Did Messiah Declare all Foods Clean?

Did Messiah Declare all Foods Clean?
By
James Scott Trimm

Often when I share with Christians that the Torah is everlasting, for all generations, they respond by saying, “But the Messiah made all foods clean.” By this they allude to Mark 7:19, a passage which has been very misunderstood.

The common anti-nomian understaning is based on the reading of this verse as it is found in the New American Standard and many other translations. The New American Standard version reads:

18 And He said to them, “Are you so lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him,
19 because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?” (Thus He declared all foods clean.)
20 And He was saying, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man.
21 “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries,
22 deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness.
23 “All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”
(Mark 7:18-23)

Many other translations of the Greek text give similar renderings of the phrase in verse 19:

Thus he declared all foods clean” (RSV, NAS, NEB, NWT)
“In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean” (NIV)
“In saying this, Jesus declared that all foods are fit to be eaten” (TEV)
“By saying this he showed that every kind of food is kosher.” (Living Bible)

Unfortunately many so-called “Messianic” and “Sacred Name” translators/editions still say or imply that Yeshua made all foods clean in this verse:

“By saying this he showed that every kind of food is kosher.”
(The Living Scriptures – David Bronstein’s revision of the Living Bible, 1982)

“Thereby purifying all foods”
(The Book of Life; Messianic Vision (Sid Roth) 1981)

“Thus he declared all foods ritually clean”
(Jewish New Testament – David Stern, 1989)

“making all the okhel [food] tohar [ritually clean]”
(The Orthodox Jewish Bible – AFI 1996)

Surprising the King James Version actually gives a better translation of this verse than many more modern versions:

Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, \
and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats?
(Mk. 7:19 KJV)

The Scriptures version from ISR similarly renders the Greek “thus purging all foods” (The Scriptures – ISR – 1998)

Te Aramaic of the Old Syriac reads simply:

Because it does not enter his heart but his belly:
and it is thrown away and cleansed, even all food.

The Aramaic of the Peshitta reads:

Because it does not enter his heart but his belly:
and it is thrown away and cleansed, which purifies all food.

Thus the Hebraic Roots Version reads:

18 He said to them: Are you likewise also slow to understand? Do you not know that a thing that enters a son of man from the outside, can not defile him,
19 Because it does not enter his heart but his belly: and it is thrown away and cleansed, even all food.
20 But a thing that goes out from a son of man, that, defiles a son of man.
21 For from within, from the heart of a son of man, evil thoughts proceed; adultery, fornication, murder, theft,
22 Covetousness, wickedness, craftiness, perversion, the evil eye, blasphemy, pride; foolishness.
23 All these evils proceed from within, and defile a son of man.
(Mk. 7:18-23 HRV)

When we look at this passage in the original Aramaic (or even in a good translation of the Greek) we can see that the passage is not saying that all foods have been made clean, but that all foods pass through the body and are purged through excretion into the latrine.

It is very easy to see that this phrase is not intended to mean that all foods are made clean when we examine the context of the phrase.

This discussion of clean and unclean starts from a debate concerning the hand washing ritual known as Netilat Yadayim:

1 And the P’rushim and scribes gathered around Him, who came from Yerushalayim.
2 And they saw some of His talmidim who were eating bread, while their hands were not washed, <and they complained. >
3 For all the Judeans and P’rushim, unless they wash their hands <carefully, > do not eat bread: because they hold to the tradition of the elders.
4 And they do not eat things from the marketplace unless they are immersed. And there are many other things that they have received to observe: immersing of cups, and of pots, <and of bronze vessels, and of biers. >
5 And the scribes and P’rushim asked Him, Why do Your talmidim not walk
according to the tradition of the elders: but eat bread while their hands are not washed?
(Mk. 7:1-5 HRV)

Yeshua responds in the next few verses:

