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Early in Moses Deuteronomy speech, he talks of the covenant made at Sinai or Horeb.


"2The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb" (Deu 5:2).  Moses knew that was historical fact.  Then Moses says in vs. 3, " 3The LORD did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us, those who are here today, all of us who are alive.


There are a wide variety of opinions as to what Moses is saying here.  The confusion arises, because traditional Christianity does not recognize that one doesn't change a covenant (Gal 3:15) and this covenant made in Deuteronomy is a second covenant between God and Israel, a deutero (second) nomos (law). 


To begin to understand let's read Deuteronomy 29:10-15"10 All of you stand today before the LORD your God:... 12that you may enter into covenant with the LORD your God, and into His oath, which the LORD your God makes with you today,...14I make this (zo'th) covenant and this oath, not with you alone, 15but with him who stands here with us today before the LORD our God...". 


The whole purpose for Moses speech to Israel in Deuteronomy was to confirm another covenant.  Now read Deuteronomy 5:2-4 again with a slight change in punctuation.


 "2The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. (3The LORD did not make this [zo'th] covenant with our fathers, but with us, those who are here today, all of us who are alive.)   4The LORD talked with you face to face on the mountain from the midst of the fire." 


God made a covenant with Israel in Horeb.  However, this covenant, that Moses was speaking at the time - Deuteronomy, is not the covenant He made at Horeb or with their Fathers.  This covenant was distinct, and began with those alive at the time of Moses speaking.  At Sinai the Lord spoke directly to Israel.  Moses stood between them as a messenger to declare the word of God after they became frightened.   Now he is doing that again with 'this' covenant.  This designation, (zo'th) is the same in Deuteronomy 5:3, 29:9, 14 and even II Kings 23:3.  It is making a distinction between the covenant Moses is making the day he spoke Deuteronomy and the covenant that was made at Sinai or Horeb.


Israel was already familiar with the Covenant of the Lord.  On the other hand, 'this covenant', with 'these words' written in 'this book', which summarized 'this law', was distinct from any covenant they had known in the past.


Actually there is another Hebrew word ('eth) that is not translated that stands before zo'th in Deuteronomy 5:3.  It is generally, "used to point out more definitely the object of a verb... as such unrepresented in English," (The Complete Word Study of the Old Testament).  It was not translated because it is used to definitively indicate the object of the verb.  (English has no direct equivalent. This is usually a built in function of English.)  In this case it eliminates confusion between the covenant made at Horeb and 'this covenant' made as Moses speaks.    Its intent is to differentiate the Horeb covenant just mentioned and 'this' covenant.  This indicates positively that Moses is making a distinction between the covenant made at Sinai and the covenant that he is now making with Israel in Moab. 


We should closely examine who Moses is referring to when he talks of "fathers" in Deuteronomy. It is generally believed that as of Deuteronomy 1 only Moses, Joshua & Caleb were still alive of those of age when the Sinai covenant was made.  Everyone over 20, legal age, at Sinai was dead, (Num 14:29).  So certainly the great bulk of those of legal age with whom the Sinai covenant had been made were dead.


If this is the case it is somewhat odd that Moses would say, "2The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb ".  Moses also uses similar terms in Deuteronomy 1:6, "The Lord our God spoke to us in Horeb, saying:  'You have dwelt long enough at this mountain.'"  Then in Deuteronomy 11:2 he says, "Know today that I do not speak with your children, who have not known and who have not seen the chastening of the Lord your God, His greatness and His mighty hand and His outstretched arm... 7 but your eyes have seen every great act of the Lord which He did."


