Clean And Unclean Meats
One thing that stands out about the Jewish people is their eating habits and their refusal to eat particular items. The world may think they carry this to the point of fanaticism. Do they? Where did they get these restrictions? Is there scriptural basis? Do these restrictions apply only to the Jews? Could they possible apply to any of us today? Does it have only to do with good health, as some have claimed?
Any idea how far back these principles go? Probably back to creation. Because when Yahweh told Noah how many animals to put on the ark, he didn't say two of every kind as most people assume. Look closely.
Genesis 7:2-3, 7-9
"You shall take to yourself from every clean animal by sevens, male and female; and from the animal that is not clean by twos, male and female.
"And take of the fowl of the heavens by sevens, male and female, to keep alive seed on the face of the earth.
"And Noah went in, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives with him into the ark, because of the waters of the flood.
"And they went in to Noah into the ark, male and female of clean animals, and of animals that are not clean, and of fowl, and of every thing that creeps on the earth.
"Two by two as Yahweh had commanded Noah."
"Two by two" - meaning in pairs. This law was in place long before it was given to Moses!
In Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14, there are descriptions of animals and lists of creatures, telling which are good for food and which ones Yahweh considers an abomination. It can also be considered an abomination to touch the carcass or to use a utensil that has been touched by a forbidden creature.
Leviticus 11:2, 46-47
"Speak to the sons of Israel saying, These are the living things which you shall eat out of all the animals which are on the earth.
"This is the law of the animals, and of the fowl, and of every living creature which moves in the waters, and every creature which swarms on the earth.
"To make a distinction between the unclean and the clean, and between the living thing that may be eaten, and the living thing that may not be eaten."
"And you shall make a difference between the clean animals and the unclean, and between the unclean fowl and the clean. And you shall not defile your souls by beast or by fowl, or by anything which swarms the ground, which I have set apart to you as unclean."
Let's look first at some references that describe the traditions these people have and how they have applied these rules. Then we will see what Yahweh's Word actually says regarding foods.
From International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, volume 4, page 3036 -
"The law as to clean and unclean beasts is laid down in Leviticus 11:1-23. Notice that the law does not extend to vegetable foods, as does a similar law in the Egyptian religion. Four kinds of beasts are named as fit for food: (a) among quadrupeds, those that both chew the cud and part the hoof; (b) among fishes, only those having both fins and scales; (c) most birds or fowls, except, in the main, birds of prey and those noted for uncleanness of habits are permitted; (d) of insects those that have legs above the feet to leap withal (e.g. the cricket, the grasshopper, etc), but those that go on all four, or have many feet, or go upon the belly (e.g. worms, snakes, lizards, etc), are forbidden."
From the Illustrated Dictionary of the Bible, Herbert Lockyer, Sr., editor, page 389 -
"Animals were divided into two distinct classes among the Hebrew people - clean and unclean (Lev 11:1-47; Acts 10:9-15). The law governing this distinction dealt with four-footed animals as well as fish, birds, and insects. Only clean animals could be used for food. Clean animals were those that chewed the cud and had divided hooves (Lev 11:3). Pigs have divided hooves, but they do not chew the cud. Therefore, they were ceremonially unclean and unfit for food. Camels chew the cud, but they do not have parted hooves. So they could not be eaten. Camel's milk and cheese from their milk, however, were not forbidden."
From The Torah, A Modern Commentary, edited by W. Gunther Plaut, page 808-809 -
"An animal designated for sacrifice is thereby set apart and may be eaten only by specified circumstances. Otherwise, biblically prohibited foods fall into two classes: (1) those which are restricted temporarily, such as leavened bread on Passover and untithed produce and (2) foods designated as unclean and prohibited unconditionally except in the direst emergency, to save the life of a sick or starving person.
"Currently, food permissible according to Jewish law is called kasher (kosher). The word means 'fit,' 'proper'.