6 And Yeshua said to them: Well, did Yesha’yahu the prophet, prophesy concerning you. Hypocrites! As is written, This people honors Me with its lips: but their heart, is very far from Me.
7 And vainly they fear Me, while teaching teachings of the commandments of men.
8 <For you have left, the commandment of Eloah: and you have grasped the tradition, of the sons of men–immersions of cups, and of pots, and many things that resemble these.>
9 He said to them: Well did you reject the commandment of Eloah, that you might establish your [own] commandment.
10 For Moshe said, Honor your father and your mother: and he who reviles
father and mother will indeed die.
11 But you say, If a man should say to his father or to his mother, What you would have gained from me, is my offering [to the Temple].
12 Then you permit him, not to do a thing for his father or his mother.
13 And you reject the Word of Eloah, because of your [own] commandment that you have handed down: and you do many things that are like these.
14 And Yeshua called the entire crowd and said to them: Hear Me, all of you, and be persuaded.
15 There is not a thing that is outside of a son of man and enters him, that is
able [to] defile him: but the thing that goes out from him, that, defiles a son of man.
16 He who has ears to hear let him hear.
(Mk. 7:6-16 HRV)

Yeshua’s response is to emphasize the importance of honoring one’s parents with one’s words, and specifically in making vows. Yeshua takes a position on vows that parallels that of Rabbi Elieazer as we read in the Mishnah:

R. Elieazar says: they open a vow for a man by reference to the honor of his father or mother, and the sages prohibit.
said R. Tzadok: before they open a vow for him by reference to his father or mother let them open his vow by reference to the honor of HaMakom. If so there will be no vow.
But the sages concede to R. Elieazar, that in a matter that is between him and his mother or father they loose his vow by reference to his father or mother.”
(m.Nedarim 9:1)

I could do an entire teaching on what Yeshua says about vows here and how it relates to the halachic positions of the Essenes and various Pharisaic schools of the time, but that is a different subject. Here I want to stick with the topic at hand. The initial topic that started this discussion was the custom of Netilat Yadayim (ritual hand washing). It is important in understanding Yeshua’s comments in the discussion of Netilat Yadayim, to understand the basis for this hand washing custom.

The custom of ritual hand washing in Rabbinic Judaism is drawn from Leviticus 11:44 which reads:

For I am YHWH your Elohim: sanctify yourselves therefore, and be you Set-Apart, for I am Set-Apart; neither shall you defile yourselves with any manner of swarming thing that moves upon the earth.
(Lev. 11:44 HRV)

The hand washing custom is drawn from a Baraita on this verse. A Baraita is an ancient Oral Law tradition in Judaism which was not incorporated into the Mishna. The Talmud records the Baraita as follows:

Our Rabbis taught: The absence of oil is a bar to the saying of grace. So said
R. Zilai. R. Ziwai said: It is no bar. R. Aha said: Good oil is indispensable.
R. Zuhamai said: Just as a dirty person is unfit for the Temple service, so
dirty hands unfit one for saying grace. R. Nahman b. Isaac said: I know nothing either of Zilai or Ziwai or Zuhamai, but I do know the following teaching, viz.:
Rab Judah said in the name of Rab: some say it was taught in a Baraita,
Sanctify yourselves: (Lev. 11:44) this refers to washing of the hands before the meal;
And be ye holy: this refers to washing of the hands after the meal; `For
holy’: this refers to the oil; `I AM the YHWH your Elohim’: this refers to the grace.
(b.Berachot 53b)

The Baraita understands “Sanctify yourselves” in Lev. 11:44 as refering to washing one’s hands before a meal and “be you Set-Apart” in Lev. 11:44 as refering to washing one’s hands after a meal.

