Noah, the Flood and the Edgar Cayce Material
by Kevin J. Todeschi
Perhaps more than any other Old Testament tale, it is the story of Noah and the Flood with which individuals of all ages and religious backgrounds are most familiar. In Christian, Jewish, and Islamic literature, the story of the Deluge plays an important role. However, tales of a global flood are not limited to the Bible or the Koran. In addition to the story of Noah, there are actually more than two hundred Flood traditions scattered throughout the world. Next to the Genesis tale, the most well known account was not even discovered until the latter half of the nineteenth century when twelve tablets were unearthed at Nineveh. These tablets detailed the Gilgamesh Epic and the adventures of Utnapishtim–a Babylonian Noah–and created a worldwide fascination with the Flood, while lending further credence to the possibility of a deluge of mythic proportions.
In the Christian world, the story of Noah has played an important role for two thousand years. At one time the tale was even more important in the lives of individuals than it is today. It was once seen as a story that perfectly embodied the potential that humankind had for degeneration and evil–a story that Jesus brought to mind in the hopes that Christians would ever be watchful of their ways (Matthew 24:37-39). Between the Middle Ages and the nineteenth century the fact that fossilized bones of sea creatures could be found on mountain ranges throughout the world was generally believed to be proof that the Flood had occurred. In Christian medieval towns while Biblical mystery-moral plays were making the circuit the story of Noah and his family was a frequent favorite. Even with the discovery of plate tectonics in the 1800s and the knowledge that ice sheets had once covered much of the Northern Hemisphere– challenging the medieval belief that “fish bones on mountaintops equals world-wide deluge”–the belief in Noah’s Flood was never doubted by those faithful to scripture.
What may be most interesting to students of the Edgar Cayce material is that between March 1939 and July 1944 a number of individuals had past-life readings from Edgar Cayce and were told that they had been members of Noah's immediate family! The Cayce readings also provide additional information about the Flood story. From Cayce’s perspective, Noah and his family were not the only individuals saved from the destruction. The readings suggest that the Flood occurred during the second destruction of Atlantis and corresponded to an Atlantean migration to all parts of the world. Noah’s family somehow preserved the consciousness that had been brought into the earth through Adam and the followers of the Law of One and were instrumental in helping to continue the spiritual and mental evolution of humankind. Perhaps what is most unique from the readings’ standpoint is that God did not send the Deluge; instead, the Divine intervened to prevent humankind from completely destroying itself.
Edgar Cayce also provided detailed information about Noah’s family, including the names of Noah’s daughters-in-law (Rezepatha, Maran, and Shelobothe), whose names are not mentioned in scripture. Clairvoyant insights also suggest that humankind had become so evil and degenerate during Noah’s time that misshapen mixtures and half-human beasts had begun to populate the earth, and would eventually become the basis for the legendary creatures of Greek and Roman mythology.
Essentially, the biblical account of Noah and the Ark is contained in Genesis 5-9. It is the story of an old man, singled out from among the corrupt and wicked of the rest of the world, who found favor in the eyes of God. God told Noah that He had decided to destroy man’s evilness. He gave Noah instructions to build an enormous craft and to enter into it with his wife, his sons, and his son’s wives, as well as two of every kind of creature (birds, mammals and reptiles), and enough food for him to keep all of the Ark’s inhabitants alive for the duration of the Flood that was coming to destroy the earth.
According to the Old Testament, the Ark’s incredible dimensions measured three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide, and thirty cubits high. Historically, a cubit is thought to be the length of a man’s forearm, or somewhere between eighteen and twenty-two inches. It is interesting to note that the Ark’s dimensions of six to one (length to width) were considered so seaworthy that Marine architect George W. Dickie purposefully used the same ratio when constructing the U.S.S. Oregon, which was launched in 1898. For a time, the Oregon was considered the flagship of the American fleet and was one of the most stable vessels ever constructed.
More than one year after Noah and his family first entered the Ark, the craft’s inhabitants disembarked. Noah offered a sacrifice of burnt offerings in thanksgiving for having survived the Deluge and God set a rainbow in the sky as promise that He would never again destroy the earth by flood. From a literal approach to the traditional story, all of humanity is credited with having descended from one of Noah’s three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
In terms of the biblical account, what may come as a surprise to many individuals familiar with the Genesis story is that there is more to the tale than is generally gleamed from a simple reading of the text. In fact, what is not generally known by the modern world is that Genesis contains not one account of the Flood story but two! Over the years theologians and religious scholars have isolated at least three major sources within the book of Genesis: the J source, the P source, and the E source, standing for Jehovah, the Priestly document, and Elohim, respectively. Both the J source and the P source have their own accounts of the Deluge.
