About Clean and Unclean Foods in Scripture

What exactly were the commands issued to Moses about food,
and has it been changed since that time?

Author unknown

Leviticus 11:1 -47

Leviticus 11:1 -47 Clearly defines what the Fatherís Law consists of regarding clean and unclean meats........

1And the Almighty spake unto Moses and to Aaron, saying unto them,
2 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, These are the beasts which ye shall eat among all the beasts that are on the earth.
3 Whatsoever parteth the hoof, and is clovenfooted, and cheweth the cud, among the beasts, that shall ye eat.
4 Nevertheless these shall ye not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the hoof: as the camel, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you. etc, etc.......

And the real reasons for doing so, which many never even consider.......

Leviticus 20:25 Ye shall therefore put difference between clean beasts and unclean, and between unclean fowls and clean: and ye shall not make your souls abominable by beast, or by fowl, or by any manner of living thing that creepeth on the ground, which I have separated from you as unclean.
26 And ye shall be holy unto me: for I YHWH am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine.

YHWHís Word describes the flesh of unclean animals as an "abomination" (Leviticus 11:10-13, 20, 23, 41-42) and "detestable" (Deuteronomy 14:3)óand in that light we are heartily warned against consuming such (Leviticus 11:43).

Yes, it is written in very strong language, but the reason is that we need to accept all aspects of YHWHís Word, including the basic food laws in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy14.
YHWH makes no claims in regards to health. He does not specify that camels have more parasites than cows do, or that fish eating herons are more hazardous to us than fish eating ducks. He simply gives us some rules without giving reasons. We are not told why honeybees are unclean but honey can be eaten for it is "clean.". We are not told why bottom-feeding carp may be consumed, but bottom-feeding catfish cannot, or why grasshoppers are acceptable but lobsters and crabs are not.

One reason why YHWH called some things unclean was to show that the nation of Israel was unique. The Almighty forbade the nation from eating camels, pigs, eagles, buzzards, vulture, moles, mice, chameleons, etc. as stated in Lev. 11.

When the people of the other nations saw their unusual abstention from unclean foods, they would ask, "Why?" The informed would answer, "It is because Israel is a unique nation which worships YHWH."

So what about the various New Testament writers such as Paul, Luke and others that seem to suggest it is okay to eat unclean foods?

What about Paulís writings???

1 Corinthians 6:12 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.....

Many people believe that Paul taught "all things" to be lawful for the believer. Some even go so far as to use Paulís words to claim that we can eat meat offered to idols. Are these claims true? Are "all things" lawful for us? Is everything "pure to the pure"? And can we really eat meats offered to idols?

What we need to know is whether this verse from Paul is telling us itís OK to eat unclean foods. Many believe that Paul confirmed this approach when he said in,

Romans 14:14"I know and am convinced by the Messiah Yahshua that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean" .

Letís start with 2Peter 3:16, in his reference to Paul, to get some basics established from the beginning.

2Peter 3:16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.

What Paul wrote was hard to for the people of his own time frame, those who spoke and knew the language Paul wrote in, and who knew the culture and time Paul lived in, no wonder it is hard for us to comprehend and understand a lot of Pauls writings today. Also we need to remember that the Scriptures were not written in English, and the old, New Testament Greek is not spoken in a fluent manner by anyone today. No one alive, knows the nuances and idioms and double meanings and all the rest. Also we need to remember that many bible translators have been unconverted men who far too often had a heavy bias in one direction or another.... and that there were usually others who determined the direction of their work. Keeping those things in mind, let us continue, for we are not left without help in our effort to understand the law and will of YHWH.

Peter explains how we should deal with these things:

2. Peter 3:17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard lest, being carried away by the error of unprincipled men, you fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Master and Savior Messiah Yahshua. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity.

So we should and must keep our guard up against heresies and untruths, while we grow in grace and knowledge. And in order for us to do that , we have to study the word of YHWH diligently and with the aid of the Spirit.

Letís look at the word "lawful" so often quoted by those who say we can do anything since Paul said so. There is a word for "lawful" in the New Testament, that word is ennomos, like in Acts 19:39, referring to the law nomos, which word can refer to the now obsolete old covenant but it also refers to the spiritual law of YHWH, including the Big ten.

