The Commandments of the Noahide – part 8

“Do not eat flesh torn from a living animal”

This is number seven of the “Seven Commandments of Noah”. You may notice a variety of lists and find different orders of the commandments, as well as a little difference in wording. This Commandment comes from Genesis 9:4;

Only flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall you not eat.” (Soncino Press, Chumash, 1969)

Before we had the convenience of refrigerators, or the knowledge of how to preserve meat for a period of time preventing it from spoilage, this was a practice. If the animal was killed and butchered, it would have to be eaten entirely, or the meat would spoil and become wasted. The practice was to remove from the animal what was needed for food, and let the animal live until more food was needed. This is crewel to the animal. The portion of this animal that is being eaten, is from an animal that is still alive! Perhaps sharing the meat with a neighbor, or being a vegetarian, would have been a better route to go. But torturing an animal was not the the route G-d desired for us.

Investigating this verse also tells us that life or “the soul” is in the blood. Looking at Leviticus 17:11, “for the life (soul) of the flesh is in the blood; …”, tells us the same. The Hebrew word here translated as life, is the word for soul. The “soul” dwells in our blood. Because of this we are not to consume blood.

We also learn from this verse and commandment that we are to be kind to animals, and not crewel to them. This is referred to again in the 613 commandments, in not boiling a kid in its mothers milk, found in Exodus 23:19; 34:26; and Deuteronomy 14:21. It is most interesting that the prohibition is stated three times, and each time it is verbatim. One belief is that the two references from Exodus are pertaining to Sukkot and to not delay taking the first born goats to be sacrificed:

According to the plain meaning, the term “bishul” here means grow or complete, similar to its use [in the verse (Gen. 40:10)]: “its clusters ripened (הבשילו) into grapes.” This is what the verse is saying: do not allow [the kid] to grow up and be weaned from its mothers milk. [In other words, do not] wait until [the kid]’s mother grows it with her milk, rather bring it at the beginning. This fits with the context of the first part of the verse, “the choice first fruits of your soil [you shall bring].” (Bekhor Shor)

But the references in Deuteronomy is referring to not mixing meat and milk together:

It is forbidden to cook meat in milk. The Torah specifically forbids the cooking… It is also forbidden to eat or derive any benefit from meat [cooked] in milk. The inclusion of the term “its mother” comes to teach us the reason [for the law], for it would be cruelty to cook the flesh of a kid in the milk of [the mother] which raised it. [Therefore, all milk is forbidden,] for perhaps the animal from which this milk came was its mother… This mitzvah is similar to “do not take a mother[-bird] with its chicks” and “an animal and its offspring [should not be slaughtered in one day].” (Bekhor Shor)

We are not to remove the eggs, or young birds and the mother from the nest, but the mother bird is to be let go, and not killed with the young for food. Deuteronomy 22:6,7.

A secondary topic for this article is Clean verses Unclean animals. If I ask the question “how many of each animals did Noah take onto the ark?” Some may answer two of each, a male and a female. If that is your complete answer it is incorrect. He took two each of the unclean animals, and seven each of the clean animals (Genesis 7:2-3). From this reference pertaining to Noah knowing and probably adhering to the dietary prohibitions of clean and unclean animals, presents a question. If this was present at the time of Noah, is it pertinent to the non-Jew following the Jewish way today? It is believed that prior to the flood, the primary diet for those that believed in G-d was vegetarian. But after the flood G-d is allowing mankind to eat meat providing they adhere to this commandment, of not eating the blood, and the animal had to killed and butchered. If we couple this with knowing that Noah was well aware of the clean and unclean animals, it would seem to me that it was a “given” that only the clean animals would be used for food.

by, Jim Behnke

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