Blood and Murder

Then God says something curious: “Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.” (Genesis 9:4)

Typically, this is interpreted as matching Jewish cooking. I’m not so sure, however. The word for life is the same as the word God uses to describe breathing animals. So, it could mean not to eat animals while they’re still alive.

In any case, this curious verse leads into God commanding capital punishment for murderers. He starts with a statement that He will require the life of of killers, including animals.

But, why phrase it like this? “Surely I will require your lifeblood; from every beast I will require it. And from every man, from every man’s brother I will require the life of man.” (Genesis 9:5) Why didn’t He just say “murderers”?

I think He was promising that if a person is killed by a wild animal, He would deal with it. I think that, because the next statement is

“Whoever sheds man’s blood,
By man his blood shall be shed,
For in the image of God
He made man.” (Genesis 9:6)

There’s more to the statement than that, but He is clearly commanding Man to deal with people who commit murder. So, I think he is just completing the thought in advance.

One last point on murder is that God commands capital punishment. This is not an option. Murderers need to be put to death, and by other people.

Finally, as a continuation of the stanza, He says

“As for you, be fruitful and multiply;
Populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it.” (Genesis 9:7)

This is another statement of the Dominion Mandate. But, He already repeated that back in verse one. In chapters ten and eleven, we’ll discuss this further, but for now just notice that He gives the mandate twice. It must be important to God.

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