This is an issue that isn’t very important in the western hemisphere. Nonetheless, for the globetrotters amongst us and those who value knowledge in any form, it becomes an interesting question. Few people in westernized nations eat mare’s milk, or the milk of camels. But a large portion of world does – from Morocco to Mongolia is a nearly unbroken stretch of land where one or both of those milks provide a staple of the diet. So is the milk of unclean animals unclean?It is natural to assume that since the animal is unclean, the milk is unclean also. But is it? Conclusions like that – ones which lead to you avoiding certain foods or actions – are “safe”. You’re less likely to go wrong if you simply don’t do something that might be a sin. But we are here to understand the law of God. Simply avoiding something because it might be wrong, when you have a way to prove one way or the other, is cowardly. So let’s find out – if an Arab offers you some camel cheese, do you decline, or chow down?
To begin with, we have to ask the most important question; if eating camel’s milk is a sin… where is the command?
If God wants you not to do something, He generally makes it painfully obvious. There are small exceptions to this rule, but not many. And the simple fact is, God never said the milk of any animal was unclean. Search the Bible from end to end, and it’s not there.
THE SACRIFICIAL SYSTEMNext, we must note that the clean/unclean laws were intricately connected with the sacrificial system. Nothing that was unclean could be sacrificed, while everything that was clean could be (although grasshoppers and fish never were).
Another example is that the firstborn of unclean animals, such as donkeys, were redeemed (paid for) with a clean animal. The same applied to humans, who were unclean and could not be sacrificed – the firstborn was redeemed with a lamb (Numbers 18:15, Exodus 13:13).
Uncleanness is the rule, not the exception. No animal flesh was permitted for consumption in the Garden of Eden. (Genesis 1:30, more on that later). But once Adam sinned, all that changed and we see the first animals were killed by God, personally.
Genesis 3:21 Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.
Immediately after the fall of Adam, God had to make a choice; man either had to die, or he had to have a sacrifice to pay for his sin. So for a sacrifice, God selected certain animals as types of His Son who would later pay for the sins of mankind. These animals he called “clean”, and they were to shed their innocent blood, in symbol, to pay for the sins of the “unclean”. These animals were sacrificed, and their skins were put on Adam and Eve to cover the nakedness which symbolized the shame of sin.
It was the blood of these animals which paid for sin. And they were “cleansed” by God specifically so that the blood could be used to pay for man’s sin. We eat the meat of those animals today in part to remind us that death is the result of sin. Some animals, the clean animals, can pay for our sins in symbol. All the rest, the majority, of animals, cannot.
Just as Christ died that we may live, so clean animals die that we may have nourishment. But nothing must die for milk to be given. Milk was never connected to the sacrificial law in any way. It was never claimed to be clean, unclean, or offered as a sacrifice. It appears to be completely disconnected from the unclean meats laws.
DEATH NOT REQUIRED
No animal is unclean until it is dead. If it were, you couldn’t ride horses, own ferrets, raise llamas or breed parrots. But once any of these animals dies, it becomes unclean.
Deuteronomy 14:8 And the swine, because it divideth the hoof, yet cheweth not the cud, it is unclean unto you: ye shall not eat of their flesh, nor touch their dead carcase.
Note exactly what it says; not to eat their flesh, nor touch their DEAD CARCASS. It says nothing about touching their live carcass. And it’s a good thing!
Matthew 21:5 Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.
Here Jesus came into Jerusalem riding on a donkey. Good luck trying to do that without touching the unclean beast! So clearly owning, working with, and touching these animals on a daily basis was NOT grounds for being ceremonially unclean, or the soon-to-be-sacrificed Jesus could not have done it. But once the carcass is DEAD, it becomes unclean immediately!
Leviticus 11:31 These are unclean to you among all that creep: whosoever doth touch them, WHEN THEY BE DEAD, shall be unclean until the even.
Every single time it is made clear that it is the DEAD CARCASS of these beasts which it is unclean to touch – and the carcass being unclean, it logically follows that the meat from that carcass is also unclean, which of course it is.
Leviticus 11:8 Of their flesh [unclean animals] shall ye not eat, and their carcase shall ye not touch; they are unclean to you.
