The Bible and Treatment of Animals

I believe that as believers we are allowed to eat meat (Numbers 11:18), and I reject the YEC notion that God intended man to be vegetarian. In spite of this, this does not mean that we have the right to use animals however we wish with no restraint. Proverbs 12:10 says that the righteous (not just the pragmatic) have regard for the life of their animals. So I reject unnecessary cruelty against animals (such as for human entertainment and factory farming) and believe that God desires basic dignity. Whilst the Mosaic law required animal sacrifice, I believe this was a divine concession to the time, since the laws have parallels with those of other nations. I also believe that God himself does not personally approve of animal sacrifice (Isaiah 66:3).

What do you think?

Very well stated !.. I have heard that a stable homonsapien sapien diet is about 20% protein ( including fish , insects, and nuts )
Where as neander was about 80% protein .

We have Dominion ( caretakers , stewards ) just rulers …

Most farmers would likely agree that healthy animals are happy animals


There is a small hiccup with Cain and his plant offering vs. Able’s meat offering.

The whole idea that everyone was vegetarian originally is pretty dubious… felines (large and small) can’t even taste carbohydrates. There whole digestive system requires meat.

And that goes for plenty of other exemplars of the carnivore group.

The interesting thing, however, is that the issue of eating meat or not comes up again in the Maccabee period, where Eastern ideas about “sexually tainted food products” seems to have permeated into the Middle East, from India, via Persia (in the same way Pythagoras apparently was influenced by Eastern ideas about reincarnation and not eating “beans” (which looked plant-made storage units for souls prior to reincarnation).

One might say the Maccabee interest in non-animal food was just a coincidence… unless parts of Genesis were written in the post-Persian contact period as well!

How do you see Numbers 11:18 as a divine command general for all people? Or am I misunderstanding how you are reading that section of verses?

I’m not a fan of the cultural concession idea too much. But if we do take them as a divine concession, I don’t think they should serve much of a purpose for anybody today as it would be impossible to separate out a “divine inspiration” from “cultural-now outdated laws.”

I dunno, Yahweh really seems to like burnt sacrifice. I think it’s a bit of a stretch to make Isaiah 66:3 speak of him disapproving of animal sacrifice and moreso instead the think he detests would be one who does the sacrifices but also adds on things like killing a man, breaking a dog’s neck or getting pig blood on his sacrifice.

  • Genesis 8:21 - God smells a pleasing aroma from burning animals
  • Exodus 29:18, 25, and 41 - God smells more pleasing aromas from burning animals
  • Leviticus 1:9, 13, 17 - God smells more pleasing aromas from burning animals
  • Leviticus 2:2, 9 - Grain and flour can smell good too
  • Leviticus 3:5, 16; well you get the idea. There are probably 50 more verses or so. It is an aroma that Yahweh really really likes!

Furthermore, sacrifices return in some kind of future era if we take a traditional type of reading for Ezekiel 46-47 I think it is. These are just some starting thoughts and aren’t necessarily entirely coherent or integrated together so please take me with a grain of salt.


I agree.

I disagree.

Prov 21:27 “The sacrifice of the wicked is detestable-- how much more so when brought with evil intent!”

Matt 15:18 “'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”

As @pevaquark said, the animals smelled fine, did they smell change?

I don’t think it was ever about the animals, but man’s heart.

Like those who try to go ona diet, and fail frequently, and are honest about it have sympathy from their coach when they don’t loose weight.

But those who don’t care what they put in their mouths, as long as the coach doesn’t find out and they berate others who ate in public, the very same donut they ate in secret. That enrages coaches, disgusted them when they hear those who brag about their diet in public, by binge I secret.

Those who had a filthy heart, but technically followed the sacrifices, disgusted God. Yet those who sinned, but were trying and admitted their failure and sacrificed, sent a pleasing aroma to God, also the obedience in at least giving sacrifices pleased Him too.

Well said. Though I would argue a good ruler would be a caretaker and a steward, a ruler in the mindset of the Kingdom of God, where the King of Kings washes the feet of the “commoners”.


I meant " just " as in justice , for clarity …
Indeed , and perhaps if we were a little more humble in our treatment of other species ( even the tasty ones ) there would not be so many endangered .

Animal sacrifice in my opinion represents a prescientific, unomnipotent view of God, where God has to eat. I don’t think Animal sacrifices actually do anything. I learned this in a MOOC on Assyria, that Assyrian worship focused on catering to the needs of the god, or ‘idol’. They would wash, dress, prepare meat for, and offer wine for the idol.

Well God commands Moses to eat meat, clearly showing that God sees nothing wrong with it. Maybe I was wrong to call it a command for all humans.

