Leviticus 11: A "Word of Wisdom" for the Israelites

Old Testament Seminary Student Study Guide, (2002), 58–59


On any given day, people may forget to pray or neglect to work or worship, but they seldom forget to eat. Since one purpose of the law of Moses was to provide continual daily reminders to the Israelites of their duty to God, the law included instructions concerning what the children of Israel could and could not eat. Leviticus 11 contains these instructions. The rules and instructions are commonly known as “kosher laws.” Kosher comes from a Hebrew word that means “religiously clean.” Like the Word of Wisdom revealed in our day, the kosher laws promoted good health, but their major purpose was to teach obedience. This law of health, like the Word of Wisdom today, helped set God’s people apart from the world in habits and practices, which was another purpose of the law of Moses, and helped them become clean and holy.

Understanding the Scriptures

Leviticus 11

Parteth/divideth the hoof (vv. 3–7, 26)Has a split hoof 
Clovenfooted (vv. 3, 7, 26)Foot divided into two parts 
Coney(v. 5)A hare-like animal like the rock badger 
Hare (v. 6)Rabbit 
Swine (v. 7)Pig 
Carcase (vv. 8, 11, 24–28)Dead body 
Ossifrage, and the osprey (v. 13)The Hebrew words for these animals seem to mean they are some kind of birds of prey 
Kite (v. 14)Perhaps some kind of bird of prey 
Cuckow (v. 16)Cuckoo bird 
Cormorant (v. 17)Perhaps some kind of bird of prey 
Beareth (vv. 25, 28, 40)Carries 
Ought (v. 25)Any 

Studying the Scriptures

Do two of the following activities (A–C) as you study Leviticus 11.

Activity A iconIs It Kosher?

Kosher means proper or sanctified by Jewish law. List the following animals in your notebook: snail, sheep, mouse, locust, stork, pig, cow, camel, eagle, shark. For each animal, write whether they were “kosher” or “not kosher” for Israelites to eat, and then explain why. For each reason, give a verse from Leviticus 11 that supports your answer.

Activity B iconReview the Word of Wisdom

Read Doctrine and Covenants 89:5–17 and list what the Lord commanded Church members in our day to eat or not eat. Compare these instructions to Leviticus 11 where the Lord taught the children of Israel what they could and could not eat.

Activity C iconWhy Does It Matter?

Why do you think the Lord has commanded His people not to eat certain things? (If you need help, see Leviticus 11:43–47; 1 Corinthians 6:19–20; D&C 89:1–4, 18–21.)