It is common for skeptics to level criticism against the Bible for seemingly contradictory numbers given in different verses. For instance, some skeptics will point out that Noah is told in Genesis 7:2–3 to take seven pairs of certain creatures while in verses 8 and 9 of the same chapter refer only to two of each kind of animals.
- “You shall take with you seven each of every clean animal, a male and his female; two each of animals that are unclean, a male and his female; also seven each of birds of the air, male and female, to keep the species alive on the face of all the earth.” Genesis 7:2,3, NKJV
- Of clean animals, of animals that are unclean, of birds, and of every thing that creeps on the earth, two by two they went into the ark to Noah, male and female, as God had commanded Noah. Genesis 7:8,9, NKJV
This is one of the easiest so-called contradictions to resolve.
Verses 2 and 3 give us the number of the animals which were to be taken upon the ark. Seven male and female pairs of clean animals and birds were to be taken, while one pair (a male and a female) of unclean animals were to come.
Verses 8 and 9, on the other hand, do not tell us how many of each kind of animal were to come. Rather, these verses tell us the manner in which they entered the ark, that is, as pairs (or, “two by two”).
It does not take a wild stretch of the imagination at all to envision seven pairs of birds, for instance, entering the ark “two by two,” or one pair at a time.
These numbers are in no way contradictory, and it is a sad testimony to the amount of doubt toward the word of God by skeptics that some would continue to use these difficulties against the Bible.