The Real Story Behind the Biblical Kosher Laws—Holiness!

Leviticus 11:1–47, The biblical dietary laws are about holiness. Let’s briefly discuss the subject of clean and unclean meats. The focal point of biblical dietary laws are holiness and separation. There are other issues here that need to be explored as well. How serious are you about obedience to YHVH’s commands, or is your belly your god? (See Phil 3:19; Rom 16:18.) Do your taste buds or the Word of YHVH rule your life? Remember, Torah covers all aspects of life: physical, spiritual, emotional, relational, civil, agricultural, political, jurisprudence, religious and economic. ­Torah is a very holistic handbook on life. Are you one who takes the (humanistic) pick-and-choose approach to Torah-obedience? “I’ll obey only the biblical laws that suit me.” Such an approach is akin to what the serpent told Adam and Eve when he said, “You can have it your way … YHVH didn’t really mean what he said when it comes to obedience.”

When most people think of word kosher, the biblical dietary laws come to mind. This is only part of the picture that the Bible presents when it comes to the subject of kashrut. The biblical kosher laws involve not only clean and unclean meats, but many other areas as well such as health issues, holiness (not defiling the body, the temple of YHVH’s Set-Apart Spirit), and separation issues—how we’re to act, live, eat, worship, think, dress and talk differently than the heathens around us. The word kosher derives from the Hebrew word kasher/RAF (Strong’s H3787) meaning “to be straight, right, acceptable” (see Est 8:5; Eccl 11:6; 10:10). YHVH has called his people out of this world and sanctified (set-apart) them to be “straight, right and acceptable” to him. Therefore, YHVH hasn’t give us the liberty to act, speak, dress, eat and live the way the heathens do. He has called us to a higher moral and spiritual standard. We can’t expect to be called the children of the Most High, and still live like the children of the world. We must choose whom we are going to serve (see Josh 24:15): YHVH or mammon and this world (Matt 6:24).

Leviticus 11:4, 47, Unclean. The word unclean is the Hebrew word tameh meaning “defiled, impure, polluted ethically, ritually or religiously” and the word clean is the Hebrew word tahor meaning “pure physically, ceremonially, morally, ethically.” In verse 43, YHVH says that in eating unclean meats one becomes abominable (or detestable, filthy). In Ezekiel 22:26, YHVH rebukes his people because, “Her priests have violated my Torah-law, and have profaned my set-apart [Heb. kadosh] things: they have put no difference between the set-apart and profane, polluted or common, neither have they shown difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths, and I am profaned among them.” In Leviticus 11:45, the Torah states, “For I am YHVH that brought you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your Elohim. You shall therefore be set apart, for I am set apart/holy.” 

In 2 Corinthians 6:16–17, we read:

And what agreement does the temple of Elohim have with idols? For you are the temple of the living Elohim; as Elohim has said, “I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their Elohim, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be you separate,” says the Master, “and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.” (emphasis added)

The issue of clean or pure and unclean, polluted or abominable meats is not simply a dietary or health consideration, but a spiritual issue with YHVH. Both Moses (Lev 19:2) and the apostolic writers had a clear sense of the fact that without holiness no one will see YHVH (Heb 12:14), and that holiness or being kadosh or set-apart from the ways, lifestyles, ideologies of this world (i.e. from spiritual Egypt) is an absolute requirement of YHVH for his people. Is it possible to spiritualize away the concept of set-apartness and still be true to the Word of Elohim? Can one be spiritually sanctified (set-apart) through the atoning work of Yeshua at the cross, but then have a polluted lifestyle? Can one profess a righteous lifestyle and be set-apart without walking out that lifestyle? Can one follow the spirit of the law and violate the letter and still be acceptable to YHVH? What did James say about faith without works (Jas 2:20)? What did Yeshua teach at the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5–7) about uniting the letter and the spirit of the law and practicing both? (Specifically read Matt 5:21–48 for the answer.)

Leviticus 11:10, 20, 23, 41, 42, Abomination. Heb. sheqets (Strong’s H8263) meaning “a detestable thing or idol.” It can also mean “to make abominable” or “contaminate.” This word is also used in connection with idolatrous practices, either referring to the idols themselves as being abhorrent and detestable in Elohim’s sight, or to something associated with the idolatrous ritual (The TWOT, pp. 954–955; e.g. Jer 16:18; Ezek 5:11; 7:20; 2 Chron 15:8). Not only are the idols an abomination, but those who worship them become detestable as well (Hos 9:10). In fact, the word abomination in “abomination of desolation” as mentioned in Daniel 9:27 and 12:11 is the same Hebrew word. It is generally viewed that this prophecy was fulfilled when Antiochus Ephiphanes (a prophetic foreshadow of the Antichrist) set up an idol of Zeus in the Jerusalem temple (ibid.). It should be clear that when YHVH uses sheqets (or its cognates) in relationship to certain practices (e.g. eating unclean meats or idol worship) that he is attempting to impress upon his people the extreme gravity of the sins they are committing against him. 

