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  #1  
Old 03-13-2008, 03:39 PM
BrainGlutton BrainGlutton is offline
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Why did John the Baptist eat locusts? They're not kosher!

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Originally Posted by Matthew 3:1-6
And in those days cometh John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of through Isaiah the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make ye ready the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Now John himself had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leather girdle about his loins; and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then went out unto him Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about the Jordan; and they were baptized of him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
I'm not Jewish but I know bugs ain't kosher, no more than crabs or lobsters. Why did John the Baptist, putting himself forth as a Jewish religious leader/prophet, eat them?
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  #2  
Old 03-13-2008, 03:42 PM
Alessan Alessan is online now
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Locust is kosher. In fact, it's the only kosher insect.

What can I say? We're a strange religion.
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  #3  
Old 03-13-2008, 03:43 PM
LionelHutz405 LionelHutz405 is offline
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Yep.
It was even mentioned on last night's episode of Survivorman (as he ate a locust.)
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  #4  
Old 03-13-2008, 03:46 PM
Mangetout Mangetout is online now
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Leviticus 11:20-23
Quote:
All flying insects that walk on all fours are to be detestable to you. There are, however, some winged creatures that walk on all fours that you may eat: those that have jointed legs for hopping on the ground. Of these you may eat any kind of locust, katydid, cricket or grasshopper. But all other winged creatures that have four legs you are to detest.
(note, this is the infamous 'insects have four legs' passage).
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  #5  
Old 03-13-2008, 03:53 PM
Diogenes the Cynic Diogenes the Cynic is offline
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Hopping insects are exempted from the "no bugs" rule.

Quote:
Yet these you may eat of every flying insect that creeps on all fours: those which have jointed legs above their feet with which to leap on the earth.

These you may eat: the locust after its kind, the destroying locust after its kind, the cricket after its kind, and the grasshopper after its kind.
(Lev. 11:21-22)

Last edited by Diogenes the Cynic; 03-13-2008 at 03:54 PM..
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  #6  
Old 03-13-2008, 04:05 PM
BrainGlutton BrainGlutton is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alessan
Locust is kosher. In fact, it's the only kosher insect.

What can I say? We're a strange religion.
Can you eat it with cheese?

(No conceivable answer you would give would surprise me.)
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  #7  
Old 03-13-2008, 04:05 PM
scr4 scr4 is offline
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But all other winged creatures that have four legs you are to detest.
Just out of curiosity, what about insects without wings? Ants, for example.
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  #8  
Old 03-13-2008, 04:07 PM
BrainGlutton BrainGlutton is offline
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I posted the question because I was wondering whether John the Baptist was declaring a new revelation or something, protesting the established Jewish laws (an attitude often attributed to Jesus by Evangelicals, on dubious scriptural grounds IMO). There's also the camel-hair shirt he wore -- don't camels come under the heading of animals of which Jews may not even touch the dead carcass?

Last edited by BrainGlutton; 03-13-2008 at 04:07 PM..
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  #9  
Old 03-13-2008, 04:12 PM
Terrifel Terrifel is offline
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Sure, John the Baptist may lived in the desert, dressed in camel's hair and believed that sin was water-soluble; but never let it be said that he failed to honor the sacred bug-eating traditions handed down from ancient Hebrews who couldn't count to six.
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  #10  
Old 03-13-2008, 04:15 PM
BrainGlutton BrainGlutton is offline
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According to Wikipedia, only one or two Jewish traditions consider any locusts kosher and the Orthodox tradition rejects it WRT all species. Nothing on what the consensus was in John's and Jesus' time, however.
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  #11  
Old 03-13-2008, 04:18 PM
redtail23 redtail23 is offline
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So is there another verse somewhere referring to locusts? Because I was under the impression that locusts were no longer considered kosher, because no one knows the specific kind of locust that was OK to eat. That doesn't make any sense with the verse posted here.

ETA: OK, the Wikipedia link from BrainGlutton says basically the same thing that I remember. Never mind!

Last edited by redtail23; 03-13-2008 at 04:20 PM.. Reason: post-post posting after reading pre-post posts missed while typing
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  #12  
Old 03-13-2008, 04:21 PM
cosmosdan cosmosdan is offline
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Doesn't it depend on how they're killed and prepared?
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  #13  
Old 03-13-2008, 04:27 PM
Ludovic Ludovic is offline
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Is Batman kosher?
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  #14  
Old 03-13-2008, 04:28 PM
Two and a Half Inches of Fun Two and a Half Inches of Fun is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scr4
Just out of curiosity, what about insects without wings? Ants, for example.
Ants have wings.

