Tag Archives: food laws

Leviticus 26-27:

http://creativepropertyuk.co.uk/typography The Abrahamic Covenant of the Land:
The Abrahamic Covenant is tied to the land.  The Israelites can choose a blessing or a curse dependent upon if they are obedient and loyal or disobedient and not loyal.  It is a conditional Covenant.  This is a traditional Near Eastern Suzerainty Lord-Vassal Covenant, full of blessings and curses.  If they remain loyal to Yahweh and reject other gods, then they will obey the rules of the Covenant.  It is their freewill choice to obey or not to obey.  Yet, even if they disobey, various “reset buttons” are built into the system, such as the various offerings, the Day of Atonement, the Sabbatical Year, the Year of Jubilee.  Disloyalty will (and did) result in exile from the land.  Humility, penance and confession of their iniquities could (and did) lead to Restoration.  Then, Yahweh “will remember the Covenant” and the land.

St. Paul and the Restoration:
St. Paul interprets the Restoration with the coming of the New Covenant and the embrace of the Gospel to Israel and all the nations.  Rom. 2:28 says a Jew is one inwardly by heart and spirit. Similarly, Gal. 3 speaks of the new Israel as the Church, “Abraham’s seed.”  The Church fulfills the promise to Israel.  St. Paul actually quotes Lev. 26:12 saying “I will live in them and move among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (2 Cor. 6:16)  St. Paul says this is fulfilled in the fact that Christians are a “temple of the living God.”  The Gentile Christians have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of them.  After the Exile, only two tribes of Israel returned. Not all 12 tribes returned to Israel. The Restoration is fulfilled in the coming of the Gospel to all Jews and Gentile nations.  The Exile ends with the Cross and Crucifixion.  The Church fulfills the Abrahamic Covenant of faith. Yet, there will be another fulfillment and Restoration too to Israel at the Second Coming.  Multifaceted levels of fulfillment are going on in prophecy and the Restoration.

Communion of the People with God:
Leviticus is all about the communion of God with His people through the lifestyle necessary to maintain that communion.  It was a type of liturgical worship.  In the living tradition of the Church, the liturgical holiness and cleanliness and worship of God developed in Leviticus was absorbed into the Church.  However, the great bulk of the law was added after the transgression of the Golden Calf Incident.  As St. Paul alludes, the law was added because of sin.  But, as St. Thomas Aquinas taught (ST, I-II, 98-105), there were delineations in various laws that the Israelites adopted: (1) Civil laws; (2) Ceremonial laws; and (3) Moral laws.  The civil law was applicable only to Israel’s culture and time; the ceremonial laws were foreshadows and types of Christ, and so, fulfilled in Christ. And, the moral laws alone were authoritative and so, continued into the New Testament and in perpetuity.  Morality does not change.

New Testament Dependence upon Leviticus:
Jesus quoted Leviticus and called one of its scriptures the second greatest commandment: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Lev. 19:18) The New Covenant is replete with Levitical quotes and is completely dependent upon the Old Testament and the inheritance of Leviticus.  Much of our vocabulary is directly from Leviticus.  For example: Jesus Christ is our “High Priest” who makes “atonement” for “sins” by the paschal “sacrifice” of Himself, by the result of the “blood of His sacrifice” we are “cleansed.”  Christ’s “blood” “consecrates” us, and the “priests” in His Church to convey His “holiness” onto us.  As the Book of Hebrews states as a matter of fact: “ http://taxi-24.eu/index.php?Itemid=101  He entered once for all into the Holy Place, takingnot the blood of goats and calves but His own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.” (Heb. 11:12)

The Baptism of the Gentiles:
As St. Peter in his vision in the Book of Acts realized that the Food Laws were no longer binding and that the Gospel should be preached to the Gentiles too.  St. Peter’s vision is directed at the Food Laws of Leviticus: http://sclarita.com/wp-json/oembed/1.0/\"http:\/\/sclarita.com\/2015\/10\/27\/joe-messina-mocks-caitlyn-jenner-cozies-up-to-lgbtq-hate-group\/\"  “In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. And there came a voice to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “No, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has cleansed, you must not call common.” This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven.” (Acts 10:12-16) St. Peter then realized that the Gentiles were not to be excluded from the Gospel.  Originally the Church was only preached and spread among the Jews, but after this vision it incorporated all of humanity.  St. Peter said: “In truth, I see that God show no partiality.  Rather, in every nation whoever fears Him and acts uprightly is acceptable to Him.” (Acts 10:34-35)  Then, later: “The circumcised believers who had accompanied Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit should have been poured out on the Gentiles also, for they could hear them speaking in tongues and glorifying God.  Then Peter responded, ‘Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit even as we have?’  He ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.” (Acts 10:45-48) The New Testament undoes the Levitical prohibitions against the Gentiles, and begins to draw back in the exiled nations of the Tower of Babel. God expands “His portion” from just Israel to the whole portion of the whole world. It will be a universal redemption.

