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View Full Version : Chew one's cud: what does that mean exactly?


jdl
04-06-2001, 01:41 PM
What does it mean for an animal to chew its cud?


Leviticus 11

The Lord spoke again to Moses and to Aaron, saying to them,

"Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, 'These are the creatures which you may eat from all the animals that are on the earth.

'Whatever divides a hoof, thus making split hoofs, and chews the cud, among the animals, that you may eat.

'Nevertheless, you are not to eat of these, among those which chew the cud, or among those which divide the hoof: the camel, for though it chews cud, it does not divide the hoof, it is unclean to you.

dolphinboy
04-06-2001, 01:52 PM
Some animals, I think they're commonly called Ruminates, "chew their cud" by swollowing grass for example, chewing it, swollowing it and then instead of moving it down their gut bring it back up to their mouths and rechew it multiple times... breaking it down even further. In fact, cows have multiple stomachs to handle all of this extra reprocessing. The reason I believe they do this is to extract as much nutrition from their food as possible. Grass doesn't have that much enery in it I guess.

According to the Bible it's okay to eat beef since cows have split hoofs and chew their cud but it's not okay to eat camel because although they chew their cud they don't have split hoofs. Make sense?

dolphinboy
04-06-2001, 01:58 PM
Some animals, I think they're commonly called Ruminates, "chew their cud" by swollowing grass for example, chewing it, swollowing it and then instead of moving it down their gut bring it back up to their mouths and rechew it multiple times... breaking it down even further. In fact, cows have multiple stomachs to handle all of this extra reprocessing. The reason I believe they do this is to extract as much nutrition from their food as possible. Grass doesn't have that much enery in it I guess.

According to the Bible it's okay to eat beef since cows have split hoofs and chew their cud but it's not okay to eat camel because although they chew their cud they don't have split hoofs. Make sense?

CalMeacham
04-06-2001, 02:02 PM
Good Lord. We are losing touch with our roots. Fifty years ago no one would have asked this. Maybe not even twenty years ago.

Digesting cellulose is a trick. Plant-eaters have a number of methods for doing this, some involving fermentation. I'm not really up on it all, but your garden-variety cow has that specialized four-section stomache for processing grass. One of the processes involves regurgitating the partially digested food (the "cud") and re-chewing it. Just another reason to be happy you aren't a cow. The cow looks meditative while doing so, so people that are thinking and not doing anything else are said to be "chewing the cud". The similarity is heightened if they're, say, chewing gum at the same time. But some people can't think and chew gum. (rim shot).

As for the Biblical verses you quote, there's been a lot of argument. I'm goiing to quote my favorite anthropologist, Marvin Harris, who tried his hand at interpreting those verses in several of his books (Cows, Pigs, Wars, and Witches and Good to Eat, to name two). Most peopple have tried to see an attempt to classify animals according to some exterior standard of "clean" and "unclean". He saw it as an attempt to shoehorn animals into the categories of "clean" and "unclean" based upon whether or not they were already being eaten. You had to keep in Cows, Sheep, and Goats as edible, but not camels. I could make an argument that camels DO "divide the hoof", but apparently the biblical authors felt otherwise. Another animal they wanted to fit in, apparently, was the hyrax, a bunny-rabbit-like beast that WAS clean. The hyrax did something very much like chewing the cud -- it regurgitated and (I think) spit out "pellets" that it would eat later (see "Watership Down" on rabbits doing this). It didn't really have a hoof, but you could arfgue that its individual toes were "divided", so it was "good to eat".


See what you get out of one question on the cud?

Squink
04-06-2001, 02:09 PM
[/QUOTE]I think they're commonly called Ruminates[QUOTE]
That's Ruminants.

barbitu8
04-06-2001, 03:06 PM
In college dorms, the are called "roommates."

astorian
04-06-2001, 03:09 PM
Cud and ruminants have now been correctly defined. I just thought I'd add another common theory as to why Mosaic law said certain animals are okay to eat, and others aren't.

Through much of the Old Testament, there's a powerful hostility toward farming and to urban life. So, what does that leave? The nomadic life of the herdsman, which is regularly idealized in the Old testament.

Think about it- Cain the farmer and Abel the shepherd offer sacrifices to God. Which offering pleases God? Abel's! Early on, we see that God disapproves of the farmer, but loves the shepherd.

Now, think about this: when God first called Abraham to a covenant, Abraham was an urbanite. What did God do? Why, he took Abraham out of the city, and turned him into a nomadic herdsman!

Finally, when God rescued the Israelites from EGypt, what did he do? He led them AWAY from the Egyptians (then the most civilized race, and best farmers on earth) and turned them into nomadic herdsmen!

To the ancient Jews (unlike modern Jews), cities were hotbeds of evil, sin and idolatry. And farming is the first step toward urbanization! The evil whorish Babylon wasn't built in a day, after all- first, the Mesoptamians started by growing crops. That led to an abundance of food. That led to specialization of labor. That led to civilzation, which led to cities, which led to sin and corruption and idolatry!

To Moses, and to most ancient Israelites, the nomadic life was the good life, for a nomad was NOT self-sufficient! He relied on God to help him find water and grass for his flocks.

Hence, the meats Moses allowed were those compatible with the nomadic herdsman's life. Sheep, goats and cattle eat grass- thus, ideally suited to the nomadic life. Pigs, on the other hand, must be fed grain. That makes them unsuitable for nomads to raise.

CalMeacham
04-06-2001, 03:29 PM
Astorian:

Interesting interpretation. But you might want to have a look at Harris. Pigs weren't only forbidden by Jewish law -- they were also forbidden in ancient Sumer, ancient Egypt, and they're forbidden by the Koran. This suggests a different reason for the taboo on pigs than nomadic life.

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