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K4. Eating Blood.    [Make a Comment]

We are not to eat blood or anything with the blood still in it.

This precept is derived from His Word (blessed be He):

Key Scriptures

Genesis 9:3-4
Every moving thing that lives will be food for you; just as I gave you green plants before, so now I give you everything - only flesh with its life, which is its blood, you are not to eat.

Leviticus 3:17
It is to be a permanent regulation through all your generations wherever you live that you will eat neither fat nor blood.

Leviticus 7:26-27 (Maimonides RN184; Meir MN89; Chinuch C148)
You are not to eat any kind of blood, whether from birds or animals, in any of your homes. Whoever eats any blood will be cut off from his people.

Leviticus 17:10-14
'When someone from the community of Isra'el or one of the foreigners living with you eats any kind of blood, I will set myself against that person who eats blood and cut him off from his people. For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for yourselves; for it is the blood that makes atonement because of the life.' This is why I told the people of Isra'el, 'None of you is to eat blood, nor is any foreigner living with you to eat blood.' When someone from the community of Isra'el or one of the foreigners living with you hunts and catches game, whether animal or bird that may be eaten, he is to pour out its blood and cover it with earth. For the life of every creature - its blood is its life. Therefore I said to the people of Isra'el, 'You are not to eat the blood of any creature, because the life of every creature is its blood. Whoever eats it will be cut off.'

Leviticus 19:26
Do not eat anything with blood. Do not practice divination or fortune-telling.

Deuteronomy 12:15-16
However, you may slaughter and eat meat wherever you live and whenever you want, in keeping with the degree to which ADONAI your God has blessed you. The unclean and the clean may eat it, as if it were gazelle or deer. But don't eat the blood; pour it out on the ground like water.

Deuteronomy 12:21-24
If the place which ADONAI your God chooses to place his name is too far away from you; then you are to slaughter animals from your cattle or sheep, which ADONAI has given you; and eat on your own property, as much as you want. Eat it as you would gazelle or deer; the unclean and clean alike may eat it. Just take care not to eat the blood, for the blood is the life, and you are not to eat the life with the meat. Don't eat it, but pour it out on the ground like water.

Acts 15:19-20
Therefore, my opinion is that we should not put obstacles in the way of the Goyim who are turning to God. Instead, we should write them a letter telling them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from fornication, from what is strangled and from blood.

Acts 15:28-29
For it seemed good to the Ruach HaKodesh and to us not to lay any heavier burden on you than the following requirements: to abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from fornication. If you keep yourselves from these, you will be doing the right thing. Shalom!

Supportive Scriptures

Psalm 22:15(14)
I am poured out like water; all my bones are out of joint; my heart has become like wax - it melts inside me

Matthew 26:26-28
While they were eating, Yeshua took a piece of matzah, made the b'rakhah, broke it, gave it to the talmidim and said, "Take! Eat! This is my body!" Also he took a cup of wine, made the b'rakhah, and gave it to them, saying, "All of you, drink from it! For this is my blood, which ratifies the New Covenant, my blood shed on behalf of many, so that they may have their sins forgiven.

Mark 14:22-24
While they were eating, Yeshua took a piece of matzah, made the b'rakhah, broke it, gave it to them and said, "Take it! This is my body." Also he took a cup of wine, made the b'rakhah, and gave it to them; and they all drank. He said to them, "This is my blood, which ratifies the New Covenant, my blood shed on behalf of many people."

Luke 22:19-20
Also, taking a piece of matzah, he made the b'rakhah, broke it, gave it to them and said, "This is my body, which is being given for you; do this in memory of me." He did the same with the cup after the meal, saying, "This cup is the New Covenant, ratified by my blood, which is being poured out for you.

