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Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature

Fat

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In Leviticus 3 there are minute details of the parts of victims which were to be specially appropriated to the altar. Among these all the internal fat is minutely specified, particularly the fat of the kidneys; and of external parts the tail of the sheep, which, in the common species of Western Asia, is a mass of fat (; ; ): and the whole concludes with 'All the fat is the Lord's; ye shall eat neither fat nor blood' (). The reason assigned, namely, that the fat was consecrated to the altar, could only apply with respect to that of animals used in sacrifice, which were also usually employed for food. One point seems to have been very generally overlooked, which is, that not fat absolutely, but particular fat parts only are interdicted. They might eat the fat involved in the muscular tissue—in short, fat meat; and we know that animals were actually fattened for food (; ; ). This was, however, not a usual practice; and even at this day in the East, domestic cattle seldom undergo any preparatory feeding or fattening before being killed. Hence there is little fat in the carcass, except that belonging to the parts specified in the prohibition, which is all more or less of the nature of suet.

Various reasons have been assigned for this somewhat remarkable restriction. The secondary cause, that the fat was consecrated to the altar, and therefore was to be abstained from, is not all; for it is usually considered that it was thus consecrated to give a religious sanction to a prohibition expedient on other grounds. The true reason probably is, that this suet or suet-like fat is not particularly wholesome or digestible in warm climates, if anywhere, and is particularly unsuitable for persons subject to cutaneous diseases, as the Israelites appear to have been at the time of their leaving Egypt.

'Fatness,' in Scripture, expresses plumpness or exuberance, whether in men, animals, or vegetables; and is hence often applied metaphorically to any kind of abundance, as to large possessions, or to excessive fertility in the earth.

 

 

 

 


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Bibliography Information
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Fat'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature". https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/kbe/f/fat.html.

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