“Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made.”-Genesis 7:4
In Genesis 7:4 we read of God’s advance warning to Noah for the upcoming Flood.God revealed to Noah the exact length of time that the rain would pour down on the surface of the earth.He said that 7 days from now that disaster was meant to begin.It is not explained in the text though what exactly that 7 days period was in reference to? Many assume that this was the length of a week, or 7 days and was allowing enough time for Noah and his family to settle in the Ark.Others point to another significant event in Noah’s life that coincided with the outbreak of the Flood, the death of Methuselah his grandfather.
The death of Methuselah
According to Genesis 5:27, Methuselah was the only person in human history to live to the age of 969 years.Noah’s lineage included men of faith such as Enoch, the father of Methuselah “who walked with God” and pronounced judgment on the wicked world of his time.It is logical to conclude therefore that Methuselah was a man of faith too.When Methuselah was born, his godly father must have prophetically known of coming things for his son’s name means “when he dies, judgment,” and interestingly enough, Methuselah died in the same year God judged the sinful world with the great Flood of Noah’s day. According to Jewish legend, Methuselah died 7 days before the Flood and that period of time seems to correspond to the 7 days of Genesis 7:4.Out of compassion then God allowed Noah and his family to mourn his grandfather before embarking on their most terrifying experience of their entire life, the Deluge of the antediluvian world.We read in the Jewish Midrash about Methuselah’s death:”At his death, a frightful thunder was heard, and all beasts burst into tears.He was mourned 7 days by men, and therefore the outbreak of the Flood was postponed till the mourning was over.”(Midrash fol.12; Rabbi Solomon; The Pirke of Rabbi Eliezer; The Jalkut) That was a sign for all onlookers, the death of a righteous man followed by physical phenomena of the impending calamity.
Although the death of Methuselah 7 days prior to the beginning of the Flood is recorded by Jewish Tradition, unfortunately, it is not found in the Biblical account of the book of Genesis. The Bible remains silent on the 7 days mourning of this particular patriarch.On the other hand, the Bible bears witness to another incident that took place during these 7 days and is recorded simultaneously in the Jewish Tradition.The Talmudic accounts make reference to “flashes of lightning and thunder a very loud sound was heard in the entire world, never heard before” and during those short days the “Holy One…reversed the order of nature, the sun rising in the west and setting in the east(The Book of the Righteous & Babylonian Talmud)
There are more details of celestial signs that preceded the outbreak of the Flood in other extra-biblical ancient accounts that deal with this event.For example, the Sumerian account of the Flood, the Epic of Gilgamesh speaks of the “days of the flaming torches”.A memory of brilliant light of the seven days may be preserved in the Babylonian account of “flaming torches, lighting up the land with their brightness” just prior to the arrival of the waters of the Deluge.(The Epic of Gilgamesh, transl. by A. Heidel, tablet XI).]
Also, a great number of Sanscrit texts point to the fact that seven or even twelve suns shone just before the Flood. “Being ignited, all of a sudden, the entire terrestrial sphere blazed forth.” Twelve suns shone with “dazzling radiance” and consumed the world. (The Skanda Purana in Shastri, The Flood Legend in Sanscrit Literature, p. 86). Cf. similar accounts in the Matsya Purana, ch. ii, the Padma Purana, ch. xxxvi, the Vishnu Purana, ch. iii, the Kalika Purana, ch. xxv, and in the Mahabharata, chapter “Matsyopakhyana.” ].
A warning for the future
The celestial signs that preceded Noah’s Flood are not just mere forgotten accounts in the mist of time.What happened in the past will be repeated in the future.Jesus warned that his second return will be like “the days of Noah” but the only difference this time is that the world will be destroyed by fire not water.The apostle Peter warned that: ”by the same word the heavens and the earth that now exist are reserved for fire and are being kept until the day of judgment and of destruction of the ungodly people.” (2 Peter 3:7) During those future time God’s people will get to witness phenomena parallel to the ones witnessed by the people in Noah’s days during a period of 7 days.The book of Isaiah provides a glimpse of these apocalyptic events:”The moon will be as bright as the sun, and the sun will be seven times brighter–like the light of seven days in one! So it will be when the LORD begins to heal his people and cure the wounds he gave them.”
This verse is reminiscent of Noah’s days.Seven days before the Flood the world was enveloped in a dazzling light, sevenfold stronger than the light of the sun; the light was so strong and so brilliant day and night alike, that the sun was entirely overpowered by it; and in the days of Isaiah, thousands of years later, the memory of the light of the seven days was vivid in tradition, so that the prophet could refer to it in desiring to describe the solar light and the celestial upheaval that will exist 7 days before the wrath of God breaks out upon disobedient mankind once more.
The light of the seven days served the population of the world as a warning of some extraordinary events.