THE FOURTH VERSION
The narrative of the Deluge
contains two separate statements:
a) the Deluge ended
on the first day of the second year (8:13a).
b) the Deluge ended on the 27th day of month II of the second year (8:14).
Critical commentators have
not paid attention to the first statement, and fundamentalist commentators
have tried to take the text at face value, denying that there is a contradiction.
The latter usually claim
that the waters had withdrawn by the first day of the new year, but
that it took a month and 26 days more for the earth to dry. Perhaps
more reasonable are the fundamentalists who claim simply that Noah waited
a month and 26 days before leaving the Ark. But this explanation is
awkward. The most detailed and clear fundamentalist, Cassuto, states
that on the first day of the second year Noah "verified that the water
had withdrawn," and that on the 27th of the II month "the earth was
now definitely dried up." He was trying to cover up the contradiction
in the text by adding the adverb "definitely"; this implies that there
were two kinds of drying up, one final and an earlier one that was not
final.
The fact is that the two
statements are irreconcilable. This is recognized by implication in
the translation by E. Speiser in the Anchor Bible in order to
give a coherent meaning to the narrative, he translates the text as
reading that on the first day of the new year "the waters had begun
to dry from the earth"  but this is an unwarranted translation. The
hand that added the end on the 27th of the II month, tried to reconcile
the new statement with the older one, by describing the date of the
first day of the year as the day in which "Noah removed the covering
from the Ark." This sentence was placed before a sentence from the earlier
statement which says: "And he saw that the earth was dry." The "covering"
is an entity never mentioned before and which is difficult to explain
in terms of the account of the construction of the Ark. It is amusing
to notice how Cassuto tries to go around the difficulty: "Noah removed
the covering from the Ark and verified, now that his sight could move
freely in every direction, better than from the narrow opening of the
window, that the water had withdrawn."
The ending on the first
day of the second year is explained by the Midrash and the Talmud, a
source of information that strangely has been neglected by modern fundamentalists.
All modern fundamentalists, in order to give a coherent meaning to the
text of Genesis, assume that the 40 days of rising water are a part
of 150 days of rising water. From the Midrashim and the early rabbis
quoted in the Talmud we learn that the way the two basic versions were
reconciled in the synagogue was by assuming that the water rose for
40 + 150 days and that it ebbed for 150 + 40 days.^{(104b)}
Since the first version
spoke of the flood coming in the form of rain for 40 days, and the second
version spoke of the flood coming from above and from below for 150
days, this was explained by assuming that the first 40 days mankind
was granted one more chance to repent. During 40 days rain dropped mercifully,
so that it would have turned into a blessing if mankind had decided
to repent; but at the end of the 40 days the fountains of the deep broke
loose and the flood became utterly devastating.
The construction contrived
by the fourth hand was ingenious. Ingenuity was further manifested in
conceiving a system of figures such that the arithmetic of the Deluge
story would fit both preexilic lineal standards and postexilic ones.
This difficult result was achieved by shifting back and forth between
solar and lunar calendars. This combination was justified by the circumstance
that the third hand had computed by a solar calendar, whereas the two
earlier versions were based on a lunar calendar.
If the water rose for 190
days and the earth was dry on the first day of the new year, this means
that the period of ebb was 118 days (counting by a lunar year of 354
days, as the Midrash and the Talmud do). Now, 190 x 118 = 22,420. This
means that the date which ends the Deluge on the first day of the new
year was introduced after commentators had tried to reconcile the duration
of 40 days and the duration of 150 days by combining them together.
In order to arrive at a result similar to that obtained by the multiplication
based on 40 and on the multiplication based on 150, there was introduced
a multiplication 190 x 118 by which the Deluge had to end on the first
day of the new year.
It is possible to suggest
as a supposition how the mentioned commentators concluded that a period
of 40 + 150 = 190 days of rising water was the correct solution: At
the time the story of the Deluge was so expounded the lineal standard
used by the Jews was the BabylonianEgyptian royal cubit equal to 5/6
Roman cubits. According to this standard the radius of the Earth would
be 12,000,000 cubits. The height of the water of the Deluge would be
reckoned as 18,750 royal cubits on the basis of the earlier calculation
of 22,500 cubits (6/5 18,750 = 22,500). Hence, they could conclude that
the radius of the earth is 40 x 300 x 1000 cubits = 12,000,000 cubits
and the height of the water was about 190 x 100 cubits.
Those who introduced this
calculation started with the interpretation that the period of rising
