What Does The Bible Say About Shellfish
There are many reasons why I love seafood. The taste and smell of fresh fish, delicious shellfish and other oceanic delicacies can make my mouth water just thinking about them! I also appreciate the nutritional value that seafood provides, which is especially helpful as a plant-based athlete who needs amino acids and omega 3s to fuel my body. Shellfish are no exception when it comes to their health benefits—they’re full of protein and vitamins A & B12. But there’s another reason why I enjoy eating shellfish: because they’re super yummy!
This post is for all of you who have wondered about the Biblical laws before or who, like me, were simply curious to find out why shellfish, crabs and other seafood were put in the same category as rats and insects. There are lots of things in the Bible that I think are pretty silly (those Levites and their rules!), but there’s also a good amount of wisdom that has withstood the test of time (i.e. the Golden Rule).
So first and foremost, let’s look at the Bible as a whole. The Bible is actually not one book but many books. It was compiled into one volume by the Catholic Church over 1,000 years ago, but it’s actually a collection of historical documents written by different authors in different places and times. There are 39 books in total: 27 in the Old Testament (written between 950 B.C. and 400 B.C.) and 12 in the New Testament (written between 40 A.D., when Jesus was crucified). These books were written by men who used their own experiences and knowledge as inspiration to tell stories about what God might have done or said or wanted for people living thousands of years ago!
The authors of these ancient texts had different worldviews than we do today—they believed that all animals were created to serve humans; therefore killing them would be bad because they were being used up too quickly! So when someone ate meat from an animal killed by someone else (which they called stealing), they were punished severely according to Jewish law because it meant there would be less food available overall for everyone else who needed it!
Leviticus 11:9-10 & Deuteronomy 14:10
In Leviticus 11:9-10, shellfish are called an abomination and not to be eaten. Shellfish are also not to be eaten by anyone who is not an Israelite.
In Deuteronomy 14:10, shellfish are listed alongside other foods that you can’t eat if you’re a Jew: “Of all the animals that live on land, these are the ones you may eat: You may eat any animal that has a divided hoof and that chews its cud.” Fish with fins and scales (like salmon) have always been allowed, but other seafood was considered unclean until Jesus’ death made it kosher again.
From what they eat and how they live their lives (infiltrating stagnant water and feeding off of decayed matter) to what happens when you eat them (severe allergic reactions) it seems pretty obvious to me why these animals would be placed into the same category. And since most of us aren’t going out to catch our own lobsters or searching for wild oysters chances are we aren’t being exposed to sick or contaminated seafood very often (with many exceptions).
It is true that seafood as a whole has been placed in the same category as shellfish by the Bible. However, I find it interesting that this perspective seems to be based on health and safety reasons rather than taste or nutritional value. The Bible was written at a time when people were constantly exposed to illnesses from common practices like drinking water out of stagnant pools or consuming spoiled food items. Shellfish were considered dangerous because they could easily harbor parasites and bacteria that could cause sicknesses such as typhoid fever (1).
Shellfish have been an important part of human diets for millennia, but do these instructions still hold up today?
While shellfish are a great source of protein and zinc, they are also a good source of calcium and vitamin B12. Selenium, which is an important antioxidant, can be found in shellfish as well as other seafood like salmon and tuna.
In addition to the nutritional benefits of eating shellfish, there are many religious reasons to consider including them in your diet.