While the Hollywood version of the biblical Noah’s Ark story recently hit movie theaters, some lucky Israeli residents of the Negev Desert’s Wadi Zim region got to see a real flood in the Holy Land as a dramatic video posted to YouTube captured the rebirth of the River Zin. Within seconds, the dry riverbed, also known as nahal in Hebrew and wadi in Arabic, is overwhelmed by gushing water as the dozens of spectators and one excited dog watch in awe.
Flash floods have been common in the region since biblical times, and the modern flooding was a result of heavy rain in mountainous regions several miles away from the arid land. Lack of sufficient rainfall due to drought meant that this was the first time in years that water flowed through the River Zin, which starts in the Ramon Crater, located around 52 miles (85 kilometers) south of the city of Beersheba and winds it way through the Plain of Sodom before ending 75 miles (120 km) to the northeast at the Dead Sea. The Ramon Crater is ancient geological formation that is the world’s largest makhtesh—a geological landform unique to the Negev region that is created not by meteor impact or volcanic eruption, but by erosion.
The River Zin marked the border of ancient Israel in biblical times. Beersheba is where Abraham arrived 3,700 years ago and dug a well, planted a tamarisk tree and made a covenant of peace with the Philistine king Abimelech. The occasional flooding of the Negev Desert is mentioned in the Hebrew Testament.