Kosher Animals

Deuteronomy 14:1-21

Moses tells the people that as children of God, they may not inflict wounds upon themselves or tear out their hair as signs of mourning. Then, he reminds them of the need to eat only kosher animals.


Moses lists several animals which are known to be kosher, adding that those with split hooves and chew their cud can be considered acceptable. He also reminds the people that there are four animals which have one sign without the other and therefore cannot be eaten.


For fish, Moses reminds the people they can only eat those with both fins and scales.


Among the birds, Moses says the people may eat only clean birds, then goes on to list which birds are not kosher. To this list he adds insects.


Moses adds that any animal, even if it is otherwise kosher, cannot be eaten if it dies on its own. Rather, it may be given or sold to a non-Jew. He also tells the people they may not cook a kid in its mother’s milk.


The Israel Bible points out that being the children of God, the Jews are often held to a higher standard. Thus, they may not harm themselves as a sign of mourning, nor are they allowed to eat whatever they want. This is not to imply that the Jews alone are the children of God. After all, He created the whole world and all of humanity. Rather, He chose the Children of Israel among all His children to serve as His ambassadors, spreading His light to the nations. The unique commands which He has given the Jewish people are reflective of that special role. The Land of Israel is the place from which they are to fulfill that role.


Virtual Classroom Discussion

Why do you think the Israelites might be forbidden from eating an animal that dies on its own, but, they may give or sell the carcass to a foreigner who lives among them?

Comments ( 5 )

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  • 1.because of health causes: the dead animal might have died by a contagious disease, which can also be harmful for healthy man.
    2.a living kosher animal that dies on its own is not to be touched anymore by someone from Israel because death is not–kosher and would pollute someone. We as Jews have to raise a higher standard than other peoples because HaShem choose us to spread the light of His mercy and goodness.
    3.For a foreigner this rule does not exist and he/she can safely touch the dead animal and not become tamei.

  • Jayne

    Perhaps it would be more difficult to drain the blood from a carcass which had died on its own rather than having been ritually slaughtered.

    • Diana Brown

      I agree and would add that the stagnated blood in the carcass could contaminate the meat so it would not please the Lord for His people to eat it as they had to avoid becoming unclean. Holy people had to live by a higher standard.
      The Lord could protect the stranger and foreigner if they needed to eat the meat of an animal that died of natural causes. He is the God of all Flesh.

      • I think you are right, besides, telling foreigners and strangers to obey the Torah usually attracts a lot of resentment from them.

        • Karen reuveni

          Yes it does..if only as a guest in your home…or blatently serving pork when you are in their home

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