Breishit 6:19 says (quoting Sefaria):

וּמִכָּל־הָ֠חַי מִֽכָּל־בָּשָׂ֞ר שְׁנַ֧יִם מִכֹּ֛ל תָּבִ֥יא אֶל־הַתֵּבָ֖ה לְהַחֲיֹ֣ת אִתָּ֑ךְ זָכָ֥ר וּנְקֵבָ֖ה יִֽהְיֽוּ׃

And of all that lives, of all flesh, you shall take two of each into the ark to keep alive with you; they shall be male and female.

Does the bolded part assume that this is a requirement for taking in animals into the ark, and only such animals would enter the ark? Or does it mean that if an animal has genders, Noach should take one of each gender?

If it was a requirement, that would mean that all asexual animals were killed in the flood. If so, how were they reborn afterward?


1 Answer 1


Genesis 7:13-14 (Judaica): On this very day, Noah came, and Shem and Ham and Japheth, Noah's sons, and Noah's wife and his sons' three wives with them, into the ark. They, and every beast after its kind, and every domestic animal after its kind, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth after its kind, and every fowl after its kind, every bird of every wing.

Genesis 7:21-22 (Judaica): And all flesh perished that moved upon the earth, among the fowl, and among the cattle, and among the beasts, and among all creeping creatures that creep upon the earth and all mankind. Everything that had the breath of the spirit of life in its nostrils, of all that were on the dry land, died.

From these verses we can see that the kinds of animals which Noah took into the ark with him included the large land animals we'd normally think of, the birds, and the "creeping things", which is the least clear to our modern minds. But from Genesis 7:22 we see that the key criteria is whether the animal breathed through nostrils.

So for example, Noah probably didn't need to take two of every kind of insect on the ark because they breathe through their skin, and were not under the judgement of the flood. Similarly earthworms are hermaphrodites but breathe through their skin, and so didn't need to be taken on the ark.

To my knowledge most non-fish hermaphrodite species are invertebrates, and would probably be excluded both from the ark and from the judgement.

  • Those animals that were excluded from the Judgement, where were they during the flood?
    – larry909
    Oct 30, 2019 at 7:07
  • @larry909 I don't know. The biggest category are fish and other aquatic creatures, who presumably stayed in the seas. Maybe some insects hitched a ride on some driftwood. And even though worms weren't required to be taken on the ark as passengers, maybe they were taken on in order to compost the waste of the humans and other animals. Oct 30, 2019 at 7:12

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