To eat or not to eat, what is the Scriptural standard?

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What is the scriptural standard with regards to eating? How are we to understand these instructions and what is the physical and spiritual significance when we obey?Kosher eating according to the Bible

Keeping these dietary instructions is commonly referred to as keeping kosher. The word “kosher” or “kasher” means proper, pure or acceptable. If we say we eat “kosher” we eat what is permissible in accordance with dietary instructions in Scripture.

The first instructions regarding what was meant for food was given in the book of Genesis.

Genesis 1:28-30
28 Elohim blessed them; and Elohim said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 Then Elohim said, “Behold,I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; 30 and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food”; and it was so.

YHVH blessed Adam and Eve and gave them instructions regarding what they are to eat. They could eat of every plant yielding seed except for the tree in the middle of the garden. To the animals were given every green plant for food.

YHVH’s plan for man and beast was to eat vegetarian, but this changed after the flood. YHVH blessed Noah and his family and gave them similar instructions to those given to Adam and Eve. However, now they could also eat meat.

Genesis 9:1-3
1 And YHVH blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. 2 “The fear of you and the terror of you will be on every beast of the earth and on every bird of the sky; with everything that creeps on the ground, and all the fish of the sea, into your hand they are given. 3 “Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant.

When did YHVH make a distinction between clean and unclean?

Part of the instructions to Noah was to take of every clean animal by sevens and of the unclean only two. This proves that the distinction between clean and unclean already existed in Noah’s time.

Genesis 7:2
2 “You shall take with you of every clean animal by sevens, a male and his female; and of the animals that are not clean two, a male and his female;

If Noah did eat from the unclean animals they would simply have ceased to exist if there was only one male and female.  Thus we can conclude that Noah did not eat any of the unclean animals.

Why should we eat according to the commandments in Scripture?

There are three main reasons for eating in accordance to YHVH’s instructions

1. It is a test to see if we would obey. This same test was given to Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden.

Genesis 2:16-17
16 YHVH Elohim commanded the man, saying, From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.

Adam and Eve were not given specific reasons as to why they were not to eat from this tree,but they were told what the consequence would be if they do.

Eating detestable things is contrary to YHVH’s instructions. Being disobedient is rebellion and those who choose not to obey will be judged accordingly. They will come to an end altogether!

Isaiah 65:2-4
2 I have spread out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, Who walk in the way which is not good, following their own thoughts, 3 A people who continually provoke Me to My face, Offering sacrifices in gardens and burning incense on bricks; 4 Who sit among graves and spend the night in secret places; Who eat swine’s flesh, And the broth of unclean meat is in their pots.

Isaiah 66:17
17 Those who sanctify and purify themselves to go to the gardens, Following one in the center, Who eat swine’s flesh, detestable things and mice, Will come to an end altogether, declares YHVH.

2. We are chosen to be His people, and we are to be set apart for He is set apart. We, mere mortals, cannot come into the presence of a set apart Elohim if we are defiled.

Deuteronomy 14:2-3
2 For you are a holy people to YHVH your Elohim, and YHVH has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. 3 You shall not eat any detestable thing.

Deuteronomy 14:21
21 You shall not eat anything which dies of itself. You may give it to the alien who is in your town, so that he may eat it, or you may sell it to a foreigner, for you are a holy people to the YHVH your Elohim. You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.

3. The third reason is that eating in accordance to YHVH’s instructions is to our benefit in a physical sense. It is healthier for our bodies if we do eat according to His instructions. I am not going to expand on this, but there are many good articles available on the subject.

To summarize we can see that it is about obedience, set apartness and health, in that order.

Clean and unclean animals

YHVH calls unclean animals “detestable things.” It is not food; it was never meant for human consumption. If something is called “food” in the Scripture it refers to animals or plants intended for consumption. Just like poisonous plants cannot be called food, so can unclean animals not be called food.

We find in Leviticus 11 three major groupings of animals, and some detail as to which of these are acceptable for consumption or not.

Animals that live on the land

Of the animals living on land only those which chew the cut AND have split hoofs are considered fit for human consumption. These are also referred to as clean animals. These are repeated in Deut 4:4-8.

Leviticus 11:2-7
2 Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, These are the creatures which you may eat from all the animals that are on the earth. 3 Whatever divides a hoof, thus making split hoofs, and chews the cud, among the animals, that you may eat. 4 Nevertheless, you are not to eat of these, among those which chew the cud, or among those which divide the hoof: the camel, for though it chews cud, it does not divide the hoof, it is unclean to you. 5 Likewise, the shaphan, for though it chews cud, it does not divide the hoof, it is unclean to you; 6 the rabbit also, for though it chews cud, it does not divide the hoof, it is unclean to you; 7 and the pig, for though it divides the hoof, thus making a split hoof, it does not chew cud, it is unclean to you.

