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What are the clean and unclean animals?

According to Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 there are two important characteristics of an animal that determine its cleanliness or appropriateness to be eaten (also called Kosher).  The characteristics are confusing and have exceptions.
  1. It chews the cud or it is a ruminant animal, meaning it eats plants, chews then re-chews the food as part of the disgestion process.
  2. It has a cloven or split hoof.
Here is the list of clean animals/fish/insects:
  • Ox
  • Sheep
  • Goat
  • Deer
  • Gazelle
  • Yamur (roe deer or oryx)
  • Wild goat (could be wild ox)
  • Ibex (identity unclear)
  • Antelope
  • Mountain sheep (camelopardalis, identity unclear, could be giraffe but they were not in Canaan)
  • Any fish that has fin and scales.
  • Locusts, katydid, cricket, grasshopper.
Unclean animals have a number of characteristics that make them unlcean.
  1. They eat other animals or the carcasses of other animals
  2. They are bottom feeders, eating the waste and trash that falls to the bottom of the water
  3. They move and slither in the dirt
Why the distinction?  Why did God make some animals clean and others unclean?
  1. Health reasons.  Diseases are transferred in the blood of animals.  Animals that eat the diseased remains of other animals pass that on to the people.  God wanted his people to be healthy and they were.
  2. Sin reasons.  God wanted to communicate the idea that his people were separate from the world, uncontaminated by the sin of the world.  He communicated that idea into their daily diet.
  3. Purification reasons.  They idea that the animal chews and rechews its food shows a purification process, ridding the food of its disease.  God wanted the people to be pure so he called them to eat "pure" animals.
Why don't we distinguish between clean and unclean animals today?
Jesus - his death on the cross took away the penalty for our sins.  The Old Testament laws were meant to make a person pure and sinless in God's eyes.  Now, by accepting Jesus' death on the cross as a substitute for our death penalty, he has cleansed us from our sins.  No longer do I need to fulfill all the Old Testament regulations.  Jesus did that for us.

Peter had a vision about this very thing.

About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air. Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”
 “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”
 The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”  Acts 10:9-15

The vision told him that he no longer had to conform to the laws of cleanliness and uncleanliness.  Jesus took care of all that.

However, when you see the list of unclean animals, they don't look particularly appetizing (except maybe the pig, clam and shrimp).  So there may be other reasons to stay away from them.  Yuck!

Here is the list of animals that are considered unlean.  Some are mentioned by name, others are labelled by their characteristics.
  • Bat
  • Camel
  • Chameleon
  • Coney (Hyrax)
  • Cormorant
  • Cuckow
  • Eagle
  • Ferret
  • Gier Eagle
  • Glede
  • Great Owl
  • Hare
  • Hawk
  • Heron
  • Kite
  • Lapwing
  • Little Owl
  • Lizard
  • Mole
  • Mouse
  • Night Hawk
  • Osprey
  • Ossifrage
  • Owl
  • Pelican
  • Pig
  • Raven
  • Snail
  • Stork
  • Swine
  • Tortoise
  • Vulture
  • Weasel
  • Abalone
  • Alligator
  • Ape
  • Bear
  • Cat
  • Catfish
  • Cheetah
  • Clam
  • Cockatoo
  • Coyote
  • Crow
  • Dog
  • Dolphin
  • Eel
  • Elephant
  • Fox
  • Gecko
  • Gibbon
  • Hedgehog
  • Horse
  • Hyena
  • Iguana
  • Jaguar
  • Kangaroo
  • Koala
  • Kookaburra
  • Leopard
  • Lion
  • Lobster
  • Lynx
  • Magpie
  • Parrot
  • Penguin
  • Prawns
  • Quokka
  • Quoll
  • Rhinoceros
  • Ratel
  • Raccoon
  • Rat
  • Scallop
  • Seal
  • Shark
  • Squid
  • Squirrel
  • Snake
  • Starfish
  • Skunk
  • Tasmanian Devil
  • Tiger
  • Turtle
  • Umbrella bird
  • Viper
  • Wallaby
  • Wolf
  • Wombat
  • Worm
  • X-ray fish
  • Yapok
Dinner anyone?