Gen 9:2

All the animals . . . will look on you with fear and terror. (NLT)

This seems to indicate to me that there was a different relationship between people and animals after the flood.

3 Answers 3


Two things occurred after the flood:

  1. Gen 9:2 - The fear and dread of you will fall on every living creature on the earth, every bird of the air, every creature that crawls on the ground, and all the fish of the sea.

  2. Gen 9:3, 4 - Everything that lives and moves will be food for you; just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you all things. But you must not eat meat with its lifeblood still in it.

Thus, after the flood, God, by His own declaration, placed the "fear and dread" of man into animals, and, man was given permission to hunt and kill animals and not just vegetable matter.

There is no mystery why animals feared humans after the flood.


Were animals not afraid of people before the flood?

No, the Insight on the Scriptures offers two points to establish this. Under the topic "Animals", we see the following:

Animals were so created that they would have a fear and dread of man as their superior. (Ge 9:2, 3) According to naturalists, wild creatures, such as the leopard and the king cobra, normally prefer to retreat from man’s presence, although they do attack when provoked, wounded, cornered, or suddenly surprised. It has been suggested that tigers become man-eaters, for example, by force of circumstances, such as old age or injury that would greatly limit the tiger’s ability to procure its normal game, or the depletion of the tiger’s game through man’s hunting.

Under the topic "Fear", the subheading "Animals Toward Humans" gives Dr. George G. Goodwin's attestation:

At Genesis 9:2 the word “fear” is used in connection with the animal creation. God told Noah and his sons: “A fear of you and a terror of you will continue upon every living creature of the earth.” During the year that Noah and his family were inside the ark, the animals and birds penned up therein had a fear of these humans that helped to restrain them. Accordingly, when they emerged from the ark after the Flood, Jehovah gave Noah assurance that this fear would continue. This is supported by human experience. Dr. George G. Goodwin, Associate Curator of Mammals, The American Museum of Natural History, said: “Normally, a leopard will not attack a man. If provoked or wounded, however, the animal will turn on human beings and fight.” Similarly, if given the opportunity, poisonous snakes known for aggressiveness, such as the mamba and king cobra, prefer, as a rule, cautiously to glide away from the presence of man rather than attack. Though man has mistreated and turned some animals into vicious creatures, it is generally true that this restraining fear still applies. This is in harmony with God’s statement at Genesis 1:26-28, that the animal creation was to be subject to man from the time of his creation.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible commentary explains:

This is a renewal, at least in part, of the grant of dominion to Adam over all the creatures; these obeyed him cheerfully, and from love, but sinning, he in a good measure lost his power over them, they rebelled against him; but now though the charter of power over them is renewed, they do not serve man freely, but are in dread of him, and flee from him; some are more easily brought into subjection to him, and even the fiercest and wildest of them may be tamed by him; and this power over them was the more easily retrieved in all probability by Noah and his sons, from the inhabitation of the creatures with them for so long a time in the ark:

So, from the beginning, animals were under the authority of man and Jehovah God reiterated this to Noah after the flood.

[All scripture quotations from the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (Study Edition)]


We have very little in terms of records concerning pre-Flood conditions, and the little that we have was all written well after the Flood, largely by Moses. The only other pre-Flood evidences we have come to us via archeology and the fossil record.

The Bible indicates, however, that God or His agents led a selection of animals to the ark.

There went in two and two unto Noah into the ark, the male and the female, as God had commanded Noah. (Genesis 7:9, KJV)

there came two and two unto Noah into the ark, male and female, as God had commanded Noah. (Genesis 7:9, Darby)

God had told Noah that he would need to take in animals into the ark, so that Noah would know to prepare provisions for them. But here in verse 9, the language indicates that the animals went in, as if on their own volition. However, the fact that they went into the ark in exact pairs, male and female, indicates that they were supernaturally guided to the ark.

If the animals had been led by God or by His angels, it tells us little about whether or not the animals had been afraid of man at that time. However, the implication is that they were. One might ask, "Why weren't Noah and his sons given the task of finding and bringing the animals into the ark?" Assuming that the task was not monumental and that they had sufficient time for it, there seems nothing to stop them from doing this very thing if the animals were not afraid of them. But God led them to the ark--a clear sign that the task would have been too great for Noah and his family.

It is likely that hunters existed before the Flood, which would have taught the animals to fear humans--but the Bible's first mention of a hunter comes shortly after the Flood.

And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the LORD: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD. (Genesis 10:8-9, KJV)

One reasonable interpretation of Genesis 9:2 is that God needed to cause the animals to be afraid of man after the Flood because man's strength was to rapidly weaken and he would be put to the worse in any confrontation with one of the more ferocious animals. By instilling fear in the animals, God protected mankind.

The fossil record proves the existence of some very large animals before the Flood. Because those animals (dinosaurs) do not exist today, we can assume God did not choose to preserve them through the Flood for the same reason--man would be unable to subdue them and to maintain his dominion, as God had desired.

And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. (Genesis 1:28, KJV)

By putting the fear of man into every animal, God made it possible for man to keep this commandment.

  • "Because those animals (dinosaurs) do not exist today, we can assume God did not choose to preserve them through the Flood for the same reason" If you're going to go for a literal global flood, surely you'd have to say that Noah took all the land animals on the ark too. Why wouldn't mankind be able to hunt them to extinction?
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Oct 6, 2021 at 0:23
  • @curiousdannii Your question goes beyond the scope of the OP's question and involves great changes to earth and its atmosphere that occurred at the time of the Flood. I favor the canopy theory and find Biblical support for it--just study the Hebrew word for "firmament." Following the Flood, that canopy of water no longer existed, and oxygen levels dropped, atmospheric pressure dropped, and lifespans of humans rapidly dropped. But human size dropped as well, and mankind would no longer have been able to "subdue" the larger animals. "Jurassic Park"-style dangers come to mind.
    – Polyhat
    Commented Oct 6, 2021 at 1:54

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