The flood myth is a theme shared across the world. Many religions and cultures have stories or believe in the existence of an ancient flood sent by god(s) to cleanse the planet. Both Arabic and Norse myth have similar flood myths.

In Norse mythology, the flood myth is slightly different from other cultures. Ymir is the primordial chaos being in norse mythology, “There was in times of old, where Ymir dwelt, nor sand nor sea, nor gelid waves; earth existed not, nor heaven above, ’twas a chaotic chasm, and grass nowhere,” he is the oldest of the old. But, Odin, the god of wisdom, wealth, healing, battle, and so many other things came along and killed Ymir with his two brothers (Lindow). From this blood flew the great flood that over took the earth. The only beings that populated the earth during this ancient time were the giants, and of these giants only two survived to tell their tale, Bergelmir and his wife. The two of them were only able to survive the bloody deluge because they constructed a lúðr, meaning ark, boat, or cradle.

Arabic Myth, and the abrahamic religions as a whole, have similar flood stories. In the Quran, Noah receives message from Allah to build an ark as a flood is coming and no sinner shall be left on earth. Noah follows his instructions and builds the ark, large enough to hold pairs of every animal and his family. The flood comes and everyone is killed, everything destroyed except for him. From Noah then, the world restarts.

Both Arabic and Norse mythology have similar flood narratives. In both, a man and his family are warned of a flood, they are selected to be the survivors, and their families both restart the human race. Both make boats, or specifically arks, that in the torrential pour miraculously survive and come to tell again. These similar stories are reflective of similar concerns shared by humanity as a whole. In these two religious worlds both communities were concerned over sinner and their effect on the greater society. 

Moving forward to today, we should be more concerned than ever for a great flood. Water has the ability to destroy coastlines as sea levels rise. Many of our coastal communities in the US are facing the consequences from anthropogenic climate change. Similar to how myth reflects a human fear of a great flood, humans today should possibly contain the same fear.

Lindow, John. Handbook of Norse mythology. Berkeley: University of California Press. 2001.