result of the wickedness of the people, but “they hearkened not” (Moses 8:24). The Pearl of Great Price further describes the Lord’s displeasure with this apostasy.[15] Subsequently, this text is filled with warnings against such a turning-away from the things of God and is filled with passionate, loving, and concerned pleas allowing us to comprehend that God, through his prophet, was calling the people to repentance and wanted to save his children from the course they were pursuing and the consequences it was bringing upon them:

Genesis 6:3–4

3 And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.

4 There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.[16]

Moses 8:17–21

17 And the Lord said unto Noah: My Spirit shall not always strive with man, for he shall know that all flesh shall die; yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years; and if men do not repent, I will send in the floods upon them.

18 And in those days there were giants on the earth, and they sought Noah to take away his life; but the Lord was with Noah, and the power of the Lord was upon him.

19 And the Lord ordained Noah after his own order,[17] and commanded him that he should go forth and declare his Gospel unto the children of men, even as it was given unto Enoch.

20 And it came to pass that Noah called upon the children of men that they should repent; but they hearkened not unto his words;

21 And also, after that they had heard him, they came up before him, saying: Behold, we are the sons of God; have we not taken unto ourselves the daughters of men? And are we not eating and drinking, and marrying and giving in marriage? And our wives bear unto us children, and the same are mighty men, which are like unto men of old, men of great renown. And they hearkened not unto the words of Noah.

In the Moses account, we read of the warnings and calls to repentance and the declaration that the flood could be averted by turning back to the covenant. Perhaps this is highlighted in the term giants, which may not have reference to tall people but rather to apostates who had fallen from the truth (i.e., the “lapsed”) and who were then violently seeking Noah’s life.[18] The word used in the Genesis text to mean “giants” (נפל npl)—a root meaning “to fall,” perhaps as in “fallen one”—describes the behavior of apostasy that resulted in the people disobeying the precepts of God and thus falling. Nevertheless, the etymology of the word and the interpretation used in this context is uncertain, but, as described in the previous note, the interpretation generally refers to these individuals negatively.[19]

In light of the rampant wickedness displayed by the people, what Moses 8:19–20 reveals is that God and his prophet Noah sought every means in their power to lead people to safety and righteousness.[20] God is not at fault, and through the passive use of the verb šḥt (the Niphal form) in Genesis 6:11–12, God is distanced from the cause of the flood (meaning that it is the wickedness of the people who brought this upon themselves). In contrast, by using the Hiphil causative verbal form from the same root (šḥt), God is highlighted as the cause of reversing and cleansing the corruption, just as the people are highlighted for being responsible for causing that corruption. The following parallel is taken from the Hebrew Bible:

“The earth was corrupt in God’s sight” (šḥt, in the Niphal, v. 11)

“God saw that the earth was corrupt” (šḥt, in the Niphal, v. 12)

“all flesh had corrupted its way” (šḥt, in the Hiphil, v. 12)

“I am going to destroy them” (šḥt, in the Hiphil, v. 13)

“In a way difficult to express in English, the use of this Hebrew verb [šḥt] illustrates that God’s actions are both unavoidable and just. Humanity has corrupted itself and therefore God declares humanity corrupt (i.e., ‘destroyed’).”[21]

When one reviews chapters 6–8 of the Book of Moses, it is hard to overlook the efforts that were taken (by God and through Noah) to help the people repent and avoid the destruction of the flood. An example that highlights such efforts is in Moses chapter 7, wherein Noah’s great-grandfather Enoch is described as being overcome by his vision of the people’s eventual wickedness, followed by his desire to change their situation:

And it came to pass that the God of heaven looked upon the residue of the people, and he wept; and Enoch bore record of it, saying: How is it that the heavens weep, and shed forth their tears as the rain upon the mountains?

And Enoch said unto the Lord: How is it that thou canst weep, seeing thou art holy, and from all eternity to all eternity? . . .

The Lord said unto Enoch: Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own hands, and I gave unto them their knowledge, in the day I created them; and in the Garden of Eden, gave I unto man his agency;

And unto thy brethren have I said, and also given commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me, their Father; but behold, they are without affection, and they hate their own blood; . . .

But behold, their sins shall be upon the heads of their fathers; Satan shall be their father, and misery shall be their doom; and the whole heavens shall weep over them, even all the workmanship of mine hands; wherefore should not the heavens weep, seeing these shall suffer? (Moses 7:28–29, 32–33, 37)

God is heartbroken over his children, and Genesis 6:6 and Moses 8:25 depict both God and Noah being filled with pity toward the wicked state of the people (the KJV states “it repented the Lord”), underscoring the compassion that they possessed toward humankind.[22] With this in mind, Genesis 6:7 and Moses 8:26 set the stage for covenantal restoration as they employ the language of Creation (man, beast, creeping things, and fowls of the air), which were about to be destroyed but not completely. In so doing, the story becomes one of salvation and creation rather than destruction and futility.[23]

Purposes of the Flood

Despite the significant nature of the flood and its abundance in other ancient Near Eastern texts, direct references to the flood of Noah’s day in the Old Testament (and not just references to floodwater) do not abound with frequency.[24] Isaiah 54:9, Ezekiel 14:14, 20, Matthew 24:37–39, and Luke 17:26, 27 discuss the flood in relation to wickedness and eventual salvation, and passages such as 2 Peter 2:5 and Hebrews 11:7 describe Noah as a preacher and heir of righteousness.[25] In this vein, however, recent scholarship and studies are noticing parallel nuances and phraseology between the flood account in Genesis and the prophetic prophecies pertaining to the destruction and restoration of ancient Israel and Judah.[26] Such studies are indicating that, despite the paucity of direct references to the flood in the Bible, the theology of the flood may be more prominent from an Old Testament perspective as a template of destruction and salvation than has previously been believed.

Furthermore, recent scholarship has been challenging the conception that Abraham is the originator of the promises made from God to his children. Recent claims assert that Noah and the flood, not Abraham, are actually the point of a major break in the Bible (Genesis 1–11) and that we should be looking there for tracing the covenants that God made to his people.[27] The covenants made between God and Noah and his family will play a major role in this process: “Noah’s righteousness resulted in a covenant with God that saved him and his family during the flood, and now God extends that salvation-covenant to all the living as a second chance for the world. These themes are forward looking, since all of this will recur in a crucial text of the Abrahamic narrative (Gen 17), including specific terminology. Just as covenant defines God’s relationship with post-flood humanity generally, so covenant will define God’s relationship with Israel’s ancestors, and by extension, with Israel. . . . Noah’s covenant anticipates and previews the covenant between God and Abraham.”[28]

The purposes of the flood are thus underscored by the hope in a redemptive God who is using the mechanism of the flood to paradoxically deliver salvation to the generations who had been built upon wickedness and who were the recipients of Noah’s preaching. From the Fall in the Garden of Eden to the murder of Abel by Cain and to the wickedness and violence that prevailed through secret combinations and apostasy by the time of the flood, repentance was not being pursued, and the people were ripening for destruction (despite Noah’s efforts to turn them back to the Lord’s covenant). All that had been declared “good” by God in creation was now reversed and undone through wickedness.

“The Lord saw” is a reversal of the positive evaluation of everything God created ([Genesis] 1:31): “God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.” Reference to the human “heart” (lēb, lēbāb) denotes more than one’s emotions, as is often asserted, since the heart is also the seat of one’s intellect and will.

Humanity’s heart is evil, and Yahweh’s heart is broken (v. 6). The narrator exposes Yahweh’s inner life as painfully grief-stricken and deeply distressed. “Pain” has become the common experience of all humans in this world (iṣṣābôn in 3:16, 17 and 5:29) and is paralleled by the anguish of God (the verb ʿṣb, “it grieved him,” v. 6). The Bible’s emotive language portrays no Aristotelian unmoved Mover, but a passionate and zealous Yahweh moved by his pathos into action. NRSV’s “so the Lord said” might be better translated, “so the Lord decided” (v. 7), thus introducing his measured decree. Specific terms and themes of v. 7 combine the creation account of Gen 1 with the “man”-“ground” emphases of the Eden narrative, in order to show that all has been undone. The result is a divine decree that is both devastating and undeniably just. God’s magnificent creation has been irrevocably ruined, and his passion and sorrow drive God into action.[29]

Through the events leading up to the flood, God had been emotionally devastated by the behavior of his children, and, in an act of mercy and compassion, he decided to intervene with the intent to save through the waters of the flood. John Taylor insightfully remarked, “God destroyed the wicked of that generation with a flood. Why did He destroy them? He destroyed them for their benefit, if you can comprehend it.”[30] The flood will become a powerful image of salvation and will be viewed through the lens of ordinances and associations with baptism and cleansing.

By 1835 some Church publications[31] began to portray the flood in terms of the baptism of the earth, reflecting and amplifying nineteenth-century Protestant teachings.[32] While some statements implied a sentient earth, others simply made the connection between the flood and the concept of baptism.[33] By 1851 Elder Orson Pratt described a major purpose of the flood, connecting it with cleansing: “The first ordinance instituted for the cleansing of the earth, was that of immersion in water; it was buried in the liquid element, and all things sinful upon the face of the earth were washed away. As it came forth from the ocean floor, like the new-born child, it was innocent; it rose to newness of life. It was its second birth from the womb of mighty waters—a new world issuing from the ruins of the old, clothed with all the innocence of this first creation.”[34]

From this perspective, the earth is seen as a living thing, and it was necessary for it to be baptized and move forward in its progression and preparations to receive its paradisiacal glory, and eventually, its celestial glory. Furthermore, in the Book of Moses, Enoch beheld the following, encompassing the baptism of the earth by water (“cleansed”), fire (“sanctify me”), and the millennial reign that would come upon it for “a season”: “And it came to pass that Enoch looked upon the earth; and he heard a voice from the bowels thereof, saying: Wo, wo is me, the mother of men; I am pained, I am weary, because of the wickedness of my children. When shall I rest, and be cleansed from the filthiness which is gone forth out of me? When will my Creator sanctify me that I may rest, and righteousness for a season abide upon my face?” (Moses 7:48).

In the end, an interpretation seems to imply that the template of baptism refers to the people on the earth rather than necessitating that the earth was a sinner and required baptism and that the comparisons and symbols between earth and people form an archetypal paradigm of progression.[35] Whether the flood was global or local, the earth will be cleansed and will eventually be prepared to become an abode for the righteous.

