1 And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth
2 And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered.
3 Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.
4 But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.
6 Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.
Today’s verses continue the theme of a new beginning for humanity. God is renewing the exact same commandments that He gave in the Garden of Eden, such as for mankind to “be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth,” and to have dominion over the animal kingdom.
The instructions are not completely the same, though, there are are a couple of differences. Now God mentions that the meat of animals is given as a food item, while in the Garden of Eden He had only mentioned fruits and herbs. There is also a new forbidden food item for humanity. Not the fruit of the tree of the knowledge anymore, but blood. And speaking of blood, mankind is expressly forbidden from murder, and a punishment is assigned if that commandment is broken.
It stands out to me how the story of Noah presents a shift in the relationship between God and man. All of the previous instructions between God and man took place in a simpler, idealized setting: the Garden of Eden, and as such the rules were much simpler. Adam and Eve were still innocent then, and therefore only needed very basic instruction. With Noah God is restoring His prior covenants, but several details have been added due to the more complicated nature of fallen man. In fact, I would say that God’s relationship with Noah is something of a middle ground between the simplicity of Adam and Eve and the even greater complexity of Moses and the Israelites.
Indeed we will see that the relationship between God and man becomes more and more complicated throughout the Old Testament, until the arrival of a Savior who is able to answer most of that complexity through his atoning sacrifice. Then things are able to be made far more simple again.