was there death before the fall?
The simple answer is, we dont “really” know.
What we do know is that contrary to popular belief, God gave ALL things (including animals) for Adam to eat in Gen 1. This means he had the right to kill them.
It would also seem illogical that God designed all animals to be vegetarians, then converted them to carnivores and redesigned the whole ecological system at the fall. Rather, God’s perfectly designed killing machines always had a place in creation however there was a change that occurred in the fall.
Firstly lets note that in Gen 3:15 we’re told there will be enmity between the snake and the woman. This, like all of the eden story works on 2 levels, the “real human history” aspect (real trees, people, animals, rivers, etc), and the theological; the snake is evil, the tree gives eternal life, etc.
On the human history level, the relationship (and this is what the Gen 3:15-21 passage has as a main theme) has broken down between the animals and humans. Its gone from a harmonious leadership relationship before the fall, to a relationship of hatred. This passage details also the breakdown of relationship between the woman and man, man and the earth, humanity and God.
Secondly, in Gen9:2 we’re told that the relationship between human and animals is now one of “fear and dread” – terminology reserved for warfare. The animal kingdom is in fear and dread of humans – literally “at war”.
So, we dont find that they have changed in any other way, only that their relationship to humanity has changed. No longer harmonious. As we seek to have dominion over the world, we find we’re at war with those whom we seek to subdue. The lion that once wouldnt care if a human walked past, now reacts in fear.