Titos (Titus) 1:15-16:
(15) Indeed, all matters are clean to the clean, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving no matter is clean, but both their mind and conscience are defiled.
(16) They profess to know Elohim, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unfit for any good work.
This seems as good a place as any to begin a study of clean and unclean food. Later studies may go into the fullness of “clean versus unclean,” but we will focus solely on foods and the misconceptions/misquoted scriptures there in. Also realize that I am not talking about what a “Rabbi” declares clean or what the “Jewish Dietary Laws,” also known as “Kashrut,” state are clean (although many are the same), but what the Scriptures say are suitable for consumption!
Vegetables and Fruit were introduced in the beginning of the Scriptures. The first instance occurs in Genesis 1:11-12,29.
Beresheit (Genesis) 1:11-12,29:
(11) Elohim said, “Let the eretz (land/earth) put forth grass, herbs yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit after their kind, with its seed in it, on the eretz,” and it was so.
(12) The eretz brought forth grass, herbs yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit, with its seed in it, after their kind: and Elohim saw that it was tov (good/functional).
(29) Elohim said, “Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed, which is on the surface of all the eretz, and every tree, which bears fruit yielding seed. It will be your food.
– The criteria here for fruits and “herbs”/vegetables are those that produce seed after their own kind. Most fruits, vegetables, legumes, herbs, and grains that you can think of fall into this criteria of “clean,” simply study them to find out how they reproduce and there you have it. Few possible exceptions exist and require further personal study: For example – mushrooms, which are actually fungi, reproduce by spores and grow on dead, decomposing matter.3
The first passage defining which meats are “clean” to eat is Leviticus 11:1-23,27,29-31,41-47.
Vayikra/Wayikra (Leviticus) 11:1-23,27,29-31,41-47:
(1) Now Yahweh spoke to Mosheh and Aharon, saying to them,
(2) “Speak to the children of Yisra’el, saying, ‘These are the animals which you may eat among all the animals that are on the earth:
(3) ‘Among the animals, whatever divides the hoof, having cloven hooves and chewing the cud—that you may eat.
– Examples of cloven hoofed animals, that chew the cud and are acceptable to eat: cow/cattle (oxen -no, beast of burden), sheep, goat, deer/venison, bison/buffalo, elk, moose, giraffe (Not in Kashrut)
(4) ‘Nevertheless these you shall not eat among those that chew the cud or those that have cloven hooves: the camel, because it chews the cud but does not have cloven hooves, is unclean to you;
– Examples of other non-cloven hoofed animals, that chew the cud and are not acceptable to eat: horse, mule/donkey – they are beast of burden made for the work of the field, not for food.
(5) ‘the rock hyrax, because it chews the cud but does not have cloven hooves, is unclean to you;
– This animal, also known as the Cape Hyrax, rock badger, rock rabbit, or “dassie,” is an herbivore native to South Africa. It looks like a robust, oversized guinea pig, or a rabbit with rounded ears and no tail, and yet it is not related to an of the rodent family.1,2 Sometimes simply translated as rabbit, although not really appropriate based on the word that it is translated from.
(6) ‘the hare, because it chews the cud but does not have cloven hooves, is unclean to you;
– This covers both the hare and the rabbit which chew the cud but do not have cloven hooves.
(7) ‘and the swine, though it divides the hoof, having cloven hooves, yet does not chew the cud, is unclean to you.
(8) ‘Their flesh you shall not eat, and their carcasses you shall not touch. They are unclean to you.
– Pigs we never meant to be eaten! “The other white meat” was meant to be a “living garbage disposal.” They were considered unclean to eat and to touch. In Temple days, you could not even raise pigs and live within the walls of Yerushalyim (Jerusalem).
(9) ‘These you may eat of all that are in the water: whatever in the water has fins and scales, whether in the seas or in the rivers—that you may eat.
