Where do dinosaurs fit in Hashem’s world? I’ve been thinking about this topic for quite some time, but have not had a chance to write down my thoughts. Every year, Parashas Noach passes by and I still haven’t written it down. Well, this year is going to be different.
I have always wondered if the dinosaur fossils in existence today were placed purposely by Hashem as a joke to fool the scientists into believing that the age of the universe is older than it is, or whether they are really remnants from a world previously inhabited by these creatures.
We know that dinosaurs are not part of the original creation during the first six days, because there is no Hebrew name for these creatures, (if they existed), and Adam (the first man) named all the creatures that Hashem created when He brought them before him.
If dinosaurs are not part of the original creation, could they have been a product later through some kind of cross species mixing of animals and mankind? If this were a possible answer, I would like to suggest that the end of Parashas Bereishis into Noach gives us a clue.
We learn from verse 2 of Chapter 6:
וַיִּרְאוּ בְנֵי־הָאֱלֹקִים אֶת־בְּנוֹת הָאָדָם כִּי טֹבֹת הֵנָּה וַיִּקְחוּ לָהֶם נָשִׁים מִכֹּל אֲשֶׁר בָּחָרוּ
And the sons of rulers saw the daughters of man that they were fair and behold they took for themselves wives from anything that they chose.
According to Rashi, בְנֵי־הָאֱלֹקִים refers also to angels of Hashem who intermingled with them. The phrase מִכֹּל אֲשֶׁר בָּחָרוּ (from anything that they chose) includes a married woman, even a man or an animal.
We also learn from verse 4 of Chapter 6:
הַנְּפִלִים הָיוּ בָאָרֶץ בַּיָּמִים הָהֵם וְגַם אַחֲרֵי־כֵן אֲשֶׁר יָבֹאוּ בְּנֵי הָאֱלֹקִים אֶל־בְּנוֹת הָאָדָם וְיָלְדוּ לָהֶם הֵמָּה הַגִּבֹּרִים אֲשֶׁר מֵעוֹלָם אַנְשֵׁי הַשֵּׁם
The giants were in the land in those days and also after that, when the sons of rulers will come to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. They were the mightiest in the world, men of renown.
We learn from verse 12 of Chapter 6:
וַיַּרְא אֱלֹקִים אֶת־הָאָרֶץ וְהִנֵּה נִשְׁחָתָה כִּי־הִשְׁחִית כָּל־בָּשָׂר אֶת־דַּרְכּוֹ עַל־הָאָרֶץ
And Hashem saw the earth and behold, it was corrupt because all flesh had corrupted its way on the earth.
According to Rashi, our beloved Torah commentator, the question is asked “Why does it not say כל אדם – all people?” and Rashi answers that “even cattle, beasts and fowl consorted with dissimilar species.”
With this information, we can hypothesize that giants were interbreeding with animals, and it could be that dinosaurs were a result of this.
There is a story in the midrash on Parashas Noach that we read this week that relates two Sages having found the bones of giants. The story goes as follows:
Two chachamim, Rabbi Chiya and Rabbi Yehuda, were walking past high mountains. Between the mountains they found gigantic bones. “These bones remain from the generation of the mabul,” they said. “Let us measure them.”
Each bone was so long that they had to take three steps to get from one end to the other.
“Now we understand why Noach’s fellow men were not afraid of a mabul”, they exclaimed. “They were huge giants! They believed that no flood could be high enough to drown them and that they could stop the deep wells of the earth from emitting water just by stepping on them. No wonder they were sure they would survive the biggest flood!”
You may ask why are these dinosaurs not saved in the ark that Noach built? Again, the Torah gives us an answer, and Parashas Noach is where we look.
We learn from verse 20 of Chapter 6:
מֵהָעוֹף לְמִינֵהוּ וּמִן־הַבְּהֵמָה לְמִינָהּ מִכֹּל רֶמֶשׂ הָאֲדָמָה לְמִינֵהוּ שְׁנַיִם מִכֹּל יָבֹאוּ אֵלֶיךָ לְהַחֲיוֹת
From the birds to its kind, and from the animals to its kind, from every creeping animal of the ground to its kind, two from each will come to you to keep alive.
Rashi tells us from the word, לְמִינֵהוּ, (to its kind), that those who consorted with their own species and did not corrupt their way and came of their own accord and all those that the ark took in, Noach permitted to enter.
Since dinosaurs were not part of the animal kingdom that are alive today, if they existed, they must have been pre-Flood creatures. They went extinct because they were products of the evil of mankind and those that the ark expelled. Their fossils are a reminder for us to not repeat the corruption that went on in those days.