[This post is part of a series about possible evidence or clues in LDS theology that the Flood of Noah was a local event, rather than a globally-covering deluge. This particular clue is from the Pearl of Great Price.]
And when Enoch heard the earth mourn, he wept, and cried unto the Lord, saying: O Lord, wilt thou not have compassion upon the earth? Wilt thou not bless the children of Noah?
And it came to pass that Enoch continued his cry unto the Lord, saying: I ask thee, O Lord, in the name of thine Only Begotten, even Jesus Christ, that thou wilt have mercy upon Noah and his seed, that the earth might never more be covered by the floods.
And the Lord could not withhold; and he covenanted with Enoch, and sware unto him with an oath, that he would stay the floods; that he would call upon the children of Noah;
And he sent forth an unalterable decree, that a remnant of his seed should always be found among all nations, while the earth should stand;
And the Lord said: Blessed is he through whose seed Messiah shall come; for he saith—I am Messiah, the King of Zion, the Rock of Heaven, which is broad as eternity; whoso cometh in at the gate and climbeth up by me shall never fall; wherefore, blessed are they of whom I have spoken, for they shall come forth with songs of everlasting joy. (Moses 7:49-53, emphasis added)
A remnant among
In Enoch’s fairly intense vision as recorded in Moses 7, the Lord makes him a pretty awesome promise. He promises that “a remnant” of Noah’s seed will “always be found among all nations” until the end of the earth. It’s this promise that puzzles me when we try to see Noah’s Flood as a global, catastrophic event.
If every person on earth was going to be destroyed by the Flood, why would the Lord say “a remnant” of Noah’s descendants? And why did He say “among” the nations of the earth? If all people left alive post-Flood were direct descendants of Noah, then they wouldn’t be a “remnant” of Noah’s seed–they would all be Noah’s seed. And if they were all Noah’s children, then it wouldn’t make sense that they would be found “among” the nations of the earth. Noah’s seed would make up ALL the nations of the earth, completely. There wouldn’t be any other people but Noah’s seed.
And what about the phrase “should be found”? If every person on the planet was a descendant of Noah, then of course his descendants would “be found” among the civilizations of Earth. It would be like “finding” a pink Starburst in a bag of exclusively pink Starbursts (which, let’s be honest, is the only acceptable way to purchase Starbursts).
If Noah’s Flood was a worldwide, thorough washing of all landmasses on earth, killing every human that wasn’t safely a passenger in the ark, then Moses 7:52 should probably read:
And he [the Lord] sent forth an unalterable decree, that his [Noah’s] seed should become all nations, while the earth should stand;
To me, it looks like the way it’s written in Moses 7 doesn’t square well with the prevailing idea that every single person on the earth in 2020 is a direct descendant of Noah. Because, if the Flood was small and many other families survived in other places, undeterred, then Noah’s seed would just be a fraction of the total world population. And because his seed would just a piece of the total population and can’t necessarily account for every single person, if you wanted to, you would be able to “find” and pick his descendants from out of all nations. Moses 7:52 smells of local Flood.
As a side note: Moses 7:51-53 could be talking about the seed of Enoch and not necessarily Noah. It can be read both ways. However, even if the Lord is promising that a remnant of Enoch’s seed will always be found among all nations as long as the earth shall stand, if the Flood killed everyone but Noah’s family, then every person on earth would still be a descendant of Enoch (because Noah is a great-grandson of Enoch) and therefore couldn’t “be found among” the nations because they would be the nations. Same kind of thing.
How to get Noah’s children everywhere
But let’s get back to Enoch’s covenant as it concerns Noah: The Lord promised that a part of Noah’s seed would be found among all countries of the earth until the very end. How was this promise fulfilled? What could constitute as a “remnant”? How was Noah’s seed spread out around the globe so that a remnant of it could be found among all nations?
Definition of “remnant”
The 1828 Webster’s Dictionary defines “remnant” as, “Residue; that which is left after the separation, removal or destruction of a part;” and, “That which remains after a part is done, performed, told or passed.” We are only told about three sons of Noah’s: Shem, Japheth, and Ham. It is certainly possible he had other children besides these, but if he did, we are not told about them. Assuming that Noah sired no other children but these three sons, it does not make sense to say that those who survived the Flood were a “remnant” of Noah’s seed. It would only make sense if Noah had had kids and grandkids who never made it onto the ark.
But, if Noah really did only have these three sons, and the Flood was a smaller, local event, then obviously other people besides the eight on the ark would have survived, and a “remnant” of Noah’s descendants–perhaps after they had “separated” from each other, or they had been disbanded or “destroyed”, as Webster’s defined–could then be found among the Earth’s population. For it to be a “remnant” there either has to be a part that didn’t make it to start with, or there has to be a part of people that don’t descend from Noah at all. The truth could certainly be a combination of both.
How would his seed get sprinkled all over?