– We have plenty of examples of clean fish: Bass, perch, snapper, salmon, trout, pike, halibut, cod, etc. Possible exception is tuna! (It is considered clean by Kashrut) Tuna have what are called “micro-scales.” The can be easily observed under a microscope, and yet, I do not think that they had microscopes in Moses’s time. I will leave that one up to your personal belief and judgment….
(10) ‘But all in the seas or in the rivers that do not have fins and scales, all that move in the water or any living thing which is in the water, they are an abomination to you.
– Examples of unclean in the seas: Shark, squid (sorry Calamari lovers), Octopus, eel (except Conger Eel, its not really an eel but an “oar-fish”), Shellfish (Crabs, crawfish/crayfish, shrimp/prawns – Sorry Gulf Coast), Lobster, Clams, Mussels, Oysters, Catfish (No scales and eat of dead), otter, nutria, beaver.
(11) ‘They shall be an abomination to you; you shall not eat their flesh, but you shall regard their carcasses as an abomination.
(12) ‘Whatever in the water does not have fins or scales—that shall be an abomination to you.
(13) ‘And these you shall regard as an abomination among the birds; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, the vulture, the buzzard,
– This and the following six verses are typical referring to “birds of prey” and many eat of the dead or are scavengers. Among those that you may eat – chicken, turkey, dove, pigeon, Cornish game hens, and robins. Questionable amongst the Kashrut are duck and goose (see verse 18 explanation for why).
(14) ‘the kite, and the falcon after its kind;
(15) ‘every raven after its kind,
(16) ‘the ostrich, the short-eared owl, the sea gull, and the hawk after its kind;
(17) ‘the little owl, the fisher owl, and the screech owl;
(18) ‘the swan, the pelican, and the carrion vulture;
– The word “swan,” also translated in various versions as the water hen, white owl, barn owl, and horned owl, is derived from the Hebrew word “tanshemeth” תּנשׁמת H8580 meaning “a hard breather, namely a water bird known for iridescent color or irascibility (easily angered).” This term can apply any number of water fowl including duck, mallard, teal, swan and possibly goose. This may be a little deeper than most want to go, but I will leave the “clean meat” question to you…
(19) ‘the stork, the heron after its kind, the hoopoe, and the bat.
(20) ‘All flying insects that creep on all fours shall be an abomination to you.
(21) ‘Yet these you may eat of every flying insect that creeps on all fours: those which have jointed legs above their feet with which to leap on the earth.
(22) ‘These you may eat: the locust after its kind, the destroying locust after its kind, the cricket after its kind, and the grasshopper after its kind.
– Other insects commonly listed as “clean flying insects” – katydid and beetle
(23) ‘But all other flying insects which have four feet shall be an abomination to you.
– Insects that fly which are not clean include – butterfly, moth, bee (although you may eat honey), wasp, gnat/mosquito, fly, roach/cockroach and mantis.
(27) ‘And whatever goes on its paws, among all kinds of animals that go on all fours, those are unclean to you. Whoever touches any such carcass shall be unclean until evening.
– This list includes all dog and cat species (i.e. dogs, wolves, coyotes, cats, lion, tiger, cheetah, hyena, etc.)
(29) ‘These also shall be unclean to you among the creeping things that creep on the earth: the mole, the mouse, and the large lizard after its kind;
– This list includes animals from the rodent family or scavengers on the earth (mouse, rat, mole, vole, groundhog, raccoon, skunk, opossum, armadillo) and what is generally accepted as the tortoise family.
(30) ‘the gecko, the monitor lizard, the sand reptile, the sand lizard, and the chameleon.
– This list includes all reptiles that are lizard-like – lizards, geckos, salamanders, chameleons, Gila monsters, monitor lizards, crocodile/alligator/caiman, etc.
(31) ‘These are unclean to you among all that creep. Whoever touches them when they are dead shall be unclean until evening.
(41) ‘And every creeping thing that creeps on the earth shall be an abomination. It shall not be eaten.
(42) ‘Whatever crawls on its belly, whatever goes on all fours, or whatever has many feet among all creeping things that creep on the earth—these you shall not eat, for they are an abomination.
– Here we have snakes, spiders, centipedes, worms – basically whatever “creepy-crawlies” that were not mentioned in the previous verses.
(43) ‘You shall not make yourselves abominable with any creeping thing that creeps; nor shall you make yourselves unclean with them, lest you be defiled by them.
(44) ‘For I am Yahweh your Elohim. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be set-apart; for I am set-apart. Neither shall you defile yourselves with any creeping thing that creeps on the earth.
(45) ‘For I am Yahweh who brings you up out of the land of Mitsrayim (Egypt), to be your Elohim. You shall therefore be set-apart, for I am set-apart.
(46) ‘This is the law of the animals and the birds and every living creature that moves in the waters, and of every creature that creeps on the earth,
(47) ‘to distinguish between the unclean and the clean, and between the animal that may be eaten and the animal that may not be eaten.’ ”
– So out of this, our Heavenly Father and Creator set forth what was to be eaten and not eaten in order to be set-apart (Holy) as He is set-apart. Spiritual cleanliness and sanctification was of utmost importance to Father- it is they way in which He calls us to worship him. Just like sin corrupts the flesh and leavening raise the entire lump, eating unclean foods defiles your body and your spirit – through disobedience to the will of Yahweh.
– Remember that Messiah told us in the Gospels that the Torah was not done away with:
Mattityahu (Matthew) 5:17-19:
(17) “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.
(18) “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.
(19) “Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Luços (Luke) 16:16-17:
(16) “The law and the prophets were until Yochanan (John). Since that time the kingdom of Elohim has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it.
(17) “And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the law to fail.”
Common misconceptions and misquoted scriptures:
There are a couple of Scriptures in the New Testament that are frequently cited as Yahushua the Messiah doing away with the “kosher laws” and supporting unclean eating, or the apostles doing so. Lets examine them to verify the truth and dispel the misconceptions.
Marços (Mark) 7:14-23:
(14) When He had called all the multitude to Himself, He said to them, “Hear Me, everyone, and understand:
(15) “There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man.
(16) “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!”
(17) When He had entered a house away from the crowd, His disciples asked Him concerning the parable.
(18) So He said to them, “Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him,
(19) “because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?”
(20) And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man.
(21) “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,
(22) “thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness.
(23) “All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”
– This passage from the Book of Mark, and its companion scripture in Mattityahu (Matthew) 15:1-20 is often quoted by anti-Torah teachers, priest and preachers alike supporting the abolishing of the Dietary laws. If you pluck a single line of this scripture out of context and build doctrine around it, it can be very convincing! Verses 18 & 19, in particular, may seem like a great advertisement for pork or seafood, or whatever unclean food you could think of and yet if you believed that, you are way off in your understanding and interpretation.
– Mark 7 begins with the questioning of Yahushua by the Pharisees as to why the talmidim (Apostles) do not wash their hands before eating bread – (5) Then the Pharisees and scribes asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands?” Yahushua is trying to point out to the Pharisees that are creating traditions, or adding to the scriptures, laws and customs that elevate themselves above their brethren. He is also making a point for all to realize that its not the filthy hands, that holds the bread, that defiles the body, but what comes out from the inside that defiles us. The tradition that the Pharisees referenced is found in Talmud Tractate Sotah 4b:
R. Zerika said in the name of R. Eleazar: Whoever makes light of washing the hands [before and after a meal] will be uprooted from the world. R. Hiyya b. Ashi said in the name of Rab: With the first washing [before the meal] it is necessary to lift the hands up; with the latter washing [after the meal] it is necessary to lower the hands. There is a similar teaching: Who washes his hands [before the meal] must lift them up lest the water pass beyond the joint, flow back and render them unclean. R. Abbahu says: Whoever eats bread without first wiping his hands is as though he eats unclean food; as it is stated: And the L-rd said: Even thus shall the children of Israel eat their bread unclean. 4)
– Messiah then begins to expound on the understanding that it is not what we put into our bodies that defiles, yet what comes from wicked thoughts, feelings, and emotions that come from the mind and heart that defiles. He is not saying that you can stick anything in your mouth and it will be purified by the body, Heaven forbid! Yahushua was a Jew, of the tribe of Yehudah (Judah), he would have never stuck anything unclean in His mouth because it wasn’t considered food to them! For instance, most of you do not eat dog meat, and hence, you would not consider it even worthy of consideration as food. So please realize, Yahushua is using the metaphor of food here, and yet his premise has nothing to do with food but the explanation to all of what defiles the body!