In spite of the death of the evil generation, those with whom Moses was speaking were old enough to have seen and remember the great deliverance from Egypt and the speech of God on Horeb.  They were a very real party to that covenant.  So why did Moses mention the evil generation, their immediate fathers who had also been a party to the Horeb covenant"2The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. 3The LORD did not make this (zo'th) covenant with our fathers "


Evidently that was not Moses intent at all"Surely not one of these men of this evil generation shall see that good land of which I swore to give your fathers" (Deu 1:35"And because He loved your fathers, therefore He chose their descendants after them; and He brought you out of Egypt with His Presence, with His mighty power." (Deu 4:37)  Here about 15 verses before Deuteronomy 5:3 it is evident in using 'fathers', Moses is referring to the patriarchs, not the evil generation.  This is also the case in Deuteronomy 6:10, "And it shall be, when the Lord your God brings you into the land of which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob..."


Deuteronomy 8:1-3 is also important to verify Moses meaning when he refers to the 'fathers' in Deuteronomy"Every commandment which I command you today you must be careful to observe, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the Lord swore to your fathers... So he humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know...Verse 16 connects again the fathers and manna"who fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your fathers did not know..."


It is those same fathers, the patriarchs, which Moses intends in verse 18.   "And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day."   The covenant between God and the patriarchs was His covenant, the covenant of the Lord, because, "So he declared to you His covenant which He commanded you to perform, that is, the Ten Commandments..." (Deu 4:13)


So yes, the Lord made a covenant with the children of Israel in Horeb, His covenant, but this (zo'th) covenant that day was not made with the patriarchs like the Horeb covenant was made.


David seems well aware of the continuity of His covenant.  1Chronicles 16:15-17 gives a nutshell summary of the highlights of His covenant. 


"Remember His covenant always, The word which He commanded to a thousand generations, the covenant which He made with Abraham, and His oath to Isaac, and confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, to Israel for an everlasting covenant.


On the surface it was a promise of nationhood.  Underneath it guaranteed blessings forever. (Ps 111:5, 9, 10 see also 105:8-10)


Abraham is held up as an example to New Testament Christians.  Did Abraham keep the covenant as recorded in Exodus 20-23?  There is no specific mention of Abraham keeping the Sabbath, for instance. Since he walked with God before the Sinai covenant, how could he know the regulations of the Sinai covenant?


Genesis 26:5 says Abraham kept the Creator’s laws, "My laws", yet many stipulations of 'the law' he could not have kept.  He never paid tithes to Levi nor did any Levite officiate at any sacrifice of his.  But he kept "My Laws".  So God does not directly equate 'His Laws' with the Law of Moses. 


However, he does equate His Law with His Covenant"Set the trumpet to your mouth! He shall come like an eagle against the house of the LORD, Because they have transgressed My covenant And rebelled against My law." (Hosea 8:1)  Hebrew speakers like to repeat themselves for emphasis, using different words to say the same thing.  This proclivity is alive and well in Hosea 8:1.  It is equating My covenant with My law.


"They did not keep the covenant of God; they refused to walk in His law" (Ps 78:10).  This verse is doing the same thing.  The bulk of the context of Psalms 78 discusses events that happened in the wilderness before the confirming of the law in Deuteronomy.  The covenant and the law that was in force during that time was His covenant, the Covenant of the Lord and His law, the Law of God. (see also vs 37, 56)


And the LORD said to Moses, "How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My laws?” (Ex 16:28)  This is also equating His Law with His commandments, His covenant.  Remember, Moses is primarily writing to those alive in the wilderness.  They knew what His commandments were.  Certainly the adults heard Him speak them themselves.


God gave His Covenant to Abraham"And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee" (Gen 17:7).  Indeed His covenant was established with Abraham's seed as well as Abraham himself.  Clearly He established His Covenant with Israel at Sinai.  However, many think the covenant made with Abraham was circumcision, not the Ten Commandments instructed at Sinai.  This belief comes from Genesis 17:10.


Genesis 17:10 seems to indicate that 'My covenant' was circumcision and that was the covenant God made with Abraham"10This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised".  This was long before the Sinai covenant, and this verse probably always reads similar to this in all English translations.  So how can 'My covenant' here, indicate the same thing as the words of the covenant in Exodus?


