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Food and Drink (Part 1) - The OT Dietary Law

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Food and Drink

I. The Bible has a lot to say about food and drink.
1. Food n. - 1. a. What is taken into the system to maintain life and growth, and to supply the waste of tissue; aliment, nourishment, provisions, victuals.
2. The word "food" is used 55 times in the Bible.
3. The word "meat(s)" is used 298 times in the Bible.
4. Meat n. - 1. a. Food in general; anything used as nourishment for men or animals; usually, solid food, in contradistinction to drink.
5. The word "bread" is used 361 times in the Bible.
6. Bread n. - I. 1. (Only in OE.) Bit, piece, morsel (of food). 2. a. A well-known article of food prepared by moistening, kneading, and baking meal or flour, generally with the addition of yeast or leaven.
7. The word "drink" and its cognates are used 409 times in the Bible.
8. The word "eat" and its cognates are used 790 times in the Bible.
9. The first directly stated law given to man pertained to eating food (Gen 2:16-17).

II. Man was vegetarian prior to the flood (Gen 1:29; Gen 2:16; Gen 3:18-19).
1. There was no permission given to eat animals until after the flood.
2. There is also no record of man eating animals until after the flood.
3. We must therefore conclude that man did not eat animals until then.

III. After the flood, God gave man animals to eat without restriction (Gen 9:1-3).
1. Prior to the flood, there were clean and unclean animals (Gen 7:2).
A. Man was not permitted to eat any animal prior to the flood, so the classification of clean and unclean was not given in regards to diet.
B. The clean and unclean distinction was given for men to know which animals they could sacrifice to God (Gen 4:4 c/w Gen 8:20).
C. This was the reason why Noah was to take seven pairs of clean animals on the ark (Gen 7:2), because he would be sacrificing some of them after he got off the ark (Gen 8:20).
2. They were restricted from eating blood (Gen 9:4).
3. This law against eating blood continues in the NT until this day (Act 15:20).

IV. God gave Israel a dietary law.

1. Many animals were off limits to Israel.

A. Only animals that had parted hoofs and chewed the cud were permissible to eat (Lev 11:3; Deut 14:6).
i. This included the following:
a. cows and oxen (Deut 14:4)
b. sheep (Deut 14:4)
c. goats (Deut 14:4)
d. deer (harts, roebucks, fallow deer) (Deut 14:5)
(i) Hart n. - 1. The male of the deer, esp. of the red deer; a stag; spec. a male deer after its fifth year.
(ii) Roebuck n. - The buck or male of the roe-deer; a male roe.
e. wild goat (Deut 14:5)
f. pygarg (Deut 14:5)
(i) Pygarg n. - 1. A kind of antelope mentioned by Herodotus and Pliny: by some supposed to be the addax.
g. wild ox (Deut 14:5)
h. chamois (Deut 14:5)
(i) Chamois n. - A capriform antelope (A. rupicapra or Rupicapra tragus), the only representative of the antelopes found wild in Europe; it inhabits the loftiest parts of the Alps, Pyrenees, Taurus, and other mountain ranges of Europe and Asia.
i. buffalo
j. giraffes
k. gazelles
ii. This excluded the following:
a. Animals that chew the cud, but don't have a split hoof such as:
(i) camel (Deut 14:7)
(ii) hare (Deut 14:7)
(iii) coney (Deut 14:7)
(iv) Coney n. - 1. a. A rabbit: formerly the proper and ordinary name, but now superseded in general use by rabbit, which was originally a name for the young only.
b. Animals that have a split hoof, but don't chew the cud, such as:
(i) Swine (pigs) (Deut 14:8)

B. Only sea creatures that had fins and scales were permissible to eat (Lev 11:9; Deut 14:9-10).
i. This included the following:
a. Most fish including:
b. bass, carp, flounder, grouper, haddock, halibut, herring, mackerel, mahi mahi, orange roughy, perch, pike, pollock, salmon, sardines, snapper, sole, tilapia, trout, tuna, walleye, whitefish, and whiting.
ii. This excluded the following:
a. catfish (no scales)
b. shellfish, clams, shrimp, lobster, mussels, eels, sharks, sturgeons, squid, scallops, and swordfish.

