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Bible: Leviticus 11 -What is the rationale?

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Any reason on the selection of what to eat and what not to ?

 

Are the animals listed only local fauna on the middle east, not including other 'creations of God' from other continents ?

 

Guinea pigs, crabs, lobster, turkey, clams... are they "unclean" ?

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The reason has to do with maintaining good health. It was thought that eating 'unclean' foods could lead to human disease.

 

"Clean" land animals are ruminants—grazing animals such as
cattle, sheep, deer and elk—whose digestive tracts are designed to turn
grass that human beings cannot digest into meat that we can digest. Most
unclean animals are carnivores or scavengers that can transmit
dangerous diseases to human beings. Pigs eat roots and grains, rather
than grass, and thus are ecological competitors to human beings. Clean
fish have fins and scales. Unclean aquatic organisms like clams and
oysters are filter feeders that purify water, and that concentrate
poisonous chemicals and pathologic bacteria and viruses in their
tissues. Eating an oyster is like eating your vacuum cleaner bag—yet
modern connoisseurs do not like to think about this! Crabs and lobsters
are scavengers that eat dead things on the bottom of bodies of water.
Most unclean birds are carnivores or scavengers. God in His wisdom
inspired laws that protect humans from contracting dangerous diseases,
but also protect "nature's clean up crew" by making them "off limits" as
food for mankind.

http://www.tomorrowsworld.org/node/579

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I remember that the carrion-eaters were considered unclean.

 

Turkeys? They had turkeys in the Middle East back then? I don't think so, but maybe you're talking about a variant of the American turkey.

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I meant if the message came from God, who knew all species himself created in all other continents, why weren't those listed, as the turkey among many...

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God knew all the species He had created, you may be sure. This is proved by the great detail He went into regarding birds:

 

"These are the birds you shall regard as vermin, and for this reason they shall not be eaten: the griffon-vulture, the black vulture, and the bearded vulture, the kite and every kind of falcon; every kind of crow, the desert-owl, the short-eared owl, the long-eared owl, and every kind of hawk; the fisher-owl, and the screech-owl; the little owl, the horned owl, the osprey, the stork, every kind of cormorant, the hoopoe, and the bat." (Leviticus 11, v. 13-19, NEB trans.)

 

Obviously, He slipped up with the bat, as that's a mammal. Perhaps He nodded off after all the owl-listing.

 

As for species created on other continents, He wisely refrained from citing them - if He'd prohibited eating llamas or aardvarks, it would only have confused His Middle Eastern proteges.

Edited by Dekan

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Anyone who thinks a bat is a bird is not bright enough, or well enough educated, to offer reliable dietary advice.

 

I rather suspect that the reason for the strange food rules is to mark the group of "followers" as different from the group of "outsiders".

 

That's very important if you plan to badmouth them.

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I meant if the message came from God, who knew all species himself created in all other continents, why weren't those listed, as the turkey among many...

 

I guess it's a miracle that the Hebrew priests who wrote Leviticus had a word for turkey since they'd never seen one before.

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Anyone who thinks a bat is a bird is not bright enough, or well enough educated, to offer reliable dietary advice.

 

I don't suppose it ever occured to you that that "the birds" is a poor translation of the Hebrew word e·ouph, or that although a bat certainly isn't a bird it might very well be an ouph.

 

Which it is.

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That's a good point: when translating, error lurks at every turn.

 

If the NEB translators had used the term "flying creatures", instead of "birds", that would have removed the "bat" anomaly. Though it would raise further problems: ie insects, such as locusts, which are also flying creatures.

 

Locusts are dealt with in verses 20-24 of Leviticus, as follows (NEB):

 

"All teeming winged creatures that go on four legs shall be vermin to you, except those which have four legs jointed above their feet for leaping on the ground. Of these you may eat every kind of great locust, every kind of long-headed locust, every kind of green locust, and every kind of desert locust. Every other teemed winged creature that has four legs you shall regard as vermin; you would make yourselves unclean with them: whoever touches their dead bodies shall be unclean till evening. Whoever picks up their dead bodies shall wash his clothes but remain unclean until evening."

 

You can see the problem - why are hexapod locusts described as having "four legs"?