But now lets look at the context of Lev. 11:44. Leviticus 11 begins with:

1 And YHWH spoke unto Moshe and to Aharon, saying unto them:
2 Speak unto the children of Yisra’el, saying, These are the living things, which you may eat among all the beasts that are on the earth.
(Lev. 11:1-2 HRV)

The rest of the material from Lev. 11:3-43 deals with the commandments concerning which animals are considered clean to eat and which are considered unclean. This section then wraps up with:

For I am YHWH your Elohim: sanctify yourselves therefore, and be you Set-Apart, for I am Set-Apart; neither shall you defile yourselves with any manner of swarming thing that moves upon the earth.
(Lev. 11:44 HRV)

Now it is important to know that in the final phrase “neither shall you defile yourselves with any manner of swarming thing that moves upon the earth.” the phrase “yourselves” is literally “your nepheshot” or “your souls”.

And so the Pharisaiac Baraita is that “sanctify yourselves” means to wash one’s hands. But Yeshua is arguing that hand washing means nothing, if we are not sanctified on the inside, because the second part of the verse contrasts “sanctify yourselves” with “neither shall you defile your souls”, thus “sanctify yourselves” must also mean to sanctify your soul. Yeshua’s point is that it is not enought to abstain from unclean meats, if our soul is defiled inside already. This does not mean to eact unkosher food, but rather that it is just as important to have a clean soul as it is to eat kosher.

WHAT ABOUT KEFA’S VISION IN ACTS 10?

In Acts 10 we read:

10 And he was hungry and wanted to eat: and while they were preparing for him, an amazement came over him.
11 And he saw heaven being opened, and a kind of garment being held by four corners, and it was like a great linen cloth, and it was descending from heaven to the earth:
12 And there were in it, all four-footed animals, and creeping things of the earth, and birds of heaven.
13 And a voice came to him that said: Shim’on, arise: kill and eat.
14 And Shim’on said, Never, my Adon, because I have never eaten anything that is defiled and unclean.
15 And again a second time, a voice came to him: That which Eloah has cleansed, do not regard as defiled.
16 Now this happened three times, and the garment was taken up to heaven.
17 And while Shim’on wondered in his nefesh, what the vision that he had seen was, those men who had been sent from Cornelius arrived, and asked concerning the house in which Shim’on lodged: and they came and stood at the gate of the courtyard.
(Acts 10:10-17 HRV)

The meaning of this vision is revealed in then next chapter:

5 While I was praying in Yafo, I saw in a vision one garment, which resembled a linen cloth that came down. And it was held by four corners, and it was descending from heaven, and came all the way towards me.
6 And I looked at it, and saw that there were in it, four-footed animals, and creeping things of the earth, and also birds of the heaven.
7 And I heard a voice that said to me: Shim’on, arise: kill and eat.
8 And I said, Never, my Adon: because there has not entered to my mouth, that which is unclean and defiled.
9 And again a voice said to me from heaven: That which Eloah has cleansed, do not [count] defiled.
10 This happened three times, and all the things were taken up to heaven.
11 And immediately, three men, who were sent to me from Cornelius of Caesarea, came and stood at the gate of the courtyard, in which I lodged.
12 And the Spirit said to me: Go with them without doubt. And these six brothers also came with me, and we entered the house of the man.
(Acts 11:5-12 HRV)

In Acts 10:12 we read:

And there were in it, all four-footed animals,
and creeping things of the earth,
and birds of heaven.
(Acts 10:12)

But in Acts 11:5-12 we are told that these animals represent the three Gentiles who came to see Kefa. (In 1Enoch 85-90 these very animals are used to represent various groups of Gentiles.)

In Acts 10:13 Kefa hears a voice which says “arise, kill and eat” – Kefa was not being instructed to arise kill and eat the animals mentioned in verse 12. First of all they was not real, it was only a vision. Secondly we know from Acts 11:5-12 that the Animals represented Gentiles. Kefa was not being told to kill and eat the Gentiles!

Instead he was being instructed to greet them as guests by following the custom of arising, killing an animal and eating with them as honored guests (see for example Gen. 18:1-8 when Avraham greeted three men as guests).

DID ELOHIM CREATE ALL FOODS FOR USE AND THANKSGIVING?

