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 Continue reading

 

Videos: The Bible on Clean and Unclean Meats

This video presents the heart and spirit behind the biblical dietary commandments. A free study guide is available at http://hoshanarabbah.org/pdfs/food_for_thought.pdf.

In this video, Natan discusses controversial passages in the New Testament that many Bible teachers use to invalidate the Old Testament dietary laws, and he shows how their arguments are illogically invalid.

 

Was Peter a pork eater?

Acts 10:13–15, In Peter’s vision of the sheet covered with unclean animals, the voice from heaven commanded him three times to kill and eat these unclean animals. Peter was confused by the meaning of this vision since being a Torah-law abiding Jew he knew that eating unclean meat was forbidden and in good conscience he could not do that which was contrary to YHVH’s Torah-law, for to do so was sin (sin is the violation of the law, 1 John 3:4).

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Often visions are metaphorical in nature and not literal. There are many examples in the Scriptures of people receiving metaphorical visions. For example, read the books of Daniel and Revelation. Indeed, Peter’s vision was no exception, for no sooner had the vision ended when three Gentile men appeared at his door seeking the gospel message and the Spirit of Elohim bade Peter to go and to meet them. Peter then realized that the interpretation of his vision was that he should not call any man common or unclean; that is, the gospel message is for all people regardless of their ethnicity (verse 28). In Peter’s case, Bible itself interprets his vision. The issue is not about whether it is now permissible to eat non-kosher meat or not, but rather the Spirit of Elohim was directing the apostles to begin taking the gospel to the Gentiles, who by Jewish standards were considered common and unclean (verse 28).

Now consider this. If Yeshua had meant to say in Matthew 15:11 and Mark 7:18–19 that it was now permissible to eat all foods including those meats that the Torah prohibits to be eaten (e.g., pork, shellfish, etc.), presumably Peter would have known this, since he was present when Yeshua made the statement (see Matt 15:15). If Peter knew that Yeshua had given the okay for his disciples now to eat unclean meat, why then did Peter so strongly object when the voice from heaven commanded him to eat the unclean animals in the vision (Acts 10:13–14)? Obviously, Peter had not changed his opinion about not eating unclean meat, since Yeshua had never annulled the Torah command forbidding the eating of unclean meats in the first place.

 

Did Yeshua Advocate Eating Pork and Other Unclean Meats?

Matthew 15:11, see Mark 7:19, Thus He declared all foods clean. This phrase is excluded from the KJV, but is included in the NAS, NIV and some other modern translations. Some Bible teachers see this phrase as Yeshua’s endorsement for eating unclean meats such as pork. Even if this phrase were in the original  language, Yeshua would never have considered swine to be food—a very non-Jewish concept and out of context with a Torah-adherent society. Furthermore, the Jews in his audience would have strongly reacted against Yeshua saying such a thing. What’s more, earlier in this passage Yeshua upholds the Torah over men’s tradition (Mark 7:6–13), and so Yeshua wouldn’t be teaching anything against the Torah by saying we can eat swine!

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The Hebrew Roots Version, which is a translation from the Aramaic, confirms the KJV rendering of this verse. However, some of the modern texts (e.g., the NIV and NAS) add the phrase to the end of this verse, “In saying this [Yeshua] declared all foods clean.” This variant phrase in the newer English translations is the source of the confusion in the minds of many who read this.

The KJV is translated from the Greek family of manuscripts called the Textus Receptus or Received Text, which until the end of the nineteenth century was accepted as the most authoritative and purest manuscripts by the Protestant church. On the other hand, the newer (e.g., the NAS and NIV) translations derive from another family of Greek manuscripts that were rejected by early Protestant scholars as being inferior to the Textus Receptus, but liberal scholars from England challenged these beliefs of earlier scholars and were instrumental in popularizing the variant and previously rejected family of Greek manuscripts (called the Western family of texts).

The debate has raged on for more than 100 years as to which family of manuscripts is the oldest and most reliable and in accordance with the actual autographs (which no longer exist). But since no one knows for sure, can we approach the issue of determining whether the added words in the newer English translations, “In saying this [Yeshua] declared all foods clean” are accurate or not per the original language? Was Yeshua saying here that the dietary laws delineated in the Torah are now nullified? If so, would this be consistent with the rest Yeshua’s teachings?

