Clean and Unclean Animals

What should we make of the distinction between clean and unclean animals? Is there some deeper reason that some animals are considered clean and others unclean?

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2 thoughts on “Clean and Unclean Animals

  1. One possible idea:

    The food Israel eats reflects how Israel itself ought to be constituted in communion, not only within itself (the diet of land animals), but also elsewhere. Is it possible that the aquatic diet reflects the kind of Gentiles Israel ought to relate to? And similarly, could the diet of birds reflect the kind of spiritual beings Israel ought to commune with? If so, this would explain why Israel’s land diet involves no carnivores, but the sea creatures do (i.e. Israel may not be willing to deal with men of blood in its own commonwealth, but Gentiles are not held to the brotherly ethics). Also, it would be an interesting reflection on which spirits Israel ought to avoid: fallen angels or evil spirits as birds that are carrions (parasitically living off of the Earth?) or of the night.

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    1. I suspect that this would prove a fruitful line of enquiry, although we would probably end up having to draw various important distinctions along the way. For instance, asses were very much part of Israelite life and could symbolize resident strangers. However, they were unclean and you were not to yoke one with an ox. There seem to be various kinds of association in view. Why God restricts his diet in the sacrificial system is another important question to ask.

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