In Genesis 9:11-17 God says that He established the rainbow as the sign that He will never again judge the earth by another Great Flood (which took place about 2348BC). Does this mean that before this date the rainbow never existed? Is there any proof that the rainbow existed prior to the Great Flood?
Genesis 9:11 - 17
ESV - 11 I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth. 12 And God said, "This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations:
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Although the existence of rainbows was not specifically mentioned in the Bible prior to the Flood, they did (in my opinion) occur before that time as natural meteorological phenomena. However, they were given a new meaning and significance by God following the Flood. To me, this is similar to the fact that the Romans undoubtedly crucified countless individuals prior to the time of Christ (making the cross a symbol of punishment and shame), but it was given a new association with salvation for Christians by Christ's atoning death (1 Corinthians 1:18-25).
A rainbow is a meteorological phenomenon that is caused by reflection, refraction and dispersion of light in water droplets resulting in a spectrum of light appearing in the sky. It takes the form of a multicolored circular arc. Rainbows caused by sunlight always appear in the section of sky directly opposite the sun. The water droplets must be located in the sky in order for a rainbow to appear in the sky. Since there was no such thing as water droplets in the sky prior to Noah's flood a rainbow in the sky would have been impossible. So how was the earth watered prior to the flood? Gen 2:5-6 ".....the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth...But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground." I assume this was similar to what we call dew today but was undoubtedly considerably more abundant. I've often thought that for Noah to tell his neighbors that it was going to rain for 40 days and 40 nights would have been gibberish to them because rain was completely unknown up to that time. Just think about it. If it had never rained before on earth and someone told you that billions of tons of water was all of the sudden going to fall from the sky he would probably think you've had too much wine to drink!
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