A guide to dietary kosher laws

Dietary kosher laws

The Biblical dietary kosher laws and instructions are, perhaps, one of the most asked about topics from those new to the revelation that the whole Word of God still applies. Since, most traditional Christians today, do not observe Yahweh’s (aka YHWH or Yah) dietary instructions, this can be a source of great confusion. There are a lot of different areas within this larger topic that are often questioned. For example, clean vs unclean, what Kosher means, and whether Jesus made every-thing clean food. We will now address these questions and more in this brief post.

Clean vs unclean

In Genesis, Yahweh tells Adam that we are given every seed-bearing plant for eating and every tree whose fruit yields seeds. It should be noted that food is something we can eat. If we are not supposed to eat something, then it should not be considered food. Although many other plants exist, seed-bearing plants are given to us as food; those are what we can eat. It may seem silly to define food as something we can eat, but it needs defined as it plays an important part in Yahweh’s dietary instructions.

dietary-kosher-lawsMany will then point out how we are not given animals to eat, so the law of God changed when He told Noah he could eat meat from every living thing (Genesis 9:3-4) and some will take this to mean all animals are now food (something to be eaten). However, it is clear that Noah knew the difference between clean and unclean animals, as seven pairs of clean animals entered the ark, and 1 pair of unclean animals entered the ark. Thus, knowing the difference between clean and unclean animals has been established prior to this event. With that in mind, it wouldn’t make sense that Noah was being told he could literally eat all moving things; he would only be eating what was clean and acceptable to the Creator. For more on this topic with Noah, see the teaching “Noah: Could He Eat All Things?”

Leviticus 11 and the dietary instructions

This brings us to Leviticus 11, which is after the Exodus when Yahweh freed His people and is now giving them instructions on how to live holy, set apart lives the way He wants them to. Leviticus 11 covers what animals can be eaten for food and which ones cannot; He defines for them what is clean and unclean (remember, they have been living in Egypt for many generations and had adopted some Egyptian ways, so they needed to be reminded of how to live Yah’s way).

Leviticus 11 starts out by identifying what the requirements are for the animals to be considered clean and acceptable for consumption. The requirements for clean animals are: Everything with a split, cloven hoof and that chews the cud. That is it, those are the requirements. This is not an “either/or” situation, but an “and” where both distinctions are necessary. This instruction is laid out clearly in verses 3 – 8. Some examples of this animal type are:

• Cows
• Sheep
• Goats
• Deer
• Gazelle

What sea creatures are kosher

We are then given the requirements for what types of seafood we can eat. “Everything with Fins and Scales whether in rivers or oceans.” Again, these distinctions are both required; seafood with only fins or only scales do not pass the test found in verses 9-12. Examples of this type of clean seafood includes (but is not limited to):

• Bluegill
• Salmon
• Tuna
• Sunfish

Which birds are kosher

The next area covered is that of birds, or winged creatures, but this time we are told what isunkosher-bird-of-prey excluded for us, or is unclean. This list of birds we are not to eat is found in verses 13-19 and includes:

• Falcons of any kind
• Storks
• Vultures
• Ostrich

Kosher Insects, winged and otherwise

The final area covered is that of insects. Verses 20-23 define what is clean and what is unclean (detestable) to us. The requirements for what is clean is:

kosher-grasshoppersAmong winged insects on 4 legs, we can only eat those with jointed legs above their feet and that hop on the ground.

• Locusts of any kind
• Katydids of any kind
• Crickets of any kind
• Grasshoppers of any kind

Those are the limits of the “clean” insects we can eat, pretty straightforward really.

Clean and unclean food in scripture

For something to be considered as food, something we can eat, all requirements must be met in their respective category whether it is a beast, bird, fish, or insect. This is an important concept to remember: Every creature that is not considered clean, is NOT considered food. Only animals meeting the specific requirements to be considered a clean animal is considered food. The definition of what is or is not food does not change. Every time in Scripture when food is referred to, it must meet the requirements laid out above. Below is a table with the summation of the requirements for something to be considered food.

This all boils down to one simple statement. “We can eat all food, but not all things are food.” YHWH defines what is food for us, and what is considered not food. Any passage in Scripture pertaining to eating or not eating something falls within the understanding of what is food. If something is not considered food, pork for example, then it would not be considered something to be eaten at any time in any context. This brings us to the next section which asks the question, “Are all things now clean for food?”

Note Regarding Substances Derived from Unclean Things: In our Creator’s design, things break down and are recycled. For example…pig dies…pig decays…plants grow and absorb pig…we eat the plant. Things can be broken down synthetically as well.

If we were to take a pig, and extract iron out of the pig, it is still iron and molecularly no different than if it came from a cow. Likewise, something that came from a pig can be broken down to the degree that it is impossible to tell it came from a pig. With purified toxins removed, for all intended purposes, it is no longer an insect, beaver, or pig.

Gelatin is pig bone powder, and still chemically attached to the pig and distinguishable from cow. We don’t eat gelatin from pig. Most other things are processed to such a degree, that it ceases to be what it once was.

As another example, trabsglutaminase is simply an enzyme and it is already naturally found in humans in the exact same form. It does not matter where that enzyme comes from, it is still chemically exactly the same. Though, if you have a neurological disease, it is good to try to avoid it in your dietary intake.

Each has to make up their own mind on this. Some even suggest that eating gelatin from pig is ok. We do not argue the point, because they might be right.

