Did God Create Carnivores on the Sixth Day?
by Rich Deem


The book of Genesis describes the order of creation and the kind of creatures that God created. Many young earth creationists believe that God did not create carnivores, but that some animals evolved or mutated to become carnivorous after the fall of man. Genetically, this is impossible, and if God somehow caused it to happen, it is never mentioned in the Bible.

What does Genesis say?

I contend that the Bible tells us directly that God created at least some of the carnivores on the sixth day. Here is the relevant passage:

Then God said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts [chayah] of the earth after their kind"; and it was so. And God made the beasts [chayah] of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind; and God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:24-25)

Holman QuickSource Guide to Understanding CreationThe text itself does not say whether these animals are herbivores or carnivores. However, we can examine how the Hebrew word (chayah) is used in the rest of the Bible. Below is a table of all the verses that use the word chayah and whether the verse refers to herbivores or carnivores. The verses in which the eating habits of chayah is unclear from the context have not been included.

Herbivore1 Carnivore2
Exodus 23:11Genesis 37:20 Genesis 37:33Exodus 23:29
Leviticus 25:7Leviticus 11:27 Leviticus 26:6 Leviticus 26:22
Numbers 35:3Deuteronomy7:221 Samuel17:462 Samuel21:10
Isaiah 40:16Job 5:22-23Job 37:8Job 38:39
Psalm 74:19Psalm 79:2Psalm 104:20
Isaiah 35:9 Isaiah 43:20Jeremiah 12:9
Ezekiel 5:17Ezekiel 14:15Ezekiel 14:21
Ezekiel 29:5Ezekiel 32:4Ezekiel 33:27
Ezekiel 34:5Ezekiel 34:8Ezekiel 34:25
Ezekiel 34:28Ezekiel 39:4Ezekiel 39:17
Hosea 2:12Hosea 13:8

Conclusion Top of page

An examination of the Hebrew word chayah indicates that in the vast majority of uses, the word refers to animals that eat flesh. It seems likely that the creation account of Genesis is referring specifically to the carnivores, especially since a prominent herbivore (cattle) is specifically mentioned in the same verse. If chayah were meant to refer to herbivores, cattle could be left out, since they would be included in the chayah term.

Related Pages Top of page

A Matter of Days by Hugh RossA Matter of Days by Hugh Ross

Dr. Ross looks the creation date controversy from a biblical, historical, and scientific perspective. Most of the book deals with what the Bible has to say about the days of creation. Ross concludes that biblical models of creation should be tested through the whole of scripture and the revelations of nature.

Peril in Paradise: Theology, Science, and the Age of the Earth Peril in Paradise: Theology, Science, and the Age of the Earth by Mark S. Whorton, Ph.D.

This book, written for Christians, examines creation paradigms on the basis of what scripture says. Many Christians assume that the young earth "perfect paradise" paradigm is based upon what the Bible says. In reality, the "perfect paradise" paradigm fails in its lack of biblical support and also in its underlying assumptions that it forces upon a "Christian" worldview. Under the "perfect paradise" paradigm, God is relegated to the position of a poor designer, whose plans for the perfect creation are ruined by the disobedience of Adam and Eve. God is forced to come up with "plan B," in which He vindictively creates weeds, disease, carnivorous animals, and death to get back at humanity for their sin. Young earth creationists inadvertently buy into the atheistic worldview that suffering could not have been the original intent of God, stating that the earth was created "for our pleasure." However, the Bible says that God created carnivores, and that the death of animals and plants was part of God's original design for the earth.

References Top of page

  1. "but on the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, so that the needy of your people may eat; and whatever they leave the beast [chayah] of the field may eat. You are to do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove. (Exodus 23:11)
    Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, 'These are the creatures [chayah] which you may eat from all the animals that are on the earth. (Leviticus 11:2)
    "And the cities shall be theirs to live in; and their pasture lands shall be for their cattle and for their herds and for all their beasts [chayah]. (Numbers 35:3)
    Even Lebanon is not enough to burn, Nor its beasts [chayah] enough for a burnt offering. (Isaiah 40:16)
  2. Then he examined it and said, "It is my son's tunic. A wild beast [chayah] has devoured him; Joseph has surely been torn to pieces!" (Genesis 37:33)
    "The beasts [chayah] of the field will glorify Me; The jackals and the ostriches; Because I have given waters in the wilderness And rivers in the desert, To give drink to My chosen people. (Isaiah 43:20)
    All you beasts [chayah] of the field, All you beasts [chayah] in the forest, Come to eat. (Isaiah 56:9)
    'Moreover, I will send on you famine and wild beasts [chayah], and they will bereave you of children; plague and bloodshed also will pass through you, and I will bring the sword on you. I, the LORD, have spoken.'"(Ezekiel 5:17)
    "If I were to cause wild beasts [chayah] to pass through the land, and they depopulated it, and it became desolate so that no one would pass through it because of the beasts [chayah], (Ezekiel 14:15)
    For thus says the Lord GOD, "How much more when I send My four severe judgments against Jerusalem: sword, famine, wild beasts [chayah], and plague to cut off man and beast [chayah] from it! (Ezekiel 14:21)
    "And I shall abandon you to the wilderness, you and all the fish of your rivers; You will fall on the open field; you will not be brought together or gathered. I have given you for food to the beasts [chayah] of the earth and to the birds of the sky. (Ezekiel 29:5)
    "And I will leave you on the land; I will cast you on the open field. And I will cause all the birds of the heavens to dwell on you, And I will satisfy the beasts [chayah] of the whole earth with you. (Ezekiel 32:4)
    "Thus you shall say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "As I live, surely those who are in the waste places will fall by the sword, and whoever is in the open field I will give to the beasts [chayah] to be devoured, and those who are in the strongholds and in the caves will die of pestilence. (Ezekiel 33:27)
    "And they were scattered for lack of a shepherd, and they became food for every beast [chayah] of the field and were scattered. (Ezekiel 34:5)
    "As I live," declares the Lord GOD, "surely because My flock has become a prey, My flock has even become food for all the beasts [chayah] of the field for lack of a shepherd, and My shepherds did not search for My flock, but rather the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed My flock; (Ezekiel 34:8)
    "And I will make a covenant of peace with them and eliminate harmful beasts [chayah] from the land, so that they may live securely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods. (Ezekiel 34:25)
    "And they will no longer be a prey to the nations, and the beasts [chayah] of the earth will not devour them; but they will live securely, and no one will make them afraid. (Ezekiel 34:28)
    "You shall fall on the mountains of Israel, you and all your troops, and the peoples who are with you; I shall give you as food to every kind of predatory bird and beast [chayah] of the field. (Ezekiel 39:4)
    "And as for you, son of man, thus says the Lord GOD, 'Speak to every kind of bird and to every beast [chayah] of the field, "Assemble and come, gather from every side to My sacrifice which I am going to sacrifice for you, as a great sacrifice on the mountains of Israel, that you may eat flesh and drink blood. (Ezekiel 39:17)
    "And I will destroy her vines and fig trees, Of which she said, 'These are my wages Which my lovers have given me.' And I will make them a forest, And the beasts [chayah] of the field will devour them. (Hosea 2:12)
    I will encounter them like a bear robbed of her cubs, And I will tear open their chests; There I will also devour them like a lioness, As a wild beast [chayah] would tear them. (Hosea 13:8)

Last updated October 29, 2013


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