A New Perspective

Interestingly, as we view the above verses through a salvific lens, we are here introduced to a different perspective.[36] Up to this point, we have witnessed the flood through the eyes of God and Noah. Now the earth is portrayed as speaking. These portrayals offer powerful symbols of salvation as Noah was coming before the flood to warn and call God’s children to repentance, an effort of salvation and compassion on both his and God’s part. The cleansing of the earth by water and fire would become necessary components leading up to its eventual celestialization, a preparation to become the abode of God’s celestial family, and here the earth is depicted as calling for it. Interestingly, the apocryphal book of 1 Enoch 7:6 and 9:2 also depict the earth bringing forth accusations against lawless ones and crying out up to the gates of heaven. Similarly, the Dead Sea Scrolls speak of the earth complaining and raising accusations to the heavens against the people of the earth who have corrupted it.[37] From the earth’s perspective, the flood is viewed through a salvific lens; the imagery of the destroying and cleansing nature of the flood waters along with the representation of the ark being taken to safety, provides a backdrop of salvation and covenantal rescue.[38]

The links of holy images attached to an ark are postulated in the early flood stories from Mesopotamia,[39] are in the Bible[40] and are developed in early Christian writings.[41] The ark is often viewed as a template of a temple, and the “author of the Pentateuch uses the ark in the flood narrative to foreshadow the salvation that comes through the tabernacle and the covenant. Such a reading of this material reflects a similar understanding of this passage in 1 Peter 3:21. The ark prefigures the saving work of Christ as pictured in NT baptism.”[42] In this view of salvation, “it is possible that the earth, in like manner and in preparation for eventual celestialization, was physically washed and symbolically cleansed so that it could become free from the blood and sins of the mortals who polluted its surface. So might the earth, like King Benjamin, metaphorically sing the praises of a just God for the flood of Noah that washed away the blood and sins of the generations who inhabited or will inhabit this earth,”[43] and part of the equation is that “the flood is interpreted primarily as an act of judgment meant to purify the earth.”[44]

Covenant Renewal

In conjunction with the paradigm of salvation, another important purpose of the flood was to fulfill and continue the covenants of the fathers:

And it came to pass that Methuselah, the son of Enoch, was not taken, that the covenants of the Lord might be fulfilled, which he made to Enoch; for he truly covenanted with Enoch that Noah should be of the fruit of his loins.

And it came to pass that Methuselah prophesied that from his loins should spring all the kingdoms of the earth (through Noah), and he took glory unto himself. (Moses 8:1–3; emphasis added)

The flood was foreseen as coming to cleanse the earth of its wickedness; and Methuselah was not translated (compare Moses 7:27) and taken to heaven with other righteous individuals so that the promises made to Enoch might be fulfilled and the covenant might be preserved, brought through the flood, and perpetuated by subsequent generations, rather than coming to an end with the flood. The relationship between the flood narrative and the continuity of the priesthood is strengthened further by JST Genesis 6:18: “But with thee will I establish my covenant, even as I have sworn unto thy father, Enoch, that of thy posterity shall come all nations; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons’ wives with thee.” It is within this framework that Noah is given the token of the rainbow to contextualize and place meaning to the covenant with reference to the flood that was coming: “Among the things revealed to Enoch was the knowledge of the flood, which was to take place. And the Lord made a covenant with Enoch, that He would set his bow in the cloud—just as it afterwards was given to Noah—not as a mere token alone that the Lord would no more drown the world, but as a token of the new and everlasting covenant that the Lord made with Enoch.”[45] According to Orson Pratt in this interpretation, the rainbow became a token of the new and everlasting covenant (Genesis 9:16 states that it was a bĕrît ʿôlām—an everlasting covenant). How or why it is a suitable token is discussed next.

The Covenant and the Token of the Rainbow

The biblical account describes what happened subsequent to the flood in the following manner: “And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (Genesis 9:1–3). Here we have allusions to the covenant language found in the Garden of Eden—specifically, references to the commandments pertaining to marriage (multiply and replenish the earth, followed by the concept of dominion over the other creations; Genesis 9:2–3). The details of the covenant continue as follows:

And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you;

And with every living creature that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth.

And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.

And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:

I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.

And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud:

And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.

And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.

And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth. (Genesis 9:9–17)

Several elements highlight the covenantal nature of these scriptural passages, of which the rainbow became a token.[46] First, the word “covenant” (berit) is repeated seven times in Genesis 9:8–17.[47] Second, in the English translations of these verses, we have a variety of phrases describing “establishing” and “maintaining” covenants (9:9, 11). The Hebrew uses the root/form הקים (hqym) to convey this concept, which means to confirm or ratify pre-existing promises, oaths, vows, or covenants, and suggests that Noah is already in a covenant relationship with God and is thus not entering into a totally new one.[48] This highlights that Noah has brought a set of covenants through the flood that will link him to the fulfillment of covenants made between God and his great grandfather Enoch,[49] a continuity of the covenant that the Prophet Joseph Smith declared:

Thus we behold the keys of this Priesthood consisted in obtaining the voice of Jehovah that He talked with him [Noah] in a familiar and friendly manner, that He continued to him the keys, the covenants, the power and the glory, with which He blessed Adam at the beginning. . . . The Priesthood was first given to Adam; he obtained the First Presidency, and held the keys of it from generation to generation. . . . He had dominion given him over every living creature. He is Michael the Archangel, spoken of in the Scriptures. Then to Noah, who is Gabriel; he stands next in authority to Adam in the Priesthood; he was called of God to this office, and was the father of all living in his day, and to him was given the dominion. These men held keys first on earth, and then in heaven.[50]

Part of that covenant revolved around never sending a destructive flood again, and this promise is explicitly connected to the token of the rainbow. “As a sign and guarantee of this covenant God placed a rainbow (qeshet, three times) in the clouds (be’anan, three times). The interweaving of these pivotal terms evokes the image of a beautiful tapestry of God’s desire that all humans have confidence in divine mercy as they populate the earth. Moreover, in this way God fulfills the promise made to Noah before the deluge ([Genesis] 6:18).”[51] In its ancient Near Eastern context, the bow could be associated with war and devastation; however, “against this background, the rainbow in our narrative takes on added significance as a departure from Near Eastern notions. The symbol of divine bellicosity and hostility has been transformed into a token of reconciliation between God and man.”[52] “The covenant with Noah in Genesis means that Yahweh sets aside His bow and hangs it up in the clouds as a sign that His anger has subsided. When [people] gaze upon this rainbow, they feel assured that the storm has passed and no flood will come again; cf. Sir 43:11, 50:7.”[53] In this light, the bow represents a reconciliation between God and his children’s unrighteous state and establishes an environment of restitution before him. The rainbow is displayed for everyone to see and “provides a key to understanding many subsequent signs. A sign points to something larger and beyond itself. The rainbow, a divine covenant sign, joins other covenant signs like circumcision, Sabbath, baptism and the Lord’s Supper, which are God-initiated.”[54] In fact, the Hebrew word used for “sign” here (אוֹת (ʾôṯ) “sign,” “token,” or “pledge”)—described as “a non-verbal symbol or signal which has meaning”[55]—can represent promises made between two parties in the form of pledges and seems to constitute and highlight that the biblical flood episode has covenant as a focal point between God and his creations, particularly with Enoch and Noah.[56] Significantly, here, אוֹת is a token that people will see but that also acts as a reminder to God that he will keep his covenants with the people (Genesis 9:15–16).[57]

Viewing the bow as directly connected with war and reconciliation is not the only possible interpretation. For example, some scholars see the bow as a sign of the separation of the waters above from the waters below, a preventive act taken to ensure that the waters will not converge upon the earth again in a massive, all-encompassing deluge that destroys all creations: “A number of scholars have seen the deficiencies in the argument that the rainbow in Gen. ix represents God’s war bow. . . . The rainbow is an appropriate sign of the covenant that God will not again cause the mabbŭl [flood] to destroy the earth. First, it is seen in the clouds after rain and thus recalls the occasion when the waters covered the earth. Secondly, it represents the rāqîaʿ (firmament) which has been established to keep these waters at bay.”[58]

Still other explanations of the origin of the bow link “a natural phenomenon after rain or thunderstorm” with the figurative use of the bow in parallel with God’s “glory” or “splendor and appearance of God’s glory” (Isaiah 21:16–17; Job 29:20; Ezekiel 1:1–3:15).[59] However one chooses to interpret the etymology and specific meaning attached to the bow, the text is clear that the rainbow has become a token of the covenant between God and Noah, God’s creations, and power and salvation at the hand of God in the form of both destruction and deliverance.[60] “Nothing about the Flood is narrated for the sake of sensationalism but [rather] in order to assure the audience that there had been another salvation and that with this episode the last truly great crisis between gods and [humankind] was overcome.”[61] The rainbow thus marked a positive outcome to the flood and symbolized a source of salvation via a pledge made between God and his creations. Noah has trusted and obeyed God, and he has been brought through the waters into life and salvation—against a backdrop of death and sin—a meaning that would be associated with cleansing and the concept of cleansing through baptism.

Joseph Smith’s translation of Genesis 9 brings new insights into the significance of the rainbow’s covenantal token, highlighting its association with gaining the presence of God: “And I will establish my covenant with you, which I made unto Enoch, concerning the remnants of your posterity.”[62]

And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant, which I made unto thy father Enoch; that, when men should keep all my commandments, Zion should again come on the earth, the city of Enoch which I have caught up unto myself.

And this is mine everlasting covenant, that when thy posterity shall embrace the truth, and look upward, then shall Zion look downward, and all the heavens shall shake with gladness, and the earth shall tremble with joy;

And the general assembly of the church of the firstborn shall come down out of heaven, and possess the earth, and shall have place until the end come. And this is mine everlasting covenant, which I made with thy father Enoch.

And the bow shall be in the cloud, and I will establish my covenant unto thee, which I have made between me and thee, for every living creature of all flesh that shall be upon the earth.

And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant which I have established between me and thee; for all flesh that shall be upon the earth. (JST Genesis 9:17, 21–25)

Here Noah learned that as part of the fulfillment of the covenant, generations both in heaven and on earth would be reunited together. Just as Enoch and his city had been taken up into heaven, so would they return in the latter days to fulfill that covenant (possibly depicted in the ascending and descending arch at each end of the rainbow).[63] This understanding is also striking because it gives us glimpses into the covenantal meaning of the rainbow for God himself. The passage describing God’s perspective, “And the bow shall be in the cloud and I will look upon it” (JST Genesis 9:17), seems to parallel the reunification of Zion and the Saints in his presence—the ultimate goal accomplished by and through the covenant. In essence, “God tells Noah he is . . . reaffirming the ‘everlasting covenant’ already established with Enoch and his predecessors. And that covenant, rooted in antiquity, anticipates the future merging of the celestial city (the general assembly of the church of the firstborn) with the earthly Zion, which is later developed into the concept of an eternal heavenly family bound together by temple covenants and the priesthood power of sealing.”[64]

Just like the intersecting perspectives of God and humans, God looking down as his children look up emphasizes the reunification between God and his people through the instrumentality of the covenant and its salvific effects, a covenant portrayed by the token of the rainbow that spans heaven and earth.[65]

The Doctrine and Covenants describes the millennial descent of the city of Enoch with the Lord and its reunification with the Zion on earth:

The Lord hath brought again Zion; The Lord hath redeemed his people, Israel, According to the election of grace, Which was brought to pass by the faith and covenant of their fathers.

The Lord hath redeemed his people; And Satan is bound and time is no longer. The Lord hath gathered all things in one. The Lord hath brought down Zion from above. The Lord hath brought up Zion from beneath.

The earth hath travailed and brought forth her strength; And truth is established in her bowels; And the heavens have smiled upon her; And she is clothed with the glory of her God; For he stands in the midst of his people. (Doctrine and Covenants 84:99–101)

The token of the rainbow highlights the successful reunification of God’s children through the fulfillment of covenants and provides the eschatological backdrop of Enoch’s mission in relation to the covenant.

