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Continuing the response to the meta call for contradiction.

In Genesis 6:18 we read the following:

And I will make my covenant with you: and those that come on the ark, you and your sons and your wife, and your sons wives with you. And from all that lives, and from all flesh, two of each bring into the ark, to live with you. Male and female they will be. From the birds of their kind, from the beasts to their kind, from all that crawls on the earth to its kind, two of each will come with you, to survive. And you, take for yourself from every food which can be eaten, and gather it to you, and it will be for you and for them, to eat.

And Noah did: Everything he was commanded to by God, so he did.

But right at the beginning of Chapter 7, we read:

And Yahweh said to Noach(Noah): come you and all your household to the ark: because you I see are righteous before me, in this generation.

From every pure beast, take for you seven/seven--- husband and wife; and from the impure beast, two, husband and wife. Also from the fowl of the sky seven/seven, male and female, to survive as seed for the entire Earth. Because in seven days still, shall I rain on the Earth, forty days and forty nights, and I shall wipe the whole expanse which I have made from the face of the land.

And Noah did all that Yahweh had commanded him.

Here is a pure contradiction. How many doves were there on the ark, two or seven?

There is further evidence later, in Chapter 8:

And it was, and the end of forty days, and Noach opened the window of the ark which he made. And he sent the crow; and it went back and forth, until the waters dried above the land.

And he sent the dove from him to see if the waters were lighter on the face of the land. And the dove didn't find rest for her feet, and returned to him, to the ark, because water was over all the land. And he sent his hand and took her, and brought her to him, into the ark.

Both the crow and the dove are referred to using singular indicators, suggesting there was only one of the appropriate gender referred to by the pronoun. This strongly suggests that there was only one crow and only one female dove.

But a crow is impure, while a dove is pure.

Finally, once Noah is on dry land, at the end of Chapter 8, there is the following passage:

And Noah did build an altar for Yahweh; and he took from all the pure beast, and from every pure fowl, and raised smoke in the altar. And Yahweh smelled the comforting smell, and said to himself, no more will I curse the ground on cause of man, because the heart of man has wrong from his adolescence, and no more will I strike all that lives, just as I have done. Onward, all the days of the earth: seeding and reaping and cold and hot, and summer and winter, and night and day, will not arrest.

So Noah is sacrificing of the pure beasts to Yahweh. What gives? Were there seven of the pure beasts, or two, two of each beast?

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2 Answers 2

The apparent contradiction is made plain by simply reading the passage carefully:

19 And of every living thing of all flesh, two [of every sort] shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female.

Please notice that [of every sort] is not in the original language. The emphasis is that the animals will be brought in by pairs capable of mating in order to preserve them alive. This pre-empts questions arising from observation of specific animals, like one bull can service multiple cows. They are to come in pairs.

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. 3 Of fowls also of the air by sevens, the male and the female; to keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth.

Now the instructions are made specifically according to types of animals to speak of the total number required. The total number differs based on the kind.

When it is read in Hebrew it does not say 'by sevens' it says 'seven seven'. This is a pair of sevens. The first command was to bring them in by pairs, and the second says to bring a pair of sevens. This is notable because there is a completely different word available for fourteen.

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I read the original language, and there are two different number commands: bring two vs. bring 7/7. The first instruction is not saying "bring them in pairs", it is saying "bring two", and it means what it says. Downvoted, this is making up a strained interpretation to blind yourself to textual boundaries. –  Ron Maimon Apr 25 at 12:43
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This is resolved, as all other contradictions, by the documentary hypothesis. The first 8 verses of chapter 6 are Yahwist, and verse 9:

This is the narrative of Noah, an innocent righteous man he was in his time: with God Noah walked

marks the beginning of the Elohist narrative (note the clean start-marker provided by this verse--- it is declaming that this is the narrative/geneology of Noah, which is the usual start of a story). This continues Elohist until the end of chapter 6, and it is clearly a correct identification, because God is mentioned as Elohim many times throughout the passage.

The chapter ends with a very typical E phrasing:

And Noah did: Everything he was commanded to by God, so he did.

Chapter 7 switches to Yahweh for God's identifier, and immediately here we find that there are 7/7 of the pure beasts. The J section ends at verse 5 with the similar sentiment in the immediately preceding E section, but in J-style:

And Noah did all that Yahweh had commanded him.

Now the narrative is back to Elohim, and back to E, and the beasts are again two-two (pure and impure, the distinction is not made by E in this context). This is mentioned several times--- there are two of each animal. Until the E section ends at the end of Chapter 8,

And God talked to Noach, saying: Go out from the ark-- you, and your wife, and your sons, and your sons' wives with you. Every animal which is with you from all flesh, from fowl to beast, and every crawler that crawls on the Earth, take out with you; and infest the earth, and bear fruit and multiply on the earth.

The next two verses, I don't know if they are E or J. But the last paragraph is definitely J:

And Noah did build an altar for Yahweh; and he took from all the pure beast, and from every pure fowl, and raised smoke in the altar. And Yahweh smelled the comforting smell, and said to himself, no more will I curse the ground on cause of man, because the heart of man has wrong from his adolescence, and no more will I strike all that lives, just as I have done. Onward, all the days of the earth: seeding and reaping and cold and hot, and summer and winter, and night and day, will not arrest.

Note that first, this switches back to Yahweh as God's identifier, and now we have a sacrifice that is impossible if there were two of each animal. The documentary hypothesis has explained all the duplications, all the inconsistencies, and explained why the two narratives, one with Elohim, and the other with Yahweh, are each self-consistent in themselves, but slightly inconsistent with each other.

There is no alternative to the documentary hypothesis for explaining the Noah story. It is just a smoking gun.

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or, of course, the sacrificial animals had offspring on the Ark –  warren Apr 9 '12 at 16:14
    
Gordon Wenham has an excellent article in Vetus Testamentum 28 on the unity of the Flood Account. It can now be found online: scotthahn.com/download/attachment/3402 –  Frank Luke Apr 9 '12 at 16:43
    
@warren: Whether they did or didn't, the commanded number is 7/7 in J, and 1/1 in E, and this is consistent in the two narratives within themselves. The textual differences in the J and E accounts are glaringly obvious. I didn't get this from anyone else, I translated the passage and the textual boundaries jumped out at me without any prompting or previous exposure to documentary hypothesis. –  Ron Maimon Apr 9 '12 at 17:07
    
@FrankLuke: The source you give is blind. There is no argument with the E/J division--- it is glaringly obvious, it does not split any verses, and the passages assigned to E and J are divided by clear transition verses that mark beginning/end of narrative subsection. The pattern is E/J/E/J, with several verses apeice and only 4 narrative sections, each comprised of several verses and delineated by clear boundaries. There is no cut/paste with scissors--- I gave the division correctly and there is no doubt, except for the two verses near the paragraph that describes the animal sacrifice. –  Ron Maimon Apr 9 '12 at 17:11
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Traditionally, it is J and P who are supposed to have given the flood account, not J and E. And both criticisms you give of Wenham's article are from the first 2 pages. –  Frank Luke Apr 9 '12 at 18:11
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