How did Noah's descendants procreated?

From the scriptures, Noah went into the ark with his wife and his three sons and their respective wives:

After the flood they went out of the ark and settled back on earth and their families grew:

My question is, how did Noah’s descendants procreate since they were the only human beings on earth?

With each other. This predates the mosaic law regarding avoiding intimate relations with relatives and was a necessity in order to repopulate the world, much like the original early descendants of Adam and Eve.



:confused: Noah’s son’s wives were with them in the Ark - clearly each of the sons had children with his wife, then.

And as the children grew older, each married their cousins, the children of the other brothers, and procreated with them. Some people still marry their cousins even today.

It all sounds pretty straightforward to me, am I not reading something right? :shrug:

I realize “descendants” would be more appropriate here rather than “children”.

So at this period in history there is no such thing as incest right?

Where are you getting the idea of incest from? I’ve explained how it could be done without incest.

Marrying your cousin isn’t incest, if it were it would be against Church law in all circumstances. As it is, due to the closeness of the relationship, as a practical thing first cousins might need Church permission to marry. But then again there’d be plenty of second and third cousins etc, who are absolutely fine and dandy to marry, so no-one necessarily even had to marry a first cousin.

So explain to me why there would necessarily be any incest involved at all. :confused:

Thanks for your explanation LilyM,

I thought that Shem, Ham and Japeth’s children had married each others’ brothers and sisters.

I also did not know that marrying your first cousin is not considered to be incest.

It’s interesting to note that the human family “restarted” under Noah and his wife (not discounting Adam and Eve of course).

I actually think it is (incest) under the Mosaic Law. But all of this was before the Mosaic Law :slight_smile:

Hi Mekio,
It’s more important to focus on the religious teachings in the story than on the facts and details. There are different genres of writing in the bible, and we don’t know for sure if this story is a historical account, or a sacred (fictional) story with a moral message, or something part way between the two. A lot of things in the story, like what you’re pointing out, suggest that the author might not have intended for us to take it that literally. We were supposed to look at the message of the story.

I respect your view, but I firmly believe the scriptures are literal, unless context reveals them to be allegorical. Jesus, for example, spoke of the story of Jonah as though literal (not allegorical). I think the story of Noah is sufficiently detailed as to be clearly intended to be understood as literal. The allegorical interpretative approach is a slippery slope and has led many to talk of Christ’s resurrection as being allegorical - and yet our faith hinges on the literal truth of Christ’s physical resurrection from the dead (as the first fruits of the resurrection we, as believers, are to have in the future).



But they might not have married first cousins at all - marrying a second or third cousin (of whom there would be plenty around) isn’t incest by anyone’s definition.

It’s not among the other unlawful relationships listed in Leviticus 18. And as I said again, second cousins in any event is absolutely not prohibited. So again, they didn’t need to be marrying first cousins even.

My apologies -you are correct (my bad for replying from memory, but Leviticus 18 is clear and does not, in fact, ban marraige between first cousins).



Currently, in Canon Law, you may not marry anyone who is related to you in the collateral line, to the first and second degree (siblings and first cousins). There is no dispensation or Church permission possible for marrying first cousins.

For the third and fourth degree in the collateral line (second and third cousins), one needs a dispensation for the marriage to be valid. Rudy Giuliani married his second cousin, but without a dispensation, so the marriage was annulled.

Beyond the fourth degree, no dispensation is needed.

Since marriage in the collateral line is a matter of degree, it is not intrinsically evil, and so may have been permitted by God in the case of Adam and Eve’s immediate descendents.

Marriage in the direct line (grandparents, parents, children, etc.) is intrinsically evil, and always wrong, but it also not necessary even in the case of the immediate descendents of Adam and Eve.

As for Noah, one need not take the entire story literally. There may well have been more than 8 persons on the ark, as Bl. A.C. Emmerich states, and there may have been other persons who survived the flood.

I stand corrected then - which canon deals with this?

