It's considered a Noahide prohibition to eat meat taken from a live animal. I often hear this is connected with Bereishith 9:6. However, after I read the verse, it seems to be condemning just meat with blood in it, not meat taken from a living animal. The closest statement I see in the verse is the mention of "life," but it seems to be simply referring to the "blood" as "life." In other words, the verse seems to prohibit meat with blood (called "life") in it, not directly addressing meat taken from a living animal.

Therefore, does the prohibition come primarily from a source other than Bereishith 9:6, or is there something in the verse itself that I'm missing that directly addresses meat taken from a living animal?

1 Answer 1


The prohibition for Jews is usually derived from Deuteronomy 12:23:

רַ֣ק חֲזַ֗ק לְבִלְתִּי֙ אֲכֹ֣ל הַדָּ֔ם כִּ֥י הַדָּ֖ם ה֣וּא הַנָּ֑פֶשׁ וְלֹא־תֹאכַ֥ל הַנֶּ֖פֶשׁ עִם־הַבָּשָֽׂר׃

Only be stedfast in not eating the blood; for the blood is the life; and thou shalt not eat the life with the flesh.

You can see this derivation in the gemara in Ḥullin 101b-102a and in the halakhic midrash Sifrei Devarim Paragraph 76, as well as commentaries on the verse in Deuteronomy (eg. Rashi) and the codes (eg. Tur YD 62).

For non-Jews, the gemara in Sanhedrin 56b derives it from Genesis 2:16:

וַיְצַו֙ יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹהִ֔ים עַל־הָֽאָדָ֖ם לֵאמֹ֑ר מִכֹּ֥ל עֵֽץ־הַגָּ֖ן אָכֹ֥ל תֹּאכֵֽל׃

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying: ‘Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat.

The gemara says that this means that fruit is permitted, "but not a limb from a living animal (ולא אבר מן החי)". There is another opinion there (on 57a and 59a) that derives it from Genesis 9:4, as you state in your question. To explain this derivation, Ramban writes:

אך בשר בנפשו שהיא דמו לא תאכלו כי נפש כל בשר דמו הוא

But living flesh — [and by life we mean] its blood — you shall not eat. Because the life of all flesh is its blood [quote from Leviticus 17:14].

He explains that the blood is an aside expressing what its lifeforce is, but the main point is that if the flesh is living (ie. it was connected to a live animal), it cannot be eaten.

Obviously, this verse can be understood in other ways (as you've demonstrated in your question), but this is the way the gemara wants to take it.

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    These are sources for the prohibition for Jews. Seems to me the OP was asking about the prohibition for gentiles
    – Double AA
    Commented Apr 21, 2022 at 22:13
  • Thanks for the answer. Perhaps Deuteronomy 12:23 could be a commentary on Bereishith 9:6. In both cases, is the meaning that it's actually the blood that makes the meat forbidden? While the word life appears in both verses, are they saying that the blood is the life, meaning that as long as you drain the blood, you've drained the life out of the meat, and now the meat would be fit for consumption?
    – The Editor
    Commented Apr 21, 2022 at 22:19

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