water was 40 + 150 = 190 days, but they were not satisfied with the
solution according to which the period of ebbing water was 118 days.
They felt that the period of flow and ebb should be equal in length,
but they found that a Deluge of 190 + 190 = 380 days could not be fitted
into any mathematical scheme.
The length of the Deluge
should have been 190 + 190 = 380 days, but it was reduced to 375 days
by assuming that when Genesis speaks of 150 days it means 5 lunar months.
Five lunar months are 5 x 29.5 = 147.5 days, so that the total duration
of the Deluge becomes: 40 + 147.5 + 147.5 + 40 = 375 days
The height of the water
was explained by assuming that the water rose 100 cubits a day for 187.5
days and ebbed 100 cubits a day for 187.5 days. According to this interpretation
the staying in the Ark lasted 187.5 + 187.5 = 375 days. Therefore the
fourth hand added verse 8:14 which states that the earth was dry on
the 27th of month II of the second year, that is, 365 days (a solar
year) + 10 days after the beginning of the Deluge on the 17th of month
II of the first year.
The figure of 187.5 days
was explained by assuming that the references of Genesis to 150 days
were a way of referring to five months, lunar months, which are 147
days. According to Midrashim, the first 40 days of the Deluge extended
from the 17th of Heshvan to the 27th of Kislev, and were continued to
a period of flood lasting through Tebeoth, Shebat, Addar, Nissan and
Iyyar, so that the water began to ebb on the 1st of Sivvan. The total
is 187 days.
There remained half a day
to be accounted for. This was accounted for by considering the difference
between solar and lunar computations. According to the original version
the water came at the end of the 17th day of month II, towards evening,
that is, at the beginning of the 18th day. When one computed by the
moon, the day began in the evening, whereas when one computed by the
sun, the day began in the morning. According to our way of computing,
which is based on a solar calendar, the Deluge began on the evening
of the 17th day. To make it absolutely clear that a solar calculation
was being used in this instance, the fourth hand added, before the original
verse 7:13  which implied that the water came at the end of the 17th
day, lunar reckoning  verse 7:12 which states that it came during
the 17th day. This means that there was water coming through the second
half of the 17th day, solar computation. For this reason the following
references to a period of 40 days of rain were emended to read "forty
days and forty nights." As a result the period of 40 days became 40½
days  41 nights and 40 days.
If the radius of the Earth
is 14,400,000 cubits, it would have to be calculated as:
375 x 384 x 100 = 14,400,000
Possibly they introduced
into the calculation the perfect figure of 380, reckoning:
375 x 380 x 100 = 14,250,000
This figure is quite close
to 14,323,945 cubits which is the value of the radius obtained by computing
by the exact value of p or close to 14,318,181 cubits obtained
by computing p = 3 1/7.
They may have started with
an effort to compute the radius as:
380 x 380 x 100 = 14,440,000 cubits
The radius of the Earth
could be expressed as something between
380 x 380 x 100 = 14,440,000
375 x 375 x 100 = 14,062,500
But the calculation aims
at explaining the Deluge in terms of the postExilic lineal unit, the
BabylonianEgyptian royal cubit, which was the standard familiar to
the congregation attending the synagogues. According to this standard
we have:
Circumference of Earth: 
75,000,000 cubits 
Radius of Earth: 
12,000,000 cubits 
Height of water: 
18,750 cubits 
Two of these figures could
be expressed by dividing the period of 375 days into two periods of
187.5 days:
Circumference of Earth:
187.5 x 40 x 10,000 = 75,000,000 cubits
Height of water:
187.5 x 100 = 18,750 cubits
Radius of the Earth:
187.5 x 40 x 40 x 40 = 12,000,000 cubits
The radius of the Earth
could also be expressed by referring to the starting figures of the
calculation:
40 x 300 x 1000 = 12,000,000
It is easy to see how one
arrived at this interpretation. Reckoning by preexilic cubits, Roman
cubits, one could calculate the height of the flood as:
375 x 60 = 22,500 cubits
The circumference of the Earth can be computed as:
375 x 40 x 40 x 150 = 90,000,000 cubits
In conclusion, the modern
interpreters who have tried to reconcile the elements of the text by
assuming a combination of solar and lunar computations are on the right
track. Those modern interpreters who understand that the references
to 150 days mean 5 lunar months amounting to 147 days, are correct in
terms of the last modification of the text of Genesis.
Alexander Heidel applied
himself to the problem of the contradictions in the accounts of the
duration of the Deluge and tried to remove them by presenting the following
argument, which I quote in full because it is a fine piece of scholarship.^{(105)}
Days 1150 Water
raised or maintained its level for 150 days. For the first 40 days it
poured torrentially from the sky; later, for an indefinite period, the
rain continued more moderately, but the subterranean springs burst forth
because of the downpour.
VII.17
151 Water began to decrease
and the Ark grounded on the mountains of Ararat
 interval of 74 days

