In the Garden of Eden, Adam, Eve and animals were instructed to eat food that came from plants (Gen 1:29-30); after the flood, God allowed Noah to eat all animals, but told him not to consume their blood:

“… everything that creeps on the ground, and all the fish of the sea, into your hand they are given. Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant. Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. (Gen 9:2-4 NASB)

It may be surprising, but God told Noah to eat כָּל־רֶמֶשׂ אֲשֶׁר הוּא־חַי (kol remes asher hu chay)all living things that creep/crawl.” This is a broad-sweeping description that implies the totality of animal life. Indeed, רָמַשׂ (ramas) means “to crawl” or “creep”; in other words, “to move close to the ground” – thus, רֶמֶשׂ (remes) can be translated as “reptile” or even “insect.” For Noah, not only insects and reptiles, but all species—including those that the Torah would later deem unclean—were now on the menu.

Noah is the only man called אִישׁ צַדִּיק תָּמִים (yish tzadik tamim) “righteous” and “perfect/ blameless” (Gen 6:9). Even long after the flood, biblical authors continue to call him “righteous” (Ezek 14:20; Heb 11:7; 2 Pet 2:5). Despite his Gentile status and unlimited menu, Jewish sages saw Noah in a very positive light, as the model for a righteous non-Jew (cf. Talmud, b. Sanhedrin 108a; Genesis Rabbah 30:10).

Noah clearly knew the difference between clean and unclean animals even before the flood. He was told to bring “clean animals” הַבְּהֵמָה הַטְּהוֹרָה (habehemah hatehorah) in sevens and “the animals that are not clean” הַבְּהֵמָה אֲשֶׁר לֹא טְהֹרָה (habehemah asher lo tehorah) by pairs into the Ark (Gen 7:2-3). Curiously, animals were categorized this way even before they were considered a food source.

Noah could have eaten unclean animals, and he still would have been considered righteous in God’s eyes. It may be hard to reconcile this if one understands the dietary laws of Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 as laws for all humanity (Jew and Gentile alike). But the Torah defines righteousness for Israel by specifying that certain animals are “unclean/clean to you” – that is, only unclean for the children of Israel (cf. Lev 11:4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 29, 35, 55; Deut 14:7, 8, 19). However, as non-Israelites, Noah and his family could have eaten any food they liked without becoming unclean or unrighteous.

BEGIN YOUR JOURNEY OF DISCOVERY

126 COMMENTS

  1. The literal interpretation of the Hebrew words to Noah after the flood can also be interpreted as an almost exact repetition of the original command to Adam to only eat the living green plants.

  2. It is very important part of Bible. but, I am afraid, English version you have quoted is far from it’s originall meaning. Could you try to translate that yourself? Otherway it is not worth to lead that lesson.

  3. Shalom. I think God took certain animals off the menu for Israelites because they were less healthy. My Dr. says pork because raises blood pressure. Also there are more problems with shellfish than other foods such as alergies and contamination. People who live long lives do not eat much meat. Their diets are mostly plant based with a little fish and fowl.

    • Yes, ancient people ate meat very rarely. Health may be a reason, but I do not think that is the only reason. Did God not care about Noah’s health since he let him eat anything?

      • I believe when God told Noah to eat ‘everything that creepeth upon the earth’ He wasn’t oblivious to the health laws (if I may put it that way) He himself gave to Noah and his folks before the flood. Otherwise He would be contradicting Himself and that would be hurtful to His other instructions later.

        Jew or Gentile, the dietary law from the beginning still applies, although the situation may have shifted a bit – geographical, time shifts, etc. Leviticus 11 may be a reminder to the world (through Israel) to preserve this priceless message.

        Noah knew what God meant.

        • I agree with you that Noah knew what God meant. But as far as not being limited in his diet – well I can’t change the text or mislead you about what Torah actually says. It is all there in Hebrew. Is not possible to prove that Noah ate only clean animals (when God gave him permission to eat all) and thus it remains a matter of unsubstantiated opinion.

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        • Gibson Etete, are you saying that God cannot change his instructions? If so, then the entire world is currently restricted to eating seed-bearing plants. He didn’t really mean “animals” when instructing Noah. Leviticus 11 is irrelevant. These are the inevitable conclusion of your position. Is that what you really believe?

        • There was no Jewish nation until after Moses. The dietary laws were not given until the time of Moses. Gen 9:2-4 states clearly that mankind could eat anything. That dispensation of time was different than when the law was given under Moses, and anything could be eaten.

