Genesis 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.
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(2) Of every clean beastHeb., of all clean cattle—thou shalt take to thee by sevens—Heb., seven seven.—This probably does not mean seven pairs of each, though many commentators so interpret it, but seven of each kind. If, however, seven pairs be the right interpretation, but few species could have been included, as to attend properly to so large a number of animals would have been beyond the power of Noah and his sons. But which were the clean beasts? There can be no reference here to the Levitical law, which had respect to human food; nor to animals tamed and untamed, as all alike are called cattle; but probably the clean cattle were such as from the days of Adam ‘and Abel had been offered in sacrifice. Thus provision was made for Noah’s sacrifice on his egress from the ark, and also for his possession of a small herd of such animals as would be most useful to him amid the desolation which must have existed for a long time after the flood. The clean beasts would therefore be oxen, sheep, goats; the unclean, camels, horses, asses, and such other animals as stood in some relation to man. Of birds, the dove would especially be clean.

It has been pointed out that these more full and specific orders are given in the name of Jehovah, whereas most of the narrative of the flood is Elohistic, and hence it has been assumed that some Jehovist narrator added to and completed the earlier narrative. These additions would be Genesis 7:1-6. the last clause of Genesis 7:16, Noah’s sacrifice in Genesis 8:20-22, and the cursing of Canaan in Genesis 9:18-27. Now, it is remarkable that the sacrifice is as integral a portion of the Chaldean Genesis as the sending forth of the birds (Chaldean Genesis, p. 286), and is thus indubitably older than the time of Moses. Still, there is nothing improbable in Moses having two records of the flood before him, and while the division of Genesis into Elohistic and Jehovistic portions usually breaks down, there is a primâ facie appearance of the combination of two narratives in the present history, or, at least, in this one section (Genesis 7:1-6).

Genesis 7:2. Here are necessary orders given concerning the brute creatures that were to be preserved alive with Noah in the ark. He must carefully preserve every species, that no tribe, no, not the least considerable, might entirely perish out of the creation. Even the unclean beasts, that were least valuable, were preserved alive in the ark. For God’s tender mercies are over all his works, and not only over those that are of most use; yet more of the clean were preserved than of the unclean. 1st, Because the clean were most for the service of man; and therefore, in favour to him, more of them were preserved, and are still propagated. Thanks be to God, there are not herds of lions as there are of oxen; nor flocks of tigers, as there are of sheep. 2d, Because the clean were for sacrifice to God; and therefore, in honour to him, more of them were preserved, three couple for breed, and the odd seventh for sacrifice, Genesis 8:20.

7:1-12 The call to Noah is very kind, like that of a tender father to his children to come in-doors when he sees night or a storm coming. Noah did not go into the ark till God bade him, though he knew it was to be his place of refuge. It is very comfortable to see God going before us in every step we take. Noah had taken a great deal of pains to build the ark, and now he was himself kept alive in it. What we do in obedience to the command of God, and in faith, we ourselves shall certainly have the comfort of, first or last. This call to Noah reminds us of the call the gospel gives to poor sinners. Christ is an ark, in whom alone we can be safe, when death and judgment approach. The word says, Come; ministers say, Come; the Spirit says, Come, come into the Ark. Noah was accounted righteous, not for his own righteousness, but as an heir of the righteousness which is by faith, Heb 11:7. He believed the revelation of a saviour, and sought and expected salvation through Him alone. Thus was he justified by faith, and received that Spirit whose fruit is in all goodness; but if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. After the hundred and twenty years, God granted seven days' longer space for repentance. But these seven days were trifled away, like all the rest. It shall be but seven days. They had only one week more, one sabbath more to improve, and to consider the things that belonged to their peace. But it is common for those who have been careless of their souls during the years of their health, when they have looked upon death at a distance, to be as careless during the days, the few days of their sickness, when they see death approaching; their hearts being hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. As Noah prepared the ark by faith in the warning given that the flood would come, so he went into it, by faith in this warning that it would come quickly. And on the day Noah was securely fixed in the ark, the fountains of the great deep were broken up. The earth had within it those waters, which, at God's command, sprang up and flooded it; and thus our bodies have in themselves those humours, which, when God pleases, become the seeds and springs of mortal diseases. The windows of heaven were opened, and the waters which were above the firmament, that is, in the air, were poured out upon the earth. The rain comes down in drops; but such rains fell then, as were never known before or since. It rained without stop or abatement, forty days and forty nights, upon the whole earth at once. As there was a peculiar exercise of the almighty power of God in causing the flood, it is vain and presumptuous to attempt explaining the method of it, by human wisdom.Of all clean cattle. - Here the distinction of clean and unclean animals meets us without any previous notice. How it became known to Noah we are not informed. From the former direction it appears that the animals were to enter by pairs. Now it is further arranged that there are to be seven pairs of the clean cattle and fowl, and only one pair of the unclean.2, 3. Of every clean beast … fowls—Pairs of every species of animals, except the tenants of the deep, were to be taken for the preservation of their respective kinds. 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. Obj. The distinction of clean and unclean beasts was not before the law.

