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Apparent Contradiction of Words and Numbers

Four Witnesses to a 430-year Sojourn in Egypt

Abraham’s Witness to a 430-Year Egyptian Sojourn

Jacob’s Life Requires a 430-Year Egyptian Sojourn

Elasticity of Hebrew Genealogical Terms

Abbreviated/Condensed Genealogies

Shem’s List: The Ultimate Example of Condensing

Shem’s Genealogy—Which Bible?

Evidence from the Lifespan of Job for Missing Generations

Evidence from the Message of Job for Missing Generations

Evidence from the Times of Job for Missing Generations

Biblical Earth Movements After the Flood

Peleg, Joktan and the Table of Nations

Historical Errors Obscuring the Condensing of Shem’s Line

Interpretative Errors Supporting Ussher View

The Missing World between the Flood and Peleg

Recent Scholarship Improves Biblical Understanding

Summary of Biblical Findings

Secular Evidence—Those Many Documents Unavailable to Ussher


The Missing World between the Flood and Peleg

Chapter Sixteen

For fifteen chapters HB has advanced biblical arguments for Ussher’s 2348 BC Flood date being too late by about 2000 years.  This chapter addresses the time needed for all the events in Ussher’s 101 years from the Flood to Peleg.  First, it looks at the time needed for the many processes of nature that took place during that period.  Then it calculates the time needed for the extensive human history of that period.  Both the activities of the natural world and those of mankind force Bible students to date the Flood nearer 4000 BC than Ussher’s 2348 BC date. 

Nowhere does the Bible indicate that God miraculously restored the earth to equilibrium once the Ark landed.  Rather, it describes events that involved processes--mountains grew, continents continued to move, oceans cooled, and the Great Ice Age came and went.  HB begins with processes found in the two leading Flood models.  This is followed by a creation meteorologist who probes the natural processes that followed the Flood.  It took possibly two millennia for the earth to reach relative equilibrium after the Flood.  All this natural history won’t fit into Ussher’s timeline.  Then HB looks at centuries of human history between the Flood and Peleg found in the Book of Job.  All this human history requires far more than 101 years as well.

Natural Activity Requiring More Time

The Flood began when “all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened.”  Genesis 7:11.  This brief notice bundles a plethora of events that God said destroyed the earth (Genesis 9:11).  What was destroyed?  Not the planet, but its surface on which all land-breathing life dwelt.  In 40 days it unleashed forces that would ravage the earth for nearly a year and reformat its surface for centuries.  Recently three creation scientists with impressive credentials have developed attractive theories for those processes during and after the Flood. 

Hydroplate Theory

The first is Walter T. Brown who graduated from West Point, earned a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at MIT and retired from the military in 1980.  Since then, he has worked on a mechanism he calls the Hydroplate Theory.  His theory focuses on the phrase, “All the fountains of the great deep burst forth.”  His research explores a world of water that he theorizes was trapped in a worldwide series of interconnected, subterranean chambers 10 - 20 miles below the earth’s surface.  All that water, he says, was equal to half of the water in today’s oceans. 

The Flood began, Brown explains, when this water which was under enormous pressure, broke through the miles of rock above.  That initial penetration then spread at miles per second until it developed a 45,000-mile-long crack in the earth’s crust, blasting great fountains of liquid and rock 20 miles into the sky which resulted in massive torrential rainfall.  Brown suggests that some of the material even broke free of the earth’s gravity and formed asteroids that orbit the sun today. 

Remarkably, those who study the ocean’s bottom have discovered an enormous formation they call the mid-ocean ridge.  Like the seam of a baseball this mountain chain stretches for 45,000 miles.  As possibly the most impressive formation on the face of the earth (up to two miles high, as much as several hundred miles wide and nearly twice the length of the world’s circumference), it demands explanation.  Brown says the bursting forth of the fountains of the deep explains it.

In Brown’s view when the fountains of the deep shot high into the atmosphere, the water cooled and fell over the Polar Regions as ice.  Ice continued to collect and spread until the upper latitudes were buried in what has come to be called the Great Ice Age.  He feels that Ussher’s date of 2348 BC for the Flood does not allow enough time for this process and the many others started by the Flood.  He has issued ten editions of his book, In the Beginning, through the years and hopes to publish one more in his lifetime.  Whether he has identified the right mechanism or not, Brown has demonstrated his faith in believing what God has said about the Flood—that it was global and destroyed the earth.  The body of Christ owes him its deepest gratitude for his forty some years of research and presentations mostly at his own expense.

Catastrophic Tectonic Plate Theory (CTP)

John Baumgardner has developed a second theory to explain the mechanics of the Flood.  He calls his theory the Catastrophic Tectonic Plate Theory (CTP).  Like Brown, his credentials are very impressive.  He earned an M.S. degree in electrical engineering from Princeton.  Later he completed M.S. and Ph.D. programs at UCLA in geophysics and space physics for the specific purpose of trying to find the mechanics behind the Flood.  He then worked in the theoretical division of Los Alamos National Laboratory, eventually developing a program called Terra which provides 3-D modeling for the earth’s mantle. 

