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The antediluvian (alternatively pre-diluvian or pre-Flood) period—meaning "before the deluge"—is the period referred to in the Bible between the Fall of man and the Deluge (flood) in the biblical cosmology. The narrative takes up chapters 1-6 (excluding the flood narrative) of Genesis. The term found its way into early geology and lingered in science until the late Victorian era. Colloquially, the term is used to refer to any ancient and murky period.
In religious texts such as the Christian Bible and the Hebrew Torah, the antediluvian period begins with the creation according to Genesis and ends with the destruction of all life on the earth except those saved with Noah in the ark. According to Bishop Ussher's 17th-century chronology, the antediluvian period lasted for 1656 years, from creation at 4004 BC to the flood at 2348 BC. The elements of the narrative include some of the best-known stories in the Bible — the creation, Adam and Eve, and Cain and Abel, followed by the genealogies tracing the descendants of Cain and Seth, the third mentioned son of Adam and Eve. (These genealogies provide the framework for the biblical chronology, in the form A lived X years and begat B).
The Bible speaks of this era as being a time of great wickedness. There were Gibborim (giants) in the earth in those days as well as Nephilim; some translations identify the two as one and the same. The Gibborim were unusually powerful; Genesis calls them "mighty men which were of old, men of renown". The antediluvian period ended when God sent the Flood to wipe out all life except Noah, his family, and the animals they took with them. Nevertheless, the Nephilim (literally meaning 'fallen ones', from the Hebrew root n-f-l 'to fall') reappear much later in the biblical narrative, in Numbers 13:31–33 (where the spies sent forth by Moses report that there were Nephilim or "giants" in the promised land).
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