    • Exactly! Becuase oir God really cares for us and His glory. May His light shine upon us so people will see our good works and praise our Father in heaven!

  4. This is a very big error, the writer of the book of Genesis was Moses, the one who received the Torah from God, so it was no need for Moses to write again about what is clean and what is not, it was common sense that clean animals were not only accepted on the Altar when Noah offered them but also for eating. we are told that God told Noah which animals are clean and which are not when he instructed to bring them on the Ark, so the same clean animals were good for eating as they were for sacrifice.
    Not only that murder, lying, sin offering and dietary laws were already in place before mount Sinai, but you also missed the part where God tells them not to drink the animal’s blood, that’s another commandment that was given before and during mount Sinai, this proves that God’s laws are eternal and exist outside of his covenants.
    having said that, “Remesh” can mean insect as well as a reptile, but since we know what is considered a clean animal, it is safe to conclude that the “crawlers” were locust and their kind, which are clean for us to eat.
    Just because God said all, it doesn’t mean both clean and unclean, and here’s an example, he told Noah all of the plants you may eat, does that mean Noah was eating poison ivy and snacking on stinging nettle? of course not! one must read scripture not only by the letter but by the spirit.
    God’s laws are a direct expression of his character, it is who he is, just like God doesn’t change, so does his laws, are eternal, what does change, are covenants, which are agreements between God and his people(Abraham, Israelites and then the world)

    • Good points! I also believe that God’s laws existed long before Sinai. But that is a theological issue. You are very right to point out that “all does not always mean all” and I commend you on the poison ivy argument. It makes sense. Notice I do not insist that Noah actually ate all and any edible things. He could have… In Torah, God gave seed/fruit-bearing plants specifically, so no ivy presumably. Reading Scriptures “by the spirit” without the understanding of “the letter” is exactly why people come up with the craziest theological conclusions I have ever heard. It is a good practice, but it is designed for the personal spiritual benefit, not for interpretation. The letter is from God, and it is objective. 🙂

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      • Yes, God is the same yesterday today and tomorrow, he doesn’t change his laws(himself/or his character) it is men who change HIM to fit their doctrines.
        Saying that the father had different laws throughout history is saying he can’t make up his mind, and that means we can’t really trust what he has to say.
        I use Genesis to show people that God is consistent since the first day till the last, and so are his laws, and that the only thing that actually changes are covenants that he makes between him and his people(Noah, Abraham, Israelites, and now the world)
        When Jesus(Yeshua) died, God accepted better terms hence he signed a new contract(covenant) with the entire world, instead of animal sacrifice, he accepted his own son, the laws did not go away, but the old covenant(contract) did, this will change however when he comes back the 2nd time and establishes his kingdom for a thousand years, sacrifices will resume in the 3D temple, proving once again God’s laws do not change or go away, Jesus himself said that he did not came to put an end to God’s laws in MAtthew 5, but he came to keep, teach and fulfill his mission.
        Blessings to you professor.

        • Yes, God is consistent and his revelation to us shows that he is faithful to his promises. Something you said peeked my interest… I am curious which covenant did God make with the world? Are you calling covenant with Noah a covenant with the world/humanity?

          • God made a covenant with Noah that cannot be broken, it is God’s promise to never flood the world ever again, so yes that is one covenant that God made with ALL of his creation(the world), the covenant with Abraham is also an unbreakable covenant, Satan tried to break it(by trying to end Abraham’s seed because of messiah) but to no avail, but the covenant with Abraham is with one man FOR the world, the covenant on Sinai, is a covenant with only the seed of Abraham, the Jews/Israelites, that covenant was broken because we all know that the Israelites did not uphold their part of the agreement, the last covenant before the millennium is another covenant with the whole world, both Jew and gentile, this covenant is unique, as it promises eternal life to those who accept the son of God for their sins and keep his commandments, it is up to us to hold our part of this agreement, because we know God always keeps his.
            The last and most important covenant that will be made in the future once again with ALL of God’s creation will be an eternal one, that is God’s promise to never let anything like this(sin of the world) to happen again, he already promised us this in prophecies, but officially it will be given most likely through the high priest(Jesus messiah) after Satan is destroyed together with all the rest of evil and death and when the millennium reign is over and “ALL things” will be accomplished, that is when heaven and earth will pass away and we will enter into eternal rest.
            Blessings.

