In Genesis chapter 7, God gives Noah instructions regarding what animals to take with him on the Ark. Verses 2, and 3 say, Take with you seven pairs of all clean animals, the male and his mate, and a pair of the animals that are not clean, the male and his mate, and seven pairs of the birds of the heavens also, male and female, to keep their offspring alive on the face of all the earth.” He is to take seven pairs of clean animals and only one pair of each of the unclean animals. I think the idea of cleanliness in this text refers to those acceptable to God for sacrifice. The distinction between clean and unclean animals had to do with what was acceptable as a sacrifice to God and what was acceptable to eat as well. The specific dietary restrictions are laid out more specifically in the book of Leviticus. Even though God didn’t give animals as food for man until after the flood, it’s assumed that the readers already understand the difference between the two. According to one blogger, “Clean animals: land animals that chew the cud and have a divided hoof, such as cattle, deer, goats, and sheep; seafood with both fins and scales, such as bluegill, grouper, and cod; certain birds, including chickens, doves, and ducks; and even some insects, such as grasshoppers and locusts.” He continued then with the second list, “Unclean animals: land animals that either do not chew the cud or do not have a split hoof, such as pigs, dogs, cats, horses, donkeys, and rats; seafood lacking either fins or scales, such as shellfish, lobster, oysters, and catfish; some birds, such as owls, hawks, and vultures; and other animals, such as reptiles and amphibians.”

God resolved not to destroy all life on the earth but to preserve a remnant of both man and animals (as well as birds). Roop observes, “These redundant instructions preparing for the Flood serve to emphasize God’s resolve that not all life shall perish in the Flood. That same resolve becomes a hallmark of God’s relationship to the post-Flood world. Insofar as the key question of the Flood narrative is ‘can life survive God’s coming in judgment?’ the answer is clearly ‘Yes.’ God will see to it.”[1] We see in some of Jesus’ teachings in the Gospels, as well as John’s vision in the book of Revelation, that there will be another Judgment upon mankind on the earth. Will he be totally wiped out? No, there will be a remnant, and God will see to it.

The big difference between the diet of the Jews and the diets of those who occupied the land that they were preparing to enter was these very animals. Jews would not eat unclean animals. The Canaanites ate them all. The Jews would not have anything to do with people who ate those things. But the Holy Spirit, working on Peter, did away with that restriction. In Acts 10, Peter had a vision or dream about a big platter (sheet?) coming down out of heaven, and according to Acts 10:23-15, “In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. And there came a voice to him: ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’  But Peter said, ‘By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.’ And the voice came to him again a second time, ‘What God has made clean, do not call common.’”  Because Noah brought with him a pair, male and female, of unclean animals with him on the Ark as God directed, is the reason we can have shrimp today. I’m glad!

[1] Roop, Eugene F. 1987. Genesis. Believers Church Bible Commentary. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press.