BIBLE STUDY SERIES #254, 255 and 256

29 September, 1996

THE FOOD WE EAT - PART III

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

We began this ongoing series of Bible Studies several years ago back in Genesis 12 with God's Call to Abram, and since that time we have progressed steadily through the successive Scripture passages in the Genesis and Exodus accounts, to the present studies in the Book of Leviticus. The children of Israel have expanded their numbers in Egypt, and thereafter emerged from bondage with wealth to their present encampments at the foot of Mount Sinai where Moses is acting as intermediary between the newly-formed and constituted nation of Israel and The Almighty God, Yahweh (Jehovah), Who has condescended to become their God, and to choose them as His peculiar people. In effect, God has married the nation, as we can substantiate in later passages of scripture as, for example, that found in Jeremiah 3:14.

Presently, we are examining Leviticus 11, the chapter which conveys to the children of Israel the health laws which are concerned with what may and what may not be eaten by those who are classed as God's own nation. These are laws wherein The Almighty God lays down specific health rules for the nutrition of His people, and thus, for their healthful preparation for a spirit-filled holy service to Himself.

As we discovered in a previous lesson, this passage forms part of a set of teachings regarding ceremonial uncleanness, which is unacceptable in a holy people. As we stated on a previous broadcast, The New Bible Commentary mentions this in the following words under the heading "Laws Regarding Uncleanness" which it applies to Leviticus 11:1 to 15: 33: "'Unclean' (defiled) is the conspicuous word in this group of chapters. It occurs more than 100 times. Almost equally noteworthy is the rare occurrence of the word 'sin' (evil, wickedness). This indicates that here the emphasis is on the ceremonial rather than on the ethical. Yet it does not follow that uncleanness is a matter of minor importance. Failure to do what God has commanded is sin, whether the act be ceremonial or moral. Unclean is the antithesis of holy. Everything which is inconsistent with the holiness of God may be described as uncleanness."

We had examined in Leviticus 11:1-8 those foods which would be available in the categories of animals upon the land, and in 9-12, those from the world of fish or other life taken from the sea. These have been parted into two companies in each case. Some are acceptable as clean foods for God's people, the others are not. We now find, as we approach today's Scripture passage, beginning at verse 13, the third category of potential foods, that pertaining to the air and including birds and other things that fly. These, as with the others, are distinguished in regard to the designations clean" and "unclean"; healthy and unhealthy as food. Let us read this passage of instruction given by Yahweh, (Jehovah) through Moses to His people for their benefit through all history. As we read, keep in mind the position which we of the British-Israel-World Federation continually affirm; namely, that the present-day Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred peoples now form the vast majority of the descendants of these same Israelites to whom God, in love, imparted these health laws. They now apply to ourselves, and the wise will not evade their application, regardless of the misguided views which discard Old Testament Laws. This is the word of The LORD:

13. And these are they which ye shall have in abomination among the fowls; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the ospray,
14. And the vulture, and the kite after his kind;
15. Every raven after his kind;
16. And the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckow, and the hawk after his kind,
17. And the little owl, and the cormorant, and the great owl,
18. And the swan, and the pelican, and the gier eagle,
19. And the stork, the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat.

Now, as The Companion Bible has explained, some of those Hebrew names of species of birds mentioned in this passage are not easily defined in an English translation. For example, in regard to the word "eagle" it suggests that this is, in fact better translated as "vulture." Of the "ossifrage", it notes "A rendering of the Heb. 'bone breaker', from taking their prey up in the air and dropping it on a rock to break it." The "ospray", it translates in the marginal notation as "sea eagle", and the "vulture", it terms "kite", which it equates with "falcon." The "raven", it appears, means black birds of all kinds, while "cuckow" is "Probably = sea gull." For "little owl", it suggests simply "owl", and for "cormorant", "the 'darter'", but "great-owl" interprets the Hebrew word for "night-bird." The "swan", it states, is "not our swan: it is variously rendered 'ibis', 'bat', 'heron', and 'pelican'." Of "pelican", it indicates "vomiting pelican." "gier eagle" is "little vulture. Heb. 'the merciful'." "Stork" is from Hebrew meaning "the pious", and rendered "stork" in Job 39:13 (margin) and other references. It explains that "Heron" in the Hebrew original means "the cruel." To "Lapwing" it assigns the meaning "hoopoe, a dirty bird." The "Bat" receives the comment "A vile creature and symbol of evil (Isa. 2.20): comes last as a link between two classes, quadrupeds and birds." (I realise that those who study these small webbed creatures may disagree, but I am seeking to unfold the concept conveyed in the commentary regarding permissible foods, and not to apply zoological arguments for or against appreciation of any of God's wild creatures.)

