🍉 Food for nourishment in Eden?

I was discussing with my husband this morning how our current Western cultural push for a ‘plant based’ diet is a type of reflection of what was originally designed for mankind in Eden.

My reasons for suggesting this plant based diet is an original design for creation are that when Isaiah prophesies to the new heaven and earth, he says:

Isaiah 11:6–9 (NCV): Then wolves will live in peace with lambs,
and leopards will lie down to rest with goats.
Calves, lions, and young bulls will eat together,
and a little child will lead them.
7 Cows and bears will eat together in peace.
Their young will lie down to rest together.
Lions will eat hay as oxen do.
8 A baby will be able to play near a cobra’s hole,
and a child will be able to put his hand into the nest of a poisonous snake.
9 They will not hurt or destroy each other
on all my holy mountain,

There seems to be no predator/prey dynamic in the new earth, which I assume applies to humans too.
Here is the thought cycle that leads to the question:

  1. I often consider the future earth to be a return to Eden, but I wonder if it’s not quite that simple? From my understanding, we won’t need to eat for physical nourishment in eternity, but did Adam and Eve have to in Eden?
  2. Surely there must have been some death in Eden, for example an elephant standing on an ant?
  3. If there was some death in Eden, would a plant based diet be necessary for physical nourishment to stay alive back then?

(My husband is slightly worried that he won’t get to eat fillet steak in eternity.)

I’d be interested in anyone’s thoughts on this! :apple::tangerine::carrot:

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I’m rather with your husband here. :joy:

I don’t have much else to add. Other than to wonder what Hebrew word was translated as “livestock” in Genesis 1? To me, that denotes domesticated animals (flocks and herds) that weren’t just reared for working the ground or providing wool, but also for eating.

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Oh thank you! Your reply gave me a focus on how to look into this more deeply! (And yes, totally with you on the fillet steak in heaven :grinning: :cut_of_meat:) Here’s a look into Genesis 1:24-26

And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. 25 And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

’ Livestock’ (בְּהֵמָה, behemah) occurs about 200 times in the Bible, can also be translated as ‘cattle’ and usually denotes animals that were kept for milk, meat, and labour in ANE culture. Throughout scripture, the word is used to describe animals like this both pre-fall and post-fall, which makes it hard to distinguish if there was any difference in their purposes before and after Eden.

Taking a look at Mosaic law regarding the treatment of cattle is really interesting as it points back to God’s original intentions of creation by providing a safety net for a world that doesn’t live in perfection anymore. Laws such as:

• Israelites are instructed to rest their cattle on the Sabbath (Exod 20:10; 23:12).
• The law prohibits having an ox and a donkey plow together (Deut 22:10).
• If an Israelite sees his countryman’s ox straying, he ought to return it (Deut 22:1–2).
• If a donkey or ox falls, an Israelite should help his countryman raise it up (Deut 22:4).
• Cattle were not to be muzzled while threshing (Deut 25:4).

(June Yang, “Cattle,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).)

If these laws were meant to ensure a protection over God’s good creation, then there seems to be some continuation of pre-fall and post-fall activities regarding cattle. So, perhaps they were eating animals before the fall?

But, coming back to my question as to whether food was for the purposes of nutrition or pleasure only (which I realise are some musings that we may never find answers to), I find God’s curse over Adam interesting in Gen 3:19:

By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground

There seems to be a turn in the tide here about eating. These words seem to denote a struggle to obtain food. If it were merely for pleasure, I imagine that Adam and Eve would have given up on the whole farming thing pretty soon. To strive on to cultivate livestock and crops for the purposes of food suggests that it was absolutely necessary to do so, i.e. was of vital nutritional importance. This to me suggests that even if nutrition wasn’t at the heart of eating before the fall, it obviously is afterwards. Perhaps, therefore, food was merely a pleasure before sin entered the world.

Just some thoughts!

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Interesting! I hadn’t thought about separating nutrition from pleasure…as if failing energy (or the need to be “fueled”) is a result of The Fall. I suppose I’m agnostic on this matter! Though, I do suppose that in an ideal world, I would not get “hangry”. :smile:

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Hi @alison,

I am intrigued with all these thoughts that you have brought out. I never considered that Adam didnt have to eat to survive.

I took the words of Genisis 2-9 & 3-6 to mean sustenance to sustain life. It was called food. They were both wholly physical and needed food to continue living just like all life that was created.

In 3-19 when bread is referenced it is also food, nourishment

Adam was also to tend and keep the garden.
While we do not know what exactly that entailed the language meant work.

Before the fall all things were easy peasy vica after when giving birth was harder,
for all women and man had to “scratch out a living by the sweat of the brow”.

We inhereted our sin nature from Adam the first human being who eventually died.

God could create a selfsustaining or divinley sustained carbon based person He is all powerful.

He already had the Angelic beings to serve Him.

Conscience choice to love God from an autonomous self perpetuating individual has always been my thinking.

You challenged this long held belief, thanks for thinking outside the box.:thinking:

Be blessed on this Independence day.

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Hey @michael1 thanks for sharing your thoughts! You’re right that perhaps they still needed food for survival but it would have been easy to obtain in contrast to after the fall when it became hard work. You’ve got me thinking some more on what it meant to die after the fall. We know that they didn’t physically die for many years, but they spiritually died. I wonder if they would have physically died at some point anyway even if they’d never sinned. Perhaps that’s another topic! :sweat_smile:

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@alison

By the way I am certain your Husband will thoroughly enjoy the banquet even though the menu may not include his favorites.

Michael

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:grinning: this is a very good point! I was listening to a YouTube talk called ‘Heaven’ by Randy Alcorn at the CS Lewis Institute the other day, and he was saying a similar thing: that the eternal experience in heaven will be beyond our wildest dreams. That, obviously, will include the food!

Maybe Adam didn’t eat, but it looks like in the New Jerusalem will have a harvest every month (this could be anothe can of worms.) There is no direct evidence of any one eating the fruit but it is implied.

Revelation 22:1–2 (LEB): 22 And he showed me the river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming out from the throne of God and of the Lamb
2 in the middle of its street, and ⌊on both sides of the river⌋ is the tree of life, producing twelve fruits—yielding its fruit according to every month—and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.

I also wonder about the need for ‘the healing of the nations.’

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Hi @jimmy,

The question about ‘healing of nations’ is something I came across recently.

In Vine’s Expository of NT words, here’s the comment on the word therapeia translated ‘healing’ in Rev 22:1-2.

primarily denotes “care, attention,” Luk 12:42 (see HOUSEHOLD); then, “medical service, healing” (Eng., “therapy”), Luk 9:11; Rev 22:2, of the effects of the leaves of the tree of life, perhaps here with the meaning “health.”

The meaning of its root word in Strongs Definitions -

therapeúō, ther-ap-yoo’-o; to wait upon menially, i.e. (figuratively) to adore (God), or (specially) to relieve (of disease):—cure, heal, worship.

So the translation for ‘healing’ of the nations could be translated for the ‘service’ of the nations, the intended reason may just be for well-being or health, and not cure.

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