In Genesis (6:19) God commands Noah to gather the animals:

וּמִכָּל־הָ֠חַי מִֽכָּל־בָּשָׂ֞ר שְׁנַ֧יִם מִכֹּ֛ל תָּבִ֥יא אֶל־הַתֵּבָ֖ה לְהַחֲיֹ֣ת אִתָּ֑ךְ

Verse 20, however, concludes that the animals would come:

מֵהָע֣וֹף לְמִינֵ֗הוּ וּמִן־הַבְּהֵמָה֙ לְמִינָ֔הּ מִכֹּ֛ל רֶ֥מֶשׂ הָֽאֲדָמָ֖ה לְמִינֵ֑הוּ שְׁנַ֧יִם מִכֹּ֛ל יָבֹ֥אוּ אֵלֶ֖יךָ לְהַֽחֲיֽוֹת

Again in the next chapter (7:2) we find the commandment for Noah to bring animals:

מִכֹּ֣ל ׀ הַבְּהֵמָ֣ה הַטְּהוֹרָ֗ה תִּֽקַּח־לְךָ֛ שִׁבְעָ֥ה שִׁבְעָ֖ה אִ֣ישׁ וְאִשְׁתּ֑וֹ

Then we find again in (7:9) that the animals came:

שְׁנַ֨יִם שְׁנַ֜יִם בָּ֧אוּ אֶל־נֹ֛חַ אֶל־הַתֵּבָ֖ה זָכָ֣ר וּנְקֵבָ֑ה כַּֽאֲשֶׁ֛ר צִוָּ֥ה אֱלֹהִ֖ים אֶת־נֹֽחַ

Nevertheless, the verse concludes "as God commanded Noah." One would assume that this means that he was commanded to do something. If they came of their own accord, then even had he been informed by God, it ought to have said "As God told Noah."

What is the resolution. Are the statements about them coming really just a way of saying that they were brought by Noah?

Rashi writes in his commentary to (7:9) that they came on their own, but this doesn't account for the contrary implication in other verses, and indeed in that very verse.

What do other Rishonim say about this?


2 Answers 2


In a similar vein as Rashi, Midrash Maor HaAfelah (Genesis ch. 7 p. 63) quotes Pirkei D'Rabbi Eliezer (ch. 23) stating that each species's angel brought it to the ark. This is also quoted by Midrash HaBeiur (Parashat Noah p. 57). Bekhor Shor similarly writes in his commentary to (7:9) that (at least the impure animals) came on their own.

Ibn Ezra writes this as well in his commentary to (6:19). He seems to indicate that the obligation was to bring them into the ark, but that they came to the ark themselves. This would resolve the seeming contradiction. This is also clear from the commentary of Radak (6:19, 7:2, 7:9).

Ramban (6:20) resolves the contradiction by explaining that the impure animals came on their own accord, while the pure animals were gathered by Noah.

There are general issues with trying to reconcile modern knowledge of Earth, its geography, and the number, distribution, and characteristics of its species, with a literal account of the flood. While that is not the subject of this post, it has been noted that the species arriving by themselves (miraculously) would solve the problem of Noah gathering species from far flung places like Australia. Ramban's explanation that he gathered the pure animals himself, would be more difficult to reconcile in this regard.

  • Commentless downvote???
    – mevaqesh
    Nov 2, 2017 at 13:22

As it explains in Sefer HaYashar on the Torah for parshas Noach, beginning from the words:

ויהי בעת ההיא וימת מתושלח בן חנוך כו״

It explains, like Ramban, that G-d brings the animals to Noach at the ark. It goes on to explain that G-d would cause them to circle the ark and that Noach was to sit in front of the doorway to the ark and watch them. Each pair that was led by the female and followed by the male and that lay down before Noach was to be handed over to Noach’s sons and led into the ark.

If the pair was led by the male and followed by the female or if they simply stood in front of Noach, they were to be rejected.

According to the introduction to the sefer, this is a midrash that survived from the time of the destruction of the second Temple.


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