Originally, the different sources of Genesis were discovered because of the way in which the sources referred to God. The J source uses only the name “Yahweh” (Lord) when referring to the Deity; the P source uses the names “Elohim” (God) and “El Shaddai” (God Almighty), and the E source uses both “Yahweh” and “Elohim.”
The Jehovistic source dates from the eighth or ninth century B.C. J is concerned with thorough descriptions, the personality of the characters, and the care and involvement of a loving God with His creation. The P document dates from the period after 586 B.C. (when Jerusalem was taken by King Nebuchadnezzar and the Jews were carried into captivity). P is most interested in the literal interpretation of the Law, tradition, and the manner in which God guides his chosen people. Perhaps the most distinctive element in P is the author’s interest in family genealogies and a seemingly endless number of “begettings,” through which can be documented the purity of the line that God used to direct His activities in the earth. However, because of the merging of the independent narratives, we are faced with certain duplicities within the Genesis account, including:
For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life from under heaven; everything that is on the earth shall die...Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him. (P Source, Genesis 6:17 & 22)
...I will send rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living thing that I have made I will blot out from the face of the ground. And Noah did all that the Lord had commanded him. (J Source, Genesis 7:4-5)
Major differences between these two sources also include the number of animals Noah was instructed to take upon the Ark, and the length of the Deluge:
Seven pairs of birds and clean animals and one pair of unclean (Genesis 7:2) The rain lasted 40 days and 40 nights and the water evaporated after three seven-day intervals of Noah releasing the dove; total = 61 days (Genesis 7:4, 7:12, 8:6-8, 8:10, 8:12)
Only one pair of each creature came into the Ark (Genesis 6:19) The water lasted 150 days and remained on the earth for a total of one year and eleven days (Genesis 7:11, 8:14) Anchor Bible
Historically, the separate narratives of the J and P sources were combined by a redactor (compiler) whose job was to bring the two accounts carefully together, discarding superfluous material in the process. As one example of the redactor’s work, there is only one account of the Ark’s construction (Genesis 6: 14-16).
What is perhaps most amazing about the Noah story is the many ways in which seemingly unrelated sources often draw similar conclusions from the tale. For example, because of the information contained in Genesis 2:5-6, a number of Christian authors believe that rain was absent from pre-deluge earth and that the planet received moisture from a water vapor canopy that engulfed it: “…for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth…But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.” This same premise was also advanced by Austrian-born philosopher, educator and clairvoyant, Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), the founder of the Anthroposophical Society.
Steiner reportedly possessed the ability to perceive information beyond the material world, from a “spiritual world” that was just as real to him as the physical world was to others. In describing the pre-deluge earth, Steiner stated:
…at that time the air was saturated with water mist vapors. Man lived in the water mist, which in certain regions never lifted to the point where the air was completely clear. Sun and moon could not be seen as they are today, but were surrounded by colored coronas. A distribution of rain and sunshine, such as occurs at present, did not exist at that time. It only appeared in the post-Atlantean period. Our ancestors lived in a country of mist… (Steiner, “Cosmic Memory,” pg. 253)
Some individuals contend that it was the disappearance of the water vapor canopy and the resulting influx of solar radiation that became responsible for the tremendous decrease in humankind’s longevity–from almost 1,000 years to the present span of seven to ten decades. Scripture further supports this premise in that, immediately after the Flood, life spans begin to decrease with each subsequent generation. In addition, the absence of rain suggests that the earth had no system of winds until after the Flood. A proposition that is supported, interestingly enough, by a literal reading of Genesis 8:1 with the first biblical mention of wind occurring after the Deluge: “…And God made a wind blow over the earth…” Steiner’s reference to the continent of Atlantis also places the timing for the Great Flood as occurring long before the traditional date of occurring somewhere between 2,350 and 2,500 B.C.E. In fact, Steiner pointed out:
Nearly all the peoples who have left reliable records or legends refer to the Flood as having taking place about three thousand years before the Mystery of Golgotha [the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus]; that is the period indicated by the legends…Obviously it does not refer to the Atlantean catastrophe, for that took place very much earlier. (Steiner, “Earthly,” pgs. 128-129)
In addition to being a symbol of spiritual faith, for some the Ark is also considered to be a psychological symbol–an archetype of human experience. The Flood story is an archetype because it is a part of the human experience all over the world. Over and above its literal truth, in Jungian psychology the Ark can be seen as a symbolic representation of transformation and change because the ship’s occupants underwent a journey over which they had no control and yet somehow ended up at a higher level of awareness because of their catastrophic experience. In most of these diluvial accounts, legend describes how a family survives a deluge of enormous proportions. Prior to the disaster, the family generally pulls together everything that is part of their world (such as the animals in the story of Noah described in Genesis) and finds refuge in a craft or a ship in which they can ride out the storm. Oftentimes, the family has no control over their journey for the ship is inundated from above and below and they are forced to simply ride out the storm. At the end of the flood, the craft generally finds higher and stable ground and the occupants can disembark and begin their lives anew. Everything that was a part of their old world is now a part of their new (e.g. the animals get off the Ark as well). The difference is that now all of the ship’s occupants find themselves upon higher ground.