"The opposite of kasher in current usage is terefah (sometimes pronounced treif). The word literally means 'something torn,' and in the Bible it refers to an animal killed by another beast (Exod. 22:30).
"The Talmud redefined the word terefah: it is an animal or fowl of a permitted species which is suffering from a disease, defect, or injury that would cause its death within a year. An animal of a permitted species killed by another beast is called in talmudic-rabbinic literature not terefah, but nevelah, literally 'carcass,' 'carrion.' The same term is applied to an animal that has died of natural causes or has been improperly slaughtered.
"But today a perfectly healthy animal, bird, or fish of a non-kosher species might be referred to as terefah, though the Bible and tradition literally designate such creatures as tame, 'unclean.'
"This word tame does not mean dirty; and the opposite, tahor, 'pure,' means much more than physically clean. A creature is tame because the Torah forbids its consumption. Similarly, the word sheketz, 'abomination,' does not mean that the birds or fish in question are 'not repulsive'; they are to be regarded as repulsive because a divine commandment forbids them."
From The Frugal Gourmet Keeps the Feast, by Jeff Smith, page 45 -
"According to kosher laws, one is not to eat unclean animals or unclean creatures from the sea such as anything that does not have scales or fins. That eliminates all shellfish, crabs, and scaleless fish, all of which are bottom eaters and therefore unclean. They eat garbage. This rule is easy to understand.
"The rule against pork is more difficult. Leviticus forbids the eating of any animal that does not chew its cud and does not have a parted hoof. How did this rule come about? Pork was forbidden but it could not have been because of trichinosis, a disease that we did not even name until 1916. There is something more at stake here."
From Jewish Cooking Secrets, by Lorraine Gerstl, editor, page 10 -
"Most people know, without a second thought, that observant Jews do not eat pork. But that is only one of the laws of kashrut (permissible foods). As stated in the Bible and elaborated upon in the Talmud and subsequent legal codes, certain animals are permissible to eat; others are forbidden. The Bible defines certain species as 'clean' and others as 'unclean' (Lev 11, Deut 14:3-21). Today we call permitted foods kosher and forbidden foods treyf.
"A kosher animal must be slaughtered in a ritually correct way - a way that truly is the most humane - in order to remain kosher. And, harking back to the Biblical admonition that 'A calf should not be cooked in its mother's milk,' it is forbidden to consume milk and meat within six hours of one another. Thus among observant Jews, separate dishes are used for milk meals and milk meals. Thus chicken (which is kosher) becomes treyf if not slaughtered properly; even if beef is kosher, it can be made treyf by cooking it with dairy products.
"Mammals: Those that have split hooves and chew their cuds, the two necessary signs which render them 'clean,' include cattle, sheep, goats and venison, but Jews may only eat from the front half of these animals. Thus, while chuck and flank are acceptable, sirloin steak, alas, is not. Treyf include pig, rabbit, horse, bear, dog, cat and whale.
"Birds and Poultry: The Bible does not stipulate identifying characteristics for birds, but the Mishnah states that 'a bird that seizes food in its claws is unclean, while one which has an extra talon, a craw, and a peelable gizzard is clean,' (Hulin 3:6). Kosher birds include chicken, duck, goose, pigeon, pheasant, quail, and turkey. Birds of prey are all treyf.
"Fish: According to the Bible, only fish that have both fins and scales are considered 'clean.' These include anchovy, bass, bluefish, carp, cod, flounder, fluke, haddock, halibut, herring, mackerel, pike, red snapper, salmon, sardine, shad, sole, trout, tuna, and whitefish. Catfish, eel, porpoise and shark may not be eaten. All shellfish are considered treyf. Thus some favorite seafoods such as clams, lobster, oyster, scallops, shrimp, snail, and squid are prohibited. There is a dispute concerning two species of fish because during some parts of their lives they have fins and scales and during others they don't. Orthodox Jews prohibit sturgeon and swordfish. Conservative and Reformed Jews permit them.
"Finally, although it seems disgusting and hard to believe, locusts, crickets and grasshoppers are considered kosher!"
