Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs.
We find this verse in the midst of God’s instructions for Noah and his family as they leave the ark. In the first two verses of chapter 9, God essentially repeats the instructions He gave to Adam and Eve earlier in history—reproduce and have dominion over the earth (Genesis 1:28). This was essential for mankind to repopulate the earth once again.
This verse actually adds something that wasn’t specifically stated in Genesis 1:29—that human beings are permitted to eat meat. While the passage in Genesis 1 indicates that Adam and Eve were eating fruit and vegetables, this passage clearly states that animals may also be eaten. Additional passages in the Bible also make it clear that meats were created to be eaten by human beings (1 Timothy 4:3; Romans 14:2). As for whether Adam and Eve were originally vegetarians, we simply don’t know because the book of Genesis doesn’t record every conversation God had with the first humans. Just as God likely instructed Adam and Eve in many things not recorded in the book of Genesis, He may have explained to them that clean animals could be eaten. After all, the designation of clean and unclean animals was clearly known prior to the Flood (Genesis 7:2).
Of course, we have to understand that this passage (Genesis 9:3) is not saying that all meat can be eaten, since the Bible gives very specific laws about meats that are clean (fit for human consumption) and unclean (unfit for human consumption). This statement (“every moving thing”) shouldn’t confuse us as being a contradiction of the food laws given in Leviticus 11. God also says He gives “all things” (referring to vegetation) as food. But common sense tells us that God obviously means “all things” that are fit for human consumption. God was not commanding human beings to eat poisonous plants (such as poison ivy or hemlock) or indigestible plants.
To learn more about God’s food laws, read our material on “Clean and Unclean Animals.”
Tomorrow on the Daily Bible Verse Blog: “The Noachian Covenant.”