Leviticus 11-15:

The Cleanliness Code:
Clean and Unclean is different from Holy and not Holy. Cleanliness is the measure of suitability of something to be in the presence of God.  Holiness is the measure of the presence of God itself.  Something can be “clean” and “common,” not necessarily “holy.”  If something is “unclean” then it is needs to be made “clean,” and then, it can be “holy.”  The state of cleanliness is the suitability of something to be in the presence of God.  To be “unclean” does not necessarily mean someone has sinned or committed immorality.  It is a ritual status, not a moral status.

The Food Laws:
At the beginning of the world, Adam and Eve were vegetarians.  After the Flood, God allows Noah to eat any kind of animal (except flesh with the blood in it – Gen. 9:3-4; “Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.” Jesus supersedes this injunction with His Body and Blood in the Eucharist).  Now, here in the Mosaic epoch, God further restricts what animals are to be eaten and not eaten. The so-called “food laws” tells the Israelites what are “clean” animals that you can eat, and “unclean” animals that you cannot eat.  God then tells Moses which animals are clean and which are not clean.  The first category is the ruminants, or beasts of the field, such as cows and sheep. There are three conditions to eat of a ruminant.  Those are: it has hooves, it is cloven-footed, and it chews cud.  If it does not meet all three requirements, then it is unclean.  Unclean ruminants include: the camel, the badger, the hare, the pig (which is one of the most well-known and most identifiable “non-kosher” Jewish foods, ie, no pork or pork products).  One of the archeological indicators of Israelite settlements was the distinct lack of swine or pig bones found. Then come the water animals, which must have fins and scales to be clean.  Any water creatures that lack fins and scales are deemed unclean and they may not eat them (“is loathsome for you”).  Next, are the birds and creatures of the air.  Basically, the birds of prey that eat dead flesh are considered unclean, such as the eagle, vulture, osprey, crows, gulls, hawks, owls, buzzards, storks, and bats, etc.  Next, are the unclean flying insects, only the grasshopper, locust or cricket is acceptable.  John the Baptist lived in the wilderness and ate locusts (Mt. 3:4)  Finally, “all creatures that swarm on the ground are loathsome and shall not be eaten.” (Lev. 11:41)

Why Food Laws?:
There are five or six main explanations for the food laws. None are comprehensive or totally persuasive in and of themselves.  It is probably a combination of these reasons that God issues the food laws.  (1) Hygenic theory.  This is theory that these unlcean animals are bad for humans and not healthy, such as pork for spreading trichinosis.  This theory is popular today, although is probably not very consistent.  Every species if not properly cooked could contain parasites.  (2) The Aesthetic theory: the animals are unclean because they’re repugnant to humans.  By way of analogy, if it is repugnant to humans it is probably repugnant to their deity. If it can be sacrificed and offered on our table, it can probably be offered to the deity.  If it is not on our table, then it cannot be food for God either.  (3) Ethical theory: God restricted eating animals as a means for the Israelites to grow in self-control and limit their violence and shedding of blood. (4) Anatomical theory: This suggests that these animals represent “anomalies” within their species.  They’re misfits, and as outliers, they are unclean.  Any animals that lack the specifications of their category or are a “mixing” of categories or species are deemed unclean.  (5) Cultural theory: There is a cultural aspect to this as well.  The Israelites are culturally, as a people in a particular place and time, repulsed by certain animals and practices.  This is incorporated into some of their food laws.

