The Eating of Cattle

Jewish Scriptures

The Jewish Scriptures often refer to oxen rather than cows. Both are cattle. Both belong to the Bovinae subfamily and there are no significant physiological differences. The terms refer to the domestic use the animals are put to, with oxen being used primarily as draft animals. The Jewish Scriptures make no gender distinction as to what animals may be eaten and which may not.

Leviticus 11:3-7 Whatever parts the hoof, and is cloven-footed, and chews the cud among the animals, that you may eat. “‘Nevertheless these you shall not eat of those that chew the cud, or of those who part the hoof: the camel, because he chews the cud but doesn’t have a parted hoof, he is unclean to you. The cony, because he chews the cud but doesn’t have a parted hoof, he is unclean to you. The hare, because she chews the cud but doesn’t part the hoof, she is unclean to you. The pig, because he has a split hoof, and is cloven-footed, but doesn’t chew the cud, he is unclean to you.

Deuteronomy 14:4-6 These are the animals which you may eat: the ox . . . Every animal that parts the hoof, and has the hoof cloven in two and chews the cud, among the animals, that may you eat.

Deuteronomy 14:26 You shall trade the money for whatever your soul desires, for cattle, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatever your soul asks of you; and you shall eat there before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your household.

1 Samuel 14:34  . . . Every man bring me here his ox, and every man his sheep, and kill them here, and eat . . .

1 Kings 19:21 He returned from following him, and took the yoke of oxen, and killed them, and boiled their flesh with the instruments of the oxen, and gave to the people, and they ate. . . .

Nehemiah 5:17-18 Moreover there were at my table, of the Jews and the rulers, one hundred fifty men, besides those who came to us from among the nations that were around us. Now that which was prepared for one day was one ox and six choice sheep; also fowls were prepared for me, and once in ten days store of all sorts of wine . . .

1 Kings 1:25 For he has gone down today, and has slain cattle, fatlings, and sheep in abundance, and has called all the king’s sons, the captains of the army, and Abiathar the priest. Behold, they are eating and drinking before him, and saying, ‘Long live king Adonijah!’

2 Chronicles 35:7 Josiah gave to the children of the people, of the flock, lambs and young goats, all of them for the Passover offerings, to all who were present, to the number of thirty thousand, and three thousand bulls: these were of the king’s substance.

Isaiah 22:13 and behold, joy and gladness, killing cattle and killing sheep, eating flesh and drinking wine . . .

Cattle were used for fellowship offerings:

Numbers 7:88 and all the cattle for the sacrifice of peace offerings twenty-four bulls . . .

1 Kings 8:63 Solomon offered for the sacrifice of peace offerings, which he offered to the Lord, twenty two thousand head of cattle . . .

Fellowship offerings were eaten by priests:

Leviticus 7:15 The flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving shall be eaten on the day of his offering. He shall not leave any of it until the morning.

(Emphasis mine.)




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