Often, people excuse the Bible for saying things that its authors’ contemporaries could not have possibly known, given their limited Iron Age knowledge. This week, we look at not just one, but two passages that the authors had little excuse to get dead wrong. Even in the days of yore.
Leviticus 11:1-6, New International Version:
1 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, 2 “Say to the Israelites: ‘Of all the animals that live on land, these are the ones you may eat: 3You may eat any animal that has a divided hoof and that chews the cud.
4 “‘There are some that only chew the cud or only have a divided hoof, but you must not eat them. The camel, though it chews the cud, does not have a divided hoof; it is ceremonially unclean for you. 5 The hyrax, though it chews the cud, does not have a divided hoof; it is unclean for you. 6 The rabbit, though it chews the cud, does not have a divided hoof; it is unclean for you.
Deuteronomy 14:11-18, New International Version:
11 You may eat any clean bird. 12 But these you may not eat: the eagle, the vulture, the black vulture, 13 the red kite, the black kite, any kind of falcon, 14 any kind of raven, 15 the horned owl, the screech owl, the gull, any kind of hawk, 16 the little owl, the great owl, the white owl, 17 the desert owl, the osprey, the cormorant, 18 the stork, any kind of heron, the hoopoe and the bat.
Where to start…. Well, first of all rabbit don’t chew cud. That is to say, they don’t regurgitate food out of their stomach and re-chew it as cows do. It boggles the mind that a people who live in greater proximity to animals and work with them on a daily basis could ever get this one wrong.
The funniest thing that keeps popping into my mind is the image of a fundamentalist who can’t handle reality not playing along with his beliefs to the degrees that he forces a rabbit to chew cud via the Heimlich Maneuver. “Eat it! EAT IT!”
And you don’t have to think look hard to realize that a bat isn’t a bird. It’s got fur, not feathers. Its wings don’t look anything like the wings of a bird. Now I don’t expect a group of merchants and shepherds of thousands of years ago using the Linnaean classification system, but c’mon!
My brain hurts.
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