While receiving important promises from the Lord, Enoch saw the preparations necessary for this reunification in the latter days:

And righteousness will I send down out of heaven; and truth will I send forth out of the earth, to bear testimony of mine Only Begotten; his resurrection from the dead; yea, and also the resurrection of all men; and righteousness and truth will I cause to sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out mine elect from the four quarters of the earth, unto a place which I shall prepare, an Holy City, that my people may gird up their loins, and be looking forth for the time of my coming; for there shall be my tabernacle, and it shall be called Zion, a New Jerusalem. (Moses 7:62)

The New Jerusalem (among which is situated the Lord’s tabernacle) will be built, and the city of Enoch will dwell in its midst.[66]

And the Lord said unto Enoch: Then shalt thou and all thy city meet them there, and we will receive them into our bosom, and they shall see us; and we will fall upon their necks, and they shall fall upon our necks, and we will kiss each other;

And there shall be mine abode, and it shall be Zion, which shall come forth out of all the creations which I have made; and for the space of a thousand years the earth shall rest. (Moses 7:63–64)

When all is prepared and the signs and pledges are fulfilled, the Lord will come. These are major components of the sacred promises given to Enoch in the form of covenants and perpetuated through Noah and the flood. According to Restoration scripture, the token of the rainbow thus goes much further beyond a promise of never again sending the floods upon the earth; the rainbow additionally represented the covenantal promises that would result in gaining the presence of God, as depicted in the symbol of the token of the rainbow.

Salvation for the Dead

Restoration scripture contributes yet another dimension of God’s mercy in relation to the story of the flood: the work and salvation for the dead. Enoch witnessed the following pertaining to those who would die by the waters of the flood, defining the significance and scope of God’s work and glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of his children:

But behold, these which thine eyes are upon shall perish in the floods; and behold, I will shut them up; a prison have I prepared for them.

And that which I have chosen hath pled before my face. Wherefore, he suffereth for their sins; inasmuch as they will repent in the day that my Chosen shall return unto me, and until that day they shall be in torment. (Moses 7:38–39)

Enoch gets a glimpse of the redemptive power of the Atonement of Christ and how it would reach those shut up in a spirit prison.[67] Thus, rather than all being lost through the flood, all could be gained through the redemptive power of Christ and the cleansing power of the Atonement with its attendant ordinances. Sin and death could be bridged and life, given, as reflected in the reunification motif inherent in the token of the rainbow. First Peter 3:19–21 speaks of the Savior’s visit to the spirit world prior to his resurrection, “By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (see also Doctrine and Covenants 138); and “The flood becomes a typological figure of baptism. . . . Beyond baptism is newness of life (cf. Rom 6:4).”[68] Enoch receives revelation into the purposes of the spirit prison and the work of salvation to be accomplished on behalf of the dead who would be destroyed by the flood and who would remain there until after the resurrection of Christ. The implications of this component of the work of salvation for subsequent generations—including our own—are staggering, and Enoch witnessed at least some portion of it. Joseph Fielding Smith taught: “What was the promise made to the fathers that was to be fulfilled in the latter-days by the turning of the hearts of the children to their fathers? It was the promise of the Lord made through Enoch, Isaiah, and the prophets, to the nations of the earth, that the time should come when the dead should be redeemed. And the turning of the hearts of the children is fulfilled in the performing of the vicarious temple work and in the preparation of their genealogies.”[69]

This redemptive work of the dead began taking shape in New Testament times:

Jesus preached to the dead. The apostle Peter taught this in his day, saying that after the death of the Savior, and while his body lay in the tomb, the Lord, as a Spirit, went to the realm of the dead and there preached to the spirits of the people who previously had lived on the earth. (1 Pet. 3:18–20.) Then he gives us the reason for this preaching: “For this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.” (1 Pet. 4:6.) Having heard the gospel, they might accept it or reject it and thus be “judged according to men in the flesh.” As they did accept it, they could then “live according to God in the spirit” just as the scripture indicated.[70]

From a Restoration perspective, Enoch appeared to be no stranger to this doctrine that would materialize in the meridian of time, and it brought him great comfort when nothing else would. After weeping for those whose lives would be lost in the flood, and after witnessing this component of salvation for the dead in the plan of God, “The Lord showed Enoch all things, even unto the end of the world; and he saw the day of the righteous, the hour of their redemption, and received a fulness of joy” (Moses 7:67). The flood and its token of the rainbow thus become appropriate and powerful symbols of covenantal promises and the redemptive power of Christ and help us view the story of the flood through the lens of salvation, not death—the beginning, not the end. These symbols encapsulate the salvation that comes through ordinances and that bridges the gap between heaven and earth and life and spiritual or physical death. The covenant made with Noah at the time of the flood—symbolized by the token of the rainbow and the covenantal pledges of God—plays a significant part to be fulfilled in these latter days. In an 1842 publication in the Times and Seasons, the following observation was made on the topic of salvation for the dead:

When speaking about the blessings pertaining to the gospel, and the consequences connected with disobedience to its requirements, we are frequently asked the question, what has become of our [ancestors]? will they all be damned for not obeying the gospel, when they never heard it? certainly not. But they will possess the same privilege that we here enjoy, through the medium of the everlasting priesthood, which not only administers on earth but in heaven, and the wise dispensations of the great Jehovah; hence those characters referred to by Isaiah will be visited by this priesthood, and come out of their prison, upon the same principle as those who were disobedient in the days of Noah, were visited by our Saviour,—[who possessed the everlasting, Melchizedec priesthood,]—and had the gospel preached to them, by him.[71]

The covenant revolves around salvation being made possible to the living and the dead. How appropriate that these teachings would be revealed to Enoch, the one whose ministry has been described as follows, “Enoch’s fate was not the stinging ‘and he died.’ . . . Death is not the last word after all. Enoch offers a solution to the transgression and violence that had marred God’s creation[s]; that is, a life with God that somehow transcends life and death itself.”[72]

Sacrifice as a Symbol of Salvation

As the flood story concludes in the book of Genesis, the covenantal nature of the flood comes to an apex. After the floodwater recedes, Noah offers a sacrifice to God.

Noah, the priest, and his burnt offering are prototypes of Israel’s priests and their sacrifices (cf. Job 1:5 42:8) and prefigure Jesus Christ, the High Priest, and his sacrifice. Matthews astutely observes, “The manifestation of Christ has taken away these shadows.” The value God places upon the sacrifice of Christ can be inferred from his reaction to Noah’s offering. His atoning sacrifice so assuages God’s heart . . . that God resolves never again to destroy the earth (8:21). For the covenant people of God, Christ’s sacrifice secures their cleansing from all sin and secures for them eternal life with God (Heb. 10:11–24).[73]

Describing the sacred sacrificial offering brought forth by Noah after the flood, we read, “Thus, we discover that the first act after the destruction of the world by a flood was a recognition of the great expiatory principle of the atonement, which was to be made by the Only Begotten Son of God, as revealed by the angel to Adam. And as God recognized Adam’s and Abel’s offerings, so He also recognized that of Noah: and as a result, the Patriarch obtained great promises, in which the people of all ages, then to come, would be interested.”[74] The covenant given to Noah and traced back to the days of Adam and Eve through Enoch, was the source of salvation for Noah and his family in his day. So also, it became the source of salvation for future days and, now, our day. The context and meaning of the sacrifice Noah offered seem to speak to components of holiness, ritual, and redemption through the symbols and meanings of the sacrificial offerings that lay upon the altar:

And Noah builded an altar unto the Lord; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.[75]

And the Lord smelled a sweet savour; and the Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.

While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease. (Genesis 8:20–22)

God was pleased with the sacrifices and the offerings upon an altar on a mountain peak, along with the renewal of the covenant, seems to put this into a sacred sacrificial context of covenant renewal and fulfillment.[76] The righteousness of Noah qualified him for the covenant, and God blessed him through it in the picture of salvation on a mountain peak following the waters of destruction and re-creation (an image of coming forth from death and communing with God, as symbolized in the covenant and ordinance of baptism). “Perhaps the most important detail in the Priestly account of the flood is the covenant that God concludes with Noah at its end. God undertakes not to destroy the earth by flood again, and sets the rainbow in the sky as a sign of this promise.”[77] The token of the rainbow represented various aspects of this covenant and epitomized the very essence of regaining the presence of God.[78] As Noah and his family rested safely on the mountain peak, having been delivered from the cleansing flood waters of both life and death, we get a visual picture of the saving power of God through covenants as Noah offers the sacrifice in remembrance of the salvation brought forth by God.


Themes running throughout ancient Near Eastern flood stories, in conjunction with the developing flood theology found within the Bible, revolve around the concepts of destruction and salvation. These, along with insights gained from extrabiblical religious literature, shed light on how we understand the covenantal implications of the flood and on the token associated with the rainbow. They connect the past with the future within a template of divine deliverance, creation, and salvation. The biblical account expresses both “humanity’s moral culpability” and “divine compassion and concern for human perpetuity.”[79] Covenantal significance is further highlighted when viewed through the lens of Restoration scripture, as we comprehend the eschatological views forward from the perspective of God, Enoch, Noah, and the earth. Elements of salvation and covenant become clear and are present throughout the flood narrative. These elements are portrayed and conveyed through tokens highlighting God’s power and desire to save and preserve (rather than to destroy and eliminate) and highlighting his willingness to do so by covenant.

Through the images of floodwaters and arks, we witness a loving God who preserves covenants and saves through ordinances.[80] The flood story is thus about the preaching of prophets and God’s efforts to rescue his children. In relation to the rainbow, it becomes a token representing both a pledge from God and a symbol of the bridging of the gulf between heaven and earth, a promise of hope, restitution, and salvation. The rainbow also constitutes a representation of overcoming spiritual and physical death within the context of the flood, demonstrating God’s love and mercy within the framework of creation and salvation. As described by Elder Howard W. Hunter, “The Lord made a covenant with Noah, and the rainbow became the token of that eternal covenant with all [hu]mankind.”[81] Such are the covenantal and salvific implications of the sign of the rainbow given as a token of the covenant to Noah at the time of the flood, and such are the far-reaching eschatological implications that extend to us today. Through the lens of the Restoration, we see the mercy, love, and ever-protective care of God who makes and keeps covenants. We see the redemptive power of God through an eternal perspective spanning heaven and earth to save and redeem those who were lost and reclaim them through the covenant. The token of the covenant reminds us of the bridge between heaven and earth and allows us to see God in his overarching work to bring to pass the salvation of his children from beginning to end.


[1] See, for example, Bruce K. Waltke, Genesis: A Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2001), 156; R. W. Moberly, Old Testament Theology: The Theology of the Book of Genesis (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 110, 120; Gordon J. Wenham, Genesis 1–15, Word Biblical Commentary 1 (Dallas: Word Publishing, 1987), 156–57, 206–7; John E. Hartley, Genesis, New International Biblical Commentary (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2000), 100; Bill T. Arnold, Genesis, New Cambridge Bible Commentary (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 104.

