What Is Food According To Scripture?

The Bible provides various teachings on what qualifies as food and what does not. Recently someone objected to “my view” of what food is in the bible citing some scriptures that were taken out of context. But, given the popularity of the doctrine, there seems to be a lot of potential for confusion. To address this, let’s begin by examining the latter part of the verse and then work our way backwards to gain a clearer understanding of its context.

Mar 7:14   And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand:

Mar 7:15   There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.”

Mar 7:17   And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable.

Mar 7:18   And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him,

Mar 7:19   since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.)

Mar 7:20   And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him.

Mar 7:21   For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery,

Mar 7:22   coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.

Mar 7:23   All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

I would like to draw attention to verse 7:19 of the Bible, which contains the parenthetical statement, “thus he declared all foods clean.” This statement prompts two questions: first, has the concept of “unclean” food ever existed in the Bible? Second, how does the Bible define food? To answer these questions, we need to examine the broader context of the verse.

Rather than taking a single parenthetical statement and making a religion out of it, we should read the surrounding text to fully understand its meaning. This may take some time, as it involves examining an entire chapter. However, it is essential if we want to avoid misunderstandings or misinterpretations.

Let us explore what the Bible has to say on the matter and allow our Father in Heaven to define what qualifies as food. Are you ready to delve into the text with me?

Clean and Unclean Animals

Lev 11:1   AND Yahuah spoke unto El-Mosheh and to El ־Aharon, saying unto them,

Lev 11:2   Speak unto the children of Yashar’el, saying, These are the beasts which ye shall eat among all the beasts that are on the earth.

Lev 11:3   Whatsoever parts the hoof, and is clovenfooted, and chews the cud, among the beasts, that shall ye eat.

Lev 11:4   Nevertheless these shall ye not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the hoof: as the camel, because he chews the cud, but divides not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.

Lev 11:5   And the coney, because he chews the cud, but divides not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.

Lev 11:6   And the hare, because he chews the cud, but divides not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.

Lev 11:7   And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he chews not the cud; he is unclean to you.

Lev 11:8   Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcase shall ye not touch; they are unclean to you.

Lev 11:9   These shall ye eat of all that are in the waters: whatsoever has fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them shall ye eat.

Lev 11:10   And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you:

Lev 11:11   They shall be even an abomination unto you; ye shall not eat of their flesh, but ye shall have their carcases in abomination.

Lev 11:12   Whatsoever has no fins nor scales in the waters, that shall be an abomination unto you.

Lev 11:13   And these are they which ye shall have in abomination among the fowls; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the ospray,

Lev 11:14   And the vulture, and the kite after his kind;

Lev 11:15    את Every raven after his kind;

Lev 11:16   And the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckow, and the hawk after his kind,

Lev 11:17   And the little owl, and the cormorant, and the great owl,

Lev 11:18   And the swan, and the pelican, and the gier eagle,

Lev 11:19   And the stork, the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat.

Lev 11:20   All fowls that creep, going upon all four, shall be an abomination unto you.

Lev 11:21   Yet these may ye eat of every flying creeping thing that goes upon all four, which have legs above their feet, to leap withal upon the earth;

Lev 11:22   Even these of them ye may eat; the locust after his kind, and the bald locust after his kind, and the beetle after his kind, and the grasshopper after his kind.

Lev 11:23   But all other flying creeping things, which have four feet, shall be an abomination unto you.

Lev 11:24   And for these ye shall be unclean: whosoever touches the carcase of them shall be unclean until the even.

Lev 11:25   And whosoever bears ought of the carcase of them shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even.

Lev 11:26   The carcases of every beast which divides the hoof, and is not clovenfooted, nor chews the cud, are unclean unto you: everyone that touches them shall be unclean.

Lev 11:27   And whatsoever goes upon his paws, among all manner of beasts that go on all four, those are unclean unto you: whoso touches their carcase shall be unclean until the even.

Lev 11:28   And he that bears the carcase of them shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even: they are unclean unto you.

Lev 11:29   These also shall be unclean unto you among the creeping things that creep upon the earth; the weasel, and the mouse, and the tortoise after his kind,

Lev 11:30   And the ferret, and the chameleon, and the lizard, and the snail, and the mole.

