Genesis 9 : 3

Every creeping thing which is alive shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green plant.

I am a Torah keeper but this verse seems to be contradicting. Can anyone explain this to me? Can we eat all creeping things after the flood of Noah? I bet not. Thank you.

  • 1
    "You bet we can't eat all creeping things" because you're thinking of the "unclean" animals in Leviticus, or some other reason? Please elaborate.
    – Shalom
    Jul 16, 2021 at 10:17

2 Answers 2


Rabbeinu Bachya on this verse says as follows

Bereshit 9:3

כירק עשב נתתי לכם את כל. ממה שהזכיר נתתי לכם את כל הייתי מתיר כל בשר כדעת האומות, לכך הוצרך לומר כירק עשב, כשם שיש בעשבים חלק מותר שהם טובים ומועילים, וחלק נמנע שהם מזיקים וממיתים, כן יש בבעלי חיים חלק מותר והוא מה שהותר בתורה, וחלק הנמנע והוא מה שאסרה התורה. וזהו הנכון בפשט הכתוב כי לא בא הכתוב להתיר כל בשר. כירק עשב נתתי לכם את כל,

”just like the green herbs, I have given you everything”. Had the Torah only written the word כל, I would have concluded that all kind of meat is permissible for human consumption (including that of creeping things, etc. as argued by the Gentile interpreters of the Bible). The mention of the words כירק עשב, “like the green herbs,” limits the type of meat permitted for consumption by human beings. Just as not all herbs are intended for human consumption so not all meat is intended for human consumption. Poisonous herbs and certain (most) mushrooms are certainly not fit for consumption by humans. Similarly, there are categories of meat which are harmful to human beings. The Torah permitted only the kind of meat which is beneficial for man. The plain meaning of the verse is certainly not that it permits indiscriminate consumption of all manner of meat.

  • You should be emphasizing in your answer that in the context of the question from the OP, this clarification of Rabbeinu Bechaye is pertaining to the descendants of Noah. They can eat all “creeping things” which are healthy, meaning non-toxic. Jews have a different obligation. And the citation from the OP does not preclude meat generally. Vegetarianism is not required in any way. Jul 16, 2021 at 20:23
  • The OP was asking if all meat was permitted, not vegetarianism. Rabbeinu Bachya can be understood as referring to Jewish laws as well. All he's saying is that this passuk isn't a blanket permission for everything just like herbs are not all eatable. The exact parameters of what's permissible and what's not, is delineated later on in the Torah
    – Chatzkel
    Jul 16, 2021 at 20:27
  • The OP was asking about all creeping things “after the flood”. Prior to the flood only plant based food was permissible. The innovation after the flood was about the flesh of animals. Their specific wording was pertaining to the creeping things. Rabbeinu Bechaye is only pointing out that the item one is considering for food must be beneficial to one’s health, like prior to the flood. They are asking about the distinction between between before and after the flood specifically as it relates to Bereshit 9:3 because they are “Torah Keepers”, suggesting they are not Jewish. Jul 19, 2021 at 4:36

There are the Noahide Laws that applied to all of humanity, post-Flood. Pre-Flood, humans weren't allowed to eat animals. Post-Flood, "any animal is fair game, just like the plants you ate until now."

Eventually the Torah would be given at Mount Sinai, and Jews would have further restrictions (in Leviticus) on which animals they could eat.

So Noahidism — i.e. Judaism's expectations of basic ethical monotheism — allow eating any animal so long as it was dead first. Jews have to be pickier.

Today, if someone who was neither Jewish by birth nor conversion shows up at a rabbi's office and says — Shalom! I want to do right with the God of the Torah, but I really like bacon! The rabbi would tell them that is 100% A-OK. All that's expected of them is keeping the Seven Noahide Laws.


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