Notwithstanding thou mayest kill and eat flesh within all thy gates, after all the desire of thy soul, according to the blessing of the LORD thy God which He hath given thee; the unclean and the clean may eat thereof, as of the gazelle, and as of the hart.


  1. That mechon mamre is quite archaic isn't it?

  2. The answer is most likely no. However, how do we explain the verse then?

  3. Gazelle is clean right?

The focus is, in one hand, only clean (kosher) animals can be eaten. On the other hand the mechon mamre clearly said that the unclean may eat thereof. I am always puzzled with inconsistency and hence the question.

  • 2
    It's not mechon-mamre's translation. They've just digitized the oldey-but-mediocre-y, well-distributed Jewish Publication Society text. I believe the JPS translators (not unlike the King James Bible's) thought that it should sound old. For an easily-readable translation that helps avoid questions like this, I strongly, strongly recommend Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan's Translation, "The Living Torah" -- whole text available online.
    – Shalom
    Commented Dec 19, 2011 at 0:28
  • @jim, you've been around here for a while now. Can you clean this up a bit? Despite the fact that you've garnered two answers so far, I find this question rather unclear. Are you asking about clean and unclean animals and their blood, or are you asking about gazelles? Your title and body don't match up at all, and the focus of your three points in the note are unrelated to each other, so it's not clear what the focus is.
    – Seth J
    Commented Feb 19, 2013 at 19:32
  • It says clean and unclean you can eat. So you can eat unclean animals then (whatever that means). The answer is no. But that is the question.
    – user4951
    Commented Jul 23, 2013 at 2:10
  • Note: first question is not on-topic here, as a rant in disguise (and a very thin one at that!)
    – MTL
    Commented Sep 11, 2014 at 5:44

2 Answers 2


Short answer: No, Jews cannot eat non-Kosher ("unclean") animals. Even kosher animals must be properly slaughtered and have all blood removed.

Long answer: As mentioned above, context is very important. Using an easy-to-understand translation and emphasizing all the key words is also important. "...the unclean and the clean may eat thereof..." "May eat thereof" are the important words.

Here's that verse, in context in the New JPS translation (which should be easier to understand):

10 When you cross the Jordan and settle in the land that the Lord your God is allotting to you, and He grants you safety from all your enemies around you and you live in security, 11 then you must bring everything that I command you to the site where the Lord your God will choose to establish His name: your burnt offerings and other sacrifices, your tithes and contributions, and all the choice votive offerings that you vow to the Lord. . . . 13 Take care not to sacrifice your burnt offerings in any place you like, 14 but only in the place that the Lord will choose in one of your tribal territories. There you shall sacrifice your burnt offerings and there you shall observe all that I enjoin upon you. 15 But whenever you desire, you may slaughter and eat meat in any of your settlements, according to the blessing that the Lord your God has granted you. The unclean and the clean alike may partake of it, as of the gazelle and the deer. 16 But you must not partake of the blood; you shall pour it out on the ground like water.

As you can see, these verses are describing the offering of sacrifices and the consumption of meat. Prior to the building of the Temple in Jerusalem, when an Israelite wanted to eat meat (which usually was only on special occasions), he would offer an animal as a sacrifice to God on his "backyard alter," (במה\במות) and partake of the remainder, thus including God in his meal. (Source.) These verses prohibit the use of "backyard alters" once the Temple has been built. Since sacrifices are restricted to the Temple, if an Israelite wished to eat meat, he no longer has to offer it as a sacrifice. "But whenever you desire, you may slaughter and eat meat..."

Only ritually "clean" or "purified" Jews who had immersed themselves in the mikvah were allowed in the Temple, whereas ritually impure individuals (such as one who came in contact with a dead body) were prohibited. One might think that only ritually pure individuals would be allowed to eat meat. Verse 15 teaches us that this is not so, "the unclean and clean alike" can eat from the meat.

Why does the verse mention the gazelle and the deer? Rashi explains that they're mentioned to illustrate that the logical extension of the above holds true. Gazelles and deer, while kosher, are not permitted as sacrifices in the Temple. But since the Israelite no longer has to offer the animal as a sacrifice before eating them, he is now permitted to slaughter and eat the gazelle and deer.

The above was the "simple" reading of the verses. Halakha, or Jewish Law, reinterprets them slightly, due to the odd mentioning of the gazelle and deer, and the fact that this basic idea is repeated in verse 20. The halakah explains that these verse refer to a specific case of an animal that was designated for a sacrifice and then became blemished. For the details of this approach, please see Rashi's commentary on the verse, available in English here.

  • 2
    Shmuel, it's going to be another 200 years between when this mitzvah takes affect and Jeruselem is signaled out to be the place for the beit hamikdash. But "backyard altars" are not still not allowed while the mishkan stands.
    – avi
    Commented Dec 18, 2011 at 7:46
  • @Jim Thio: Yes. "The clean and the unclean" refer to the Israelites, while "thereof" (or, "of it") refers to the animal (which, of course, must be clean per Lev. 11; Deut. 14).
    – user2088
    Commented Feb 20, 2013 at 5:08
  • And jews eat gazelle and deers? Those are hunted animals and jews don't hunt.
    – user4951
    Commented Sep 11, 2014 at 1:40
  • @JimThio - Today, most people don't hunt nor (afaik) eat deer. I don't understand what you're getting at. Just because something isn't done doesn't mean it can't be done. || The Talmud contains references to Jews hunting deer. I don't remember the exact source, but there is a story about a rabbi who was an expert shot with a bow and arrow, and he shot a deer in such a fashion that it was a "kosher kill," and was permitted to eat.
    – Shmuel
    Commented Sep 16, 2014 at 3:45

The context of this pasuk is important.

Earlier in the Torah, Moshe commands the Jewish people that none of the animals which are brought as sacrifices, may be killed, either in the camp or outside of it, without it ALSO being brought as a sacrifice.

This pasuk here, is telling the Jewish people, that just as they were allowed to kill and eat the Gazzelle and the "Hart" (really the antelope) without bringing it as a sacrifice. So to, when they cross over into Israel, they will not be required to bring a sacrifice unless they live close to the Mishkan (or later the beit hamikdash)

The Gazzelle, and the "hart" are Kosher animals because they have split hooves, and chew their cud.

However, the hebrew in this verse is "Tameh" and "Tahor'. This means that they are ritually "clean" or "pure" or not ritually "clean/pure".

Only animals which are "Tahor" are allowed to be brought as a sacrifice, and so before this edict, only "Tahor" animals were allowed to be eaten at all. But now, either "Tahor" or "Tamei" animals are allowed to be eaten.

What makes an animal "Tahor" or "Tamei" are blemishes on the body. For example, a tear on the eye, or a chipped hoof. This has nothing to do with Kashrut, or blood in the meat of the animals.

So the short answer is "No".

  • 6
    Actually, in this context "clean/pure" and "unclean/impure" are talking about the person who's eating, not the animal's status. In other words, in this particular case (the Talmud explains that it's talking about an animal that was designated for a sacrifice and then became blemished, as in your answer; a few verses later it's talking about regular animals) anyone may eat the meat, even if they're in a state of ritual impurity (say because they were in contact with a human corpse, an animal carcass, etc.) - where, by contrast, only people who are ritually pure can eat of a sacrificial animal.
    – Alex
    Commented Dec 17, 2011 at 22:58
  • I wonder which one is right. Thanks for the answer anyway +1.
    – user4951
    Commented Dec 19, 2011 at 5:18

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