Briefly, what was Yeshua’s stand on the Torah? In Matthew 5:17–19 he said,

Think not that I am come to destroy the Torah-law, or the Prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the 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 here instructed his followers to not think that he had come to annul the Torah-law.

Then in Mark 7:9 Yeshua rebukes the religious folks of his day for nullifying the Word of Elohim by their man-made traditions. What did he mean by the phrase Word of Elohim? When he made this statement there was no “New Testament,” but only the Tanakh (or “Old Testament”). He was rebuking the Jews for changing YHVH’s Word of which the biblical dietary laws in the Torah were a part. So for him to rebuke the Jews for changing the Word of Elohim, and then a few verses later to be advocating the annulment of the dietary laws found in that Word would have made Yeshua not only a hypocrite, but a Torah-law breaker and thus a sinner (1 John 3:4). To suggest that Yeshua was a law-breaker is utter blasphemy(!) and nullifies the entire gospel message and the rest of the Testimony of Yeshua. Therefore, he could not have been advocating the violation of the Torah-law, and at the same time be the Word of Elohim made flesh and be YHVH’s sinless redemptive Lamb, as the newer translations imply by the addition of the phrase, “In saying this [Yeshua] declared all foods clean.” Therefore, we utterly reject this phrase as it appears in our modern Bibles as a corruption of the original text.

By looking at the context, we see that the issue in these passages in Matthew and Mark was not about eating kosher versus not eating kosher, but whether it was allowable to eat with unwashed hands or not. According to Jewish non-biblical oral tradition, it was imperative for one to go through an elaborate hand washing ceremony for mystical reasons before partaking of food. These commandments were rooted in traditions of men, not in the Torah-law of YHVH. Yeshua is taking the Jews to task for placing more emphasis on man-made traditions rather than on the pure and firm Word of Elohim. This seems to be a chronic problem in many religious circles even in our day. Sunday worship replaced the seventh day Sabbath. Christmas and Easter replaced the appointed feasts of YHVH such as Passover, Pentecost and the Feast of Tabernacles. And the list goes on.

Even beyond the issue of Jewish handwashing traditions, Yeshua was using this as a teaching opportunity to instruct the Jews on the issues of the heart. Whether one eats with unwashed hands or not is of less importance to Elohim than the unwashed condition of the carnal human heart. Religion has made a fine art of addressing surface issues or gilding the proverbial “garbage can,” while overlooking the contents therein. This is what Yeshua was really addressing in this passage.

 

An Analysis of NT Scriptures that Purport to Invalidate the Biblical Dietary Laws

Fasten your seat belts … here we go!

Matthew 15:11 and Mark 7:18-19

And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him; because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats? (Matt 15:11, KJV)

And He said to them, “Are you so lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him; because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?” (Thus He declared all foods clean.) (Matt 15:11, NASV, emphasis added)

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These are parallel passages in that they record the same events. Mark’s account reads, “And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him; because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats?” (KJV) The Hebrew Roots Version, which is a translation from the Aramaic, confirms the KJV rendering of this verse. However, some of the modern texts (e.g., the NIV and NAS) add the phrase to the end of this verse, “In saying this [Yeshua] declared all foods clean.” This variant phrase in the newer English translations is the source of the confusion in the minds of many who read this.

The KJV is translated from the Greek family of manuscripts called the Textus Receptus or Received Text, which until the end of the nineteenth century was accepted as the most authoritative and purest manuscripts by the Protestant church. On the other hand, the newer translations derive from another family of Greek manuscripts that were rejected by early Protestant scholars as being inferior to the Textus Receptus, but Continue reading

 

New Video: What the New Testament Says About Clean and Unclean Meats

In this video, Natan discusses controversial passages in the New Testament that many Bible teachers use to invalidate the Old Testament dietary laws, and he shows how their arguments are illogically invalid.

  • What does it mean when Mark says, “And he [Yeshua] declared all foods clean”?
  • What about Peter’s vision of the sheet with unclean animals?
  • Will prayer over food sanctify unkosher food?
  • What did Paul mean when he said that “nothing is unclean of itself”?
  • What did Paul mean when he told us to let no man judge us in the things we eat?
  • Did Yeshua and Paul tell us to eat whatever is put before us when we’re at someone’s home, even if it’s unclean?

Find the answer to these questions in this video.

A free study guide is available at http://www.hoshanarabbah.org/pdfs/food_for_thought.pdf.

Watch this video at