C. Birds
i. All clean birds were permissible to be eaten by Israel (Deut 14:11, 20), which included:
a. quail (Psa 105:40)
b. turtle dove (Lev 12:6 c/w Gen 8:20 c/w Lev 27:11)
c. pigeon (Lev 12:6 c/w Gen 8:20 c/w Lev 27:11)
d. cock (Mar 14:72 c/w Luk 11:12)?
(i) Cock n. - I. The domestic fowl. 1. a. The male of the common domestic fowl, Gallus domesticus, the female being the hen.
(ii) Chickens are the most common domestic fowl.
(iii) Eggs were permissible to eat.
(iv) Chickens are most well known among birds for laying eggs that people eat.
(v) If chicken eggs were allowed to be eaten, then chickens (from which the eggs came) were clean birds which were also allowed to be eaten.
e. It could also be argued that since no examples of clean birds were given in Lev 11 & Deut 14, and 21 unclean birds were listed, that any bird that is not in the list of unclean birds is a clean bird.
ii. The following birds were forbidden to Israel (Lev 11:13-19; Deut 14:12-18):
a. eagle
b. ossifrage
(i) Ossifrage - 1. As a rendering of L. ossifraga, or as a name for the Lammergeyer or Geir Eagle, or of some kindred species identified with the bird called by the Romans ossifraga.
(ii) Lammergeyer - The Bearded Vulture, Gypaetus barbatus; it is the largest European bird of prey, and inhabits lofty mountains in Southern Europe, Asia, and Northern Africa.
c. ospray
d. vulture
e. glede
(i) Glede - The kite (Milvus regalis). Now chiefly north. and Sc. (in form gled). The name is also locally applied to other birds of prey, as the buzzard, osprey, and peregrine falcon. The kite is sometimes distinguished as the fork-tail(ed), red, or salmon-tailed gled, while the names of blue, brown and white-aboon gled are given to the hen-harrier.
f. kite
(i) Kite - 1. A bird of prey of the family Falconidæ and subfamily Milvinæ, having long wings, tail usually forked, and no tooth in the bill.
g. raven
h. owl
i. night hawk
j. cuckow
(i) Cuckow - 1. Obsolete form of cuckoo (Wiktionary)
(ii) Cuckoo - 1. a. A bird, Cuculus canorus, well known by the call of the male during mating time, of which the name is an imitation. cuckoo's note (fig.): repetition of the same words.
k. hawk
l. little owl
m. cormorant
(i) Cormorant - 1. A large and voracious sea-bird (Phalacrocorax carbo), about 3 feet in length, and of a lustrous black colour, widely diffused over the northern hemisphere and both sides of the Atlantic. Also the name of the genus, including about 25 species, some of which are found in all maritime parts of the world.
n. great owl
o. swan
p. pelican
q. gier eagle
(i) Gier eagle - see geier
(ii) Geier - see geir
(iii) Geir - A vulture.
r. stork
s. heron
t. lapwing
(i) Lapwing - A well-known bird of the plover family, Vanellus vulgaris or cristatus, common in the temperate parts of the Old World. Called also pewit, from its peculiar cry. Its eggs were the ‘plovers' eggs’ of the London markets. Allusions are frequent to its crested head, to its wily method of drawing away a visitor from its nest, and to the notion that the newly hatched lapwing runs about with its head in the shell.
u. bat

D. Most flying creeping things (bugs and insects) were forbidden (Lev 11:20, 23).
i. Insects with "legs above their feet, to leap withal upon the earth" (Lev 11:21) were allowed to be eaten, such as the following (Lev 11:22):
a. locust
b. bald locust
c. beetle
d. grass hopper

E. The following "creeping things" were forbidden (Lev 11:29-30):
i. weasel
ii. mouse
iii. tortoise
iv. ferret
v. chameleon
vi. lizard
vii. snail
viii. mole

