My Mum's Ancient Family Bible

My Mum's Ancient Family Bible
Kept in the garage of all places for so many years, it's finally been put to good use.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

What You Can and Can't Eat (Leviticus 10-11)

Now it starts to get good (finally).

Before I submit a definitive list of what you can and can't eat according to the Bible, I should mention that two of Aaron's sons, Nadab and Abihu, decide to make things a little more festive by lighting some incense. This pisses God off royally because he considers patchouli and the like to be "unholy fire" (Lev 10:1). He is so incensed (get it?) by this act that he gets Moses and some of their other relatives to kick them out of the Hebrews-only camp they've set up (at the base of Mount Sinai, I think). No incense? Tell that to the Catholics. They love that shit.

Leviticus 11 plainly lays out which animals are fit for human consumption and which aren't. The criteria is that they have to be both cloven-footed and chew cud. So I'm guessing cows are okay. So are horses by the same token. What's not okay are camels, rock badgers, hares and pigs (Lev 11:4-7).

I didn't know what a rock badger was but a Google search pulled up an image of a Magic Card that told me that a rock badger has the power of being "unblockable as long as defending player controls a Mountain". No wonder you can't eat them. Very few of us controls mountains.

As for les fruits de mer, you can eat whatever you want provided it has fins and scales. All fish are okay but sharks, dolphins, lobsters, shrimps, etc are off the list. The Bible is not super-specific about naming the seafood you can't eat but the criteria would cut out a lot of tasty stuff for which I personally have tremendous food nostalgia (popcorn shrimp, in particular). The Bible is, however, super-specific about naming the birds you can't eat. These include: eagles, carrion vultures, ospreys, falcons, ravens, nighthawks, regular hawks, ostrich, seagulls, owls, cormorants, ibis, water hens, pelicans, carrion vultures (yes, named twice in the same paragraph for emphasis), storks, hoopoe (huh?) and bats (Lev 11:13-18). Note to the brillant zoologist on hand when the Bible was being written: bats are not birds.

You can't eat winged insects except for locusts. You can eat grasshoppers. This is good if you happen to go to Thailand and want to look like a tourist. You can't eat anything that "swarms". Probably a good rule of thumb. You can't eat weasels, mice, geckos, land crocodiles, sand lizards, regular lizards or chameleons (e.g., Gary Olfman or Cate Blanchett).

Worse than being a vegan.


  1. Clarification on the fish:

    Some fish (notably catfish) don't have scales. So no catfish in your tummy.

  2. What does it say about kangaroo? Anything?

  3. Implicitly, kangaroo is not kosher because it is not a ruminant (doesn't chew its cud).