And it is clear that before Moses’ time incest was NOT a taboo - Abraham, for example, is clear that Sarah really is his half-sister. And I’m not aware of any prohibition in Jewish law against first cousins marrying.

And because of this stance, we get tangled explanations of what does and does not constitute incest.

Folks, it didn’t necessarily have to be a world-wide flood. The Gospel of Luke says Augustus Caesar taxed “the whole earth.” It’s a common Middle Eastern way of saying “the known earth”—e.g., Asia Minor, which was completely flooded around 7000 B.C. or so.

Respectfully - these verses seem pretty unambiguous to me and not a colloquial expression.

"Every living thing that moved on the earth perished–birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind.
Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died.
Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; men and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds of the air were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark. "

Scripture plainly teaches that all living creatures perished in the flood (implying a whole world flood - which the textual description itself also supports). Now, one may not believe in the inerrancy of scripture and therefore not necessarily believe any of this. I’m not passing judgement on anyone. I do, however, believe the scripture to be God’s Word and do believe these words to be true.

That being said, I agree there are some clearly allegorical passages of the Bible. But where something is described as fact, I believe it.

With your perspective, what do you make of Moses parting of the red sea? or God’s creation of the world from nothing? or Christ’s rising from the dead? or Jonah’s 3 days and night in the belly of the great fish (referred to specifically by Jesus), or the walls of Jerrico falling down with the great shout? or Daniels’ friends surviving the furnace? Does one pick and choose - or please them all to be allegorical? I’m not being critical (really), just trying to understand your reply and somewhat critical suggestion that believing in the scripture creates diffuclty.

Respectfully and in Christ,


It appears that Peter took it literally:

1Pe 3:20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

I know lots of people who have married their first cousins. (Albeit, in the Maronite Catholic Chuch; But would that make a difference?)

And for the record, they all have perfectly healthy children.

Canon Law is different in the East. But I doubt that marriages to first cousins are permitted without at least a dispensation. In the West, first cousin marriages are not permitted.

Concerning taking the story of Noah literally, I propose taking some elements literally and some figuratively. Examples of literal elements: there was a flood, and a Noah, who built an ark. Examples of figurative elements: the depth of the water, the extent of the flood, the number of persons on the ark, the idea that no people or animals survived except those on the ark.

The quote from Peter does not refute my position because the figurative elements have a true spiritual meaning, on which Peter or anyone else could base a theological argument.

Marriage (incest) in the direct line is intrinsically evil, and always immoral.

Can. 1091 §1. In the direct line of consanguinity marriage is invalid between all ancestors and descendants, both legitimate and natural.

§2. In the collateral line marriage is invalid up to and including the fourth degree. [fourth degree is third cousins; a later canon allows for a dispensation for the third and fourth degree, but not the first or second.]

Can. 1092 Affinity in the direct line in any degree invalidates a marriage.

Can.  1094 Those who are related in the direct line or in the second degree of the collateral line by a legal relationship arising from adoption cannot contract marriage together validly.

Can. 1078
§3. A dispensation is never given from the impediment of consanguinity in the direct line or in the second degree [first cousin] of the collateral line.

Dear Brian:

The verse I quoted from Luke also seems unambiguous to me: Augustus Caesar taxed “all the earth.” If Caesar didn’t tax the Chinese, then the Scripture is inaccurate, right? :slight_smile:

As for the other examples you cited, none of them has to do with the expression “the whole earth,” which is commonly used by Paul, other Biblical writers, and even Jesus Himself to refer to “the known world.” For instance, look up “oikoumene” in a Biblical dictionary or concordance. It is translated “all the world” when used by Jesus, and refers to “the Roman Empire.”

Anyways, I’m not going to get involved in an argument over this. However, I’m just saying (which will probably provoke argument :smiley: ) that someone can completely believe the veracity of the Bible and not necessarily believe in a Flood covering the entire globe. The Biblical writers who referred to the world almost always were referring to the world they knew.

I might add: If this harms anyone’s faith in the Bible, don’t accept it. It doesn’t harm my faith in the Bible, but that’s me, I guess.