There is no ban placed on hunting anywhere in the Bible. This is presumably because it may often be necessary to obtain food. There is not a lot said as to it and many references refer to activities other than the hunting of animals, e.g. "Evil shall hunt the man of violence to [his] ruin" (Psalm 140:11). However, there are passages that refer to the hunting of animals and the following comments on these may be appropriate.

Nimrod was said to be "a mighty hunter before Jehovah; therefore it is said, As Nimrod, the mighty hunter before Jehovah ! And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel" (Genesis 10:9/10). The connection is not good. Nimrod means rebel and Babel means confusion. Some have thought that Nimrod's hunting involved more than the hunting of animals and perhaps involved the hunting of men. Scripture does not tell us, but the passage does not suggest that hunting is a desirable activity. The next hunter mentioned in Scripture is Ishmael. He is said to have been an archer (Genesis 21:20). Bow and arrows were used for hunting (Genesis 27:3). Then we have Esau. He "became a man skilled in hunting, a man of the field" (Genesis 25:27). There is no doubt that Esau's hunting was of wild animals such as deer (see Genesis 27:3), for Isaac sent him to hunt venison. However, we find that Esau was not one who was in favour with God for it is said: "I hated Esau" (Malachi 1:3). Further, in Hebrews 12:16 we have it said that Esau was a profane person who for one meal sold his birthright. Again the connection is not good.

However, we do find in Leviticus 17:13 instruction as to what should be done when a beast or fowl that may be eaten is caught in the hunt. This shows that hunting was an acceptable way of getting food. It is however to be noted that animals caught in the hunt were not acceptable for sacrifice. Deer were not sacrificial animals (Deuteronomy 12:15 & 22; 14:5 and 15:19-23). This may show that God does not favour hunting and also that because an animal caught in the field does not involve a surrender of ones wealth in the same way as would a domestic animal, giving it to God was not a sacrifice. Sacrifice means sacrifice; the giving up of something that belongs to me. It is easy to forget this.

What does all this teach us ? We should not hunt for the sake of hunting. The hunter is not one in whom God finds pleasure. He takes no pleasure in hunting and neither should we. However, if it is necessary to hunt for food we may legitimately do so. God would not have us starve if the choice is between starvation and hunting. Animals are not human beings. There is a gulf between us and them. God does not converse with animals. There is nothing in Scripture about the resurrection of animals. They do not have rights or obligations as humans do. They will not be brought into judgement in a coming day, though an animal that kills a man should be put to death (Genesis 9:5/6). It is known that an animal that has killed a man will lose its respect for man and will probably kill again. Today minds leavened with Darwinism will tend to treat animals (especially the more intelligent ones) as if they were humans and talk about them having rights, hence we have animal rights campaigners. It is right to be kind to animals: "Jehovah is good to all; and his tender mercies are over all his works" (Psalm 145:9), but it is man God loves, not animals: "When the kindness and love to man of our Saviour God appeared" (Titus 3:4). We should do the same; "A righteous man is concerned for the life of his beast; but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel" (Proverbs 12:10). However, it is said we should love our neighbour as ourselves (Leviticus 19:18), not our beast.

June 1999