Genesis 1:29 MEANING

Genesis 1:29
(29) Every herb bearing seed . . . every tree.--Of the three classes of plants enumerated in Genesis 1:11, the two most perfect kinds are given to man for his food; while in Genesis 1:30 the birds and animals have not merely the cryptogamous plants of the first class, but every green herb granted to them for their sustenance. We are not to suppose that they did not eat seeds and fruits, but that the fundamental supply for the maintenance of animal life was the blade and leaf, and that of human life the perfected seed and ripe fruit. Man is thus from the first pointed out as of a higher organisation than the animal; and the fact that his food is such as requires preparation and cooking has been the basis, not merely of most of the refinements of life, but even of the close union of the family. For what would become of it without the common meal?

But undoubtedly the food originally assigned to man was vegetable; nor was express leave given to eat flesh until after the flood. Nevertheless the dominion given to man, in Genesis 1:28, over fish, bird, and animal, made it lawful for him to use them for his food; and the skins with which Adam and Eve were clothed on their expulsion from Paradise prove that animals had been already killed. After the fall, Abel's sacrifice of the firstlings of his flock, and of the fat thereof, leads irresistibly to the conclusion that the flesh was eaten by the offerer and his family. In ancient times this was the rule. Flesh was not the staple of man's diet, but the eating of it was a religious ceremony, at which certain portions were offered to God and burnt on His altar, and the rest consumed by man as the Deity's guests. So we may well believe that until the flood the descendants of Seth partook of flesh rarely, and only at a sacrifice, but that after the flood a more free use of it was permitted.

Verse 29. - Provision for the sustenance of the newly-appointed monarch and his subjects is next made. And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. Of the three classes into which the vegetable creation was divided, grass, herbs, and trees (ver. 12), the two last were assigned to man for food. Macdonald thinks that without this express conveyance man would have been warranted to partake of them for nourishment, warranted by the necessities of his nature. The same reasoning, however, would have entitled him to kill the lower animals if he judged them useful for his support. Murphy with more truth remarks, "Of two things proceeding from the same creative hand, neither has any original or inherent right to interfere in any way with the other. The absolute right to each lies in the Creator alone. The one, it is true, may need the other to support its life, as fruit is needful to man; and, therefore, the just Creator cannot make one creature dependent for subsistence on another without granting to it the use of that other. But this is a matter between Creator and creature, and not by any means between creature and creature." The primitive charter of man's common property in the earth, and all that it contains, is the present section of this ancient document. Among other reasons for the formal conveyance to man of the herbs and trees may be noted a desire to keep him mindful of his dependent condition. Though lord of the creation, he was yet to draw the means of his subsistence from the creature which he ruled. Whether man was a vegetarian prior to the fall is debated. On the one hand it is contended that the original grant does not formally exclude the animals, and, in fact, says nothing about man's relation to the animals (Macdonald); that we cannot positively affirm that man's dominion over the animals did not involve the use of them for food (Murphy); and that as men offered sacrifices from their flocks, it is probable they ate the flesh of the victims (Calvin), On the other hand it is argued that the Divine language cannot be held as importing morn than it really says, arid that Genesis 9:3 distinctly teaches that man's right to the animal creation dates from the time of Noah (Kalisch, Knobel, Alford, etc.). Almost all nations have traditions of a golden age of innocence, when men abstained from killing animals (cf. Ovid, 'Met.,' 1:103-106). Scripture alone anticipates a. time when such shall again be a characteristic of earth's inhabitants (Isaiah 11:7; Isaiah 65:25).

1:29,30 Herbs and fruits must be man's food, including corn, and all the products of the earth. Let God's people cast their care upon him, and not be troubled about what they shall eat, and what they shall drink. He that feeds his birds will not starve his babes.And God said,.... That is, to Adam and Eve, whom he had made in his image and likeness, and to whom he had given the dominion of the earth and sea, and all things in them:

behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth; every herb or plant which had a seed in it, by which it sowed itself again; or being taken off, might be sown by man, even everyone that was wholesome, healthful, and nourishing, without any exception; whatever grew in any part of the earth, be it where it would:

and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; all but the tree of knowledge, of good and evil, afterwards excepted; and both these take in all kind of vegetables, all herbs, plants, roots, even corn, wheat, barley, pease, beans, &c. and the various fruits of all sorts of trees, but that before mentioned:

to you it shall be for meat: which is generally thought to be the food of the antediluvians (n), it not being proper, at least very soon, to kill any of the animals, until they were multiplied and increased, lest their species should be destroyed; though here is no prohibition of eating flesh; nor is it said that this only should be for meat, which is before mentioned; and by the early employment of some in keeping sheep, and by the sacrifice of creatures immediately after the fall, part of which used to be eaten by the offerers; and by the distinction of clean and unclean creatures before the flood, it looks probable that flesh might be eaten: and Bochart (o) refers this clause to what goes before in the preceding verse, as well as to what is in this, and takes the sense to be, that the fishes of the sea, and fowls of the air, and every living creature man had dominion over, as well as herbs and fruits, were given him for his food: but the Jews (p) are of opinion, that the first man might not eat flesh, but it was granted to the sons of Noah. (From Romans 5:12 there was no death before Adam's sin, hence up until at least the fall, man did not eat meat. Ed.) (n) "Panis erant primus virides Mortalibus Herbae", Ovid. Fast. l. 4. (o) Hierozoic. par. 1. l. 1. c. 2. col. 11. (p) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 59. 2.

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