2. There could have been health reasons that God had for forbidding the eating of the animals listed above.
A. There are parasites in swine that can be very harmful to humans if it is not fully cooked.
i. "Trichinosis is caused by eating raw or undercooked pork and wild game infected with the larvae of a parasitic worm. The contaminated meat is infected with the larvae of a worm called Trichinella spiralis. The initial symptoms of trichinosis are: abdominal discomfort, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, fatigue, fever. The severity of symptoms depends on the number of infectious worms consumed in the meat." (Trichinosis (Trichinellosis) Worm Infection Symptoms, Treatment, Life Cycle, and Cure, MedicineNet, 9-17-19)
ii. This could have been one of the reason why eating pigs was forbidden under the law of Moses.
B. Many delicious sea creatures that don't have fins and scales are claimed by some to be full of toxins and can carry food-borne illness.
i. "Now we know that fish with scales AND fins are equipped with a digestive system that prevents the absorption of poisons and toxins into their flesh from the waters they call home. Flounder, cod, haddock, and salmon are a few examples of fish with scales and fins. Catfish have fins, but do not have scales. These scavengers are primarily bottom feeders and have digestive systems designed to absorb toxins from the water. Clams, lobster, shrimp, crabs, mussels and squid do not have scales or fins and are believed to be highly toxic. They naturally absorb all the toxins in the water they live in. Believe it or not, lobster and crabs are crustaceans and are a part of the arthropod family, which include caterpillars, cockroaches, and spiders!" (No Scales, No Fins, No Good, The Gathering of Christ Church, 9-17-2019)
ii. "Eating contaminated shellfish can lead to foodborne illness. In fact, mollusks — such as clams, scallops, oysters, and mussels — accounted for over 45% of the seafood-related cases of foodborne illness in the US from 1973 to 2006. Food poisoning from shellfish can result from bacteria, viruses, or parasites that are acquired from their environments. Pathogens flourish in raw shellfish and shellfish that are chilled incorrectly. Therefore, properly storing and cooking shellfish can be an effective way to prevent foodborne illness. Pregnant and breastfeeding women, older adults, and people with compromised immune systems should avoid raw or improperly prepared shellfish." (What Is Shellfish? Everything You Need to Know, Healthline, 1-11-2019)
iii. This could be one of the reasons that God limited the eating of sea creatures to fish with fins and scales under the law of Moses.
iv. Although, it is also claimed that eating shellfish has many heath benefits as well.

3. There were also spiritual reasons for this.
A. John Gill in his commentary on Lev 11:2 listed numerous reason why God might have given the Jews the dietary law.
B. "The sons of Noah had free liberty, without any restraint or limitation, of using for food any living creature that moved upon the face of the earth; in the choice of which they were left to exercise their reason and judgment, and is the case with us now; but as men have not so nice a smell as some animals have, and cannot distinguish by their senses so well as they what food is most wholesome, which makes the exercise of their reason and judgment necessary, and the people of the Jews being a special people, and for whom the Lord had a peculiar regard; for the sake of their health, and to preserve them from diseases they were subject to, such as the leprosy and others, and to direct them to what was most salubrious and healthful, gave them the following laws; and which, though they are not obligatory upon us, yet may be a direction to us, in the use of what may be most suitable and proper food for us, the difference of climates, and of the constitutions of men's bodies, being considered: not that we are to suppose, that the case of health was the only reason of delivering out these laws to the children of Israel, for other ends, besides that, may be thought to be had in view; as to assert his sovereign right to the creatures, and his disposal of them to them according to his will and pleasure; to lay a restraint on their appetites, to prevent luxury, and to teach them self denial, and compliance with his will; as also to keep them the more from the company and conversation of the Gentiles, by whom they otherwise might be led into idolatry; and to give them an aversion to their idols, to whom the creatures forbidden them to eat, many of them were either now or would be sacred to them; and chiefly to excite to a care for purity, both inward and outward, and create in the man abhorrence of those vices which may be signified by the ill qualities of several of the creatures; and to instruct them in the difference between holy and unholy persons, with whom they should or should not have communion; see Act 10:11." (John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible, commenting on Lev 11:2)

C. The law of Moses was like a schoolmaster for a child (the OT church) (Gal 3:19, 24; Gal 4:1-5).
i. When children are young, they need lots of rules.
ii. As they grow in maturity and learn to control their passions and desires, they need less rules.
iii. As Christians (hopefully mature ones) under the New Testament, we don't need all of the rules and regulations such as the dietary laws of the law of Moses.