How many of each beast on the ark?

Gen. 7:2 Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female.

Gen. 7:8-9 Of clean beasts, and of beasts that are not clean, and of fowls, and of every thing that creepeth upon the earth, There went in two and two unto Noah into the ark, the male and the female, as God had commanded Noah.

The question often asked: Were there seven of each clean beast, or two?

The answer is, seven. The phrase "two by two" in 7:9 simply means the animals entered the ark in pairs. So the beasts with 7 representatives came in as 3 pairs and 1 oddball each, paired off male and female and one spare wheel. (Note the difference in phraseology: "by two" and "two and two".)

Objection: You left Genesis 6:19-22 out of consideration, so your argument is attacking a straw man.

If I indeed "left it out" it is because my original source for the objection -- a list of Bible contradictions by Jim Merritt -- left it out.But let's look at that passage.

Genesis 6:19-22 And of every living thing, of all flesh, YOU SHALL BRING TWO OF EVERY KIND INTO THE ARK, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female. Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground according to its kind, TWO OF EVERY KIND SHALL COME IN TO YOU, to keep them alive. Also take with you every kind of food that is eaten, and store it up; and it shall serve as food for you and for them." NOAH DID THIS; HE DID ALL THAT GOD {Elohim} COMMANDED HIM.

According to the KJV italics and an interlinear Bible, the word "kind" ("sort" in the KJV) is not found in the original Hebrew text. In other words, it actually says, "And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep alive with thee; they shall be male and female. Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every shall come unto thee, to keep them alive."

"Every"? Every what? It's assumed to be "kind" but, it just isn't there.

Wenham's Genesis commentary reads it, "pairs of every", i.e., as a case of mode, not number, just like we do in 7:8-9. In other words, my previous answer covers the same ground: the references to "twos" refer to mode by pair, not total number.

Then what about Genesis 7:1-5?

Genesis 7:1-5 Then Yahweh said to Noah, "Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you alone are righteous before me in this generation. TAKE WITH YOU SEVEN PAIRS OF ALL CLEAN ANIMALS, the male and its mate; AND A PAIR OF THE ANIMALS THAT ARE NOT CLEAN, the male and its mate; AND SEVEN PAIRS OF THE BIRDS of the air also, male and female, to keep their kind alive on the face of all the earth. For in seven days I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights; and every living thing that I have made I will blot out from the face of the ground." AND NOAH DID ALL THAT YAHWEH COMMANDED HIM.

"Pairs" isn't in the original text here, either. This version (the NRSV, according to someone) adds it for what they figured to be clarity.

Then why do translations put in the word "pairs"?

Who knows? It doesn't matter. The Hebrew actually says "seven sevens". According to H.C. Leupold, "The Hebrew expression 'take seven seven' means 'seven each'", and suggested that the extra one was for sacrifice. The 1599 Geneva Bible concurred: "Which might be offered in sacrifice, of which six were for breeding and the seventh for sacrifice." Jamieson, Fausset and Brown commented:

'This was the general rule of admission, only with regard to those animals which are styled "clean," three pairs were to be taken, whether of beasts or birds; and the reason was that their rapid multiplication was a matter of the highest importance, when the earth should be renovated, for their utility either as articles of food or as employed in the service of man. But what was the use of the seventh? It was manifestly reserved for sacrifice; and so that both during Noah's residence in the ark, and after his return to dry land, provision was made for celebrating the rites of worship according to the religion of fallen man. He did not, like many, leave religion behind. He provided for it during his protracted voyage.'

If Noah did all that God commanded him, which was to bring two pairs of "all flesh" onto the ark, how could Yahweh (not Elohim) then command Noah to make a distinction between the number of clean and unclean animals taken aboard and to take aboard seven pairs of birds?

The latter command is an intentional repetition made to fit it all together into a chaistic pattern -- see the relevant portion of Miller's article here. Indeed, given the pattern of the chiasm, and what it says, verse 22 very much has the character of an editorial redaction that wasn't in the original text/story, but it need not have been.

-JPH