There are four animals specifically listed here:

  • the camel
  • the shaphan
  • the rabbit and
  • the pig

A shaphan is “a small, shy, furry animal (Hyrax syriacus) found in the peninsula of the Sinai, northern Israel, and the region round the Dead Sea; KJV coney, orig NASB rock badger”

New American Standard Bible : 1995 update. 1995. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

Regarding these animals we are commanded in verse eight not to eat their flesh or touch their carcasses.

Leviticus 11:8
8 You shall not eat of their flesh nor touch their carcasses; they are unclean to you.

Animals living in water

Of the animals living in water we may only eat of those which have fins AND scales. This commandment is repeated in Deut 14:9,10. Crayfish, mussels and prawns were never intended as food, they are detestable things! Just like cockroaches clean up on land, prawns, shrimp and crayfish clean up the oceans. Would you consider eating a cockroach?

Leviticus 11:9-12
9 These you may eat, whatever is in the water: all that have fins and scales, those in the water, in the seas or in the rivers, you may eat. 10 But whatever is in the seas and in the rivers that does not have fins and scales among all the teeming life of the water, and among all the living creatures that are in the water, they are detestable things to you, 11 and they shall be abhorrent to you; you may not eat of their flesh, and their carcasses you shall detest. 12 Whatever in the water does not have fins and scales is abhorrent to you.

Winged and creeping animals

Take note that the animals listed here are animals, that can be found in the land of Israel. Some animals are not listed simply because you do not find them in Israel. You can, however, take every listed animal and compare its characteristics with similar animals and so determine if it was meant for food or not.

Of the birds, you are only to eat “clean birds.” Some of the unclean birds are listed. For example, we are not to eat a cormorant. If you study this bird, you will see that ducks have a lot in common with them, they have webbed feet and share a similar diet and habitat.

Cormorants  eat a great variety of fish species, as well as other animals including: crayfish, shrimp, aquatic insects, amphibians (such as tadpoles and newts), snails, mussels and some reptiles. This is too a large extend similar to the duck’s diet, although ducks eat plants too.

Basing it on the similarity between ducks and cormorants, I am of the opinion, that ducks are also unclean. However, I could be wrong. The instructions on the distinctions between clean and unclean where birds are concerned is vague, except for the ones listed by name.

Falcons, kites and owls are basically all predatory and scavenger birds, so birds after their kind are unclean. As I said before, it is quite difficult to determine clean or unclean as far as the birds are concerned. We base it on similar characteristics, food and habitat. Anybody with more insight, please share!

The unclean birds are also listed in Deut 14:11-20.

The only insects that can be eaten are locusts and crickets. Keep away from those cockroaches!

Leviticus 11:13-25
13 These, moreover, you shall detest among the birds; they are abhorrent, not to be eaten: the eagle and the vulture and the buzzard, 14 and the kite and the falcon in its kind, 15 every raven in its kind, 16 and the ostrich and the owl and the sea gull and the hawk in its kind, 17 and the little owl and the cormorant and the great owl, 18 and the white owl and the pelican and the carrion vulture, 19 and the stork, the heron in its kinds, and the hoopoe, and the bat. 20 All the winged insects that walk on all fours are detestable to you. 21 Yet these you may eat among all the winged insects which walk on all fours: those which have above their feet jointed legs with which to jump on the earth. 22 These of them you may eat: the locust in its kinds, and the devastating locust in its kinds, and the cricket in its kinds, and the grasshopper in its kinds. 23 But all other winged insects which are four-footed are detestable to you. 24 By these, moreover, you will be made unclean: whoever touches their carcasses becomes unclean until evening, 25 and whoever picks up any of their carcasses shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening.

We are not to touch the carcass of an unclean animal

How are we to understand this prohibition? Is this given primarily for heath reasons? Maybe to prevent the spread of disease or infection that could be caused by bacteria in a rotting carcass, or is there more to this? The commandment not to touch the carcass of an unclean animal is repeated seven times!

Touching the dead carcass of any unclean land animal ”including those that walk on their paws (lit., hands, v. 27), for example, cats, dogs, and bears rendered a person ceremonially unclean and so required washing and waiting until evening. The concept of being unclean till evening not only prohibited participation in worship but also restricted movement within society.

Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1983-). The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures (Le 11:24–28). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

How do we apply it in our time? Would this by implication mean that we are to consider what we wear and what we apply to our skin? Many skin-care products contain glycerin, which is often – not always – manufactured from pork fat (you do get vegetable glycerin as well).

With regard to clothing, it has become quite fashionable to wear jackets made from pig skin. You also find leather products from crocodile, ostrich and other unclean animals. Do we consider that as a part of the carcass of an unclean animal? We don’t have everything figured out, but this is how we understand it. We are not to wear it. Also look out that you do not buy a new pig skin leather bound Bible. Yes, you do find that!

However, it is acceptable to have and to love and touch an unclean animal that is still alive. Think dogs, cats, horses, donkeys and camels. The last three were used as a means of transportation in Biblical times. Y’shua rode on a donkey into Jerusalem. After that, He went into the Temple (Luk 19:35-45).


The next very important instruction regarding our diet is the prohibition against eating blood. After the flood, man was allowed to eat meat, but without the blood. This is repeated in the book of Leviticus. This restriction, is one that cannot be ignored. Eating unclean things will cause you to be unclean, but eating blood will cause you to be cut off from your people!

Genesis 9:4-5
4 Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. 5 Surely I will require your lifeblood; from every beast I will require it. And from every man, from every man’s brother I will require the life of man.

Leviticus 7:26-27
26 You are not to eat any blood, either of bird or animal, in any of your dwellings. 27 Any person who eats any blood, even that person shall be cut off from his people.

Leviticus 17:10-14
10 And any man from the house of Israel, or from the aliens who sojourn among them, who eats any blood, I will set My face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from among his people. 11 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 the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement. 12 Therefore I said to the sons of Israel, No person among you may eat blood, nor may any alien who sojourns among you eat blood. 13 So when any man from the sons of Israel, or from the aliens who sojourn among them, in hunting catches a beast or a bird which may be eaten, he shall pour out its blood and cover it with earth. 14 For as for the life of all flesh, its blood is identified with its life. Therefore I said to the sons of Israel, You are not to eat the blood of any flesh, for the life of all flesh is its blood; whoever eats it shall be cut off.

When an animal is killed, the life blood should be poured to the ground and covered with earth. The only way in which this is possible is when an animal is cut by the neck, in Hebrew it is called “Shechita“. In this way the heart of the animal pumps the blood out. Hereafter, the animal is taken apart and the meat is washed and sprinkled with coarse salt to remove more blood. This practice actually only removes the surface blood, but it has the benefit that it kills off any bacteria on the meat.

It is difficult to find kosher slaughtered meat, so we make sure we remove all blood by thorough washing of the meat and salting it if necessary. Most lifeblood is removed when an animal is slaughtered, it would otherwise cause accelerated decay if it is left in the meat and thus not suitable to be sold.


There are references to two types of fat in Scripture. The fat that is not to be consumed by us consists of the fat tail, all the fat that is on and over the entrails, the kidneys and the fat on them and the fat on the lions and liver. This fat is considered the choicest and belongs to YHVH. This is the sacrificial fat and is referred to as “chelev” in Hebrew.

2693 I. חֵלֶב (ḥē∙lěḇ): n.masc.; ≡ Str 2459; TWOT 651a—1. LN 5.1–5.22 fat, i.e., lipid tissue of an animal, a part of an animal’s body as a sacrifice (Ex 23:18; Lev 8:26); 2. LN 59.48–59.61 bounty, i.e., a figurative extension of fat as a sign of prosperity (Ge 45:18); 3. LN 79 the finest, best part, i.e., the figurative extension of fat as a choice portion, pertaining to olive and wine products and other products as choice, as the feature of an object (Nu 18:12, 29; Dt 32:14; Ps 81:17[EB 16]); 4. LN 88.223 “88.226 a callous heart (Ps 17:10; 73:7; 119:70)
Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

Leviticus 3:9-10
9 From the sacrifice of peace offerings he shall bring as an offering by fire to YHVH, its fat, the entire fat tail which he shall remove close to the backbone, and the fat that covers the entrails and all the fat that is on the entrails, 10 and the two kidneys with the fat that is on them, which is on the loins, and the lobe of the liver, which he shall remove with the kidneys.

Leviticus 3:14-17
14 From it he shall present his offering as an offering by fire to YHVH, the fat that covers the entrails and all the fat that is on the entrails, 15 and the two kidneys with the fat that is on them, which is on the loins, and the lobe of the liver, which he shall remove with the kidneys. 16 ˜The priest shall offer them up in smoke on the altar as food, an offering by fire for a soothing aroma; all fat is YHVH’s. 17 It is a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwellings: you shall not eat any fat or any blood.