But wait…aren’t all things now clean?
When someone is first introduced to the idea of “eating clean”, it generally does not take long before they, or someone close to them, mentions how Jesus (his Hebrew name being Yesh-ua), made all food clean and that we no longer have to worry about the dietary laws. First, remember what is defined as “clean” food. Clean foods are only those things that meet the requirements defining what is clean and unclean described in Leviticus 11:3-23 as mentioned in the previous section. We just want to say, here, that all food is clean. If it is not biblically defined as clean for food, then it is not supposed to be food for us. This one understanding will remove several arguments often cited when someone claims that Yeshua made all food clean. We are going to cover 3 of the primary Scripture passages used to indicate that all things are now food to eat: Mark 7, Acts 10, and Romans 14.

Mark 7 and kosher dietary laws

Mark 7:19 is often cited in defense of Yeshua making all food clean. As we just stated, all food is clean, but not all things are food. The context of the events occurring in Mark 7 surround a man-made ritual of washing ones hands and saying certain prayers while doing it, before eating. The question has nothing to do with eating something that is not already understood by the Jewish Pharisees to be considered food. jewish-ritual-washing-and-mark-7The Pharisees had an understanding from their traditions that unless one washed their hands in the prescribed manner, they would make what is already biblically defined as food, unclean. They were not talking about eating something that is unclean according to the Torah; they were talking about how their actions would make something that God said is clean for food to be unclean. This is why Yeshua says it is not what goes into the mouth that makes a man unclean; in other words, “Not washing your hands does not make what is called clean food by God, now unclean.” When this is pointed out, some will then argue that the Bible says plainly, “thus he declared all food clean”; we agree that all food is clean.

Historically, man’s definition of what is food extends beyond what YHWH said we can eat. For example, many eat rabbit, pork, and shellfish among other things, considering it food. However, is man’s culture to override the command of the Creator? YHWH defined food for us; all He defined as food is what we should eat. When we go beyond those parameters, we are making ourselves gods and putting our wants, desires, and rules above those of YHWH. If Yeshua stated that all food is clean, it is with the “Biblical” understanding of what food is, not what society has deemed to be good for eating. The context of the passage tells us that Yeshua is revealing a great truth here; there is nothing we can do to change the word of God. Yahweh declared what is clean to eat; nothing man can do will change it. Whether our hands are clean or dirty, food is still food.

We say “If Yeshua stated” because those words in Mark 7:19 are not found in the oldest manuscripts; you will find a footnote relating to that statement in the Bibles quoting it. It’s quite possible, and likely, those words were added in by the translators; they were making their own determination about what Yeshua was talking about. We cover this more in depth in many of our teachings including “Can We Eat All Things: 1 Timothy 4” and “Are All Things Clean? (Mark 7)

What does Acts 10 mean

The book of Acts chapter 10 is also commonly used to state that all animals are now clean for food. We have an entire teaching dedicated to this topic, “Acts 10: Peter’s Vision”, so we will not go into it in depth here. Suffice it to say, Peter’s vision in Acts 10 was not about God making all animals now clean to eat; it was about how the Jews should not be excluding the Gentiles, that they could be grafted in as well. In addition to Mark 7 and Acts 10, people often cite 1 Timothy chapter 4 to show that all animals can now be eaten as food. Again, we have an entire teaching dedicated to this called, “Can We Eat All Things: 1 Timothy 4”. The conclusion there is this; there were false teachers telling people that they should abstain from eating what God had defined as food in Leviticus 11. Paul is not saying to go ahead and eat something that is not food; that would be like saying it’s okay to eat plastic. We should eat what God has created as it is good; you do not have to stay away from what God says is food. Is this beginning to make sense? Can you see why knowing what is defined as food to eat and what is not defined as food to eat can make all of the difference in how a person understands the supposed “points of contention” when it comes to eating? If we only eat what God says is food, then nothing else should be considered food to be eaten.

. . . and Romans 14? Sabbath? Fasting? Or food?

The final place in Scripture heavily contested relating to what is clean or unclean for food, is found in Romans 14:2-4 and verses 14-23. We cover this in more depth in the Pauline Paradox series covering the entire book of Romans. Simply put, verses 2 and 3 of chapter 14 refers to people who were only eating vegetables because they were afraid of the meat that was sacrificed to idols in the marketplace. Verse 14 is often used as license to teach that all animals are now clean and suitable for food. If we examine the context we discover that in verse 15 Paul is speaking of what God’s Word already defines as food according to Leviticus 11. The word used for “food” is “broma.”

Strongs:G1033 broma bro’-mah from the base of G977; food (literally or figuratively), especially (ceremonially) articles allowed or forbidden by the Jewish law.

Unclean animals have never been considered food (“broma”), regardless of what unbelievers might consider food outside of God’s Word. It is because of the teaching Yeshua provided in Mark 7, that Paul confidently declares what he teaches in verse 14.

Romans 14:14 exactly

I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus (Yeshua) that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.

In the context, the “things” are defined as “broma.” “Broma” is already clean animals as defined by Leviticus 11. This has nothing to do with other animals that were considered unclean now becoming clean.

Paul applies principles from Yeshua’s teaching in Mark 7 here relating to clean animals (bro-ma) being sacrificed in pagan temples and sent to the marketplace. He is stating they are still considered clean and thus are still considered to be food. So, contrary to those who were only eating vegetables mentioned in verse 2, Paul is teaching, as it relates to verse 14, that we can eat anything that was already written in the past to be declared clean (broma), in Leviticus 11.

It should now be clear what the significance is of something being considered clean or unclean, as it relates to food. Since not every beast (such as swine) is considered clean, only those that are declared as clean by the Creator should be eaten.

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