[2] Bible scholarship generally speaks of multiple flood accounts in Genesis, often labeled P (Priestly) or J (Yahwistic), that preserve various details of the flood that are not always complementary. For example, Genesis 6:19–20 and 7:15–16 speak of taking two animals of every kind into the ark, and Genesis 7:2–3 requires Noah to take seven pairs of clean animals and one pair of unclean animals with them. Genesis 7:24 and 8:3 talk of it taking 150 days for the flood waters to rise and another 150 for them to recede, along with a drying period that takes even more time, over a year, to complete. Genesis 7:4 describes seven days of waiting, followed by forty days of flooding. Bible scholars generally attribute such differences to the agendas of various writers, details of the story that were particularly important to each writer, and what they wanted the reader to know about a given episode. Apparent discrepancies need not throw us into testimonial panic, as they do not invalidate the underlying purposes of the stories. In fact, sometimes the discrepancies help us comprehend significant details that we would not otherwise perceive had we only been working with a single description. In contrast to a focus on multiple authorship, rather than assigning disunity, many studies now focus on the unity of the biblical flood account, highlighting that it has deliberately been worked and situated to effectively convey the message of salvation that has been aligned in chiastic fashion. See G. J. Wenham, “The Coherence of the Flood Narrative,” Vetus Testamentum 28 (1978): 336–48; see also Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 155–58; Bruce W. Waltke, Genesis: A Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2001), 125–26. Thus, the multiplicity of elements used to tell the flood story highlights important features of the message (often paralleling accounts of creation), the construction of the tabernacle, and the deliverance of the covenant codes on Mount Sinai. Despite the various proposals as to the central events that are used to form these chiastic structures, what is almost universally agreed upon is that God and salvation are the focal points of the story. See John H. Walton, Genesis: The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic, 2001), 315. In the words of a prominent Bible scholar, who discusses the variations in storyline, “While it may seem odd to us at first that an editor retained such discrepancies, we may assume that the sources or traditions underlying the whole had already attained authoritative status, and the editor valued the traditions enough to retain the inconsistencies, which were not problematic in ancient literature.” Bill T. Arnold, Genesis, The New Cambridge Bible Commentary (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 97. It is probably unrealistic of us to believe that the oral and written traditions that have been circulating for thousands of years would exist without any internal variations, and if the text were formed to execute a chiasm, the variations would serve a deliberate theological purpose. As canonized scripture, the stories we find in the Bible are accepted as the word of God with applications and relevance not only for ancient cultures but also for us today. Restoration scripture adds an additional testimony to the truthfulness of these events.

[3] For a description of how Mesopotamian flood accounts may have affected the development of Babylonian flood stories, see Y. S. Chen, “Major Literary Traditions Involved in the Making of Mesopotamian Flood Traditions,” in Opening Heaven’s Floodgates: The Genesis Flood Narrative, Its Context, and Reception, ed. Jason Silverman, Biblical Intersections 12 (Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press, 2013), 141–90. There have been many scholarly debates as to the source and composition of the flood stories contained in the Bible. For example, as mentioned above, the two similar but differing stories we encounter in Genesis, which each seem to have different focal points and concerns, are sometimes attributed to a Priestly source (P) and a Yahwistic (J) source, thus each story derives from separate authors. For a discussion on theories surrounding these sources, see John Day, From Creation to Babel: Studies in Genesis 1–11 (New York: Bloomsbury, 2013), 102–12. On the other hand, other studies conclude, partially as a result of chiastic structures extant in the accounts mentioned above, that the apparent separate stories form a literary coherence, bound together to form a literary whole, and thus they discuss a final form of the text with a deliberate theological purpose. See, for example, J. A. Emerton, “An Examination of Some Attempts to Defend the Unity of the Flood Narrative in Genesis, Part I,” Vetus Testamentum 37, no. 1 (1987): 402; Gordon J. Wenham, “Coherence of the Flood Narrative,” Vetus Testamentum 28 (1978): 342–45; Kenneth A. Mathews, Genesis 1–11:26, The New American Commentary 1A, ed E. Ray Clendenen (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1996), 354–55; Gordon J. Wenham, Genesis 1–15 Word Biblical Commentary 1 (Dallas: Word, 1987), 167. In describing the elements used to compose the final form of the flood story, Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 157, speaks of the story falling into natural halves, framed by Noah entering and exiting the ark and the rising and falling of the flood waters. Again, the theme is God’s salvation and deliverance, not an ad-hoc mishmash of sources that have magically come together with such coherency. We thus find deliberate “‘epic repetition’ and ‘chiastic coordination.’ Thus, far from being a haphazard mixture of two divergent accounts of the flood, the end result of the narrative composition ‘looks as if it has been made out of whole cloth.’” John H. Sailhamer, Genesis, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic, 2008), locs. 4519–20 of 10676, Kindle. See also Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 168–69.

[4] See, for example, John Collins, Introduction to the Hebrew Bible (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2004), 30–36; Stephanie Dalley, trans., Myths from Mesopotamia: Creation, the Flood, Gilgamesh, and Others (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989), 3.

[5] For a convenient translation of some of these stories, see W. W. Hallo and K. L. Younger, eds., Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World, The Context of Scripture 1 (Leiden: Brill, 2003).

[6] The Book of Moses describes such revelatory knowledge of the events of the flood. Therein we witness Enoch (who beholds the impending flood and the ministry of Noah), his story that Moses was then recording, and, subsequently, the story that the Prophet Joseph Smith received by revelation.

[7] There are “minimalist” and “maximalist” views that either trace the parallels between the biblical flood stories and the Mesopotamian accounts back to a common tradition or attempt to describe the Genesis account as a “deliberate rewriting of the Mesopotamian versions of the flood story” (Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 168). Such a genetic relationship of the ancient accounts seems improbable due to “the obvious similarities and the clear differences between the Mesopotamian and biblical stories of the flood. We do believe the origin of these stories is in an actual devastating flood, and this fits with our understanding of Genesis 6–9 being theological history. This event embedded itself in the minds of the people who lived through the experience.” Tremper Longman III and John H. Walton, The Lost World of the Flood, The Lost World Series (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2018), 86. Attempting to claim that all the ancient accounts originate from one another is problematic, since “the differences are too extensive to allow confident claims that they must be narrative reflections of the same event.” Walton, Genesis: The NIV Application Commentary, 319. Traditions of floods were widespread throughout the region. “Excerpts from the Gilgamesh flood tradition have been recovered at Megiddo (modern Tell al-Mutasallim) in Canaan (fourteenth century) and at Emar (modern Meskene) in Syria (thirteenth century).” Brian B. Schmidt, “Flood Narratives of Ancient Western Asia,” in Civilizations of the Ancient Near East, ed. Jack Sasson (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2000), 3:2343. Despite all the differences in transmission of flood narratives from society to society, their predominance suggests that a flood or multiple floods of enormous magnitude at some point affected their worlds and were a part of these ancient cultures’ experiences, and they describe the various ways in which these floods may have manifested themselves from region to region. See discussion in Longman and Walton, Lost World of the Flood, 145ff. These flood stories convey different messages and were written to serve different purposes; however, there seems to have been a common theme of a divinely sent deluge with the purpose of destruction, as well as the re-creation and regeneration of life. The distribution of the accounts indicates that such flood stories were circulating in the region by the time of Moses. This is not to imply that Moses copied these verbatim but simply that such flood traditions were widespread and that Moses obtained, through revelation, details that God intended for him to understand about the nature and purpose of the biblical flood. “The flood stories from the ancient Near East and from around the world offer persuasive evidence that a flood of significant magnitude occurred and was remembered. The accounts from [the] ancient Near East are closest to the biblical account and help us to see how the Israelites would have understood the whole event differently from their neighbors.” John H. Walton, Genesis, Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic, 2016), loc. 2326 of 10396, Kindle. It is these differences that highlight the salvation in the biblical flood account and the specific redemptive purposes of God that contrast other ancient flood stories. Additional revelation given to the Prophet Joseph Smith also helps clarify the matter.

[8] For a comparison of the similarities and differences between biblical and Near Eastern flood stories, see John H. Walton, “Flood,” in Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch, ed. T. Desmond Alexander and David W. Baker (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002), 315.

[9] Waltke, Genesis, 146.

[10] Some scholars have demonstrated a close association between creation and the flood. “The flood is the counterpart, the alternative to creation,” and “God’s covenant with Noah and his descendants, including the post-Flood generation . . . renews basic confidence in the regulation of creation that had been breached.” Othmar Keel and Silvia Schroer, Creation: Biblical Theologies in the Context of the Ancient Near East (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2015), 154–55. The flood story was a re-creation with Noah and his family, a continuation of the covenant. As one scholar put it, “If in fact this theme of the covenant between God and Noah (in promise, Genesis 6:18, and in realization, 9:8–17) was originally part of Israel’s ancient priestly traditions, it has been given new theological significance by its present location in the canon. The final editors of the book of Genesis have retained the theme, no doubt because Noah’s covenantal righteousness resulted in salvation for him, his family, and the animals, and probably also because this theme was already widely accepted and venerated as an authoritative explanation of the events. But the editors have also amplified the covenant theme by including it soon after the narratives of human origins (sin in the Garden of Eden, and Cain’s murder of Abel, Genesis 2:4–4:16) and after the descriptions of the sinful human condition (6:5 and 6:11–12). By means of contrast with the unrighteousness of humanity at large, Noah’s covenant with God is given fuller meaning. Covenant living is not only the means of survival (i.e., salvation) from the flood, but also the Bible’s answer to humanity’s sinful nature more generally. In this, and in other ways, Noah’s covenant anticipates and previews the covenant between God and Abraham, as we shall see. Righteous covenant-living will be highlighted as Israel’s hope for salvation, nationally and individually.” Arnold, Genesis, 100–101. This covenant has also been described to form the backbone of the Sinai experience with Moses, the construction of the tabernacle, and the covenants the Israelites received. Additionally, Noah’s covenant with God also became the backbone of stories in the New Testament, where themes of covenant and the ordinances of baptism are rooted in stories of the flood (compare 1 Peter 3: 21). See discussion in Sailhamer, Genesis, loc. 4430 of 10676, Kindle.

[11] Additionally, “In later post-Persian works Enoch becomes the example of a prophet of the quasi-eschatology of the flood (cf. 1 En 106–7; Gen Apoc col. 1–2). He forecasts not just the deluge but all future history, especially in the Animal Apocalypse (1 En 85–90). Significantly, late Second Temple interpreters considered this ancestor from the beginning of Israel’s story to be the logical recipient of revelation about the end of Israel’s story. Lying in the background is the ancient conviction that the primordial past holds the key to the present and the future; Enochic ex eventu prophecies review history in order to order current life and point to the end.” Jonathan Huddleston, Eschatology in Genesis (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2012), 190–91. Enoch’s connection with his near and distant future helps to contextualize the visions and teachings he receives, as presented in the Book of Moses, and to find some conceptual parallels in the Enochian literature composed in the post-Persian period. See chapter 3 in this volume.