As an archetype, the Great Flood Myth symbolizes the pattern of being overwhelmed by personal transformation and change and yet somehow becoming a more enlightened individual because of the experience. What is fascinating about the archetypal significance of the tale is that in the last decade of the twentieth century the story of Noah experienced a tremendous rise in popularity. Almost overnight the market seemed flooded with numerous children’s toys, night lights, magnets, collector’s plates, ornaments, clothing, figurines and even several movies about Noah’s Ark. The archetypal reason was not because for some inexplicable reason this man and his family suddenly fascinated society. Instead, it was because so many individuals apparently felt in the midst of personal transformation and change themselves that the psychological archetype resurfaced. People felt motivated to put a Noah’s magnet on their fridge because subconsciously it resonated to something they were experiencing deep within themselves.
There is also historical verification of the existence of the Ark in the form of eyewitness accounts of the craft upon Mount Ararat in Turkey near the borders of Armenia and Iran by many reputable investigators, scholars, military professionals, and theologians. In fact, there have been more recorded sightings of Noah’s Ark since 1840 than during any other period of recorded history! This is especially amazing consider that any ascent of Mount Ararat has been an extremely difficult undertaking. The mountain’s base covers approximately 500 square miles, and its highest peak soars to almost 17,000 feet. Generally, reports of the Ark’s sighting have only occurred after an unusually warm period of months, when the ice has had a chance to thaw but night time temperatures even during the summer can drop to 20 degrees Fahrenheit below zero, and winds at the summit of the mountain sometimes reach a velocity of 150 miles per hour. The mountain is infested with poisonous snakes at lower levels, and mountain lions and bears often roam the ravines. Also, it is not uncommon for a storm to occur daily upon Ararat. Armenian legend suggests that God Himself hid the Ark upon the mountain until the time is right to prove to individuals all over the planet that the story is true.
The Cayce readings do confirm the validity of the Noah story and stated in 1944:
For as has been given from the beginning, the deluge was not a myth but a period when man had so belittled himself with the cares of the world, with the deceitfulness of his own knowledge and power, as to require that there be a return to his dependence wholly–physically and mentally–upon the Creative Forces. Edgar Cayce reading 3653-1
Regardless of whether or not we believe the Flood story, Noah is the symbol of great faith, heightened consciousness, and overcoming tremendous difficulties. People all over the world, often separated by vast distances of time and geography have similar stories to tell of a deluge and its effects upon the planet. By studying the story of the Flood and the traditions around the world we can see our connectedness at a very deep level. It is a timeless myth, with historical and spiritual significance; it is a myth for peoples all over the earth, cutting across time and cultures. It is the story of humankind’s transition from one age to another from an old world that has lost its innocence to a place of a brand new creation even better than the starting point. It is the story of a meaningful journey that may be especially relevant for us today.
KEVIN J. TODESCHI is Executive Director and CEO of Edgar Cayce’s A.R.E. He is also the author of countless articles and more than twenty books, including Edgar Cayce on Soul Mates, God in Real Life: Personal Encounters with the Divine, and Edgar Cayce on the Akashic Records. An Ark enthusiast for more than 30 years, his master’s thesis, The Ark Myth, brings together scripture, history, religious scholarship, metaphysics, and myth. His most recent book is a novel, The Rest of the Noah Story.