Does Genesis 2:5 say that it didn’t rain before the Flood?
© CRSQ: 37:261
There is the matter of Genesis 2:5-6:
"…before any plant of the field was in the earth and before any herb of the field had grown. For the LORD God had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no man to till the ground; but a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground."
My understanding of this verse (and the ones that follow) gives me ample reason to say they speak of the beginning of the rain cycle. The Bible indeed says that God had not caused it to rain upon the Earth, but also quickly adds, "there was no man to till the ground."
This would limit the time of no rain from the third day until sometime just before man’s arrival on the sixth day – not the entire pre-Flood era. I see the sense of the verse as follows:
"For the LORD GOD had not [yet] caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no man [yet] to till the ground [but one was soon created to do so]; but a mist went up from the earth and watered [that is, through normal rainfall] the whole face of the ground."
Some confusion has arisen over the exact meaning of the Hebrew word ed translated "mist" in Genesis 2:5 by the KJV, RSV, and others. The NIV, for example, translates the Hebrew here as "streams." It is true that Genesis 2:10 speaks of "a river [that] flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers" [not "millions," I might add].
There can be no doubt that this river, as well as present day rivers, irrigated nearby plants. But, a river ultimately has its source through rainfall! We should not suppose that the earth would sustain plant [and hence, animal] life if did not rain and all the earth depended upon rivers which somehow flowed without rainfall.
The parallel verse to Genesis 2:5 using the same Hebrew word ed (translated "mist") is Job 36:27. It is interesting to notice that this companion verse in Job leaves little room for doubt as to the meaning of this Hebrew word:
"For He draws up drops of water, which distill as rain from the mist [ed]."
Water evaporates from the oceans ["goes up"] and the clouds [composed of mist] give us rain. Rain forms and falls from the clouds (composed of "mist" [ed]).
Thus, Genesis 2:5 would be significant in telling us the beginning of the hydrologic or water cycle. And that beginning is before man’s creation. Noah (nor anyone else of the pre-Flood earth) appears not to have had any difficulty in understanding rainfall. The problem was with repentance and a change of life.
The hydrologic cycle is also aptly described in Ecclesiastes 1:7:
"All the waters run into the sea, yet the sea is not full; to the place from which the rivers came, there they return again."
If it did not rain before the Deluge, as some believe, where did the water come from for all the rivers of that pre-Flood time and why did the oceans not "fill up"?
In addition, the geologic record supplies us with evidence that rain has been common on the earth from its earliest times. Raindrop imprints are found in geologic sequences of strata in all areas of the earth. This witnesses the longevity of rainfall on the earth since Creation Week when Genesis One indicates that God began the hydrologic cycle shortly before Man’s creation to insure a continuous source of water for the land, the rivers and the lakes.
None of this, of course, overlooks underground reservoirs of water, but once again, how did such reservoirs originate? Or, perhaps better yet, how are they recharged? Certainly today in the rechargeable aquifers it is through rainfall. When it rains the levels go up, when there is drought (as we have in various areas now), the levels go down.
A misinterpretation of Genesis 2:5-6 will deny how God plagued the Earth prior to the Flood in an effort to bring repentance. (See both the 2000 and the 2007 edition of the Creation/