Questions From Readers
What can we learn from the prohibition found at Exodus 23:19: “You must not boil a kid in its mother’s milk”?
This directive of the Mosaic Law, which appears three times in the Bible, can help us appreciate Jehovah’s sense of propriety, his compassion, and his tenderness. It also highlights his abhorrence of false worship.—Exodus 34:26; Deuteronomy 14:21.
To boil a young goat or other animal in its mother’s milk would be contrary to Jehovah’s natural arrangement of things. God provided the mother’s milk to nourish the kid and help it grow. Cooking the kid in the milk of its own mother would, in the words of one scholar, display “a contempt of the relation which God has established and sanctified between parent and young.”
Further, some suggest that boiling a kid in its mother’s milk may have been a pagan ritual performed to produce rain. If that was the case, the prohibition would have served to protect the Israelites from the senseless and heartless religious practices of the nations surrounding them. The Mosaic Law specifically forbade the Israelites to walk in the statutes of those nations.—Leviticus 20:23.
Finally, we see in this particular law Jehovah’s tender compassion. Actually, the Law contained a number of similar injunctions against cruelty to animals and safeguards against working contrary to the natural order of things. For instance, the Law included commands that prohibited sacrificing an animal unless it had been with its mother for at least seven days, slaughtering both an animal and its offspring on the same day, and taking from a nest both a mother and her eggs or offspring.—Leviticus 22:27, 28; Deuteronomy 22:6, 7.
Clearly, the Law was not just a complex set of commands and prohibitions. Among other things, its principles help instill in us an elevated moral sensibility that truly reflects Jehovah’s marvelous qualities.—Psalm 19:7-11.
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