Where on earth would a people get the idea that they were only to eat the front part of an animal? What could be wrong with sirloin? The beef is a clean animal, so what's the problem?
From Biblical Literacy, by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, page 515 -
He lists the 613 laws or commandments that the Rabbis enumerated in the Torah. This one is "The prohibition against eating an animal's thigh muscle (Genesis 32:33): 'Therefore, the children of Israel to this day do not eat the thigh muscle that is on the socket of the hip [i.e. the sciatic nerve] since Jacob's hip socket was wrenched at the thigh muscle' (when he fought with the angel). The thigh muscle includes the area known as the 'sirloin.' Rabbinical law prohibited eating the peroneal as well as the sciatic nerve."
What does Yahweh touching Jacob's hip have to do with prohibiting the eating of a part of an animal? That didn't make anything clean or unclean. Besides, Jacob was a human, not a creature of the cattle. Notice that it says "Rabbinical law", not "Yahweh's law".
From To Be A Jew, by Rabbi Hayim Halevy Donin, page 97 -
"Kashrut is the Hebrew word that refers to the Jewish dietary laws. It is a variation of the word kosher which means fit, proper, or in accordance with the religious law. Any food that satisfies the requirements of Jewish law is fit for eating; it is kosher. The expression kosher-style is misleading and deceptive. Kosher does not stand for an ethnic way of cooking food nor for certain tastes. It is a religious term with very specific religious meaning. Its applicability is determined by set religious criteria.
"…use the term trefah to designate everything which is not kosher (although in Jewish law, the term is technically applied only to an animal whose organs are damaged or diseased)."
Milk And Meat
There is another verse that the Jews expand on that determines whether or not they operate a "kosher" kitchen.
"You shall not eat of anything that died of itself. You may give it to the alien who is within your gates, that he may eat it. Or you may sell it to a foreigner. For you are a holy people to Yahweh your Elohim. You shall not simmer a kid in its mother's milk."
From To Be A Jew, by Rabbi Hayim Halevy Donin, page 112-113 -
"From the thrice-stated commandment in Scripture that 'You shall not boil a kid in its mother's milk' (Ex. 23:19; 34:26; Deut. 14:21), The Oral Tradition derived the prohibition against cooking meat and milk together, against eating such a meat and milk mixture, and against deriving any benefit from such a meat and milk mixture.
"(Although milk that comes from a kosher animal is permitted, it is precisely this kosher milk which, when mixed with the meat of kosher cattle, sheep, or goats that the Torah forbids. Rabbinical ordinances were enacted as 'fences' to safeguard the observance of this commandment, and these are reflected in the practices followed in a kosher household.)"
"Although fowl was not included in the Rabbinical prohibitions, Rabbinical decree extended the prohibition of meat-milk mixing to include fowl as well. Use of the term meat therefore refers also to fowl in all instances.
"The terms meat or dairy, for the purpose of these religious laws refer not only to the actual meat and milk, and to products containing meat or milk ingredients, but also to meat and milk fats and products made from them.
"A food product containing neither meat nor milk, nor derived from either is neutral. The Yiddish word parev (parve) or the Hebrew word stam is used to describe this third category. The neutral (parev) category includes (1) everything which grows from the soil; vegetables, fruits, nuts, coffee, spices, sugar, salt, (2) all kosher fish, (3) eggs, and (4) items manufactured from chemicals. Parev foods may be eaten or cooked with either dairy or meat products."
Jewish homes with kosher kitchens have two sets of cookware and dishes. Since the milk and meat products cannot be cooked together, they can't even be cooked in the same pots, or served on the same dishes. If it is done accidentally, that a milk product and a meat product has been cooked in the same pot, the pot becomes contaminated. Many have separate basins to wash the cookware and dishes and even separate towels for meat or dairy dishes. For dishwashers, it is allowed only if separate racks are purchased for each set. But some even frown upon and prohibit that practice.