By way of background, the rock supporting the ocean is 10-20 miles thick.  Below that rock is the 1800-mile-thick mantle rock.  Mantle rock generally increases in temperature and is more molten with depth.  To cause the Flood Baumgardner theorizes that the entire ocean floor plunged to the bottom of the mantle and was replaced by mantle rock.  He says this took 23 days. 

In laboratory studies Baumgardner learned that ocean floor rock (basaltic rock) continues to grow more dense than continental rock (granitic rock) with time.  He says the Flood began when somewhere the basaltic rock (ocean floor rock) became so much heavier than the adjoining granitic rock (continental rock) that it broke free and began slipping under the granitic rock.  This initial point of subduction rapidly widened until the entire ocean floor adjacent to the great single continent was in the process of subduction. 

As the pre-Flood ocean floor was dragged to the subduction point, it stretched and then tore apart far from land.  This tear rapidly grew to become 45,000 miles long.  Molten mantle rock poured up into this tear, producing the formation known today as the mid-ocean ridge.  This mantle rock then flowed from the ridge behind the heavier subducting old ocean floor follow-the-leader style to become the new, lighter ocean floor. 

Scripture cryptically describes the cause of the Flood in Genesis 7:11:  “All the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened.”  While it does not elaborate and no one knows exactly what this means, “Fountains…burst forth” could refer to the constant explosions of supercritical water as heat and pressure forced it from molten mantle rock.  The Flood more than doubled surface water on planet earth.  As both ocean water and this newly released water from mantle rock blasted miles into the sky, it cooled and fell as torrential rain described in the phrase “the windows of heaven were opened.”  Seeing the coming wickedness of man God would have designed the ocean floors with the threshold for failure to come at His appointed time.

Continental flooding came in several ways.  First, the plunging ocean floor dragged the edge of the great continent down, allowing ocean water to flow onto the continent.  Second, disturbance in the mantle caused the land to sink.  As the continent sank, sea level rose.  Third, earthquakes constantly shook the earth and generated mile-high tsunamis that raced across the land depositing layer after layer of sedimentary rock sometimes thousands of miles across, strewn with the carcasses of dead animals some of which became fossilized.  Finally, the continent was flooded.  Water stood above the highest mountains.  All air-breathing life outside the Ark perished. 

Then God closed the fountains of the deep and the windows of heaven.  The rain was restrained and a wind passed over the earth (Genesis 8:1-3).  The water receded while land bodies rose.  The Ark came to rest on land.  All that action took little time, just 150 days.  But a sound mechanism for the Flood increases the certainty that it did happen and that it was global.  The time that is introduced is the next millennium or two needed for the earth to reestablish stability. 

Dr. Baumgardner says that the Catastrophic Tectonic Plate theory is both scientifically sound and verified by field observation.  He has surrounded himself with likeminded creationists who continue to develop his theory.  Like Brown, he continues his research and writing and deserves the gratitude of the Body of Christ for his immense dedication to God who tells us of a worldwide flood in Noah’s day. 

Time Needed for the Great Ice Age

While Scripture devotes chapters to the Flood, it does not discuss an ice age.  But the Ice Age fits both Scripture and what is known of an ice age.  Chapter ten explained the Ice Age in detail.  Creationists concede that 700 years is about the fastest possible time for an ice age.  How much time is available?  Shem’s list gives 101 years from the Flood to Peleg and 286 years from Peleg to Abraham’s arrival in Canaan, a total of 387 years.  When Abraham arrived in Canaan the climate was dry; droughts caused some of Abraham’s biggest problems.  On the other hand, frequent torrential downpours marked the Ice Age at this latitude.  Abraham’s day was centuries after the Ice Age had ended.  Thus, the Ice Age testifies to many missing generations in Shem’s genealogy. 

Creationist Michael Oard spent his working years with the United States National Weather Service (NWS).  His academic preparation included both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in Atmospheric Science at the University of Washington. Then he worked there as a research assistant.   During his final years with the NWS he filled the position of a lead forecaster in the Pacific Northwest regional office at Great Falls Montana.  The skills of that office involved forecasting the weather produced by the converging of air flows from the Gulf of Alaska and South Pacific.  The rotating of the earth causes these flows to produce cyclical periods of temperature and rainfall. 

Upon retirement Oard moved to the eastern foothills of the Rockies and conducted field work.  Loving research, he used the tools of the meteorologist to understand the Ice Age.  During the 1990’s he wrote many monographs on natural processes following the Flood.  In particular, he was amazed that geologists had developed over 60 models for producing an ice age.  Why so many?  None worked.  They were all based on the evolutionary time scale of slow and gradual processes.  Only a cataclysm could bring an ice age.  Further, Oard felt that meteorologists, not geologists, better understood the movement of weather flows essential to producing enormous ice sheets. 