Quote:
Most queens and male ants have wings; queens shed the wings after the nuptial flight leaving visible stubs, a distinguishing feature of queens. Wingless queens (ergatoids) and males can also occur.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ant
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  #15  
Old 03-13-2008, 04:37 PM
BrainGlutton BrainGlutton is offline
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I've also read that blood is not kosher -- but, then, why is the blood of Christian babies used to make matzohs?
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  #16  
Old 03-13-2008, 04:40 PM
cmkeller cmkeller is offline
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BrainGlutton:

Quote:
Can you eat it with cheese?
Yes. Only the meat of mammals is Biblically forbidden from being eaten with dairy. Bird meat was prohibited by the Rabbis because a piece of bird meat could be easily confused for mammal meat. Fish and insects can freely be eaten with dairy.

scr4:

Quote:
Just out of curiosity, what about insects without wings? Ants, for example.
Forbidden, as per

Quote:
Originally Posted by Leviticus 11:41-42
And every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth shall be an abomination; it shall not be eaten. Whatsoever goeth upon the belly, and whatsoever goeth upon all four, or whatsoever hath more feet among all creeping things that creep upon the earth, them ye shall not eat; for they are an abomination.
redtail23:

Quote:
So is there another verse somewhere referring to locusts? Because I was under the impression that locusts were no longer considered kosher, because no one knows the specific kind of locust that was OK to eat. That doesn't make any sense with the verse posted here.
No, your recollection is correct - Some Sephardic Jews have a tradition regarding the identity of the specific locust species that are permitted, but others and all Ashkenazic Jews have lost that knowledge and therefore stay away from all insects. But we do not think that the named species became forbidden, we just don't have sufficient expertise to recognize them.

cosmosdan:

Quote:
Doesn't it depend on how they're killed and prepared?
Nope, that only matters for birds and mammals. No special mode of slaughter is necessary for fish or locusts.

Ludovic:

Quote:
Is Batman kosher?
Nope.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Leviticus 11:13-19
And these are they which ye shall have in abomination among the fowls; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: ...(snip)...and the bat.
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  #17  
Old 03-13-2008, 04:54 PM
Mangetout Mangetout is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmkeller
No, your recollection is correct - Some Sephardic Jews have a tradition regarding the identity of the specific locust species that are permitted, but others and all Ashkenazic Jews have lost that knowledge and therefore stay away from all insects. But we do not think that the named species became forbidden, we just don't have sufficient expertise to recognize them.
That seems weird - because 'any kind of locust, katydid, cricket or grasshopper' seems too general and inclusive to be able to be misundertood or misidentified - is the English translation lending it a false sense of clarity?
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  #18  
Old 03-13-2008, 05:01 PM
Terrifel Terrifel is offline
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Clearly the Levites were just as meticulous about their ornithology as their entomology.

"Well, OBVIOUSLY bats are birds; they have two legs! If they were insects, they'd have four."

It breaks my heart to think of all the little Levite children who brought their own lunches to school, and had to watch the other kids eating delicious bat McNuggets while they were forced to choke down another of Mom's crummy locust sandwiches.
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  #19  
Old 03-13-2008, 05:04 PM
JohnnieEnigma JohnnieEnigma is offline
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Because he was hungry?
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  #20  
Old 03-13-2008, 05:06 PM
redtail23 redtail23 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrainGlutton
I've also read that blood is not kosher -- but, then, why is the blood of Christian babies used to make matzohs?
Ok, that made me giggle insanely. Can I share your basket?
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  #21  
Old 03-13-2008, 05:09 PM
amarinth amarinth is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ludovic
Is Batman kosher?
Only if he's prepared.
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  #22  
Old 03-13-2008, 05:10 PM
Diogenes the Cynic Diogenes the Cynic is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Terrifel
Clearly the Levites were just as meticulous about their ornithology as their entomology.

"Well, OBVIOUSLY bats are birds; they have two legs! If they were insects, they'd have four."
To be fair, you're imposing a taxonomical system on the ancients that had not been formulated yet. They also classified dolphins and whales as "fish," not because they were stupid because they used a different set of definitions.

The explanation I've heard for the "four legged insect" thing is that they didn't count the hopping legs as "crawling" legs.
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  #23  
Old 03-13-2008, 05:12 PM
jayjay jayjay is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amarinth
Only if he's prepared.
Win.
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  #24  
Old 03-13-2008, 05:16 PM
Gala Matrix Fire Gala Matrix Fire is offline
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FYI, locusts are also halal.

