Sunday, March 7, 2010

Part I, Biblical Dietary Laws

Also sent to Becky Holm's Douglas County News

Biblical Dietary Laws by Larisa Sparrowhawk,

In the next two columns I will discuss Biblical dietary laws that are relevant to both Jewish and Christian denominations. On the Sixth Day, God said He gave man "every seed bearing plant that is upon the earth, and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit" for food and also that he gave all the animals, including birds, "all green plants" (or "herbs," depending on your translation) for food. Clearly, the original diet for all was vegetarian.

No details are given of how Noah understood the concept of clean (acceptable as offerings or human food) and unclean (not acceptable) meats, but Noah did. Man may have already become an omnivore. God instructed that Noah take seven pairs of every clean animal and only one pair of the unclean, with him into the ark. Once the waters receeded, God gave Noah instructions that "every creature" could be eaten, which seems odd in light of the previous classification of clean and unclean. Moreover, the simple fact that Noah was instructed to bring enough of the clean animals to allow burnt offerings, meals and procreation, suggests that details are missing here that will be supplied later.

Throughout Genesis, before the Revelation at Sinai, we read of meals of game, kids (goats), lambs, cattle, bread, lentils and grains. All the animals used in offerings were animals later mentioned as ritually clean. Unleavened bread and lamb are required by God for Passover rituals. We get an early example of "be careful what you wish for" when the Israelites grumble that they have no bread and meat and are sent so much manna and quail they sicken of them. (Modern scientists believe the manna Israelites found to eat in the wilderness was actually a secretion of a type of aphid.)

In Exodus, God promises that if the people follow his laws, they will be free of the diseases of the Egyptians, "for I, the Lord, am your healer." With the laws of both food and bodily cleanliness, He shows how.

Tune in next week!

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Anonymous Wardeh @ GNOWFGLINS said...

I look forward to this series, Larisa!

March 7, 2010 at 9:48 AM  

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