Leviticus 11 is a very well known chapter. It tells us about the permissible and unpermissible creatures related to consumption. The terms “clean” (tahor) and “unclean” (tamai) are never used to describe physical uncleanness, but are related to the concept of ritual purity. Ritual purity only applies if one was planning to enter the Mishkan/Temple, or was going to have contact with objects with a kedusha (Hertz Pentateuch and Haftorahs, p. 459). These laws will have nothing to do with salvation but are ritual in nature.
Col 2.16-17 tells us that the dietary laws teach us about things to come. But how can food teach about eschatology? The clean creatures teach us about the Kingdom of God, and the unclean creatures teach us about the Kingdom of Ha Satan and the False Messiah. Unclean creatures are never considered “food” in the Scriptures, except for unbelievers.
The Torah is a book about boundaries and declarations, and kedusha relates to what we eat. Israel has a kedusha as a “holy” (set apart) people. They were to be different than the rest of the world. It was the duty of the priest (Ezek 44.23) to teach the difference between the “holy” (what had a kedusha) and the common (“chol”=what didn’t have a kedusha).
Modern research has found that eating “kosher” animals lead to better health, but that is because, for the most part, that the Lord said if we do what he has commanded he would not put any of the diseases of Egypt on us (Exo 15.26). The ultimate motive for these laws is kedusha. Many have died rather than transgress these laws because they wanted to obey the Lord. There is a good book called “None of these Diseases” by Sim McMillen and it is a good source if you want to look at this chapter.
Leviticus 11 can be broken down into two parts. Lev 11.1-23 tells us what creatures are permissible to eat and what isn’t. It does not directly address whether eating an unclean creature will make a person unclean so that they cannot enter the Mishkan/Temple, it simply forbids eating them. Lev 11.24-47 discusses the transmission of “tamai) (contamination/uncleanness) as a practical matter. Contamination affects only the entering of the central sanctuary, eating the kodshai kodeshim (most holy) or kodshai kelim (holy) food, or the touching of items that have a kedusha. It is not a sin or forbidden to become unclean if they will not be entering the Mishkan/Temple or touching items with a kedusha, except for the priests who were never to touch the dead except for certain relatives (Lev 21.1-3). The High Priest was not to ever touch a dead body, not even his father or mother (Lev 21.10.11).
We are not going to discuss these creatures at this time, but we are giving concepts that will help us relate to the Tanak and this chapter, but we will give you some examples of clean animals to give you an example on what can be gleaned about these creatures, conveying concepts associated with the Kingdom of God, and unclean creatures conveying concepts about the Kingdom of Satan and the False Messiah. For example, we are allowed to eat creatures that have cloven hoofs and chew the cud. The cloven hoof teaches us about being sure footed, like deer. Chewing the cud produces milk, which is a type of the Word of God (1 Pet 2.2). The biblical word for “meditate” is “hagah” and it means to “mutter, speak, murmur.” Biblical meditation means to “chew the cud (speak aloud, mutter) God’s word, producing milk.” The rabbit chews the cud (appears to be speaking the word) but it does not have cloven hoofs (does not walk in the Torah), so it is unclean. It is no secret that the rabbit is a symbol of sexual fertility and being promiscuous. A pig divides the hoof (appears to walk in Torah), but it does not chew the cud (produce the pure milk of the Word of God=teaches false doctrine). A clean fish has scales (the armor of God-Eph 6.10-17) and fins (gives direction). A water creature that does not have scales and fins is unclean and called “detestable” (Lev 11.10), which is how we should feel about the Kingdom of Satan and the False Messiah. These are just a few examples of what the Lord is trying to convey here. God has told us what to do and what eat. The same Torah that says, “Love your neighbor” and wants justice, mercy and kindness is the same Torah that tells us what we can eat and not eat. It teaches us to discipline our appetites.
These laws teach us about eschatology , which is the study of the Messiah and the Redemption. It also teaches us about the Kingdom of God as opposed to the Kingdom of Satan and the False Messiah. They teach us to make a distinction between the clean and the unclean creatures, what has a kedusha and what doesn’t , good and evil, right and wrong (Lev 11.46-47). In a sense, the permissible list is like “spiritual food” like in Gen 2.16-17. Isn’t it interesting that the first sin related to food?
What happened with this chapter? Most people have read about these laws, or have heard of them. Just tell some people that you don’t eat pig and see what they say. They will immediately say, “Are you Jewish?” They know exactly who gave these laws. The problem is they have been taught different.
There is a story in the Talmud that illustrates this point. It is called the “Kosher Stove” in Baba Mezia 59a and it goes basically like this. A rabbi declares that a stove was “clean” for woman who asked. Other rabbis said it wasn’t and the first rabbi was devastated because he gave the woman wrong counsel. He should know whether a stove is “kosher” or not, that’s his job. In prayer, the Lord speaks to the rabbis and says, “The stove is clean” and he quickly tells the others. The chief rabbi says, “Brother, it may well be that the Lord spoke to you, but there is no sign to confirm this, so our ruling stands.” So, the rabbis goes back and asks the Lord for a sign. God says, What sign?” He says, “Replant the tree across the street to right in front of the synagogue.” A whirlwind comes along and does it.
All of this was right in front of the other rabbis, they witnessed it, and it went exactly as the rabbi predicted. The chief rabbi says, “Well, we have the sign that God truly spoke to our brother here, but as you can see, this tree has nothing to do with stoves. Therefore, our ruling stands.” So the rabbi goes back and prays, and he says, My brothers will not believe me until you plainly tell them yourself that it is not kosher.” So, the Lord says, SO be it.” He goes back and tells the rabbis that they will hear from God himself. All of a sudden the roof lifts off the synagogue and God speaks in a booming voice, “The stove is kosher.” The chief rabbi says, “Surely we have heard the Lord plainly, but he has also spoken and has given us the authority to make rulings, and we have ruled that the stove was not kosher.” And the voice of God says, “Oh, that’s right. The stove is not kosher!”
The moral of this story is, “Even if a voice from heaven spoke, we don’t believe because we have the right to decide.” This concept is also found in Replacement Theology Christianity which believes that the plain word of God has been “overruled” by Apostolic Authority, which means they believe that God gave the Church Fathers and others (like Popes) the authority to make rulings, even if they contradict the written word of God. For example (and there are many), you can eat the forbidden creatures Of Lev 11, and Sunday is now their “sabbath” and the “Lord’s Day.” Both are clearly contrary to the Word of God.
This concept is what Yeshua was talking about in the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man (Luke 16.19-31). The rich man says to Abraham after he dies that he wants to warn his brothers about this place he was in so that they could avoid it. But Abraham says to him that they have Moses (Torah) and the Prophets (Nevi’im), let them hear them. But the rich man says, “No, Father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.” But he said to him, “If they do not listen to Moses (Torah) and the Prophets (Nevi’im), neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead.”
That is how we think. How does forbidden animals enter into a person’s body? It is only possible when one either does not know or one denies these words from heaven in Leviticus 11. We want to decide what is right and what is wrong. A voice from heaven did come down and tell us what to to do in regards to what is kosher and what is not. They are called “commandments.” A voice did come down from heaven and say, “This is my beloved Son, my chosen one, listen to him” (Luke 9.35). But people in the First Century (and now) said, “We want to choose who the Messiah is and we want to choose what he looks like, what he said and what he believed.” In other words, they want to to pick out certain things they like about what he said and did, and leave out the things they don’t like about what he said and did.
In Part 13 we will pick up here.