No Meat in Eden by Ina Lipkowitz


When God says: “You can eat all the grasses, and the herbs and the fruit of the tree”– no meat. There was no meat in Eden. He only allowed people to eat meat after the flood narrative, so that it was after he acknowledged that there is an evil impulse in the human heart from birth, therefore you can kill and eat meat. So it was a concession that wasn’t meant to be, in the logic of the Hebrew Bible; it’s a concession to a people who are innately flawed. 

Given that, there has to be some structure to it. You can’t just kill and eat. That’s going to come along much later.  At the beginning it’s: OK you can eat meat but 1) you can not eat the blood because that’s the life; 2) you have the kill the animal in a certain way, with certain rituals around it, it has to be properly sacrificed. You don’t just go out there and kill and eat. So there are things hemming it in.  So I think all of that is what’s codified when you get to full-scale animal sacrifice.

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Ina Lipkowitz

Ina Lipkowitz
Lecturer, Massuchusetts Institute of Technology

Ina Lipkowitz is a lecturer in the Department of Literature at MIT where she teaches literature and biblical studies. She is the author of Words to Eat By: Five Foods and the Culinary History of the English Language (St. Martin’s Press, 2011). She is also involved in interfaith education and works with temples, churches, and mosques, introducing Jews, Christians, and Muslims to each other's faiths.
Edward Hicks, The Peacable Kingdom. Oil on canvas, circa 1834. National Gallery of Art, Washington.

The ritual killing and offering of animals to deities, often on an altar and intended as good for the gods.

A West Semitic language, in which most of the Hebrew Bible is written except for parts of Daniel and Ezra. Hebrew is regarded as the spoken language of ancient Israel but is largely replaced by Aramaic in the Persian period.

A written, spoken, or recorded story.

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