Number of each "kind" on Noah's Ark

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Rescued from the

Global Flood

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Seven of the clean kind

The number of each "kind" that were to be brought on Noah's Ark during the global flood is inconsistent within the Bible. The contradiction can be found between Genesis 6 and Genesis 7 when God is telling Noah the number of animals he is to bring. Furthermore, the passage in Genesis 7 is an anachronism in biblical chronology, because which animals are clean and which are unclean was only revealed in laws given to Moses after the exodus of Israelites from Egypt.

Biblical scholars have several different models for the origins of the Bible, including Genesis. One model is the documentary hypothesis, which holds that the Bible was assembled from multiple independent sources, each written centuries apart from the others, in a process of redaction. This means that one or more ancient Jews "spliced" different versions of different stories into one long book (or rather, five longish books), resulting in noticeable duplications and contradictions (such as the separate creation stories in Genesis 1 and 2, and of course, the issues discussed on this page). Another possibility is that the Bible did begin as a single narrative, and over the centuries various stories, rules, and commentaries were added and subtracted to it — rather like a wiki.
 Either way, it is believed that the command to bring seven pairs of clean animals was a later variation, added to the story so that Noah has some clean animals to sacrifice at the end without making them extinct.


[edit] Biblical quotes

[edit] Number of animals contradiction

In Genesis 6, God tells Noah to bring two of all living creatures including (as is logical) several of all birds. The King James translation makes it slightly more flowery, but the meaning "two of each" is still clear.

You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive.
—Genesis 6:19-20[1]

In the next chapter, Genesis 7, God directly contradicts himself. Instead of two of every animal, male and female, God tells Noah to bring seven of every clean animal - although this is also read by many as seven pairs. How can one bring seven of some animals if he is already only bringing two of all animals? Genesis 7 also contradicts God's statement in the previous book by stating that instead of two of all birds, seven of all birds were to be brought.

Take with you seven of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and two of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, and also seven of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth.
—Genesis 7:2-3[2]

[edit] Mosaic law anachronism

The second quote from Genesis 7:2-3 also contains a gross anachronism. Which animals are ritually clean and which are unclean is only revealed in Leviticus 11, many hundreds of years later. If Noah knew the Mosaic law and passed it on to his children, there would be no point in God revealing it to Moses and Aaron later in Leviticus. In order to get away from this, you need to maintain that Noah was revealed at least parts of the Mosaic law, which were then lost at some point after the Flood.

Of course, there's also the much more plausible explanation that the story was invented by a Jewish writer who was so accustomed to thinking about animals as clean or unclean that he did not spot this chronological inconsistency.

[edit] Creationist position

Because the Biblical statements are so obviously contradictory, literalists have abandoned their usual tactic of denying the contradiction.[3] They instead declare that any translations that contain the contradictory statements are, in fact, mis-translations.[citation needed] The problem with this statement though is that every translation of the Bible contains this logical error. If a few were found not to contain the logical error, the mis-translation idea might hold water, but it would still not really matter because the vast majority of translations would still support the contradiction. It is logical to assume that statements that appear in nearly one hundred percent of all translations are correct, and are the correct translation and as close to the original meaning as possible. Below is a chart of the several verses in various bible translations, those translations that need more explaining are in their own subsections.

Version Genesis 6:20 Genesis 7:3
KJV "Of fowls ... two of every sort"[4] "Of fowls also of the air by sevens"[5]
ESV "Of the birds.....two of every sort"[6] "and seven pairs of the birds of the heavens also"[7]
NCV "two of every kind of bird"[8] "seven pairs of all the birds"[9]
YLT "Of the fowl....two of every [sort]"[10] "of fowl of the heavens seven pairs"[11]
AB "Of fowls and birds...two of every sort"[12] "Also of the birds of the air seven pairs"[13]
NASB "Of the birds...two of every kind"[14] "also of the birds of the sky, by sevens"[15]
TM "two of every species of bird"[16] "seven pairs of every kind of bird"[17]
NKJV "Of the birds...two of every kind"[18] "also seven each of birds"[19]

Creationists so far have not addressed the anachronism in the second verse.

[edit] New Living Translation

Some creationists have suggested that the New Living Translation or the NLT does not contain this "error", because in Genesis 6:20 it uses the word "pair" in the plural form: "Pairs of every kind of bird, and every kind of animal, and every kind of small animal that scurries along the ground, will come to you to be kept alive."[20] However, the preceding verse, Genesis 6:19, makes it clear that the plurality of "pair" refers to the plurality of species, rather than the plurality of pairs from a single species: "Bring a pair of every kind of animal—a male and a female—into the boat with you to keep them alive during the flood."[21]

[edit] Footnotes

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