A slight divergence from the calendar... with the number of lactose intolerant people out there (especially those of African American, Native American, Mexican American and Ashkenazic Jewish heritage), plus knowing several people with kidney and/or gall stones, and the danger in giving cows’ milk but not goats’ milk to babies, I have taken a particular interest in what the Bible mentions concerning dairy products. The first thing I learned when we first started eating a Biblically kosher diet (eating what God says is food, and not eating what He says isn’t food), was that Abraham served both dairy and meat products together (Genesis 18:8), contrary to the rabbinical Jewish dietary laws that forbid consuming both milk and meat in the same meal. This verse, also combined with the numerous promises of bringing us someday to a land flowing with milk and honey, also convinced me to ignore diets that promoted removing dairy from one’s intake.Another verse that I came across early in my study was about forbidding a person to boil a kid in its mother’s milk. This actually occurs three times in scripture (Ex. 23:19, Ex. 34:26, Deu 13:21). I heard some people explain that this was a warning to not do some of the pagan practices of offering a sacrifice by boiling a kid in its mother’s milk. Perhaps this was going on, but I wasn’t convinced that this was the meaning of the verse, or at least the entirety of the meaning of this verse. Since a few years earlier I had learned that cheese was made by boiling milk (obviously from a mother) with the intestine or rennet from an intestine of a calf that had not yet weaned, I thought that perhaps this verse spoke about cheese.
We began to seek cheese made from vegetable or microbial rennet, but wondered if this only pertained to goat cheese (since all three verses specifically use the word ‘kid’), or if it was an example that pertained to all types of animals, like cows and sheep. Also looking at the spiritual meaning of a verse, I wondered about it only mentioning kids, which are baby goats, since goats are famous for being stubborn and rebellious. Perhaps it was a warning about taking the Bible, which is an illusion to milk (see 1 Peter 2:2), and boiling or destroying the stiffnecked person (the baby gpat) who isn’t ready to accept it.Last spring, when working on a word study for milk, I discovered Proverbs 27:27 “And you shall have goats’ milk enough for your food, for the food of your household, and for the maintenance for your maidens.” When I read this, I wondered if we were supposed to only be drinking goats’ milk. I had also recently learned at this point that goats’ milk was naturally homogenized, a process performed on cows’ milk that I was suspicious of being unhealthy. Deuteronomy 32:14 mentions the milk of the flock, where flock is a term that includes both goats and sheep. It seems that sheep’s milk is also acceptable.
Since I practice my faith experimentally, I began drinking exclusively goats’ milk, although the rest of the family still drinks cows’ milk. I didn’t know what to do about the cheese, though. Was the verse prohibiting the boiling of a kid in its mother’s milk saying that we drink goats’ milk but aren’t supposed to make cheese from it? That would be okay with me since I don’t really care for goats’ cheese. Since sheep’s milk is drinkable, can we make cheese with it in the regular process? What about cheese from cows' milk - the most widely available cheese?During our family Sabbath readings this past week, I came across another verse. 2 Samuel 17:29 mentioned the cheese of kine, which is cows. This, of course, made me take notice and begged further study. Sadly the word for ‘cheese’ is only used in this verse, so I didn’t get far with it. But the King James version, interlinear versions, Jewish Publication Societies, and Septuagint versions all agree that this product is cheese, so I settled with it. In my searching, however, I discovered that Deuteronomy 32:14 spoke about ‘butter of kine’.
Examining the verses using the Hebrew word for ‘butter’, I found the story of Jael, who lulled Israel’s enemy, Sisera, to sleep with milk and drove a tent stake through his head. Judges 5:25 “He asked water, she gave milk; she brought forth ‘butter’ in a lordly dish.” The problem with the idea of this being butter is that if he was thirsty, he would not have been satisfied with butter. However, another verse, Proverbs 30:33, says, “Surely the churning of milk brings forth ‘butter’, and the wringing of the nose brings forth blood, so the forcing of wrath brings forth strife.” It seemed that it must be butter, even though it doesn’t make sense in the case of Jael. But after researching the butter making process, I discovered that two things are produced through churning milk – butter and buttermilk. What is translated as butter probably is really buttermilk, which would satisfy both verses. It also works much more logically with the original verse I read this past weekend, since items were brought because the people were hungry, weary and thirsty. Food and beds were mentioned, but if the word was butter, there would be no drinks. However, if it is really buttermilk, then beverages were also provided.Since buttermilk and cheese (as well as yogurts, sour creams, and cottage cheeses) tend to be tolerated by lactose intolerant people due to its fermentation, and it is mentioned in connection with cows’ milk in the Bible, at this point I have come to the conclusion that cows’ milk should be consumed in the form of fermented products. However, for drinking fresh “off the tap”, goats’ milk is probably the better bet. Additional information about Goats’ milk and lactose intolerance, links to medical research, as well as cheesemaking and recipes can be found online at http://www.everything-goat-milk.com/lactose-intolerance.html . This article discusses how ancient civilizations were largely lactose intolerant: http://www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/neolithic-immigration-how-middle-eastern-milk-drinkers-conquered-europe-a-723310-2.html .