Does The Rabbit Chew Its Cud?
The dietary law in Leviticus 11 is strictly observed today in kosher meal planning. But Christians tend to skim the chapter, believing it doesn’t affect them. Most Christians know the rule against pork products. Leviticus 11:6 – the rule against Rabbit Stew – is the site of a very serious Christian battleground: “The hare, because it chews the cud [literally, raises up that which has been swallowed] but does not have cloven hooves, is unclean to you.” No warrior on either side of this battle cares whether Rabbit Stew was clean or unclean. The stakes in this battle regard the authority of the Bible, and the Bible says “the rabbit… chews the cud….”
Apart from Leviticus 11:6, I wouldn’t know whether the rabbit chews its cud or not; and apart from Leviticus 11:6, I wouldn’t care. But I do care that the Bible is truth in all that it says. First, because this battle of whether the rabbit chews the cud will never be resolved. But the interesting feature is that both sides basically acknowledge that the facts presented by the opposing side are accurate. The Christian yells “home run!” because he can demonstrate that the rabbit chews his cud. The world screams “strike three!” because a rabbit cud is not the same as cattle cud.
Warning: Appetite Spoilers follow
1. Various linguistic defenses have been advanced: the word meant an animal other than a Rabbit in Moses’ day; or, Rabbits have evolved, and no longer chew their cud as they once did; or we moderns don’t comprehend the concept of the cud. These defenses are usually presented with no support, and cannot be sustained.
2. The rabbit is already unclean simply on the grounds that it does not part the hoof. Once we agree on that point, the cud issue is irrelevant with regard to clean vs. unclean. God did not have to discuss the rabbit and its cud. But since He did, we know that He discussed it in truth.
3. I omitted ostrich, which is actually starting to appear in grocery stores and in some restaurants. Its market value derives from being a white meat with the texture and sensation of red. But unlike more traditional meats, freezing will not preserve ostrich meat. You almost have to cook it and eat it the same day you purchase it. Shellfish also does not freeze very well, and decays as food very quickly after the animal dies.
There is one explanation that I find reasonable. The cattle’s chewing process cannot fully break down the nutrients in the vegetation they eat. They swallow it for partial digestion, and then they raise it up. They can now process the partially digested food, and be nourished by it. The rabbit’s chewing process cannot fully break down the nutrients in the vegetation they eat. They swallow it for partial digestion, and then they raise it up – by allowing the food to pass through them. They can now retrieve what has passed through, and process the partially digested food, and be nourished by it.
I have described to you only what I have read in books. I can neither confirm it nor refute it by experience or by personal observation. But I am impressed that the world never disputes this observation concerning the rabbit. They simply claim it’s not the same thing – it doesn’t count.
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