          • Interesting… I see things somewhat differently when I look at covenants. But I appreciate you sharing your point of view. It helps me thinks through some questions. Thanks for indulging my curiosity.

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          • your humility is staggering, professor, so refreshing to meet somebody who is open-minded and therefore open to being corrected, i love that, ergo Ishoa Baŕayi/EE-sho Bah-Rai-EE (Jesus, My Creator) smile upon you all, Shlama ?

          • Axel, any teacher who stops learning should stop teaching. Socrates said that the highest form of human intelligence is to question oneself and others. I try to follow his sound advice. Aristotle believed that the mark of an educated mind is to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. I have made that my trajectory. I really do value well-reasoned thoughts my readers express even if, in the end, I do no embrace them. 🙂

        • I’m a little lost on one point.

          Matthew 5:17 sees Jesus saying that he hasn’t come to destroy the laws, but to fulfil them – does this mean that once the laws are upheld/fulfilled, then God is allowed to make new ones?

          I am by no means a Professor nor a scholar, but merely an interested party with no ulterior motive other than learning.

          • Paul, questions for the sake of sincere understanding are the best kind of questions! This is kind of a big topic you are opening up, so please understand my intentionally limited answer. Mat 5:17 is not communicating temporal fulfillment as in “I promised, I did it, now my promise fulfilled/expired/ended” The verb that stands in direct opposition to “fulfill” is “abolish”. So whatever the Greek verb “fulfill” means it has to be a meaning opposite to “abolish” grammatically and logically. And temporal fulfillment gets one to the end/finish, which is no different then “abolish” and “done”.

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          • Hey Paul
            Here’s “my understanding” of what Jesus came to do.
            He came to keep Torah(law) to it’s letter so he can be sinless and acceptable as a sacrifice for the world’s sins, so in order for him to be blameless he had to WALK and TALK(Teach) Torah, to fulfill means just that, to keep in full the entire word of God(all of his instructions).
            He said that he did not came to destroy(put an end) but to keep them and if you keep reading he also tells us not only to keep it but also to teach it, and those who keep and teach Torah will be called great in the kingdom.
            Believing in Jesus is just the first step of our spiritual walk, we have to backup our faith with works, for faith without works is a dead faith, those works are keeping God’s instructions.
            God never changes, and so does his laws, never change, the only thing that change are covenants and it’s terms, the new covenant has better terms than the old one, but God’s laws still apply regardless of the covenant he makes with his people, a covenant does not turn God’s laws void, that would be an error, it would mean that God is not the same today, yesterday and tomorrow and that he changes not.

            Professor Pinchas I hope you don’t mind me replying.

        • Great to read of someone who had read scripture and understands the future for believers here in earth. One needs to understand Istaelitush and Jewish history and customs to fully understand scripture.

        • In the thousand year reign when Christ comes to reign what sacrifices will be offered ? as Christ was the once and for all sacrifice Hebrew 10 ?

      • Professor Shir: Ran across these old disussion post and began reading them. My Pastor would love your Mind! He understands the Bible so well, you are kindred spirits perhaps. You’ve gone beyond my own study but I nevertheless enjoyed your posts. Thanks.

      • I dont why not Ivy…there must be some way to eat it..just take the example of the bitter manioc/cassava….a very poisonous root yet the indigenous found a way to circonvent the deadly poison. Also, so many poisonous lianas/cipos yet again the indigenous found tye right on mixing with other plants n got ayuasaca.. a drinkable portion.

      • Prof Pinchas, Call4truth is worried about poison ivy and stinging nettles which Noah may inadvertently gather and mix them in pottage, … As far as I am concerned, can’t G-D not arrest the poison of the ivy and the sting of the nettle if HE instructed Noah he can eat ? When our L-RD G-D The CREATOR had spoken, all, then it is literally all. Isn’t G-D in overall Authority over what HE had spoken and created ? and to go further, to generalize the application, come to mind the serpent with Eve, the same format of argument ensued …

      • With all due respect sir, to say that the dietary laws existed before Sinai, is like saying the laws existed before they were given. Of course they were existent in the mind of God, as is all things through eternity. But the laws were not revealed to mankind until Sinai.

    • You are exactly right in my opinion. The words “as I gave you the green plants” is the key. There were restrictions on seed bearing and herbs. Not anything you want.