The reason this verse is consistently translated this way, is because of 'accent marks' in the Hebrew text.  However, they were not part of the original text.  Nor were the accents added to help with proper understanding of the text.  They were added about 700 AD/CE.  Their purpose was to help with the rhythm and/or song of the Masoretic synagogue liturgy as it stood at that time.  So there is no inspired authority for Hebrew accent marks at all.  (See, A short History of the Hebrew Text of the Old Testament by T.H.Weir)


Something else to consider is that there is no present tense 'to be' in ancient Hebrew.  So there is no word for 'is'.  There were few vowels and no punctuation.  Sentences were not clearly defined by periods or even spaces as in English today.  The Hebrews determined what word was written based heavily on context. The words in Genesis 17:10 appear to be; 'this My covenant which shall keep between Me and you and your descendents after you every male child ...'.  


Verse 11 says, "and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you".  Circumcision was a sign or token of the covenant with Abraham.  It was the outward indicator that Abraham was compliant with His covenant.  It was not the entire covenant.  So saying 'This is My covenant ...every male child shall be circumcised', is probably not what the author intended.  This would be something of a contradiction right in the immediate context.  It is not logical to think circumcision could be both a sign of the covenant and the entire covenant too.


There are two other places 'is' could be placed and make English sense of Genesis 17:10.  'This, My covenant, which (ye) shall keep is between me and you ....." or "This, My covenant, is what (ye/we) shall keep between me and you .....".  Personally I prefer the former, but since this is of Hebrew origin, the author probably intended both.  This, My covenant is to be kept, and it is between Me and you and your descendents.  Either way that is a complete thought and marks the end of a sentence.  The next sentence would then read, 'Every male among you shall be circumcised.'  This is another complete thought and complete sentence.  Circumcision was a significant part of Abraham's covenant.  It was the token or sign of the covenant, but it was not the covenant itself.  For whatever reason, God chose to put a different stamp, seal or sign on 'His covenant', in Genesis 17 than in Exodus 20-23.


"5Because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws", (Gen 26:5). Certainly more than just circumcision is indicated here.  It only makes sense that Abraham kept the same 'My covenant' that God gave at Sinai.  The Sinai covenant then was more than likely a renewal of the original covenant that God cut with Abraham in Genesis 15.  Verse 17 describes God walking between the sacrificed animals as a symbol of His acceptance of the blood covenant.  Later the children of Israel had blood sprinkled on them to graphically illustrate their acceptance and participation.


Isaac also participated in this covenant.  "And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, [and] with his seed after him" (Gen 17:19).  When God started moving to free Israel from Egypt, it was because of His Covenant"And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. (Ex. 2:24).  Yet some think that a short time later, possibly within a year, at Sinai 'His covenant' had changed.


Now before we get too far, you may be thinking, HHHmmmm, "'This, My covenant', haven't I seen that before?"  Well, yes and no.  Here (Gen 17:10) as well, 'this' is zo'th.  Here again it is used as a demonstrative pronoun to distinguish it from any other covenant.  This is another reason why, 'this covenant' in Deuteronomy 5:3, 29:9 & 14 is distinct from 'My covenant'.  Moses is using these designations as formal titles and the titles are not the same.


'This, My Covenant' was set from at least Genesis 15.  The full terms weren't detailed for us until Exodus 20.  It was further clarified for ancient Israel with the inclusion of numerous judgments  (Ex 21-23).  'This covenant' (Deut 29:9), on the other hand, was for those alive at the time Moses gave his final instruction to Israel before they went into the Promised Land (Deut 11:2,7, 12:1,5,8, 33:51). 


What is really important is My Covenant.  It was alone in the Ark of the Covenant.  God frequently refers specifically to that covenant.  That is the covenant God really wants obeyed.  Abraham was blessed because he obeyed 'My Laws', which supports 'My Covenant'.