Edited by Dekan

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Maybe the science of taxonomy was not as well developed then as it is today? That might explain why the ancient Hebrews didn’t have different words for avian ouphs and mammalian ouphs. And as for why they thought locusts had four rather than six legs, I suppose it’s the same as why some people think decapod crabs have eight rather than ten legs. wacko.png

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Crimson, I take your point about the Hebrews having a broad "ouph" categorisation. It's like we can say in English "fliers". The term covers all kinds of flying organisms. Such a term is not too bad, though it lacks precision.

 

But Leviticus says locusts have 4 legs. That's just plain wrong. I mean, elementary observation disproves it, you don't need advanced taxonomy or a microscope!

 

The error seems hard to explain.

Edited by Dekan

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Thanks.


OK, good explanation there; for maintaining good health. Acceptable. Do not know why eating unlisted kangaroo, iguana, penguin, vicuña, orca... would or would not be healthy.

The reason has to do with maintaining good health. It was thought that eating 'unclean' foods could lead to human disease.

 

unsure.png "It was thought" by who ? By the decretor of the dietary rules ? And that was...

 

And the purpose of avoiding contracting dangerous diseases... those diseases were created by...

Edited by Externet

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And the purpose of avoiding contracting dangerous diseases... those diseases were created by...

Demons, if you would have asked the people who wrote the Bible. Thing is, they didn't know anything back then (by today's standards). They had no clue about germs and virus or why the Sun rose in the morning. My best guess is that these "rules" came about over generations of trial and error. Someone might perhaps have become ill after eating a lobster once. So by word of mouth, this turned into a rule, which was then accepted as law, and eventually written down. So while lobster in itself isn't bad for you (prepared right), they suspected something was off, and wrote lobster off the menu. Perhaps later, the whole idea of lobster being bad for you was lost in translation, and only left a rule about not eating it, thus rendering it simply unclean.

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unsure.png "It was thought" by who ? By the decretor of the dietary rules ? And that was...

God.

 

In Leviticus 11–20, where these laws are first outlined in detail, we find that "the Lord

spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying to them, 'Speak to the children of

Israel, saying, "These are the animals which you may eat"'" (Leviticus

11:1–2). This same introductory statement precedes the enumeration of

other health laws in the book of Leviticus. According to the Bible, the

author of the biblical health laws was not Moses—but God Himself!

http://www.tomorrowsworld.org/node/579

Do not know why eating unlisted kangaroo, iguana, penguin, vicuña, orca... would or would not be healthy.

I imagine you follow the same guidelines as give for the listed animals.

"Most unclean animals are carnivores or scavengers that can transmit

dangerous diseases to human beings. Pigs eat roots and grains, rather

than grass, and thus are ecological competitors to human beings. Clean

fish have fins and scales. Unclean aquatic organisms like clams and

oysters are filter feeders that purify water, and that concentrate

poisonous chemicals and pathologic bacteria and viruses in their

tissues."

Edited by zapatos

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Yep.

Dietary rules mandated by God to prevent diseases created by God.

If the diseases were created by demons, who created demons... God -creator of everything-unsure.png

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Crimson, I take your point about the Hebrews having a broad "ouph" categorisation. It's like we can say in English "fliers". The term covers all kinds of flying organisms. Such a term is not too bad, though it lacks precision.

 

But Leviticus says locusts have 4 legs. That's just plain wrong. I mean, elementary observation disproves it, you don't need advanced taxonomy or a microscope!

 

The error seems hard to explain.

 

This seems like a really silly gnat over which to strain. It's colloquial language, like calling them "creepy crawlies". Every speaker of modern English knows that locusts can properly be called creepy-crawlies even though they really don't either creep or crawl: they walk very well, and they move pretty quickly for their size. If you referred to locusts as creepy crawlies and someone called everything else you said into question on those grounds, you'd righty look on him as a pedantic idiot.

 

But that's exactly what you're doing here. Every speaker of ancient Hebrew knew that locusts were one of e'elk ol-arbo, and it's silly to think that you can come along 3000 years later and say that they didn't know what they were talking about merely because you have linguistic preconceptions that are alien to theirs.

Edited by chilehed

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Yep.

Dietary rules mandated by God to prevent diseases created by God.