The New Bible Commentary observes that this list of twenty birds is "stated entirely from the negative side." It adds "Dt. xiv. 11 states positively, but briefly, 'all clean birds ye shall eat' without naming them, and then gives a list almost identical with the one given here. The clean birds would include doves, pigeons, quail, sparrows. No mention is made of the eating of eggs (cf. Dt. xxii. 6f)." That reference speaks of the permission to take eggs from a nest, but to let the mother bird go free. In Luke 11:12, Our Lord spoke concerning a father's care of a son, saying "Or if he shall ask an egg will he offer him a scorpion?" in a sequence which contrasts good requests with evil responses. Thus, Our Lord showed approval of the eating of an egg, presumably that of a dove, or some other approved bird. He used the care of a mother hen as a symbol of His own care for the people of Jerusalem, so I might suggest that a hen was among those approved in this listing also. The New Bible Commentary completes this section with the words "Many of the prohibited birds are birds of prey. Birds which fed on carrion, like the kite and vulture, would be especially obnoxious."

Keil and Delitzsch devote over five pages to a much more detailed discussion covering the same ground, but mentioning in a much more extended examination the Hebrew word or words for each bird which appears in the passage, the scholarly views of other authorities, the ranges and characteristics of the various birds suggested as probable candidates for identification in the translation, the views current within the Arab lands, and other points of interest to augment the knowledge of the specialist. I would suggest that those who may wish to research the matter further would do well to include a reading of that account by Keil and Delitzsch in their studies. They do supply, in a footnote quotation, one comment ascribed to "Knobel" which I ought to mention. "The list is 'hardly intended to be exhaustive, but simply mentions those which were eaten by others, and in relation to which, therefore, it was necessary that the Israelites should receive a special prohibition against eating them'." As our time has about expired for today's study, we may do little more than read the remaining four verses of our present Scripture passage in the moments left to us, in order to let us see the completion of our theme carried forward to a logical break in the sequence.

20. All fowls that creep, going upon all four, shall be an abomination unto you.
21. Yet these may ye eat of every flying creeping thing that goeth upon all four, which have legs above their feet, to leap withal upon the earth;
22. Even these of them ye may eat; the locust after his kind, and the bald locust after his kind, and the beetle after his kind, and the grasshopper after his kind.
23. But all other flying creeping things, which have four feet, shall be an abomination unto you.

The passage ends with these verses which pertain to variants of the locust, a class of insect which may not appeal to every palate, but which, in the context of a desert setting of that day might form a last resort for sustenance. Here, the Companion Bible supplies these thoughts: "these: being all 'after his kind', are probably four different species of the same, viz.: locust = swarming locust. bald locust = devouring locust. beetle = chargol (or wingless) locust. grasshopper = chargab locust, Nu. 13.33", etc.. (That reference pertains to the report of the spies sent to search out the Promised Land, who returned to report that they were as grasshoppers in comparison to the sons of Anak then inhabiting the land!) I shall perhaps add a comment by Keil and Delitzsch next week.

Having all these considerations in view, we might seek the general themes which underlie the naming of these various specified creatures. Generally plant eaters are less likely to be prohibited, while meat or carrion eaters are more likely to be classed as unclean.

We close with the knowledge that, for those nations observing God's Laws, God provides sufficient of those foods which are healthful, but it is for us, as individuals, to seek out, and to select, those foods which are permitted us, in order to form our own bodies for the most effective service to Him.

6 October, 1996

THE FOOD WE EAT - PART IV

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

Our ongoing series of Bible Studies has taken us from the Call of Abram in Genesis 12, where we began this series several years ago, down through the generations of his progeny Isaac, Jacob (Israel), and Israel's sons. As their families enlarged into tribes in Egypt, Israel had come under bondage from which they had been rescued through the Exodus under the leadership of Moses who had been sent for that purpose back to Egypt by The Almighty God, Yahweh (Jehovah).

In Exodus, we followed their fortunes as the Israelites gathered at the foot of Mount Sinai, and following their agreement to what was essentially a proposal of national marriage to Yahweh, their God, these Israelites had been receiving instruction in the manner of their organization as a nation, and the manner of their service of worship, with a focus in The Tabernacle. In Leviticus, we have studied amplifications of laws regarding their priestly relationship to God and to one another. We have most recently been studying the food-laws of Leviticus 11, and here we have seen that The Holy God is concerned with the health and well-being of His people. The directives are formed as simple statements in Laws which appear to be of a ceremonial nature, but which have a very practical thrust in connection with the physical health of the people. Incidentally, I might mention a reference entitled "A Handbook of Bible Law", by Charles A. Weisman in which there can be found a good summary statement for each area of the Old Testament Laws. Treatment of these laws regarding food is included under the Chapter 14, heading "Food And Health Laws" for those who are interested.

As these laws are related to the health and well-being of the physical bodies of those concerned the idea that we, who seek the same standards of health are "no longer under law" opens the path to the possibility that illnesses will make their appearance among us. Stating, as some do, that all such laws are now "done away" would, in that case appear as very bad advice! We certainly do need to give heed to the words of a loving God, whether granted to our ancestors of the time of The Exodus, or today.

That last statement may appear to require some further explanation. We, of the British-Israel-World Federation sustain, as long-time listeners will know, the Biblical exposition which holds in prominent view the national message which is contained in the Holy Scriptures. We believe, with good evidence, that the generally Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred peoples of the world today are the God-promised nations of modern-day Israel who descend quite literally out of those ancient tribes of Israel of whom the Bible chiefly records the earlier roots and history. These were deported by the Assyrians, and never returned to Palestine, in spite of erroneous teaching by some who presume to expound upon scripture. The promises were to involve, eventually, many nations of peoples all related as Israelites, and these we perceive to be fulfilling their pre-ordained destinies today, in a state of blindness though they may be, because even that condition of general blindness was to mark them towards the end of the age-long process. It is only at the termination of those years that they are prophesied to awaken to who they really are, and we believe that this time is now upon us.

Last week, we had reached Leviticus 11:23, finishing up with some verses which allow the eating of the locust or grasshopper, unlike other insects, and I mentioned at that time that I might have a few comments from Keil and Delitzsch upon these points before continuing. They describe some cultural points regarding the ancient dietary inclusion of these locusts by certain groups among the peoples of Asia and Africa, explaining how the locusts have been strung on cords for the market or dried and bagged for winter use, although mention is also made of the point that "many of the tribes of Arabia abhor them." Of the practice of the last century at the time when the Commentary by Keil and Delitzsch was written, we find that "They are generally cooked over hot coals, or on a plate, or in an oven, or stewed in butter, and eaten either with salt or with spice and vinegar, the head, wings, and feet being thrown away. They are also boiled in salt and water, and eaten with salt or butter. Another process is to dry them thoroughly, and then grind them into meal and make cakes of them." More information is supplied by the Commentary for those desiring further details on the subject.

Now let us read today's Scripture portion: Leviticus 11, starting at verse 24:

24. And for these ye shall be unclean: whosoever toucheth the carcase of them shall be unclean until the even.
25. And whosoever beareth ought of the carcase of them shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even.
26. The carcases of every beast which divideth the hoof, and is not clovenfooted, nor cheweth the cud, are unclean unto you: every one that toucheth them shall be unclean.
27. And whatsoever goeth upon his paws, among all manner of beasts that go on all four, those are unclean unto you: whoso toucheth their carcase shall be unclean until the even.
28. And he that beareth the carcase of them shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even: they are unclean unto you.

Here, Keil and Delitzsch explain "In vers. 24-28 there follow still further and more precise instructions, concerning defilement through contact with the carcases (i.e. the carrion) of the animals already mentioned." They continue by explaining that of these four verses, the first two relate to aquatic and winged animals which were not to be eaten, and the last two to quadrupeds. Any who touched such a carcase must remain unclean for the rest of the day, and then wash himself. If the carrion had been carried, the clothing also must be washed. Continuing:

29. These also shall be unclean unto you among the creeping things that creep upon the earth; the weasel, and the mouse, and the tortoise after his kind,
30. And the ferret, and the chameleon, and the lizard, and the snail, and the mole.
31. These are unclean to you among all that creep: whosoever doth touch them, when they be dead, shall be unclean until the even.
32. And upon whatsoever any of them, when they are dead, doth fall, it shall be unclean; whether it be any vessel of wood, or raiment, or skin, or sack, whatsoever vessel it be, wherein any work is done, it must be put into water, and it shall be unclean until the even; so it shall be cleansed.
33. And every earthen vessel, whereinto any of them falleth, whatsoever is in it shall be unclean; and ye shall break it.
34. Of all meat which may be eaten, that on which such water cometh shall be unclean: and all drink that may be drunk in every such vessel shall be unclean.
35. And every thing whereupon any part of their carcase falleth shall be unclean; whether it be oven, or ranges for pots, they shall be broken down: for they are unclean, and shall be unclean unto you.
36. Nevertheless a fountain or pit, wherein there is plenty of water, shall be clean: but that which toucheth their carcase shall be unclean.
37. And if any part of their carcase fall upon any sowing seed which is to be sown, it shall be clean.
38. But if any water be put upon the seed, and any part of their carcase fall thereon, it shall be unclean unto you.

Keil and Delitzsch explain "To these (the previous verses) there are attached analogous instructions concerning defilement through contact with the smaller creeping animals ... which formed the fourth class of the animal kingdom." They state "Eight of the creeping animals are named, as defiling not only the men with whom they might come in contact, but any domestic utensils and food upon which they might fall; they were generally found in houses, therefore, or in the abodes of men." Again, with their usual attention to detail, Keil and Delitzsch provide further material for the consideration of the specialist. If a dying or dead animal fell into a pot wherein food was prepared by use of water both the pot and the contents were unclean, and could not be used. The pot was to be broken.

The Companion Bible supplies probable substitute words for some names which are hard to translate. The Hebrew for "weasel" is equated to "the glider or slipper", "mouse" is "the corn destroyer", "tortoise" is "the inflated", and is probably the toad. The "ferret" is thought to be "hedgehog" and the "lizard" a "wall-lizard." In verse 31, "unclean" is better "most unclean."

These rules of hygiene make eminent sense to us today with our knowledge of contamination by bacteria and we can but wonder at the fact that the ancients understood the principles so long ago. We must remember that the generally hot climates of the lands wherein these rules were imparted would doubtless increase the danger of swift contamination by dead bodies.

Perhaps I can just leave with you the meditation that, even though we are ignorant of the reasons for God's rules and laws, God is not ignorant of the dangers against which they are designed to protect us. Even as children learn to trust the injunctions of their parents, not perhaps fully understanding why they are thus instructed, but nevertheless being protected from harm thereby, so we, though not knowledgeable to the level of Our Creator, can benefit through paying attention to His instructions. May you enjoy such blessings this coming week.

13 October, 1996

THE FOOD WE EAT - PART V

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

This ongoing series of Bible Studies, which we began several years ago with God's Call to Abram, in Genesis 12, has progressed down the centuries and the generations of his progeny to the situation wherein the children of Israel are encamped before Mount Sinai while Moses is being granted instructions for their benefit by Yahweh, (Jehovah), their Mighty God. These instructions, as we discovered as we made our way through the Book of Exodus, had included the acceptance by the people of Israel of a national proposal of marriage to God, The Commandments, containing the Law of national and individual conduct relating man to God and man to man, the provision for cleansing by sacrifice looking down the centuries to Calvary as we now know, the building of the national focus of worship called The Tabernacle, and the manner of the Priesthood. On our last programme we had reached Leviticus 11, in which The Almighty God has been instructing Moses regarding certain dietary restrictions, which outlined categories of the animal kingdom which are, and which are not, permissible to be used as food by the people of His holy nation of Israel.

In this chapter, the instructions have thus far examined the four categories; which we might list as: the larger quadrupeds, water animals, birds life, and other creeping or flying creatures. We then read a passage which explained the need to abstain from even touching their dead bodies, (the carrion) of such creatures, lest impurity result, and the necessary steps to be taken should this occur. Perhaps we might just amplify one or two points before we continue. In verse 32, we read "And upon whatsoever any of them, when they are dead, doth fall, it shall be unclean; whether it be any vessel of wood, or raiment, or skin, or sack, whatsoever vessel it be, wherein any work is done, it must be put into water, and it shall be unclean until the even; so it shall be cleansed." Here we find that if the article is used in some manner of work, and made of whatever materials might be soaked and washed successfully, these must be given a good soaking until the end of the day and washed out. However in verse 33 we found that "every earthen vessel, whereinto any of them falleth, whatsoever is in it shall be unclean; and ye shall break it." The porous nature of the pottery would not allow such vessels to be successfully cleansed of the contamination, and so, to prevent disease, such must be broken to prevent re-use.

In verse 34 we saw that "Of all meat which may be eaten, that on which such water cometh shall be unclean: and all drink that may be drunk in every such vessel shall be unclean." Water used to flush and wash away the contaminating residue would, itself, naturally be unfit to drink, and might further contaminate anything else. In verses 35-38, we saw how utensils of other varieties such as ovens and places where the contaminated pots might rest would also be considered contaminated by these dead bodies, and such must also be broken down, lest their contamination result in disease or death. Those verses read:

35. And every thing whereupon any part of their carcase falleth shall be unclean; whether it be oven, or ranges for pots, they shall be broken down: for they are unclean, and shall be unclean unto you.
36. Nevertheless a fountain or pit, wherein there is plenty of water, shall be clean: but that which toucheth their carcase shall be unclean.
37. And if any part of their carcase fall upon any sowing seed which is to be sown, it shall be clean.
38. But if any water be put upon the seed, and any part of their carcase fall thereon, it shall be unclean unto you.

By their nature of construction such things could not be cleansed, and so must be destroyed. A fountain of running water, or a large body of water might allow the impurity to be carried away, and so that source of water could continue to be used. Should the dead creature chance to fall upon grain which was dry and hard shelled, and which was later destined to be sown into the ground, the dead creature would not impart contamination to such grain, however, should that grain be wet, for example in the process of its preparation as food, as in the case where it was seething in a pot, and thus the protective husks be softened, permitting entry of the contamination to the inside of the grain, then that grain was considered contaminated and must be destroyed along with the pot which contained it.

Today, we have reached Leviticus 11:39-47, a passage which addresses the question of those animals which were in the categories permissible to act as food, but which had died of themselves. Let us read today's portion, and we shall then comment thereon.

39. And if any beast, of which ye may eat, die; he that toucheth the carcase thereof shall be unclean until the even.
40. And he that eateth of the carcase of it shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even: he also that beareth the carcase of it shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even.
41. And every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth shall be an abomination; it shall not be eaten.
42. Whatsoever goeth upon the belly, and whatsoever goeth upon all four, or whatsoever hath more feet among all creeping things that creep upon the earth, them ye shall not eat; for they are an abomination.
43. Ye shall not make yourselves abominable with any creeping thing that creepeth, neither shall ye make yourselves unclean with them, that ye should be defiled thereby.
44. For I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
45. For I am the LORD that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.
46. This is the law of the beasts, and of the fowl, and of every living creature that moveth in the waters, and of every creature that creepeth upon the earth:
47. To make a difference between the unclean and the clean, and between the beast that may be eaten and the beast that may not be eaten.

Here we can see the summing up of the chapter's contents. We can understand that The Almighty God was specifically concerned that those people who had made a covenant with Himself should be carefully and lovingly instructed regarding a simplified set of rules or laws which would serve to avoid food poisoning, and to eliminate the main sources of such diseases in their preparation of their food.

As we have been making some general statements regarding the diet of those ancient Israelites, it might not be out of place to note that the former centuries had seen a gradual increase in the types of food which were permitted to God's people. Back in the Garden of Eden, we have read in Genesis 1:29 how God, their Creator, had instructed Adam and Eve regarding their range of permissible foods. We read there "And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat." In Genesis 2:9, we read further "And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil." Without going into the specifics of those particular trees at this time, we can see that provision had been made in that garden for all the necessary produce required to sustain Adam and Eve with a full supply of every nourishment in those foods which were available without the input of hard labour on their part. True, Adam, as we see in verse 15, was placed in the Garden "to dress it and to keep it", but that task would have been a pleasant employment, much like the delights which arise when beautiful gardens of flowers are created by and for the pleasure of mankind.

As Adam and his descendants were forced to leave the Garden of Eden, they had to enter a wider world wherein the ground was cursed, and wherein thorns and thistles grew (Genesis 3:17-18), and, as verse 19 states, "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return." In this harder setting, hunger would create the need to employ a wider range of living matter for food.

Noah, in Genesis 6:21, had been instructed "And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather it to thee; and it shall be for food for thee, and for them" (That is, the animals in the ark). We see in his day the use of fermented grapes and other foods which might not have been required by Adam in The Garden of Eden, for, as God said to Noah in Genesis 9:3-4, "Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat."

Now we find, in Moses' day, that the list of available foods is to be culled for Israel's use, because the Israelites, a holy people dedicated to a particular service before The Almighty God, are to eat only those foods which will sustain their bodies and minds clear of any of the diseases which lay upon the Egyptians, from among whom they had just emerged.

As our time has elapsed, I shall have to close with these words of assurance: "A holy God, Who loves us, will not, in His holy word, lead us into the use of anything which will encumber us with disease, but we have to obey His instructions in order to receive the benefits of those instructions. May you have health and strength to accomplish your tasks during the days ahead." We shall continue these studies next week.

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