(6) Cultic or Liturgical theory:
This is probably the most persuasive and logical of all the explanations.  Animals deemed unclean were associated with pagan rituals and sacrifices.  They were prominent in pagan cults and the most common animals sacrificed in pagan rituals (ie, the pig in Canaanite sacrifices). Thus, a prohibition of killing and sacrificing certain animals would be a means to separate Israel out from the surrounding pagan populations.  A way of being “set apart” and holy, as much of Leviticus is concerned about the distinctiveness of Yahweh and His people, the Israelites.  On the other hand, acceptable animals to sacrifice, such as the bull and the ram, are representation of Egyptian gods like the bull-god Apis and the cow-god Hathor.  Yahweh commanding the Israelites to sacrifice bulls and rams is a means to distance the Israelites from the pagan idolatry that they were immersed in for 400 years in Egypt.  It is an attempt to de-Egyptianize the Israelites.  In a broader sense, it is an attempt to de-Canaanize and de-paganize the Israelites through regular, and daily, sacrifice of pagan-gods.  Similar prohibitions found in Leviticus against offering honey, and boiling a kid in his mother’s milk, ritual shavings and mutilations were all about distancing the Israelites from pagan practices.  The food laws are another aspect of being distinctive, set apart, and holy.

Ritual Purity and Impurity:
Ritual purity is not about sin.  It is about fitness to occupy sacred space.  A sin offering is about “decontamination” or “purification,” not sin.  A guilt offering is about making reparation.  For example, Mary making an offering after the birth of Jesus is not about sin, but about becoming ritually pure.  Something or someone becoming ritually impure has to do with (1) coming into contact with death; or (2) a loss of “life.”  These issues stem around: childbirth, leprosy, emission of semen, menstruation, and marital intercourse (loss of semen).  These focus on the loss of “life fluids,” such as blood, water and semen.  These are fluids that produce life.  To lose life, is to be less than “whole.”  God did not make us originally to not be whole, but to be whole and complete.  God is wholeness and completeness.  Thus, if someone loses their life fluid by one means or another, that renders them not whole, or in Levitical terms, ritually unclean, impure.  Sexual activity and the loss of bodily fluids then renders one ritually impure.  Having a baby, or menstruation and the loss of blood, also renders one ritually impure. This is not about sin, but about fitness for sacred space.  Anything outside of the “normative, creation natural order” renders one ritually impure.  A person must be “whole” to enter into the perfection of the sacred space of the Tabernacle.  The Tabernacle is the new Eden.  It is the perfection that God originally intended in the Garden of Eden.  It is God’s dwelling place.  God is perfection, and wholeness, and life itself.  For one to enter His space, one must be whole and in an “ideal form” of wholeness and completeness.  To have lost “life” fluids or to have touched death, is to be less than fully whole and fully full of life, or in a word, imperfect.

Skin Diseases:
Skin diseases and leprosy also render an individual ritually impure and unfit to enter the sacred space of the Tabernacle. General skin ailments, not just Hansen’s disease (ie, leprosy), renders one ritually impure. There is no sin in skin disease, but one is not “whole,” as God had originally designed humanity. Something in the body is amiss. It is not as the original creation order. God is not admonishing against any particular sin, but teaching an object lesson about the perfection of God. The Tabernacle is the new Garden of Eden; a place of perfection, and a place for man to be like God had originally intended; whole and complete; full of life, not death.

Cedar Wood, Scarlet Yarn, and Hyssop:
Leviticus repeatedly tells the Israelites to purify people and places by using “cedar wood, scarlet yarn, and hyssop.”  This purification and atonement is reminiscent of the wood of the Cross; scarlet yarn hearkens to red blood of Christ; and the hyssop branch that they used to annoint the Passover lamb’s blood to the door and the hyssop branch to give Jesus a taste of the “4th cup” of wine, or vinegar, on the Cross before He died.  In short, these have connotations of Jesus’ Cross.  We are made clean through the Cross of Christ.

God is Distinct, Set Apart, Holy:
Through the purity laws, God is reminded His people that He is perfect and holy.  He is set apart, distinct.  In contrast, humanity is imperfect.  God is wholeness, completeness, perfection, and life itself.  The ritual purity reminds humanity of reverence to creation-order, and reverence for life itself.  We are less than perfect, but should reverence the normative life as designed by the Creator.  The Tabernacle is not a place for incompleteness, death, less than ideal form or imperfection.  It is a place for the otherness of Yahweh. Man can prove his loyalty to Yahweh by adhering to His ritual purity regulations.  God comes to dwell with man again in the new perfect location of the Tabernacle, the new Eden.