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Leviticus 17:15 NIV

Anyone, whether native-born or alien, who eats anything found dead or torn by wild animals must wash his clothes and bathe with water, and he will be ceremonially unclean till evening; then he will be clean.

Deuteronomy 14:21 NIV

Do not eat anything you find already dead. You may give it to an alien living in any of your towns, and he may eat it, or you may sell it to a foreigner. But you are a people holy to the LORD your God. Do not cook a young goat in its mother's milk.

Earlier on in the book of Leviticus Moses had told the people that anyone Israelite or Alien who ate an animal that he found dead became ceremonially unclean,but in the book of Deuteronomy he actually tells the Israelites to give it to the aliens to eat.

How to understand the above texts?

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    I'm sorry, I don't really see any issues understanding these two passages - can you explain what's not making sense to you? Please can you stop tagging every question 'NIV', there isn't anything about this question which is specific to that translation. If we tagged all the questions with different bible translations I don't think it would help. – Steve Taylor Mar 4 at 13:37
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Leviticus 17:15 NIV

"'Anyone, whether native-born or foreigner [בָּאֶזְרָ֖ח וּבַגֵּ֑ר], who eats anything found dead or torn by wild animals must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and they will be ceremonially unclean till evening; then they will be clean.

The nouns native-born and foreigner are joined by the Hebrew conjunctive waw. It forms a tight syntactic unit, meaning native-born and foreigner who converted to believing the LORD.

A similar phrase is in Numbers 15:26

The whole Israelite community and the foreigners residing among them will be forgiven, because all the people were involved in the unintentional wrong.

If a foreigner residing among them did not believe in the LORD, this forgiveness would not apply to him.

Berean Study Bible Numbers 9:14

If a foreigner dwelling among you wants to observe the Passover to the LORD, he is to do so according to the Passover statute and its ordinances. You are to apply the same statute to both the foreigner and the native of the land.’ ”

The same rule applies to all people who worship the LORD.

Deuteronomy 14:21

Do not eat anything you find already dead. You may give it to the foreigner [לַגֵּ֨ר] residing in any of your towns, and they may eat it, or you may sell it to any other foreigner. But you are a people holy to the LORD your God. Do not cook a young goat in its mother's milk.

Here לַגֵּ֨ר is a stand-alone noun without the conjunctive waw meaning just any foreigner, no direct relation to Judaism. Foreigners who believed in the LORD were considered part of the people holy to the LORD.

Even though the same root word for "foreigner" (H1616) is used in these verses, by grammar and by context, they denote two different kinds of foreigners.

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  • I think if it had used "towshab" there in your last statement maybe; it didnt. I agree though regarding their importance as human beings. – user21676 Mar 4 at 17:33
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The way to understand the texts is that eating a dead animal will make any Israelites or foreigners living among them ceremonially unclean, forcing them to wash their clothes and they will remain unclean until nightfall.

So if you are an Israelite, that is holy to the Lord, and you come across a dead animal, if you eat it, you will be unclean until evening. I guess this comes down to how hungry you are versus the cost of the ceremonial washing.

If you do not eat it, you can give (not sell) the animal to the foreigner living in your gates. If they take it and eat it, they will become unclean, just as you. But on the other hand they will get some food. It's the same trade off. They had access to the purification rituals.

Or you can sell it to a foreigner living outside your gates, and whatever happens to them isn't described, but as they have no access to Levites or red heffer ashes, they may be with guilt permanently.

Of course you are supposed to try to avoid becoming ceremonially unclean, but it is recognized that this happens as part of life -- e.g. a woman on her period, emissions of semen, etc. As a fun fact, the disciples after seeing Jesus raised from the dead were asked to stay in Jerusalem to purify themselves, because they had touched a dead body (the risen Christ) and were thus ceremonially unclean.

A bigger distinction is for the Levites. Being ceremonially unclean was a more serious matter for them as it could disrupt the daily ceremonies and rituals that the rest of the community dependend on.

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