(Investigator 145, 2012 July)


Skeptics rightly declare absurd the idea that millions of insects — including 70,000 species of flies and mosquitoes — entered Noah's Ark two by two.

Many insect species live in specialised environments and ecological relationships with other living things. To survive on Noah's Ark they would have required their environments with them such as rainforest, desert, swamp, savannah, jungle and tundra!

If, however, the story excludes insects what are the "creeping things" which according to Genesis went on board?

I showed in Investigator 49 that the Bible says nothing about insects on Noah's Ark. My article, however, had several ambiguities and is therefore here revised.

The following analysis explores word-meanings and can be read without presuming Noah's Flood to be historical.

Ten Hebrew Words that Refer to Living Creatures
 (Page numbers refer to the Englishman's Hebrew and Chaldee Concordance of the Old Testament)

Number of times it occurs

Ghahy (p. 418)
c. 480
living creatures;  living things; alive;
Yes, but limited to "living things of all flesh"
6:17-19; 8:17, 19, 21
Basahr (p. 278)
c. 260
Flesh Yes.
6:19; 7:15-16; 8:17
Behemah (p.188 )
c. 187
Beasts; cattle Yes.
6:7, 20; 7:2, 8, 14, 21, 23; 8:17, 20.
Kohl (p. 597)
Yes everything of "flesh" (Basahr), birds (Oph), animals (Behemah),  creeping things (Rahmas/Rehmes) 8:17-19
Oph (p. 911)
Birds & bats Yes.
6:20; 7:3, 8, 14, 21, 23; 8:17-20
Nephesh (p. 829)
c. 750
Creatures/souls with blood. 9:4. Yes
Rahmas (p. 1176)
move; creep Yes.
7:14; 8:17,19
Remes (p. 1176)
Creeping things (Mammals/reptiles with low-lying stomach) Yes.
6:20; 7:14-15; 8:17, 19
Sheretz (p. 1327)
 Swarming/creeping things:
a. Sea creatures
b. Many feet
c. Insects
d. Reptiles & mammals that creep
Not stated
Yegum (p. 558)

Every living thing Not stated

The English phrase "living thing" includes insects, but the living things (Ghahy) on the Ark are limited to "living things of all flesh". The Hebrew "Ghahy" is used of "beasts of the field", animals in dens, and even Eve's offspring.

The animals on the Ark represented all "flesh" (Basahr). (Genesis 6:19; 7:15-21) Living flesh, however, has blood whereas insects do not. (Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 17:11, 14)

What about "souls" (Hebrew "Nephesh")?  Genesis 9:5 literally says: "The blood of your souls."  Souls, therefore, have blood whereas insects again do not. The creatures in the Ark were "souls" (Genesis 9:9-10) which excludes insects.

Creatures wiped out in the Flood were those "in whose nostrils was the breath of life." (Genesis 7:22) This phrase excludes insects since insects don't have nostrils.

"Rahmas", i.e. creatures that creep, died in the Flood and were also on the Ark. (Genesis 7:14, 21; 8:17, 19) "Rahmas" also applies to some sea creatures (Psalm 69:34) but these were unaffected by the Flood which killed "all flesh…on the earth (i.e. land)". "Rahmas" on the Ark were creatures of "flesh" (8:17) and may be the same as "Rehmes" — next word:

Genesis 7:23 says every "living thing" and "creeping thing" ("Rehmes") outside the Ark was blotted out. Creeping things i.e. "Rehmes" could refer to mammals that creep in the sense that mice, rats, cats and lizards creep i.e. animals with their belly close to the ground. All these were "blotted out".

"Sheretz" means "creeping things" or "swarming creatures" but is not used of animals that entered the Ark. In the Flood story "Sheretz" occurs only in Genesis 7:21 where "All swarming creatures that swarm upon the earth...died." "Sheretz" includes insects, invertebrates with many legs, lizards, and mammals that creep. (Leviticus 11:42, 29-30) "Sheretz" overlaps in meaning with "Rehmes" in referring to creeping mammals, but is also used of insects whereas "Rehmes" is not.

Genesis 7:21 limits the "Sheretz" that died in the Flood to "all flesh", and 7:22 limits them to everything "in whose nostrils was the breath of life". Since land creatures with six or more legs were not considered "flesh" and do not have "nostrils", the "Sheretz" that died in the Flood would refer to my category "d" in the table — reptiles and mammals that creep.

Finally we have "Yegum" (Genesis 7:4, 7:23) which means "every living thing" or in the KJV "every living substance". Whether these were on the Ark is not stated. Every "Yegum", however, was blotted out but again the range is restricted to every living thing with nostrils (7:22) including humans, animals (Behemah), creeping things (Rehmes), and birds/bats.

Conclusion: From our knowledge of floods we know that Noah's Flood would have killed insects throughout the area it covered. The Bible, however, does not mention insects on the Ark or as dying in the Flood.