Genesis 9:3
Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.
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Genesis 9:3. Every moving thing — Which is wholesome and fit for food, shall be meat for you: That liveth — This may be added to exclude the use of those creatures which died of themselves, or were killed by wild beasts. These, which were afterward expressly forbidden to be eaten, (see Exodus 22:31, Leviticus 22:8,) may here be forbidden implicitly. Hitherto man had been confined to feed only upon the products of the earth, fruits, herbs, and roots, and all sorts of corn and milk; such was the first grant, Genesis 1:29. But the flood having perhaps washed away much of the virtue of the earth, and so rendered its fruits less pleasing, and less nourishing, God now enlarged the grant, and allowed man to eat flesh, which perhaps man himself never thought of till now. The Jewish doctors speak so often of the seven precepts of Noah, which they say were to be observed by all nations, that it may not be amiss to set them down here.

The first was against the worship of idols: the second against blasphemy; and requires to bless the name of God: the third against murder: the fourth against incest and all uncleanness: the fifth against theft and rapine: the sixth required the administration of justice: the seventh was against eating flesh with life. The Jews required the observation of these from the proselytes of the gate. But the precepts here given, all concern the life of man. Man must not prejudice his own life by eating that food which is unwholesome and prejudicial to his health.

9:1-3 The blessing of God is the cause of our doing well. On him we depend, to him we should be thankful. Let us not forget the advantage and pleasure we have from the labour of beasts, and which their flesh affords. Nor ought we to be less thankful for the security we enjoy from the savage and hurtful beasts, through the fear of man which God has fixed deep in them. We see the fulfilment of this promise every day, and on every side. This grant of the animals for food fully warrants the use of them, but not the abuse of them by gluttony, still less by cruelty. We ought not to pain them needlessly whilst they live, nor when we take away their lives.The grant of sustenance is no longer confined to the vegetable, but extended to the animal kinds, with two solemn restrictions. This explains how fully the animals are handed over to the will of man. They were slain for sacrifice from the earliest times. Whether they were used for food before this time we are not informed. But now "every creeper that is alive" is granted for food. "Every creeper" is everything that moves with the body prone to the earth, and therefore in a creeping posture. This seems to describe the inferior animals in contradistinction to man, who walks erect. The phrase "that is alive" seems to exclude animals that have died a natural death from being used as food.3. Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you—The third part concerns the means of sustaining life; man was for the first time, it would seem, allowed the use of animal food, but the grant was accompanied with one restriction. Every moving thing which is wholesome and fit for food, and clean; an exception to be gathered both from the nature of the thing, and from the distinction of clean and unclean beasts, mentioned before and afterwards.

That liveth. This is added to exclude the use of those creatures which either died of themselves, or were killed by wild beasts, which is here forbidden implicitly, and afterwards expressly. See Exodus 22:31 Leviticus 22:8.

Shall be meat for you: it is not a command that we must, but a permission that we may eat of them. A grant possibly given before the flood, but now expressed, either because the former allowance might seem to be forfeited, or because as men now grew more infirm and needed better nourishment, so the earth was grown more feeble by the flood, and its fruits yielded less and worse nourishment.

I have given you all things: understand this with the limitation above-mentioned. The green herbs were given before, Genesis 1:29.

Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you,.... That is, every beast, fowl, and fish, without exception; for though there was a difference at this time of clean and unclean creatures with respect to sacrifice, yet not with respect to food; every creature of God was good then, as it is now, and it was left to man's reason and judgment what to make use of, as would be most conducive to his health, and agreeable to his taste: and though there was a distinction afterwards made under the Levitical dispensation among the Jews, who were forbid the use of some creatures; yet they themselves say (k), that all unclean beasts will be clean in the world to come, in the times of the Messiah, as they were to the sons of Noah, and refer to this text in proof of it; the only exception in the text is, that they must be living creatures which are taken, and used for food; not such as die of themselves, or are torn to pieces by wild beasts, but such as are taken alive, and killed in a proper manner:

even as the green herb have I given you all things; as every green herb was given for meat to Adam originally, without any exception, Genesis 1:29 so every living creature, without exception, was given to Noah and his sons for food. Some think, and it is a general opinion, that this was a new grant, that man had no right before to eat flesh, nor did he; and it is certain it is not before expressed, but it may be included in the general grant of power and dominion over the creatures made to Adam; and since what is before observed is only a renewal of former grants, this may be considered in the same light; or otherwise the dominion over the creatures first granted to Adam will be reduced to a small matter, if he had no right nor power to kill and eat them; besides, in so large a space of time as 1600 years and upwards, the world must have been overstocked with creatures, if they were not used for such a purpose; nor will Abel's offering the firstling and fattest of his flock appear so praiseworthy, when it made no difference with him, if he ate not of them, whether they were fat or lean; and who will deny that there were peace offerings before the flood, which the offerer always ate of? to which may be added the luxury of men before the flood, who thereby were given to impure and carnal lusts; and our Lord expressly says of the men of that age, that they were "eating and drinking", living in a voluptuous manner, which can hardly be accounted for, if they lived only on herbs, see Luke 17:22 though it must be owned, that it was a common notion of poets and philosophers (l), that men in the golden age, as they call it, did not eat flesh, but lived on herbs and fruit.

(k) In Bereshit Rabba, apud Ainsworth in loc. (l) Pythagoras, apud Ovid. Metamorph. l. 15. Fab. 2. Porphyr. de abstinentia, l. 4. sect. 2.

Every {c} moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.

(c) By this permission man may with a good conscience use the creatures of God for his needs.

3. Every moving thing] P assumes here that all animals are capable of furnishing food for man, and that there is no distinction between “clean” and “unclean” in the pre-Mosaic dispensation.

as the green herb] See note on Genesis 1:30. As, at the Creation, God said of the whole vegetable world, that it should be man’s food (“to you it shall be for meat,” Genesis 1:29), so, now, He declares that the whole animal world shall be food for man. As He gave the vegetable, so now He gives the animal, life to man. But this gift is accompanied with two prohibitions.

Verse 3. - Every - obviously admitting of "exceptions to be gathered both from the nature of the case and from the distinction of clean and unclean beasts mentioned before and afterwards" (Poole) - moving thing that liveth - clearly excluding such as had died of themselves or been slain by other beasts (cf. Exodus 22:31; Leviticus 22:8) - shall be meat for you. Literally, to you it shall be for meat. Though the distinction between unclean and clean animals as to food, afterwards laid clown in the Mosaic code (Leviticus 11:1-31), is not mentioned here, it does not follow that it was either unknown to the writer or unpracticed by the men before the Flood. Even as the green herb have I given you all things. An allusion to Genesis 1:29 (Rosenmüller, Bush); but vide infra. The relation of this verse to the former has been understood as signifying -

1. That animal food was expressly prohibited before the Flood, and now for the first time permitted (Mercerus, Rosenmüller, Candlish, Clarke, Murphy, Jamieson, Wordsworth, Kalisch) - the ground being that such appears the obvious import of the sacred writer s language.

2. That, though permitted from the first, it was not used till postdiluvian times, when men were explicitly directed to partake of it by God (Theodoret, Chrysostom, Aquinas, Luther, Pererius) - the reason being that prior to the Flood the fruits of the earth were more nutritious and better adapted for the sustenance of man's physical frame, propter excellentem terrae bonitatem praestantemque vim alimenti quod fructus terrae suppeditabant homini, while after it such a change passed upon the vegetable productions of the ground as to render them less capable of supporting the growing feebleness of the body, invalidam ad bene alendum hominem (Petetins).

3. That whether permitted or not prior to the Flood, it was used, and is here for the first time formally allowed (Keil, Alford, 'Speaker's Commentary'); in support of which opinion it may be urged that the general tendency of subsequent Divine legislation, until the fullness of the times, was ever in the direction of concession to the infirmities or necessities of human nature (cf. Matthew 19:8). The opinion, however, which appears to be the best supported is -

4. That animal food was permitted before the fall, and that the grant is h ere expressly renewed (Justin Martyr, Calvin, Willet, Bush, Macdonald, Lange, Quarry). The grounds for this opinion are -

(1) That the language of Genesis 1:29 does not explicitly forbid the use of animal food.