Now we get to the good stuff. There is a lot of evidence from the scriptures that the seed of Noah was spread all over the world under the direction of God. Remember, it was God making this promise that we’ve been discussing to Enoch, so who better to execute its fulfillment than the Lord Himself?… No one. No one’s better to do it than the Lord. And so here’s what I’ve gleaned from the scriptures about the distributive nature of Noah’s seed:
Ham’s descendants took Noah’s seed into Egypt (Abraham 1:21). The Jaredites, if they were part of Noah’s family, took it to the Americas (Ether 1:33-43), and possibly took it through Asia as well on their way. The people at the Tower of Babel could have taken it anywhere as they were scattered into unknown foreign lands (by presumably non-Noahite foreigners) and lost their language (among presumably non-Noahite-language speakers) (Ether 1:33). Abraham and his sons brought it to the land of Canaan (Abraham 2:15-16). The sons of Jacob brought it to Egypt (Genesis 46). Lehi and his family brought it to the Americas (1 Nephi 2:20); as did the Mulekites (Omni 1:13-17 & Helaman 8:21). The Babylonians took it into Babylon when they captured Jerusalem (1 Nephi 10:3 & 2 Nephi 6:8). The Lost Tribes were scattered all over the world, taking it into wherever place they were led (3 Nephi 15:2-16:6 & 17:4). And it has been suggested that Hagoth may have taken it to Polynesia or somewhere else (Alma 63:4-8). According to the scriptures we have, Noah’s posterity pretty much spread out everywhere.
Although not necessarily scriptural cannon, there are also traditions about how Noah’s three sons populated the earth. Shem’s descendants are said to have taken Noah’s seed into Mesopotamia. Tradition puts the family of Japheth going into Greece and Western Europe. And Ham’s posterity is rumored to have gone into Africa.
Now, I know that being of the House of Israel is not necessarily synonymous with being the seed of Noah, but looking at the Church’s current work in gathering Israel can give us a picture of how widespread the family of Noah has become. If we take patriarchal-blessing pronouncements of lineage as literal bloodlines, then we start seeing some cool examples: I’m from the tribe of Ephraim, as are most of my Utah friends and family. Many people I met in Brazil while on my mission are from Manasseh, and I knew one Brazilian missionary who said he was from the tribe of Judah. And I have a friend from Slovenia who is from the tribe of Zebulon. Sister Wendy Nelson tells the story of a Church meeting she attended in Russia where all 12 tribes were present except for Levi. Soon after on the same trip, she met an Arizona-native missionary in Armenia who was from the tribe of Levi.
Stories like this, of the different tribes in the various countries of these latter days, fascinate me, and I’m sure there are many, many more out there. Please feel free to leave in the comments any others you may know of. I’d love that! The cool thing is, guys: members of the House of Israel (descendants of Jacob, who was a descendant of Noah) are being found in all countries in which the gospel is preached. Enoch’s prophecy is being fulfilled right before our eyes. It’s awesome.
Possible according to science?
Is such a sprinkling of one person’s seed throughout all nations a possible thing? Oh yeah. A study in 2012 about genealogy concluded that any immigrant coming into a foreign land has an 80% chance of eventually becoming an ancestor of most (if not all) the people in that country. “A single interbreeding event in the distant past,” said Dr. Yan Wong, writing on the subject, “will probably, therefore, graft the immigrant’s family tree onto that of the native population.” Using this logic, if Noah’s Flood occurred around 4,000 years ago, as we usually assume, then his offspring would have had ample time to spread out, immigrate into a multitude of lands peopled by flood survivors, and become ancestors of many people alive today in many of the world’s countries. Not all human beings today have to be a descendant of Noah, the prophet who built the ark, but it’s certainly possible that a large number of us are. And that’s all that Moses 7:52 requires.
I think Moses 7:52 is a clue that there were more than 8 people who survived the Flood. If not, then we wouldn’t have to look for just a portion of Noah’s seed among the nations because, well, there wouldn’t be anyone else’s seed to find. In fact, the covenant that the Lord made with Enoch just wouldn’t make sense unless others survived the Flood besides the family of Noah. Tradition and the scriptures, especially, provide many examples of Noah’s descendants exploring, immigrating, spreading out, and mixing with other people around the globe to fulfill the promises of God. And just think—they wouldn’t have been able to mix with any other people had the Flood not been a local one.
For more on Noah’s Flood, GO HERE.
Sources and Notes
Definition of the word “remnant” according to the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary, a source close to the time that Moses 7 was translated: http://webstersdictionary1828.com/Dictionary/Remnant.
For some on the Jaredites going through Asia on their way to Americas: http://www.nephiproject.com/an_alternative_model_for_the_jar.htm#_edn2
For traditions about where the descendants of Noah’s three sons migrated, see https://www.bible-history.com/old-testament/table-of-nations-genesis-10.html, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generations_of_Noah.
For Sister Nelson’s account of this story, see: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/new-era/2018/08-se/hope-of-israel?lang=eng; https://universe.byu.edu/2015/04/30/womens-conference-sister-wendy-watson-nelson/.
For more about the 2012 genealogical study: https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-19331938; Dr. Wong’s quote from the article: “A single immigrant who breeds into a population has roughly 80% chance of becoming a common ancestor. A single interbreeding event in the distant past will probably, therefore, graft the immigrant’s family tree onto that of the native population. That makes it very likely that King David is the direct ancestor of the populations of many other countries too.”
Image of the descendants of Noah from Pinterest: