Did Peter's Vision of the Sheet Mean People & Food?
04-29-2011, 05:41 PM
RE: Did Peter's Vision of the Sheet Mean People & Food?
In all due respect, as a general comment on Rose's position,
if we are going to distinguish between pre- and post- sinaitic commandments...
The covenant with Abraham was to be circumcised. Anyone who wasn't circumcised, would be cut off from the covenant. Obviously, one should not misconstrue the act of circumcision as only a physical, commandment, without a spiritual dimension. This is seen from the Moses speech to Israel, Circumcise your hearts...
Later, this was included in the Torah given to Israel at Sinai; but, it was given originally way before Sinai. Why is it not considered to be in force by Christians, based on the reasoning given in regards to Genesis 9 concerning eating blood?
I realize that one will argue, 'BUT in the NT they did away with it, oh see Galatians', etc. Then, why didn't the NT do away with the 'eating of blood'- food with the blood- as well as the many other tid bits that Christians hold on to, that are found in the Torah before Sinai?
So that no one thinks that I am trying to deride Christians on this site, I would like to state that I am simply stating my comment, level headedly, and asking a question, level headedly. No offense intended.
Regarding food, and Mark 7 [as well as the parallel passages]:
The issue is NOT about food, but about the Rabbinic tradition [said to be from king solomon] of washing the hands before a bread meal.
Thus, it states in verse 2 that they found fault with the disciples about not washing the hands.
In fact, if we read this account in Matthew 15.16-20, we find this to be the exact explanation of Jesus:
16 And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding?
17 Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught?
18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.
19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:
20 These are [the things] which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.
Concerning the defilement aspect of the passage, I will copy here a passage from an article on the myjewishlearning website, entitiled 'Hand Washing' by Louis Jacobs. Although I am not a supporter of Conservative Jewish belief, or some of the halachic details he presents [which differ from Orthodoxy, to my knowledge- I have heard of pouring 1 or 3 times over each hand, but not 2x], nonetheless he sums up the idea well:
In Temple times there were elaborate rules in connection with ritual impurity. If a person had been rendered impure through having come into contact, say, with a dead rodent, he contaminated sacred food such as the tithe given to the priests, which must then not be eaten. The way in which contamination of this kind could be removed was through immersion in a ritual bath.
But the sages imposed in certain circumstances the minor form of contamination known as "hand contamination" in which only the hands, not the whole body, was contaminated and for this to be removed total immersion was not required, only the ritual washing of the hands. Since there was a good deal of priests' tithe in ancient Palestine which could easily come into contact with the hands, the sages eventually ordained that the hands of every Jew, not only the hands of a priest, must be washed ritually before meals.
Not a Matter of Hygiene
It has to be appreciated that this ritual washing of the hands has nothing to do with physical cleanliness. On hygienic grounds, the hands are obviously to be clean of dirt before food is eaten. Even when the hands are physically clean they are still required to be ritually washed.
Although the original reason for washing the hands no longer applies, since there is no sacred food to be eaten, the ritual was continued on the grounds that the ideal of holiness demands a special, ritualistic washing of the hands. The act of washing the hands in this sense is seen as the introduction of the holiness ideal into the mundane life of the Jew. This ritual washing is only required before a meal at which bread is eaten.
Thus, Jesus seems to be saying that a lay person who is going to eat a bread meal, doesn't transfer tumah to the bread/food, which goes into his mouth [and thus, the entire meal, as the washing and blessing over the bread, according to Jewish law, includes all other foods except wine or dessert], goes through the digestive system, and out. This is not the case with the priests in the Temple, however.
Paraphrased, Jesus could be said to be saying,
"If a lay person doesn't wash hands before eating, he doesn't become defiled. But what you, pharisees and scribes, are doing [ie speaking evil of the innocent], that defiles a man. For from your evil hearts you seek to find fault with me and my followers."
25 For a [certain] woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell at his feet:
26 The woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation; and she besought him that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter.
27 But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast [it] unto the dogs.
28 And she answered and said unto him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children's crumbs.
29 And he said unto her, For this saying go thy way; the devil is gone out of thy daughter.
30 And when she was come to her house, she found the devil gone out, and her daughter laid upon the bed.
This passage isn't about a woman seeking food, but about a woman seeking healing for her daughter. The talk about the food is part of the metaphorical dialogue...like the parables are. She obviously caught on, and responded in like manner. However, the issue here is not about food, but healing for her daughter.
This passage is also found in Matthew 15.
Anyway, I think the discussion on what the dream means should come from the story, its context, and what Peter recounts of it.
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