    • I have to make a comment on “all”! God fulfill His words by the dot of the “i” & the dash of the “t” if I may translate it as; God is also a very sensible & reasonable God!! He said you may eat all but He did not say, you must eat all. So, we don’t have to sweat if we loves peas & hate kale. As for poison ivy, it could be a useful herb for certain illment. I know in Chinese history, people had to save life w a certain poison on a poisoned person. Cheers!

    • You are correct. So many people run over the words “ as I gave you the green plants. “. Jehovah did not give all green plants either. Only seed bearing and herbs.

    • Yes, of course. God’s word never stops communicating spiritual truths to us. It is hard to get into spiritual matters when many people struggle with understanding the plain text and what it actually says. 🙂 Have to start somewhere.

      • Bless you, brother Call4Truth, for your clear explanation.
        If I may respectfully add a Spirit-Led Thought… At the end of the day, God the Father decides who is Saved. Matt 19:25-26.
        So my objective is to OBEY and DO .. all that my Father commands and allures too through His Son, who speaks all that his Father puts in his mouth. Deut 18:18.
        In Hebrews 3:9-11, Our Father rebukes the Israelites saying, they always Err in their heart, have not known his ways and shall not find rest in him. Wow .. I am scared.
        So I pray for Our Father to let me not Err in my heart, let me know his ways and let me find rest in him through my Lord Yeshua HaMaschiach. Amen.
        In Psalms 103:7, God says he made His ways known to Moses.
        Also, a lesson learned from Ruth 1:16, paraphrasing Ruth says to Naomi. Your people shall be my people and your God shall be my God. Amen.
        So I want to pray Lord Yeshua, I want your people to be my people and your God to be my God.
        In Deut 14:2 before he gives the Food Laws, God says, paraphrasing. Thou art a Holy people unto The Lord thy God, chosen to be a peculiar people unto himself. Amen.
        So I want to OBEY and DO God’s commandments. Keep his Food laws, His Shabbat, etc and Try my best to Follow, Obey, repent, sin no more, have a Relationship and Worship in Spirit and In Truth, as such is the Worship the Father desires and seekest. John 4:21-24.
        Trying to be able to stand unashamedly in front of my Lord Yeshua. Amen.
        Blessings and Shalom in Yeshua’s name. Amen.

  5. Shalom! Prof,Pinchas Shir, I liked your article really.A thought came to my mind,and I could be wrong
    I think, after the flood Noah and his family needed some new ‘ diet’, so God permitted them to kill animals
    I’m thinking of pork,beef, etc.fish were in their ark,so they didn’t need to go fishing,just a thought
    Noah and the flood make me think of life also,just to know there is our God who loves

  6. I consider it strange logic if when Noach knew the difference between clean and unclean animals, he would choose the unclean ones to eat while having no qualms of eating clean animals. If cleanliness is next to godliness, why would he choose unclean animals for food? Just because God permitted him too? Is that a correct interpretation of the Bible? If so, you are accusing God of leading people to uncleanliness. Unclean people eat unclean meats.

    • “cleanliness is next to godliness” is our idea, of course, not Noah’s. James, it seems to me you do not understand the essence of the “Tameh” the same way I do. I may be mistaken, but I fell like you imbue that term with some meaning that I do not see. To me, “unclean” is a technical category. It is not immoral. Unclean is not “bad”. And vice-versa “clean” does not mean “good” Poor kittens, rabbits, puppies and etc. do not deserve for me to see them as “bad”. They did not do anything. They were born that way. Unclean just means not for the altar or food for those who eat from the altar (Israel). It’s like this. I do not wear women’s clothing. It is not for me. It does not mean that dresses are bad, or those who wear it are somehow lower, it’s just not for me. That is not who I am. The same with kashrut laws.

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        • Yes, a very good explanation. And it does not only apply to food. Birth is not bad, sex is not bad, caring for and burying your dead is not bad. Even “leprosy” is not bad (in the sense that it has nothing to do with sin). All of these things make you ceremonially unclean, but all are temporary states.

  7. God the Father always takes care of his loyal ones. If you look at a strict literal reading of the flood story there is very little chance there was enough food to go around (esp for the lions, tigers and bears.). I’ve always suspected they had help from God in some way to make it through. If God can feed thousands of people quail and manna for years he can take care of Noah and all the critters

    • Amen Barry. We should always see these stories through spiritual eyes, assuming that God worked supernaturally. That is how ancient people read them. People today are so scientific! They will exclude the possibility of God doing what he does and tell you that this story is bunk, simply because they take everything at face value and cannot figure out the logistics. God is so beyond this realm and laws of physics.