[12] In describing the logistics of the dating of the flood, very little may be said with certainty. Some have theorized that “the flood tradition owes its start to the cataclysmic events in the Neolithic Period (5500 BCE), when, with the melting of the polar ice caps, the Mediterranean Sea rose to catapult water across the Bosporus, turning a freshwater lake into the Black Sea. The population displaced by that catastrophe is presumed to have carried memories of this flood to the wider ANE and beyond.” J. David Pleins, “Flood,” in The New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, volume 2: D–H (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2007), 465. Sumerians divided their history into periods that occurred before and after the “Great Flood,” and, based on the records, some Assyriologists reckon such an event as occurring around 2900 BC. See K. A. Kitchen, On the Reliability of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2003), 426. “Some modern scholars believe this division reflects the memory of an inundation that occurred some 10,000 years ago at the end of the Ice Age, when huge portions of land were covered by what are now the waters of the Persian Gulf. It was this cataclysmic event, they believe, that later became transfigured in myth.” Stephen Bertman, Handbook to Life in Ancient Mesopotamia (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), 316. According to some Bible chronologies, the Creation occurred around 4000 BC, with the flood around 2400 BC. See Collins, Introduction, 11. The Bible Chronology in the appendix of the current Latter-day Saint edition notes “that many dates cannot be fixed with certainty,” that “much work has still to be done in this direction,” and that “the dates found at the top of many printed English Bibles . . . have been shown to be incorrect.” I do not present these theories of Bible chronology as definitive, merely as theories. The so-called dilemma of dating the flood does not have to be a source of irritation but rather can be seen as the result of insufficient evidence that would speak conclusively one way or the other. Neither should the geographical, geological, or archaeological strata of the flood push us into minimalist or maximalist corners. We simply do not know how the surface of the earth changed or to what degree it was exposed subsequent to the flood (in relation to pre-flood conditions), and working without sufficient data, we should not jump to conclusions or revert to testimony panic. The fact of the matter is, answering these questions in scientific terms is a modern application of science. Ancient civilizations would most likely have not found significance in the question and would have viewed the events through a different lens, attempting to understand why it had happened and what purpose it served (i.e., the ontological meaning). See Longman and Walton, Lost World of the Flood, 321ff. The issue does have theological implications and has led to numerous interpretations. The scriptures attest to a flood with its attendant cause and purpose, without providing the specific details of the history or science behind it. This paper works in accordance with the scriptural and prophetic records that state that a flood did indeed happen.

[13] Italics here emphasize important differences and contributions made between Genesis and Restoration scripture of these passages.

[14] David Clines, “Noah’s Flood I: The Theology of the Flood Narrative,” Faith and Thought 100, no. 2 (1972–

73): 135. It is commonly accepted in biblical studies that the flood constitutes a re-creation of life, paralleling the context and language of the creation stories in Genesis. See, for example, Sailhamer, Genesis, loc. 4282 of 10676, Kindle, who discusses the flood story with the reversal of creation as given in its Edenic state but also with its immediate connections with the conditions of the Fall in Genesis 3. “The Flood defaces the original creation headed by Adam and cleanses the earth for its re-creation headed by Noah. Warren Gage notes striking parallels between the prediluvian and postdiluvian worlds, making Adam the father of humanity and Noah its father in the postdiluvian world.” Waltke, Genesis, 127. The flood’s preoccupation is with hope, salvation, and covenantal responsibility, rather than a total concentration on judgment and destruction. Later prophets in the Bible drew on language of the flood (such as polluting and violence) to foreshadow and describe Judah’s impending destruction and exile, but they also used the story to highlight hope for a new start and “a ‘new order,’ introducing a ‘radical change in the mechanism of sin.’ Gen. 8:15–9:17 thus parallels prophetic descriptions of a new solution to the sin-punishment cycle that caused Judah’s destruction.” Huddleston, Eschatology, 141. “The creation has refused to be God’s creation. That essential fracture between creator and creation is the premise and agenda of the flood narrative. This text provides a way to reflect on the meaning and cost of that fracture and upon the future that is yet in prospect between God and God’s world.” Walter Brueggemann, Genesis, Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching (Louisville, KY: Presbyterian Publishing, 2010), 74. The story is about loss but also about gain.

[15] Moses 6:28–29 seems to imply the possibility of this interpretation of an apostasy, and “Genesis documents the downward slide of humanity from the idyllic garden to the chaotic anarchy that introduces the Flood story. Violence has become an incorrigible way of life, and the waters are sent as an act of justice.” Walton, Genesis, Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary, loc. 2307 of 10396, Kindle. Clines, “Theology,” 133, concluded that “the ‘violence’ (ḥamas) 6:11, 13 . . . has religious overtones, for it is the violation of an order laid down or guaranteed by God.” The Hebrew word translated as “violence” refers elsewhere to a broad range of crimes, including unjust treatment (Genesis 16:5; Amos 3:10), injurious legal testimony (Deuteronomy 19:16), deadly assault (Genesis 49:5), murder (Judges 9:24), and rape (Jeremiah 13:22). All of these would later be articulated in covenantal, priestly, and social codes of conduct. Later traditions and religious writings did indeed attribute the behavior of the people to apostasy, and this seems consistent with that which is presented in the Book of Moses. “[Fourth] Ezra (3:9–12) cites the pre-flood conditions as a stage of apostasy.” Jack P. Lewis, “Flood,” in The Anchor Bible Dictionary, ed. David Noel Freedman (New York: Doubleday, 1992), 801 and the Damascus Document from Qumran also seem to imply a form of apostasy: “For having walked on the stubbornness of their hearts the Watchers of the heavens fell; on account of it they were caught, for they did not follow the precepts of God. And their sons, whose height was like cedars and whose bodies were like mountains, fell. All flesh which there was in the dry earth decayed and became as if it had never been, for having realized their desires and failing to keep their creator’s precepts, until his wrath flared up against them.” Florentino García Martínez, “Interpretations of the Flood in the DSS,” in Interpretations of the Flood, ed. Florentino García Martínez and Gerardus Petrus Luttikhuizen (Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 1998), 87. There are also several ties with creation accounts, the Garden of Eden, and the flood story—stories tying obedience to God with the contrast of disobedience to him. “Throughout this story there are numerous ties to the creation account in Genesis 1. The intent is apparently to depict the great flood as a reversal of God’s work of creation. In ch. 1 God prepared the good land for the man and his family. In the account of the flood, God takes back the good land because humankind acted corruptly and did not walk in God’s way. The central themes introduced in these opening verses are divine judgment and God’s gracious salvation.” Sailhamer, Genesis, locs. 4279–82 of 10676, Kindle.

[16] The mention of sons of God and daughters of men has led to theories paralleling Greek mythology and its unions between divine beings and human beings. See, for example, Barry L. Bandstra, Reading the Old Testament: An Introduction to the Hebrew Bible (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing, 1999), 74. It is clear from biblical studies that this view is commonly forwarded as a legitimate interpretation. Others seem to look at a symbolic interpretation. Simon B. Parker, “Sons of (the) God(s),” in Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, 2nd ed., ed. Karel van der Toorn, Bob Becking, and Pieter W. van der Horst (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1999), 796 stated, “It is clear that the author is summarizing traditional mythical material about divine-human unions as an illustration of the disorder that prevailed immediately before the flood.” A recent study has examined the phrase “sons of gods,” along with similar phrases in the Bible, and concluded that the expression could also be describing an attitude that envisages “having God as their father.” Day, Genesis 1–11, 80. Keeping in line with the mode of thinking and links to an apostasy, it may be a possible solution to put this phrase within the realms of individuals who are designated and associated with keeping (sons or daughters of God) and breaking (sons or daughters of men) their covenants with God. See Moses 8:13–15 and the contrast used in these designations that describe hearkening and not hearkening to the voice of God. Although the text is fragmentary, the DSS “Genesis Apocryphon” (I QapGen, IQ20) VI line 20 uses the term “holy ones” in contrast with the “daughters of man” in the account about Noah. See Geza Vermes, The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English, rev. ed. (London: Penguin, 2004), 482. Although others have attempted to argue that these polar terms are about “believers” versus “unbelievers,” this is not a generally accepted interpretation in biblical scholarship based on the phraseology present in the Old Testament and how it tends to be understood. Debates on the matter are not conclusive. Later Rabbinic and Christian interpretations viewed these groups in humanly fashion in efforts to avoid the implication of sexual relationships between angels and divine beings or humans. See Day, Genesis 1–11, 78. In the Old Testament these designated individuals, peoples whose specific characteristics are unknown in the few environments in which they are described, are generally described in negative terms as great people (kings and warriors) who are doing bad things and in opposition to God or his people. See Walton, Genesis: The NIV Application Commentary, 297ff. These verses appear to describe a situation based on obedience/disobedience to the laws of God. See the discussion in John E. Hartley, Genesis, New International Biblical Commentary (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2000), 95–96; Day, Genesis 1–11, 77–80.

[17] “The Lord ordained Noah after his own order. In other words, the Lord ordained Noah to ‘the Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God.’” Jeffrey M. Bradshaw and David J. Larsen, In God’s Image and Likeness 2: Enoch, Noah, and the Tower of Babel (Salt Lake City: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2014), 228.

[18] The translation of this word has been notoriously problematic and is charged with mythological meaning. See the discussion in D. Mangum, M. Custis, and W. Widder, Genesis 1–11 (Gen. 6:1–22) (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, (2012). The Hebrew and Greek words נְפִלִים and γίγαντες, respectively, are generally translated as the word “giants” (see F. Brown, S. R. Driver, and C. A. Briggs, Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977], 658) and are often interpreted in light of traditions associated with Greek mythology and a race of giant warriors or even semi-gods who were lost in major battles and imprisoned in the region of the dead. However, “giants—The term in Hebrew implies not so much the idea of great stature as of reckless ferocity, impious and daring characters, who spread devastation and carnage far and wide.” R. Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and D. Brown, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 1997), 1:21. The interpretation of the Nephalim as “fallen ones” seems to work in terms of individuals who had “fallen and were no more,” in this case, ones who have fallen spiritually. See Day, Genesis, 83. Whatever the etymology, the description of the term in the flood story implies that the Nephalim “contributed to the increasing state of wickedness.” Hartley, Genesis, 97.

[19] The mention of Enoch in these passages and the gospel given to him, which was then being preached to the people of Noah, provides an interesting clue to interpreting the story: “Enoch’s escape from death is tied directly to the fact that he ‘walked with God.’ This phrase ‘walked with God’ describes a life of faithfulness and obedience to God. Noah too ‘walked with God’ and was ‘a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time’ (6:9). Abraham and Isaac, as faithful servants of God, also walked with God (24:40; 48:15). The repetition of the phrase in vv. 22 and 24 suggests it is the author’s way of explaining why Enoch did not die. By means of subtle selectivity the author’s purpose begins to emerge. Enoch found life and escaped the curse, death. In this brief episode the author uncovers a fundamental truth: Death is not the last word. In the face of death one can, like Enoch, find life by ‘walking with God.’ In his focus on Enoch’s fate (and faith), the author has found a door leading back to the tree of life (3:24). The door is faith and obedience, or, as later illustrated in the life of Abraham, to trust and obey. For Enoch the door opened because he ‘walked with God. . . . For the author of Genesis, ‘walking with God’ is the way to life.” Sailhamer, Genesis, locs. 3994–4003 of 10676, Kindle. The premise of the flood story is the contrast between obedience and disobedience and salvation and death.

[20] “The text has built strong moral grounds for the flood based on the wickedness of humans and pathos of a just God. But again, it is the ‘grace’ (Hebrew ḥēn, NRSV’s “favor”) of Yahweh that intervenes. . . . Noah does not somehow limit God’s plan but rather becomes the excuse God is seeking in order to avoid the disaster. Yahweh’s approval of Noah turns the tide of evil and destruction. The one who is grieved at heart before the inevitable obliteration is the one with whom the single human being finds favor.” Arnold, Genesis, 91. God is attempting to save in the story.

