God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.”Jefferts Schori observes, “It’s not often noticed, but all the animals, including human beings, are here intended to be vegetarians.”
Apparently, God’s intended “state of nature” is so peaceful that it lacks not only war, but even the violence attendant to one creature’s eating another. (Plants fare less well.) This notion reappears in the well-known passage, Isaiah 11:6–8, the inspiration for the many paintings titled “The Peaceable Kingdom” (see example above) by Edward Hicks (1780–1849):
The wolf shall live with the lamb,Less familiar is next verse:
the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze,
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,
and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.
They will not hurt or destroyThe same idea reappears in Isaiah 65:25:
on all my holy mountain;
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.
The wolf and the lamb shall feed together,All this is very poetic, if evolutionarily unlikely. And the “state of nature” in Genesis is simply unhistorical. Nonetheless, one can appreciate the attractiveness of the Isaiah vision to Quaker Hicks.
the lion shall eat straw like the ox;
but the serpent—its food shall be dust!
They shall not hurt or destroy
on all my holy mountain, says the Lord.