Romayim (Romans) 14:14-15:
(14) I know and am convinced by the Master Yahushua that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.
(15) Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died.
– Here is another example where context is the key to understanding what Sha’ul (Apostle Paul) is saying. He is trying to settle a dispute amongst the congregation about what is to be eaten, what is not, and preventing brethren from falling into sin because of another’s actions. Some, in those times, were preaching a doctrine that the only food acceptable for consumption was vegetables and fruit, citing only the examples from Genesis and excluding the meat related scriptures in Leviticus. Much like those of “the Circumcision” that you hear Sha’ul preach against, many were preaching bad doctrine to confuse and divide the followers of Yahushua, going so far as to call things “unclean” that were declared clean to consume. Again, please realize that there was a very clear understanding amongst the learned followers of Messiah about what was food and what was not.
– Sha’ul is reminding the faithful that whatever they do, they should do it unto the Master and not of themselves. He also reminds them of the dangers of harsh, unfair judgement:
Romayim (Romans) 14:8-13:
(8) For if we live, we live to the Master. Or if we die, we die to the Master. If therefore we live or die, we are the Master’s.
(9) For to this end Messiah died, rose, and lived again, that he might be Master of both the dead and the living.
(10) But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of Messiah.
(11) For it is written, “‘As I live,’ says the Master, ‘to me every knee will bow. Every tongue will confess to Elohim.'”
(12) So then each one of us will give account of himself to Elohim.
(13) Therefore let’s not judge one another any more, but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block in his brother’s way, or an occasion for falling.
– So, while food is a part of this, the greater message is to be your brothers keeper, rejoicing in the victory and salvation of the Messiah, and not reveling in your brother’s failings or becoming his stumbling block.
Ma’asei (Acts) 10:9-16:
(9) The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Kepha (Peter) went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour.
(10) Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance
(11) and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth.
(12) In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air.
(13) And a voice came to him, “Rise, Kepha; kill and eat.”
(14) But Peter said, “Not so, Master! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.”
(15) And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What Elohim has cleansed you must not call common.”
(16) This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again.
– I know from personal experience that this is one of the scriptures that the Catholic church cites for unclean eating, particularly pork and shellfish. The problem with their interpretation, as well as many others in the Christian world, is that Kepha (Peter) goes on to give a partial interpretation of the vision later in this scripture (Acts 10:28,34-35) and full interpretation in Acts 11:3-15:
Ma’asei (Acts) 10:28,34-35:
(28) He said to them, “You yourselves know how it is an unlawful thing for a man who is a Yehudi (Jew) to join himself or come to one of another nation, but Elohim has shown me that I shouldn’t call any man unholy or unclean.
(34) Kepha opened his mouth and said, “Truly I perceive that Yahweh doesn’t show favoritism;
(35) but in every nation he who fears him and works righteousness is acceptable to him.
Ma’asei (Acts) 11:4-15:
(4) But Kepha began, and explained to them in order, saying,
(5) “I was in the city of Yapho praying, and in a trance I saw a vision: a certain container descending, like it was a great sheet let down from heaven by four corners. It came as far as me.
(6) When I had looked intently at it, I considered, and saw the four-footed animals of the eretz, wild animals, creeping things, and birds of the sky.
(7) I also heard a voice saying to me, ‘Rise, Kepha, kill and eat!’
(8) But I said, ‘Not so, Master, for nothing unholy or unclean has ever entered into my mouth.’
(9) But a voice answered me the second time out of heaven, ‘What Elohim has cleansed, don’t you call unclean.’
(10) This was done three times, and all were drawn up again into heaven.
(11) Behold, immediately three men stood before the house where I was, having been sent from Caesarea to me.
(12) The Spirit told me to go with them, without discriminating. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered into the man’s house.
(13) He told us how he had seen the angel standing in his house, and saying to him, ‘Send to Yapho, and get Shim`on, whose surname is Kepha,
(14) who will speak to you words by which you will be saved, you and all your house.’
(15) As I began to speak, the Ruach HaKodesh fell on them, even as on us at the beginning.
– Notice that despite the command to “Rise, kill, and eat,” Kepha never kills or eats any of the animals. His response is“Not so, Master! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.” Kepha, growing up as a Jew, never once had a pulled-pork sandwich, ham, or boiled seafood, and thus, solidifies the Torah concerning what is clean to eat. The vision was, like the other scriptures listed thus far, a metaphor for the coming events which were of much greater importance than food – the pouring out of the Ruach Ha Kodesh (Set-apart/Holy Spirit) amongst the gentiles. The Yehudim, by custom and tradition, did not socialize, speak to, or eat with the goyim (translated as “gentiles,” actually means “strangers, non-native, of the world”) and considered them “unclean and common.” So you can see the vast importance of this new revelation to the Yehudim and the Body of Messiah – His salvation was for all of mankind who call upon His name!
Timotiyos Aleph (1 Timothy) 4:1-5:
(1) Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons,
(2) speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron,
(3) forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which Elohim created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.
(4) For every creature of Elohim is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving;
(5) for it is sanctified by the word of Elohim and prayer.
– Our Final misquoted and misunderstood scripture comes yet again from Sha’ul. The very first line in this scripture selection reiterates what was previously written in Romans 10 – bad doctrines meant to deceive the congregation. Where we begin to speak of food is in verse 3: “forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which Elohim created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.” The foods Elohim created to be received with thanksgiving are those which we referenced in the beginning of this study and no others. (Gen 1:11-12,29; Lev 11:1-23,27,29-31,41-47) Verse 4 and 5 are often represented as – “if you pray over your food and give thanks for it, you can eat whatever you want!” We should be thankful for all of Yahweh’s provision and pray for its continuance, for He guarantees us food and covering so that we do not have to worry about it (Please see the “Food and Covering” study for more info), but may be able to proclaim the Kingdom message! You cannot take 4 & 5 out of context and neglect verse 3 which describes what creatures are good – those which were created for food! Clean food is sanctified by the word of Elohim, because Yahweh was the one that made the distinction in the beginning, amongst the Children of Yisra’el in the wilderness, amongst the Kingdom of Yehudah (Judah) in Messiah’s time, and even now because neither He nor His son changes:
Malachi 3:6: “For I, Yahweh, do not change; therefore you, sons of Ya`akov, are not consumed.”
Ya’akov (James) 1:17: Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
Ib’rim (Hebrews) 13:8: Yahushua the Messiah is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
We have all, in some way, suffered from lies inherited from our fathers, teachers, pastors, and elders. Yahweh’s “Dietary laws,” his loving instructions on what is food and what is not, was meant to keep us healthy and functioning so that our beings would give Him esteem. The scripture tells us that like the rest of the mitzvoth in the Torah, the Dietary commands are not “too hard” for us. The fact that our Messiah ate clean should be enough evidence of its importance. We should be living our lives as a daily sacrifice to Him and strive to be “messiah-like” for our brethren. I challenge you to re-evaluate your current eating habits and strive to be found righteous in the eyes of Our Loving Father Yahweh and His son Yahushua the Messiah.
1.) Rock Hyrax. https://en,wikipedia.org/wiki/Rock_hyrax
3.) Mushrooms. http://www.foodterms.com/encyclopedia/mushroom/index.html
4.) Babylonian Talmud: Sotah 4b. http://www.come-and-hear.com/sotah/sotah_4.html