There are numerous other halakhik laws that control glassware, glass cooking utensils, the purifying of pots and pans, the handling of cold and hot foods, eating out, etc. They are interesting to read. But the laws here regarding the dishes and mixing of milk and meat are not found in Scripture. They are all man-made, based on the Scripture that says a kid is not to be cooked in the mother's milk. If you will notice in some of these quotes, they are rabbinical laws and Oral Tradition. It is their interpretation of what Yahweh said.
"And any man of the house of Israel, or of the aliens who is staying in your midst, who eats any blood, I will set my face against that person that eats blood and will cut him off from his people.
"For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar, to make atonement for your souls; for it is in the blood which makes atonement for the soul.
"For this reason I have said to the sons of Israel, No person among you shall eat blood; and the alien who is staying in your midst shall not eat blood.
"And any man of the sons of Israel, or of the aliens who reside in your midst, who hunt game of beast or fowl which may be eaten, then he shall pour out its blood and cover it with dust.
"For the life of all flesh is its blood. And I say to the children of Israel, You shall not eat blood of any flesh, for the life of all flesh is its blood; anyone eating it shall be cut off."
"But you shall not eat flesh in its life, its blood."
"And the priest shall burn them as incense on the altar, bread of the fire offering for soothing fragrance; all the fat is Yahweh's.
"It shall be a never-ending statute for your generations. You shall not eat any fat or blood."
Take note. Fat is included by Yahweh as well as the blood.
"Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, You shall not eat any fat of ox, or of sheep, or of goat.
"And the fat of a dead body, and the fat of a thing torn may be used for any work, but you certainly shall not eat it.
"For whosoever eats the fat of the animal, of which one brings near a fire offering to Yahweh, even the person who eats shall be cut off from his people.
"And you shall not eat any blood in all your dwellings, of fowl, or of animal.
"Any person who eats any blood, even that person shall be cut off from his people."
The book To Be A Jew goes on to explain the various ways by which clean meats are made kosher. Just because an animal is clean does not mean it is kosher. That is dependent upon the way the animal and the meat are handled. It is to be first slaughtered in a particular way that allows as much of the blood as possible to drain from the body.
Then the meat, like a roast or whatever, is washed under cold running water. Then it is cooked on a grill or spit that allows any blood to drain off. Once it is done, the meat is to be rinsed in cold running water again to remove any blood that clings to it. It can be reheated and then served.
Another process is to wash the meat in cold running water, place in a pan with enough cold water to cover it and soak for half an hour. Then it is to be covered thoroughly on all sides with medium coarse salt. (Table salt is too small and will be absorbed by the meat.) The meat should be placed on a rack or tilted so that any blood can drain off. After one hour, the meat should be rinsed in cold, running water and then cooked in whatever way desired.
Since ground meat is difficult to deal with in these manners, it is necessary that the cut of meat be picked, washed and salted as the paragraph above says and then it may be ground and used.
This seems very clear in what it says. Simply that Yahweh's people are not to ingest blood or fats. That would certainly eliminate such things as blood sausage. I don't know that Yahweh insists that we go to the extent of the soaking and salting of the meat. That process was developed by the rabbis; it is not found anywhere in scripture.
Why These Laws?
So what are the reasons the Jews provide for doing this? What do they mean or gain by it?
From The Torah, A Modern Commentary, edited by W. Gunther Plaut, page 810-811 -
"One can hardly doubt that some of the dietary laws had salutary results in terms of health. But we have no evidence that this was their intent. There is no hint of such a motive in the Bible or the Talmud. Not all the prohibited foods are injurious to health; and on the other hand there is no religious sanction against the consumption of any vegetable or mineral products, though many of them are noxious.
"Jesus of Nazareth is reported to have said 'It is not what enters a man's mouth that defiles him; what defiles a man is what comes out of his mouth' (Matt. 15:11; Mark 7:15). But in reference to 'what enters a man's mouth,' he was speaking, not of the dietary laws of the Bible, but of the Pharisaic requirements to wash the hands before eating. There is no reason to doubt that Jesus observed the biblical food restrictions, and there is no reason to think that he called for their abrogation.
