I have always found the wisdom behind why the Israelites were not to eat pigs, catfish and vultures to be inspiring, but I wonder if you have ever read the medical reasons behind the “unclean and clean” laws of the Old Testament. Of course, back then, they wouldn’t have known all of the nitty gritty details as we do now, but it DOES make sense that God would have known….
Instead of writing all this myself, I knew my thoughts already existed out there on the web. I found a pretty good explanation that seems to read similar to how I would write. According to the site, it’s source is the Fundamentals Book on Christian Behaviour.
“Only after the Flood did God introduce flesh as food. With all vegetation destroyed, God gave Noah and his family permission to eat flesh foods, stipulating that they were not to eat the blood in the meat (Gen. 9:3-5) or the fat.Another stipulation Scripture implies, is that God told Noah that he and his family were to eat only what God identified as clean animals. It was because Noah and his family needed the clean animals for food as well as for sacrifices (Gen. 8:20) that God instructed Noah to take seven pairs of each kind of clean animal, in contrast to only one pair of each kind of unclean, with him into the ark (Gen. 7:2, 3). Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 provide extensive expositions on clean and unclean foods.
By nature, unclean animals do not constitute the best food. Many are either scavengers or predators — from the lion and swine to the vulture and the bottom-dwelling, sucker-type fish. Because of their habits they are more apt to be carriers of disease. God made the rules pretty specific. You can eat meat of an animal that has cloved hooves (in other words a split down the middle like cows, goats, sheep, etc) AND chews it’s cud. It has to satisfy BOTH conditions, not one or the other. Horses and camels do not have split hooves and are not considered clean. Pigs have cloved hooves but do NOT chew their cud (cud chewers regurgitate their food, rechew it, and reswallow it – normally to a different stomach). Pork contains a worm called the Trichina worm which gets into your muscle tissue and causes great pain. Even if you cook pork well, you are eating dead worms instead of live ones. Why was the hare or rabbit included as unclean food; as it does not have cloved hooves but has paws? God said NOT to eat any meat from animals that walk on all fours that have paws instead of hooves. Why is the rabbit or hare on the list of unclean foods? The rabbit re eats part of it’s stool as it doesn’t have separate stomachs to get the nutrients out of the food as does a cow; so it recycles part of it’s feces in this manner for the purpose of extracting more nutrients from the food. Their digestive system is very inefficient, apparently, and it helps to send it through a few times and get out remaining food value. But along the way they are also concentrating their own body’s waste products.
Leviticus 11:13 is very specific on what types of fowl you cannot eat; if it is not mentioned there, you can consider it edible. Most of us would not eat the species of birds mentioned there anyway. God tells us not to eat flying insects that walk on all fours; with some exceptions such as the locust, grasshopper, and cricket which are okay to eat. He tells us creatures that move around on the ground or on it’s belly are not to be eaten; such as the rat, snake, weasel, or lizard.
The fish God said you can eat must have BOTH fins and scales; not one or the other, but BOTH. This eliminates most of the bottom feeders that eat garbage off the sea or lake floor. How interesting that he made the bottom fish to have skin but no scales, even though many have fins, to go along with his word. What is the probability of that??? Species such as halibut, flounder, kelp greeling, octopus, cabazon, ling cod, and catfish all have skin but no scales and are on the no-no list along with shrimp, lobster, scallops, crabs, oysters, clams, snails, sea cucumbers, – all feeding off the junk on the bottom of the sea.
Studies have revealed that “in addition to the moderate amounts of cholesterol found in both pork and shellfish, both foods contain a number of toxins and contaminants which are associated with human poisoning.” In Washington where I lived; the red tide warnings every summer were broadcast to those picking and eating shellfish. The red tide was a form of toxic plankton which the clams and oysters took in that provided a paralyzing effect on the central nervous system with a possible result of body system failure and death.
By abstaining from unclean foods, God’s people demonstrated their gratefulness for their redemption from the corrupt, unclean world around them (Lev. 20:24-26; Deut. 14:2). To introduce anything unclean into the body temple where God’s Spirit dwells is less than God’s ideal.
I always find this information to be interesting, I hope you did too.
If you have abundant time, here is a link that includes some GREAT detail into why unclean animals are bad for you. Click HERE
Another educational post: A Christian Truth