What is…
clean in the Bible

Clean and unclean

The various forms of uncleanness according to the Mosaic law are listed in Leviticus 11-15; Numbers 19. The division of animals into clean and unclean was probably founded on the practice of sacrifice. It existed before the Flood (Genesis 7:2). The regulations regarding such animals are recorded in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14:1-21.

The Old Testament Hebrews were prohibited from using as food certain animal substances, such as:

  1. blood
  2. the fat covering the intestines, termed the caul
  3. the fat on the intestines, called the mesentery
  4. the fat of the kidneys
  5. the fat tail of certain sheep (Exodus 29:13, 22; Leviticus 3:4-9; 9:19; 17:10; 19:26).

The chief design of these regulations seems to have been to establish a system of regimen which would distinguish the Jews from all other nations. Regarding the design and the abolition of these regulations the reader will find all the details in Leviticus 20:24-26; Acts 10:9-16; 11:1-10; Hebrews 9:9-14.

Author of above: Matthew G. Easton.

The biblical laws about uncleanness were removed during New Testament times. Jesus Christ explained what defiles in Mark 7:18-23:

“Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?” And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”

Clean animals in Mosaic law (partial list)

Unclean animals in Mosaic law (partial list)

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