From page 1437 -
"The Torah calls certain foods 'abhorrent' not because they are naturally abhorrent to humans but because they are prohibited to Israel. Tradition considered the dietary laws to have two main functions: to separate and distinguish Israel from the nations and to sanctify it though special discipline."
From The Frugal Gourmet Keeps the Feast, by Jeff Smith, page 45 -
"Leviticus 11:2-9 gives a whole list of restrictions concerning what one could eat in early Biblical times. Now, these laws make sense only if you accept the basis of the commandment. Non-Jews usually believe that the kosher laws pertain to cleanliness. That is close, but 'fit to eat' or 'properly prepared' is closer. The opposite word, teref, simply means 'unfit to eat.' But the real issue here is that one subscribes to the kosher laws for one reason. They were prescribed by the Holy One. Thus, observance of the kosher food laws is an act of devotion, rather than just an act of dietary restriction."
From page 46 -
"Remember that all kosher rules eventually have something to do with one's commitment to the Covenant between God and mankind.
"The law is obeyed because it is given by God. Adhering to the kosher laws is more an act of devotion than it is an act of eating."
From To Be A Jew, by Rabbi Hayim Halevy Donin, page 98-100 -
"The faithful Jew observes the laws of kashrut not because he has become endeared of its specific details nor because it provides him pleasure nor because he considers them good for his health nor because the Bible offers him clear-cut reasons, but because He regards them as Divine commandments and yields his will before the will of the Divine and to the disciplines imposed by his faith.
"The terms used in Hebrew to designate the clean and unclean animals are tahor and tamai. These are terms that are never used to describe physical cleanliness or uncleanliness, but rather a spiritual or moral state of being. The term tamai is used only in relation to moral and religious deficiencies that contaminate the soul and character of man, particularly incest and idol worship, and to characterize the absence of ritual purity. It is often translated as defilement. The creatures designated as tamai were not only forbidden as food, but also for sacred purposes. The English words clean and unclean are therefore to be understood as purity and defilement in a spiritual-ritual sense.
"The only hint or clue that the Bible text itself provides as to the reason for all these regulations is that in almost every instance where the food laws are referred to in the Torah, we find a call to holiness. In Leviticus, Chapter 11, for instance, following the entire section which lists what may and may not be eaten, the chapter concludes: 'For I am the Lord your God; sanctify yourselves and be holy, for I am holy…'(Lev 11:44). Elsewhere, 'for you are a people consecrated to the Lord your God. You shall not boil a kid in its mother's milk' (Deut 14:21), for 'You shall be holy men to Me; therefore you shall not eat flesh torn by beasts in the field' (Ex 22:30).
"This emphasis upon holiness as the reason or the purpose of these kashrut regulations deserves to be better understood and appreciated; for it is an integral part of the entire picture of Judaism and has many ramifications.
"To distinguish between 'the beast which is to be eaten and the beast which is not to be eaten' (Lev 11:47), is an aspect of the broader requirements that Israelites learn to 'distinguish between the unclean and the clean' not only in food, but in all areas of life - the sexual, the moral, the ethical, the spiritual. The laws of kashrut do not stand isolated from the purposes and goals, from the disciplines and demands that are part of the total picture of Judaism. To treat kashrut in isolation is to distort and misunderstand it.
"In Judaism, holiness does not mean an ascetic, saintly withdrawal from life. Holiness does not insist upon the self-denial of any legitimate human pleasures nor the total repression of any bodily drives. But neither does it condone self-indulgence. Gluttony and drunkardness were the hallmarks of the stubborn, rebellious, incorrigible son (Deut 21:18-21). They were regarded as abominations. The lack of self-control and the readiness to satisfy one's cravings regardless of their merit, propriety or legality were indicative of spiritual weakness and moral decay. Holiness meant and means becoming master over one's passions so that one is in command and control of them, and not they of him."
