The Bible states that the waters went 15 cubits or 22.5 feet above the highest mountain during the flood.

Genesis 7:20 KJV

Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered.

Mount Everest is 29,029 feet high so the waters would have been 29,051.5 feet high.

Where did all the water come from and where did it go?

  • 1
    This question needs to be scoped to a group like YEC – Kris Nov 13 '18 at 1:49
  • There is a cryptic statement in Genesis 10:25 about the earth being divided. Some Bible believing scientists think that a splitting up of a big super continent happened then, pushing apart and pulling together the earths landmass. They believe that as the Americas were pushed away from Europe and Asia, so was India pushed up creating the Himalayas. Thus, the highest mountains were not as high as they are now, and the deepest trenches were not as deep as they are now. (Search words are "plate tectonics", sea-floor spreading", "continental drift", and "mid-oceanic ridge", among others.) – Constantthin Jan 29 '19 at 11:57

This subject is dealt with, in impressive detail and in a scientific manner, by Morris and Whitcombe in their famous book 'The Genesis Flood'.

They draw attention to the mention of waters 'above the firmament' Genesis 1:7 and I agree that it is very likely that it was a protective canopy of water vapour around the earth - at a distance.

Other protective measures can be seen in the asteroid belt (between Mars and Jupiter) which may well be a capturing point for harmful missiles, in the existence of the gas giant planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune) which may well have a protective gravitational effect - maybe the reason for the cluster of asteroids - and in what is termed the 'Oort' cloud, which is believed to be a very large cloud of icy particles circling the solar system beyond Pluto.

The magnetic field around earth is well documented in its protective effect from solar wind which conveys radiation and high velocity particles from the Sun's combustion.

The water canopy would have protected from cosmic radiation and if it is the case that the judgement of God removed this protection then the rapid shortening of human lifespan on earth may well be due to the removal of this protection. Genesis 5 and Genesis 11 contrast the longevities of humans on earth before and after the Flood and it is clear that there was a rapid and permanent reduction in lifespan due to the Flood.

Not only would there be a lack of protection from radiation, there would have been a disastrous change in climactic conditions. What may well have been a humid, temperate and moderate climate, globally - one highly conducive to longevity - might well have become what we experience today, almost immediately after the Flood's recession.

Thus it would be the case that God's judgement was twofold - the removal of the protective layer and the flooding of the earth to remove all flesh. (Except that flesh which was under subjection to faith and, thus, had a provision provided during the judgement of Flood.)

It is worth remarking that anyone could have followed Noah's example and could have built a suitable vessel. They did not need to worry about animals - Noah looked after that - they just had to save themselves in a very much smaller vessel than the ark. But none did. Jesus said they 'were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark' Matthew 24:38.

After the Flood it is clear that the water took time to soak into the earth and Noah had to remain in the ark until it did so, Genesis 8:13,14. There was, presumably, much greater oceanic volume afterwards, than prior to the Flood.

The earth's crust contains truly enormous amounts of water, dispersed widely throughout the planet. It is secreted in sedimentary rock, in aquifers below ground and it floods every mine ever dug below ground. See more information on Wikipedia - Aquifers

The topography of the seabed indicates vast fractures across both the Atlantic floor and the Pacific floor. It would be reasonable to suppose that the weight of water had this effect. 'The fountains of the deep were broken up' may refer to this. Genesis 7:11. This disruption would enable vast quantities of water to gravitate to subterranean levels.

So Morris and Whitcombe suggest - and I agree - that, as to the question posed, the water came from a canopy of water vapour above the earth and it is now visible in the oceans and also to be found below ground, wherever and whenever the earth is penetrated to any depth.