The models of secular scientists lacked a critical element—cooling the upper latitudes sufficiently to start and sustain the accumulation of ice.  Somehow heat from the sun had to be reduced significantly.  Oard found the necessary mechanism—vast volcanic activity begun by the Flood and continuing for hundreds of years, providing a thin layer of volcanic dust and aerosols high in the atmosphere that would reflect enough of the sun’s heat back into space to reduce temperatures to the critical point.  Here is how he explained it in 2004:

The Flood involved unprecedented, wide-spread volcanic and tectonic activity.  After the continents and mountains rose out of the waters [of Noah’s flood], a shroud of volcanic dust and aerosols remained, obscuring part of the sun.  This would cause the land to cool dramatically.  The dust and aerosols would replenish themselves for hundreds of years following the Flood due to continued volcanism as the earth moved toward equilibrium.[1]

The Missoula Flood and the Great Ice Age

In the 1920’s a newly minted geologist proposed that a monstrous flood swept through the Pacific Northwest of the United States.  Professor J. Harlan Bretz taught at the University of Chicago during the school year but headed west to conduct field studies each summer.  Bretz’s “flood” was a hundred miles wide, carved up an area covering one sixth of the state of Washington and ran its course in just days.  That sounded too much like the Biblical flood.  His fellow geologists accused him of “heresy,” betraying all that his profession had worked so hard to establish.  Since Charles Lyell’s Principles of Geology, published a hundred years before, geologists had been busy around the world identifying evidence proving that most geological formations were produced by slow and gradual processes over eons of time. 

Bretz’s hypothesis had one obvious flaw—no one knew where the water came from.  Over time geologists began noticing evidence of a lake the size of one of America’s Great Lakes in the Rocky Mountains of Western Montana.  Yes, ancient shorelines were identified, etched on the sides of Mount Jumbo 900 feet above the modern city of Missoula Montana.  As the Ice Age wound down, ice sheets up to two miles thick melted.  The water collected for a hundred miles in deep valleys.  When the ice dam failed, the water rushed to the Pacific Ocean over a path 700-800 miles distant, carving what is today called the Channeled Scabland. 

After 40 years of controversy the geologic community finally acknowledged that Bretz was right.  The formations were carved rapidly, not over eons of time.  But to this day their explanation is still colored with evolution’s long ages.  One formation has 39 layers.  Aha!  Thirty-nine floods from many ice ages and eons of time!   In his retirement research, Oard confirmed much of what Bretz and his fellow geologists had found.  But, Bretz’s flood looked like a single colossal flood produced by the Ice Age.  Oard and other creationists have concluded that those 39 layers were laid down as water briefly backed up, washing back and forth, depositing layer after layer, just as the Flood laid down hundreds of layers in a single tsunami over vast areas. 

Extinction of Mammoth’s by the Ice Age

A subset of Oard’s studies on the Ice Age is his collection of data on the extinction of Woolley Mammoths.  Many lived and died by the Arctic Ocean, especially in Siberia.  Multitudes of their tusks have been mined and traded over the last 400 years.  Early reports said they were buried in sedimentary deposits.  That sounded like Noah’s flood caused their extinction.   As Oard collected reports he found most were buried in loess, not flood sediments.  Loess is the dust produced as ice sheets flow over rock and grind it down.  Loess pointed to extinction due to the Ice Age.  If this were the case, the Woolley Mammoths would have died near the height of the Ice Age, not in the Flood over half a millennium earlier. 

Here is Oard’s idea on how they died:  As the elephant kind multiplied after leaving Noah’s ark, some wandered north and eventually found a home along the Arctic shoreline.  This separated group interbred and developed dominant characteristics unique to mammoths.  Due to plenty of water, moderate climate, a vast stretch of grasslands adjoining the Arctic Ocean and lack of predators, their population grew into the millions.  But eventually the ocean cooled causing the climate to become drier and colder.  Lack of fresh water and diminishing grass stressed the animals. 

Meanwhile, intense cold and unbearable weather made crossing the ice sheets to the south impossible during the winter while miles of bogs prevented moving south during the summer.  The mammoths were trapped.  Blinding dust storms (of loess) buried those that died from hunger or exposure and buried others alive.  This entire species of elephant was just one of many large mammal species that went extinct due to the Ice Age.  Oard is clear about his view on how many and when ice ages struck our planet: “The single Ice Age occurred rapidly within a period of about 700 years following the Flood.”  He finds the Ice Age useful in another way—it provides strong evidence that the Flood was global.[2] 

Oard’s field work has focused on the results of the Flood rather than its cause.  He finds that after the Flood Vertical Plate Tectonics (VPT) produced vast amounts of rock stacked high all around the earth.  These include the great mountain chains of the world—the Himalayas, the Alps, the Rockies, the Andes.  The highest mountain is nearly six miles high.  Geologists acknowledge these are all young by comparison with their estimate of the age of the earth. Numerous formations never seen by most people lie on the ocean’s floors and likewise testify to a recent time of sudden mountain building and deepening depressions caused by the Flood. 

