Location, Location, Location

Why do names of places appear in both the pre-Flood and post-Flood world? Does this refute a global Flood that should have destroyed such places?

When we read Genesis 6–9, it is obvious that there was a global Flood.

So the alleged contradiction is that some pre-Flood place names rea

ppear after the Flood. For example, table 1 illustrates the most common ones.
Table 1. Pre-Flood and Post-Flood References

Name Reference Person
Pre-Flood Post-Flood
Havilah Genesis 2:11 Genesis 10:7, 29 Noah’s grandson through Ham; Noah’s great, great, great, great grandson through Shem
Cush Genesis 2:13 Genesis 10:6 Noah’s grandson through Ham
Asshur Genesis 2:14 Genesis 10:22 Noah’s grandson through Shem
Tigris Genesis 2:14 Genesis 10:4 River in modern-day Iraq
Euphrates Genesis 2:14 Genesis 15:18 River in modern-day Iraq

The answer to this conundrum is quite simple, but let’s use some illustrations so that we can better understand this.

Names of places often transfer. For example, Versailles, Illinois, was named for Versailles, Kentucky, when settlers moved from Kentucky into Illinois. And before that Versailles, Kentucky, was named for Versailles, France. If someone said to meet me in Versailles, you may have to ask “which one?”

Names of places often come from names of people as well. The land of Canaan was named form Noah’s grandson Canaan. St. Louis, Missouri, was named for King Louis IX of France.

Names of people sometimes came from places. Consider the name London that many people today have and its origin as a city in England.

With this in mind, it should be fairly easy to see how names could easily have been transferred through the Flood. Ham’s grandson was likely named after the land of Havilah. Cush was Ham’s son, and Asshur was Shem’s son. Noah, Ham, and Shem lived before the Flood and would have been aware of these regions. And of course, these names have gone on to become names of regions where some of these people settled after the dispersal of the Tower of Babel. Cush is modern-day Ethiopia, Asshur was where Assyria developed into a great nation, and so on.

For example, if I were to mention the “Thames River,” most people would quickly think of a river in southern England. However, the state of Connecticut in the United States, as well as Ontario, Canada, each have a river named “Thames.” When people settled in the Americas from Europe, they named some of these rivers for rivers they were familiar with. Why would we expect Noah and his descendants to do any differently? The Tigris and Euphrates that we know today in modern-day Iraq were named for the famous headwaters in the Garden of Eden.

There is no contradiction, but merely a situation of renaming new places, rivers, and people with previously used names.


My Three Sons

Were Noah’s sons born when he was 500 as Genesis 5:32 says or not as stated in Genesis 7:6 and Genesis 11:10?

The Bible indicates that Noah had three sons prior to the Flood (Genesis 6:10). Noah’s sons were not all the same age, but let’s first begin with Genesis 5:32:
After Noah was 500 years old, he became the father of Shem, Ham and Japheth (Genesis 5:32; NIV).

This indicates that Noah was 500 or just over when his first son was born. Listings such as these are rarely an indication of ages but show that Noah began having children when he was 500 (Genesis 11:26). The listing of children often started with the most important one (through Shem we receive the blessing of Christ). We know the relative ages of each from Genesis 10:21 and Genesis 9:24.

Sons were also born to Shem, whose older brother was Japheth; Shem was the ancestor of all the sons of Eber (Genesis 10:21; NIV).

When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son [Ham] had done to him (Genesis 9:24; NIV).

Genesis 10:21 indicates that Japheth was the oldest and was born when Noah was 500 years old. Ham is the youngest, as indicated in Genesis 9:24, after Ham’s inappropriate actions to his father.

Therefore, Shem had to be born in between Japheth and Ham. Shem wasn’t born as a triplet or twin of Japheth when Noah was 500, as shown by Genesis 7:6 and Genesis 11:10.

Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters came on the earth (Genesis 7:6; NIV).

This is the account of Shem. Two years after the flood, when Shem was 100 years old, he became the father of Arphaxad (Genesis 11:10; NIV).

So, Noah was 600 when the floodwaters came on the earth, and two years later Shem was 100. Therefore, Shem had to be born to Noah when he was 502. We are not sure of Ham’s exact age in Scripture, but he had to be born after Shem. Thus, Genesis 5:32 introduces us to Noah’s sons all together when Noah began having them, and other passages give more detail about their birth order and age.

Time of Death

Why didn’t Adam and Eve die the moment they ate, as Genesis 2:17 implies?

The basis for this questions stems from Genesis 2:17, where Adam was told not to eat from forbidden fruit.
“. . . but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17).

Some have claimed that the Bible doesn’t necessarily mean what it says in Genesis 2:17 since Adam and Eve didn’t die the moment they ate. They argue that the passage really means “die,” not “surely die,” which is what gives the implication that Adam and Eve should have died that day.[3]

Die That Day or Begin to Die?

It is true that Adam and Eve didn’t die the exact day they ate the fruit (Genesis 5:4–5), as some seem to think Genesis 2:17 implies. So, the options are either that God was in error or man’s interpretation is in error. But God cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18), so then fallible humans must be making the mistake. Let’s take a look at where the confusion begins to arise. The Hebrew phrase in English is more literally:

“Tree knowledge good evil eat day eat die (dying) die.”

The Hebrew is “die die” (muwth—muwth) with two different verb tenses (dying and die), which can be translated as “surely die” or literally as “dying you shall die,” indicating the beginning of dying — an ingressive sense — and finally culminating with death. At the point when they ate, Adam and Eve began to die and would return to dust (Genesis 3:19). If they were meant to die right then, God would have used muwth only once, as is used in the Hebrew to mean dead, died, or die, not beginning to die or surely die as die-die is used in Hebrew. Old Testament authors understood this and used the terms appropriately, but sometimes we lose a little during translation.

There are primarily two ways people translate: one is literal or word-for-word, and the other is dynamic equivalence or thought-for-thought. If this were translated word-for-word, it would be “dying die” or “die die,” which is difficult for English readers to understand since our grammatical construct doesn’t have a changed emphasis when a word is repeated. The Latin Vulgate by Jerome, which permits such grammatical constructs, does translate this as “dying die” or “dying you will die” (morte morieris). So most translations into English rightly use a more dynamic equivalence and say “surely die,” which implies that it isn’t an instant death but will certainly happen (surely).

What Is Yom Referring To?

With regard to the Hebrew word yom for “day” in Genesis 2:17, it refers directly to the following action — eating — not the latter “dying die.” For example, Solomon used an almost identical construct in 1 Kings 2:37 when referring to Shimei:

For on the day [yom] you go out and cross over the brook Kidron, you will know for certain that you shall surely [muwth] die [muwth]; your blood shall be on your own head (NASB).

This uses yom (day) and the dual muwth just as Genesis 2:17 did. In Genesis 2:17, yom referred to the action (eating) in the same way that yom refers the action here (go out and cross over). In neither case do they mean that was the particular day they would die, but the particular day they did what they weren’t supposed to do. Solomon also understood that it would not be a death on that particular day, but that Shimei’s days were numbered from that point. In other words, their (Adam and Shimei) actions on that day were what gave them the final death sentence — it was coming, and they would surely die as a result of their actions. Therefore, the day in Genesis 2:17 was referring to when they ate (disobeyed), and not the day they died.