|Table of Contents||>>||Are all foods clean?|
At the end of Mark 7:19 most Bible translations say, "Thus He declared all foods clean." So its pretty clear that Yeshua ("Jesus") changed the old food regulations in Leviticus 11, and its ok to eat pork, shellfish, or whatever we want, right?
The most important clue for understanding any passage in the Bible is to check the context. In this case, its given in Mark 7:1-5 where Yeshua is asked, "Why do Your disciples not walk according to the Tradition of the Elders, but eat their bread with unwashed hands?" (v.5).
Notice two things: first, the question isn't about the Torah ("Law"), but about a tradition. Second, its not a question about what may be eaten. It's about whether one may eat at all, without a ritual handwashing.
That explains why Yeshua responded by saying, "Neglecting the Commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men," (v.8) and, "You have a fine way of setting aside the Commandment of God in order to keep your tradition" (v.9).
And could verses 18-19 have Yeshua talking about a commandment at all, when up until that point His subject had been a "Tradition of the Elders" (v. 3,4,5,8,9,13)?
Lastly, could verses 18-19 suddenly be about food when up until that point the subject had been ritual handwashing (v. 2,3,4,5)? Obviously, no. This is made even clearer by comparing the same discussion as reported by Matthew (15:1-20). Yeshua concludes by saying, "but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man."
Because the subject of Mark 7:1-19 isn't Kashrut (Biblical diet), it cannot be about abolishing Kashrut either. Ok, but why do so many translations* seem to say that it is?
Again consider the context, but in this case the social context. This discussion took place in a social and historical context different than our own. Language and practice were based on the Word of God. For instance, their holidays were those days set apart in the Bible for special observance, not ours. Their property rights were those of the Bible, not ours. Likewise, only those things that are not taw-may ("defiled", "unclean") were considered food, everything else was not. Reading Mark 7:19 as they would have, it means, "Thus He declared all [things given by God as] food to be clean, [regardless of ritual hand washing]."
|Back to index
*Although there are many minor textual differences between source documents of the New Covenant, it is very rare that a variance significantly affects meaning. Mark 7:18-19 is one of these rare passages. The difference of a single letter (Omicron or Omega) determines gender for the word "purging, making clean" near the end of v.19 (katharizon). If the word's gender is neuter (written with the Omicron), it attaches to "stomach," and is speaking of the digestive process. (See the King James Version, for instance.) But for translators who believe the word's gender is masculine (written with the Omega), it must look all the way back to the "He" (Yeshua) at the beginning of verse 18 for its masculine subject. For the sake of clarity, these translators insert a phrase that never appears in the Greek: "Thus He declared."