Q. In Noah’s ark, what if any is the significance of bringing 7 pairs of each clean animal vs. 1 pair of unclean animals? Was it for sacrificial purposes after the Flood and the lands dried?
A. Some interpret the “clean animal by sevens” as seven pairs; while others interpret it to mean three pairs plus one more male, since for the unclean “a male and his female” was counted as two:
• Gen 7:2 You shall take with you of every clean animal by sevens, a male and his female; and of the animals that are not clean two, a male and his female;
But whether 7 pairs or 7, there were two purposes:
• For sacrifice – Gen 8:20 Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar.
• For food –
o Gen 9:3 Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant.
o Lev 11:47 to make a distinction between the unclean and the clean, and between the edible creature and the creature which is not to be eaten. The Jews ate only clean creatures (Acts 10:14)
Noah stayed in the ark was over a year:
• Gen 7:11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on the same day all the fountains of the great deep burst open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened.
• Gen 8:13-14 Now it came about in the six hundred and first year, in the first month, on the first of the month, the water was dried up from the earth. Then Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and behold, the surface of the ground was dried up. In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth was dry.
If only one pair of every clean animal or clean bird were taken, and they had not reproduced during the year, their use as sacrifice or food would have meant the extinction of that kind of animal. The bringing of sevens, whether pairs or singles, eliminated that threat.