Did you notice how many of these sources quoted refer to "Jewish tradition" or the "Talmud", or "Rabbinical Law", or the "Oral Law"? What are those? Are they Yahweh's words? No. They are only man's interpretation of what they feel Yahweh meant by what He said. What we need to do is simply look at the Scripture and see what He did say.
The Jewish people do understand why the laws are there - to set them apart. Let's look into Yahweh's Word and see what He said, and what He had in mind by instituting these laws.
"Speak to the sons of Israel saying, These are the living things which you shall eat out of all the animals which are on the earth.
"For I am Yahweh your Elohim, and you have sanctified yourselves, and you have become holy, for I am holy. And you shall not defile your persons with any swarming thing which creeps on the earth.
"For I am Yahweh who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to become your Elohim; and you shall be holy, for I am holy."
Go ahead and read the entire chapter. See for yourself exactly what Yahweh is referring to.
"And you shall be holy to Me, for I, Yahweh, am holy; and I have set you apart from the nations to become Mine."
"For you are holy people to Yahweh your Elohim; and Yahweh has chosen you to be a people to Him, a special treasure out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.
"You shall not eat any abominable thing."
How did Yahshua look at this? Some say that in the following Scripture He said that it didn't matter what was ingested. Is that true? Is that what it says?
Matthew 15:1-3, 16-20
"Then the scribes and Pharisees came to Yahshua from Jerusalem, saying.
"Why do your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.
"But answering He said to them, Why do you also transgress the command of Yahweh on account of your tradition?
"But Yahshua said, Are you also still without understanding?
"Do you not yet perceive that everything entering in to the mouth goes down into the belly, and is thrown out into the wastebowl?
"But the things which have come out of the mouth come forth from the heart, and these defile the man.
"For out of the heart came forth evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, lies, blasphemies.
"These things are the things defiling the man. But eating with unwashed hands does not defile the man."
The subject here was not the foods they ate - it was the hand washing rituals instituted by the Rabbis. Yahshua condemned those traditions - those of strict cleanliness rules and the washings that they adhered to that are not found in Scripture. They took the laws Yahweh presented and added all kinds of restrictions to them, making them burdensome. Yahshua told them their superior attitude and condemnation of others was the problems - not the foods they did nor did not eat. Nowhere did He tell them those laws had been set aside or that they were free to eat anything they wanted. He changed none of the Law.
"Do not think that I came to annul the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to annul, but to fulfill.
"Truly I say to you, Until the heavens and the earth pass away, in no way shall one iota or one tittle pass away from the law until all come to pass."
This has not happened yet, has it? Heaven and earth are still in place; they have not passed away. So then all Yahweh's laws are still in place and in effect, aren't they?
What about the apostles? Isn't it true that Peter was given a vision that told him it was okay to eat anything? That all meats had been cleansed? That there were no longer any restrictions?
Peter was staying in the home of Simon the tanner in Joppa. While waiting for a meal to be prepared, he went up on the roof of the house to pray.
"And he became hungry, and wished to taste food. But as they were preparing, an ecstasy fell on him.
"And he saw the heaven being opened, and a certain vessel coming down on him, being bound by four corners, and let down onto the earth.
"In which were all the four-footed animals of the earth, and the wild beasts, and the creeping things, and the birds of the heaven.
"And a voice came to him, Rise up, Peter, slay and eat.
"But Peter said, Not at all, Master, because I never did eat anything common or unclean.
"And again a voice came to him a second time, What things Yahweh made clean, you do not make common.
"And this happened three times, and the vessel was taken up into the heaven again."
Sounds logical, doesn't it, that it would be okay to eat anything? Wasn't he being told that he could? But is that really the message Yahweh had for Peter?
At first, even Peter doubted what this vision meant. He needed time to consider it himself. But Yahweh did have a message. He sent him to see Cornelius, a Gentile. And then it dawned on Peter what Yahweh had for him to understand.
