Genesis 9:4

4 But flesh with the life thereof, [which is] the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.

Genesis 9:4 Meaning and Commentary

Genesis 9:4

But flesh with the life thereof, [which is] the blood
thereof, shall you not eat.
] This is the only exception to the eating of flesh; it was not to be eaten with the blood in it, which is said to be its life; not that the blood is of itself the life, but because it is a means of life, and that being exhausted, the creature must die, and because the animal and vital spirits appear to us most vigorous in it; yea, it is the ailment and support of them, and which furnishes out the greatest quantity of them: or rather it may be rendered, "the flesh with its life in its blood" F13; while there is life in the blood, or while the creature is living; the meaning is, that a creature designed for food should be properly killed, and its blood let out; that it should not be devoured alive, as by a beast of prey; that raw flesh should not be eaten, as since by cannibals, and might be by riotous flesh eaters, before the flood; for notwithstanding this law, as flesh without the blood might be eaten, so blood properly let out, and dressed, or mixed with other things, might be eaten, for aught this says to the contrary; but was not to be eaten with the flesh, though it might separately, which was afterwards forbid by another law. The design of this was to restrain cruelty in men, and particularly to prevent the shedding of human blood, which men might be led into, were they suffered to tear living creatures in pieces, and feed upon their raw flesh, and the blood in it. The Targum of Jonathan is,

``but the flesh which is torn from a living beast at the time that its life is in it, or which is torn from a beast while it is slain, before all its breath is gone out, ye shall not eat.''

And the Jewish writers generally interpret this of the flesh of a creature taken from it alive, which, they say, is the seventh precept given to the sons of Noah, over and above the six which the sons of Adam were bound to observe, and they are these;

1. Idolatry is forbidden. 2. Blasphemy is forbidden. 3. The shedding of blood, or murder is forbidden. 4. Uncleanness, or unjust carnal copulations is forbidden. 5. Rapine or robbery is forbidden. 6. The administration of justice to malefactors is required. 7. The eating of any member or flesh of a creature while alive F14 is forbidden.

Such of the Heathens who conformed to those precepts were admitted to dwell among the Israelites, and were called proselytes of the gate.


F13 (wmd wvpnb rvb Kaw) "carnem cum anima, "seu" vita ejus, sanguine ejus", Cartwright.
F14 Maimon. Hilchot Melachim, c. 9. sect. 1.

Genesis 9:4 In-Context

2 And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every bird of the heavens; With all wherewith the ground teemeth, and all the fishes of the sea, into your hand are they delivered.
3 Every moving thing that liveth shall be food for you; As the green herb have I given you all.
4 But flesh with the life thereof, [which is] the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.
5 And surely your blood, [the blood] of your lives, will I require; At the hand of every beast will I require it. And at the hand of man, even at the hand of every man's brother, will I require the life of man.
6 Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: For in the image of God made he man.
The American Standard Version is in the public domain.