Dr. Northrup (see chapter 11) preceded these contemporary scientists.  He was certain that the breaking up of the great continent also left distinct geological marks which he observed all over the world.  This idea is not a major feature of the three mechanisms above.  Maybe in years to come creation geologists will realize that it took the better part of several thousand years for the pieces of the great continent to move to their relatively recent positions. 

The Book of Job and the Ice Age

Job lived in what became an arid region of NW Arabia (now Jordan) and much of the change from moist to dry climate had happened before his ordeal.  Job was living in the waning years of the Great Ice Age.  The process of forming those vast sheets of ice, producing large geological features as they flowed across the land and finally melting while at the same time causing the oceans to fall 400 feet to expose a land bridge between Asia and North America and then rise to today’s elevation took many centuries, far more than Ussher’s 101 years from the Flood to the birth of Peleg.  The only place to fit it is the 40-50 omitted generations between Eber and Peleg. 

The Ussher folks simply ignore these arguments or even imply they are fabricated.  We certainly are not making up the fact that the Book of Job speaks more about ice, snow, frozen lakes and torrential rains than any other book in the Bible.  That weather was the experience of Job in his first 140 years and the memories of stories told by former generations.  Genesis 12-50 covers about the same length of time as the first 140 years of Job’s life plus his immediate forefathers but instead of ice, snow, frozen lakes and torrential rains, we read of drought and famine.  Weather patterns cause wet and dry conditions.  The Ice Age caused a wet pattern in areas that by Abraham’s day, long after Job and the Ice Age, was dry. 

Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth (RATE)

In 1997 seven creation scientists began eight years of searching for a fundamental correction to the evolutionary assumptions of deep time.  Calling their research the RATE Project, they found multiple lines of evidence for accelerated nuclear decay, questioning the very foundation of the standard approach.  One fascinating discovery was the fossil record—supposedly deposited in deep time.  They found it to be buried just thousands of years ago.  While no fossils are formed under ordinary circumstances, billions of fossils are found in strata laid down by the biblical Flood.  One of the seven, physicist D. Russell Humphrey, uncovered evidence for helium diffusion in zircon crystals.  As recently as August 2023, Humphreys reported on his continuing research of rapid nuclear decay and his theories behind them.  Secular science has failed in its efforts to rule out the Creator. 

 The Canopy Theory

In closing this section on the time involved in the various theories about the causes and results of the Flood, we should mention the Canopy Theory.  Previous generations of Bible students noted that God separated the waters below from the waters above on day two of creation week (Genesis 1:7).  They concluded that the waters above formed an enormous transparent canopy surrounding the earth, producing a greenhouse effect that screened out UV radiation, allowed great longevity and even produced a world-wide uniform climate.  They concluded that the intense rainfall of the Flood was the collapsing of this water jacket surrounding the earth. 

Today, creation scientists reject this idea.  Such a canopy could only produce a few feet of rain and would make the world too hot for life.  While there may have been a thin canopy that screened out some UV radiation and allowed greater longevity, it would have added mere inches of water needed to flood the earth and cover the highest mountains.

Human Activity Requiring More Time

Now we will observe centuries of human activity between the Flood and the birth of Peleg indicated by Scripture.  Like the activity of nature, all that humans did could not possibly have happened if Shem’s genealogy were complete and Peleg was born just 101 years after the Flood.  

Job lived 280 years.  While his genealogy is not given, his lifespan places him in the gap after the first three names in Shem’s list.  They each lived about 450 years while the next three each lived about 235 years.  Eber is the third name in Shem’s list, Peleg is the fourth and Abraham is the tenth.  Job lived longer than any of the seven names following Eber.  The entire Book of Job is a goldmine of historical references pointing to much natural and human activity before Job’s time. 

Founding the Land of Uz

The very first verse of Job indicates much human activity: “There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job.”  Uz, whose land Job lived in, was a second-generation descendant of Shem.  He preserved the sound theology of his father Aram and grandfather Shem.  While many rebellious descendants of Noah built Babel and its tower, it is unlikely that Noah and his godly descendants such as Aram joined those who defied God’s command to fill the earth after the Flood.  More likely, as they saw the growing rebellion of Nimrod, they distanced themselves from him.

Uz eventually found his way to the region bearing his name, a sizable area to the east and south of Canaan.  Various people groups like the Edomites gave parts of it their own names nearly two thousand years later.  Its location was still known in Jeremiah’s day, 1300 years after Esau, father of the Edomites.  Jeremiah wrote in Lamentations 4:21, “Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom, you who dwell in the land of Uz.”  This is like saying “Rejoice and be glad, O Frenchmen, you who dwell in the land of Europe.”  Because Job was a large landowner in the land of Uz, he was most likely a descendant in the Shem-Aram-Uz line.  By Job’s day the land of Uz had a sizable population. 

All this took time—centuries.  From the Flood to the birth of second generation Uz was 50 or 60 years; to the Babel judgment, another 150-200 years; to the founding of Uz, another 50 or 75 years; to the point where Uz numbered a population of one million, another 300-400 years; to Job’s trial, another 140 years.  Thus, the very first verse of Job indicates much human history, far more than Ussher’s 101 years.  

