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How the Indigenous Populations got to different continents?


Rabbi Ari Shvat

Adar 28, 5777
According to the standard Western narrative, native populations (ie, American Indians, Aborigines in Australia, etc) migrated from the "birth" place of civilization tens of thousands of years ago when the seas were either frozen over or lower than they are today. According to Torah, which could not explain their migration happening tens of thousand of years ago, how did those people get there? I remember learning that some American Indians had "flood mythologies" similar to that of Noach - and I have to assume that according to the Torah, they all migrated after Noach. A fact of life is that in the past 500 years, entire continents were "discovered" which were fully inhabited by "primitive" people (ie, North America, South America, Australia). According to the normative Western narrative, these people arrived tens of thousands of years ago when different physical conditions (icy land bridges, lower oceans, etc) made it much easier for people to migrate to these lands. According to Torah, however, all of humanity was destroyed and built through Noach and his family within the past 5,500 years or so. In that case, the normative Western narrative cannot explain how these "native" people were found on these disconnected continents. For example, did Hashem break the laws of nature and simply through supernatural means transport entire populations to these continents? (perhaps even for the purpose of giving us free choice to have normative Western narratives that contradict the Torah) Were the ancients during the times of Migdal Bavel or some other time of dispersion perhaps much more sophisticated in their sea travel abilities than we would assume or give them credit for? Maybe there is a midrash or tradition about sea-traveling populations that settled distant lands? To summarize, according to the Torah, how did we get from Noach and his family (who were presumably in the vicinity of Eretz Yisrael) to entire continents separated by vast expanses of oceans that were wholly populated?
Although we obviously don’t know for certain how, those bridges of ice, lower oceans, etc. and general movement of populations into what are now known as the different continents, apparently came after the story of the Tower of Bavel. At that time apparently God warmed the climate which melted those bridges of ice, thus making the travel impossible without sophisticated boats. In fact there is a rabbinic tradition that there was a huge flood in that generation when mankind was dispersed after the Tower of Bavel (Yalkut Shimoni 543, on Amos 5) which was logically caused by that melting of the ice bridges. Scientists themselves admit that they don’t know exactly how long ago the climate of the world changed and that their estimates are exactly that, estimates, which can’t take into account many unknowns. The Malbim adds that one of the reasons God allowed man to begin eating meat after the Flood (right before before the division of mankind after the story of Bavel), was to have strength for those new long journeys to the far off areas. If you read Hebrew, you can see a nice article on the topic at:
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