Exposition in Genesis 1-11: Genesis 1:29-31

Genesis 1:29-31

Then God said, I now give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the entire earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the animals of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to all the creatures that move on the ground everything that has the breath of life in it I give every green plant for food. It was so.
31 God saw all that he had made and it was very good! There was evening, and there was morning, the sixth day.

God finds satisfaction in creation

The Bible shows that God is concerned about every aspect of our existence. Nowhere is this more obvious than when God made humanity and created an enormous food supply to sustain them. With regard to food, drink, and clothing, Jesus said, Your heavenly Father knows that you need them (Matt. 6:32).

So, what will it take for us to focus on the goodness of God in providing for our needs? What will it take to pull us out of the mad scramble for material wealth and the security it allegedly provides?

The Old Testament writers use various means to emphasize ideas, and one of the most common is to use the word hinneh meaning behold, see.[1] Curiously, the NET Bible translators say the word means Look, this is what I am doing![2] and yet they represent it with now in the phrase I now give. This is under-translation; when the Bible emphasizes something, the translation should contain the emphasis in the text, not in the margin! For example, the ESV has Behold, I have given you . . . and the RSV, NASB and KJV do the same. In the NIV the word hinneh is not translated at all! NLT wins the prize with Look!

Someone will say, Are you making too big a deal out of this? Perhaps, but the identification of food looms large at my house. Nobody wants to be called to the very first supper by a whisper. :-)

God speaks to the man and the woman (you plural in Hebrew) in verse 29; animals will be addressed in verse 30. Wenham cites another scholar who documents other [non-biblical] texts to show that there was a widespread belief in antiquity that man and the animals were once vegetarian.[3] While Genesis 1 does not forbid eating meat, the practice is not explicitly mentioned until Genesis 9:3, after the fall into sin (Genesis 3) and the flood (Genesis 6-8).

Genesis 1:30 defines the food supply for all animal life on earth. Note carefully that humankind has been separated from all the rest of life on earth. That is fully in keeping with the fact that man and woman are the only portion of the living creation made in Gods image. We have already seen that when God speaks things happen immediately. So, Genesis 1:31 finishes with the words It was so. Unfortunately, a time will come in the great story of Genesis when God will speak and it will not be so, but that will be addressed in another post.

Genesis 1:31
God saw all that he had made — and it was very good! There was evening, and there was morning, the sixth day.

Once again the NET Bible buries the emphatic hinneh (behold, see, look) in a marginal note; the only remnant of its emphasis is in the exclamation point. In contrast, the ESV says, And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good (Gen. 1:31a, emphasis added). Wenham says of this use of hinneh that it is suggesting Gods enthusiasm as he contemplated his handiwork.[4]

The problem of evil in the world is well-known, and the issue has been extensively discussed. Those who do not know God look upon a world filled with instances of evil and ask how God could possibly be good. Genesis explains that what God made was very good to the point of arousing his enthusiasm, so the cause of evil must be found elsewhere. Later in this , Plano, Texasstudy we will see where.

Copyright 2011 by Barry Applewhite. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from material created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.

[1] L. Koehler, W. Baumgartner and J. J. Stamm, The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, translated and edited under the supervision of M. E. J. Richardson, 5 vols. (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1994-2000) hinneh, behold, see, q.v.

[2] NET Bible Notes for Genesis 1:29, fn 5.

[3] Gordon J. Wenham, Genesis 115, Word Biblical Commentary (Nashville: Word Incorporated, 1987) 33.

[4] Wenham, Genesis 1-15, 34.


Do you have an opinion or a different interpretation? Let me know!

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