The biblical dietary laws are primarily about holiness NOT just health!

What is the chief attribute of Yehovah Elohim? It is holiness, for this is what Scripture revealed that the spirit beings in his heavenly throne room are chanting day and night.

 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the YHVH of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!” (Isa 6:1–3)

The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: “Holy, holy, holy, YHVH Elohim Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!” (Rev 4:8)

What is holiness? The Bible defines it is as those things, people, times and practices that YHVH himself has determined are to be set apart or are above or are transcendent. Set apart from or transcendent above what? From those things that are mundane or earthly, defiled or polluted by sin or by that which is unholy and ungodly.

Why is it important to know that the chief character attribute of Elohim is holiness? Because he wants his children to be holy as he is holy (Lev 11:44, 45). Why is this? Because he wants to spend eternity with his redeemed and glorified children, for without holiness no one will see Elohim (Heb 12:14). It’s really that simple! Therefore, it’s important that his children learn now the difference between what YHVH considers to be the holy and the profane (Lev 11:47), so we can hang out with him in his holy presence for eternity.

Natan’s Commentary Notes on Leviticus Chapter Eleven

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 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 just prior to the Maccabean revolt (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 (U). 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 Exod 22:31; Lev 11:45; 19:2; 20:7, 26;  21:28; 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 andstay 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)

We also stay set-apart or holy by walking in accordance with YHVH’s Torah commandments. The Scriptures are clear on this: holiness or being set-apart from world cannot be separated from obedience to YHVH’s Torah instructions in righteousness.

Every where in Scripture (Exod 22:31; Lev 11:45; 19:2; 20:7, 26;  21:28; 1 Pet 1:16) where YHVH’s saints are commanded to be holy, the command is tied to obedience to his laws be they his dietary laws, the Sabbath, honoring one’s parents, treating one’s neighbor ethically, being a righteous minister, or not succumbing to the pagan practices of the world including sexual immorality, witchcraft, sorcery and witchcraft. To be sure, when we practice holiness by living according to the word of Elohim, it will set us apart and make us different from the world. We cannot be like the world and be holy, set-apart and pleasing to Elohim.

Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with Elohim? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of Elohim. (Jas 4:4)


4 thoughts on “The biblical dietary laws are primarily about holiness NOT just health!

  1. Incidentally,the word “Israel” means “to be right with Elohim.”

    • “To be right with El” is not the primary definition of the name Israel according to the best Hebrew lexicons. Allow me to explain.

      Israel/יִשְׂרָאֵל. According to the best Hebrew lexicons, the Hebrew words making up the name Israel [Strong’s H3478, H410; BDB 441a, 975b, 1096b; TWOT 2287a] can have several meanings:

    • He rule (as) El (God).
    • He contends with El.
    • El persists, perseveres.
    • Let El persist or contend
    • To prevail or have power with El.

      The name Israel is comprised of two Hebrew words: sarah and el.

      Sarah/שָׂרָה (Strong’s H8280) is a primitive verb root meaning “to prevail.”

      El/אֵל (Strong’s H410) means “God” and is the short form of the word Elohim (God).

      Interestingly, the name Israel contains a couple of other Hebrew words although the lexicons don’t indicate any lexical connection between them and the name Israel. These words are:

    • Yashar/יָשָׁר (Strong’s H3477) meaning “straight or upright.
    • Sar/שַׂר (Strong’s H8269) meaning “a head person, captain, ruler, chief, master or prince.” Sar is used in the famous Prince of Peace passage in Isaiah 9:6—a notable prophetic reference to Yeshua the Messiah.

      Because of the similarities between the Hebrew words Israel and yashar and sar, some Bible students have taken the liberty to see within the name Israel some other meanings that the lexicons don’t recognize. It is interesting to note these similarities, but whether there is a lexical connection between these words or not, I cannot say because I am not an expert in the Hebrew language.

      • Todah Rabah Brother Nathan for doing justice to this issue.

      • ISRAEL;- I am creating a woman with the strength of a man. Yirmeyahu 31:21(22)

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