Answ. Some legal things were prescribed and used before the law, as abstinence from the eating of blood, Genesis 9:4, and, among other things, sacrifices, as learned men have sufficiently proved; and consequently the distinction of beasts to be sacrificed was then, in some measure, understood, which afterwards was expressed, Leviticus 1:1-17, &c. Nor is this a good argument, This was not written before, therefore it was not commanded and practised before, especially concerning a time when no commands of God were written, but only delivered by tradition.

By sevens; either,

1. Seven single, as most think. Or rather,

2. Seven couples, as may be gathered,

1. From the duplication of the word in Hebrew. If it be said seven seven signifies only seven of every kind, then it would have been said concerning the unclean beasts two two, i.e. two of each sort: whereas now there is an apparent difference; there it is said only by two, but here,

by sevens, or seven seven, which difference of the phrase suggest a difference in the things. 2. By the following words,

the male and his female, which being indifferently applied to the clean and unclean, plainly shows that none of them entered into the ark single, and therefore there was no odd seventh among them, but all went in by couples, which was most convenient in all for the propagation of their kind, and in the clean for other uses also; as for sacrifices to God, if not for the sustentation of men in the ark, and after they came out of it. Which gives us the reason why God would have more of the clean than of the unclean put into the ark, because they were more serviceable both to God and men.

Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens,.... From hence it appears, that the distinction of clean and unclean beasts, at least for sacrifice, if not for food, was known before the flood, and so before the law of Moses; though some think this is said by anticipation, and as providing a large stock of such creatures for the propagation of their species; because they would be most serviceable to men both for food and sacrifice: but as it is certain that sacrifices were offered ever since the fall of man; by the same way, namely, by divine revelation, that men were taught to sacrifice creatures as typical of the sacrifice of Christ, they were directed what sort of creatures to offer, as were most suitable figures of him; those beasts that were clean, and used under the law, and so no doubt, at this time, were oxen, sheep, and goats: and these were to be taken into the ark by "sevens", or "seven seven" (p); either only three pairs, male and female, for procreation, and the seventh a male for sacrifice, when the flood was over; or rather fourteen, seven couple, an equal number of male and female, as Aben Ezra and Ben Gersom, that there might be enough for propagation; since a large number of them would be consumed, both for food and sacrifice:

the male and his female, or "the man and his wife" (q); which confirms the sense given, that there were seven pairs, or otherwise, if there had been an odd seventh, there would not have been a male and his female:

and of beasts that are not clean by two, or only two:

the male and his female, or "the man and his wife"; which was a number sufficient for the propagation of creatures neither used for food nor sacrifice; and many of which are harmful to mankind, as lions, wolves, tigers, bears, &c.

(p) "septena septena", Pagninus, Montanus; "septem septem", Vatablus, Drusius. (q) "virum et uxorem ejus", Pagninus, Montanus.

Of every {b} 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.

(b) Which might be offered in sacrifice, of which six were for breeding and the seventh for sacrifice.

2. Of every clean beast] The distinction is here made between the clean and the unclean animals. Categories of both kinds, according to the Levitical Law, are found in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14:3-20. In the account given by P (Genesis 6:19) no allusion is made to this distinction. According to P, the distinctions of clean and unclean were for the first time laid down in the Mosaic legislation, and could not, therefore, be recognized as existing in the primaeval or patriarchal age. According to J, the distinction existed in pre-Mosaic times, and was to be presupposed as having existed side by side with the institution of sacrifice.

seven and seven, the male and his female] By this is meant seven pairs. “The male and his female,” i.e. “each and his mate,” îsh v’ishtô, seems to make this clear. But some consider seven clean animals, and not seven pairs of clean animals, are intended. The words “the male and his female” are different from those rendered “male and female,” zâkâr un’ḳêbah, Genesis 1:27, Genesis 6:19, Genesis 7:3; Genesis 7:9; Genesis 7:16.

The reason why so many more clean animals than unclean are required is, presumably, because they would be wanted (a) for food, (b) for sacrifice, and (c) for domestic purposes.

There is no reason to assume that the J tradition of the narrative shared the opinion of the P tradition, that before the Flood man subsisted on vegetable diet (see Genesis 1:29, Genesis 6:20, Genesis 9:2-3).

