Can We Eat Cheeseburgers?

Can We Eat Cheeseburgers

At some point in time, we will run across verses that just don’t seem to fit or ones we are just not real sure what to do with them. Let’s look at some of these instances that are mentioned in three different places. Before doing so, please check out our definition of kid (gedı̂y H1423) for a reference to the verses that will be mentioned.

Exodus 23:19

“Bring the first of the first-fruits of your land into the House of YHWH your Elohim. Do not cook a kid (H1423 ~ young male goat) in its mother’s milk.

Exodus 34:26

“Bring the first of the first-fruits of your land to the House of YHWH your Elohim. Do not cook a kid (H1423 ~ young male goat) in its mother’s milk.”

Deuteronomy 14:21

“Do not eat whatever dies of itself. Give it to the stranger who is within your gates, to eat it, or sell it to a foreigner. For you are a set-apart people to YHWH your Elohim. Do not cook a kid (H1423 ~ young male goat) in its mother’s milk.

Judaism uses these verses to claim we cannot eat any meat and dairy together, such as a cheeseburger. These verses are specific in saying a kid which is the word gedı̂y (H1423) meaning young male goat. It isn’t saying anything regarding eating meat and dairy of any kind together nor is it saying anything about cooking other animals in milk. It is unique to a young male goat being cooked in the milk of its mother.   Let’s look at two instances in scripture where they were eaten together. The first, with Abraham, being before Mount Sinai and the second, with David, being much after Sinai.

Genesis 18:1-5

And YHWH appeared to him by the terebinth trees of Mamrĕ, while he was sitting in the tent door in the heat of the day. So he lifted his eyes and looked, and saw three men standing opposite him. And when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them, and bowed himself to the ground, and said, “YHWH, if I have now found favour in your eyes, please do not pass your servant by. “Please let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. “And let me bring a piece of bread and refresh your hearts, and then go on, for this is why you have come to your servant.” And they said, “Do as you have said.”

Now let’s look at what Abraham brought YHWH (the 3 men) to eat and drink…

Genesis 18:6-8

So Abraham ran into the tent to Sarah and said, “Hurry, make ready three measures of fine flour, knead it and make cakes.” And Abraham ran to the herd, took a tender and good calf, gave it to a young man, and he hurried to prepare it. And he took curds and milk and the calf which he had prepared and set it before them, and he stood by them under the tree as they ate.

Looking at the meal prepared by Abraham, we see that he brought them cakes made from flour, meat from a tender calf, curds (butter), and milk. Now let’s look at David’s account.

2 Samuel 17:27-29

When David came to Mahanaim, Shobi son of Nahash from Rabbah of the Ammonites, Machir son of Ammiel from Lo-debar, and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim brought beds, basins, and pottery items. They also brought wheat, barley, flour, roasted grain, beans, lentils, honey, curds, sheep, and cheese from the herd for David and the people with him to eat. They had reasoned, “The people must be hungry, exhausted, and thirsty in the desert.”

David and his men also ate sheep, butter, and cream (cheese). This doesn’t sound like we are forbidden to eat dairy and meat together at all, so there must be more to the verse telling us not to cook a kid or young male goat in its mother’s milk. If we read these verses in context, it seems like these verses are just tossed in the middle of the passages.

For instance, Exodus 23:10-18 is talking about the 7th year Sabbath for the land, YHWH’s 7th day Sabbath, His appointed feasts, and offerings. Then we have verse 19 stating not to cook a young goat in its mother’s milk which doesn’t seem to fit. Looking at Exodus 34:10-28 we seem to have the same issue. It starts by speaking of the covenant obligations, telling Israel not to make a treaty with those He was going to drive out before them and, to tear down all their altars, pillars, and Asherah poles. He continues with observing His appointed feast, Sabbaths, and explains again that they were not to come empty-handed, but then in verse 27 we have don’t cook a young goat in its mother’s milk, which once again seems tossed into the passage.

Deuteronomy 14:1-21 starts off explaining not to practice things done for other gods but goes into clean (that which we can eat) and unclean (that which we are told not to eat) animals and ends at the statement don’t cook or boil a young goat in its mother’s milk. Although it’s along the lines of eating it still doesn’t exactly fit. This is another example of the importance of context and how it makes all the difference when we read and study YHWH’s word. While Examining Deuteronomy 14 a little further something is noticeably different about the layout. It is in reverse of Exodus 23 and 34. They end with don’t cook a kid in its mother’s milk while the passage in Deuteronomy Chapter 14 begins with don’t cook a kid in its mother’s milk. It goes from this into giving a tenth in tithing and take it before YHWH, a tenth every third year, canceling debt every 7th year, explaining in more detail the three feast in which to appear before YHWH (Passover, Shavuot, and Tabernacles), and then into forbidden practices.

These passages all have something in common. They all instruct us what YHWH expects from His children in the worship and honor of Him and how He forbids the worship of other gods, as well as mixing these practices to worship Him.

So what exactly is going on with these verses about boiling a kid in its mother’s milk? According to The Ras Shamra Discovery 1 “boiling a kid in milk to appease certain deities was a common Canaanite ritual. A Ugaritic text says: “Over the fire seven times the sacrificers cook a kid in milk…”” The Israelites would have known about this practice, YHWH was simply explaining to them not to mix this pagan practice into the way they worshiped Him. Update 7/23/2017:  New evidence has come to light that proves the specific Ugaritic text does not, in fact, say anything about a kid, boiling, or mother’s milk.  This section of the tablet was either not found or destroyed so there is a gap in the text that had to be filled in!  The actual text, when translated, reads, “Seven times over the fire let the heroes coriander in milk, mint in butter.”2 [p.123]  Several alternatives have been suggested as to the intent of this commandment, but we have no proof of anything definitive.   Even without any concrete evidence as to why it was given, suggesting that this commandment means not to eat or cook meat and dairy together would actually be adding to the word of YHWH. If anyone chooses not to eat meat and dairy together that is fine by me, but please don’t push your interpretation of these verses on other people by saying that it is a sin to eat a cheeseburger or cook meat with dairy. More than likely this was about pagan worship…but it was definitely not about eating cheeseburgers.

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References   [ + ]

2. [p.123]

Posted on July 4, 2015 in Answering Tough Questions, Food

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About the Author

Jeremy lives in North Louisiana with his wife and three children. He grew up in Methodist and Baptist churches most of his life. His pastor, who also happened to be his Uncle, started realizing that Torah was still an important part of our relationship with God and began to incorporate Torah into his messages. Jeremy set out on a mission to prove his Uncle wrong and dove head first into the Word. He failed in his quest to disprove his Uncle and came to realize that the whole Word still applies to believers today.

Responses (2)

  1. Jacquie
    July 4, 2015 at 9:17 am · Reply

    What does boiling a lamb in its mothers mild have to with beef and cheese???

    • TorahBabies
      July 10, 2015 at 7:36 pm · Reply


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