Leviticus 11:42, Goes upon the belly/creeps upon the earth The Hebrew letter vav in the word gachon (Hebrew for the word belly) is elongated. According to the Jewish tradition this is the middle letter of the Torah and refers back to the six curses places on the serpent in Gen. 3:14–15. Vav is the sixth letter in the Hebrew alphabet.

This is the only other place in the Torah were a snake is mentioned. The word gachon appears only twice in the Torah: here and in Gen 3:14–15.

The Jewish sages teach that the original serpent was manlike with legs and arms, but lost them as part of his curse and became like the shape of an elongated vav.

What is the spiritual significance of this? It was also the serpent that seduced and deceived Adam and Eve away from the path of holiness (i.e. obedience to YHVH Elohim’s commandments or path of righteousness). How did the serpent do this? Through food! What we eat or don’t eat speaks volumes about how serious we are about obeying YHVH versus following the lusts of our flesh, which takes us away from being holy as Elohim is holy or set-apart from the ways of the world, the flesh and the devil.

Leviticus 11:44, Be holy [Heb. kadosh], for I am holy [kadosh]. (See also verse 45; Lev 19:2; 20:26; 1 Pet 1:16.) How do we as redeemed believers initially become kadosh or set-apart? This occurs only through the blood of Yeshua, the Lamb of Elohim at the time of our salvation. 

And from Yeshua Messiah, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood. (Rev 1:5)

“Come now, and let us reason together,” says YHVH. “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” (Isa 1:18)

How does one stay set-apart or sanctified and stay in fellowship with a kadosh Elohim? This is accomplished by staying under the blood of Yeshua the Lamb and by confessing and forsaking sin (i.e. violation of the Torah-law of Elohim—1 John 3:4) on a regular basis:

If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness [sin or Torahlessness], we lie, and do not the truth [i.e. Torah/YHVH’s instructions in righteousness], but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Messiah Yeshua his Son cleanse us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:6–9)


15 thoughts on “The Real Story Behind the Biblical Kosher Laws—Holiness!

  1. “How does one stay set-apart…?” Obedience is key but it’s only possible for the redeemed if we will walk in, with & by the Kadosh Spirit. He’s not called the “Holy” Spirit w/o reason. W/o coming under the blood & receiving His Kadoshness, it’s impossible to fulfill Yeshua’s prayer of becoming 1 w/ Him wherein He’s in us & we’re in Him, as He’s in the Father & Abba’s In Him. Good word brother Natan.

    • Thank you. Yes. You’re totally right. Can’t do it without Yeshua living in us through his Set-Apart, Kadosh Spirit. There is no way otherwise. Ancient Israel proved that fact.

  2. What is meant by those who say,” We are not under the law but, under grace?” Do they mean that we do not have to follow the dietary and ancient laws in the Torah for living as Gentiles because the Grace of Yeshua has erased following the law?

    • Yes and no. We are to be led by the Spirit of Jesus Christ in all things. We cannot live formulaic lives….a life that is independent of God and only a hollow religion. We are under grace…but how that ganges our behavior is up to the Jesus…we will uphold the heart of the Law by being led by the Spirit of God who authored yhe Law in the first place…and it will not be a work that we are even responsible but it will be Jesus leading us in paths of righteousness for His name sake.

      • The Spirit of Elohim will not go against the Written Word of Elohim. NO! Never! Or else it is not the Spirit of Elohim that is leading a person, but another spirit. If so, we can make the Bible say anything we want. This is the lie that the serpent told Adam and Eve at the tree of knowledge. Can’t go there, since that’s what got the humanity in the mixed up mess it’s is in to this day. Sadly, the Christian church has absorbed this lie, to one degree or another, and assimilated and codified it into their mainstream theology.It’s called “picking and choosing from the word of Elohim what they want or don’t want to follow” and then blaming it on the Spirit of Elohim. NO! The blame is on rebellious and sinful man who doesn’t want to follow the clear commands of Elohim (Jer 17:9 and Rom 8:7). That’s why YHVH is currently calling his people out of spiritual Babylon (Rev 18:4) which is a confused mixture of truth and error, good and evil.

