What is the “flood” of Joshua chapter 24?


by Shawn Brasseaux

“[2] And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods. [3] And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac…. [14] Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. [15] And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

What is the “flood” of Joshua chapter 24? Is it the Flood of Genesis? No. It is not the Great Deluge of Noah’s lifetime. After all, Terah/Abraham/Nachor, like Joshua, all lived after the Flood of Genesis chapters 6–8, not before it. Therefore, it would not make sense to read Joshua chapter 24 as “Terah/Abraham/Nachor prior to the Flood….” Be sure to read “the other side of the flood” as a place on a map, not a position on the Bible timeline. The King James translators rendered that Hebrew word (“nahar”) more often as “river” (nearly 100 times). However, they were not incorrect when translating it as “flood” here as elsewhere. According to The Oxford English Dictionary, “flood” is a literary term for a stream/river or sea. In Old English, it is flod, both of which are related to flow (as in a river flowing). Now that we understand stream is the sense of the word “flood” in Joshua chapter 24, which river would it be?

Before the LORD God called him, Abram (his former name) was a pagan idolater in Ur of the Chaldees. Actually, his whole family was heathen. Historically, this was Genesis 11:27-32, with Abram’s call in the opening verses of chapter 12, but the progressive revelation of the matter is given in Acts 7:1-4. Abram’s name was changed to Abraham in Genesis chapter 17. Ur of the Chaldees (Babylonians) is situated in modern Iraq, near the Euphrates River. Far to the west—that is, west of the Jordan River—is the land of Canaan, where Joshua was speaking to Israel. It is debated whether he was referring to the Jordan River or the Euphrates River. (This author leans toward the Euphrates.) So long as we make “flood” a river here, and not involve the Great Flood of Noah’s day, we have grasped the most important point.

Also see:
» Is there a geographical error in 2 Kings 2:2?
» Is “Jesus” a mistake in the King James Bible in Hebrews 4:8?
» How could Jonah flee from God’s presence?