Some will say our explanation about the founding of the land of Uz is conjecture.  Certainly, if there is a fire, something started it.  Or more to our subject, if Job lived in the land of Uz, someone before him by the name of “Uz” must have founded it.  Who would say that second generation Uz was not godly, did not hold to the ways of the LORD and did not teach them to his descendants who carried his name throughout the region so that it became known as “the land of Uz?”  

The discourses between Job and the four who tried to help him gives us detailed information about beliefs, conditions and events in that area.  After Zophar recited how God blessed the righteous and punished the wicked (Job 11:13-20), Job replied, “Who does not know such things as these” (Job 12:3)?  The blessings and judgments of God were common knowledge in the land of Uz.  In 6:10 Job said, “I have not denied the words of the Holy One.”  Sound theology was still available in the land of Uz in Job’s day.

Kings Who Rebuilt Ruins

Job wished that he had died at birth.  Then “I would have been at rest with kings and counselors of the earth who rebuilt ruins for themselves.”  (Job 3:13-14).  Stories were passed on from generation to generation about these kings who once lived and rebuilt ruins.  Here, a huge amount of human activity is implied.  First, we must go back to Job’s birth, nearly 300 years before Peleg’s birth.  If he had died at birth, he would have joined those who had already died after a lifetime of great achievement.  Add another 300 years.  Those ruins the kings rebuilt had once been cities that had sprouted up and then failed.  Add hundreds of more years.  Before those cities began growing, all the years from the Flood until the dispersal at the Tower of Babel had occurred.  Add more years.  It could not happen in 101 years, but a thousand years might be sufficient. 

Eliphaz inadvertently refers to great antiquity in saying “Listen to me and I will explain… what wise men have declared, hiding nothing received from their fathers to whom alone the land was given when no alien passed among them” (Job 15:17-19 NIV).  Eliphaz was a contemporary of Job.  He lived in the well-known city of Teman which was southwest of Job’s ranch.  The wise men would have been the teachers in his youth and the fathers would have been the original settlers of the land.  Job and Eliphaz were 140 years old, the teachers would have been one or two hundred years older than Eliphaz and the fathers like the founding fathers of the US would have lived hundreds of years before that.  Then there is the time from the Flood until Uz arrived in this land to begin populating it.  Again, far more than 101 years.

Bildad urged Job to “Inquire of bygone ages, and consider what the fathers have searched out…Will they not teach you and tell you and utter words out of their understanding” (Job 8:8, 10)?  Being the fathers of the land of Uz and having lived in bygone ages suggests they lived near the beginning of the settling of Uz.  They established the sound doctrine in Uz that was still available in Job’s day.  Job died about the time Peleg was born.  Add Job’s 280 years to the time of the founding fathers centuries before and then back to the Flood and it becomes obvious that Ussher’s idea that Peleg was born 101 years after the Flood doesn’t work.

In rebuffing Job’s longest discourse yet Eliphaz asked rhetorically, “Are you the first man that was born” (Job 15:7) and “What do you know that we do not know” (Job 15:9)?  Then he appealed to folks older than Job who would testify to knowing what Job had said: “Both the gray-haired and the aged are among us, older than your father” (Job 15:10).  Here is another instance demanding much more time than the 101 years between the Flood and Peleg’s birth. 

Peleg’s Name:  Separated (by Water)

Associating Peleg’s name with the Tower of Babel judgment is another difficulty in Archbishop Ussher’s scheme.  He wrote that Peleg’s name referred to the dividing of tongues in the Tower of Babel judgment.  Thus, he concluded, the meaning of his name supports the idea that the city and Tower were well along by Peleg’s birth.  It is true that Peleg’s name generally means “divided” (Genesis 10:25).  But a careful study of the Hebrew word shows that water is associated with whatever was divided.  In searching for just how the earth could have been divided by water, the melting of the great ice sheets at the end of the Ice Age immediately comes to mind. 

Unfortunately, Ussher missed this fine distinction.  The next sections will show that Ussher’s explanation of Peleg’s name is also physically impossible since there would not be enough workers.  Further, Scripture implies that this division continued to be more and more pronounced during Peleg’s lifetime and centered on the earth rather than people.  It sounds like a process that went on for years rather than an event that happened in a moment of time like God’s confusing the tongues at Babel.  Surely the division was about something other than Babel. 

Finding Enough Workers to Build Babel (see also Table 16.1)

Expositors speak of thousands of workers building Babel and its tower in the ten years before Peleg’s birth.  But it could not have happened.  Why?  Body clocks only produced two complete adult generations in those 91 years.  Further, such large families consumed their parents’ time. 