Death renders an animal unclean

Death renders, even a clean animal, unclean. For this reason, we are commanded not to eat an animal that dies of itself or an animal torn by a wild beast.

Leviticus 11:39-40
39 Also if one of the animals dies which you have for food, the one who touches its carcass becomes unclean until evening. 40 He too, who eats some of its carcass shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening, and the one who picks up its carcass shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening.

Leviticus 17:15-16
15 When any person eats an animal which dies or is torn by beasts, whether he is a native or an alien, he shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and remain unclean until evening; then he will become clean. 16 But if he does not wash them or bathe his body, then he shall bear his guilt.

Leviticus 22:8
8 He shall not eat an animal which dies or is torn by beasts, becoming unclean by it; I am YHVH.

Ezekiel 44:31
31 The priests shall not eat any bird or beast that has died a natural death or has been torn to pieces.

You may not eat it, but you may give it to an unbeliever or sell it to a foreigner.

Deuteronomy 14:21
21 You shall not eat anything which dies of itself. You may give it to the alien who is in your town, so that he may eat it, or you may sell it to a foreigner, for you are a holy people to YHVH your Elohim. You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.

The Israelites were commanded, while in the wilderness, to eat meat only if it was offered unto YHVH. In this way, the uncleanness of death was taken away and the animal was fit for consumption.

Leviticus 17:3-5
3 Any man from the house of Israel who slaughters an ox or a lamb or a goat in the camp, or who slaughters it outside the camp, 4 and has not brought it to the doorway of the tent of meeting to present it as an offering to YHVH before the tabernacle of YHVH, bloodguiltiness is to be reckoned to that man. He has shed blood and that man shall be cut off from among his people. 5 The reason is so that the sons of Israel may bring their sacrifices which they were sacrificing in the open field, that they may bring them in to YHVH, at the doorway of the tent of meeting to the priest, and sacrifice them as sacrifices of peace offerings to YHVH.

This was later on extended to the homes of the believers if they were too far from the Tabernacle.

Deuteronomy 12:20-21
20 When YHVH your Elohim extends your border as He has promised you, and you say, I will eat meat, because you desire to eat meat, then you may eat meat, whatever you desire. 21 If the place which YHVH your Elohim chooses to put His name is too far from you, then you may slaughter of your herd and flock which YHVH has given you, as I have commanded you; and you may eat within your gates whatever you desire.

Meat and diary

Deuteronomy 14:21
21 You shall not eat anything which dies of itself. You may give it to the alien who is in your town, so that he may eat it, or you may sell it to a foreigner, for you are a holy people to YHVH your Elohim. You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.

This instruction is repeated in Ex 23:19 and Ex 36:26.

Does this scripture mean that we are not allowed to eat meat and dairy products together?

Abraham showed hospitality to the three strangers that visited him, he served them curds and milk with the calf he had prepared.

Genesis 18:8
8 He took curds and milk and the calf which he had prepared, and placed it before them; and he was standing by them under the tree as they ate.

We found a good article on the topic. The article can be read at the link below, here is the conclusion:

“I think putting it in simple terms we can deduce this from Jacob Milgrom. The new born kid, calf, sheep, should not be killed within the early new life it has, then be cooked in its mother’s milk (possibly because it may give some added flavor to the meat) that it was depending on for life. As Milgron states, that would be confusing life and death, hence a teaching to instill in Israel a certain reverence for life and death – a separation of life and death, which many of the nations around them did not practice. As Milgrom has given, thus the life-giving process of the mother bird hatching or feeding her young should not be the occasion of their joint death Deut.22:6). The sacrifice of the newborn may be inevitable, but not for the first week while it is constantly at the mother’s breast (Lev.22:27); and never should both the mother and its young be slain at the same time (Lev.22:28). By the same token, the mother’s milk, the life- sustaining food for her kid, should never become associated with its death” – Keith Hunt

Food offered to idols

Is it acceptable to eat meat that was sacrificed to another deity, a false god?

Acts 15:29
29 that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication; if you keep yourselves free from such things, you will do well.

1 Corinthians 10:20-22
20 No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to Elohim; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of YHVH and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of YHVH and the table of demons. 22 Or do we provoke YHVH to jealousy? We are not stronger than He, are we?

1 Corinthians 10:28
28 But if anyone says to you, This is meat sacrificed to idols, do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for conscience sake;

Looking at the two passages in Revelation, it confirms the importance of not eating things sacrificed to idols.

To the assembly in Pergamum it is written:

Revelation 2:14
14 But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality.

To the assembly of Thyatira it is written:

Revelation 2:20-22
20 But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. 21 I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her immorality. 22 Behold, I will throw her on a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds.

Meat sacrificed to idols should not be on our menu.

Eating meat sacrificed to an idol will defile our testimony. It can cause us to be a stumbling block for a brother.

First fruits, first born and the first of your dough

The first fruits of the harvest and the firstborn of the flock belongs to YHVH. How are we to apply this in our lives? Not being part of a believing agricultural community and not having a Temple makes this difficult, even impossible, to keep in a literal sense. A way to observe this, in my opinion, would be in our tithes.

The command to give of the first of your dough is intriguing. Dough was in ancient times a mixture of course meal and water, the initial stage of making bread. A part of this dough was to be given to the priest, and this will cause a blessing to rest on your house.

I have wondered about this…if it still applied to us. The first time we did this, was when I baked cupcakes with my daughter. We removed some of the dough, thinking that we would probably not have ample dough to fill all the cake forms. We actually had more than enough to fill all the forms, and it was a huge success. It was quite a testimony to us.

Numbers 15:20-21
20 Of the first of your dough you shall lift up a cake as an offering; as the offering of the threshing floor, so you shall lift it up. 21 From the first of your dough you shall give to YHVH an offering throughout your generations.

Nehemiah 10:37
37 We will also bring the first of our dough, our contributions, the fruit of every tree, the new wine and the oil to the priests at the chambers of the house of our Elohim, and the tithe of our ground to the Levites, for the Levites are they who receive the tithes in all the rural towns.

Ezekiel 44:30
30 The first of all the first fruits of every kind and every contribution of every kind, from all your contributions, shall be for the priests; you shall also give to the priest the first of your dough to cause a blessing to rest on your house.

Genetically modified food

The genetical modification of seed is considered as mixing of seed and is prohibited by Torah.

This modification will, for example, cause fruit to be seedless, create new varieties of fruit of vegetables or enable fruit or vegetables to be resistant to plagues. There are even varieties of tomatoes where pig genes were mixed in, in order to improve the taste. I have also heard of a project where human genes are mixed with goat or sheep genes in order to create an animal that can produce milk closer to human breast milk. This is an abomination! We are not to promote this practice or consume any modified products. Aside from it being against YHVH’s instructions, it also poses a serious health thread. Cancer is rampant and is increasing. There are much information available on the internet on the health risks involving the consumption of GMO (Genetically modified) food.

Leviticus 19:19
19 You are to keep My statutes. You shall not breed together two kinds of your cattle; you shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor wear a garment upon you of two kinds of material mixed together.

Deuteronomy 22:9
9 You shall not sow your vineyard with two kinds of seed, or all the produce of the seed which you have sown and the increase of the vineyard will become defiled.

Greens vs. mushrooms

Adam and Eve were given every plant yielding seed as food. Later on, in chapter nine, there is a reference to “the green plant” Will this by implication exclude mushrooms and other fungi? These propagate with spores, not seed and do not have green leaves. The word “spores” is just another word for seed. Calling the seed of a mushroom “spores” does not disqualify it as food in my opinion.

Genesis 1:29
29 Then Elohim said, Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you;

Genesis 9:3
3 Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant.

Uncircumcised fruit or the Orlah prohibition

The word “orlah” means forbidden or uncircumcised. When a new tree is planted, fruit from it should not be eaten until the fifth year. Adhering to this will ensure a good harvest for you. However, there is no way to determine the age of the tree when buying fruit from a supermarket or greengrocer. We can adhere to this if we have our own fruit trees.

Leviticus 19:23-25
23 When you enter the land and plant all kinds of trees for food, then you shall count their fruit as forbidden. Three years it shall be forbidden to you; it shall not be eaten. 24 But in the fourth year all its fruit shall be holy, an offering of praise to YHVH. 25 In the fifth year you are to eat of its fruit, that its yield may increase for you; I am YHVH your Elohim.


E numbers are codes for chemicals which can be used as food additives for use within the European Union (the “E” prefix stands for “Europe”) and Switzerland. The numbering scheme follows that of the International Numbering System (INS) as determined by the Codex Alimentarius committee though only a subset of the INS additives are approved for use in the European Union as food additives. E numbers are also encountered on food labelling in other jurisdictions, including the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, Australia, New Zealand and Israel. They are increasingly, though still rarely, found on North American packaging, especially in Canada on imported European products.