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    • Barry, I was once asked the question, “What did Noah do with the refuse (sewage) that would’ve amassed during the 40 days and nights upon the water?” My seminary class pondered this for 24 hours, and we came back with all kinds of suggestions, none of which were plausible. We put a lot of thought into that question, but our answers were wrong. We were finally given the most logical and plausible answer by our professor: “There was none, for God put them all to sleep, a deep hibernative state. There would be no need for food or sewage disposal!

      • Of course the idea that God put all of the animals on the ark to sleep for 40 days is only speculation, and speculation can be very dangerous as many Scriptures when taken together and each understood through speculation, will lead to a false understanding of the whole Bible.

  8. What comes to mind is the very restricted diets of some cultures who really have no choice. After the flood, it seems that people were permitted to consume meat mostly for practical purposes. Immediately after the flood, there was no vegetation because of the world-wide destruction. I think an organization like Answers in Genesis wrote an article about this. Now in our day and I think for centuries, there are cultures like the Inuet in the North Pole who must eat meat from seals and whales. They absolutely have no choice.

    • Yes, that is true. There are always exceptions. Jewish law allows one to break some commandments for the sake of keeping others. Example… If I am in danger of starvation I can eat horse meat, elephant meat or a camel (not that I would want to – they are quite smelly) You get the point. Life preservation is a higher commandment than kashrut.

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  9. I wish to understand the reason for the statement (by Call4Truth, on Sept.17. 4:18): “…for a thousand years
    sacrifices will resume in the 3D temple…” Why? On the Great Day of the Atonement the the religious services
    reached their ultimate end: Israel was separated from sin [all put on the Scape-goat) Israel was made HOLY.
    There was no need for sacrifice.

  10. I am inclined to agree with Call4Truth in that the Law of God doesn’t change, and especially with his poison ivy argument.

    I apply the common sense approach to what Noah ate: if the ark contained two elephants (one male, one female) and Noah and family ate one, how many are left?

    The correct answer is actually zero, because the species could not propagate after that point. If Noah should choose to eat a clean animal, that species would continue to thrive because there would be three other pairs to do so.

    • Sometimes I feel like people do not even read the article when they respond to it. 🙂 I carefully stated – “Noah could have eaten unclean animals” Then I repeated myself – “Noah and his family could have eaten any food they liked without becoming unclean or unrighteous” Could does not mean did! I do not have any evidence to prove one way or another and neither do other people. Perhaps Noah waited for those elephants to have babies? I do not know. What I do know he could have eaten them and that would have been OK with God. That is my thesis.

      • “What I do know he could have eaten them and that would have been OK with God. That is my thesis.”

        Several people who commented here are clearly talking about which animals Noah ate while ON the ark. Unless we understand Genesis 8 to be out of chronological order and to have really occurred BEFORE the beginning of the flood (well, OK, before exiting the ark, I suppose), then I think it is save to reasonable that Noah was adhering to God’s original instruction that food consisted entirely of seed-bearing plants/herbs. Can you clarify w.r.t. your statement quoted above?

        • Noah and his family were vegetarians until God gave them the option to eat animals of all sorts (after they disembarked). There is no info about Noah’s diet on the ark, so we assume no changes. The classification of animals into “clean” or unclean” is not related to Noah’s diet, but to the sacrifices God accepted.

          • YES! Absolutely! So straightforward and so simple. Any other reading is to impose later practice and instruction where it never belonged.

            I’ve tried to explain this to a few Jewish friends over the years and every single time they reacted with shock, as if I’d just stomped their favorite puppy.

  11. With the new covenant, came a new commandment, and this is the essence of Eart’s creation. Love Father (by keeping the Torah), and love your fellow man as yourself. This is the ONLY key to heaven. For, if you love Father, you SHALL love HIS son, and live as He lived.

    Father created earth outside of heaven to keep it clean after Lucifer. We have to live here as Yeshuah did, believe in Him or are lost.

    If you hold anything against somebody, you hold it against Father. That is also reason for sicknesses.

    Shalom in love

  12. When God told Noach to eat anything virtually, we are told the beast will begin to fear man, for hunting them. If the world was destroyed for its evil and perverse people, would the animals have begun to fear humans? Just a thought. Also having spent a year almost being fed and tended to by Noach did they forget to fear humans? Just wondering. Many thanks Pauline

    • I do not have all the answers, Pauline. I assume because they just became a food source for humans. I would be afraid if my “friends” informed me they were expanding their menu to other humans.

