Were Insects on the Ark?

We have consistently received a flood (pun intended) of questions about whether there were insects on the Ark. This article will help us consider what the Bible teaches concerning insects and the Flood. For example, did God instruct Noah to take insects with him on the Ark? If not directly commanded by God to be included as passengers, would some insects have been beneficial and, if so, how or why might they have come on board? Did God Command Insects to Be Taken on Board the Ark?

In Genesis 6:19–20, God commanded Noah to take representatives “of every living thing of all flesh,” including those “of the birds after their kind, of animals after their kind, and of every creeping thing of the earth after its kind.” Where might insects be included in this list?

It may help to look back at creation. While plants were created on Day Three (Genesis 1:11–13), living creatures (Hebrew: nep̄eš ḥayyâ) were created on Days Five and Six (Genesis 1:20–31). Aquatic, flying, and terrestrial invertebrates, including insects, would likely have been included among them. In fact, the word typically translated bird in these passages (Hebrew: ‘ôp̄ in Genesis 1:20, 21, 6:20) is more literally "flying creature" and applies to more than just birds. The dietary lists given to the Israelites specifically mention bats as flyers (Leviticus 11:19; Deuteronomy 14:18). Flying insects are mentioned in these passages as a separate group — the creeping things that fly (Hebrew: šereṣ hā‘ôp̄; Leviticus 11:20–23; Deuteronomy 14:19–20), suggesting they were considered a particular grouping of flying creatures.

Insects, however, may be defined separately from most land animals in the Hebrew language. Consequently there are arguments on both sides as to whether insects were of the kinds that were to be taken onto the Ark.

Arguments Against Insects Being Taken on the Ark

All the animals taken into the Ark are described as "flesh" (Hebrew: bāśār; Genesis 6:19, 8:17). When it refers to living animals rather than simply to an animal's body, this term is never conclusively used of insects.

"For the life [Hebrew: nep̄eš] of the flesh is in the blood [Hebrew: dām]" (Leviticus 17:11, 14; cf. Genesis 9:4; Deuteronomy 12:23). Insects do not have blood; instead they have hemolymph, which serves many of the same functions as blood. Leviticus 17:13–14 states that any land animal or bird eaten by the Israelites had to have its blood poured out, and Deuteronomy 15:19–23 clearly tie this with the practice of butchering animals for meat. Genesis 9:5 states that shedding of man’s blood merited the sacrifice of the man or beast that murdered that man. There is no example in Scripture of blood ever being used in reference to invertebrates. In fact, blood is only rarely used figuratively, one such occasion being the poetic phrase "the blood of grapes," referring to wine (Genesis 49:11; Deuteronomy 32:14).

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