[21] Arnold, Genesis, 99. Concerning the wickedness and violence that prevailed, and the impossibility “to deny the need for punitive action,” Arnold, Genesis, 98 explains, “On the one hand, Noah stands before God as one who brings a smile to God’s face and fulfills the purpose for humanity’s existence. On the other hand, the inevitability of the flood is not to be denied. . . . Noah’s righteous presence changes everything and nothing; that is, it changes nothing about the need for an expression of God’s justice, but it changes everything about our understanding of God’s mercy. The justice of God demands that a flood occur, but the grace of God allows for an escape for Noah.”

[22] The verb used in expressing repenting (“it repented the Lord that he had made man on earth”) is from the root נחם: see Brown, Driver, and Briggs, Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, 636.2, which, besides repenting, has meanings such as to “be sorry,” “be moved to pity,” “have compassion (for others),” or “suffer grief or distress.” See also J. Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Hebrew (Old Testament) (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 1997). The Arabic term نَحَمَ (naḥama) can mean to breathe pantingly and may help describe the exasperated anguish of both God and Noah, highlighting the compassion being depicted in the account where repentance is the desired outcome. The Lord is not repenting for creating his children; rather, he is about to have compassion on them and the state that they have created for themselves through their own wickedness. Genesis 6:6 uses parallel verbs pertaining to the fact that the Lord “was grieved to his heart” and was experiencing “emotional pain.” The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Biblical Studies Press, 2006), Genesis 6:6. It is appropriate that Noah, whose name means, to rest, give rest, settle, provide quiet, appease, or possibly the nuance of to comfort, is called to cry repentance to the people. Jon D. Levenson, “Genesis,” in The Jewish Study Bible, ed. Adele Berlin and Marc Brettler (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), 21 states, “The sudden mention of Noah (v. 8)—whose Heb name (“n-ḥ”) is “favor” (“ḥ-n”) spelled backwards—indicates that human perversion and divine grief will not be the last word.” Noah’s father had given him the name because “this same shall comfort us concerning our work” (Genesis 5:29), and Noah’s great-grandfather, Enoch, after viewing the flood that would come upon Noah’s generation and who “refused to be comforted” (Moses 7:44), did indeed find some comfort witnessing the day of the Lord and the redemption of the world. Then Enoch received the following promise:

And it came to pass that Enoch continued his cry unto the Lord, saying: I ask thee, O Lord, in the name of thine Only Begotten, even Jesus Christ, that thou wilt have mercy upon Noah and his seed, that the earth might never more be covered by the floods.

And the Lord could not withhold; and he covenanted with Enoch, and sware unto him with an oath, that he would stay the floods; that he would call upon the children of Noah;

And he sent forth an unalterable decree, that a remnant of his seed should always be found among all nations, while the earth should stand;

And the Lord said: Blessed is he through whose seed Messiah shall come; for he saith—I am Messiah, the King of Zion, the Rock of Heaven, which is broad as eternity; whoso cometh in at the gate and climbeth up by me shall never fall; wherefore, blessed are they of whom I have spoken, for they shall come forth with songs of everlasting joy . (Moses 7:50–53)

Noah would indeed become a source of comfort and rest to his descendants (compare Moses 8:9). On the thematic wordplay on Noah evident in terms like comfort and rest in Moses 7‒8, see Matthew L. Bowen, “‘This Son Shall Comfort Us’: An Onomastic Tale of Two Noahs,” Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 23 (2017): 266, where Bowen explains, “In the context of the narrative, Enoch’s declaration ‘I will refuse to be comforted’ clearly anticipates the formal etiology subsequently proffered in Genesis 5:29/Moses 8:9: ‘And he called his name Noah, saying: This [son] shall comfort us [Hebrew yĕnaḥămēnû] concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed.’ . . . Enoch’s ‘refus[al] to be comforted’ thus frames Noah’s story in an entirely new way and helps us understand the ‘comfort’ which Lamech foresees (and which the Lord shows Enoch) [that] Noah will bring. Noah and his posterity—specifically his descendant Jesus Christ—will eventually bring ‘comfort’ and ‘rest.’”

[23] Moses 8:30 clarifies that the Lord would destroy all flesh “from off the earth” not “with the earth” (as Genesis 6:13 reads). The preservation of the earth, the covenant, and a family of covenant keepers provides the undergirding of the story.

[24] Schmidt, “Flood Narratives,” 2343 lists Ezekiel 14:14, 20 and Isaiah 54:9 as the only three references. For an overview of Flood references in biblical, Targumic, pseudepigraphic, and rabbinic sources, see Lewis, “Flood,” 800–803. There it states, “Outside Genesis, biblical texts advert to a primordial flood and to isolated details of the Genesis narrative. . . . The word mabbûl occurs outside of Genesis only in Ps 29:10, but the flood motif may be reflected in later sections of the Isaianic prophetic corpus.” Schmidt, “Flood Narratives,” 800.

[25] See Lewis, “Flood,” 801 for the prolific mention of Noah the person—rather than mentioning the flood—in biblical, apocryphal, rabbinic, and Christian traditions.

[26] More and more, Flood theology is postulated in modern scholarship through studies seeking similarities in phraseology and covenantal contexts identified in the book of Genesis. Parallels are being identified in Creation references in relation to impending destruction as a result of the breaking of covenants in books such as Amos, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Habakkuk, and Isaiah. See, for example, Huddleston, Eschatology, 140–43; Gavin Cox, “The ‘Hymn’ of Amos: An Ancient Flood Narrative,” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 38, no. 1 (2013): 81–108. While not all the examples cited in these studies are, in my opinion, directly connected with the flood in Genesis, it is clear that a flood theology is becoming more recognized as existing in the Bible. Given the covenantal magnitude of what the original story represented in Genesis and in conjunction with its implications for the future, it seems that these studies are worthy of our consideration and attention. It is clear that the flood story was viewed with a present judgment, but the story also carried eschatological undertones related to the future, end of days, and restoration. Interestingly, the layout and language of the flood story, particularly in relation to the construction of the ark, has also been compared to the layout and terminology used in both the Creation account as well as in the construction of the tabernacle. These stories appear to form a thematic link with each other and highlight God’s designs in providing deliverance and salvation through the covenant. See Sailhamer, Genesis, loc. 4345 of 10676, Kindle; Waltke, Genesis, 127–28, 152; Nicolas Wyatt, “‘Water, Water Everywhere . . .’: Musings on the Aqueous Myths of the Near East,” in The Mythic Mind: Essays on Cosmology and Religion in Ugaritic and Old Testament Literature, ed. Nicholas Wyatt (London: Equinox, 2005), 189–237.

[27] Thematic and stylistic similarities between the flood and covenant theology in the Bible “show that God’s covenant at Sinai did not signal a new act of God. The covenant at Sinai was a return to God’s original promises in creation. At Sinai, as in the past, God restored fellowship with humankind and called them back. The covenant with Noah plays an important role in the author’s understanding of the restoration of divine blessing. It lies midway between God’s original blessing of humankind at creation (1:28) and God’s promise to bless ‘all peoples on the earth’ through Abraham (12:1–3). What all of these covenants have in common is a focus on the universal scope of the divine blessing (1:28; 9:10; 12:1–3).” Sailhamer, Genesis, locs. 4733–37 of 10676, Kindle. See also Arnold, Genesis, 1; Brueggemann, Genesis, 11; Theodore Hiebert, “Dividing Genesis: The Role of the Flood in Biblical History and the Shape of Israelite Identity” (address at SBL annual meeting, 25 November 2013). It has also been stated that the human family was “in unity growing out of its descent from Noah.” John H. Tullock and Mark McEntire, The Old Testament Story, 7th ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2006), 46. Also, “the covenant with Noah is the foundation for rather than a prefiguration of the subsequent, sanctifying covenant begun with Abraham, given full form on Sinai, and completed on Golgotha. ‘Be still before the LORD,’ the covenant with Noah would seem to signal, ‘and wait patiently for him’ (ps. 37:7).” R. R. Reno, Genesis, Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press; Baker Publishing Group, 2010), 127.

[28] Arnold, Genesis, 91, 101, 111.

[29] Arnold, Genesis, 91. “God is aware that something is deeply amiss in creation, so that God’s own dream has no prospect of fulfillment. With that perverted imagination, God’s world has begun to conjure its own future quite apart from the future willed by God (cf. 11:6). As a result, verse 6 shows us the deep pathos of God. God is not angered but grieved. He is not enraged but saddened. God does not stand over against but with his creation. Tellingly, the pain he bequeathed to the woman in 3:16 is now felt by God. Ironically, the word for ‘grieve’ (‘asaυ) is not only the same as the sentence on the woman (‘pain’ 3:16), but it is also used for the state of toil from which Noah will deliver humanity (5:29). The evil heart of humankind (v. 5) troubles the heart of God (v. 6). This is indeed ‘heart to heart’ between humankind and God. How it is between humankind and God touches both parties. As Ernst Wiirthwein suggests, it is God who must say, ‘I am undone.’” Brueggemann, Genesis, 77.

[30] John Taylor, in Journal of Discourses (London: Latter-day Saints’ Book Depot, 1854–86), 24:291. The flood as an element of compassion was also addressed in rabbinic literature: “Noah’s story becomes the occasion for the rabbis to highlight God’s compassion. Taking 120 years to build the ark, Noah has ample time to warn his hard–hearted compatriots of their doom. In hopes they would repent, God even tacks on an additional week at the end to give one last chance for repentance.” Pleins, “Flood,” 467. Elder Neal A. Maxwell stated that God intervened “when corruption had reached an agency-destroying point that spirits could not, in justice, be sent here.” Neal A. Maxwell, We Will Prove Them Herewith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1982), 58; see also “The Flood Was an Act of Love,” in Old Testament Student Manual: Genesis–2 Samuel (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2003), 55–56. As difficult as the act may be to comprehend, John Taylor summarized what this calculated act of compassion in the form of the flood accomplished: “By taking away their earthly existence he [God] prevented them from entailing their sins upon their posterity and degenerating them, and also prevented them from committing further acts of wickedness.” John Taylor, in Journal of Discourses, 19:158–59. Chrysostom, a fourth–fifth-century AD archbishop of Constantinople, referred to the destruction of the flood as “a strange form of loving kindness.” R. W. L. Moberly, Old Testament Theology: The Theology of the Book of Genesis (New York: Cambridge, 2009), 111. Other Christian writings (like Homilies on Gen. 28:4), described the flood as an act of love that prevented further wickedness. According to Chrysostom, God said, “I brought on the deluge out of love, so as to put a stop to their wickedness and prevent their going to further extremes.” Andrew Louth, ed., Genesis 1–11, in Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: Old Testament, ed. Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001), 1:154. The early Jewish retelling of the flood story (1 Enoch 1–36, The Book of the Watchers), “consistently presents the flood not primarily as a means of punishing the wicked, as in Genesis, but as an act accomplished by God on behalf of the righteous.” Ryan E. Stokes, “Flood Stories in 1 Enoch,” in Opening Heaven’s Floodgates: The Genesis Flood Narrative, Its Context, and Reception, ed. Jason Silverman, Biblical Intersections 12 (Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press, 2013), 231.