Another passage anti-nomians will quote is 1Timothy 5:1-5:

1 Now the Spirit plainly says: That in the last times, some men shall depart from the Trust, and shall go after deceiving spirits, and after teachings of shadim:
2 Those who deceive by false appearance and are speaking a lie, and are seared in their conscience,
3 And forbid to marry, and require abstinence from foods, which Eloah created for use and for thanksgiving, for those who believe and know the truth.
4 Because everything which was created by Eloah is good, and there is not a thing which should be rejected, if it is received with thanksgiving:
5 For it is sanctified by the word of Eloah and by prayer.
(1Tim. 4:1-5 HRV)

Here Paul is writing to Timothy concerning the proto-Ebionite Essenes who were doctrinal vegetarians and who also abstained from marriage. Paul is not addressing the Kosher laws, but the false teaching of doctrinal vegetarianism.

The passage clarifies that it speaks only of foods “which Eloah created for use and for thanksgiving”. This would not include those animals listed in Leviticus 11 as not being “for use and for thanksgiving”. In fact to an ancient Hebrew a pig is not “food” any more than a dog or a cat would be regarded as “food” by a modern American.

Verse 4 only says “everything which was created by Eloah is good” not “everything which was created by Eloah is food”. If we take verse 4 “and there is not a thing which should be rejected, if it is received with thanksgiving:” This cannot mean that anything YHWH created should be eaten as food. Certainly canibalism is not permitted. Certainly there are many animals and even plants that would be fatal if one tried to eat them, and an argument that proves to much, proves nothing at all.

Similarly in the Torah YHWH instructs the Israelites in the wilderness concerning the promised land:

13 And when YHWH your Elohim delivers it into your hand, you shall smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword.
14 But the women and the little ones, and the cattle, and all that is in the city, even all the spoil thereof, shall you take for a prey unto yourself, and you shall eat the spoil of your enemies, which YHWH your Elohim has given you.
(Deut. 20:13-14)

Now there can be little doubt that the pagans who inhabited the land had unkosher food and unkosher animals in their cities. Are we to take Deut. 20:13-14 to mean that the ancient Hebrews were being told to eat these things?

Of course not. Neither does 1Timothy 4:1-5 mean that we should eat unkosher food.

Paul is simply writing to Timothy to condemn those who would prohibit the eating of kosher meats through the false
teaching of doctrinal vegetarianism.

WHAT ABOUT ROMANS 14?

14:1 Now to him who is weak in trust, give a hand, and have no doubt in your reasoning.
14:2 For there is one who has trust that he may eat everything, but he who is weak eats vegetarian.
14:3 Now that one who eats, should not treat with contempt that one who does not eat, and that one who does not eat, should not judge that one who eats, for Eloah has received him.
14:4 Who are you, that you judge a servant who is not your own, who, if he stands, stands before his Adon, and if he falls, falls before his Adon? But he will indeed stand, for it will be by the hands of his Adon that he will be
established.
14:5 There is one who judges a day from a day, and there is one who judges all days: but let each man be assured in the thoughts of his nefesh.
14:6 He who is mindful of a day, is mindful [of it] before his Adon: and everyone who is not mindful of a day, is not mindful [of it] before his Adon. And whoever eats, eats before his Adon and thanks Eloah: and he who does not eat, does not eat before his Adon and thanks Eloah.
14:7 For there is not a man from us, who lives to his nefesh, and there is not a man who dies to his nefesh,
14:8 Because if we live, we live to our Adon, and if we die, we die to our Adon. And whether we live therefore or whether we die, we belong to our Adon.
14:9 Because of this also, the Messiah died, and is alive, and is raised: that He might be YHWH to the dead and to the living.
14:10 Now why do you judge your brother? Or why also do you treat your brother with contempt? For all of us will stand before the bema of the Messiah.
14:11 As it is written, I live, says YHWH. Every knee will bow to Me, and every tongue will confess Me.
14:12 Therefore every man from us, will give an account for his nefesh to Eloah.
14:13 Therefore let us not judge one another, but rather determine this: that you will not place a stumbling stone before your brother.
14:14 For I know, and am persuaded by YHWH Yeshua, that there is not a thing that is defiled from itself. But to him who thinks concerning a thing that it is unclean, to him alone it is unclean.
14:15 And if because of food you grieve your brother, you are not walking in love; by your food do not destroy him, for whose sake the Messiah died.
14:16 And let not our good be blasphemed:
14:17 For the Kingdom of Eloah is not food and drink, but righteousness, and shalom, and joy, in the Ruach HaKodesh.
14:18 For he who serves the Messiah in these [things], pleases Eloah, and is approved before sons of men.
14:19 Now let us follow after shalom, and after edification, one with another.
14:20 And let us not depart from the works of Eloah because of food, for everything is pure: yet it is wrong for a son of man who, in stumbling, eats.
14:21 It is good that we not eat flesh, nor drink neither wine, nor anything by which our brother stumbles.
14:22 You, who have trust, keep it in your nefesh before Eloah. Blessed is he who does not judge his nefesh in a thing that he distinguishes.
14:23 For he who doubts and eats is condemned, because it is not in trust: for everything that is not from trust, is sin.
(Romans 14:23 HRV)

