Deuteronomy 12:15-24 – Slaughtering and Butchering Animals for Food


“However, you may slaughter and eat meat within any of your gates, whatever you desire, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you; the unclean and the clean may eat of it, as of the gazelle and the deer. Only you shall not eat the blood; you are to pour it out on the ground like water. You are not allowed to eat within your gates the tithe of your grain or new wine or oil, or the firstborn of your herd or flock, or any of your votive offerings which you vow, or your freewill offerings, or the contribution of your hand. But you shall eat them before the LORD your God in the place which the LORD your God will choose, you and your son and daughter, and your male and female servants, and the Levite who is within your gates; and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God in all your undertakings. Be careful that you do not forsake the Levite as long as you live in your land. When the LORD your God extends your border as He has promised you, and you say, ‘I will eat meat,’ because you desire to eat meat, then you may eat meat, whatever you desire. If the place which the LORD your God chooses to put His name is too far from you, then you may slaughter of your herd and flock which the LORD has given you, as I have commanded you; and you may eat within your gates whatever you desire. Just as a gazelle or a deer is eaten, so you will eat it; the unclean and the clean alike may eat of it. Only be sure not to eat the blood, for the blood is the life, and you shall not eat the life with the flesh. You shall not eat it; you shall pour it out on the ground like water.”

The instruction detailed in Deuteronomy 12:15-25 permitted the Ancient Israelites to slaughter and butcher clean animals for food, which would have previously been limited to various sacrificial purposes at the Tabernacle. These domesticated animals, which for the Israelites in the wilderness would have been slaughtered and either directly involved in certain sacrifices, or at the very least slaughtered and butchered with immediate priestly oversight, will now be permitted to be slaughtered outside of a religious context for the Israelites, as the people settle in Canaan. Earlier, it is witnessed how in the wilderness, eating meat was most often associated with some kind of an offering presented before the Lord (Leviticus 17:1-12). This would be a restriction to be lifted by the people entering into Canaan, who will no longer be living in a concentrated area like the wilderness camp. Yet while God would allow His people to eat meat for food purposes, certain procedures would have to be in place. Jewish commentator Jeffrey H. Tigay summarizes,

“Previously, only game animals could be slaughtered nonsacrificially…Domestic cattle (oxen, sheep, and goats) could only be slaughtered on altars, as sacrifices, even if the offerer’s purpose was solely to use them for food. Only after the blood was dashed on the altar and certain of the innards burnt there could the remainder be eaten. This rule was practical when all Israelites lived near a sanctuary, as when they lived in the wilderness. Even after they settled in Canaan and scattered across the land, it would remain practical as long as it was legitimate to have sanctuaries throughout the land. But once a single sanctuary was chosen the requirement would become impractical, since those who lived far from it would be able to eat meat only on the infrequent occasions when they visited there.”

The scene of Deuteronomy, with Moses repeating much of the previous Torah instructions to the people, is preparatory for those getting ready to enter into the Promised Land. The scene, as noted by J.H. Hertz, is how “Israel was now about to settle in Canaan, and the individual Israelite could not be expected to go to the Central Sanctuary in Shiloh or Jerusalem whenever he wished to partake of meat food.” While conservatives, who believe that Deuteronomy is genuine product of Mosaic origin (with the exception of ch. 34 describing Moses’ death being composed by either Joshua or someone else in Moses’ inner circle), liberals who hold to the JEDP documentary hypothesis will draw the attention of readers of Deuteronomy 12:15-25 to the firm establishment of Jerusalem as the main center of religious activity during the time of King Josiah (2 Kings 23:15-20). The JEDP hypothesis advocates that this was the time when the Book of Deuteronomy was composed as a so-called “pious fraud” discovered by the priests, and whose instruction was implemented for the period of the Josianic reforms. The analysis offered here, however, adheres to Mosaic origin of the Book of Deuteronomy, with the Ancient Israelites being prepared to enter into the Promised Land, establishing new homes and towns.

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reproduced from the Messianic Kosher Helper

When the subject of kosher, kashrut, or the dietary instructions of the Torah or the Law of Moses come up in various contemporary Messianic settings, there can be a tendency for some strong emotions to arise. The broad Messianic spectrum represents a diversity of views on “kosher”—ranging from the dietary laws being abolished and only to be observed as a part of Jewish culture, to people advocating a strict adherence to many Orthodox Jewish rulings and practices, to a kosher style diet where people mainly avoid pork and shellfish. At times, there has been an over-amount of attention given to the minutiae of keeping kosher, and not enough time given to some of the significant Biblical passages which either inform us about kosher or have been traditionally interpreted to say that kosher has been abolished for the post-resurrection era. And more than anything else, maintaining an appropriate, Messiah-centric attitude toward all of this, is most imperative. There have been far too many extremes represented regarding the issue of the dietary laws, at times, and not enough reasoned discussion. Too many people have issued accusations against others, and not enough have tried to inquire of both the Holy Scriptures and the Holy Spirit, what is perhaps important about this issue. Human beings have to all eat, after all!

The Messianic Kosher Helper includes a wide breadth of material, addressing a wide array of topics associated with the Torah’s dietary laws. This publication has been divided up into two main parts: The Significance of Kosher and A Theology of Eating and Kosher. You will be able to detect a progression of sorts, in our family’s own approach to the subject matter, as some things are addressed first more generally and then more specifically. In our experience, we ourselves have certainly had to move from a more elementary view of the issue of kosher, to a more developed view, and we recognize how the Messianic community needs to do the same.

It is important to remember how Leviticus 11:44 says, “For I am the Lord your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy” (cf. 1 Peter 1:16)—a concept which is directly connected to clean and unclean meats. But, if following this is not enjoined with a better appreciation and understanding of a steadfast mandate for all of us to have clean minds and hearts, imbued with the presence of God’s Holy Spirit, demonstrating the love of Yeshua to all—then outward holiness will not have been joined with the more critical inward holiness. If, however, we learn how to separate external things which are clean and unclean—then perhaps we can also learn, with God’s help, how to separate clean and unclean thoughts, ideas, and attitudes, being mature men and women in Him, and empowered on many different levels for service to His Kingdom!

This is a massive collection of material, well needed for every Messianic home and congregational library!

676 pages