Questions about Noah and the flood

edited April 2006 in Faith Issues
Just remembered reading Genesis the other night, and got confused about the number of animals on the Ark. Can someone please explain the following:

Genesis 6:20
Of the birds after their kind, of animals after their kind, and of every creeping thing of the earth after its kind, two of every kind will come to you to keep them alive.
This verse seems to say he took two of every animal. But Genesis 7:2-3 says:
You shall take with you seven each of every clean animal, a male and his female; two each of animals that are unclean, a male and his female; 3 also seven each of birds of the air, male and female, to keep the species alive on the face of all the earth.
This says 7 birds, 7 of the clean animals, and 2 of the unclean. I am confused. Can some please help me understand this verse? Also, why 7? How many males and females? Why only 2 of the unclean? Thanks greatly for the response.

Also Genesis 7:4 says:
For after seven more days I will cause it to rain on the earth forty days and forty nights, and I will destroy from the face of the earth all living things that I have made.”
This says it will rain forty days and forty nights.

But Genesis 7:24 says:
And the waters prevailed on the earth one hundred and fifty days.
Is this saying that it rained 150 days? Or that is how long it took before the waters went away? [So 130 days for the waters to disappear and dry land to appear]

I thought Genesis 8 would explain it more but I got confused with the way the days and months are mentioned [It seems to say it took 600 years for the water to disappear?]
And it came to pass in the six hundred and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, that the waters were dried up from the earth; and Noah removed the covering of the ark and looked, and indeed the surface of the ground was dry.
Can someone please help me with my confusion? Thank you greatly


  • I'll try to answer the first part of your question.

    Two of every kind: species whose survival requires mating between a male and a female to reproduce must be pairs of course. Those species that can replicate or reproduce without mating would be pairs too so if one dies the other survives, if they both survive they'll be helpful to each other. The verses do not imply that there must be only one pair for a given species.

    7 pairs of every kind of clean animal (ea a male and his female)
    2 pairs of every kind of unclean animal (ea a male and his female)
    7 pairs of every kind of bird species (ea a male and his female)
    (the numbers can also be with special biblical meaning, for ex. 7 is a number denoting completeness or fulfillness of God's Love and God's Work; 2 denotes physical and incompleteness)

    Probably: God knew that clean birds and animals would be consumed or more useful to man than the unclean ones (plus the clean ones' numbers should logically prevail?)

    accordingly in ratios,
    clean:unclean is 7:2
    animals:birds is 9:7
    unclean:birds is 2:7

    God wants a certain balance in the nature He created, to be present after the flood.

    the second part of your question... possibly later?
  • Yes I found it! I knew I read it before in great detail: Books/Fr. Tadros Malaty/Genesisc.pdf

    Open and read the book pages 32 to 35 for clarity regarding the numbers of the flood years.

    A really very interesting series of lectures about Genesis and the correct way to interpret its verses, beautifully linked to modern updated science:

    the first two files are the same I think, but the last lecture is two parts. (Thanks socoolbishoy)
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