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Before the Flood man did not eat meat, and there were no carnivores:

Genesis 1:30 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.

Then when he gave Noah his instructions he divided the animals into clean and unclean.

Genesis 7:2 KJV Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female.

Then after the flood he gave man all of the animals to eat.

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

Then in Leviticus he denied the unclean animals and said that they should no longer be eaten.

The Bible is actually a lesson plan for living our lives, but I am unable to discern what lesson this sequence is teaching.

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closed as off-topic by Flimzy, Mr. Bultitude, Nathaniel, curiousdannii, bruised reed Oct 1 '15 at 8:20

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It sounds like you are assuming a young-earth creationist view, but that's not clear, and the "what is that teaching us" part is going to widely vary. – Nathaniel Sep 30 '15 at 17:05
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When God originally created the universe, he intended it to be a place of peace, love, and joy. There was no death or suffering. When people sinned, this brought death and suffering into the world.

So in the original creation, God provided plants that gave people all the nutrients that they needed to live. But the Flood destroyed a great deal of vegetation. It seems likely that some plants became extinct, and at the very least all the plants that we need to live would not be available everywhere. So God gave people permission to eat meat as this was now necessary to have a healthy diet.

Most Christians see this as purely a practical matter: people needed to eat meat in order to survive. There is no "lesson" here, it's just what happened. I suppose you could see the lesson that sin causes many problems, and that among these problems was the destruction of the perfect, peaceful world that God intended.

Jews and Christians routinely debate the purpose of the dietary restrictions that God gave to the Jews. Many people say that these laws were for health reasons. For example they will explain the prohibition on eating pork by saying that inadequately or improperly cooked pork can cause many diseases. Others say that the purpose wasn't any specific practical benefits, but rather that God was creating a set of rituals to set the Jews apart from other people and to remind them of their special place in his plan.

Personally I find the second theory more plausible. Just like, when we sing hymns in church, it may be that there is some health benefit to singing, exercising the lungs or whatever, but that isn't why we do it. We do it as part of a ritual to bring us closer to God.

When Noah talked about animals being clean or unclean, this apparently did not mean the same thing as when Moses talked about animals being clean or unclean. To Moses, a clean animal was one you could eat and an unclean animal was one you could not. But at the time that Noah loaded animals onto the ark, he was not allowed to eat any animals, so this could not be what the distinction meant. One theory is that clean animals were those which were used in sacrifices to God and unclean animals were those which were not. I don't know if there's any solid evidence for this or any other theory. (If someone else knows, please chime in.)

You didn't mention this, but another piece of the story is that in Acts 10:9-16, God tells Peter that the dietary laws no longer apply for Christians. Christians routinely explain this by saying that the ritual law all pointed to Christ, and now that Christ has come, it is no longer needed. In the specific context, God used the "repeal" of these rules as a lesson to Peter and the other early Jewish Christians that the Gospel was not just for Jews, but that they should be preaching to the Gentiles.


The dominion clause does not necessarily imply eating. People have uses for animals other than eating them: throughout history people have used horses, mules, and oxen to pull carts and plows; people use sheep's wool to make clothes; etc. Gen 3:21 tells us that God made Adam and Eve clothes from animal skins. It's plausible that they later made their own clothes from hides and leather.

In light of the specific statements (quoted by the OP) that God originally gave people plants to eat, and then after the flood we are told we can eat meat, it seems the most natural reading is that people were not permitted to eat meat until then. It's certainly possible that some people DID eat meat before then: the whole point of the Flood was that people weren't obeying God's laws.

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Man was created omnivorous: According to John Gill, meat was eaten even before the flood. Hence, man was created to eat herbs, fruits and flesh. .

John Gill's comment on Genesis 7:2

"Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens",.... From hence it appears, that the distinction of clean and unclean beasts, at least for sacrifice, if not for food, was known before the flood, and so before the law of Moses;

John Gill's comment on Genesis 9:3

"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; ....

..... 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 17:27).

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I have voted your answer up even though I disagree with John Gill about having eaten meat prior to the flood, based on: Genesis 9:2 And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. – BYE Feb 28 '14 at 17:59

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