Genesis 9:3 MEANING

Genesis 9:3
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.

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.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.

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