'John 6:48-58'
"I am the bread which is life. Your fathers ate the man in the desert; they died. But the bread that comes down from heaven is such that a person may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that has come down from heaven; if anyone eats this bread, he will live forever. Furthermore, the bread that I will give is my own flesh; and I will give it for the life of the world." At this, the Judeans disputed with one another, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" Then Yeshua said to them, "Yes, indeed! I tell you that unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life in yourselves. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life - that is, I will raise him up on the Last Day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me, and I live in him. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live through the Father, so also whoever eats me will live through me. So this is the bread that has come down from heaven - it is not like the bread the fathers ate; they're dead, but whoever eats this bread will live forever!"

1 Corinthians 11:23-26
For what I received from the Lord is just what I passed on to you - that the Lord Yeshua, on the night he was betrayed, took bread; and after he had made the b'rakhah he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you. Do this as a memorial to me"; likewise also the cup after the meal, saying, "This cup is the New Covenant effected by my blood; do this, as often as you drink it, as a memorial to me." For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord, until he comes.


This Mitzvah to not eat the blood of birds or animals is so important that it applies, not only to Israel (the Jewish people) under the Mosaic Covenant, but to Gentiles as well. Scripture states that the life is in the blood, and it is true in more ways than just biologically. This prohibition of eating blood dates all the way back to Genesis and, although we do not have many details of the animal sacrifices that far back, we can assume that the blood of the animals was poured out in the process of conducting the sacrifice, just as was commanded during the time of Moses. So, the "life in the blood" spoken of in Scripture was not only that of the sacrificed animal, but was also a reference to the life of the person that brought the sacrifice - his mortal life as well as his eternal life.

The prohibition of our eating animal blood in the New Covenant is most interesting. Yeshua is our ultimate sacrifice and, according to Matthew 26:28, His blood was

shed on behalf of many, so that they may have their sins forgiven.

Therefore, now that Yeshua has given his life's blood, it would be wrong for believers in Yeshua to continue to seek forgiveness for our sins and life with God through the blood of animals. That is why Yeshua directed his disciples in Mark 14:23-24 to drink His blood instead.1 But "why," one may ask, "was the prohibition against eating animal blood begun as early as Genesis?" I believe that it was prophetic. In essence, it was saying that all blood must be respected and not treated as mere food because life is in blood, and one day the Messiah will come and His blood will be poured out for us (figuratively) to eat.

In an attempt to extract blood from meat before it is cooked, Orthodox Judaism prescribes a procedure called "kashering" (also called "koshering") that consists of first soaking the meat in cold water, and then salting the meat with medium-coarse crystals of salt. The procedure is not considered necessary if the meat is roasted on an open flame.

Clearly, no procedure can remove all blood from meat, so what is God's expectation of us in complying with this Mitzvah? My opinion is that God wants us to be conscious of blood when we decide what meat to eat, and that he expects us to refrain from eating or drinking whole blood and foods that are intentionally made with blood, or where blood is added (e.g. blood sausage). It is my personal belief that He also expects us to refrain from eating meat from an animal whose blood was not intentionally drained from it at the time of (or soon after) slaughtering it, or killing it in a hunt. Kashering is a noble effort to remove blood from meat, but I do not consider it necessary unless it is to comply with the standards of Jewish Orthodoxy. If that is the reason, there are other considerations as well, such as there being rabbinical supervision of the slaughtering and processing of the resulting meat product.

1. We do not drink Yeshua's blood literally, but figuratively through the Shulchan Adonai, as a way of participating in His blood sacrifice.

Classical Commentators

Maimonides, Meir, and HaChinuch all wrote mitzvot prohibiting the eating of blood and quoted Leviticus 7:26 in support.

Special Note

Curiously, although Leviticus 19:26 is similar to Leviticus 7:26 in prohibiting the eating of blood, the commentators did not use it for that purpose and instead, used it to support an entirely different mitzvah. So in his RN195, for example, Maimonides interprets Leviticus 18:26 to mean that we must not eat or drink to excess and cause the death of a rebellious son by judicial sentence. In MN106, Meir speaks of blood as being the kind of food eaten by a stubborn and rebellious son, that we should not eat a live animal, and that we should pray before we eat. And in C248, HaChinuch speaks of not overeating, and uses many words in trying to show what Leviticus 19:26 has to do with having a rebellious son.


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