Meat of the Gentiles

Meat of the Gentiles

Artifacts from Sha’ar HaGolan, courtesy of Yosef Garfinkel, Wikimedia Commons

Reader question: I recently read on your wonderful website:

“The law presumes that meat found in the possession of a non-Jew may have been slaughtered by him. Although forbidden to be eaten, such meat may be sold or benefit may be otherwise derived from it.”

Would you please say a little more about this? Not as it relates to the minim, but specifically as it relates to Gentiles. I have been told by others that Hellenistic Jews in the first century were allowed to eat meat obtained from Gentiles, with the presumption that it had not been sacrificed to idols. Is that true?

Answer: Jews were required ‎to eat meat that was ritually slaughtered. When the New Testament speaks of “eating with Gentiles,” they are talking about “carrion,” that is, non-kosher slaughter meat as well as meat and milk mixed together. I believe that this means that meat in the hands of non-Jews cannot be assumed to be kosher and hence may not be eaten.

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