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Discovery Magazine 6/1/2002

All That Water! All Those Animals!

by  Bert Thompson, Ph.D.

There was a time, long ago, when sin became so common that God told His faithful servant Noah that He was going to destroy the world by a flood. But because Noah was righteous, God said that He would save him and his family. He then commanded Noah to build an ark, and to take onto the ark certain animals. Did you ever wonder how many animals would have been on the ark, how Noah got them into the ark, or how he took care of them?

Scientists have studied the question of how many animals Noah could have taken on the ark. They say there may have been as many as 16,000 animals on board. [Remember, God told Noah to take only land-living animals, not animals that lived in water (Genesis 7:21- 22).] Some of the animals would have been small (like hummingbirds), while others would have been large (like dinosaurs). The Bible doesn't tell us if Noah took adult animals, but if he had taken babies, that would have saved a lot of space (and food).

How did Noah get the animals to the ark? Noah did not have to "round them up." Instead, God caused the animals to "come unto Noah" (Genesis 6:19-20). Did God use a miracle? He could have, since He has used miracles in the animal kingdom on occasion. He kept lions from eating Daniel (Daniel 6:22), and He caused Balaam's donkey to talk (Numbers 22:22-28). But, then, He may not have used a miracle. During the time that Noah was building the ark, animals may have traveled over several generations so they were nearby when it was time to get on the ark. If God could bring animals to Adam to be named (Genesis 2:19), He could bring them to Noah to be saved.

But how did Noah and his small family take care of so many animals? Genesis 8:1 says that God "remembered" Noah and all the animals, which means that He took care of them. How God did this, the Bible does not say. Perhaps He placed many of the animals into a year­long hibernation so they didn't need much care. Eventually, water covered the whole Earth. All the people , land-living animals, and birds outside the ark died (7:21-23). It must have been a sad time for Noah and his family. Their homes had been destroyed; their neighbors had been killed; and the Earth they once knew had been altered forever. What a valuable lesson that Flood is to us today, as it teaches us the importance of obeying God!

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