Yea, my fault. I read that as “not just rulers”, there is no “not” in your post. Sorry. I agree

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The 4th commandment says: “Six days you may labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God. You shall not do any work, either you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your ox or donkey or any work animal, or the resident alien within your gates, so that your male and female slave may rest as you do. Remember that you too were once slaves in the land of Egypt, and the Lord, your God, brought you out from there with a strong hand and outstretched arm. That is why the Lord, your God, has commanded you to observe the sabbath day.”

Just as God had compassion on Israel, Israel was to show compassion to others. Notice that animals were included in the command to rest. Thus, in imitation of God, we should treat our work animals with compassion, as well.

By the first century, Sabbath tradition allowed only such “work” as was necessary to preserve life. This was the heart of the Pharisees conflict with Jesus over his healings on the Sabbath. In contrast to their traditions, Jesus noted that Torah required compassion to an animal in distress on the Sabbath, such as freeing it to get water. Matthew 12.9-13:

Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”

He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”

Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other.


Just wondering, is it possible Prov 12:10 just refers to keeping animals alive for human consumption?

Wow, @Reggie_O_Donoghue, I like the way you think!

And yet, @Reggie_O_Donoghue, in the Maccabee literature, we definitely see a bias against food “tainted by the biological nature of animal reproduction”!

The Maccabees avoided meat!

Here’s a wild ride:

Conservative examiners of the Book of Daniel certainly approach the Prophet Daniel as having been a real historical figure, and the events it records as having taken place in the Sixth Century B.C.E. Liberal examiners, however, treat the Book of Daniel as a pseudepigraphal work from the Second Century B.C.E., produced in association with the Maccabean crisis, and widely designed to not just dismiss the Hellenizing regime of Antiochus Ephiphanes, but also to encourage Jews not to apostatize. As it would concern Daniel 1:8, the eating of pork, among other things, was forced upon the Jews (1 Maccabees 1:62-63; 2 Maccabees 6:18; 7:1), and the scene of the figure Daniel resisting the food of Nebuchadnezzar, was meant to bolster Second Century Jewish fidelity to the Torah.[1]

Almost all of today’s Messianic people adhere to the Book of Daniel being a genuine product of a real Prophet Daniel, and its events having occured in actual history, in the Babylonian and Persian Empires of the 500s B.C.E. Yet it is important for readers to be aware of various liberal perspectives regarding Daniel’s composition, which will be encountered in various study Bibles, as well as many commentaries, a few of which we will be considering in our analysis. For, even when one rightly accepts genuine Danielic involvement with the Book of Daniel, the thrust of Daniel 1:8 should have encouraged many Jews in the Maccabean period to resist assimilation.

Reggie, I have to say that I find this part of Daniel not very definitive. It’s almost as if the writer was deliberately trying to be vague! What did he mean exactly? I think it’s a “dog whistle” text - - that only the “true believers” know what was meant by it.

2 Maccabees 5:27 -
"Judas, also known as Maccabaeus, however, with about nine others, withdrew into the desert. He lived like the wild animals in the hills with his companions, eating nothing but wild plants to avoid contracting defilement."

2 Macc 5:27 is the proof text that shows avoiding meat was not just about avoiding pork … it was about the meat itself!

Essenes Beliefs:
Rejected animal sacrifice, avoided meat and wine
Advanced guards or “sons of light”

Um, no:

“The animal bones deposited in or under potsherds and pots outside the buildings at Qumran apparently represent the remains of communal meals at which meat was consumed. Because the sectarians considered these meals to be a substitute for participation in the sacrifices in the Jerusalem temple, they disposed of the remains of the animals they consumed in a manner analogous to those sacrificed in the temple.”


“Archaeological Evidence for Communal Meals at Qumran” in Jodi Magness’ The Archeology of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls: (Studies in the Dead Sea Scrolls and related Literature) (Eerdmans: Grand Rapids, 2003), 121


I stand corrected. I’ll just set aside the over-reach about Essenes, while still clutching my Maccabees verse on wilderness vegetarianism.

No, because animals will stay alive if given the chance. This is about kindness vs cruelty to animals. As I recall the Talmud has teachings on the right treatment of animals.

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Sort of a tangent, but interesting cultural thoughts from a Christian blog on the treatment of dinosaurs by the movie Jurassic World. As popular culture is a reflection of societal norms, thought it was interesting.


I think that hits the nail on the head… the sense of wonder in the first Jurassic Park really set it apart, and they seemed to retain that sense and allow it to build gradually through the story – even in the chaotic parts. Maybe it’s just hard to reproduce that with a sequel, but I also notice that films nowadays can be fairly callous in their treatment of human characters too – though that’s pretty subjective.

As a big time JP park fan I like Jurassic World, and am looking forward to fallen kingdom. But I agree that it does have it’s problems in promoting animal cruelty as entertainment.

How do we reconcile Proverbs 12:10 with the harsh creation mandate as well as the post flood mandate?