But the word most often translated into English as "lawful" is usually not ennomos but the word exesti. In the KJV notice that it has been translated into several words such as "let me", "mayest" and "may". True, the opinions may vary about the origin, derivation of exesti, but hereís what Jamison, Fausset and Browns commentary has about exesti in connection with 1. Corinthians 6:12 where Paul is translated as saying "All things are lawful unto me" which in the english lanuage, is of course untrue:

"Lawful...brought under the power, the Greek words are from the same root, where there occurs a play on the words:

All things are in my power, but I will not be brought under the power of any of them (the "all things").

As an example: He who commits "fornication," steps aside from his own personal legitimate power or liberty, and is brought under the power of a harlot..."

Letís see what Paul refers to with this word exesti here and other places as well, and please keep in mind what Peter said about Paul's writings, being a bit hard to understand.

In this case, Paul may have even been quoting some old Greek proverb or saying, or it could have been a Greek word play. But what was it Paul was talking about when he used those words panta moi exestin, not very well translated in the King James as "all things are lawful for me"?

Letís go look for the context and meaning in:

1Corinthians 6:9-11 9 Do ye not know that unrighteous persons shall not inherit the kingdom of YHWH? Do not err: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor those who make women of themselves, nor who abuse themselves with men, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor abusive persons, nor the rapacious, shall inherit the kingdom of YHWH. 11 And these things were some of you; but ye have been washed, but ye have been sanctified, but ye have been justified in the name of the Messiah Yahshua, and by the Spirit of our Heavenly Father.

That was the true context being spoken of.

Now, it seems that many folks want to have us believe that lots of things are "lawful" for us. For if "all things" would be "lawful", the things listed by Paul in this passage would also be lawful: fornication, idolatry, adultery, homosexuals, stealing, coveting, excesses and so on - all written immediately before Paul refers to this with the words panta moi exestin which so many people want to translate as "all things are lawful", in 1.Corinthians 6:12.

There are some translations out there that actually render it "all meats are lawful for me to eat", but that is changing the original text, and clearly from the context seen to be in error as Paul was not talking about meats only, but other things as well.

So the Jamieson, Fausset and Brown explanation seems, and appears, to be a more logical one, "panta moi exestin" meaning "all things are in my power which is a totally different thing, especially if read in the context where Paul uses these words.

A person has the "power" (ability) to sin, but sin is not lawful in any way. We can sin, but should not. What Paul is really talking about is making a choice.

Here is perhaps a bit better translation of the panta moi exestin:

1. Corinthians 6:12 I am free to do all things; but not all things are wise. I am free to do all things; but I will not let myself come under the power of any.

Free will, that is, no one will stop you from making stupid actions, but we should endeavor not to be stupid. We can sin, but do we really want to come under the penalty of sin, which is the case according to the Scriptures if one rejects YHWH's ways and sins on purpose?

I really do hope we are getting the point , but if perhaps you donít agree: read what Paul clearly said: persons involved in such will not inherit the kingdom of YHWH. So, whatever exestin means, it simply cannot have the meaning "lawful" in this case, for we can clearly see that the things listed are complete violations of the ten commandments, fornication, adultery, etc. which, as we know, were not "done away" by Yahshua but rather magnified and extended.

So, those things listed by Paul are of course not lawful but very much forbidden, just as Paul also explains in 1Corinthians 8:1.

1 Now concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have "knowledge". "Knowledge" makes arrogant, but love edifies.

Paul is not describing that "knowledge" as a positive thing.Still we know that the Bible all through it, tells us that we must grow in knowledge and that we must gain more knowledge. So what Paul is referring to is not real knowledge of the ways of YHWH but rather to false and erroneous "knowledge" which a person thinks he has and which causes him to do things that are unlawful.

Paul continues:

1Corinthians 8:2 If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know .

Then going down to verse seven which in the NASB gives a different translation than the KJV:

1Corinthians 8:7 However not all men have this knowledge; but some, being accustomed to the idol until now, eat food as if it were sacrificed to an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled

1Corinthians 8:11 For through your knowledge he who is weak is ruined, the brother for whose sake Messiah died. And thus, by sinning against the brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Yahshua.

1Corinthians 8:9 But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to them that are weak.

And then when Paul writes in verse 8:

"But food will not commend us to YHWH; we are neither the worse if we do not eat, nor the better if we do eat" really does not say that eating the idol meats will not make us worse. No, Paul does not say so, he only says we are not worse if we do not eat, and that we will not be better if we eat. I do hope you can see the difference.