The food additives, coloring and emulsifiers used are, for the most part, not kosher, and we need to educate ourselves and ensure that we make the right choices. Most of these are indicated on products with E-numbers. For example, E471 is an emulsifier that is used in bread and cakes; this is made from pork fat. E120, E121 are a red colorings which are manufactured from insects. A complete list is available on the internet. If you have difficulty finding it, please contact us, and we will help you find it. It is once again our responsibility to educate ourselves.

What happens when we eat unclean?

Is it really of consequence to eat according to YHVH’s instructions?

Leviticus 17:15-16
15 When any person eats an animal which dies or is torn by beasts, whether he is a native or an alien, he shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and remain unclean until evening; then he will become clean. 16 But if he does not wash them or bathe his body, then he shall bear his guilt.

Numbers 19:20-22
20 But the man who is unclean and does not purify himself from uncleanness, that person shall be cut off from the midst of the assembly, because he has defiled the sanctuary of YHVH; the water for impurity has not been sprinkled on him, he is unclean. 21 So it shall be a perpetual statute for them. And he who sprinkles the water for impurity shall wash his clothes, and he who touches the water for impurity shall be unclean until evening. 22 Furthermore, anything that the unclean person touches shall be unclean; and the person who touches it shall be unclean until evening.

Eating unclean things makes a person unclean. If an unclean person enters the sanctuary of YHVH, it becomes defiled. The physical Temple has been destroyed, but our bodies are also temples of YHVH. When we eat unclean things, we defile our bodily Temples.

Would it ever be acceptable to YHVH to sacrifice a pig in His Temple? Never!

1 Corinthians 3:16
16 Do you not know that you are a temple of Elohim and that the Spirit of Elohim dwells in you?

2 Corinthians 6:16-18
16 Or what agreement has the temple of Elohim with idols? For we are the temple of the living Elohim; just as Elohim said, I will dwell in them and walk among them; And I will be their Elohim, and they shall be My people. 17 Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate, says YHVH. And do not touch what is unclean; And I will welcome you. 18 And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me, Says YHVH Almighty.

1 Corinthians 6:19
19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from Elohim, and that you are not your own?

2 Corinthians 7:1
1 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of Elohim.

The Temple represented YHVH’s presence among His people; the unclean was not allowed to enter His presence.

Could being unclean from eating unacceptable things affect our experiencing of YHVH’s presence in our lives?

We are in exile. We are living in a secular world among people who are either ignorant or have turned their backs on YHVH’s true and pure way. We are commanded to be set apart, for YHVH is set apart. Part of being set apart is to keep His dietary instructions. This is not always easy. Daily, we are tested. Daily, we have to make choices. It feels like a huge sacrifice sometimes, but there is blessing in it.

It is customary in the Netherlands for everybody to give sweets or cookies to children, in supermarkets and wherever you may go. This is very kind of the people, but quite difficult from our perspective, as the majority of sweets contain pork gelatin and most cookies E471, an emulsifier made from pork fat. We have taught our children to decline these gifts graciously. Not easy to do for little ones. The great thing about this though, is that every time they have done so, they were blessed in an unusual way. This has happened so many times that they don’t find it difficult anymore. YHVH has taught them in a special way that there is blessing in being obedient to Him.

That is YHVH’s blessing to all of us. If we are obedient to Him, we shall be blessed, sometimes, in surprising ways!

Isaiah 55:2-3
2 Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And delight yourself in abundance. 3 Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen, that you may live; And I will make an everlasting covenant with you, According to the faithful mercies shown to David.




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26 responses to “To eat or not to eat, what is the Scriptural standard?”

  1. […] clean and unclean animals in Leviticus chapter 11. For some more explanation, please read “To eat or not to eat, what is the Scriptural standard.“ Clean animals were given as food and eating unclean animals is called an abomination. We are […]

  2. Irvin

    Shalom! I really enjoy and appreciate this site, as it has been a blessing to me. Brother or sister, I have an important question regarding the uncircumsized fruit or orlah. I’ve began to observe these laws and desire to fulfill the ones I can, but recently I’ve been having doubts and troubles with plants/fruits/veggies-that they must be 5 years (or older) in order to be ok to eat. That makes me doubt most if not all foods now, and it’s been very tough for me lately to the point where I hardly eat. I need some advice, because now I doubt when I eat certain things (even when they’re organic or heirloom which is supposed to mean they’re non-gmo or even hybrids) but I keep being reminded what our Eternal Father commanded Mosheh at Mt. Sinai-like a reminder keeps on echoing every time I want to eat some that is a plant, and I hate to just ignore this reminder in my heart. I would love to keep this mitzvah but living in a city where no one I know does this is becoming a burden. What happens if I can’t always keep this? Can it turn into a sin? May the Set-Apart Spirit guide you into answering my issue. Blessings,

  3. Pam

    In regards to Greens vs Mushrooms, see

    I just found out about your Web site from my nephew. Thank you for sharing your research. It is very good!