Because all the terms are not detailed for us here in Genesis does not indicate hundreds of years passing before the patriarchs were made aware of the terms.  The men that appeared to Abraham, one of whom the scriptures indicate was the Creator, undoubtedly had extensive conversations in their meetings with Abraham.  When it came time to destroy Sodom, He wanted to let Abraham know what He was about to do'And the Lord said, "Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing, since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation..."' (Gen 18:17-18a).  Would God consult with Abraham about Sodom, but not the covenant to which Abraham was agreeing?  Abraham knew the terms.  Moses just didn't bother to record them in Genesis.


If we believe Deuteronomy 31:9, 24, John 1:17 and 7:19 we have to believe Moses wrote or at least compiled Genesis & Exodus.    "Remember the Law of Moses, My servant, which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments." (Mal 4:4)  Generally speaking the law, Genesis through Deuteronomy, was given to Moses while Israel was camped near Horeb or Sinai.  Remember that God probably spoke His Law, the Ten Commandments, within 14 days of Israel's arrival at Sinai.  Yet the nation was camped there for almost a year.  So Genesis was undoubtedly written after Israel had learned firsthand exactly what the covenant of the Lord was.  They knew what His covenant was.  There was no great need to include the terms in Genesis.   Certainly Exodus was written before Leviticus, Numbers or Deuteronomy.  They all would have been written within a few years of each other probably one right after the other.  Did the meaning of "My Covenant" change in that time?


The leadership of Israel knew in detail the terms of 'My covenant' before Exodus 20 (Ex 19:5-8).   They apparently knew before they even left Egypt (Ex 16:28).  Whether the terms were detailed for following generations in Genesis or in Exodus is irrelevant.  At that point it was known history.  All these books were written while Israel was in the wilderness All were written to the same audience by the same author at about the same time Abraham was a participant in "My Covenant" (Gen 17:10), and he kept 'My laws' (Gen 26:5).  Moses, Joshua and the children of Israel when reading Genesis would have understood this as the Covenant of the Lord.  The same covenant and law they heard God speak at Sinai. 


Joshua and Israel would also have understood, "My Covenant" as spoken by the Creator (Gen 17:10), to be the same as, "His Covenant" as spoken by Moses (Deut 4:13).  There was no need for Moses to totally repeat the terms of "My Covenant" in Genesis. 


Even if Genesis wasn't available until Moses spoke the words of the Moab covenant, many were still alive who had been old enough to understand what happened at Mt. Sinai.  How could the people not know what the words of God's covenant were?  Many had heard God speak the words Himself.  They knew what God's covenant was.  Posterity would have the account in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5.  There was no need to include it in Genesis unless there had been a significant change.


However, since circumcision was not specifically mentioned in the Sinai covenant (Ex 20-23), it was emphasized in Genesis.  All the Israelite males were circumcised before Israel left Egypt (Ex 12:44-48).  For His own reasons the Creator chose not to include that stipulation in the Sinai covenant.  He chose a different sign or token at Sinai.  More than likely the reason was that He was looking forward to the time when he would pour out his spirit on all peoples, not just the children of Abraham. 


It could even be that He was hoping Israel would embrace His covenant in truth.  In that case circumcision of the flesh would have been irrelevant if their hearts were circumcised.  Indeed none of the young males born in the wilderness were circumcised.  This didn't seem to upset God in the least (Jos 5:2-5).  Contrast this with Exodus 16:27-28 where some in Israel ignored the Sabbath, even before the Sinai covenant was confirmed.  Clearly there is little concern shown about Israel forgoing circumcision in their forty years of wandering.  It isn't part of the Sinai covenant, the law of God.


It was typical for an ancient Mid-eastern covenant to include a provision specifying some identifying sign, seal or token.  This provision was often included towards the middle of the legal terms of the covenant.  According to Mr. Klein (author: Treaty of the Great King) the sign of a covenant was often a suzerain's seal, often stamped with his image.  It wasn't necessarily one of the regulations of the covenant.  So a change in the sign of the covenant would not necessarily mean a change in the terms, or words of the covenant.


