Updated: Jul 18
In the beginning we read in Genesis that Elohim allowed Adam and Eve and the first humans to eat only from the herbs (green plants bearing seed) and fruit bearing trees of the earth (Genesis 1:29).
In Deuteronomy 20:19-20 we find that a future command is given by Elohim not to cut down fruit bearing trees because they are to be saved for food. So, we know that the Creator still honored the creation covenant that we were to eat of the fruit bearing herbs and trees of the earth.
In the Torah we read that Elohim allowed His people to eat of a group of animals declared to be “clean” animals and they were to avoid eating the “unclean” animals as they were not given to man to be consumed as food. Also, only the clean animals were to be used as sacrifices (Leviticus chapter 11).
The controversy over what is permitted as food arises when we get to the Brit HaDasha (New Testament). The majority of Christians maintain that God now allows all animals to be eaten. I will not be discussing these scriptures in this lesson but please refer to my article “Does God Care About What We Eat”, for my discussion of this topic.
Another scripture that is often quoted as a proof text that Elohim changed His mind about what was considered food is found in the story of Noah.
Before I discuss those scriptures I want to make this statement here: the Bible states that Elohim does not change. In Hebrews it states Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today and forever. So, if the Creator allowed humans to eat only of the plants (as with all animals) in the beginning why did He allow clean animals to be eaten by the time of Leviticus chapter 11? We have to remember that in the Garden of Eden the creation of Elohim was plunged into sin. Since that time the Creator has been on a mission to restore that which was lost. We find that during the Messianic Kingdom that animals nor man will be allowed to eat each other; the lion shall lay down with the lamb. The lion will once again eat grass like the ox (Isaiah 65:25, Isaiah 11:7). The allowing of animal flesh to be eaten by man only came about because of sin. At some point in history between creation and the flood of Noah, man began eating animals. After the flood, Elohim tried to correct this situation but humans were just too sinful and had already adapted to the taste and feel of animal flesh. So, at Sinai, Elohim knowing the sin nature of man and the condition of this fallen earth, He set restrictions on the type of flesh that could be eaten until this world is restored. This was not a changing of God's mind in what He truly intended for us to eat as food, but only a God that is tolerant of man's weakness until the restoration takes place. When that happens, mankind and animals will go back to only eating of the green plants just as it was in the beginning with the creation covenant. There are many examples of God tolerating the weakness of man against what was His original design. Divorce is another one of those. He allowed Moses to give a writ of divorce but Yeshua states that in the beginning it was not so but because of the hardness of your hearts He allowed you to do this. So, keeping this in mind let us discuss Noah!
By the time of the flood we find that mankind and the earth had been severely corrupted. The ways of Elohim and His creation covenant with man and the earth had been completely laid aside. I believe that this was done by the mixing and mingling of the DNA of man and animal through the fallen angels. Whether you believe this or not is irrelevant to this article, what is apparent from the Word of Elohim is that things had gotten so corrupt that sin and perversion had reached a level where the Creator had to destroy the earth by a flood. Only Noah, his family, and the animals which were brought on the ark as commanded were saved from the wrath of God. Interesting to this story is the fact that the Bible makes it clear that Noah already knew the difference between clean and unclean animals. While unclean animals were brought on the ark in a pair (male and female), the clean animals were brought on the ark in pairs of seven (so 14 of each species). While on the ark Noah and the animals all ate vegetarian. How do I know this? Because scripture records that Noah and the animals that he took on the ark all came off the ark to replenish the earth. They were on the ark for a year and 10 days so they could have demolished some animal flesh during this time if they had been eating them. Also, in Genesis 6:19 it states that he was to keep the animals alive along with his family while on the ark. In verse 21 it states that he was to gather food to himself that was to be for him, his family, and the animals on the ark. They all ate the same thing: green plants.
At some point, because of the corruption of creation, mankind had begun to eat animal flesh prior to the flood, but they did not on the ark. Neither do I believe that Noah had before the flood because the Bible states that Noah was perfect (same word use when sacrifices were to be without blemish) in the sight of God.
After the flood we find that God re-establishes His creation covenant with Noah and his family (chapter 8 and 9). The controversial scripture about food is this one:
Genesis 9:2-3 And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea. They are given into your hand. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs. (NKJV)
Now, let's stop and analyze a few things here. First, we see that animals are broken down into the same four categories that they were broken down into in Genesis chapter one (Genesis 1:24-26):
Beasts of the earth
Creeping things or moving things on the earth
So, God kept it real simple! We divide it up much further in science these days! We see the same 4 category division of animals in I Kings 4:33b:
he spake also of beasts (behêmâh), and of fowl (‛ôph), and of creeping things (remes), and of fishes (dâg).
These are the same exact four words used in Genesis 1 at creation and in chapter 9. In Genesis chapter 1 it appears that beasts of the field and cattle or two different things but they are not. Go look up the words. The one word is behemah and the other is just chay, meaning life in Hebrew. The English is deceiving.
Also in Romans 1:23 we have three of the categories listed by Paul: “In fact, they have exchanged the glory of the immortal God for mere images, like a mortal human being, or like birds, animals, or reptiles!” (CJB) The Jubilee translation says: “of birds and of four footed beasts and of serpents.” The King James says birds, four footed beasts, and creeping things. So, we see the word is consistent with these categories.