  13. I left a bit of info on another post asking about the Lascaux cave paintings being of the deluge. Animals in and out of water. Hands ,palms up, appears to be a scene of many people in water wanting into the ark. Its rather obvious its a story of the flood of Noah. Or it is to me.

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  14. Gen 9:2-4 was a blessing (& curses) ? This is different than the covenant in Gen 9:8. I guess I am not sure why a blessing is different than a covenant.

  15. Just a thought!!
    But had he eaten any of the unclean animals they wouldn’t have been able to reproduce, because there was only 2 of each of the unclean ones. And 7 each of the clean ones.

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  16. Shalom Pinchas,
    I am confused. You state that Noach was allowed to eat all animals. Then you even mention that the animals going into the ark were divided by the Kashrut division. Noach was Kashrut. Noach never ate pigs nor apes nor shellfish. Right?

    • Brian, Noah was a vegetarian. No one knows if he ever even tasted meat of any sort. Kashrut laws are much, much later in history. The laws of “clean” and “unclean” (actually somewhat different from the rabbinic idea of Kosher) applied to sacrifices first and foremost. That is how Noah knew them. As you read the text, God clearly allowed Noah and his descendants to eat “any animal”. Yes, any. Did Noah actually try? No one knows. God later limited this freedom for Israel, because of the covenant. But for the rest of the descendants of Noah – nothing changed.

  17. I really appreciate this post. I get tired of this group of people who twist scripture to make the Torah practically above Jesus. I actually went to a church for a while where that was the case-definitely above. I finally left.
    I’d read in the Septuagint the word “reptiles” a long time ago and realized that the argument over “remes” being only clean animals was silly because apparently 70 Jews who translated the Bible all said “reptiles” and those were not on the Moses menu. I did some study and realized “Reptiles” included more than just alligators and snakes.

  18. Fear and dread of animals toward humans- seems to follow Noah’s sacrifice. I noticed that when they leave the ark God tells Noah to let ALL the living creatures go free, but Noah decides to kill one of each of the clean animals. God smells the sweet aroma (obviously about Noah’s heart) and says he won’t flood earth again even though man’s heart is evil from his youth. Why say that at that time? THEN he gives Noah permission to eat all animals. I think Noah was innocent in what he did in ignorance, but that wasn’t God’s intention for

  19. On the subject of unclean and clean eating. What about what Yeshua(Jesus) said in Mattityahu/Matthew 15: 1 – 19. That what we eat does not make us unclean, but what comes out of our mouths that make us unclean.

    • That is not exactly what he said, Theresia. He said “how we eat” (clean food) – meaning “with unwanshed hands” does not defile a person. Re-read the passage. It is not about food, but about impurity transmission and washing of hands. Verse 20 is the summmary of the master’s point.

  20. Don’t believe what they are saying YHWH never commands anyone to eat unclean any animals.What is being communicated here is:you can eat all the sacrifices made to the Eternal.The consumption of meats was not legal until the rebellion of disobedience,of which they would have been clean. The mitzvoth was commanded spiritually until they were shouted down and inscribed in stone.This has a fulfillment for Y’shua’s end time true following.As in the days of Noah so shall the coming of the Son of Man be.Yes,we have greco-roman-wicked israelite ,giants spewing destruction,this is my Chanukah message,this is the fight

    • Dear Yaakov, First who are “they” that are saying something I am not supposed to believe? Second, I never wrote that Hashem “commanded to eat unclean animals”. Please read my article carefully. But God did allow this to Noah and his family – that is a fact that the Hebrew text expresses, whether we like it or not.

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  21. The people who left Egypt with Moses were told not to eat unclean animals for health purposes. They were great in number, a crowded people, wondering around for 40 years. The edict was to prevent disease and ended in the new testament. I wouldn’t call Noah a Gentile since he was Hebrew pre Israel, pre Babel, a direct descendant of Adam.

    • True, the term “Gentile” is not very natural. It is only used here for the lack of the better one. There are no Jews yet, no Israel, so all people are just people 🙂

  22. I think it’s interesting that many comments over look the fact that God shed the first blood to clothe Adam and Eve, or was the first animal sacrifice for His children.
    Another is Noah was a Gentile. This one I hadn’t really thought about until this article.
    Thank you for confirming something I had been wondering about.