The sign of circumcision was apparently not attached to the covenant with Abraham at the time it was confirmed.  The actual covenant confirmation took place in Genesis 15.  At that time Abraham had no children (Gen 15:2).  Abraham was 86 when Ishmael was born (Gen 16:16).  Abraham wasn't circumcised until he was 99 (Gen 17:24).  The terms of the covenant had not changed, God simply requested that Abraham wear a seal indicating his compliance.


The law God wrote does not require circumcision.  However, if you are a descendent of Abraham and if you are interested in participating in the physical and national blessings God promised Abraham and his children, you might reconsider the matter of circumcision.  Actually, physical lineage may not be required (Ex 12:48, Gal 3:29).


Did Abraham then earn the Promises?  Certainly not, as Romans 4:3 says.  The promises came to Abraham by faith.  However he demonstrated his faith by his obedience.  "... for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son..." (Gen 22:12).  Abraham respected God and knew that He would do right in the matter of His request to sacrifice Isaac.  Abraham demonstrated his faith by his actions.


This was not the only example of Abraham's faith.  A more down to earth example is found in Genesis 13:1-11.  Here Abraham was the senior of his nephew Lot.  Yet when there was strife he didn't pull rank.  He let Lot chose first, the portion of land where he would live and raise his herds.  Abraham took what was left.  He trusted God to work out how His promise would be fulfilled and made peace with Lot first.  Abraham's actions demonstrate his faith.  This is why James says faith without works is dead, (Jam 2:17).  If one doesn't actively use or exercise ones faith, it accomplishes nothing.


God was not just watching Abraham"And you shall remember that the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not." (Deut 8:2.)  It seems apparent God was not totally pleased with their performance. 


They didn't obey "And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey?"(Heb. 3:18).  Or was it that, they didn't believe? "So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief."(Heb 3:19)  Hebrews makes it clear they are one and the same.  "Faith without works is dead" (Jas 2:20).


Another way we know Abraham had faith is, "because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws" (Gen 26:5).  Generally speaking, if one is looking out for oneself, one will not naturally choose to keep the intent of the Law of God.  If one is placing his faith in God, one will respect more the intent of the Law of God and will not be overly concerned about looking out for oneself. 


Did Genesis 26:5 mean something different during Abraham's time than it did during the time of Moses?  Since Moses wrote Genesis it is impossible that the meaning is different.  The time of Genesis 26:5 is the time of Moses.  Genesis was especially written to Moses generation and that immediately following.  These people heard God speak His covenant aloud. (Deu 11:2, 7)


Actually the first mention of a "covenant" appears in Genesis 6:18.  Later Jewish tradition calls this the Noahide covenant and holds that its terms are different than "My covenant" in Genesis 17, Exodus 19:5 or Deut 4:13.  Jewish tradition is certainly worth consideration.  However, based on what Genesis 6 and 9 say there is no reason to believe that what God expected in the terms of this covenant is any different than what He expected in His covenant of Deuteronomy 4:13.


"But will I establish my covenant with you" (to Noah, Gen 6:18a).  How is that different from "And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee" (to Abraham, Gen 17:7) or "But my covenant I will establish with Isaac," (to Abraham, Gen 17:21) or "For I will have respect unto you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, and establish my covenant with you" (to the children of Israel, Lev 26:9 KJV).  Moses, the author of each of these quotes defined one covenant of God, "So He declared to you His covenant...the Ten Commandments" (Deu 4:13). This was undoubtedly done after Genesis was written since this was spoken just days before Moses died.


Again, Genesis was especially written to the generations immediately following Moses, most of whom had heard God speak His covenant aloud (Deut 11:2, 7).  They had, or should have had, a very solid grip on what God's covenant was.  If the covenant of Genesis 6 or 9 had been some other covenant it seems it should have been clearly noted.  Different terms are not clearly stated.  Some translations make it appear that God is establishing a new order, but this does not really come from the text, but the preconceived ideas of the translators.  The first readers of Genesis knew what His covenant was.  There was no need to repeat the terms.