The rapid population growth view reasons that if each man had six sons and six daughters, there would be enough workers to get the city and tower well along by the time Peleg was born.  However, twelve children per father in the generations before the Babel judgment is both unsupported and contrary to the size of families reported in Scripture.  It is reminiscent of the numbers generated to produce the several million Israelis in the Exodus in just 215-years or four generations.  While it could be done if every female did nothing but have babies, that is not the way life works.  But what was not possible in 215 years would have been possible in 430 years.  As to growing a work force to build Babel, Keil and Delitzsch are more realistic in suggesting that if each mother averaged four sons and four daughters, the city and tower could be built in 150 or 180 years.[3]  That many years requires another meaning for Peleg’s name than simply “divided.” 

Changing body clocks for starting families

In seeking to find enough workers we will start by observing the remarkable record of changing body clocks for starting families.  The human body did not always have the same time clock for birthing children.  Before the Flood Adam’s line gives 130, 105, 90, 70, 65, 162, 65, 187 and 182 for the father’s age when his heir was born.  So the body clock dial was generally set at 65-187. 

On the Ark were eight people—Noah, his wife, their three sons and their sons’ wives, but no children.  Once they got off his three sons began having families.  Shem was 100 when he fathered Arpachshad two years after the Flood.  It seems that Noah’s sons had pre-Flood body clocks for having children.  On the other hand, Arpachshad, who is the first named son born after the Flood, had his first son at the age of 35 and the next six generations had theirs at the ages of 30, 34, 30, 32, 30 and 29.  Now the body clock for having children was reset to 29-35.  To summarize, the body clock for reaching adulthood and starting families of those born before the Flood stands in stark contrast with those born after the Flood—65-187 vs 29-35. 

By Jacob’s day males were starting families as early as the late teens.  For example, Judah’s two oldest sons married before they were 20 and Judah himself fathered Perez and Zerah by his sons’ widow, all by the time he was 45.  As longevity declined, so did the body clock for starting families.  Since we are talking about the generations immediately after the Flood, we will use the age of 30 which is rounded down from the average of 31+ for reaching adulthood and marriage. 

Time needed to bear 12 children

Next, we must account for the time needed to do all the work of bearing and raising 12 children.  At the rate of one child every two years each mother would be nursing one or more children continuously for 24 years and struggling with a pregnancy over 1/3 of the time while caring for her ever-growing family.  Once her oldest children could help, they would be pressed into the family workforce.  Fathers were hard pressed to hunt game, tend flocks and herds and grow food for their families.  During their childbearing years the 36 adults of the first generation and the 216 adults of the second generation would have had little time for much else than the essentials of survival.

Arpachshad, the first person born in the new world, arrived two years after the Flood began.  Scripture reports he had fifteen male siblings and cousins so counting him and an equal number of daughters, the first generation would total 32 children.  But since the rapid-population-growth people propose six sons per father or a total of 18 sons and 18 daughters, we will test whether even that many children per couple would produce a sufficient work force to build the tower and city in time.  Thirty-two years after the Flood Arpachshad reached adulthood while his youngest sibling reached adulthood 22 years after that.  Thus, all members of this first generation would have reached adulthood 54 years after the Flood (AF) (2 + 30 + 22 = 54 AF).  Shem, Ham and Japheth’s 36 children would form 18 couples to produce the second generation. 

When Arpachshad was 35 (37 AF) he fathered a son named Shelah who represented the second generation.  The 18 first generation couples would each bear 12 children for a total of 216 people (108 couples) in the second generation.  The first person, Shelah, would reach adulthood 67 years AF (2 + 35 + 30 = 67 AF) while his youngest sibling would reach adulthood 22 years later (67 + 22 = 89 AF).  So 89 years after the Flood all 216 second generation children would reach adulthood and be in the process of bearing twelve children per couple to produce the third generation.  At this point, 89 years after the Flood, the total adult population of the world would be 260—the eight Ark people, 36 first generation and 216 second generation folks (8 + 36 + 216 = 260). 

 Yet according to the Ussher view, in two more years thousands of workers would have begun constructing Babel and its tower.  Really?  Not the 216 second generation people.  Each of those 108 couples would have been super busy bearing and caring for their twelve children so it is unlikely they had much time for the construction project.  Over 22 years (67-89 AF) these 108 couples conceived the 1296 children of the third generation which reached adulthood between 97 AF and 119 AF.  None reached adulthood in time to begin the tower and city in 91 AF so none of them can be counted among the thousands of required workers. 

Peleg was born in 101 AF, four years after his father Eber reached adulthood in 97 AF.  Eber gave his son the name “Peleg” (divided) because by this time some sort of division had occurred.  Only the sixteen couples of the first generation might have been available for the tower project since the second generation of 108 couples was busy producing the third generation between 67 AF and 97 AF and none of the third generation reached adulthood in time to begin building the tower and city in 91 AF.  The division Peleg’s name referred to must be something other than the division of languages because the needed work force of several thousand beginning ten years before he was born did not exist. 

