Welcome to Times Will Tell, the weekly podcast from The Times of Israel. This week a crazy interesting study was published in the Tel Aviv archaeological journal called “The Pentateuchal Dietary Proscription against Finless and Scaleless Aquatic Species in Light of Ancient Fish Remains.” You can read all about it in this Times of Israel article.
It was co-authored by Ariel University’s Dr. Yonatan Adler, whom we’re speaking with on the podcast, and the University of Haifa’s Prof. Omri Lernau, a retired MD whose “hobby” of examining ancient fish remains has turned him into the country’s foremost expert.
Consumption of finless and scaleless fish is prohibited in the Bible, in both Leviticus and Deuteronomy. In both books, the ban appears just after pig is forbidden from consumption. But, according to the scholars’ results, it seems the biblical prohibition against non-kosher fish was much less observed throughout the land and ages.
In the newly released study, the pair of scholars examine all known evidence of fish remains from ancient Judah over the period of some 2,000 years to see if the common everyday Judean was actually following this Torah law, and if so, from when.
This study is part of Adler’s Origins of Judaism project, which examines all sorts of Torah laws, including purity, figurative art, and dietary prohibitions, and looks for concrete evidence for them. He has a book coming out from Yale Press in 2022, so this is a sneak preview.