If the diseases were created by demons, who created demons... God -creator of everything-unsure.png

Sorry, I missed your point.

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This seems like a really silly gnat over which to strain. It's colloquial language, like calling them "creepy crawlies". Every speaker of modern English knows that locusts can properly be called creepy-crawlies even though they really don't either creep or crawl: they walk very well, and they move pretty quickly for their size. If you referred to locusts as creepy crawlies and someone called everything else you said into question on those grounds, you'd righty look on him as a pedantic idiot.

 

But that's exactly what you're doing here. Every speaker of ancient Hebrew knew that locusts were one of e'elk ol-arbo, and it's silly to think that you can come along 3000 years later and say that they didn't know what they were talking about merely because you have linguistic preconceptions that are alien to theirs.

Yes, and your case could be further bolstered by citing "centipedes" and "millipedes".

 

Centipedes don't necessarily have exactly 100 legs. And I'm pretty sure millipedes haven't got 1,000 of them, despite what the name implies. The name just colloquially suggests a huge array of waving little legs, which can't easily be counted at a glance. The "milli-" prefix is imaginatively hyperbolic. Not scientifically precise.

 

That's all obvious. But locusts aren't like millipedes. Locusts have just 6 legs, an easy number to count. So why ascribe only 4 legs to them?

 

I mean,suppose Leviticus had said "You shall not eat creepy-crawlies, with this exception: locusts". That would be clear. I can't understand why Leviticus attributes 4 legs to the locusts. It seems a pointless piece of freakishness.

Edited by Dekan

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  Yes, and your case could be further bolstered by citing "centipedes" and "millipedes".

 

Centipedes don't necessarily have exactly 100 legs. And I'm pretty sure millipedes haven't got 1,000 of them, despite what the name implies. The name just colloquially suggests a huge array of waving little legs, which can't easily be counted at a glance. The "milli-" prefix is imaginatively hyperbolic. Not scientifically precise.

 

That's all obvious. But locusts aren't like millipedes. Locusts have just 6 legs, an easy number to count. So why ascribe only 4 legs to them?

 

I mean,suppose Leviticus had said "You shall not eat creepy-crawlies, with this exception: locusts". That would be clear. I can't understand why Leviticus attributes 4 legs to the locusts. It seems a pointless piece of freakishness.

 

I think I explained that pretty well: it was a very different culture from ours. Their literary conventions, methods of classifying animals, ideas about the significance of numbers, and colloquial phrases were significantly unlike ours, and it's a mistake to not take that into account.

 

E'elk ol-arbo literally means something like "the one going on four" but it wasn't intended to be taken with a wooden literalism, in the same way that "I ran all over town on a wild goose chase" isn't intended to mean "I went quickly by moving my legs more rapidly than at a walk and in such a manner that for an instant in each step both of my feet were off the ground, and in doing so I passed within three feet of every point within the legal boundaries of the city, in an attempt to catch a waterfowl of the family anatidae."

 

The passage wasn't intended to teach the exact number of legs various creatures have, it was intended to discuss which ones were permissible to eat. There's absolutely no confusion at all about the actual topic of the passage, and it wasn't until very recently that anyone started making obtuse claims that the passage means that locusts have four legs. And in fact, you agree in principle with the idea that, depending on context, it's not necessarily important to be scientifically precise. The problem seems to be that you don't like their cultural application of the principle, but (and please forgive the blunt way I say this) who the heck are you? eyebrow.gif

Edited by chilehed

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.... And in fact, you agree in principle with the idea that, depending on context, it's not necessarily important to be scientifically precise. The problem seems to be that you don't like their cultural application of the principle, but (and please forgive the blunt way I say this) who the heck are you? eyebrow.gif

 

I can tell you who I am not - I am not claiming to have had an audience with god, nor am I compiling a set of rules for which I claim divine providence, nor claiming that others should live their lives on the basis of those aforementioned rules. To compare my dodgy posts on the internet, their quality, and precision with a holy book that supposedly sets out both praxis and ethos seems a little unfair. I know people who draft legislation - if they provided copy like that they would be rapidly finding alternative employment.

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But I still think the "We don't eat shellfish- only heathens do that" was designed to separate "us" from "them"

Could be, but why do you think that?

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