Remember when you were younger and your parents would say, “Because I said so, that’s why!” Remember how much you hated those words? Well, hilariously, I found myself saying those basic words to another adult recently. We were asked why certain meats are “kosher,” and some are not. Suddenly I found myself blurting out loud, “Because God said so.” It felt funny as it rolled off the tongue, but in all honesty, that is the reason.
We can look at science and medicine for reasons why we shouldn't eat certain meats or could eat others, and we can analyze each and every form of meat out there on the market. We can address each one individually and say that pork is bad because there are articles and videos about worms in the meat. We can say Lobster is bad because it is a bottom feeder, feeding on garbage and dead animals in the ocean. Oysters, clams and other such organisms are bad for us because they filter garbage and toxins from the ocean waters. Vultures and crows because they are Yahweh’s cleaners of dead creatures. Our individual rationalization can go on and on.
My question to you would be, though, where did you get that information? From scientific studies done in modern times with modern equipment. Those things were NOT available to Moses when Yahweh gave the commandments to eat CLEAN meat and NOT eat unclean meat. God did not tell Moses, “Because one day science will show that there are worms and contaminants in those meats.”
Interestingly, I can show you that this scientific justification will never hold true if you were a hunter. Why? Because right now there are issues with many of what the Bible calls clean meats. For example, in some areas with deer – there is the wasting disease as well as tuberculosis. The same applies to some wild turkeys, yet both of these are clean meats. Now, due to these infections, scientific studies would declare these normally Biblically clean meats suddenly unclean. That is, IF we just rely on what science says. Please note that I am NOT telling you it is safe to eat meats infected with wasting disease, worms or TB! I am NOT – in fact, those should be avoided at all costs based on being contaminated.
So how do we know what healthy animals to eat and what ones NOT to eat and WHY?
The why is easy – and most of you will not like that answer. Because God said so. And it is that simple. Some meats are just plain not for human consumption, and Yahweh tells us which ones. Period. You know, we humans find it easy to believe that murder is wrong, because God said so. Adultery is wrong, because God said so. But when it comes to the desire of FOOD – many feel that God doesn’t seem to know what He is talking about.
WE believe however, that He DOES know what He is talking about, and we choose to follow His instructions for our bodies.
So, to answer the other question: where do we find WHICH meats are to be eaten and which ones are not? Well, common sense does play into this when we say never eat diseased meats. That should be obvious to us. And for the rest, it’s as easy as looking in the Bible. Leviticus 11 is very clear and in depth. In it, Yahweh lays out for you what He classifies as food (meat) and what He does not. Let’s take a look.
-- Whatever animals part the hoof (are cloven-footed), and chew the cud (11:3). Do you see how Yahweh gave you TWO qualifiers? These would include cows, buffalo, bison, deer, antelopes, gazelles, goats, and sheep. That is a wide variety of meat to choose from. Some of these may be difficult to buy in any local store or even at a rural butcher shop, but who knows what you can find in the wilderness. It almost makes me wish we had a ranch where we could have a little herd of each!
-- In case there were any questions, Verse 4 goes on to tell us what we should NOT eat. These are animals which may chew the cud, or they may have cloven hooves, yet they do not have BOTH qualifiers. For example, the camel, a coney (or hyrax), and rabbit (or hare) chew the cud but don’t have parted hooves.
For those who love their pulled pork and bacon, verse 7 explains why we do not eat PORK or anything to do with pork. This would include pickled pigs’ feet, bacon, pulled pork and even LARD. The pig has a split hoof, so it is cloven-footed, but it doesn't chew the cud.
-- What about seafood? Well, God is very specific there as well. In Leviticus 11:9 he starts by saying, 'These you may eat of all that are in the waters: whatever has fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, that you may eat.”
So any fish or seafood we eat MUST have fins AND scales. Do crab, lobster, shrimp, muscles, clams or oysters have fins and scales? NO, but also in that category of unclean aquatic life would be seals, whales, dolphins, sharks, sea turtles, eel, crocodiles and alligators, as well as octopus and squid. Yes, that means we even had to give up calamari!
