Deuteronomy 14:8, No Pig On Your Plate!

Also the swine is unclean for you, because it has cloven hooves, yet does not chew the cud; you shall not eat their flesh or touch their dead carcasses.

//Of all the 613 laws in the Torah, one wonders why this one receives so much press. No pork on the plates of Jews. But why? Where do these bizarre culinary rules originate? Not only should pigs not be eaten, their carcasses should not even be touched!

Many scholars deduce the reason pigs were considered unclean was because of the ease in which people could become sick and die after eating. If pork isn’t cooked properly, one can easily contract trichinosis. Enough of these deaths, and uncomprehending ancient eaters naturally would conclude that the gods were punishing anyone who liked pork.

Today, we’ve gotten over the superstition. Or, at least, Terry Bradshaw thinks we have. Jesus may have been a Jew, but that didn’t prevent Bradshaw from feeding the poor with his Pigs for Jesus Foundation.

Kudos, Terry!


  1. “Pigs for Jesus Foundation.” Is that for real?

  2. It was a few years ago! I think by now it’s been disbanded.

  3. The trichinosis argument is really really weak. The Kashrut are very extensive and include rabbits, shellfish and some birds. People tend to focus on the pigs since pigs are such a common meat animal, but really, the dietary laws more obey their own internal consistency than a functionalistic explanation based on consumption of badly cooked pig meat.

  4. Hi Congoboy, thanks for contributing! I blog to stimulate thought-provoking conversation, so if the trichinosis theory doesn’t satisfy you in its entirety, I’d like to hear your explanation. Explain “internal consistency” for me, with its “why” and “how” (how did God communicate the rule to mankind, if you consider it a God-given demand…if your answer can satisfy historians, so much the better.)

    I’ll write more in a new post tomorrow.

  5. The guiding principle of the Kashrut is that the animals that are excluded are anomalies from the “norm”: they have cloven hooves but do not ruminate, ruminate but do not have cloven hooves, they live in water but do not have gills and fins, they are carnivores and eat other animals, and so on. The fact fact that the pig got stuck in there looks a great deal more like a function of its anomalous status as a non-cud chewer than any observation of aftereffects of eating badly cooked pig meat, especially as there are a lot of potential interesting parasites in uncooked meat of other animals as well that can make you sick. Read this book: for an overview. The trichinosis idea was born in the excitement of the discovery of the parasite in the 19th century.

  6. So swine was a misfortunate “throw-in” to prevent deviating from an arcane rule, costing a nation the enjoyment of an easily-raised, great-tasting animal? It looks like a good book, though, thanks for the recommendation.

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