The Second Letter to the Watchtower Society

Dear Brothers:

Several years ago, a visiting Circuit Overseer suggested that, should we desire to do more personal study, we try to learn as much about the Great Flood as possible. I wrote to you previously requesting information concerning the passenger list of the ark, and I thank you for the information that you provided me.

Further research I have done on the subject has, of course, led to more questions. My main question is this: Is it possible that the flood of Noah’s day was not literally an earth-wide deluge? It seems that there are two items that need to be addressed in answering this question: First, what does the bible say, and second, what does God’s book of creation reveal?

The book of Genesis states that the flood was earth wide. The Hebrew word for ‘earth’ is ‘erets’. Other occurrences of erets include:
Exodus 9:33: this verse states that the “rain did not pour down on the earth”. Here, the word earth must be understood to mean only in the area of Egypt.
2 Chronicles 36:23: here, Cyrus’ empire is said to include “all the kingdoms of the earth”. But surely this scripture is not meant to include empires in the Far East, Africa or in the Americas. At other times, the word erets is not even translated as earth, making it even more obvious that the word does not necessarily imply the entire physical globe. Examples of this include:
Genesis 12:1. That reads: "Go your way out of your the country that I shall show you".
Genesis 19:31: here Lot’s daughter’s state that there is “not a man in the land (earth, King James version) to have relations with us”. Obviously, they are not referring to the entire physical globe, only the general area in which they live.
And Genesis 20:1 states "Abraham journeyed from there to the land of the Negeb”.
Thus, it appears as though the word erets can be translated as earth, land or country.

What about the book of creation? If the flood was literally planet-wide, where did the waters go? If there was enough water to cover all the earth, where could it drain to? It couldn’t simply drain to the oceans, because they would have already been full. If the water covered even the highest mountains, then the waters’ height must have been more than six miles above current sea level. And remember, the mountains were formed by this time, so this cannot be explained by stating that the earth was ‘flatter’ when the flood waters were draining. If there is six miles of water sitting on top of the oceans, where does it drain to? Additionally, if this amount of flood water fell from the sky in only 960 hours (40 days and nights), this would mean the rain fell at a rate of at least 15 feet per hour!

Plants native to land require oxygen and carbon dioxide, which they remove from the atmosphere. Terrestrial plants cannot survive under water for long periods of time. Even if the plant life was able to obtain these gases from the water, most of them need sunlight. Water depth exceeding six miles would block out sunlight entirely.

Fish, which obviously did not need to be brought onto the ark, would also have had a difficult time. Those requiring freshwater would suddenly find the water too salty, as a rise in sea level would cause the ocean salt to mix into freshwater lakes.

Prior to the flood, Noah would need to bring representatives of each kind of animals into the ark. The incredible number of animals needed (if every kind, earthwide, was to be represented) would be impossible for Noah and his family to care for. Modern zoos employee dozens, sometimes hundreds, of employees to care for only a portion of the animal kinds in existence. Although some sources indicate that ‘only’ a few hundred kinds of animals would be needed to account for the earth’s present day variety, this does not seem plausible. For example, two cats would not be sufficient to produce all the species of cats we have today. A minimum of 36 pairs of cats would have needed to board the ark. Any less and it would be impossible to account for the variety in existence today, unless they rapidly evolved from some sort of proto-cat. Additionally, Noah would need to board 27 pairs of seals, 34 pairs of deer, 44 pairs of rabbits and hares, 951 pairs of bats and 1,137 pairs of rats and mice.

After the flood, many animals would have the difficulty of getting back home. How did the kangaroo get back to Australia? How did the dodo get back to Mauritius? How did the sloths return to the Amazon? How did the emperor penguin return to Antarctica? And how did the giant tortoises get halfway around the globe to the Galapagos?

In view of the foregoing, it appears as though there is sufficient evidence to suggest the flood was perhaps a localized event.

I realize we may not know the answer to some of these questions until a future time. However, the flood was a major event in biblical history; much hinges on it. Later bible writers discussed the flood, and all subsequent human history is built upon it. Friends of mine have discussed these issues with me, and it has caused considerable consternation for some. Your thoughts on the matter would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you for your time and effort. I eagerly await your response.

Your brother,


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