Describing the act of creation, the Torah tells us:
“And God said: Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear. And it was so” (Genesis 1:9).
This verse in the Torah refers to the creation of a solitary continent, which became visible only after the lowering of the water level that covered the Earth’s surface. In other words, at the beginning of Creation, only a single vast ocean surrounded the only continent on Earth.
This description is in contrast with the very precise, detailed picture we have today, of oceans surrounding the seven continents of Earth: 1. Eurasia 2. Africa 3. Australia 4. Greenland 5. North America 6. South America 7. Antarctica.
Amazingly, the Zohar(1) tells us about very significant geological changes that took place on Earth after the initial creation:
“One single continent came out of the water, and from it seven continents were formed.”
The Zohar is telling us that at the time of creation, there was only one continent, which at a later stage broke up to form seven separate continents, which slowly drew apart. This allowed the water to flow into the gaps between them and form the various oceans and seas.(2)
On the same subject, the Book of Proverbs (9:1) offers an enlightening verse:
“Wisdom has built her house, she has hewn out her seven pillars.”
According to Rashi, the “house” in this verse refers to the world, which God built with wisdom.
By juxtaposing Rashi’s explanation with the Zohar’s comments above, we can better understand the second half of the verse: “she has hewn out her seven pillars.” These are the seven continents, hewn under from the single, initial continent.
Of course, scientists dismissed these Torah statements about the drastic geological changes that took place on Earth as unbelievable and mere baseless fable. It was only just over 70 years ago that the world of science began to revise its opinions on the formation of the continents. The first scientist to talk about continental drift was the German geologist, Alfred Lothar Wegener (1880-1930) in his book: The Origin of Continents and Oceans, first published in 1915. As proof for his theory, Wegener pointed out the amazing similarities between the western coastline of the African continent and the eastern coastline of South America, which looked like two separated pieces in a jigsaw puzzle. Further research indicated that at the points of the two continents’ previous contact, there were similarities in the flora and fauna and in the geochemical structure of their minerals. Ever since Wegener’s discovery, there has been extensive further research into this subject and current opinion, as expressed in learned scientific papers, overwhelmingly supports the theory of continental drift.
The continental drift theory caused a revolution in geologists’ thinking and has helped them understand many aspects of geology with greater profundity. Professor E. R. Oxburgh, of Cambridge University, expressed the significance of this discovery, by stating: “Scientists working in any field of research only rarely find themselves in a situation in which the changes in the research approach is so swift and acute that they must use the term “scientific revolution” to describe the events. However, that is exactly what has happened in the field of geology over recent decades.”
The question remains, however, as to when these geological events took place. The Book of Job (9:5) tells us about the period of the Great Flood in the time of Noah:(3)
“Who moves the mountains, and they know it not, when He overturns them in His anger.”
According to Dr. Hadassah Melamed,(3) the geological changes mentioned above, which many scientists believe occurred over millions of years, in actuality happened very rapidly, in a matter of days during the Flood, about 4,000 years ago. Geologists are mistaken, because they refuse to take into account the events resulting from a sudden catastrophe that affected the planet as a whole.
On pages 120-125 of her book, Dr. Melamed explains the Torah verses about the four rivers that flowed through the Genesis continent (apart from the vast sea that surrounded it):
“And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it was divided, and became four heads. The name of the first is Pishon; which encompasses the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. And the gold of that land is good; there is bdellium and onyx. The name of the second river is Gihon; that encompasses the whole land of Cush. The name of the third river is Tigris; which goes toward the east of Asshur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.” (Genesis 2:10-14).
Dr. Melamed proves that “the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold” refers to the continent of America, when still a part of the Genesis continent. After it had broken off and drifted far away, replete with its gold mines, Columbus discovered it – a mere 500 years ago. However, it is also possible that King David and King Solomon knew of its existence, and that this is the land of Ophir referred to in Scripture, from where they brought back gold to the Holy Land on voyages that lasted three years.(5)
Let us have another look at these events: With the exception of the Creator of the universe, thousands of years ago, before any human being had ever drawn a map of the continents, who could have known that at one time, they were all originally comprised in one vast land mass, which subsequently split apart and separated? Furthermore, two thousand years ago, before Europeans had discovered North and South America and Australia, how would rational men of science have reacted to the Zohar’s statement that there are seven continents on planet Earth?
Notes and Sources
(1) Zohar Chadash 12:1.
(2) See also Midrash Rabbah 5:8. It was so obvious to the Sages that only one sea was at first created that they interpreted the meaning of the verse: “And God called… the gathering of the waters seas” (Genesis 1:10) to say that while one vast sea was originally created, due to the different characteristics of the various coasts (as reflected in the different taste of the fish), it can be thought of as many seas.
3. See also, Midrash Rabbah 26:7, on the comments made by Rabbi Yehudah HaNassi about Job and the Flood.
4. Hadassah Melamed, The Secret of the Flood, the Bermuda Triangle and Continental Drift (Hebrew), (Rechovot: 2000). See Nachmanides’ explanation of Genesis 2:11, where he states that the Torah gave details about “the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold,” in order to differentiate it from Havilah, Egypt, mentioned in Samuel I 15:7
5. Chronicles I, 29:2-4; Kings I, 10:11-22; Kings I, 22:49.