Do Noahides Eat Unclean Animals?

 

Question: Does Noahide Nations observe Jewish dietary laws? For example, do Noahides refrain from eating unclean animals? This is a clear prohibition in the Hebrew Scriptures (see. Leviticus 11:7). There are churches such as the Worldwide Church of God that observe this clear Scriptural prohibition, does Noahide Nations? Another Question I have is whether or not Noahide Nations encourages its members to eat milk and meat. This is a standard Jewish abstention; does Noahide Nations also abstain from eating milk and meat?

 

Answer: There are three mistakes in your question:

 

  1. A commandment in the Hebrew Scriptures always applies universally.
  2. The context of a verse is irrelevant to the meaning of the verse.
  3. Christians understand the Hebrew Scriptures.

 

I will deal with the third point first since it seems to be the source of the other two misunderstandings. Next, I will address the two remaining mistakes; and finally, I will explain Noahide Nations’ stance regarding dietary laws.

It is a mistake to think that Christians understand the Hebrew Scriptures. Christian interpretations are almost always biased towards drawing wrong conclusions because this is what is needed to maintain “correct” belief. Belief is sacred to Christians. They interpret the Hebrew Scriptures to support beliefs that they already held before reading the Hebrew Scriptures not after reading it. Christians do not understand the Hebrew Scriptures and they are not interested in understanding the Hebrew Scriptures.

Judaism on the other hand realizes that if we are going to understand what God wants us to do, we must abandon belief in favor of clear and practical answers. That requires that we understand what the Hebrew Scriptures are saying. We do not look for evidence that supports our conclusions, and we certainly avoid intentional misrepresentations of the meaning of the Hebrew Scriptures to support beliefs. What Judaism wants to know, when it comes to interpreting the Hebrew Scriptures, is “what does God want us to do?”

                In that last statement there is a variable term “us.” The Hebrew Scriptures is always written to somebody but it is not always written to everybody. The Scripture you quote is taken out of the context of the beginning of Leviticus. In Leviticus 11:1-2 it says: “And the Lord spoke to Moses and to Aaron, to say to them: Speak to the children of Israel, saying.”

                Clearly God’s commandment regarding clean and unclean animals is only a direct commandment to “the Children of Israel.” The rest of the nations are not commanded to refrain from eating unclean animals.  Context is important.

                Noahide Nations is an organization that observes the Noahide laws. These laws are Judaism for non-Jews. We come to the Hebrew Scriptures along with the Jewish people to find out what God wants us to do. Just like the Jewish people we are not restrained to the text. Noahides, like the Jewish people interpret the Hebrew Scriptures through the oral Torah that was given simultaneously at Mount Sinai with the written Torah. We do not look at the text of the Torah (or the Hebrew Scriptures in total) and imagine we can understand it without the oral tradition. That’s because God’s instructions to human beings were given in two parts, a part that was written and the oral interpretation of those instructions.

                According to the Torah (both written and oral) non-Jews are prohibited from eating from the limb of a live animal. This means that before the animal is processed for consumption it must be completely dead. This is a practical law that Noahides even in the US must be concerned about since it is not clear that animals processed in the US are completely dead before processing. This is in itself another article. Noahides are not commanded to refrain from eating milk and meat together. A Noahide may choose to observe extra dietary laws, but he or she must remember that they are taking on these extra laws voluntarily.

                To summarize the answer to your question; Christians do not understand the Hebrew Scriptures and should not be used as a guide for correct understandings of the Hebrew Scriptures. The Jewish people, who maintain the authentic tradition of their forefathers, do understand the Hebrew Scriptures. Noahides are only obligated to refrain from eating from the limb of a live animal. Noahides may take on additional dietary laws voluntarily.

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