We must remember the complicated way of Paul in his writings: in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the scriptures, to their own destruction.

Did Paul, as some claim, overrule his decision later, i.e. make it void? You have to ask yourself why would he?

2Peter 2:1-3

1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.

2 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned;

3 and in their greed they will exploit you with false words

The really sad fact is that there are many Sabbath and "law-keeping" religious groups, who quote and misuse such passages as all is lawful and all is pure unto the pure is often easily explained by looking at the how and when and why they use those verses. If we understand that it is not lawful for us to commit the sins which Paul lists in 1Corinthians 6:9-10, or any other sins, but that we of course still have the "power"to commit them all if we want, essentially it is a matter of choice to disobey the law; not that that makes such actions lawful or correct.

YHWH usually, will not forcibly stop us from sinning or making the wrong choices and decisions, having given us "free will.". But ultimately in the end He of course will do that, in a very drastic and final way, if we insist on disobedience.

Well then, what about the "sheet"verses starting in Acts 10:11-16

10 And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance,

11 And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth:

12 Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.

13 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.

14 But Peter said, Not so, Master; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.

15 And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What YHWH hath cleansed, that call not thou common.

These verses seem to imply that it is all right to partake of unclean foods......until you hear the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey so aptly putís it. Go on down to verse 28

And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but YHWH hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.

So the information received by Peter in a "vision" had to do with the fact that YHWH is, and was not a respecter of persons........whether Jew or Gentile.

Interesting Commentary from Barnes --What God hath cleansed. What God hath pronounced or declared pure. If God has commanded you to do a thing, it is not impure or wrong. Its use is lawful if he has commanded it. Perhaps Peter would have supposed that the design of this vision was to instruct him that the distinction between clean and unclean food, as recognized by the Jews, was about to be abolished, #Ac 17. But the result showed that it had a higher and more important design. It was to show him that they who had been esteemed by the Jews as unclean or profane-the entire Gentile world-might now be admitted to similar privileges with the Jews. That barrier was to be broken down, and the whole world was to be admitted to the same fellowship and privileges in the gospel. See #Eph 2:14; #Ga 3:28. It was also true that the ceremonial laws of the Jews in regard to clean and unclean beasts was to pass away, though this was not directly taught in this vision. But when once the barrier was removed that separated the Jews and Gentiles, all the laws which supposed such a distinction, and which were framed to keep up such a distinction, passed away of course. The ceremonial laws of the Jews were designed solely to keep up the distinction between them and other nations. When the distinction was abolished- when other nations were to be admitted to the same privileges-the laws which were made to keep up such a difference received their death-blow, and expired of course. For it is a maxim of all law, that when the reason why a law was made ceases to exist, the law becomes obsolete. Yet it was not easy to convince the Jews that their laws ceased to be binding. This point the apostles laboured to establish; and from this point arose most of the difficulties between the Jewish and Gentile converts to Christianity.

These things should be fairly clear..But here is a bit more to chew on:

1Corinthians 6:19-20

19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from YHWH, and you are not your own?

20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify YHWH in your body and in your spirit, which are the Fatherís..

Then the practical application of the decision in Jerusalem is being explained by Paul:

1Corinthians 10:25 Eat anything that is sold in the meat market, without asking questions for conscience' sake.

1Corinthians 10:26 "For the earth is the Almighty's, and all it contains".

But then Paul goes into more detail:

1Corinthians 10:28 But if anyone says to you, "This was offered to idols," do not eat it for the sake of the one who told you, and for conscience' sake; for "the earth is the Fatherís, and all its fullness."

So Paul's command is : do not eat, if you know the meat has been offered to an idol or idols or is unclean. And this if anyone should say to you seems to apply to both when buying meat and eating when visiting people and eating there. In both cases the rule is: if you know it is idol meat or unclean, do not partake of it.

We have been taught many mis-understandings over the years , but it is now time to set the record straight...

Paul simply did not overrule the clear commands not to eat idol, or unclean meats. Acts 15:29, 21:29.

How could Paul have overruled what all the others, the apostles, the elders and the whole assembly had decided, anyway? But Paul did use a very difficult language...... even not comprehended and understood by many of Paulís time.