Verse 2. - Of every clean beast. That the distinction between clean and unclean animals was at this time understood is easier to believe than that the writer would perpetrate the glaring anachronism of introducing in prediluvian times what only took its rise several centuries later (Kalisch). That this distinction was founded on nature, "every tribe of mankind being able to distinguish between the sheep and the hyena, the dove and the vulture" ('Speaker's Commentary'), or "on an immediate conscious feeling of the human spirit, not yet clouded by any ungodly and unnatural culture, which leads it to see in many beasts pictures of sin and corruption" (Keil), has been supposed; but with greater probability it was of Divine institution, with reference to the necessities of sacrifice (Ainsworth, Bush, Wordsworth; cf. Genesis 8:20). To this was appended in the Levitical system a distinction between clean and unclean in respect of man's food (Leviticus 11:3). Shalt thou take - inconsistent with Genesis 6:20, which says the animals were to come to Noah (Colenso); but Genesis 6:19, which says that Noah was to bring them, i.e. make them go (at least nearly equivalent to take), clearly recognizes Noah's agency (Quarry) - to thee by sevens. Literally, seven, seven; either seven pairs (Vulgate, LXX., Aben Ezra, Clericus, Michaells, De Wette, Knobel, Kalisch, Murphy, Alford, Wordsworth, ' Speaker's Commentary'), or seven individuals (Chrysostom, Augustine, Theodoret, Calvin, Pererius, Wiliet, Delitzsch, Rosenmüller, Keil, Lange, Bush); both parties quoting the next clause in support of their particular interpretation. Davidson, Colenso, and Kalisch challenge both interpretations as "irreconcilable with the preceding narrative" (Genesis 6:19); but the obvious answer is, that while in the first communication, which was given 120 years before, when minute instructions were not required, it is simply stated that the animals should be preserved by pairs; in the second, when the ark was finished and the animals were about to be collected, it is added that, in the case of the few clean beasts used for sacrifice, an exception should be made to the general rule, and not one pair, but either three pairs with one over, or seven pairs, should be preserved. The male and his female. This seems to be most in favor of the first interpretation, that pairs, and not individuals, are meant. And of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female. Ish veishto. Cf. Genesis 2:25, where the phrase denotes the ethical personality of human beings, to which there is here an approximation, as the preserved animals were designed to be the parents of subsequent races. The usual phrase for male and female, which is employed in Genesis 1:28 (a so-called Elohistic) and Genesis 7:3 (a so-called Jehovistic section), refers to the physical distinction of sex in human beings. Genesis 7:2Genesis 7:1-12

When the ark was built, and the period of grace (Genesis 6:3) had passed, Noah received instructions from Jehovah to enter the ark with his family, and with the animals, viz., seven of every kind of clean animals, and two of the unclean; and was informed that within seven days God would cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights. The date of the flood is then given (Genesis 7:6): "Noah was six hundred years old, and the flood was (namely) water upon the earth;" and the execution of the divine command is recorded in Genesis 7:7-9. There follows next the account of the bursting forth of the flood, the date being given with still greater minuteness; and the entrance of the men and animals into the ark is again described as being fully accomplished (Genesis 7:10-16). - The fact that in the command to enter the ark a distinction is now made between clean and unclean animals, seven of the former being ordered to be taken, - i.e., three pair and a single one, probably a male for sacrifice-is no more a proof of different authorship, or of the fusion of two accounts, than the interchange of the names Jehovah and Elohim. For the distinction between clean and unclean animals did not originate with Moses, but was confirmed by him as a long established custom, in harmony with the law. It reached back to the very earliest times, and arose from a certain innate feeling of the human mind, when undisturbed by unnatural and ungodly influences, which detects types of sin and corruption in many animals, and instinctively recoils from them (see my biblische Archeologie ii. p. 20). That the variations in the names of God furnish no criterion by which to detect different documents, is evident enough from the fact, that in Genesis 7:1 it is Jehovah who commands Noah to enter the ark, and in Genesis 7:4 Noah does as Elohim had commanded, whilst in Genesis 7:16, in two successive clauses, Elohim alternates with Jehovah-the animals entering the ark at the command of Elohim, and Jehovah shutting Noah in. With regard to the entrance of the animals into the ark, it is worthy of notice, that in Genesis 7:9 and Genesis 7:15 it is stated that "they came two and two," and in Genesis 7:16 that "the coming ones came male and female of all flesh." In this expression "they came" it is clearly intimated, that the animals collected about Noah and were taken into the ark, without his having to exert himself to collect them, and that they did so in consequence of an instinct produced by God, like that which frequently leads animals to scent and try to flee from dangers, of which man has no presentiment. The time when the flood commenced is said to have been the 600th year of Noah's life, on the 17th day of the second month (Genesis 7:11). The months must be reckoned, not according to the Mosaic ecclesiastical year, which commenced in the spring, but according to the natural of civil year, which commenced in the autumn at the beginning of sowing time, or the autumnal equinox; so that the flood would be pouring upon the earth in October and November. "The same day were all the fountains of the great deep (תּהום the unfathomable ocean) broken up, and the sluices (windows, lattices) of heaven opened, and there was (happened, came) pouring rain (גּשׁם in distinction from טטר) upon the earth 40 days and 40 nights." Thus the flood was produced by the bursting forth of fountains hidden within the earth, which drove seas and rivers above their banks, and by rain which continued incessantly for 40 days and 40 nights.

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