[31] W. W. Phelps, “Letter No. 9,” Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate, July 1835, 146. “Here Phelps mentions both a baptism and a cleansing of the earth from “her sins.” While these may have been merely rhetorical moves, Phelps can also be seen as introducing, however preliminarily and unintentionally, an ambiguity into the discussion that still besets Mormon discourse. That is, though by “her sins” he likely referred to sins committed by mortals living on the earth, subsequent developments make his usage notable because it can be read as positing a sentient earth. This ambiguity, it turns out, would continue throughout the twentieth century in much of the Latter-day Saint discourse about the Flood.” Hoskisson and Smoot, “Noah’s Flood,” 136–63.

[32] By the nineteenth century, Protestant groups, for example, viewed the flood story through of lens of baptism. “C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, two highly influential German Protestant scholars of the second half of the nineteenth century, in a sophisticated analysis of 1 Peter 3, opined that the flood of Noah contained dual symbolism. On the one hand, according to Keil and Delitzsch, the flood represented ‘a judgment of such universality and violence as will only be seen again in the judgment at the end of the world,’ yet on the other, the flood was also ‘an act of mercy which made the flood itself a flood of grace, and in that respect a type of baptism (1 Pet. iii. 21), and of life rising out of death. . . . As would be expected, there is considerable overlap between nineteenth-century Latter-day Saint and Protestant understandings of the flood as a cleansing of the earth of wickedness and therefore a symbolic prefiguring of Christian baptism. Yet Latter-day Saints seemed much more invested than Protestants in interpreting the flood as a literal ordinance, perhaps because the Restoration presents stronger forms of sacramentalism than Protestantism does.” Paul Y. Hoskisson and Stephen O. Smoot, “Was Noah’s Flood the Baptism of the Earth?,” in Let Us Reason Together: Essays in Honor of the Life’s Work of Robert L. Millet, ed. J. Spencer Fluhman and Brent L. Top (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center and Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, 2016), 136–63.

[33] “The destruction of the Antediluvian world, by water, was typical of receiving remission of sins through baptism. The earth had become clothed with sin as with a garment; the righteous were brought out and saved from the world of sin, even by water; the like figure, even baptism, doth now save us, says Peter (1 Peter iii. 21). . . . Noah and family were removed, and disconnected from sins and pollutions, by means of water; so baptism, the like figure, doth now remove our souls from sins and pollutions, through faith on the great atonement made upon Calvary.” Lorenzo Snow, The Only Way to Be Saved (London: D. Chalmers, 1841), 3–4.

[34] Orson Pratt, in Journal of Discourses, 1:331; Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1980), 4:20. For a discussion on the argumentation in favor of the universality of the flood based on the language of the text, see Richard M. Davidson, “Biblical Evidence for the Universality of the Genesis Flood,” Origins 22, no. 2 (1995): 58–73; “The Genesis Flood Narrative: Crucial Issues in the Current Debate,” Andrews University Seminary Studies 42, no. 1 (2004): 49–77. For a brief summary of academic arguments for and against a universal flood, see J. C. Kuo, “Flood,” in The Lexham Bible Dictionary, ed. J. D. Barry et al., (Bellingham: Lexham Press, 2012, 2013, 2014). Concerning the issue of the universality of the flood, the text seems to imply it, aligning with the representation of a baptism.

[35] Hoskisson and Smoot, “Noah’s Flood,” 136–63. See Aaron P. Schade and Matthew Bowen, “Moses 8: Noah and the Flood,” in The Book of Moses: From the Ancient of Days to the Latter Days (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2021).

[36] Restoration scripture gives us unique glimpses into the flood story through various eyes: God’s, Enoch’s, and Noah’s. In Genesis, “the reader views the events solely from the perspective of the main characters. This means that we see the story only as those inside the ark saw it. Or, to say it differently, we don’t see what they also don’t see. There is no neutral corner from which the reader may safely view the events.” Sailhamer, Genesis, locs. 4251–53 of 10676, Kindle. The Book of Moses sheds immense light on the flood story from various perspectives.

[37] See Richard D. Draper, S. Kent Brown, and Michael D. Rhodes, The Pearl of Great Price: A Verse-by-Verse Commentary (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2005), 140. For a discussion on 1 Enoch and the context of the earth’s cries, see Stokes, “Flood Stories in Enoch,” 235. See also chapter 3 in this volume.

[38] See Cox, “Hymn,” 97, 101–2 for the interpretation that later biblical writers such as Isaiah and Amos used the flood to project a theme of destruction and salvation through the development of a flood theology, and where the conclusion is reached that “the Noachian covenant involved salvation within the Ark of a faithful remnant.” Cox, “Hymn,” 97.

[39] In Mesopotamian flood accounts, the boat is sometimes portrayed as being constructed by material from a holy shrine and constructed in the shape of a Ziggurat (a holy place of worship—possibly depicting the concept of divine deliverance). See Walton, “Flood,” 316.

[40] The word used for ark in the Old Testament occurs only in the flood story and for the container in which Moses was placed by his mother when she sent him down the Nile River in efforts of divinely rescuing him from death. The ark has also been interpreted as a functioning sanctuary. See Walton, “Flood,” 322.

[41] Early Christian traditions viewed Noah as a template of Christ, as well as another Adam, and the ark became symbolic of Christ’s Church. See Louth, Ancient Christian Commentary, 131–35, and H. S. Benjamins, “Noah, the Ark, and the Flood in Early Christian Theology: The Ship of the Church in the Making,” in Interpretations of the Flood, ed. Florentino García Martínez and Gerardus Petrus Luttikhuizen (Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 1998), 131–35. These became powerful symbols of Christ’s redemptive power and the necessity of entering his church clean (just as clean animals and righteous Noah entered the ark), which enabled a process of salvation. Subsequently, early Christian fathers, such as Justin, viewed the flood in line with 1 Peter 3:18–21 and the cleansing power of baptism. See Benjamins, “Ark,” 136–40. The process entails coming to Christ, being cleansed through the waters of baptism, and entering his church in holiness. The description of clean animals has also been situated within priestly language and covenantal contexts. See Waltke, Genesis, 138.

[42] Sailhamer, Genesis, locs. 4425–30 of 10676, Kindle. “Like the Tabernacle, Noah’s Ark “was designed as a temple,” and the “Ark’s three decks suggest both the three divisions of the Tabernacle and the threefold layout of the Garden of Eden. . . . Indeed, each of the decks of Noah’s Ark was exactly “the same height as the Tabernacle and three times the area of the Tabernacle court.” Bradshaw and Larsen, In God’s Image and Likeness 2, 126–28.

[43] Hoskisson and Smoot, “Noah’s Flood,” 136–63.

[44] Longman and Walton, Lost World of the Flood, 97.

[45] Pratt, in Journal of Discourses, 16:49.

[46] The covenant protects three fundamental issues explained in Genesis 9:1–7: “(1) the propagation of life (9:1, 7), (2) the protection of life, from both animals and humans (9:2a, 4–6), and (3) the sustenance of life (9:2b–3).” Waltke, Genesis, 143.

[47] See Nahum M. Sarna, The JPS Torah Commentary: Genesis (Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 1989), 62. The number seven and its meaning may be associated with covenantal activities and the swearing of oaths. The Hebrew verb שָׁבַעswear, take an oath,” seems to derive from the word “seven,” meaning “seven oneself, or bind oneself by seven things.” Brown, Driver, and Briggs, Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon; Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages. A few possible examples of this may be found in Genesis 21:27–34; Numbers 22:37–23:3; 2 Kings 5:10–15. Thus, although such an etymology for swearing is not certain, it falls within the semantic domain of the word and appears to be a focal point in the story.

[48] See Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 175. See also Arnold, Genesis, 110, who points out the use of qwm, instead of kārat, which is the verb usually employed in initiating a new covenant rather than ratifying a previously existing one (the duty of qwm). For a discussion on some of the complex issues surrounding the interpretation of the phraseology of covenants, as well as some pros and cons of the interpretation followed above, see Day, Creation to Babel, 123–36. For a possible link and development of a flood theology and applied phraseology in relation to covenant renewal in ancient Israel, see John H. Sailhamer, “Genesis,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Genesis–Leviticus, rev. ed, ed. Tremper Longman III and David E. Garland (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008), 131, where Genesis 8–9 is compared with Exodus 24:4–18 against the backdrop of Creation, salvation, deliverance, blessings, signs, and covenant renewal within the framework of the Israelites’ exodus and reception of law codes in the desert.

[49] Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 170, offers another interesting link between Enoch and Noah; they both “walked with God” (Genesis 5:22, 24; 6:9). “This phrase puts Noah on a par with Enoch (5:22, 24), the only other named individual to have walked with (התהלך את) God. . . . He walked with God like Enoch, the only man in Genesis to have been translated to heaven. Utnapishtim [Mesopotamian flood story] went to dwell with the gods after the flood, but Noah enjoyed God’s close presence beforehand.” Arnold, Genesis, 88, explains that the terminology “describes Noah as a an especially righteous individual (6:9), and connotes a life of consistent fellowship with God.” Moses 8:27 states that Noah’s sons also walked with God.

[50] “History, 1838–1856, volume C-1 [2 November 1838–31 July 1842] [addenda],” p. 18 [addenda], The Joseph Smith Papers; “Instruction on Priesthood, circa 5 October 1840,” p. 8, The Joseph Smith Papers. As discussed, some scholars have also proposed the covenant made with Noah originated with Adam. See discussion in Day, Genesis 1–11, 123–36.

[51] Hartley, Genesis, 110.

[52] Nahum M. Sarna, Chaim Potok, Jacob Milgrom, and Jeffrey H. Tigay, The JPS Torah Commentary: Genesis (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1989), 63.

[53] J. Massyngberde Ford, Revelation (Garden City: Doubleday, 1975), 71. “It is true that Noah’s flood is the only mabbul that the Bible acknowledges, but the use in Psalm 29 compared to the broader cultural usage suggests that the word may have had broader currency as a cosmic water-weapon wielded by deity.” Walton, Genesis: The NIV Application Commentary, 313.

[54] R. G. Branch, “Rainbow,” in Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch, ed. T. Desmond Alexander and David W. Baker (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002), 667.

[55] Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages.

[56] For a few examples of ʾôṯ in a pledge-covenantal context, see Genesis 9:12–13, 17; 17:11; Exodus 31:13, 31:17; Ezekiel 20:12, 20. “In Genesis the visible “sign” of the covenant is a rainbow in the “clouds” (beʿ ānān, 9:13–17); in Exodus the covenant is marked by the appearance of the glory of God in the “cloud” (heʿ ānān, 24:15) that covered the mountain.” Sailhamer, Genesis, locs. 4728–30 of 10676, Kindle. “Thus, when the rainbow is viewed in light of the preceding Flood narrative, its appearance at the very moment when one can see both darkness and light in the sky comes to symbolize God’s commitment to light over darkness, to beauty over chaos, to life over death.” Moberly, Theology, 110–11.