225 The tops of the mountains
became visible.
XI
 interval of 40 days

265 Noah opened the window
266 Noah sends out the first bird
 interval of 7 days

273 Noah sends out the second
bird
 interval of 7 days

280 Noah sends out the third
bird
 interval of 7 days

287 Noah sends out the fourth
bird
XII.3
 interval of 28 days

315 The surface was dried
up but the ground was not yet fully dry. Noah removed the covering of
the Ark.
[year II]
I.1
 interval of 56 days

371 The earth was again dry
and Noah left the Ark.
II.27
If we had access to the
complete text of the supposed documents denominated J and P (assuming
for the sake of argument that such documents ever existed) we might
see at once that there were no discrepancies at all between the two.
But even without such access, it has been demonstrated repeatedly
that the alleged contradictions in the Genesis narrative are capable
of a simple and reasonable solution if the story is left as we find
it in the Hebrew text.
I accept Heidel's interpretation
with the following reservations:
a) His argument
does not disprove that there are included in the narrative passages
that indicate a duration of 40 days and a duration of 150 days. It indicates
only that an editor tried to remove contradictions by including the
period of 40 days and the period of 150 within the framework of a longer
span of time.
b) The duration of the
Deluge according to the third version is not 371 days, as Heidel concludes,
but 376 days. The calculation which he reconstructs is based on the
Egyptian calendar of 12 months of 30 days each. But in the Egyptian
calendar the last month of the year was followed by a supplementary
period of five days (epagomenal days), so that the year consisted
of 365 days. If we add the epagomenal days, as we must, the Deluge
lasted 376 days.
The explanation of the
figure of 376 days is simple. According to the Hebrew system of units
the radius of the Earth is 3760 x 3760 cubits = 14,137,600 cubits =
6,275,594 meters.
By stating that the Deluge
lasted 40 or 150 days, Genesis intended to indicate that the radius
of the Earth was increased by about 22,342 cubits.
As a first approach I may
point out that 40 x 40 x 14 cubits is 22,400 cubits, and that 150 x
150 cubits is 22,500 cubits. Calculating exactly the height of the Deluge
was 22,460 cubits. 22,475 cubits = 99,770.61 meters.
So, everything can be tied
together organically, everything can be explained with absolute clarity
and, most important of all, in a simple way. The chronological data,
far from proving that there were two sources of the story, turn out
to constitute an argument in favor of a single source.
Concluding this argument,
which by now is a long one, we can realize that in the story of the
Deluge there are neither contradictions nor repetitions such as would
lead us to consider it composed of elements from two earlier stories.
We can realize, on the contrary, that the story presents evident signs
of a harmonious unity both in conception and in presentation.
Month 
Day 
Days
Passed 
Intervals 
II 
17 
46 



150 
Period of high water. Includes 40 days of rainpour and a period
of slowly decreasing water. 
VII 
17 
226 
Ark rests on mountains in Ararat 
X 
1 
270 
Tops of mountains visible 40 days of further decrease 
XI 
10 
310 
Noah releases the raven 
XI 
17 
317 
First flight of the dove 
XI 
24 
324 
Second flight of the dove 
XII 
1 
331 
Third flight of the dove 
Second year: 
I 
1 
365 
Noah removes the cover
Water has withdrawn 
II 
27 
411 
Earth definitely dry Noah leaves the Ark 
Total staying in Ark: a solar
year of 365 days
104b.
Passages of the Midrash and opinions of rabbis quoted in the Talmud
that speak of two periods of 190 days are listed by Abraham Levene (p.
187).
105. A. Heidel, The Gilgamesh
Epic and Old Testament Parallels (1946).