The point of this is that nothing is unclean until it is dead! There are certain illnesses and waste products that are unclean, but nothing about the animal itself is unclean until death! So since milk doesn’t come from a dead carcass, and since the animal is not unclean to touch while it is alive, it follows that milk from any animal should not be ceremonially unclean.
Again, the Bible says nothing explicit either way.
So that leaves us reasoning with Human milk. Humans are unclean. They are not “edible”. They cannot be sacrificed, so each time a human belongs to God as a sacrifice, a goat, ram, lamb or sheep is always substituted. Isaac for instance, was replaced with a ram.
The firstborn male of every creature you own, such as donkeys, horses, goats, and of your own children too, belongs to God; the clean animals are taken to the temple and sacrificed (Exodus 13:13-15). The unclean animals, including humans, are paid for with a lamb. Human carcasses are unclean to the touch, just as the carcasses of pigs (Numbers 19:13).
I mention all of this, because despite humans being unclean, and it being unthinkable to eat human flesh, we all drank human milk for years! And that milk was not unclean to us! And no where in the Bible does it hint that human milk ever becomes unclean. At no point do you become of an age where you are not allowed to drink human milk – at least, no such point is ever mentioned in the Bible. No where does it say that a husband, for instance, couldn’t drink his wife’s milk. And no logical reason indicates that her milk is unclean to him.
So, if I may use an extreme example, if human milk were made into cheese, there would be no reason, using the clean/unclean meat laws, that any of us could not eat it. It sounds a bit… weird. But so does eating grasshoppers and locusts, which are explicitly allowed.
So if you can drink the milk of one unclean animal (humans), why could you not drink the milk of another unclean animal?
Granted, humans are designed to eat human milk just as pigs are designed to eat pigs milk and cows are designed to eat cow’s milk. But just as surely as that, humans were intended by God to eat milk of cows and goats.
Deuteronomy 32:12-14 (BBE) So the Lord only was his [Israel’s] guide, no other god was with him. … honey he gave him … Butter from his cows and milk from his sheep, with fat of lambs and sheep of Bashan, and goats, and the heart of the grain; and for your drink, wine from the blood of the grape.
So if God gives you cow’s butter and sheep’s milk, you may be certain that man was intended by God to drink non-human milk.
THE FUTURE OF MILK
In the beginning, all animals were unclean. God told man, and every beast of the Garden:
Genesis 1:30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.
God did not intend for man or animals to die. Death was not necessary until sin entered the world, which Romans 5:12 says was through Adam. And so until Adam sinned, no animal was killed for meat – not even by other animals. The lion literally ate straw like the ox (see my article, Automatic Vegetarianism, for how that is possible). This is how God created the world, and this is how God liked it. And so this is how he will build it anew in the future.
Isaiah 11:6-9 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb … And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. … They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain. …
So in the future, the green herb will once again be given to the lion for meat. Nothing – cow or lion – will be hurt in the future. For death will cease to exist.
1 Corinthians 15:26, 55-56 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. … O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
In short, we’re going to be returning back to the state of the Garden of Eden, where nothing was killed for meat, and the entire world was vegetarian. And as sin caused that to change, so obeying God will cause it to revert back and no life will be taken for food!
The POINT of this is that, in the beginning, cows were unclean for meat. They could not be eaten. In the future, cows will be unclean for meat – they will not be eaten.
But in the future, MILK WILL STILL BE EATEN!
Joel 3:17 So shall ye know that I am the LORD your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more.
Setting the time frame, as millennial or even post-millennial. Definitely after the return of Christ, when His government is setup in Jerusalem. When that happens…
Verse 18 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, AND THE HILLS SHALL FLOW WITH MILK …
And the promised land, itself merely a type of the future promised land of the kingdom of God, is described over and over as “a land flowing with milk and honey” – both products that do not require the death of any living creature to be consumed! And when you think about it, honey is bee regurgitation – bee vomit, for the vulgar – and bees are not clean, yet we are clearly intended to eat their honey…
God is fair. If something is a sin, it can be proven to be a sin. If something is accused of being a sin, it must stand up to a fair trial, and in God’s system the burden of proof must be on the accuser, with no less than two witnesses and preferably three.
So anyone who would accuse any action of being a sin, or any milk being unclean, must carry the burden of proof. And I think it will be a challenge finding a weight of proof against horse milk. But I’m listening…