  4. […] We recently were asked how to apply this commandment in our lives. This is a very good question as we also want to plant some fruit trees. We also need to learn how to care for them according to Scripture, as well as when we can start eating of their fruit. For these reasons, we want to explore what this means and how to apply this commandment in our lives. We have mentioned this commandment before in the article “To eat or not to eat…What is the Scriptural standard?“ […]

  5. David

    Dear Schalk and Elsa,

    Please believe that I don’t intend any offense in asking this question. I wondered if I could ask how you reconcile your interpretation of the Law with Acts 10:9-23, and Mark 7:14-23? To me these passages seem to indicate that ritual cleanliness and uncleanliness became obsolete after the coming of Jesus Christ.


    1. David,

      Thanks for the question. These two passages of Scripture are typically used by the Christian church to show that they are in a different dispensation, and thus have new rules. However, studying these two part of Scripture for yourself, we quickly show you that they do not apply the basics of what they teach – consider the complete context. If you do this, you will get the real truth and a lot of the discrepancies in the Scripture will resolve itself. Let me show you!

      Acts 10
      Did Peter eat any of the unclean animals? No he did not. He kept on refusing! He knew that YHVH does not change his mind.
      What did Peter say was the purpose of this vision? To change the definition of clean and unclean? No! See what he says in his own words.

      Acts 10:28
      And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him; and yet YHVH has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean.

      Peter tells us that this vision was to show him not to treat people as unholy. This was the traditional teaching of men during this time. It did not teach him anything about what he was allowed to eat. Read the story in it’s full context and get the answer based on first person experience. Do not elevate what a Christian pastor 2,000 years later tells over what the first person experience teaches you. Peter would know better than the pastor 2,000 years later.

      Mark 7
      Again, we need to get the context right. It will show you that the teaching of the church is not scriptural.
      What would Jew of this time see as things that goes into his body? The food acceptable to a Jew is defined in the book of Leviticus. The Jews of the time of Y’Shua did not see pork, prawns or lobster as anything that would be allowed to go into your body. They did not put this inot their bodies. It is was included in their definition of food.
      The discussion here is not about the definition of “food“, it is about the criticism of eating food with unwashed hands. Y’Shua did not declare that we can now eat pork, He said that eating the foods, as defined by Levitivus, with unwashed hands does not defile man. He was speaking out against the traditions of man trying to add to the commandments given by YHVH.

      Now, to counter your question: What did Y’Shua mean when He said:

      Luke 16:17
      “But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail.

      Matthew 5:17–19
      17 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18 “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 “Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

      If Y’Shua did away with the laws of clean and unclean, what would that make Him according to His own words? “least in the kingdom of heaven” This is not what the Book of Revelation shows us. Y’Shua is clearly not the least in the heaven. Rather, He must be see as the greatest in heaven. This makes Him – “whoever keeps and teaches them”

      What was Y’Shua’s advice to people?

      Matthew 19:17
      And He said to him, “Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.”

      John 14:15
      “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.

      John 15:10
      “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.

      Schalk & Elsa

  6. stacy

    hi, i have a question. it might be kind of stupid, but how do you know what is sacrificed to idols in our modern time.

    1. Shalom Stacy,

      This is not a stupid question. For the most part we don’t, except for food that is certified for another religion.


      1. Nadia

        Then all foods labeled ‘Halal’ falls into this category? Almost everything in our country is labeled Halal. Even the bottled water! How do you understand this? Thank you for your time and effort. Your articles are such a blessing.

        1. Shalom Nadia,

          It sure is getting more difficult to live according to YHVH’s ways. Best is to avoid all pre-prepared or processed food. Fruit and vegetables go a long way and you can get a water filter for the water. That is what we are doing. I don’t know if you live close to a kosher butchery, I know Nussbaums in Johannesburg used to deliver.

          Here in the Netherlands they put pork fat in everything, even in bread, so we had to learn to read labels to avoid eating unclean and then have to avoid halal as well. We have found it to be healthier to eat this way, so although difficult, it proved to be a blessing.