Let's think about this a bit.  Just before giving His law at Sinai, God tells Moses if you will obey 'My covenant' then Israel will be a special treasure (Ex 19:5). Then He speaks the Ten Commandments from the mountain.  Then Moses received the "words of the covenant", the Ten Commandments (Ex 34:28, also Ex 31:18) on the tablets.  Then at about that time or a short time later God begins to supply Moses with the Law, including Genesis (Mal 4:4).  He tells Moses to quote Him telling Noah, "I will establish My covenant with you" (Gen 6:18). Then after this is written Moses writes and also declares unequivocally before all Israel that 'His covenant' is the Ten Commandments (Deut 4:13). He doesn't qualify it as being only His covenant for Israel.


It seems Moses came through the experience of writing Genesis convinced that 'My covenant' in Genesis did not alter or allow some other definition of what 'My covenant' was. Indeed he specifically defined 'His covenant' in Deuteronomy 4:13 after writing Genesis.  He also repeatedly refers to the ark of the covenant of the Lord (Num 10:33, Num 14:44, Deut 10:8, 31:9, 25 see also Josh 3-4), which only contained the Ten Commandments at the time, and he also seems to limit the technical 'words' or legal terms of the Sinai covenant to the Ten Commandments (Ex 34:28, Deut 5:22, 9:9, 11).


Moses was quite sure what the covenant of the Lord, His Covenant, was.  Knowing God had made 'My Covenant' with Noah didn't change that.  Moses didn't qualify 'His Covenant' as being only the covenant with Israel.


One point that typically comes up regarding the covenant in Genesis 6 & 9 is that it apparently allowed the consumption of "every moving thing that liveth" (vs 3a).  Of course the covenant of Moab did not allow this (see Deu 14).  The Ten Commandments don't specifically say anything about it one way or the other.  However Exodus 22:31ab states, "And you shall be holy men to Me: you shall not eat any meat which is torn by beasts in the field:.. Leviticus 11:44, which is toward the end of Moses instruction on unclean animals, has a close connection with this. 


"For I am the Lord your God.  You shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and you shall be holy.  Neither shall you defile yourselves with any creeping thing that creeps on the earth.  45 For I am the Lord who brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God.  You shall be holy, for I am holy."


So because God is who He is, Israel is to keep themselves holy. "And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Ex 19:6a).  They were also to be His special representatives.  This being the case it seems part of having no other God's before the true God, means avoiding becoming defiled by eating unclean foods.   "For the LORD your God walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you and to give your enemies over to you; therefore your camp shall be holy: that he may see no unclean thing among you, and turn away from you" (Deu 23:14).  Even though this is not specifically talking of unclean animals intended for eating, it seems the principle would still apply.  God is somewhat repulsed by unclean things out of place.


So does "Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you" (Gen 9:3a) indicate that God was not concerned about whether consumed flesh was all 'clean'?


We need to understand that there are some creatures that simply were not created for human consumption.  The puffer fish, for instance, is very poisonous and if not prepared very carefully can kill a person in minutes.  Did God tell Noah to freely eat anything that moved with no concern for its effect?   In Japan where people's diets tend to be more inclusive than in the West, it is illegal to serve this fish in a restaurant.  Too many have died eating it.  Is the Japanese government more noble than God in protecting its citizens? 


We should also remember that Noah knew full well what was clean and what was not.  He was told to bring seven pairs of all clean animals on the ark (Gen 7:2) and only two pairs of all others (Gen 6:19).  So it seems likely that God was making sure there were sufficient edible animals available for the new world that would be after the flood.