Acts 10:28, 34-35
"And he said to them, You know how unlawful it is for a man, a Jew, to unite with or to come near to one of another race. Yet Yahweh showed to me not to call a man common or unclean.
"And opening his mouth, Peter said, I see that Yahweh is not an accepter of persons.
"But in every nation the one fearing Him and working righteousness is acceptable to Him."
Peter went on to witness to these people, and as he spoke, the Spirit came upon these people. They spoke in other languages and magnified and praised Yahweh. Peter then said they should be baptized.
The whole story here involved teaching that all peoples have an equal chance at learning Yahweh's truth and being called one of His children. It had nothing to do with foods at all.
There are a few other scriptures people use to say that, according to Paul, the dietary laws had been done away. But surely he would not contradict everything else. So let's look at a few of these verses and see just what he did say.
I Corinthians 10:25, 27-28
"Eat everything being sold in a meat market, examining nothing because of conscience.
"And if any of the unbelievers invites you, and you desire to go, eat everything set before you, examining nothing because of conscience.
"But if anyone tells you, This is slain in sacrifice to idols; do not eat, because of that one pointing it out, and the conscience: for the earth is Yahweh's and the fullness of it."
Some points to consider -
- What was sold? Were unclean meats sold there? Or was it a "kosher" market?
- If unclean items were sold, did he really say it was okay to buy them, or was he referring to eating "anything" that had already been approved by Yahweh?
- All his comments here are in regards to conscience due to sacrifices to idols - it mentions nothing about clean or unclean.
- Paul had known the law of Yahweh from a child. Like Peter he probably had never eaten anything common or unclean and was not recommending that others do so either.
I Corinthians 8:13
"Therefore, if food offends my brother, I will not at all eat flesh forever, so that I do not offend my brother."
Romans 14:15, 20-21
"But if your brother is grieved because of your food, you no longer walk according to love. Do not by your food destroy that one for whom Messiah died.
"Do not undo the work of Yahweh because of food. Truly, all things are clean, but it is bad to the man who eats through a stumbling-block.
"It is good not to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor anything by which your brother stumbles, or is offended or is weak."
What's the subject here? Clean and unclean meat? No. It has to do with offending someone. For example, if you knew that some action (refers to more than just food) in particular would offend a friend, you wouldn't purposely do it right in front of him, would you? Even if it were something that was perfectly okay for you to do?
Like drinking wine or beer. Suppose your friend doesn't want to see people drinking because some loved ones were killed by a drunk driver. Would you offend him by drinking several beers in front of him? Simply because it was legal for you to do so and you wanted it - right then?
In the above scriptures, from Romans 14, the words in italics do not appear in the original Greek. So in verse 20, it actually says, "all things clean, but bad to the man through a stumbling-block eating". It is referring to things that are clean! It is not talking about "unclean" items being made clean.
"But the one doubting, if he eats, he has been condemned, because it is not of faith - and whatever is not of faith is sin."
If there is something a person doesn't understand yet, don't try to get him to go against his conscience. He is the one who has to live with his conscience, not you. And it does not refer to only clean or unclean meats - it can be anything.
I Timothy 4:1-4
"But the Spirit expressly says that in the latter times some will depart from the faith, cleaving to deceiving spirits and teachings of demons.
"In hypocrisy of liars, being seared in their own conscience.
"Forbidding to marry, saying to abstain from foods, which Yahweh created for partaking with thanksgiving by the believers, and those knowing the truth.
"Because every creature of Yahweh is good and nothing to be thrust away, but having been received with thanksgiving."
The world looks at this last verse and says that the law must have been changed because it says that every creature is good. So they rush to partake of all sorts of abominable creatures. But look at it again. The "is" does not appear in Greek. It is referring to all good creatures made by Yahweh. Notice back in verse 3 it says, "which Yahweh created for partaking". All that Yahweh created to be eaten are good and we are free to eat of those. It implies that there are some that were not created for eating.