Pretty convenient when locusts periodically lay waste to vast swaths of crops and people face starvation or malnourishment as a result. Hey, guess what, we can eat those locusts! Whee!
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  #25  
Old 03-13-2008, 05:31 PM
TWDuke TWDuke is offline
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Or he may have been eating seed pods.
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  #26  
Old 03-13-2008, 05:33 PM
cmkeller cmkeller is offline
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Mangetout:

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That seems weird - because 'any kind of locust, katydid, cricket or grasshopper' seems too general and inclusive to be able to be misundertood or misidentified - is the English translation lending it a false sense of clarity?
That's the answer. Many English translations offered for Biblical species are not accurate and cannot be taken as (so to speak) gospel. The Jewish practice is to not to eat any species that we do not have a continued tradition of being Kosher. (The Kosher-status of the turkey was very controversial when it was first introduced to European Jews, and there are still a few sects that won't eat it.)
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  #27  
Old 03-13-2008, 05:37 PM
Terrifel Terrifel is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diogenes the Cynic
To be fair, you're imposing a taxonomical system on the ancients that had not been formulated yet. They also classified dolphins and whales as "fish," not because they were stupid because they used a different set of definitions.

The explanation I've heard for the "four legged insect" thing is that they didn't count the hopping legs as "crawling" legs.
Oh I realize this. My remarks were intended in a lighthearted vein. I think it was eminently wise of the ancients to adopt a systematic approach to their bug-eating.

No doubt this came in handy when encountering a stranger eating bugs in the wasteland. If they were just out there eating bugs willy-nilly, you'd know that they were just crazy. But if they were taking the proper time to classify their bugs beforehand, that would be a completely different story. Attention to detail is the key to a successful bug-eater. You'd know that such a fellow could be trusted. They might even ask you to help identify a particularly enigmatic bug. If you happened to be carrying any bugs yourself, you could trade. It was probably a social thing.
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  #28  
Old 03-13-2008, 05:46 PM
Sal Ammoniac Sal Ammoniac is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gala Matrix Fire
FYI, locusts are also halal.

Pretty convenient when locusts periodically lay waste to vast swaths of crops and people face starvation or malnourishment as a result. Hey, guess what, we can eat those locusts! Whee!
In fact, I've seen it done in Islamic parts of Africa. I've had a nice smoked locust offered to me, but I just... couldn't. And actually, I learned afterwards that you shouldn't eat them, because the swarms are often bombed with pesticides.
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  #29  
Old 03-13-2008, 06:06 PM
begbert2 begbert2 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sal Ammoniac
In fact, I've seen it done in Islamic parts of Africa. I've had a nice smoked locust offered to me, but I just... couldn't. And actually, I learned afterwards that you shouldn't eat them, because the swarms are often bombed with pesticides.
Are pesticides kosher?

(And, after the Batman bit, I gotta ask...are humans kosher?)
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  #30  
Old 03-13-2008, 06:09 PM
Antinor01 Antinor01 is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amarinth
Only if he's prepared.
I was going to say it depends on how he was prepared.
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  #31  
Old 03-13-2008, 06:17 PM
Lemur866 Lemur866 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by begbert2
Are pesticides kosher?

(And, after the Batman bit, I gotta ask...are humans kosher?)
Only if they have cloven hooves and chew their cud.
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  #32  
Old 03-13-2008, 06:23 PM
Antinor01 Antinor01 is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by begbert2
Are pesticides kosher?

(And, after the Batman bit, I gotta ask...are humans kosher?)
Humans are not specifically mentioned as being allowed or prohibited. However, the guidelines also stipulate that for mammals to be kosher they must be slaughtered in a prescribed manner. They cannot have died of natural causes, been killed by other animals or have any diseases. So the only way to prepare a human for consumption would be through murder which is of course strongly prohibited.
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  #33  
Old 03-13-2008, 06:41 PM
rocking chair rocking chair is offline
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leviticus 11:22-23

these are the ones you may eat; the several kinds of migratory locust, solham, hargol, and hagab locust in their several kinds.

being a native of israel and seeming knowing of wilderness survival and the son of a high priest, i would hope he would know kosher locusts from non kosher.

