Questions From Readers
Deuteronomy 14:21 reads: “You must not eat any body already dead.” Does that contradict Leviticus 11:40, which reads: “He who eats any of its dead body will wash his garments, and he must be unclean until the evening”?
There is no contradiction between these two verses. The first text repeats the prohibition against eating an animal found dead, perhaps one that was killed by wild beasts. (Exodus 22:31; Leviticus 22:8) The second explains what an Israelite might have done if he violated that prohibition, possibly by accident.
The fact that something was prohibited by the Law did not mean that the prohibition would not at some time be ignored. For example, there were laws against stealing, murder, bearing false witness, and so forth. At the same time, there were penalties for breaking those divinely given laws. Such penalties gave force to the laws and showed how serious they were.
A person who transgressed the prohibition against eating the flesh of an animal found dead would be unclean in Jehovah’s eyes and would have to undergo the proper procedure for cleansing. If he failed to cleanse himself properly, he would have to “answer for his error.”—Leviticus 17:15, 16.