Monday, March 11, 2013
In the beginning, God gave Adam and Eve all of the food that they needed to enjoy life in the Garden of Eden. They could pick fruit from every tree but one. That one tree was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. So, basically, Adam and Eve were vegans. They were happy, well-nourished, easygoing vegans. They had a nice, relaxed life style. All they had to do was to choose their fruit and eat it. They didn't need to plant a garden or harvest it. They didn't have to chop onions. They didn't have to cook and they didn't have to wash dirty dishes. All they had to do was pick fruit and eat it.
Unfortunately, Eve was easily led astray by a serpent. She was talked into eating the forbidden fruit. It seems that food was her downfall. Eve talked Adam into eating the forbidden fruit as well. It didn't take much. Eve gave Adam the fruit and he ate it.
So much for their easy going, happy vegan lifestyle. God didn't take long in figuring out that Adam and Eve broke the rules by eating forbidden fruit. He sent Adam and Eve away from the Garden of Eden and he let them know that life would not be quite as much fun anymore. They had to grow their own food. Unfortunately, God also cursed the soil.
So Adam and Eve worked hard and became parents and they lived and died.
Getting food to grow from the ground became work for generations to come... until after the flood. God told Noah that he would neither destroy all living things nor curse the earth again. He created a covenant with Noah and with all living creatures about that. The sign of the covenant is the rainbow.
But God broke the relationships between humans and animals. He gave all beasts of the earth to humans as food. And so, wild animals became afraid of people. Until that point, people did not eat meat. They just ate the vegetation that they were able to grow in the cursed ground.
Food was an important thing in the Bible. It was an issue between the dueling twins, Jacob and Esau. One day, Esau was out hunting and he returned, famished. Jacob offered Esau a bowl of red stew in exchange for his birthright. Esau was entitled to the birthright (a double share of his an inheritance) but he, apparently, wanted stew more than he wanted the birthright. Later, Jacob tricked his father. He pretended to be his brother and he served Isaac a plate of food that was supposed to be delicious game. Supposedly, Esau had killed this game on a hunting trip. Actually, it was a domesticated animal that Jacob's mother, Rebekah, had cooked. Isaac was blind so he had no clue that he was giving a blessing to the wrong son. When Esau brought food to his father, he discovered that there was no blessing left for him.
Skip forward a few generations or more. Joseph, who had been sold as a slave to the Egyptians, found in food the answer to his problems. After Joseph's older brothers (actually, they were all half-brothers) sold Joseph to a bunch of Ishmaelites, he ended up in Egypt as a slave. His master's wife tried to get him to have an affair with her, but he rejected her advances. Apparently, she didn't take well to the rejection and she told her husband that Joseph tried to take advantage of her. Joseph ended up in jail! Poor Joseph! He was locked up for a long time, but God was with him so he ended up by running the jail. He just couldn't leave. Joseph was an interpreter of dreams. He interpreted the dreams of other prisoners. Eventually, he interpreted the Pharaoh's nightmare. There would be seven years of plenty and seven years of famine. Because he did this, Joseph was not only released from jail, he was appointed to a high position in the Pharaoh's government. He got perks, too. Good clothing, a nice chariot... and, of course, good food. Joseph made sure that enough food was put aside from the years of plenty so that no one would starve during the years of famine. And it worked, too. The crops were bad but no one died of starvation.
OK. So fast forward about 400 years or so. The Israelites left Egypt and the mean Pharaoh (the one who knew nothing about Joseph) behind. They left a whole bunch of the charioteers at the bottom of the river, where they drowned, chasing the Israelites. The Israelites found themselves with Moses in the desert. No food. They started whining about that and waxing nostalgic about their lives in Egypt. God gave the Israelites manna and quails. At another place, the Israelites whined about no water. So God gave the Israelites water from a rock.
Eventually, in Leviticus, God let Moses know what meats people could eat and which meats were considered unclean. Here are meats that are OK to eat: animals that have cloven hooves and chew cud. These animals are considered unclean and are not to be eaten: camel, rock hydrox, hare, and swine. Here are fish that are OK to eat. They must be from the sea or a river and they must have fins and scales. No lobster or shrimp! Only certain birds are OK for consumption. These are unspecified in both Leviticus and in Deuteronomy, where the listing of clean versus unclean foods is mentioned yet again. Birds of prey, such as vultures and eagles, are not considered clean
Oh, and it is OK to eat certain insects. You can eat grasshoppers and locusts. But don't eat bees, ants, and butterflies. The Bible didn't mention butterflies but I am sure that they were not meant to go on the dinner plate. I don't know if I'd like to eat locusts but John the Baptist ate them, along with wild honey.
It is also against the rules to boil a lamb in his mother's milk.
Here is more information about what it means to maintain a kosher diet.
Jesus made sure that people got food. Once, he made sure that 5,000 people were fed, and another time, 4,o00 were fed. There wasn't much food available... just a few loaves and fishes, but everyone had enough to eat and there were leftovers. Loaves and fishes sound more appetizing than locusts.