Those deceivers who claim and teach that all things are lawful and that we do not have to obey or that all is pure to the pure we can leave aside, for it is written in:

Hebrews 10:26 For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain terrifying expectation of judgment, and The fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries...

Surely it is not, and should not be in our power to sin if we do not want to die the second death:

Hebrews 10:26-31

26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,

27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.

28 Anyone who has rejected Moses' law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.

29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of the Almighty underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?

30 For we know Him who said, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Almighty. And again, "The Almighty One will judge His people."

31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living EL.

Letís get down to the very Foundation of this question about clean and unclean:

Luke 6:46-49

46 "But why do you call Me `Master, Master,' and do not do the things which I say?

47 "Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like:

48 "He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock.

49 "But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great."

Paul also wrote this which should further remove any doubt:

Romans 3:31 Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law.

Paul does not say we do away with the law, but rather promotes it.

1Corinthians 8:10 For if someone sees you, who have "knowledge", dining in an idol's temple, will not his conscience, if he is weak, be strengthened (KJV emboldened) to eat things sacrificed to idols? For through your knowledge he who is weak is ruined (KJV perish), the brother for whose sake Yahshua died. And thus, by sinning against the brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Messiah.

So when is the conscience really weak?

What Paul really says here is that the danger is that if someone's conscience is weak, then he might actually be encouraged to eat idol meats (unclean) by the examples of such with knowledge.

There is a very clear command against eating such meats in Acts 15:29, 21:29. The Corinthians were undoubtedly a problem case and had a lot of idol temples in their city. Paul was not telling them to continue on eating in those old temples, absolutely not, he told them the very opposite. Paul told them that they had to stop such customs and humble themselves and not come with some talk about "knowledge" or "liberty" as an excuse.

And again, we have been taught in the past, the opposite to what we can read in the Bible. A weak conscience is one which allows itself to be lead into doing wrong things.

It is sometimes hard to know which law or laws Paul was talking about, he used the same word for the old covenant, sometimes of the ten commandments, and sometimes even of the more eternal spiritual law of YHWH which of course is in effect today, as are the ten commandments .

One thing we also need to keep in mind the possibility that the Scriptures are really not written for the entire world.YHWH appears to be keeping His hands off at present, perhaps until He steps in at the end, and tells us how things really are.

The Scriptures were written primarily for Israel, the actual physical nation, and then for the spiritual Israel as well, to which all humankind can be attached through repentance and baptism. Many things are not fully clear in the translations we have, in the future, beyond a doubt, they will be made perfectly clear to us.

Sin is sin, is sin, is sin, and cannot be made lawful. YHWH's law defines what is lawful and what is not, what is sin and what is not.

Paul says that you may not take of the table of the evil spirits, if you desire to be a partaker of the Messiahsís table.

All people have the moral freedom to choose, to make choices as to what they are to do. But all things are not wise, some things are correct, some are not. Some things are sin, some are not.

Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses according to YHWH. So how much greater punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot, the Son of the Father, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified?

It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living Almighty. Peter warns that some will promise us "freedom" while they themselves are slaves of corruption and evil. "For by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved".

All through Scripture from Genesis to Revelation, never do we find an example of a servant of YHWH or follower, or disciple of the Messiah Yahshua eating the flesh of an unclean animal.

If at any time the distinctions between clean and unclean meats had ceased to exist, shouldnít that have been made obviously clear in the Scriptures through the example of YHWHís servants? Donít forget the Scriptures of the New Test. were written many years after the Messiahís execution. And even Peter in Acts 10, says he does not eat unclean foods. So obviously the matter was not "nailed" to the stake either.
For well into the time of the early Church we find that Yahshuaís followers scrupulously avoided eating animal flesh that YHWH had revealed as being unclean (Acts 10:14; 11:8). The same distinctions are made in prophecies of the time of the end (Revelation 18:2; Isaiah 66:15-17).
Some say, "but we are not under the law". No, not so, if we follow the flesh, then we are under the law and under its penalty. We are justified from past sins through faith, but we are now to live now for YHWH and keep his law and follow his Spirit.

We are to obey the law of YHWH..

All things are not "lawful" for us, not in any way, I hope this is clear to you, by now.

'For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,' says the Almighty. 'For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts'" Isaiah 55:8-9


So YHWH, not man, should and must, be the final authority on our conduct Proverbs 14:12, including what foods may or may not be eaten.