(2) That science demonstrates the existence of carnivorous animals prior to the appearance of man, and yet vegetable products alone were assigned for their food.'

(3) That shortly after the fall animals were slain by Divine direction for sacrifice, and probably also for food - at least this latter supposition is by no means an unwarrantable inference from Genesis 4:4 (q.v.).

(4) That the words, "as the green herb," even if they implied the existence of a previous restriction, do not refer to Genesis 1:29, but to Genesis 1:30, the green herb in the latter verse being contrasted with the food of man in Genesis 1:29. Solomon Glass thus correctly indicates the connection and the sense: "ut viridem herbam (illis), sic illa omnia dedi vobis" ('Sacr. Phil,' lib. 3. tr. 2, c. 22:2).

(5) That a sufficient reason for mentioning the grant of animal food in this connection may be found in the subjoined restriction, without assuming the existence of any previous limitation. Genesis 9:3"Every moving thing that liveth shall be food for you; even as the green of the herb have I given you all (את־כּל equals חכּל)." These words do not affirm that man then first began to eat animal food, but only that God then for the first time authorized, or allowed him to do, what probably he had previously done in opposition to His will. "Only flesh in its soul, its blood (דמו in apposition to בּנפשׁו), shall ye not eat;" i.e., flesh in which there is still blood, because the soul of the animal is in the blood. The prohibition applies to the eating of flesh with blood in it, whether of living animals, as is the barbarous custom in Abyssinia, or of slaughtered animals from which the blood has not been properly drained at death. This prohibition presented, on the one hand, a safeguard against harshness and cruelty; and contained, on the other, "an undoubted reference to the sacrifice of animals, which was afterwards made the subject of command, and in which it was the blood especially that was offered, as the seat and soul of life (see note on Leviticus 17:11, Leviticus 17:14); so that from this point of view sacrifice denotes the surrender of one's own inmost life, of the very essence of life, to God" (Ziegler). Allusion is made to the first again in the still further limitation given in Genesis 9:5 : "and only (ואך) your blood, with regard to your souls (ל indicative of reference to an individual object, Ewald, 310a), will I seek (demand or avenge, cf. Psalm 9:13) from the hand of every beast, and from the hand of man, from the hand of every one, his brother;" i.e., from every man, whoever he may be, because he is his (the slain man's) brother, inasmuch as all men are brethren. The life of man was thus made secure against animals as well as men. God would avenge or inflict punishment for every murder, - not directly, however, as He promised to do in the case of Cain, but indirectly by giving the command, "Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed," and thus placing in the hand of man His own judicial power. "This was the first command," says Luther, "having reference to the temporal sword. By these words temporal government was established, and the sword placed in its hand by God." It is true the punishment of the murderer is enjoined upon "man" universally; but as all the judicial relations and ordinances of the increasing race were rooted in those of the family, and grew by a natural process out of that, the family relations furnished of themselves the norm for the closer definition of the expression "man." Hence the command does not sanction revenge, but lays the foundation for the judicial rights of the divinely appointed "powers that be" (Romans 13:1). This is evident from the reason appended: "for in the image of God made He man." If murder was to be punished with death because it destroyed the image of God in man, it is evident that the infliction of the punishment was not to be left to the caprice of individuals, but belonged to those alone who represent the authority and majesty of God, i.e., the divinely appointed rulers, who for that very reason are called Elohim in Psalm 82:6. This command then laid the foundation for all civil government,

(Note: Hic igitur fons est, ex quo manat totum just civile et just gentium. Nam si Deus concedit homini potestatem super vitam et mortem, profecto etiam concedit potestatem super id, quod minus est, ut sunt fortunae, familia, uxor, liberi, servi, agri; Haec omnia vult certorum hominum potestati esse obnoxia Deus, ut reos puniant. Luther.)

and formed a necessary complement to that unalterable continuance of the order of nature which had been promised to the human race for its further development. If God on account of the innate sinfulness of man would no more bring an exterminating judgment upon the earthly creation, it was necessary that by commands and authorities He should erect a barrier against the supremacy of evil, and thus lay the foundation for a well-ordered civil development of humanity, in accordance with the words of the blessing, which are repeated in Genesis 9:7, as showing the intention and goal of this new historical beginning.

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