However, the very idea of each male fathering 12 children is both inconsistent with Shem’s recorded genealogy and the experience of known Scriptural families.  Shem, Ham and Japheth fathered sixteen sons, not 18.  Scripture only reports the number of sons fathered by seven of those sixteen.  They had a total of 36 sons, not 42, which is also shy of the six sons per father proposal.  Nothing is said of daughters.  It could well be that there were not enough daughters for all sixteen first generation sons to marry.  Besides, one or more of the other nine could have met with misfortune.  When space is limited literature generally provides the more striking than the mundane.  In this case the more striking would be the largest or most important families.  Averages cannot be based on just the larger families. 

Then there is the entire issue of the number of reported sons in general.  The Table of Nations (Genesis 10) reported 16 for the first generation, 36 for the second, two for the third and three for the fourth.  Beyond that, Terah had three sons.  Abraham was monogamous and had just one son by his life-long partner Sarah, although he had seven by two other women.  Isaac had just two sons.  Jacob had 12 sons by four wives or three sons per mother.  He also had one named daughter, but he had at least one unnamed daughter.  To provide wives for his sons, other families would have to have more daughters than sons.  Thus, if he had a total of four daughters, he would have had four children per wife—three sons and one daughter.  This is a far cry from 12 children per mother. 

So a more realistic estimate for the first generation is 30 children eventually forming 14 couples instead of 36 children forming 18 couples.  Instead of 216 second generation people, a more realistic number would be 112 people forming 56 couples.  Thus, only the 30 first generation people might have been available to build the city and tower because the second-generation couples were busy raising the third generation and the third generation did not start reaching adulthood until 97 AF. 

 Further, there is the matter of the godly.  As they thought about the ramifications of not being scattered, they would have dropped out of the potential Babel work force.  These would have been the ark survivors and most of those born in the first generation which leaves only a handful to build the city and tower. 

In summary, to complete just the bottom 100 feet of a 200’ high Tower plus a portion of the city, a workforce of several thousand would have to work on this project for the ten years before Peleg was born.  But thousands of workers did not even exist in 91 AF even if each couple had six sons and six daughters.  More importantly, Peleg’s name refers to a division by water, not a division by languages.  Thus, those who teach that Peleg’s name refers to the Tower of Babel event are snared in two errors. 

Babel and its tower

The Flood released water that covered the highest mountains and tore up the face of the earth.  But five months after the Flood began, the waters had decreased to the point where the ark became grounded.  While the constant pitching and rolling of that gigantic floating barge in heavy seas was over, it would not be safe to disembark for another seven months.  Consequently, they lived on the ark for over a year.

Provisions stored in the ark fed the eight people until they could establish flocks, field crops, vineyards and orchards.  Over the years they raised families, stripped the ark of whatever they could use and explored their new world.  Active volcanoes nearby caused them to think about finding more suitable land.  Eventually they started to migrate 400-500 miles south.  The Ararat region continued to rise until the tallest mountain, Great Ararat, reached its present height of 17,000 feet.

Most of Noah’s extended and growing family settled on a broad plain named Shinar.  It was as wide as the valleys of Ararat were narrow.  When their population was sufficient, some decided to build a city with a tall tower that would reach to the sky “lest we be disbursed over the face of the whole earth” (Genesis 11:4).  Their statement suggests an awareness of the vast size of the earth which would have come from considerable exploration.  The tower would be a landmark, seen from miles away.  It would be built of bricks burned to stone rather than clay bricks dried in the sun.  While more labor intensive, the results would be more permanent.  Their plan showed ingenuity and purpose but dismissed the direct command of God to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (Genesis 9:1).  It was rebellion to the core.

Did everyone join this rebellion?  Noah would not join in a flagrant rebellion against the God who had led him to build the Ark and save life from the Flood.  He is named with Job and Daniel as among the most righteous men in history (Ezekiel 14:14).  What about Shem, Aram and godly Uz?  Scripture often generalizes.  Note the language of Genesis 11:2: “as people migrated from the east, they found a plain.”  This would be like Matthew 3:5, “Then Jerusalem and all Judea...were going out to him [ be baptized].”  It simply means a large number were going down to John to be baptized.  Obviously, not all of the post-Flood population joined the rebellion. 

Who was its leader?  The Table of Nations gives much space to a man named Nimrod who was born in the second generation after the Flood.  His name means “rebellion” so possibly this was a nickname given to him in adulthood.  Scripture even says his empire began with Babel (Genesis 10:10).  He was the world’s first iron-fisted dictator.  Certainly, the godly avoided this rebellion against God and others later escaped its tyranny. 

 Those supporting the 101-year position argue that the city and tower did not have to be completed.  In fact, they claim, it would be sufficient for only the base of the tower to be laid.  However, this seems to oppose Genesis 11:5, “The LORD came down to see the city and the tower which the children of man had built” (emphasis ours).  The words make it sound like it was at least substantially well along.  However, the project was not finished because when God confused their language, Scripture says “they left off building the city.”   Possibly they built the tower first and then proceeded to work on the city. 

