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Humans began as vegetarians ("And God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food," Genesis 1:29 RSV) but also became meat eaters after the flood ("Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; and as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything," Genesis 9:3 RSV). Everything clean could be used as food (see the Fact Finder question below).
Examples of unclean (for food) birds and animals:
"Nevertheless among those that chew the cud or part the hoof, you shall not eat these: The camel [see Camels], because it chews the cud but does not part the hoof, is unclean to you. And the rock badger [see Conies], because it chews the cud but does not part the hoof, is unclean to you. And the hare, because it chews the cud but does not part the hoof, is unclean to you. And the swine, because it parts the hoof and is cloven-footed but does not chew the cud, is unclean to you [see also Abomination of Desolation - Where?]. Of their flesh you shall not eat, and their carcasses you shall not touch; they are unclean to you." (Leviticus 11:4-8 RSV)
Leviticus Chapter 12
The natural recovery time for childbirth was also protected within a specified time of "purification," a rite still observed centuries later at the time of the birth of Jesus Christ ("And when the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to The Lord as it is written in the law of The Lord, "Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to The Lord," and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of The Lord, "a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons," Luke 2:22-24 RSV).
"The Lord said to Moses, "Say to the people of Israel, If a woman conceives, and bears a male child, then she shall be unclean seven days; as at the time of her menstruation, she shall be unclean. And on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. Then she shall continue for thirty-three days in the blood of her purifying; she shall not touch any hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying are completed. But if she bears a female child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her menstruation; and she shall continue in the blood of her purifying for sixty-six days.
Leviticus Chapter 13
As with all of the Laws of God, they always had a practical purpose, whether immediate, or prophetic. The laws of hygiene were intended to protect health; they are as relevant and true today as at any time in the past. Examples (note that the translated word "leprous" applies to infectious diseases in general, or even to spreading mildew in a building):
"The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, "When a man has on the skin of his body a swelling or an eruption or a spot, and it turns into a leprous disease on the skin of his body, then he shall be brought to Aaron the priest or to one of his sons the priests, and the priest shall examine the diseased spot on the skin of his body; and if the hair in the diseased spot has turned white and the disease appears to be deeper than the skin of his body, it is a leprous disease" (Leviticus 13:1-3 RSV)
Fact Finder: What is the natural basis for The Lord's healthy diet law?