Young-earth creationists like to assert that they know what the Hebrew word מִין ( and its variants mean in the Bible. Assuming my internet-based tools (and my skills in using them) are adequate, this word is not actually used in the Bible.

These words are:

לְמִינָ֔הּ ( 12 occurrences

לְמִֽינֵהֶ֗ם ( 1

לְמִינֵ֔הוּ ( 14

לְמִינ֔וֹ ( 4 occurrences.

The word is translated kind or kinds consistently, but apparently it also means schismatic or heretic. Perhaps worth pondering another day.

This isn’t the only Hebrew word translated “kinds” in the Bible, but there seems little use in delving into the others. This one has several occurrences. We should be able to figure the context.

If you click through the links above, you see the obvious, the creation account at the beginning of Genesis, then the similar statements in the story of Noah.

Now look at Leviticus and Deuteronomy. Here we see the same usage of the word with very specific differentiation.

Look at Leviticus 11, starting in verse 13, with the list of birds that are not to be eaten or handled. Eagle, bearded vulture, black vulture, kite, falcon of any kind, every raven of any kind, ostrich, nighthawk, sea gull, hawk of any kind, little owl, cormorant, short-eared owl, barn owl, tawny owl, carrion vulture, stork, heron of any kind, hoopoe, and bat.

Look at how clearly the Bible is using kind here and differentiating between kinds of vultures, kinds of owls, kinds of water-shore birds, and bats. Don’t forget that the bible calls bats birds rather than mammals. Clearly “kind” means something much more specific than “family” in biology.

The statement about insects is interesting: 20“All winged insects that go on all fours are detestable to you. 21Yet among the winged insects that go on all fours you may eat those that have jointed legs above their feet, with which to hop on the ground. 22Of them you may eat: the locust of any kind, the bald locust of any kind, the cricket of any kind, and the grasshopper of any kind. 23But all other winged insects that have four feet are detestable to you.

The statement is that all insects are unclean. Then, well, okay, you can eat the ones with jointed legs for hopping. Then it specifies four categories of locust/grasshoppers and says all of the kinds in those categories. The usage of kind here is consistent with species and subspecies. Of course, all winged insects have six legs, not four. I’m just not sure what to make of that.

The passage goes on to lists a few kinds of lizards, and refers the kinds of the great lizard. Again, we must be at least at the level of what we all call species in everyday life. Not families or orders.

Deuteronomy reiterates.

There is one more use of kinds in Ezekiel 47, where he describes the waters flowing from the temple. Ezekiel stipulates many kinds of fish. It says many kinds of trees, too, but the Hebrew doesn’t use the same word. A transliteration would be closer to “all trees” grow there. So, for sense, all kinds of trees. Neat vision. Not real clear what it means, but it has always seemed to me that Ezekiel was concerned with recording his visions, not explaining them.

So, to the usage and definition of kinds, it seems that the common understanding of species and subspecies applies as the Bible itself uses the word. The Leviticus usage (reiterated in Deuteronomy) rules out genus or above for any biblical usage of the word.

So, when someone is trying to define “kind” as a biological family or higher, point them to Leviticus 11 and ask how many kinds of falcon there are. Ask whether an observant Jew would need to include in every kind of falcon the several species and the few subspecies of every one of the species of falcons extant and extinct. Be sure to mention that with the exception of the list of unclean birds (which included bats), all other birds are clean. God commanded Noah to take 14 (seven pairs) of all the clean birds. (Or was it all birds? Is it clear that only one pair of unclean kinds of birds were commanded?)

BTW, everyone knows that moose, elk (all deer for that matter), and giraffe are clean, right?