Lev 11:31   These are unclean to you among all that creep: whosoever touches them, when they be dead, shall be unclean until the even.

Lev 11:32   And upon whatsoever any of them, when they are dead, does fall, it shall be unclean; whether it be any vessel of wood, or raiment, or skin, or sack, whatsoever vessel it be, wherein any work is done, it must be put into water, and it shall be unclean until the even; so it shall be cleansed.

Lev 11:33   And every earthen vessel, whereinto any of them falls, whatsoever is in it shall be unclean; and ye shall break it.

Lev 11:34   Of all meat which may be eaten, that on which such water comes shall be unclean: and all drink that may be drunk in every such vessel shall be unclean.

Lev 11:35   And everything whereupon any part of their carcase falls shall be unclean; whether it be oven, or ranges for pots, they shall be broken down: for they are unclean, and shall be unclean unto you.

Lev 11:36   Nevertheless a fountain or pit, wherein there is plenty of water, shall be clean: but that which touches their carcase shall be unclean.

Lev 11:37   And if any part of their carcase fall upon any sowing seed which is to be sown, it shall be clean.

Lev 11:38   But if any water be put upon the seed, and any part of their carcase fall thereon, it shall be unclean unto you.

Lev 11:39   And if any beast, of which ye may eat, die; he that touches the carcase thereof shall be unclean until the even.

Lev 11:40   And he that eats of the carcase of it shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the evening: he also that bears the carcase of it shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even.

Lev 11:41   And every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth shall be an abomination; it shall not be eaten.

Lev 11:42   Whatsoever goes upon the belly, and whatsoever goes upon all four, or whatsoever has more feet among all creeping things that creep upon the earth, them ye shall not eat; for they are an abomination.

Lev 11:43   Ye shall not make yourselves abominable with any creeping thing that creeps, neither shall ye make yourselves unclean with them, that ye should be defiled thereby.

Lev 11:44   For I am Yahuah Elohaykem: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.

Lev 11:45   For I am Yahuah that brings you up out of the land of Mitsrayim, to be your Elohiym: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.

Lev 11:46   This is the Torah of the beasts, and of the fowl, and of every living creature that moves in the waters, and of every creature that creeps upon the earth:

Lev 11:47   To make a difference between the unclean and the clean, and between the beast that may be eaten and the beast that may not be eaten.

And here’s the same thing from Deuteronomy

Deu 14:1   YE are the children of Yahuah Elohaykem: ye shall not cut yourselves, nor make any baldness between your eyes for the dead.

Deu 14:2   For you are a holy people unto Yahuah Elohayka, and Yahuah has chosen you to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth.

Deu 14:3   You shall not eat any abominable thing.

Deu 14:4   These are the beasts which ye shall eat: the ox, the sheep, and the goat,

Deu 14:5   The deer, and the roebuck, and the fallow deer, and the wild goat, and the pygarg, and the wild ox, and the chamois.

Deu 14:6   And every beast that parts the hoof, and cleaves the cleft into two claws, and chews the cud among the beasts, that ye shall eat.

Deu 14:7   Nevertheless these ye shall not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the cloven hoof; asthe camel, and the hare, and the coney: for they chew the cud, but divide not the hoof; therefore they are unclean unto you.

Deu 14:8   And the swine, because it divides the hoof, yet chews not the cud, it is unclean unto you: ye shall not eat of their flesh, nor touch their dead carcase.

Deu 14:9   These ye shall eat of all that are in the waters: all that have fins and scales shall ye eat:

Deu 14:10   And whatsoever has not fins and scales ye may not eat; it is unclean unto you.

Deu 14:11   Of all clean birds ye shall eat.

Deu 14:12   But these are they of which ye shall not eat: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the ospray,

Deu 14:13   And the glede, and the kite, and the vulture after his kind,

Deu 14:14   And את every raven after his kind,

Deu 14:15   And אתthe owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckow, and the hawk after his kind,

Deu 14:16   The little owl, and the great owl, and the swan,

Deu 14:17   And the pelican, and the gier eagle, and the cormorant,

Deu 14:18   And the stork, and the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat.

Deu 14:19   And every creeping thing that flies is unclean unto you: they shall not be eaten.

Deu 14:20   But of all clean fowls ye may eat.

So that’s meat, but what else?