  23. Call4truth yr point is not too strong on eating poision plants. Let’s take the bitter cassava or mandioc root with its deadly poision…the natives found a way to circunvent it to turn it into their most staple food..farina casareep..casabread…tapioca gum etc and their beer…what a revelation from God….a little invedtigation into ivy and one can surely finds its edible uses….in Tunisia 2ww my dad’s buddies survived of roaches…pure proteins…was thst ckean or unclean?

    • Hashem said “I give you every seed-bearing plant for food” so the argument is with him. What interpreters of scripture have to watch out for are generalizations like “all”, “every”, “always” and “never” – they are rarely used in an absolute sense. That is just the way human speech works, they are meant to be tentative.

  24. Dear Professor,
    I would like to make two points: (1) Noah’s Ark was more or less of a rectangular shape, like many three-storey houses, though it may have been streamlined and had a sloping roof. It was hardly like the structure shown at the head of your article.
    (2) You rightly say that Moses said certain creatures are “an abomination to YOU” ie to Israel, and not to Gentiles. However, certain sexual behaviour is an “abomination”, not just to Israel but to all mankind. And e.g. shellfish are merely “sheqets” and not “toévah”. Why do translations not distinguish these? Blessings!

    • Good, questions. I honestly do not know why translations do not distinguish. Things rarely translate perfectly the receptor language imbues terms with their own nuanced meaning, anyway.

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  25. As I read one of the comments, it said Noah was a Gentile. My question is this: If Noah was gentile, and the flood killed all others, then, how do we have all different races? And what I understand about the tower of Babel, is that God made all peoples unable to communicate with each other and not different races, or am I not understanding correctly.

    • Dear Elizabeth, I am not an expert on races. In fact, I think that the entire category of “race” is artificial. People, of course, have different biological features, such as skin and eye pigment, hair color and shape and etc, but I am unsure if people should be classified according to external biological difference. Noah was a non-Jews because Israelites did not exist yet (that’s after Abraham). I assume his sons and daughters were quite diverse in appearance.

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  26. Prof Shir, God of the Jews also asked all peoples to be reconciled w Him & sent His Son to accomplish it. I urge you all to pursue God & Christ (first) for God’s salvation, kingdom & righteousness (proven by the promised Holy Spirit who teaches all things though teachers are also to help us). God’s WORD is sweet like honey, BUT I suggest that you all spend devotional times with scriptures in prayers (2nd) to get to know God “personally” for it is His will for all His children. May God bless you & keep you!

  27. If Noah had eaten any of the unclean animals, that specie would become extinct. His Orders were, “1 pair” of the unclean, and “7 pairs” of the clean.
    All the species that went into the Ark made it out intact. Or, is it not?

    • These words were spoken to Noah after they disembarked. He did not have to run out and eat them immediately. God is merely giving him permission for the days to come. Noah can wait for them to reproduce, you know, so that the species can continue. This is a grant from God to extend the “dominion” mankind already had over animals a bit further.

    • @Nedu , for the birds of the air, it was 7 pairs (or, “by sevens male and female”) each whether clean or unclean.

      I am tempted to say it is a distinction without import, but I hesitate to say that anything in the bible is unimportant so there might be something of interest there.

  28. Ummmm… To the man who made the point about the poison Ivy…. God didnt give to Noah to eat poison Ivy… God said green . Go back and look because poison Ivy isn’t an herb. You can find that Gen. 9:3 and to Adam 1:29…every herb bearing seed. Again poison Ivy isn’t an herb.

  29. Prof. Shir, you wrote: “Torah defines righteousness for Israel by specifying that certain animals are “unclean/clean TO YOU” – that is, only unclean for the children of Israel” [emphasis mine]

    Could you explain how you distinguish “to you” here from the various “you shall”, “you shall not”, etc. from elsewhere in the scriptures? The obvious example is in most of the ten commandments.

    I think I know your answer, but am unsure enough that I won’t embarrass myself with a conjecture.

    • So in places where God speaks to Israel and says “this is unclean to you” its 2nd person plural masculine (all of you – community) in Hebrew. In 10 commandments the language is completely dissimilar. The address is again to Israel collectively but more personal in 2nd person masculine with single pronoun endings (you as one individual). Basically, in modern English, we do not differentiate between single you and plural you, but Hebrew does.