[57] Michael V. Fox, “The Sign of the Covenant: Circumcision in Light of the Priestly ʾôṯ Etiologies,” Revue biblique 81 (1974): 557–96. “Because this covenant is the first one explicitly mentioned in Scripture, the rainbow is the first sign of a covenant. Later we will see that circumcision is the sign of the Abrahamic covenant (Gen 17: 9–14), the sabbath is the sign of the Mosaic covenant (Ex 31:12–18), and the Lord’s Supper is the sign of the new covenant (Lk 22: 20). These signs serve as reminders to the covenant partners of the relationship established between them. In the case of the rainbow, God says the sign will especially remind God of his commitment to his creatures, human and all other living creatures, to allow for continuity of creation by not bringing a flood again.” Longman and Walton, Lost World of the Flood, 105–6.

[58] Laurence A. Turner, Vetus Testamentum 43, Fasc. 1 (January 1993): 119–24. The word rāqîaʿ, sometimes translated as “firmament,” is also a term used in the Creation account, accentuating a re-creation to a state of innocence through the mechanism of the flood.

[59] קֶשֶת, Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, ed. G. Johannes Botterweck, Helmer Ringgren, and Heinz-Josef Fabry (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2011), 13:206–7. “The designation of the rainbow as a sign of the covenant does not suggest that this was the first rainbow ever seen. The function of a sign is connected to the significance attached to it. In like manner, circumcision is designated as a sign of the covenant with Abraham, yet that was an ancient practice, not new with Abraham and his family.” Walton, The IVP Bible Background, 39.

[60] “An eleventh-century Assyrian relief shows two hands reaching out of the clouds, one hand offering blessing, the other holding a bow. Since the word for rainbow is the same word as that used for the weapon, this is an interesting image.” Walton, The IVP Bible Background, 39; Walton, Genesis: The NIV Application Commentary, 345.

[61] Keel and Schroer, Creation, 154.

[62] “Old Testament Revision 1,” p. 24, The Joseph Smith Papers.

[63] We may not know all the reasons why the bow was chosen as the token, but perhaps the shape indicated an exit and a return, stretching “from earth to heaven and extend(ing) from horizon to horizon,” demonstrating a totality and bridge between heaven and earth. Waltke, Genesis, 146. Some scholars have interpreted the rainbow to form a bridge between heaven and earth. See Moberly, Old Testament Theology, 110; Branch, “Rainbow,” 668. Although on the periphery of the current point, it is interesting that Cox, “Ancient Flood Narrative,” 89, while examining the development of a flood theology in the book of Amos, finds similarities in flood phraseology between biblical and Egyptian texts, which parallel “Egyptian temple—throne allusions,” “inundations ascending up to the sky,” and language that “describes ascent into the sky, then descent back to earth.” The bow is used elsewhere to depict humans who had entered God’s presence. “The rainbow was thought to typify the ancient connection between the world of the gods and the world of [humankind]. . . . The later Rabbis carried this thought further in their warning not to look at the rainbow.” G. Kittel and W. G. Bromiley, eds., Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1966, repr. 1999), 3:340.

[64] Givens, Pearl of Greatest Price, 75–76. Schade and Bowen, “Moses 8: Noah and the Flood.”

[65] It may also be of interest that scholars identify a turning point of pre- and post-flood activities as hinging upon God “remembering” Noah, which is displayed in a chiastic pattern: a series and its inversion. The story highlights a “de-creation” and a “re-creation.” See Gordon J. Wenham, “Genesis,” in Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible, ed. James D. G. Dunn (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2003), 44. God’s activities are characterized by bridging heaven and earth, and the deliverance of Noah foreshadows the eschatological nuances applied to the text and the Second coming of Christ as the Savior and Redeemer of the covenant.

[66] For the effects of Moses 7 on the early Church and its pursuit of Zion, a New Jerusalem, see the chapter on Zion in Schade and Bowen, Book of Moses.

[67] Although the context is not identical with Enoch’s experience presented in the Book of Moses, 1 Enoch preserves a tradition that associates the wicked of Noah’s day being imprisoned to preserve righteous Noah. 1 Enoch 17–36 also describe Enoch’s purported experiences and narrate, “Enoch’s journey to the end of the earth, in which the patriarch visits various sites of eschatological import, such as the garden of Eden, the holding chambers of the dead, and the prison in which the rebellious Watchers [wicked] are being held until the day of judgment. Enoch’s eyewitness account assures the reader that these places do indeed exist and, thus, that a day is coming in which the righteous and wicked will be rewarded according to their deeds.” Stokes, “Flood Stories in Enoch,” 235. Day, Genesis 1–11, 83 also postulates that a parallel term used in the flood account exists between Nephilim, discussed earlier as potentially representing “fallen ones,” and a word describing and being associated with “the dead.” Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 143 also discusses some interesting connections with the Nephilim as they appear in the Bible: “If Ezek 32:20–28 is alluding [to] Gen 6:1–4, it seems likely that he [Ezekiel] connected the Nephilim with נפל “to fall.” There he repeatedly speaks of גבורים “the warriors,” the same term as here, who have fallen in battle and who now inhabit Sheol. Similarly, the gigantes of Greek mythology were defeated and imprisoned in the earth.” Origen, a third-century Christian theologian, believed the three decks of the ark were symbolic of heaven, earth, and the underworld, and the decks constituted individual progress within God’s Church. Benjamins, “Ark,” 148.

[68] Lewis, “Flood,” 801.

[69] Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation: Sermons and Writings of Joseph Fielding Smith (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954), 2:154.

[70] Petersen, Noah and the Flood, 62–63. See also Wilford Woodruff, in Journal of Discourses, 13:163.

[71]Times and Seasons, 15 April 1842,” p. 760, The Joseph Smith Papers.

[72] Arnold, Genesis, 88.

[73] Waltke, Genesis, 159.

[74] John Taylor, Mediation and Atonement (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1972), 83.

[75] JST Genesis 9:4–6 has Noah offering burnt offerings, giving thanks, and rejoicing in his heart. Giving thanks may constitute a Peace Offering/Thank Offering, although the Genesis text does not designate other categories of sacrifice offered by Noah. The sacrifice is simply described as עֹלָה, “burnt offering.” In light of the priestly code presented in Leviticus and the sequence in which sacrifices were to be offered (Sin/Transgress, Burnt, and Peace offerings being three major categories with subsets within each), some interesting things may be happening here with Noah’s sacrifice. “There is no indication that the sacrifice was a sin offering—the sin of the earth (6:5) had already been judged by the flood. The sacrifice more likely symbolized a restoration of harmony between God, creation, and humanity.” See Genesis 8:20 in J. D. Barry, M. S. Heiser, M. Custis, D. Mangum, and M. M. Whitehead, Faithlife Study Bible (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2012). Noah may thus be offering a burnt offering (Leviticus 1; 6:9–13), in “similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father” (Moses 5:7), and as insinuated in the JST mentioned above, offering a category of Peace offerings which may have included a Thank Offering, or even a Vow or Freewill Offering in covenant renewal (Leviticus 22:18–21). “It is noteworthy that when the three offerings were offered together, the sin always preceded the burnt, and the burnt the peace offerings. Thus, the order of the symbolizing sacrifices was the order of atonement, sanctification, and fellowship with the Lord.” Latter-day Saint Bible Dictionary, s.v. “sacrifices.” Individuals have attempted to provide symbolic connections between the dove Noah sends out (a raven is also listed) and the dove that appears at Jesus’s baptism (Matthew 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22; John 1:32). Early Christian writer Maximus connected the two and wrote, “‘The very dove that once hastened to Noah’s ark in the flood now comes to Christ’s church in baptism’ (64.2; cf. 50.2 on the flood). As was true with regard to Noah, ‘baptism is a flood to the sinner and a consecration to the faithful’; ‘by the Lord’s washing, righteousness is preserved and unrighteousness is destroyed’ (50.2).” Everett Ferguson, Baptism in the Early Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2009), 653. The symbol of a dove may help create a descriptive environment of postbaptismal sanctification, working in conjunction with the personal and eschatological roles the flood story plays in Bible theology. Following the flood, the dove, and the coming forth to the mountain peak to offer sacrifice, in JST Genesis 9:5 we read, “And the Lord spake unto Noah, and he blessed him.”

[76] “God accepted his sacrifice, indicating that now deity and humanity were reconciled.” Bandstra, Reading the Old Testament, 78. The comparison of a mountain peak and a temple is quite common, and it is used in the Epic of Gilgamesh story of the flood. Ziggurat temple towers are sometimes referred to as “house of the foundation of heaven and earth,” “house of the bond between heaven and earth,” and “house of the mountain” Ziggurat can also simply mean “mountain.” In Gilgamesh, Utnapishtim pours out a libation to the gods on the Ziggurat (the top of the mountain) after the flood. See Othmar Keel, The Symbolism of the Biblical World (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1997), 113. In similar fashion, so does Noah in the midst of a covenant renewal in a sacred precinct and with a sacred offering. This underscores that God is responsible for the rescue and that he has led Noah to the mountain peak or holy place of salvation, and it is to remind Noah of the sacred nature of covenants, the necessity to renew them, and the significance of recognizing God as the source of salvation through those covenants. We return to holy places to remember what God has done in delivering us and to renew promises to continue his work of salvation while life is granted to us. “After the waters abated, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat (8:4). The picture of the ark resting creates an interesting word play, since the verb used here (“rest” nwḥ) is the same from which Noah’s name is derived. In a similar play on his name, he brings ‘relief’ to humanity (yěnaḥămēnû, 5:29), and now Noah, whose name itself means ‘rest,’ rides the ark to its resting place. Noah’s righteousness blesses humanity with relief and preserves its remnant, along with the animals, in the resting ark in Ararat.” Arnold, Genesis, 104. “At the close of the flood account, the author makes a direct reference to the sacrificial importance of these “clean animals.” They were taken into the ark to be used as offerings (8:20–21). The Lord’s acceptance of these offerings (wayyāraḥ yhwh ʾet -rêaḥ hannîḥōaḥ, “the pleasing aroma,” 8:21) is cast in the terminology of Leviticus 1:17 (rêaḥ nîḥōaḥ layhwh, “an aroma pleasing to the Lord”). As we might expect, these same events at the end of the flood are tied specifically to the notion of a covenant (9:8, 11). The author of the Pentateuch uses the ark in the flood narrative to foreshadow the salvation that comes through the tabernacle and the covenant.” Sailhamer, Genesis, locs. 4424–29 of 10676, Kindle. The ark has also been compared to temples and temple worship. S. W. Holloway, “What Ship Goes There: The Flood Narratives in the Gilgamesh Epic and Genesis Considered in Light of Ancient Near Eastern Temple Ideology,” Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 103 (1991): 328–55.

[77] Collins, Introduction, 80.

[78] Revelation 4:3 describes a rainbow “round about” the throne of God, and Ezekiel 1:28 also portrays Ezekiel witnessing God and a “bow” surrounding him.

[79] Schmidt, “Flood Narratives,” 2348.

[80] Parallels have been drawn between the ark and the priestly images surrounding the tabernacle, and it has been noted that the “author of the Pentateuch uses the ark in the flood narrative to foreshadow the salvation that comes through the tabernacle and the covenant.” Sailhamer, Genesis, locs. 4428–30 of 10676, Kindle.

[81] Howard W. Hunter, “Commitment to God,” Ensign, November 1982, 57.