          May YHVH lead you in this also! He is faithful. It feels overwhelming in the beginning, but YHVH will help and guide you.
          Shalom Elsa

          1. Nadia

            Thank you so much for confirming this. We have decided to go Halal free, and my mom have even lost weight! It’s so good to know there are those who walk the same, even though we might be very far away. YHVH have taught us so much since we decided to honor Him in this area, although everybody says it’s just not possible / ridiculous / not necessary. You are truly a blessing. Shalom!!!

  7. Mary

    Please help me understand more regarding what you stated as far as not eating what was harvested during the Sabbatical year. I guess that’s pretty clear-cut but, if this is the Shemitah year, and someone is only finding out about that, what are their options for eating fruits and vegetables during 2015? I will humbly receive any help. Thanks.

    Sincerely, with Shalom


    1. Hi Mary,
      The sabbatical year starts in spring 2016. Thus, you still have around 6 months to prepare. Please look at our articles on preparing for the sabbatical year.

  8. Joshua


    I wanted to present this scripture and more specifically, I want to draw attention to the use of badger skins in the construction of the tabernacle. This is because in the past I had wondered about the use of the skins of unclean animals in clothing. Eg. Pigskin work gloves. This scripture changed my perspective. Grace, mercy and shalom in Meshiach.

    Yahweh save you! Joshua Quinn

    Ex 25:1-9 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: “Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering. “And this is the offering which you shall take from them: gold, silver, and bronze; “blue, purple, and scarlet thread, fine linen, and goats’ hair; “ram skins dyed red, badger skins, and acacia wood; “oil for the light, and spices for the anointing oil and for the sweet incense; “onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod and in the breastplate. “And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. “According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it.

    1. Shalom Joshua,

      They do not know from which animal the skin was, “badger” is just one interpretation. The NASB translated it as “porpoise” skins. the ESV as “goat skins”. The Complete Jewish Bible, Lexham English Bible and New revised standard version translate it as “fine leather” The Dictionary of biblical languages classify it as sea cow and list the suggestions of dolphin, porpoise or dugone. We may never know. For this reason, we would be careful to make doctrinal deductions from it.

      Schalk and Elsa

  9. […] always understand, but we don’t have to. Sometimes He does show us why. For example, we are commanded not to eat pork. Modern science has proven that pork is bad for our health. We are commanded not to have sexual […]

  10. Chris N

    Regarding mushrooms. Spores and seeds are different, though similar and maybe not worth nitpicking about but they do operate a little differently. Interesting wiki note: “The main difference between spores and seeds as dispersal units is that spores are unicellular, while seeds contain within them a multicellular gametophyte that produces a developing embryo, the multicellular sporophyte of the next generation.”
    The word in Genesis 1:29 says I have given you every herb bearing seed. That word could be herb, herbage, grass, green plant. Wouldn’t the full definition of what plants we are given to eat negate the mushroom which does not have any foliage and therefore is not green nor does it have actual seed? Also, the mushroom is a decomposer. That is quite similar to some of the unclean animals that we don’t eat who are scavengers. Both clean up and take care of dead matter in the world but are not created as food for us. Thank you for your time in this matter. I’m on my own in my thoughts, no one I’ve talked to agrees with me about mushrooms, but for now I’m not eating them in case what I see is correct but I don’t want to be silly about it nor do I want to add to the instructions.

    1. Michal

      I’ve taken this position for years, as have most of my family/friends. I find them repulsive.

  11. Michal

    Thanks for confirming so much in one concise article! Perfect.

  12. […] we are to break any of YHVH’s commandments. To give you a few examples, we are not to eat any unclean food, and we are to abstain from sexual relations during the seven-day Niddah period. These are direct […]

  13. Linda O’Hara

    regarding your article, “To Eat or Not to Eat” Can you recommend a good cookbook? Thank you so much.

    1. Hi Linda, I love using Jewish cookbooks, in particular “kosher by design”very nice recipes

  14. Chris Snyman

    Good day

    all fat is YHVH’s. 17 ‘It is a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwellings: you shall not eat any fat or any blood.’ ”.

    Can I deduct from this that I am not allowed to eat any animal fat whatsoever and that no animal fat rendered can be used for cooking

    1. Shalom Chris,
      No, the prohibition against eating fat is limited to certain fat. The fat tail of the sheep, fat around the entrails and fat in the lions belong to YHVH. Two different Hebrew words are used for the different kinds of fat. See also section with the heading “Fat”in the article for more detail on this.

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