Artists have rendered beautiful pictures of a monstrous tower and vast city.  Ancient writings describe Babylon with such a tower.  But the ruins of Babel have not been located.  While the secular world is well aware of ancient Babylon, it dismisses the entire Babel story as myth.

The Great Pyramid and the Tower of Babel

How large of a work force was actually needed for the Tower of Babel?  It can be somewhat guided by the well-known data for building Egyptian pyramids. The formula for the volume of a pyramid is height times width times depth times 1/3.  Khufu’s pyramid was originally 481 feet high and 756 feet on a side, fixing its volume at 91.636 million cubic feet.  It was the largest structure made by man until modern times.  Of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, it is the only one still in existence although erosion has reduced it slightly.

While archaeologists have not yet positively identified the site of Babel, the site of ancient Babylon is well known.  Its ruins are about 68 miles south of Baghdad, Iraq’s capital.  Historical accounts describe a temple tower that once stood in Babylon as having seven tiers, three staircases, topped with a temple of exquisite proportions and dedicated to the god Marduk.  It was called Etemenanki, “The Foundation of Heaven and Earth.”  Such towers are called ziggurats.  Hammurabi was said to be the builder of this ziggurat which contained the remains of an earlier ziggurat and other structures.  Over a thousand years later King Nebuchadnezzar built its final stage, making it 297 feet high.  Today only part of its base remains. 

 Ziggurats were places where the gods could visit and be close to the people, not places of public worship or a burial place for a head of state.  Nebuchadnezzar built another ziggurat at Borsippa, seven miles south of Babylon. It was 231 feet high.  Several tablets and a foundation stone explain that he built it on the same design as the Tower of Babel.  Nebuchadnezzar wrote, “Nabu’s tower (Borsippa) should reach the skies and be no less in grandeur than that of Babel.”  The many ziggurats in Iraq and Nebuchadnezzar’s inscription and tablets suggest that the Tower of Babel was in the shape of a ziggurat. 

Because of the difference between pyramids and ziggurats, comparing Khufu’s pyramid to Babel’s tower can only provide a rough idea of the laborers involved in the Tower.  But regardless of just how many laborers were needed for the Tower and city, the required work force would have been sizeable.  In fact, commentaries repeatedly state that thousands of workers were needed to build the city and its tower.  But as previously seen, there were not enough workers so soon after the Flood. 

Some Egyptian pyramids were stepped; others had smooth sides.  On the other hand, ziggurats were massive, tiered structures.  Each higher level was recessed from the one below enabling staging during construction.  Some 130 pyramids have been found in Egypt while about 120 ziggurats have been located in Iraq and western Iran.  The base of a ziggurat is equal to its height while the base of a pyramid is about 1.5 times its height.   A 200-foot-high Tower of Babel would have had a volume of 2,666,667 cubic feet or about 2.91% of Khufu’s Great Pyramid.  

Most of the effort of construction is made in the lowest portion.  For the tower of Babel to reach even 20% of its proposed height would have required half the labor needed to complete it.  If God judged the people when it was only 100 feet high, it would have been 87.51% complete and have a volume of 2,333,667 cubic feet which is 2.5467% of the 100% completed Great Pyramid.  That percent of the Great Pyramid’s 14,000 full-time and 26,000 seasonal workers comes to 357 full-time and 662 part-time workers for ten years.

Comparing the needed workforce, however, requires two major adjustments.  In comparing the Great Pyramid with Egypt’s earlier pyramids, archaeologists discovered that the pyramid builders learned with experience.  Earlier pyramids required far more workers for the same volume of material in the pyramid.  The Tower of Babel was its builders’ first such experience.  They could have started it several times before an efficient construction method was developed, or they could have discovered mistakes that needed time-consuming corrections. 

Besides the time needed to learn how to build a ziggurat, there was the labor-intensive material in the ziggurat.  Most of the stones in the Great Pyramid were quarried nearby and much of the insides was filled with inferior materials; the stones in the Tower of Babel were man made.  While sun baked clay bricks would require a minimum of labor, the bricks used to construct the Tower were burned to stone.  This made them extremely durable, but it also made them extremely labor intensive.  Just delivering the wood for the ovens would have required many workers. 

While the equivalent of Egypt’s 14,000 full-time and 26,000 seasonal pyramid builders would have been 357 full-time and 662 part-time workers at Babel for ten years, their inexperience and costly material would have required much more labor per cubic foot of material.  Possibly these considerations would have doubled the necessary workforce on the ziggurat.  Added to this is the workforce needed to build the city.  Altogether, several thousand workers putting in six days a week for ten years is not an unreasonable estimate.  No such workforce was available 91 years after the Flood.  Shem’s list is incomplete. 


[1] Michael J. Oard, The Missoula Flood Controversy and the Genesis Flood, (Chino Valley, AZ: Creation Research Society, Monograph Series Number 13, 2004), 101.

[2] Michael Oard and Beverly Oard, Uncovering the Mysterious Woolly Mammoth: Life at the End of the Great Ice Age, (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2007).

[3]     Keil, The Pentateuch, Vol. 1, 176.

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