There are a lot of types of fish left to eat, if you can find them wild caught, of course, that would be the best kind. Trout, Bass (lake and sea), flounder, salmon, anchovy, blue gill, cod, haddock, halibut, tuna, and the list could go on. Is this a little disappointing? Yes, to many it is because they have gotten so used to eating things like stuffed shrimp, clam chowder, crab legs or crab cakes, and lobster tail.
There is a way to satisfy the desire for delicious foods by taking regular fish and creating meals similar to what you had before. We have made a delicious cod chowder with lumps of cooked cod in it that was very much like a clam chowder, with creamy broth and potatoes, too. Crab cakes can be created using the same recipe you used before but substituting your favorite white fish for the crab.
-- We are then reminded that all those aquatic creatures who don't have fins and scales in the seas, rivers, and other waters are an abomination. They are not considered food to us.
-- What of poultry or fowl? Yahweh covers that as well. Verse 13 starts us off by saying which shall NOT be eaten: the eagle, vulture, black vulture, red kite, black kite, raven, horned owl, screech owl, gull, any kind of hawk, little owl, cormorant, great owl, white owl, desert owl, osprey, stork, any kind of heron, the hoopoe, and the bat.
I have to giggle here because we have ravens or crows here that are bigger than a good-sized chicken! Jim and I always joke about not needing a chicken coup if we could only eat the crows! I saw one the other day I thought was as big as a small wild turkey hen! But, alas, they are unclean – and probably best because we see them in everyone’s garbage and stealing animal corpses from the streets!
-- This part grosses me out and I pray we never have to rely on this information, but it is a part of the Biblical diet. Verse 20 reminds us that all flying insects walking on all fours are an abomination. Yet there IS a list of creepy crawlers you may eat: any kind of locust, katydid, cricket, and grasshopper. I suppose if I were starving I wouldn’t balk as much as I do right now, yet I have decided I will just tuck this information aside for another decade or five.
- There are some creeping things which are unclean. And these might remind you of an open-air market in some foreign country where the cuisine is more unique than our own. Things such as weasel, rat, any kind of great lizard, gecko, monitor lizard, the wall lizard, skink, and the chameleon. We will also add salamanders here, although they also might fit into the category for aquatic life.
This is a rather extensive list that Yahweh has prepared for us to provide meat sources for the family. We can either choose to look at the plus side to this, and all the things we CAN eat, or we can look at the list as an invasion into our comfort zone and rebel against God's word. It is always your choice which direction you would go. That is between you and Him.
- I will note here that it is always a good idea to have two witnesses to scriptural teachings. For that we can attest to the fact that Deuteronomy 14 confirms what Yahweh wants us to consider clean meat (food) and that which He does not.
Before you get annoyed, know this: We have all been there asking “Are you sure that we are not to eat this meat or that food?” Yes, we are certain, and I get it – pork bacon is crispy and yummy. Crab and lobster are REALLY GOOD tasting. Especially dipped in deeply rich garlic butter. And yes, crabs and spaghetti or muscles are a tradition in many families – especially Mediterranean Families. Yet, you have to ask at some point in life, "am I going to go by my taste buds and traditions or am I going to go by what Yahweh has told me to do?" Many times, we believe we must follow CERTAIN commandments, and we are willing to do so. Like those which we openly recognize and don’t really impose upon our lives or desires. Those are usually the ones contained in the list of Ten Commandments with which we are most familiar.
Yet there are countless more instructions throughout His word that we ought to seek after simply because Yeshua said, “Come, Follow me.” That desire to follow Him should fill our hearts as we try to be like Him. Please remember that He did not tell us to come follow Him when it is comfortable for us to do so. In fact, it is often VERY uncomfortable, sometimes seriously inconvenient, maybe even emotionally painful to follow Him – just look at the rich young man who was told to give up all that he had – and he could not do it. Not even for Christ.
Leviticus 11 The clean meat verses
Deuteronomy 14:1-21 The clean meats verses
Matthew 19:16–30 The Rich Young Man
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Why Aren't Rabbits Biblically Clean?
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Lead Author (Bio)
Jim, (Judi's husband), has Sephardi Jewish ancestry and is a minister and head of Shofar Productions. Jim was a denominational pastor, hospital chaplain, and former director of a non-profit community organization.
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