The word antediluvian
for "before the deluge"
) is used to describe a period of time that preceded the Great Flood
as related in the Book of Genesis
in the Bible
The antediluvian period
The Bible speaks of this era as being a time of great wickedness. There were Gibborim (giants) in the earth in those days as well as Nephilim; some translations identify the two as one and the same. The Gibborim were unusually powerful; Genesis calls them "heroes of old, men of renown;" (Enoshi Ha Shem). The antediluvian period ended when God sent the Flood to wipe out all life except Noah, his family, and the animals they took with them. Nevertheless, the Nephilim (literally meaning 'fallen ones', from the Hebrew root n-f-l 'to fall') reappear much later in the Biblical narrative, in Numbers 13:31-33 (where the spies sent forth by Moses report that there were Nephilim or "giants" in the Promised Land).
Writers such as William Whiston (A New Theory of the Earth 1696) and Henry Morris (The Genesis Flood 1961) describe the antediluvian period as follows:
- People lived much longer than people today, typically between 700-950 years, as reported in the genealogies of Genesis;
- The Earth contained many more people than the Earth contained in 1696. Whiston calculated that as many as 500 million humans may have been born in the antediluvian period, based on assumptions about lifespans and fertility rates;
- There were no clouds or rain. Instead, the Earth was watered by mists which rose from the Earth. (Another interpretation is that the Earth was covered completely by a global cloud layer; the upper waters mentioned in the Creation. This is commonly called the Canopy theory).
- "Antediluvian" is sometimes used figuratively to refer to anything of great age and/or outmoded; H. P. Lovecraft was particularly fond of the term, using it frequently in his horror stories.
References in popular culture