Also we should remember that Genesis 9:3 says, "Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs"Not everything that is green is good for food either.  The oleander is a green flowering plant that is fairly toxic and can kill people if eaten.  That being the case if humans were not warned of this, God is derelict and guilty according to Exodus 21:28-36.  He knew of a danger yet failed to warn or protect the innocent. 


Neither Genesis 1:29 nor Genesis 9:3 designates any and all plants as fit for consumption.  It designates green herbs, which are typically annual plants having seeds.  They typically grow from a seed and die at the end of the season (Ps 37:2).  At creation God designated herbs and fruit from trees, both of which have seeds, for human consumption (Gen 1:29).  Oleanders and other poisonous plants do not fit into either of these categories.  So God's instruction at creation limited plants that should be consumed.  Likewise we should not be surprised if there is a similar limitation on animals.


The Sinai covenant does not specifically disallow the eating of swine, for instance.  However based on the quotes above from Exodus 22:31, Lev. 11:44-45 and Exodus 19:6 it seems apparent that He expected the children of Israel would not eat swine even before the Law of Moses was given.  Leviticus was not a part of the Sinai covenant, but it was assumed to exist by the Moab covenant.  That covenant detailed some expectations of the Law of God that were not perfectly clear, as a witness against Israel (Deu 31:26).  Leviticus 11 is clarifying some of what it means to be holy which is a requirement of the Sinai covenant.


Some think 1Tim 4:4 indicates that in the New Testament God discarded all the kosher (clean/unclean food) restrictions.  "For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving".  However they don't understand the significance of the next verse,   5 "For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.The "word of God" that Paul is talking about is the Hebrew scripture.  Of course the Hebrew scripture does not allow every creature for human consumption, certainly not for those who wish to be holy like God.  Paul was assuming that no one who had been a Christian would eat anything that was not already approved by the Hebrew scriptures.  Paul spoke verse 4 (above) with the prejudice of the Hebrew scriptures that restricted a God fearing people to eating clean animals.


Just as many jump to the conclusion that Paul says the food laws are void, so do we jump to an insecure conclusion if we assume God intended unclean animals to be eaten because of Genesis 9:3.  Because the Sinai covenant did not include a clear stipulation regarding kosher laws does not mean that there was no understanding on the part of the children of Israel that they were to be holy and eat only clean animals.  Surely Israel must have known if they were going to fulfill God's intent of having them be His priests to the world. (Ex 19:6).  It was simply not clearly recorded for us.  We do have the witness of the Law of Moses, which is a vital consultant regarding the Law of God.


The Law was added as a witness against Israel.  They would not have the excuse that the covenant of the Lord does not specifically say to eat only clean animals.  The Law made it perfectly clear.  Because we can't necessarily see God's full intent based on the letter of the Sinai covenant doesn't mean they couldn't have understood.  God evidently didn't choose to tie all details of Genesis 9 into a tidy package either. Genesis 9 seems to allow eating any animal even though it is perfectly clear that Noah understood what was clean and what was not. 


If one wants to read only Genesis 9 for the letter as opposed to the spirit one might determine that all animals could be consumed.  And since there is no record that the people were told to avoid unclean meat we must also assume God never told the people to avoid puffer fish either.  In that case many probably learned the hard way.  That being the case God is again derelict and guilty according to Exodus 21:28-36.  He knew of a danger yet failed to warn or protect the innocent.


It is far more likely that when God promised that He would establish His covenant with Noah (Gen 6:18, 9:9-12), and six chapters later God promised He would establish His covenant with Abraham (Gen 15:18, 17:7), that those who first read Moses words immediately took this to be the Creators' covenant they heard Him speak themselves.  There was no question in their minds what the terms of that covenant were. 


Just in case there was any doubt, Moses recorded God's words in Exodus 19:5 just before God spoke His covenant directly to all Israel from Sinai"Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to me..."  In the Law, Moses left no one with an excuse.  "So He declared to you His covenant , which He commanded you to perform, that is, the Ten Commandments; and He wrote them on two tablets of stone."  (Deu 4:13).