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  30. I dont know why not Ivy…there must be some way to eat it..just take the example of the bitter manioc/cassava….a very poisonous root yet the indigenous found a way to circonvent the deadly poison. Also, so many poisonous lianas/cipos yet again the indigenous found tye right on mixing with other plants n got ayuhasaca.. a drinkable portion.

  31. Noach, the original survivalist. Part of context when interpreting scripture is who was being addressed, and what were their circumstances. It was a world where crops had to be reestablished, along with most plants reestablishing themselves in the wild from the muck. Thus animal life needed to be reestablished not only from what was on the Ark but from what a rapidly evolving ecosystem would support. So Noach and his family would have needed a lot of leeway in their diet, otherwise they’d starve. When viewed from this perspective, the narrative takes on a whole different meaning.

  32. Professor, the context of Genesis 9 makes all the difference in interpreting “every” and “only.” Why were more clean animals rescued than unclean animals? Why the distinction between “clean” and “unclean” animals? We’re told that “cleanliness is next to godliness.” Even the mere fact that it’s called “unclean”……….

  33. …..shows that it’s not right. The obvious point that you overlooked was that Noach was “righteous” and “righteous” means to always do the right thing. ( Genesis 6:9 ) You’re accusing God of leading Noach into sin. The very reason why the world was destroyed by a flood.

    • James, I believe you are making a cardinal mistake by confusing “impurity” with “sin” in your thinking. In Hebrew, there is a big difference. Theologically and practically these are very different matters. Tameh is a temporary condition that is fixed by washing and passage of time and requires no forgiveness. Chet is a permanent condition that can only be remedied by repentance, restitution and sacrifice which requires God’s forgiveness. The reason why more clean animals were rescued is simple – for the altar. God does not accept other kinds (I don’t know why for sure). In Lev “unclean animals” were always classified as “unclean to you (Israel)” because they were not such for the rest of Noah’s descendants. https://weekly.israelbiblecenter.com/paul-abolish-torahs-dietary-laws/

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  34. Noah had a righteous heart and will therefore have chosen clean food wherever possible. So it was unnecessary to forbid the unclean food for him … yet it’s different for others!

    “Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient…” (1Tim1:9)

  35. Should the. Jewish people not realise that they are just a fraction of God’s plan for the world? Mark 7;!9 the lord God from heaven declares all foods clean. Kosher food should be banned! He jews played a fractional part in God’s plan for the salvation of the Gentile world

    • Did you get this from the Bible? God made covenants with no other people than Israel, my friend. That is a stubborn biblical fact. I challenge your notion that Jewish people are merely a temporary vehicle for the gospel. If that is the only reason God declared his love for Israel, then this is a pitiful and pathetic excuse for affection, unworthy to be returned and certainly not worthy of heartfelt worship or devotion.

      • Amos You are unfortunately blinded to the purpose plan and promise God made to Abraham He chose Israel to be a light to the nations not a candle to be snuffed our Romans 11:25 Regarding the food Noah are No one has mentioned meat was the only food available

  36. It seems to me, and you can tell me if I’ve gotten this wrong. The law contained in ordinances that was given at Sinai was a covenant between YHVH and Israel which included the dietary laws. The prohibition of what to eat and not eat was not given to gentiles

    • That is what I say. Covenant with Israel does not obligate the entire world. People are free to take upon themselves any extra measures they wish, but these are voluntary for the nations. For Israel a different story.

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  37. Amos, You need to read Romans 11. We gentiles are grafted into the Jewish tree. We being grafted in should never become so arrogant as to believe we are better than even the cut off branches. As believers we should always get our spiritual knowledge from our Jewish roots.

  38. I disagree that Tamim means “perfect.” Plus, Noah is described as tamim “in his generations”- i.e., relative, not in an absolute sense. Just as Willie Mays was the greatest player in his generation- but not GOAT (= Babe Ruth). Noah was the best of a bad lot- an evil generation.

  39. cf. Yoram Hazony’s work on the problem with the notion of ‘Perfection’ in Biblical theology. My preferred translation would be ‘whole-hearted’ or ‘guileless.’ A good example would be Forrest Gump.

    • I like “guiless” – that expresses the idea nicely! Perfection in English is something other. Thanks for getting back to me on this. Too often people say they do not agree with some translation but then cannot offer a better alternative and I am always disappointed. Hazony is not a philologist, but these options are thought-provoking.

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  40. Would Noah and family hunger if only bread and fruits are what they have stored while they are afloat for 40 days and 40 nights?

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