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The Israelites' religious goals were intended by the food regulations, which were created for sanitary and dietary reasons and addressed to Aaron and Moses (Jiri 17). God spoke to Moses and Aaron about which animals could and could not be eaten in the book of Leviticus, chapter 11. The Lord told Aaron and Moses in Leviticus 11: 1-2 that the dietary regulations needed to be addressed to both the civil and ecclesiastical authorities in Israel as a sign of the dual perspective they should adopt. The strongest reason for instituting the differences among meats was to discourage the spreading of Israel into other countries from having intercourse with the world thus preventing them from getting familiar with inhabitants of neighbouring countries to Canaan. The aim was to prevent Israelites do not fall into idolatry or be contaminated with sins of the neighbouring nations. Much as the above was a principle behind the formulation of food laws, deictic reasons also carried some Weight. The flesh of many animals that were declared unclean is rejected everywhere particularly those that are less awesome and adopted for food than those that were accepted to be eaten (Jiri 89).
The first law binds Israelites from eating any animal that does not have parted hoofs, cloven foot, and chews the cud. The process of rumination of animals based on the stomach structure, and how animals digest food implied the level of cleanliness differences among such animals. According to this law, animals that are allowed to be eaten are those that chew the cud and have parted hoofs an implication that the law was meant to free the flesh of animals from getting noxious substances. For animals that have parted hooves, during unfavourable feeding situations some footed matter is discharged and goes through the hoofs hence remain clean whereas those that do not have parted hoofs remain affected severely by in their legs from poisonous plants and pasture (Jiri 56).
In Leviticus 11:13-19 God binds Israelites from eating the fowls. According to the law, all birds of prey were ranked unclean. Fowls are all creatures that have wings and go up all fours. The prohibition of Israelites from eating the fresh of birds was meant to prevent them from poisonous ingestions that are taken by birds when preying on dead bodies.
In chapter 11:11-22, God permits Israelites to eat every flying thing that has legs above their feet and goes up on all the four. God allowed such animals as lawful food to Israelites because they were eatable by Arabs who could fly them with olive oil.
In verse 31-35 of chapter 11, God prohibited Israelites from touching the dead amphibians such as chameleons, snakes, snail, moles, ferret, tortoise, lizard, the mouse among others. When dead, whoever touches such animals was regarded as unclean.
All the above rules might have caused annoyance to some of the Israelites since they required exclusion of some people from the society. However, such laws were extremely important to enforce cleanliness among the Israelites. For instance, the law against touching reptiles is a matter in the Middle East where reptiles usually enter the houses and start lurking in boxes, holes in the walls and vessels. In case one of them is dead, it might inadvertently be touched by use of hand or else fall on the clothes or bottles that are commonly used for domestic purposes. Therefore, connecting touching of such creatures with ceremonial default prevented ad effect of all unclean matter in the Israel community (Jiri 56).
It is evident that laws contained in the book of Leviticus chapter 11 were not completely new to the Israelites; they gave a section of divine enactment to traditional usages. Some of the animals that are forbidden for eating have been rejected everywhere by the general humankind experience whereas others have been proved unclean because of their unwholesomeness and having been connected to contemporary idolatry.
Moskala, Jiri, "The Validity of the Levitical Food Laws of Clean and Unclean Animals: A Case Study of Biblical Hermeneutics" Faculty Publications; 2011; Paper 16; 10-75
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