“A People Made Holy to the Lord”

David M. Freidenreich

in Foreigners and Their Food

Published by University of California Press

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780520253216
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520950276 | DOI:
“A People Made Holy to the Lord”

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This chapter considers the Hebrew Bible's seemingly nonchalant attitude toward the food of foreigners. The Hebrew Bible emphasizes the distinction between “us” and “them”, and the superiority of Israelite religion over all others. Biblical texts that address dietary laws, moreover, consistently associate these regulations with Israel's distinctive identity. Because Israelites are holy, these texts declare, they must adhere to various norms regarding the consumption of flesh from formerly living creatures. Why, then, do these texts fail to prohibit the consumption of meat prepared by non-Israelites or, for that matter, the practice of eating with non-Israelites? The silence of Biblical law in this respect becomes even more perplexing when narrative references to instances in which Israelites consume food associated with foreigners are examined. The chapter surveys such references before turning its attention to the central question. It concludes with a brief discussion of impurity, a concept whose significance to the present study will become apparent in subsequent chapters.

Keywords: Hebrew Bible; foreign food; food restrictions; eating; Israelites; impurity; Biblical dietary laws

Chapter.  5682 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: East Asian Religions

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