        Now I just spoke a whole lot of truth in that last paragraph. There are huge depths there that need to be pondered and explored very greatly. He who has ears to hear, let him hear…!

    • They seem to believe that. However, Yeshua has not come to abolish God/Yeshua’s instructions (Torah), but He took upon Himself the death penalty of the Law, so we don’t have to suffer it. Scripture is quite clear that in order to benefit from Yeshua’s atonement, we need to repent from our sins and put our trust in Yeshua, including everything He teaches.
      It wouldn’t make any sense that God gives us His rules for living and after His Son suffers an excruciating death, we can then sin to our heart’s content. Also, if we keep sinning on purpose after we have repented, it means we have not really repented!
      If we are to be kings and priests in His Kingdom, we need to set ourselves apart from the world right now and show our devotion to Him.

  3. Have you considered that the “forbidden fruit” in the garden was a symbol for much more. Could the tree be a symbol for satan? Was there a sexual encounter?

    • I neither promote nor believe in the serpent seed doctrine that Satan had sex with the devil, if this is what you’re alluding to. I will not go there. This is a racist and unbiblical doctrine. End of discussion. Blessings!

  4. Remember it says in Matthew 5:17-19 This is Yeshua speaking 17. Think not that I come to destroy the Torah,or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.18. For verily I say unto you,Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the Torah,till all be fulfilled. 19.Whosoever therefore shall break one of the least of these commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called least in the Kingdom of heaven : but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the Kingdom of heaven.
    Yeshua lived by the Torah and as far as I know the earth has not passed away my friend.As far as grace goes…Grace was around since the Garden of Eden.And Yeshua was around since before the foundation of the world.

  5. Hi Natan, I made my first comment in a rush and my last comment without much thought. Please forgive me if I was offensive. I am sure you moderate the postings and I don’t think that last one needs to be posted, but it is, of course, up to you. I believe I misunderstood you. I get hypersensitive to legalism as I grew up under its terrible yoke. I thought I sensed some of that in your writings and wanted to sound the alarm, but if in your heart you follow and teach as the Holy Spirit leads then great! Who am I to contradict Him and the ministry He has appointed you to. He leads us into all truth, we can always faithfully count on that.

    Have fun,


    • Your apology is accepted. Next time, think before you speak.

      BTW, what we’re doing as ministers of the gospel is not fun and games; it’s life and death issues.

      Blessings in Messiah Yeshua

  6. Jesse writes:

    Natan, I did not say that God would contradict himself. Do you know Jesus Christ of Nazareth who came in the flesh? If I am understanding correctly, you are saying that God’s law must be followed perfectly to the letter and then we will receive God’s approval. Am I hearing you correctly or am I misunderstanding?

    My response:

    Your comment is insulting when you ask me if I know Yeshua who came in the flesh. Have you not read the thousands of articles and videos I have personally produced where I exalt and laud the worship of and obedience to Yeshua the Messiah, and revealing his greatness and lordship countless times from Genesis to Revelation? Could these have come from someone who doesn’t know Yeshua? Yeshua said, “by their fruits you shall know them.” Can these fruits come from someone who doesn’t know Yeshua? Are you kidding me? You obviously have taken a snippet of something that you think I said, and twisted it into something else and are now throwing it back at me. This is shameful!

    I have never ever said that one has to keep the law perfectly in order to receive Elohim’s approval. His love for all is unconditional. Again, you’re twisting my words and accusing me something I have never once said! Again, this is shameful.

    The Bible teaches us that we keep Elohim’s commandments because we love Yeshua, because we want to be like Yeshua, because we want to be holy as Elohim is holy, because we don’t want to sin, because keeping his commandments will bring us rewards in Elohim’s kingdom, because we want to walk in righteousness, and because his laws are written on our hearts because we have Yeshua living in us through his Spirit. What part of this do you not understand?

    My words are strong, but you need a dose of reality to wake you up from your spiritual stupor. If you can’t handle this, then switch the channel and find someone who’ll tickle your ears and put you back to sleep.

    Everything I’ve said here including my loving but firm rebuke to you can be backed up with countless Scriptures from both the OT and NT.

    This is NOT Mister Roger’s Neighborhood, and I’m not Mister Rogers.

    Love and blessings to you in Yeshua the Messiah.

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