That universal flood which was sent upon the earth in the time of Noah, and from which there were but eight persons saved. Moses’ account of this event is recorded in Genesis 6:1-8:22. See ARK OF NOAH. The sins of mankind were the cause of the deluge; and most commentators agree to place it B. C. 2348. After the door of the ark had been closed upon those that were to be saved, the deluge commenced: it rained forty days; "the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened." All men and creatures living on the land perished, except Noah and those with him. For five months the waters continued to rise, and reached fifteen cubits above the highest summits to which any could fly for refuge; "a shoreless ocean tumble round the world." At length the waters began to abate; the highest land appeared, and the ark touched ground upon Mount Ararat. In three months more the hills began to appear. Forty days after, Noah tested the state of the earth’s surface by sending out a raven; and then thrice, at intervals of a week, a dove. At length he removed the covering of the ark, and found the flood had disappeared; he came forth from the ark, reared an altar, and offered sacrifices to God, who appointed the rainbow as a pledge that he would no more destroy mankind with a fool.
Since all nations have descended from the family then preserved in the ark, it is natural that the memory of such an event should be perpetuated in various national traditions. Such is indeed the fact. These traditions have been found among the Egyptians, Chaldeans, Phoenicians, Greeks, Hindoos, Chinese, Japanese, Scythians, and Celts, and in the western hemisphere among the Mexicans, Peruvians, and South sea islanders. Much labor has been expanded in searching for natural causes adequate to the production of a deluge; but we should beware of endeavoring to account on natural principles for that which the Bible represents as miraculous.
In the New Testament, the deluge is spoken of as a stupendous exhibition of divine power, like the creation and the final burning of the world. It is applied to illustrate the long suffering of God, and assure us of his judgment on sin, 2 Peter 3:5-7, and of the second coming of Christ, Matthew 24:38.