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I don't see anything in the Torah that says an animal must be slaughtered before eating it instead of strangled to death.

Acts 15:20 (KJV) But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and [from] fornication, and [from] things strangled, and [from] blood.

Acts 15:20 (NIV) Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood.

  • Just a guess, but it may be that strangulation was the common way animals in Rome were killed by non-Jews. James/Jacob is not advocating that the gentiles be beholden to Torah and Kosher laws but is providing guidance to gentile believers so that Jews can be free to eat with them without being scandalous to the unbelieving Jews. I think that the James of Galatians 2 is also the James of Acts 15 and was a Jewish leader of some kind. – Ruminator May 8 at 19:03
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Due to the prohibition of eating an animal’s blood,1 the Torah implies that an animal must be killed via exsanguination,2 since animals which died naturally or were torn apart by other animals were absolutely prohibited.3

Lev. 17:13–14 states,

13 “Whatever man of the children of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell among you, who hunts and catches any animal or bird that may be eaten, he shall pour out its blood and cover it with dust; 14 “for it is the life of all flesh. Its blood sustains its life. Therefore I said to the children of Israel, ‘You shall not eat the blood of any flesh, for the life of all flesh is its blood. Whoever eats it shall be cut off.’ NKJV, 1982

Since an animal’s blood does not simply pour itself out, the pouring out is accomplished by slaughtering the animal with a sharp blade, severing its carotid artery and jugular vein (among other things) in the process.

According to John Lightfoot,4

Lightfoot, p. 134


References

Lightfoot, John. Horae Hebraicae et Talmudicae: Hebrew and Talmudical Exercitations. Trans. Gandell, Robert. Vol. 4. Oxford: UP of Oxford, 1859.

Footnotes

1 Gen. 9:4; Lev. 17:14
2 Lev. 17:13–14. Of course, in the oral Law, there is a prescribed method for exsanguination.
3 Lev. 17:15
4 p. 134

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  • Good answer, but I'm not understanding how one would violate Lev 17:14,15 by strangling the animal. You can still slaughter the animal and pour out its blood after strangulation. – brewpixels Jan 27 '17 at 2:56
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    I think I agree here. Verse 15 seems to confirm that a human must exsanguinate the animal in order for it to be lawfully eaten. Even an animal that died on its own was forbidden, but if you ate it, you were unclean. – brewpixels Jan 27 '17 at 3:28
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    I'm not sure it's accurate to assume that the eating of strangled animals was necessarily seen as a violation of Lev 17. The prohibition was intended to allow Jewish and Gentile Christians to fellowship together by the Gentiles avoiding something that would be offensive to Jews. But we know that, by this point, Jewish tradition had expanded far beyond the law itself. So it may be that this practice would have simply been an offensive violation of Jewish custom, whether it actually violated the law of God or not. Seems like a topic for Talmud research. – P. TJ Feb 8 '17 at 17:25
  • @P.TJ I upvoted this answer because it brought so much good info but in reality I don't think it actually answers the question. I think your comment also is excellent and may or may not be the answer. I think you should flesh out that argument as an answer. – Ruminator Aug 5 '18 at 13:22
  • If James was concerned about smooth eating between Jewish and gentile believers then did he still consider the Jews to still be beholden to the Torah? – Ruminator Aug 5 '18 at 13:27
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After an animal dies, the blood coagulates pretty quickly. Also, if an animal is strangled, then drained of blood, you will not get nearly as much blood out by gravity alone (even if the animal is hung upside down). Very much of it will still remain in the veins/arteries and especially the capillaries.

I would thing the worst thing about strangulation would be that it causes blood vessels to pop and deposits blood into the meat/tissues (like petechiae)... (and I also wonder if eating bruised/injured parts of an animal would be similar).

When you cut a major artery (like the carotid/jugular), the heart continues to pump until all the blood is removed and the animal is truly exsanguinated.

I don't know all of these things for a fact as pertaining to The Bible or the necessary way to slaughter animals for food. Honestly, this is the first time I ever recall hearing abut it. These are just a couple things that came to mind on why it makes sense to me that the animal be exsanguinated and especially not strangled, given that we are not to eat/drink the blood (since the life of flesh is in the blood).

Honestly (to me), this is just one of many 100s (if not 1000s) of scientific facts we find in The Bible. There are countless things in The Bible that weren't understood in ancient (or even recent) times that we understand now, because of modern science and technology.

http://www.uwmedicine.org/referrals/Documents/presentations/TC-Harruff-Strangulation-Handout.pdf

(page 6 explains petechiae and the spilling of blood into the tissues from strangulation). If I'm not mistaken there are injuries from strangulation that are worse and deposit a lot more blood into the tissues than petechiae. It shouldn't be too difficult to find information or sources if anyone's interested.

When it comes to petechiae, contusions (bruising), hemorrhages and other forms of injuries from strangulation it becomes impossible to remove all the blood from an animal. The same goes for animals that are already dead.The blood quickly starts to thicken and in short time it becomes impossible to remove all the blood (especially from capillaries and tissues). Not even modern technology (like pumps) could remove it all.

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I agree that a strangled animal could be drained of blood, but it would be difficult, and it would be easily ignored if you are in haste. When I was teaching the Old Testament in Nicaragua, a rabbi who was attending my class said that there was a tradition of "putting a fence around the law." By this, he meant that, as the New Testament makes us aware of, there were a number of precautions attached to each one of the laws to avoid mistakenly or carelessly violating them. I think that the prohibition against strangulation probably was to make sure that nobody took any shortcuts in the draining of blood. This may also explain Eve's additions to God's command when she tells the snake about God's prohibition on eating the fruit of the tree. It is possible that when she got the command through Adam he added a little extra to make sure that she didn't even come close to the core of the command.

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