Gen 1:29   And Elohiym said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and את every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for food.

According to the Bible, besides the animals listed above, food is defined as every plant that bears seeds and every tree that produces fruit. This list is essential to keep in mind, especially when someone declares all food clean. Such a declaration pertains not only to animals but also to plants and fruits that are considered food.

Now, if all food was already considered clean from the start, what is the significance of this declaration? To understand this, let’s look at the first part of the passage that provides critical context for this seemingly puzzling statement. As I mentioned earlier, let’s start with this part before moving on to the second part.

Mar 7:5   Then the Parashiym and scribes asked him, Why walk not your Talmidiym according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands?

Mar 7:6   He answered and said unto them, Well has Yesha`yahu prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.

Mar 7:7   Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

Ouch. Continuing.

Mar 7:8   For laying aside the commandment of Elohiym, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.

Mar 7:9   And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of Elohiym, that ye may guard your own tradition.

Mar 7:10   For Mosheh said, Honor your father and your mother; and, Whoso curses father or mother, let him die the death:

Mar 7:11   But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Qorban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever you might be profited by me; he shall be free.

Mar 7:12   And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother;

Mar 7:13   Making the Word of Elohiym of no effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.

Following this, the passage provides an explanation of the context of the conversation. The discussion centered around the Pharisees’ objection to the disciples’ eating of food with unwashed hands, which they believed made the food unclean. However, it’s important to note that this particular law is not found anywhere in the Bible. It is a man-made law, not a biblical one.

Yahusha goes on to criticize the Pharisees, saying that they are “making void the commands of Elohim by your tradition.” With this in mind, it becomes clearer why the statement “declaring all foods clean” is significant. It reflects a rejection of man-made traditions that add unnecessary restrictions to what the Bible defines as food.

But Wait, There’s More!

The significance of food cannot be overstated. After all, what we eat becomes a part of our being. It’s no wonder that the Torah and the Prophets devote significant attention to this topic.

However, the New Testament also emphasizes the importance of food. Several scriptures in the New Testament speak to this point. Let’s take a look at some of these passages to gain a deeper understanding of why food matters so much to our physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.

Act 15:14   Shim`on has declared how Elohiymat the first did visit the other nations, to take out of them a people for his name.

Act 15:15   And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written,

Act 15:16   After this I will return, and will build again the Tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up:

Act 15:17   That the remnant of men might seek after Yahuah, and all the other nations, upon whom my name is called, says Yahuah, who does all these things.

Act 15:18   Known unto Elohiymare all his works from the beginning of the world.

Act 15:19   Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the other nations are turned to Elohiym:

Act 15:20   But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.

Act 15:21   For Mosheh of old time has in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every Shabbath.

While I’ve previously written about this passage, it’s worth reiterating two essential points. First, two of the commands given to the nations pertain to food, underscoring its importance in a biblical context. And second, the passage explicitly references Mosheh (Moses) being read in synagogues every Sabbath. This highlights the idea that individuals who turn to the Most High are often eager to learn more about their faith, including the critical role that food plays in it.

As we have learned, consuming pig meat is regarded as an abomination in the eyes of the Most High. However, there is another significant reason why this topic deserves attention, and that is the spiritual consequences of consuming unclean meats.

While many people think of demons as purely spiritual entities, they are often referred to in the Bible as “unclean spirits.” Interestingly, there is only one example in scripture of unclean spirits inhabiting an animal. This underscores the importance of understanding which foods are considered clean and unclean in a biblical context and making informed choices about what we consume, not just for our physical health, but also for our spiritual well-being.

“They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. When Yahusha got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.

When he saw Yahusha from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Yahusha, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!” For Yahusha had said to him, “Come out of this man, you impure spirit!”

Then Yahusha asked him, “What is your name?” “My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” And he begged Yahusha again and again not to send them out of the area.

A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. The demons begged Yahusha, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” He gave them permission, and the impure spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.”

It’s worth noting that unclean spirits can take up residence in unclean animals. Given this, perhaps there is a valid reason why avoiding pork is of utmost importance after all.

About the Author
Dave started and runs the Torah Fellowships website, is the producer over at the Unexpected Cosmology, and is the webmaster for Adam Fink. He has been Torah Observant since September of 2017 and has been growing his knowledge and fellowship ever since.

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