there is an interesting tradition on the day his death is remembered. on that day you don't eat off a plate, platter, or flat service. also any food that is round or refered to as a "head" is not eaten. this does present some challenges as that day is a strict fast day, no dairy, meat, olive oil, or shellfish (some will list any fish). jordan almonds are okay.
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  #34  
Old 03-13-2008, 06:43 PM
jayjay jayjay is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rocking chair
there is an interesting tradition on the day his death is remembered. on that day you don't eat off a plate, platter, or flat service. also any food that is round or refered to as a "head" is not eaten. this does present some challenges as that day is a strict fast day, no dairy, meat, olive oil, or shellfish (some will list any fish). jordan almonds are okay.
What religion does this?
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  #35  
Old 03-13-2008, 06:44 PM
elucidator elucidator is online now
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I, for one, welcome our new insect hors d'œuvres....
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  #36  
Old 03-13-2008, 06:50 PM
Zabali_Clawbane Zabali_Clawbane is offline
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Well, and further, their law *REQUIRES* them to eat non-kosher food if they will starve and that is all there is to eat. It is specifically written that way. I am not finding where it explains this, but I am sure someone else can find a link to post backing up my assertion if I cannot.
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  #37  
Old 03-13-2008, 06:51 PM
rocking chair rocking chair is offline
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it is an odd tradition in the orthodox church. the strict fast rules for the day is universal throughout. the plates, round, head part are something that is an individual thing. some do, mostly older people who grew up with it, some don't, think it is a bit much given the strict fast rules (dairy, meat, etc) and too "cutsy".
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  #38  
Old 03-13-2008, 06:55 PM
carnivorousplant carnivorousplant is offline
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One presumes chocolate covered grasshoppers to be dairy.
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  #39  
Old 03-13-2008, 08:00 PM
jayjay jayjay is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rocking chair
it is an odd tradition in the orthodox church. the strict fast rules for the day is universal throughout. the plates, round, head part are something that is an individual thing. some do, mostly older people who grew up with it, some don't, think it is a bit much given the strict fast rules (dairy, meat, etc) and too "cutsy".
Ah, I see now! I was raised Roman Catholic and I don't believe that's a mainstream practice for us.
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  #40  
Old 03-13-2008, 09:14 PM
cmkeller cmkeller is offline
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begbert2:

Quote:
Are pesticides kosher?
Depends what's in them. Anything derived from animal matter would have to be looked into. I suspect that most modern pesticides are fully non-animal and raise no Kashrut questions.

Quote:
(And, after the Batman bit, I gotta ask...are humans kosher?)
As a matter of fact, they are, though the halachic issues regarding how you'd obtain one to eat render the question moot. Humans are considered to be of a different category of being than animals.

Zabali_Clawbane:

Quote:
I am not finding where it explains this, but I am sure someone else can find a link to post backing up my assertion if I cannot.
The Talmud derives it from Leviticus 18:5, "Keep my decrees and laws, for the man who obeys them will live by them." That last phrase is taken to imply that one should live by the commandments and not die by them. (Babylonian Talmud, Yoma 85b)
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  #41  
Old 03-13-2008, 09:20 PM
FoieGrasIsEvil FoieGrasIsEvil is offline
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Does anyone think that some of these Biblical/Toranic passages were written in ancient times as "prohibited by God" because it became widespread knowledge that eating certain things could kill/harm you?

Take the pig...Jews aren't supposed to eat it, right? it's described as a filthy animal in the religious texts pertaining to it, but couldn't that be because of widepsread trichinosis in those days due to poor feeding of the animal or incorrectly prepared meat? Wild game can have trichinosis too, but you know what? We don't see it in pigs anymore because we have learned how to eliminate it.

One can't help but wonder. Ultimately it's more bacon for the rest of us pig-eaters, but couldn't some kind of raw understanding of infectious parasites of those times be reflected as "God's word"?
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  #42  
Old 03-13-2008, 09:23 PM
Indistinguishable Indistinguishable is offline
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Yes, it's a fairly common idea (though quite a few people have found this idea lacking).
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  #43  
Old 03-13-2008, 09:28 PM
carnivorousplant carnivorousplant is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmkeller
As a matter of fact, they are, though the halachic issues regarding how you'd obtain one to eat render the question moot. Humans are considered to be of a different category of being than animals.
After reading that several times, do I understand that the Kosher laws are about animals and humans aren't animals?

What was the difficulty with turkeys? A remember the MO Rabbi had one for Passover. He remarked that a Kosher turkeywas very expensive in Arkansas.
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  #44  
Old 03-13-2008, 09:41 PM
Diogenes the Cynic Diogenes the Cynic is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FoieGrasIsEvil
Does anyone think that some of these Biblical/Toranic passages were written in ancient times as "prohibited by God" because it became widespread knowledge that eating certain things could kill/harm you?

