(Genesis 9:3) Why Did God Tell Noah He Could Eat “Every Living Creature”?

Posted Jul 02, 2021 by Kevin J. Mullins in Questions Concerning Clean and Unclean Meat

“Every living creature will be food for you; as I gave the green plants, I have given you everything.” (Genesis 9:3, Holman Christian Standard Bible)

The Heḇrew word used for “living creature” is רֶמֶשׂ (remeś) which does not actually mean ALL creatures in general, but all creatures in a specific group of CLEAN ANIMALS to be hunted which verse 2 hints at. It does not refer to wild predatory beasts and domesticated flocks and herds. It is NEVER used in the sense of “all creatures”, but instead to one category only. This category refers only to the category of creatures which were the prey of hunters and of predatory beasts such as: wild cattle, antelope, deer, and gazelle which are all on the clean list found in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14.  The phrase should actually say, “Every clean creature that lives is food for you, I have given you all, as I gave the green plants.” 

Before the Flood the Creator told Noaḥ, “Of all the clean beasts take with you seven pairs, a male and his female; and of the beasts that are unclean two, a male and his female; and of birds of the heavens seven pairs, male and female, to keep offspring alive on the face of all the earth” (Genesis 7:2,3). There were only one pair of each unclean beast upon the ark, but seven pairs of clean beasts. This is a teaching that gets missed a lot in modern Christianity. All these creatures upon the ark were kept alive. Genesis 6:19, 20 says;

“And of all the living creatures of all flesh, two of each, you are to bring into the ark, to keep them alive with you – a male and a female. Of the birds after their kind, and of the cattle after their kind, and of all creeping creatures of the earth after their kind, two of each are to come to you, to keep them alive.” 

No creature was to be eaten on the ark. What did they eat?  “As for you, take of all food that is eaten and gather it to yourself. And it shall be food for you and for them” (Genesis 6:21). What is the food that was eaten? Remember, after they left the ark after the Flood the Creator said, “Every clean creature that lives is food for you, I have given you all, as I gave the green plants.” This clearly shows they ate exactly what the Creator had prescribed in the beginning: a plant-based diet (see, Genesis 1:29,30).

After the Flood we see that “Noaḥ built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean beast and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar” (Genesis 8:20). Before the Flood clean creatures were used as “burnt offerings” to the LORD.  Although God permitted the eating of clean creatures (and only clean creatures) after the Flood, it was not His ideal diet for mankind and was only a temporary provision due to the destruction of the vegetation caused by the Flood. However, because of our lustful desires of our fallen flesh (the hardness of our hearts), man began to crave the eating of flesh. Our Father knew this would happen and lovingly gave us guidelines and instructions as to how the creature is to be slaughtered, how to cook it, as well as other harmful things to watch out for if we so desired to eat flesh. (Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 3:17; 7:23,24; 17:14; Deuteronomy 12:23).  

“Food provided for man, Gen. 1:29. Herbs and fruits must be his meat [food], including corn and all the products of the earth; these were allowed him, but (it should seem) not flesh, till after the flood, Gen.9:3.” (Mathew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible).

If you really pay attention to the teachings of those who insist that all creatures are good for food, you are forced to believe that the Creator Himself is inconsistent with His own Law. You would have to believe in the beginning He gave a plant-based diet and also proclaimed the difference between clean and unclean creatures. After the Flood however, He changed His mind and cleansed ALL creatures and proclaimed them ALL as food. Then at Mount Sinai He changed His mind again and clearly laid out the distinction between clean and unclean creatures, what is and is not considered as food, and had Moses write it down in the book of the Law (Leviticus 11, Deuteronomy 14). Then during the time of Jesus, He changes His mind again and “declares all creatures clean” and considered as food again.1 But then at Jesus’ second coming He changes His mind once more and lovingly warns all those who set themselves apart (or sanctify themselves) as they eat unclean creatures (Isaiah 66:15-17). Clearly this line of reasoning has no warrant!


1 See the article entitled: Didn't Jesus Declare All Foods Clean?