This chapter has been very misunderstood. The chapter speaks of not judging others in regards to issues like doctrinal vegitarianism and clendar issues. These are key issues to the proto-Ebionite-Essenes.

Likewise we read in Col. 2:16-17

Let no man therefore judge you
in meat, or in drink,
or in respect of a holyday, or of the new moon,
or of the sabbath days:
Which are a shadow of things to come;
but the body is of Christ.
(Col. 2:16-17 KJV)

First the passage speaks not only of “meat” but of “drink” so it cannot be speaking about the kosher laws which deal with food not drink. Paul’s opponent here has differing views regarding “meat”; “drink”; “holydays”; “new moons” and “sabbaths”. Clearly his opponent here are the Essene influence within the movement which later re-emerged as the Ebionites. These Essene-Proto-Ebionites were vegetarians, they all took the Nazarite Vow (and thus abstained from wine) and they used a Solar Calendar. Thus they differed with Paul on issues of “meat”; “drink”; “holydays”; “new moons” and “sabbaths”. So Paul is not speaking here about the validity of Torah, but of his opponents positions on these issues.

Also we must once again look at the KJV’s use of italic in Col. 2:17. Remember the italics in the KJV indicate words that are not really there in the Greek, but which the KJV has added to the text. This is supposed to be to help the text make sense in English, but in some cases like this one the italics have been used to completely and radically change the meaning of the text. If we remove the italicized word “is” from the phrase “body is of Christ” we see the familiar phrase “body of Christ” which appears over and over in the New Testament. Why would one disrupt the common phrase “body of Christ” by inserting the word “is”? If we reread the KJV without this word something interesting happens:

Let no man therefore judge you
in meat, or in drink,
or in respect of a holyday, or of the new moon,
or of the sabbath:
Which are a shadow of things to come;
but the body of Christ.
(Col. 2:16-17 KJV without italics)

Suddenly the passage is no longer contrasting “shadow” with “body” it is contrasting “man” with the “body of Christ” or “body of Messiah”!

Both Col. 2:16-17 and Romans 13-14 are saying not to let these Proto-Ebionite Essenes disturb the body, because individuals do not set halacha for the body, the Beit Din does.

In Romans 14:14 we read:

For I know, and am persuaded by YHWH Yeshua,
that there is not a thing that is defiled from itself.
But to him who thinks concerning a thing that it is unclean,
to him alone it is unclean.

Unkosher foods for example are not defiled from themselves, but from (by) YHWH. He who follows YHWH “thinks concerning a thing that it is unclean” (because it is unclean) and to him it is unclean. However if one believes something is unclean and consumes it anyway (even if you are wrong) one has still rebelled against YHWH in ones mind, and has still sinned in their heart.

 

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