Two of Every Kind

two every kind

e) Gen 6:19–22: Noah at last discovered why God commanded him to build a boat far too large for him and his family (Gen 6:15).[1] The Lord extended his concern to the animal realm.[2]

God said, “And from all of the living, from all flesh, two from all you shall bring into the ark to keep them alive with you. Male and female they shall be.”

All types of creatures would survive to repopulate the earth.[3]

Although God described people in terms of gender in Gen 1:27, this verse represents the first time Scripture depicted the nonhuman creation as “male and female” (Cf. Gen 1:20–25; Gen 2:18–20).[4]

The list of living things gradually becomes more specific and echoes the sequence of the first creation account.[5]

Moses reported, “From birds according to their kind, and from animals according to their kind, and from all of the creeping things of the ground according to their kind, two of all of them shall come to you in order to keep them alive.”

The Hebrew term for “kind” (min) allows for a broader range than “species.”[6]

Significantly, God commanded reproduction “according to its kind” for plants and animals but not for humans (Gen 1:24, 26–28). This may indicate that God intended that vegetation and animals propagate more than the same species,[7] as the term “kind” does not correspond to a scientific species or genus.[8]

These initial instructions omit God’s command to Noah to bring seven pairs of each type of clean animal into the ark (Gen 7:2–3).[9]

The text also does not indicate how Noah knew the difference between a clean and an unclean animal.[10] Not until Lev 11 does Scripture differentiate between them.

Other Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) peoples experienced fewer dietary restrictions than Moses’s readers faced.[11]

For example, one Egyptian spell found inside a coffin states, “The pig is detestable to Horus.”

Another insists that a certain incantation was “not to be said while eating pork.”[12]

On the other hand, the Lord had not yet permitted meat for consumption (Gen 1:29–30). Thus, the increased number of clean creatures appears to ensure the availability of enough sacrificial animals (Gen 8:20–9:3).[13]

Noah surely experienced gratitude that he and his sons would not have to find and capture the animals. Instead, God would guide them to the ark,[14] again demonstrating his power over nature.[15]

Since the Lord selected Noah to preserve life, Moses’s readers likely recognized a similarity to another of their ancestral heroes. God orchestrated Joseph’s sale into Egyptian slavery to preserve life (Gen 45:4–11; Gen 50:15–21).[16]

In the Atrahasis Epic, the god Enki promised, “I will rain down upon you here an abundance of birds, a profusion of fishes.” Yet the same text states that Atrahasis brought “whatever he had…clean animals…fat animals…he caught [and brought on board]. The winged birds of the heavens, the cattle…the wild creatures…he put on board.”[17]

In the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Noah figure reported, “The beasts of the field, the wild creatures of the field…I made go aboard.[18]

God ended his instructions by saying, “And you, take for yourself from all of the food which can be eaten, and gather it to yourself. And it shall be for you and for them for food.”

Here we encounter another parallel with the story of Joseph, for he advised the Egyptians to gather and store grain in light of the impending famine (Gen 41:33–37).[19] Unlike in Joseph’s account, the text does not tell us how Noah and his family managed to do this, nor does it specify what types of food they collected.[20]

Moses concluded this section by stating, “And Noah did according to all which God commanded him. Thus he did.”

This brief statement provides insight into Noah’s character (Gen 6:8–9).[21] It serves as an emphatic affirmation of Noah’s complete obedience, indicating that Noah succeeded where Adam failed (Gen 2:16–17; Gen 3:6).[22]

Such declarations rarely occur in the Pentateuch. The only other equivalent statements appear when Moses oversaw the building of the tabernacle, when the Israelites camped around it, and when they observed Passover (Exod 39:32, 42–43; Num 1:53–54; Num 2:34; Num 9:5).[23]

Consider the tremendous effort which Noah and his family must have undertaken to accomplish this. They needed an incredible amount of timber and pitch. Building such an enormous structure completely by hand would have taken years, in addition to a considerable amount of money.

Then, the effort necessary to gather various types of edible plants for people and many kinds of animals had to be exhausting.

While the Epic of Gilgamesh focuses upon Utnapishtim’s extensive preparations, Moses’s account of the flood simply acknowledges Noah’s obedience to God’s commands.[24]

Image via Wikimedia Commons


Read Gen 6:18–22. What echoes of Gen 1 occur in this text? How does this account compare to other ANE flood texts?  What differences are there? How did Noah express his faith? What can you do to emulate Noah?




Go to Receiving a Divine Warning


[Related posts include Inhabitants of the Sea and Sky (Gen 1:20–23); Living Things from the Earth (Gen 1:24–25); Made in the Image of God (Gen 1:26 cont.); Stewards of the Earth (Gen 1:26 cont.); Male and Female He Created Them (Gen 1:27); The Blessing of Fruitfulness (Gen 1:28); The Lord Provides Food (Gen 1:29–30); Forbidden Fruit (Gen 2:16–17); Succumbing to Temptation (Gen 3:6); Noah Found Favor (Gen 6:8); Righteous and Blameless (Gen 6:9–10); The End was Near (Gen 6:13); Specifications for an Ark (Gen 6:14–16); A Deluge to Ruin All Flesh (Gen 6:17); God Establishes a Covenant (Gen 6:18); Author and Date of Genesis; and Ancient Literature]

[Click here to go to Chapter 6: The Promise of a Covenant (Genesis 6:9–22)]


[1]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 175.

[2]Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 284.

[3]Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 137.

[4]Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 138.

[5]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 175.

[6]Swanson, “מִין” (min), DBLSDH, 4786.

[7]P. Beauchamp, “מִין” (min), TDOT, 8:288–90, 289.

[8]Mark D. Futato, “מִין” (min), NIDOTTE 2:934–5, 934.

[9]Walton, Genesis, 313.

[10]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 176.

[11]Walton, Genesis, 313.

[12]Raymond O. Faulkner, trans., The Ancient Egyptian Coffin Texts: Volume 1, Spells 1–354 (Warminster, UK: Aris & Phillips, 1973), 135, 137. Spells 157–158,,

[13]Walton, Genesis, 313.

[14]Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 284.

[15]Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 137.

[16]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 175.

[17]Lambert and Millard, “Epic of Atra-Khasis,” in RANE, 29.

[18]Speiser, “The Epic of Gilgamesh,” in ANET, 11:85, 94,

[19]Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 284.

[20]Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 131.

[21]Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 285.

[22]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 176.

[23]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 176.

[24]Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 137.