Noah’s Flood


Dear Rabbi,
I am currently in a bit of a conundrum that I’ve been in for some time now.

i consider myself a religious Jew. I pray 3 times a day, learn Gemara and tanach frequently, wear tefillin, etc. I was brought up less religious than I am now, and I grew in my Judaism because I believe it teaches the best morals, but above all, seems to understand human nature absolutely perfectly.

I am also, however, a very scientific thinker, and I generally tend to believe where the evidence most strongly points towards.

this lead me to question the flood story of Noah. Reading the Hebrew, it seems central to the story that the flood was global, and that everything died besides what was on the boat.


as a biochemistry major, I know scientifically cannot be the case for numerous reasons. Firstly, there is too much genetic evidence to the contrary, ie the last common ancestors of every living thing aren’t only 4000 years old. Additionally, if all species come from one location on mount ararat, we’d expect to find a much higher biodiversity proximal to this site, and then as you move further away, the diversity shrinks. This is not the case. There is also plenty of geological evidence that this global flood never occurred.

I love Judaism, but I need a much more solid basis for belief if I am to commit to a life guided by its principles. I have read a few books addressing doubt (eg ani maamin by rabbi Joshua Berman) that say that there are opinions that the flood was local. Indeed, Rav Gedalia Nadel, a student of the Chazan Ish, interprets it in the same way. I also know that the ram am says that if science contradicts the Torah in any way, it’s because we’ve been interpreting the Torah the wrong way, not that we need to shut out the evidence and pretend like it doesn’t exist.


I am skeptical, however. This is because it seems like the only reason the “local flood” theory (which most probably did happen) is being more widely accepted is because the global flood has been disproven. I believe it would be beneficial for me to find out if there are any sources suggesting the local flood opinion is valid before the discovery that the global flood couldn’t have happened.

I know that Josephus mentions somewhere (and I can’t quote where off the top of my head) that after the flood, people came down from the mountaintops when it was safe, suggesting the flood account is hyperbolic and didn’t really mean that everything died.


I also know that in the torah, giants, descendants of the nephilim were in the land of Canaan when the Jews went to spy out the land. This would have been impossible if all nephilim died out in the flood and there was nobody there to produce giants.


there is so much to be said about this topic, I could go on forever. I’ve done a lot of research because it’s very important to me to search for the truth. I guess what I’m asking, is if, reading the torah honestly, is there a legitimate way to interpret the flood account as local and not global? And are there any sources, pre-18th century that hold a similar view?


thank you for taking the time to read this long question!


best wishes,





  1. Personally, I would suggest that you read any of Dr. Gerald Schroeder’s works. I would suggest that you read Living Up to the Truth by Rabbi Dr. David Gottlieb. Both Dr. Schroeder and Rabbi Gottlieb approach the Torah’s narratives from a scientific viewpoint. I would hope that they might help you understand more clearly what the Torah is teaching us about the Flood.

    Best wishes from the Team