  • Hey Nigel, how can the water now be visible in the oceans when it was 22.5 feet above the highest mountain let alone oceans? The water could not have possibly receded into the oceans because it was covered and above everything including the oceans. The waters must have escaped somewhere below or above – Breakskater Nov 12 '18 at 21:31
  • The earth's crust contains truly enormous amounts of water. I've added this comment into my answer. – Nigel J Nov 12 '18 at 21:34
  • Wouldn't the earth's crust have already filled with water during the 40 days and 40 nights of the flood in order to remain ~5.5 miles high? Did God pull the plug and let it drain into the earth's crust? How do we know that water wasn't already there? How do we know that is where it went? Is there enough volume under the earth for that amount of water? – Breakskater Nov 12 '18 at 21:37
  • The topography of the seabed indicates vast fractures across both the Atlantic floor and the Pacific floor. It would be reasonable to suppose that the weight of water had this effect. 'The fountains of the deep were broken up' may refer to this. Genesis 7:11, – Nigel J Nov 12 '18 at 21:39
  • @Breakskater You see, you were indeed suspecting the event from a scientific point of view. Unfortunately, my answer was deleted, but I still stand with it. There is not need to be a scientific explanation. If you are willing to consider the possibility of a biblical event to be true, then be consistent and allow the possibility for one the core messages of the Genesis to be also true, i.e. that God is omnipotent and can do whatever he sees fit, unconditioned by the laws of the universe. – luchonacho Nov 13 '18 at 10:18

The Flood was a temporary "unmaking" of Creation. The second day saw the waters divided up, while the third saw the waters below gathered up:

God made the expanse, and separated the waters which were below the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so... Then God said, “Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so. (Gen 1:7-9, NASB)

During the Flood, the waters are described as coming from both above and below:

In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on the same day all the fountains of the great deep burst open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened. (Gen 7:11, NASB)

In other words, the water was freed from the constraints put on it by creation: the waters above are no longer held back by the firmament (expanse), and the waters below are no longer confined to where God gathered them. At the end of the Flood, this description is reversed:

Also the fountains of the deep and the floodgates of the sky were closed, and the rain from the sky was restrained (Gen 8:2, NASB)

Having successfully destroyed the corrupt mass of humanity, God puts these restraints back in place. Once again, the waters below are gathered and the waters above are held back by the firmament. Creation is restored to its original vision, at least in part.


The truth of the story of Noah is in interpreting the mystery hidden in the event. It is of no benefit to bicker about the science behind it, this story is a gem pointing to a more profound reality, that of salvation through Jesus Christ.

I for one believe it to be largely allegoric. When referring to the face of the earth, it is referring to the geographic location known by Moses. The highest mountain would then be the highest mountain in the region.

The first five books of the Bible, including the book of Genesis where we find the story of Noah, were written by Moses.

In its interpretation, we need to see it through Moses' worldview and the purpose which it was written for, the instruction of God's covenant people.

It was not meant as a scientific journal or historical account, but rather it is a spiritual instruction manual inspired by God. The book of Genesis is the seedbed where all the plans and purposes of God are revealed. Don't get too stuck on the scientific technicalities and miss out of the mysteries revealed within.

Noah's ark draws strong parallels with a believers' encounter with the cross of Christ.

The culture of this world is exceedingly wicked and exalts itself against the knowledge of Christ. The Word of God that is able to save us, is foolishness to the world. In order to be saved from the flood to come, to be saved from death, Christ in us (represented by Noah which means rest) needs to come and build an ark through which we can be saved.

This ark is the revelation of Christ and to embrace Him, is to embrace our own cross. It means leaving this life in the world behind and entering into his lifeboat with the hope of salvation. Our salvation begins when we enter in but it takes a time of testing in which we must overcome before we walk into the newness of life that has been promised. It is a process of growing from babes in Christ to mature Christians walking in the plans and purposes of God.

The 15 cubits between where the water rises and the top of the highest mountain speak about man's strength versus the wisdom of God. Not even the pinnacle of man's efforts and endeavors, the highest mountain, can save him from the curse of death he is under. Man will always fall short. 15 cubits is also the distance between the outer corner of the tabernacle of Moses to the gate, which represents Christ.

It is through Christ alone that we are saved, through embracing His cross and becoming a spectacle to the world and enduring until the end, that is how we are saved to the uttermost.

The Pharisees studied the scripture because by it they thought they would attain life, but they missed the one the scripture spoke about. When we seek out these scriptures we need to find Him in them, otherwise, we are left with a knowledge that will only be useful for puffing us up.

  • My intent was to determine if the story was purely allegorical or a real event. I believe this event is still plausible. I agree that it is allegorical in nature which leads to a completely different question/topic, because if it were both real and allegorical then that means God controlled real people to make their lives into a parable which can that be deemed immoral? – Breakskater Nov 18 '18 at 5:24

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