Within these categories birds and fish are pretty simple. Beasts of the earth is a very large category but would include what we call mammals of all sorts, and the four footed animals. It is the last category that we should find intriguing. The Hebrew word for this category is “remes”. Now, remember, we are talking about the categories of animals as separated by the Creator. So, He knows their differences better than we do and why they are placed in those 4 categories.
When we look this word “remes” up we find that it says “creeping things, moving things of animals, gliding things” and then it says that it means “reptile”. If you read the above scripture in some translations (Brenton Septuagint Translation) it will in fact say “reptile” instead of creeping or moving thing. The OJB (Orthodox Jewish Bible) leaves the word remes in the scripture (does not translate it into English). One translation actually says "serpents".
Now, this makes complete sense! Four categories of animals: birds, fish, land mammals/four footed beasts, reptiles. Reptiles slither, crawl, most have short legs and creep upon the earth (except for the large dragons that once roamed the earth that we now call dinosaurs). What about insects? They would probably be in this group also. Although some smaller creatures could fall into one of the other categories.
So, keeping this in mind, in Genesis 9:3 when Elohim tells Noah every “creeping thing” (remes) shall be food for you then He would have been referring to only one specific category of animals: the reptiles. He said that He had given to Noah animals from this category, only, to now have as food: along with green plants. So, did God just change His mind again? Wow, this is even different that Leviticus chapter 11, and what we think the New Testament says! Truly, this would make Him a God who is no where near being consistent. How can we trust a God that constantly changes His mind about things?
OH, I FORGOT – HE DOESN'T CHANGE! SO WHAT'S UP!
Let's dig a little deeper! I am just placing this out here for your consideration, no one has to believe what I am suggesting. Just dig it out and study for yourself. That is what every human being should always do – study to show yourself approved before Elohim, rightly dividing the Word of Elohim (II Timothy 2:15).
When we read scripture we cannot just pick out one or two scriptures. We must look at the scriptures preceding and those following the verses we are looking at. We must see what the topic is etc.
In these verses in Genesis 9:2-3 we need to read verse 4 also, “But you shall not eat the flesh with its life, that is, its blood”. God is not just saying here that we are not to drink blood. No, He said it plain: You shall not eat the flesh! This was as it was in the beginning with the creation covenant. Look the word flesh up in the concordance. It literally means the body of human or animal; the flesh; living and breathing souls that God created. As I said, He re-established the creation covenant with Noah; don't eat flesh! And living flesh has blood; including reptiles.
If that is the case then why did He tell them to eat reptiles? He never told them to eat the flesh of reptiles. Look at the verse very carefully: “Every remes that is alive shall be food for you … even as the herbs”. How were the herbs food? When Elohim speaks of the herbs or fruit bearing trees He states, “that bear seed”. When we eat as vegetarians we shouldn't destroy the seeds of the plant. We eat the fruit of the plant without destroying the seed of the plant. This way it can continue to reproduce more food for us. I listed a scripture in the beginning where God said not to cut down fruit bearing trees because they were for food. When we eat an apple from an apple tree, we are eating its fruit but not destroying the whole tree. When I want oregano, I pinch off part of the plant, I don't destroy the whole plant.
There is something that ALL reptiles have in common, with the exception of only a few, and that is eggs – the SEED of their body. The way they reproduce. Although Rabbi's have differing opinions on this matter (as with almost all other matters) many agree that even eggs of unclean animals can be eaten so long as there is no development within the egg. If a blood spot is seen or any other characteristic that would be associated with a developing embryo, then the egg should not be eaten. Furthermore, just like chickens will lay unfertilized eggs, so reptiles will lay unfertilized eggs. I believe these are called slug eggs. In addition, some reptiles are known to lay very, very large broods of eggs. Reptile eggs can be very large: crocodile, alligator, dinosaur, Komodo dragon eggs are about twice the size of a chicken egg and they lay broods of about 20-25 eggs at a time. Perhaps spider and other insects are also in this group as most of them creep and crawl and lay eggs; albeit tiny.
Consider this: Noah and his family went into the ark in the fall of the year and they came out the next fall of the year. Everything on the earth had been destroyed. Very little vegetation was covering the earth when they came off the ark. It would take a while for the fruit bearing trees to grow and produce fruit again. It would take a while for the herbs to grown again and replenish the earth. Winter was coming on and not spring when they came off the ark. They had what food they had taken with them on the ark but how much longer was that going to last? It was the time of the early rains when they came off the ark so it was a time of planting if they had seeds. Those seeds would mature and bring forth wheat, barley and flax in the coming spring. Elohim was providing for them food that met with His approval. They were not to eat flesh of animals but they could eat eggs and herbs. Again, an egg, undeveloped, is not flesh.
In Deuteronomy 22:6 we read: If a bird's nest happens to be before you along the way, in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs, with the mother sitting on the young or on the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young.
Why, to preserve the species. Take the mother, or take the young or the eggs, but don't take both. Please see my article, A Least Commandment, for more discussion on this verse.
Ok, now you decide.