2 Peter 3:15-16
"And think of the long-suffering of our Master as salvation, as also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you, according to the wisdom given to him.
"As also in all his epistles, speaking in them concerning these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the unlearned and unsettled pervert, as also they do the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction."
People have always had trouble with the writings of Paul. They see contradictions and say that he is advocating that the law was done away and nailed to the cross. But Paul totally understood the Law and its importance.
"I am indeed a man, a Jew having been born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but having been brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel; having been trained according to the exactness of the ancestral law, being a zealous one of Yahweh, even as you all are today."
"In circumcision, the eighth day; of the race of Israel, the tribe of Benjamin; a Hebrew of the Hebrews, according to Law, a Pharisee."
With this ancestry and training, Paul definitely knew the Law. He knew exactly what it did or didn't say. And if it had been changed, certainly he would have known. The next two Scriptures seem to indicate that he had not changed his beliefs, either. He continued to obey the Law of Yahweh.
"But I confess this to you, that according to the Way, which they say is a sect, so I worship the ancestral Yahweh, believing all things according to that having been written in the Law and the Prophets."
Here he does not mention the Oral Law or the traditions of the Rabbis.
"Defending himself, Paul said, Neither against the Law of the Jews, nor against the Temple, nor against Caesar have I sinned in anything."
Today And The Future
Then if these laws are still in effect, what does it mean for us today? If the reason has to do with holiness, how does that apply? Exactly what does "holiness" mean? How does it - or how should it -- affect our lives?
In both Hebrew and Greek, the word "holiness" basically means sacred, consecrated, dedicated, set apart, sanctified, and hallowed. It has to do with the way we live; our behavior; the way we treat others.
"Therefore, brothers, I call on you through the mercies of Yahweh to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing to Yahweh, which is your reasonable service."
I Corinthians 3:16-17
"Do you not know that you are a temple of Yahweh, and the Spirit of Yahweh dwells in you?
"If anyone corrupts the temple of Yahweh, Yahweh will bring that one to corruption; for the temple of Yahweh is holy, which you are."
"According as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, for us to be holy and without blemish before Him in love."
I Peter 1:15-16
"But according to the holy One who has called you, you also become holy in all conduct.
"Because it has been written, 'Be holy, because I am holy'."
2 Peter 3:10-12
"But the Day of Yahweh will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with rushing sound, and having burned the elements will be dissolved, and earth and the works in it will be burned up.
"Then all these being about to be dissolved, what sort ought you to be in holy behavior and godliness?
"Looking for and hastening the coming of the Day of Yahweh, through which the heavens being set afire will be dissolved, and the elements will melt?"
In describing the future, Scripture tells us about a highway that will exist, and who will be permitted to travel on it. When it comes time for judgment and the setting up of the kingdom of Yahweh that will last forever, He has qualifications for who will or will not be there. It will not be only the Jews or the tribes of Israel - it will be those people who are willing to submit to Him, to obey Him unquestioningly, and worship only Him. It includes those who are willing to come out of Babylon.
"And a highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called, The Way of Holiness. The unclean shall not pass over it. And it is for them, the wayfaring one; yea, fools shall not go astray."
"And you then were once alienated and enemies in your mind by evil works. But now He reconciled.
"In the body of His flesh, through death, to present you holy and without blame, and without charge before Him."
I Peter 2:5, 9
"You also as lively stones are being built a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to Yahweh through Yahshua Messiah.
"But you are an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for possession, so that you may openly speak of the virtues of the One who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light."
"Blessed and holy is the one having part in the first resurrection. The second death has no authority over these, but they will be priests of Yahweh and of Messiah, and will reign with Him a thousand years.
The laws of clean and unclean meats were for the purpose of setting apart a people as holy. Shouldn't we be willing to do anything Yahweh would ask to be counted among His people? As we study Yahweh's Word and strive to follow the Messiah, there is yet one reminder for us to think about.
"Eagerly pursue peace and holiness with all, without which no one will see the Master."