e) Gen 1:29–30: Here we find another contrast between Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) belief and biblical teaching.

In Enuma Elish, the gods tired of working to obtain their own food. Then Marduk announced, “Blood I will mass and cause bones to be. I will establish a savage, ‘man’ shall be his name…He shall be charged with the service of the gods that they might be at ease!”[1]

The Lord grants food to needy people. God did not create humanity to feed him (Ps 50:7–15; Amos 5:21–24).[2]

He preserves the ones he creates. However, humanity’s dominion would not include the right to eat animals until after the flood (Gen 9:3).[3]

At this point in Genesis, animals ate only plants, foreshadowing the day when “The cow and the bear shall graze together… and a lion with cattle shall eat straw (Isa 11:7; Isa 65:25; Hos 2:18).[4]

Several ANE creation myths report that people were initially allotted only vegetation for their food.[5]

For example, the Egyptian Hymn to Amon-Re says, “You are the sole one who made [all] that is…who made what exists, from whose eyes mankind came forth, and upon whose mouth the gods came into being. He who made herbage [for] the cattle and the fruit tree for mankind. Who made that [on which] the fish in the river may live.”[6]

Even after the flood, diets in the ANE were primarily vegetarian. People kept animals mainly for milk and cheese production.[7]

Only a few centuries before Christ, if a Jewish man journeyed away from home, he was required to provide his wife with wheat or barley, legumes, olive oil, and figs or some other fruit. Grain constituted about half of one’s diet, and meat was a rare luxury (m. Ketubbot 5.8).

Image via Wikimedia Commons

 

Read Gen 1:29–30. Why does this passage contradict the prevailing ANE view of humanity? How did God’s decree regarding what Adam and Eve were permitted to eat indicate that he limited their dominion of nature? What does this suggest regarding our right to exploit the natural world?

 

 

 

 

Go to God Evaluates His Creation

 

[Related posts include Let Us Make Humanity (Gen 1:26); Made in the Image of God (Gen 1:26 cont.); Stewards of the Earth (Gen 1:26 cont.); Male and Female He Created Them (Gen 1:27); The Blessing of Fruitfulness (Gen 1:28); God Evaluates His Creation (Gen 1:31); An Israelite View of Genesis 1; and Ancient Literature]

 

[Click here to go to Chapter 3: The Image of God (Genesis 1:26–31)]

 

[1]“Enuma Elish (The Creation Epic),” in ANET, lines 6:5–8, 68, https://archive.org/stream/Pritchard1950ANET_20160815/Pritchard_1950_ANET#page/n93/mode/2up.

[2] Walton, Genesis, 136.

[3] Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 139–40.

[4] Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 33–4.

[5]Claus Westermann, Genesis 1–11: CC (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1994), 162–3.

[6]John A. Wilson, trans., “A Hymn to Amon-Re,” in ANET, 4:3–4, 366, https://archive.org/stream/Pritchard1950ANET_20160815/Pritchard_1950_ANET#page/n391/mode/2up.

[7] Edwin Firmage, “Zoology (Fauna),” ABD 6:1109–67, 1120.