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Q. Why Is Honey Forbidden As An Offering In The Law?


Dear ******,

Thanks for your note. Several passages come to mind:

Secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those that are revealed belong to us and our descendants forever, so that we might obey all the words of this law. (Deut. 29:29 NET)

It does not appear that the reason for prohibiting honey is important enough to explain, so perhaps we should not agonize about something we are not told. We should expect that some things in the Bible will not be explained to our satisfaction. But then we have all eternity to ask Jesus about them.

There are, however, some passages which could possibly give us hints which might shed some light on the matter:

16 Have you afound honey? Eat only 1what you need, That you not have it in excess and vomit it. (Prov. 25:16 NAU)

27 It is not good to eat much honey, Nor is it glory to asearch out 1one’s own glory. (Prov. 25:27 NAU)

I am a fellow who likes to help my wife cook, often by sampling the dough, or cleaning out the mixing bowl. I don’t sample things that are not tasty. It looks to me as though honey is a very tasty, and thus tempting, item to eat. Might this, if used frequently, be tempting.

Then I read that some of the priests misused/abused things related to Israel’s sacrificial worship:

The sons of Eli were wicked men. They did not recognize the LORD’s authority. 13 Now the priests would always treat the people in the following way: Whenever anyone was making a sacrifice, while the meat was boiling, the priest’s attendant would come with a three-pronged fork in his hand. 14 He would jab it into the basin, kettle, caldron, or pot, and everything that the fork brought up the priest would take for himself. This is what they used to do to all the Israelites when they came there to Shiloh. 15 Even before they burned the fat, the priest’s attendant would come and say to the person who was making the sacrifice, “Hand over some meat for the priest to roast! He won’t take boiled meat from you, but only raw.” 16 If the individual said to him, “First let the fat be burned away, and then take for yourself whatever you wish,” he would say, “No! Hand it over right now! If you don’t, I will take it forcibly!” 17 The sin of these young men was very great in the LORD’s sight, for they treated the LORD’s offering with contempt. (1 Sam. 2:12-17 NET)

Now Eli was very old when he heard about everything that his sons used to do to all the people of Israel and how they used to have sex with the women who were stationed at the entrance to the tent of meeting. (1 Sam. 2:22 NET)

“Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them– to the shepherds: ‘This is what the sovereign LORD says: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves! Should not shepherds feed the flock? 3 You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the choice animals, but you do not feed the sheep! (Ezek. 34:2-3 NET)

This is from an external source, which I reluctantly use, but it may shed a little light on the question:

Mead or honey wine is the oldest alcoholic drinks known to man. It is made from honey and water via fermentation with yeast. It may be still, carbonated, or sparkling; it may be dry, semi-sweet, or sweet. Unlike beers and cider, meads (being wines) are drunk in small quantities.1

Having said all of this, when it comes to the somewhat related matter of foods that are declared unclean, there are those who seek to provide a reason why God said the food was unclean. I think it is unclean just because God said so. No wonder God could declare the unclean foods which separated Jews and Gentiles to be clean in the New Testament (Mark 7:19; Acts 10-11; see also Galatians 2:11-14). Unclean foods are unclean, not because they are bad for our health, but because God said they were not to be eaten. It is no test of obedience for us to avoid eating what is repulsive to us. It is a test of obedience if God tells us not to eat ice cream (for example).

So, there may be a good reason why honey is not to be part of the grain offering, but God did not choose to make this a matter He explains to our satisfaction, so we must simply accept it as God’s Word.


Bob Deffinbaugh


Related Topics: Law

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