Biblical Food Laws: Clean and Unclean Meats

Leviticus 11:2-3  

Speak to the children of Israel, saying, “These are the animals which you may eat among all the animals that are on the earth: Among the animals, whatever divides the hoof, having cloven hooves and chewing the cud—that you may eat.”

Listen to the "Verse by Verse" episode covering this scripture.

In Leviticus 11 and again in Deuteronomy 14 God lists the meats He approves for human consumption and those He prohibits. The Bible calls these approved meats “clean,” and the ones we should not eat are called “unclean.”

In Leviticus 11:9 the rules for seafood are given: they must have fins and scales. Examples of clean and unclean birds are listed in verses 13-19.

Though scientific studies show strong health reasons to follow God’s rules, in this passage God tells us to obey these laws because He wants His people to be holy as He is holy (verses 44-45). So we should obey whether we can prove the health benefits or not.

For more information about this, see “Clean and Unclean Animals: Does God Care What Meats We Eat?” and other related articles in that section. Also see the downloadable reference chart “Clean and Unclean Meats” in two formats (including a two-page printable format). 

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