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Understanding Genesis 9:3

Genesis 9:3, “Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.”

This past month I preach on Leviticus 11:2-20 and addressed what God called food and what man calls food. Well during my sermon, I did not address Genesis 9:3 and as you can imagine someone brought it to my attention. So today I would like to address this bible verse and see if the person was right when they suggested that in this bible verse God gave man permission to eat all animals, clean and unclean.

Even though Genesis 9:3 seems to be an unrestricted permit to eat any kind of animal, please note that it was not without limits. God said “even as the green herb have I given you all things”. In the same way that God had given vegetation, so now He gives flesh. But all vegetation was not good to eat. There were weeds and poisonous plants that could not be eaten by Noah and his family. In the same way God proceeded soon afterward in Leviticus 11 to show that certain animals were not good for food, and should definitely not be eaten.

Before the flood, God had not given permission for man to eat the flesh of animals. The original diet laid down in Genesis 1:29 and 3:18 consisted of nuts, fruits, grains, and vegetables. and in Genesis 3:18 we read, “Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;”. You see after the fall of Adam and Eve, God had added the herb of the field for their diet.

This was the order of things that prevailed until after the flood, it was only then that God allowed the use of flesh food for the first time. This was part of the reason God had Noah take 7 pairs of each clean animal into the ark and only 2 pairs of each unclean animal Genesis 7:1,2. It is also should be noted that God only allowed Noah and his family to eat flesh immediately after leaving the Ark. It is interesting side not is that after Flood we can see that people start to leave shorter as well.

Since it takes two; a male and a female to propagate a species, and only two of the unclean were saved in the ark, it is certain that God did not give license to eat the unclean animals. If He had, the unclean species would have been exterminated, and none would exist today.

Now to understand Genesis 9:3 we also need to look at Genesis 6:21 “And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather it to thee; and it shall be for food for thee, and for them.”

This bible verse is telling us that whatever Noah eat, the animals eat too, Noah would not have taken any meat for food because it was only after the flood God gave permission to eat meat/flesh.  And because Noah was “a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.” Genesis 6:9, he was obedient to God’s words found in Genesis 1:29-30, “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. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.” What we see here is that the animals eat green herbs


Even though God allowed it here, he still placed limitations on their diet. One of them was to not eat the unclean animals, simply because there were very little of them Genesis 7:2 and their purpose was not for food but to cleanse the earth. Today we are not living in the condition Noah’s time was after the waters destroyed everything.

Please understand that I am not saying that it is wrong to eat clean animals and in Leviticus 11:2-20 God makes it very clear that we can eat them. But we also need to understand that God only allowed Noah and his family to eat animals after the flood. So I believe that God’s original diet is the best diet.

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