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Bible Dictionaries

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary


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"Meat" in the English Bible usually signifies "food," and not merely "flesh," Genesis 1:29,30 Matthew 15:37 . So in Luke 24:41; "Have ye here any meat?" literally, anything to eat? The "meat-offerings" of the Jews were made of flour and oil, etc., Leviticus 2:1-16 . See OFFERINGS and SACRIFICES. As to the animal food used by the Jews, see CLEAN, and FOOD .

It does not appear that the ancient Hebrews were very particular about the seasoning and dressing of their food. We find among them roast meat, boiled meat, and ragouts. Moses forbade them to seethe a kid in its mother's milk, Exodus 23:19 34:26 a precept designed to inculcate principles of humanity, and perhaps to prevent them from adopting an idolatrous custom of their heathen neighbors. The Jews were also forbidden to kill a cow and its calf in the same day; or a sheep, or goat, and its young one, at the same time. They might not cut off a part of a living animal to eat it, either raw or dressed. If any lawful beast or bird should die of itself or be strangled, and the blood not drain away, they were no allowed to taste of it. They ate of nothing dressed by any other than a Jew, nor did thy ever dress their victuals with the kitchen implements of any but one of their own nation.

The prohibition of eating blood, or animals that are strangled, has been always rigidly observed by the Jews. In the Christian church, the custom of refraining from things strangled, and from blood, continued for a long time, being approved by the council held at Jerusalem, and recommended to the Gentile converts, Acts 15:1-41 .

At the first settling of the church, there were many disputes concerning the use of meats offered to idols. Some newly converted Christians, convinced that an idol was nothing, and that the distinction of clean and unclean creatures was abolished by our Savior, ate indifferently of whatever was served up to them, even among pagans, without inquiring whether the meats had been offered to idols. They took the same liberty in buying meat sold in the market, not regarding whether it were pure or impure according to the Jews; or whether it had been offered to idols or not. But other Christians, weaker, more scrupulous, or less instructed, were offended at this liberty, and thought the eating of meat which had been offered to idols was a kind of partaking in that wicked and sacrilegious offering. This diversity of opinion among the disciples called for the judgment of inspiration; and we find in several of Paul's epistles directions both for those who held such scruples, and for those who were free from them. The former, while in obedience to their own conscience they carefully abstained from the food in question, were charged to view with charity the conduct of those who did not share their scruples. The latter might freely but and eat without guilt, since meat is in no wise injured as an article of food by being offered to an idol; yet whenever others would be scandalized, pained, or led into sin by this course, even they were required by the laws of Christian charity and prudence to abstain, Romans 14:20-23 1 Corinthians 8:1-13 10:19-33 Titus 1:15 . This principle is of general application in similar cases; and many in our own day might well adopt the generous determination of the self-denying apostle to partake of no questionable indulgence while the world stands, if it may be the occasion of sin to others.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of the topics are from American Tract Society Bible Dictionary published in 1859.

Bibliography Information
Rand, W. W. Entry for 'Meats'. American Tract Society Bible Dictionary. 1859.

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