Was Kashrut Different in Noah’s Days?

The laws concerning Kashrut are what we call the Kosher laws. We know that God defined what is kosher and what is not (for the most part) in Leviticus 11, but there is something about what he told Noah that doesn’t jive with what he told Moses.

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In B’resheet 6:19 (Genesis), we read that God tells Noah to take two of every kind of animal into the ark, one male and one female. There are no exceptions to what Noah is to take.

Then, in Chapter 7, Noah is commanded to take seven pairs of clean animals and only one pair of unclean; but he is to take seven pairs of all birds.

Now wait a minute!

In Leviticus 11, we are told that there are many birds that are not clean, such as the eagle, vulture, osprey, owls, hawks, some waterfowl, and bats (yeah, I know these aren’t really birds, but God wasn’t giving a class on taxonomic classification).

So why the difference? God tells Noah to take seven pairs of clean animals, and the same seven pairs of birds of the air, yet later he tells Moses that there are many birds of the air that are not clean.

So …which is it?

I wish I had an answer.

That being said, I wonder if the reason God had Noah take all seven pairs of the birds of the air is because he knew that so many of the baby birds do not survive (that’s the way he designed them) and so he wanted to make sure there were enough of the unclean ones to survive because they are so important to the world.

For instance, many of the unclean birds serve a valuable service in cleaning up the dead and diseased animals in the wild. The vultures eat carrion, and many of the raptors are scavengers, helping to recycle the dead and renourish the land. Despite the millions upon millions of birds, there are still so many more billions of insects and other species of animals that God knew he had to have enough birds to do what he designed them to do.

“But Steve- God made a nation of millions from one man, why not do the same with the birds? He can do anything!”

We have been told that God can do anything, but he really can’t- he can’t sin, he can’t lie, he can’t break his own rules, and he can’t act in anger. Now, don’t get me wrong here- he certainly does get angry, and that does result in him punishing the guilty, but he always punishes in a fair and just way, tempering his angry response with mercy. He does not lash out in anger as we humans do to each other.

Of course, he could have made as many birds as possible of whichever species he wanted to after the flood, but this is where I think he ran into the rules he made when he created them.

You may not know this, but the unclean birds that do most of the “cleaning up” duties do not have a large clutch of eggs, and often the youngest hatchling doesn’t survive. The number of newborns surviving in raptors and scavengers is relatively low compared to, say, chickens and waterfowl. So, since God can’t break his own rules, I think – maybe – he had Noah take seven pairs of all the birds in the air, clean and unclean, to ensure that there would be enough in the world to do what they are needed for.

You know, when reviewing this message, I feel like I am “stretching” things here and am not sure if this is really a good message or not, but it’s something I was thinking about and wonder if it makes sense to anyone else.

Do you have any idea why God would tell Noah to take seven pairs of all the birds of the air, even after saying to take seven pairs of just clean animals, yet there are so many birds that are unclean according to what God later told Moses?

I would be interested in hearing what your thoughts are on this.

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I always welcome your comments and look forward to (hopefully) some interesting discussion on this topic.

That’s it for now, so l’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Comments welcomed (just be nice)