Take the pig...Jews aren't supposed to eat it, right? it's described as a filthy animal in the religious texts pertaining to it, but couldn't that be because of widepsread trichinosis in those days due to poor feeding of the animal or incorrectly prepared meat? Wild game can have trichinosis too, but you know what? We don't see it in pigs anymore because we have learned how to eliminate it.

One can't help but wonder. Ultimately it's more bacon for the rest of us pig-eaters, but couldn't some kind of raw understanding of infectious parasites of those times be reflected as "God's word"?
This is a common speculation but it has problems -- namely that other cultures in Palestine (including the Canaanites, the Philistines and the Greeks) raised pigs and ate pork with no particular ill effect. The reason the prohibition originated among the Israelite culture is unknown (unless you believe it was really dictated to Moses), but it's something that does appear to date back to the most antique history of the culture. One of the ways that archaeologists can identify a site as being Israelite community is the lack of pig bones. There are never any pig bones in Israelite archaeological sites. Even if you find temples or idols to other gods, you still don't find pig bones.

The prevailing theory I've seen is that not eating pork was a way for the Israelites to clearly distinguish themselves from the surrounding Canaanites. That may be but it seems...incomplete to me somehow. I think there must have been a a more religious association with pigs that they were trying to avoid. Pigs must have symbolized something taboo to them but I have no idea what.

Last edited by Diogenes the Cynic; 03-13-2008 at 09:43 PM..
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  #45  
Old 03-13-2008, 11:18 PM
elucidator elucidator is online now
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Another interpetation is cultural in the sense of "life style". A pig is more common to a comparatively urban environment and settled agriculture, the pig recycles the scraps and detritus of agriculture into food. A pig is not practical for sheep herding nomads, if for no other reason than it can't eat grass.

The Hebrews regarded themselves as superior to the ubanized residents of their world, regarding settled living as unnatural, dirty and depraved. Hence, they regarded the diet and habits of such people in the same light.

Last edited by elucidator; 03-13-2008 at 11:19 PM..
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  #46  
Old 03-13-2008, 11:39 PM
Diogenes the Cynic Diogenes the Cynic is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elucidator
Another interpetation is cultural in the sense of "life style". A pig is more common to a comparatively urban environment and settled agriculture, the pig recycles the scraps and detritus of agriculture into food. A pig is not practical for sheep herding nomads, if for no other reason than it can't eat grass.

The Hebrews regarded themselves as superior to the ubanized residents of their world, regarding settled living as unnatural, dirty and depraved. Hence, they regarded the diet and habits of such people in the same light.
That's an interesting insight. You may be onto something. It's reminiscent of the pastoral/agricultural tension preserved in the Cain and Abel story too.

Have you read Daniel Quinn's Ishmael?
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  #47  
Old 03-14-2008, 12:32 AM
elucidator elucidator is online now
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I think I first picked up a variation of that from Marvin Harris' Pigs, Wars, and Witches: The Riddles of Culture, quite a while back. I've seen it reflected often since, so I dont know perzackly if he is the source or no. But it makes a lot of sense to me.

I know I've heard the notion that God preferred Abel to Cain because Abel reflected God's agricultural preferences. Makes as much sense as any of this does, and more than most.
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  #48  
Old 03-14-2008, 02:35 AM
grimpixie grimpixie is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmkeller
Quote:
(And, after the Batman bit, I gotta ask...are humans kosher?)
As a matter of fact, they are, though the halachic issues regarding how you'd obtain one to eat render the question moot. Humans are considered to be of a different category of being than animals.
Well now you've just gone and ruined my favorite Jewish triva question!!

It used to be - which two foods are kosher, while the creature that produces them is not kosher?
SPOILER:
Honey and breast milk

Now it will have to be - What does Israeli Barbie say in bed?
SPOILER:
Ken, Ken KEN!!
Grim
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  #49  
Old 03-14-2008, 03:26 AM
Mangetout Mangetout is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gala Matrix Fire
FYI, locusts are also halal.

Pretty convenient when locusts periodically lay waste to vast swaths of crops and people face starvation or malnourishment as a result. Hey, guess what, we can eat those locusts! Whee!
I may have a reputation for eating different things, but I still think my reaction would be somewhat less enthusiastic under those circumstances.

Dunno why insects are such a difficult thing for me to want to eat - I eat shrimp and crabs without any hesitation.
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  #50  
Old 03-14-2008, 03:53 AM
Noone Special Noone Special is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grimpixie
Now it will have to be - What does Israeli Barbie say in bed?
SPOILER:
Ken, Ken KEN!!
::wheeze:: ::choke:: ::splutter::

You just made my day!
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