God told Noah that “The fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth.” (Gen. 9:2). However, this seems to not be the case, for even Proverbs 30:30 admits that the lion “does not turn away from any.” Is this a contradiction? Prov. 30:29 “There are three things that are stately in their stride, four that move with stately bearing: 30 a lion, mighty among beasts, who retreats before nothing;
ESV - 2 The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth and upon every bird of the heavens, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea. Into your hand they are delivered.
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Since the Proverbs verse mentions lions, let's examine those. Lions actually do fear people, at least masses of people living in settlements. It's why many lion populations decline or shrink in territory over time when humans take up residence near by. And interestingly enough, people who study lions have found that lions near such settlements develop a sort of high stress-reaction and risk aversion - they don't want to have an encounter with any human, even if on their own, so stay on high alert trying to avoid them. https://www.livescience.com/18422-lions-human-conflict.html But in context of the lion as predator, the lion is 'King of Beasts.' No creature scares him as he hunts. This is likely why the proverb calls out that he is "mighty among BEASTS." Humans are not counted among the 'beasts.' Lions are at the top of the African food chain. Because they can team up and hunt in packs if needed, Lions will even kill giraffes and elephants. There is no 'beast' that scares them. It's likely the proverb also has in mind the adult lion, as cubs don't do that level of hunting and can still fall prey to hyenas. It's important to remember that proverbs are bits of practical observation and wisdom. There may be "exceptions to the rule" on many proverbs. One might find an adult lion who is a lousy hunter, but it doesn't change the generic overall observation that lions are 'mighty among beasts.'
Perhaps the state of affairs to which God was referring would have been more prevalent in Noah's time (and perhaps at God's design) in order to allow the repopulation of the earth after the Flood. However, as humans have settled almost every area of the earth, and have encroached more and more on the habitats of animals, the increased chances of contact between humans and animals, as well as the territorial instincts of those animals, may have contributed both to the animals losing their fear of humans (if, in fact, Solomon meant his proverb specifically with reference to the lion's response to humans, rather than just making a poetic comment on their regal bearing and potential ferocity), and also engaging in hostile actions toward humans in defense of their habitats. (I would also say that, even today, it seems to me that animals as a general rule do not actively seek or go out of their way in order to come into contact with humans, perhaps as an ongoing reflection of God's action.) (Also, of course, even after the Flood, this was still a fallen world in which death was present and animals preyed on each other -- despite the fact that they had apparently managed to co-exist (perhaps through separation, or through the consumption of fish, or of some of the extra (seven) pairs of each "clean" animal that God commanded Noah to take on board (Genesis 7:2)) while on the Ark.)
Man originally had dominion over all beasts: 26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." Gen 1:26 After the fall, corruption spread through the entire earth, enough that God would destroy all land and air creatures, except those on the ark. After the flood subsided, unless God had put the fear of man on beasts, man would probably have been in danger of extinction, because wild animals are more than a match for ancient humans, and they grow much faster in population. Today, if a wild animal is not afraid of humans, we think that it has rabies or some aberrant behavior, enough that it is frequently killed, rather than just returned to the wild if it attacks people. A hungry wild animal loses that fear of people, but ones that aren't hungry typically do not go around attacking people.
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