Kilayim – Commandment against Genetic Modification
Should there be hybrid plants to eat? If so, what are the consequences? A Torah view.
Kil’ayim (Hebrew: כלאים, lit. Mixture or Confusion) is the fourth tractate of Seder Zeraim (“Order of Seeds”) of the Mishnah and of theTalmud. It deals with the laws of various forbidden production and uses of mixtures, as provided in Leviticus 19:19 and Deuteronomy22:9-11. Specifically, it discusses planting mixtures of seeds, grafting, mixtures of vineyards, crossbreeding animals, working with a team of different kinds of animals, and shaatnez (clothes containing a mixture of linen and wool). There is a Gemara from the Jerusalem Talmud.
Kil’ayim vs Monocropping
Kil’ayim/כלאים is one of those troublesome commandments for a God-fearer today who wants to keep Torah, because its interpretation seems so opposite logic and even God’s own actions.
Kil’ayim is actually a group of commandments, having to do with not mixing things- not to wear linen and wool together, not to wear clothing of the opposite sex, not to plow with a donkey and an ox yoked together, not to breed a hybrid of animals, and not to plant different kinds of seed in your field (in one place field is written, in the other vineyard).
Wait a minute… everything seemed logical up until that last commandment.
Mono-cropping has wrecked many a field, and there are some great organic farming techniques that essentially use other plants as fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides, thus relieving the plants, the land, and ultimately, our stomachs, of tons of inorganic chemicals.
The understanding amongst just about everyone today is that this commandment forbids planting two types of seed in the same field, and the translation gives you no other option.
Source of current interpretation
I’ll prove what this commandment really is, firstly through context.
The other commandments listed next to these commandments have to do with mixing, especially in Leviticus19:19:
“My commandments you will keep, thine animals thou shall not breed hybrid, thy field thou shall not sow hybrid.
” Sorry for the thous, I’m trying to give you a word for word translation for the original Hebrew, specifically thou and not ya’ll are being commanded; each one of us are responsible for this.
In Hebrew there is no reason to say, shall not sow hybrid seed, because sow is the same root as seed/זרע, so it would say: thou shall not seed hybrid seed, which is needed in English, but just redundant in Hebrew.
Mixing DNA from 2 different sources
Interpretation based on ancient and modern technology
So if the Torah were given today, what do you guys think the commandment would be?
Not to sow GM (genetically modified/engineered) crops!
But wait, ancient people didn’t know how to GM, that’s one of the wonders of the 21st century, right?
Ancients figured out all sorts of farming techniques, and some would graft plants, which was the earliest genetic modification and causes gene swapping.
According to the commandment, you’re allowed to graft and eat the fruit, but not to plant the seed.
So what if it falls to the ground on accident?
Chances are, accidents aren’t enough for a random, accidental hybrid to take over a farm full of properly planted, organic seed.
But if people were doing it on purpose, then maybe it would be meant to take over, and maybe it would have qualities considered to be “better” by our human minds.
Today this is very much the case.
So historically, there was genetic engineering, including gene swapping at the time the Torah was given, and here YHWH was simply telling us not to do that.
Perverting Creation, and Pharisee Law to avoid this
Israelites entered Israel knowing not to break this law, and there was Ruah Hakodesh (Holy Spirit) so that no-one thought to do this ungodly thing of splicing plants and perverting creation, and if they did I’m sure they were rebuked by YHWH for it, as he does so often throughout the Tanach/Old Testament.
Pharisees were the ultimate holier-than-thous, and used to invent all sorts of new rules to “serve God better,” which Yeshua rebuked them for in the Gospel.
The Pharisees invented tefillin, all sorts of rules for Shabbath, hand-washing obsession, and for the purpose of this article, the law not to sow certain plants together.
After a thousand years of most likely keeping this commandment, there were no traditions on how to keep it, since it was easy NOT to accidentally splice genes.
Positive commandments have rich traditions that can be used for God’s glory, negative commandments are simply not done.
These “great ones” interpreted the Torah and didn’t know about GM because it wasn’t done in Israel, and decided that the verse must mean not to plant different seeds in the whole field.
It’s OK that they made a mistake, but people today need to wake up and realize that they’re fallible humans and erred, and we need to move on and use organic farming techniques that involve planting multiple species of seeds.
Shiloh is the Moshiach, Yeshua, and he took the סמכות/authority away from the Rabbis, so we cannot take their interpretations, the leaven of the Pharisees, on faith without first going back to the Torah.
Consequences of this erroneous interpretation of the law:
There are farmers today in Israel who are considered Torah-observant who buy GM seeds, plant them mono-crop, and then pour any sorts of chemicals that can help- for color, pesticide, herbicide, etc.
They’re sinning twice-
(1) once against YHWH by sowing a GM seed (notice, the commandment is not against doing GM, or making seeds, or eating the fruit, but against sowing GM seeds in your field) and
(2) once against Mother Earth by polluting her with said seed and chemicals, and not using organic methods because of the Rabbinic law.
And since she’s the Holy Land, sinning against her is sinning against YHWH seven-fold.
The Garden of Eden should be enough to show how wrong the Pharisees were… was God sinning since there were many types of trees in the same garden?
This is actually a very effective growing method, and there are places where people are self-sufficient from a diversified garden on a very small plot of land.
The “cell” and the “hybrid” concept
Also, the Hebrew word כלא kele, is a cognate to the Greek kalia and amazingly to the English cell.
In Hebrew the connotation is generally a prison cell, and in English it can also be a genetic cell.
Genetic cells were named after prison cells- think about it, they’re separate, nutrients need to pass through a cell-barrier/guard, etc.
Most importantly the cells have their own unique properties.
The Hebrew word that I translated as “hybrid” is כלאים/kil’ayim, or two cells!
The ayim ending is only in certain words to mean two things that are together, and with the understanding that ancient people did splice genes, that this is undoubtedly a commandment against GM.
Problem with hybrid seeds (“cells”)
Companies like Monsanto are very evil and probably satanic.
They are patenting God’s creation.
It is impossible to sin without breaking a commandment.
So if there’s no command against GM, they must be a good company, right?
The thing that’s particularly bad with them is that you can’t plant the seed that you get from most of their plants, as they are infertile.
They use different plants to mass produce seeds that can only be used once, and are so hybridized that they can’t even give fertile offspring!
They have bought God’s creation and are selling it at a price!
Effect on Sabbatical Year Crops
Also, because of dependence on GM growing, no one’s really keeping שמיטה/Sabbatical years or יובל/Jubilee, since God’s blessing won’t cause the plants to grow on the 7th and 50th years unless we keep ALL of his commandments.
We’ve got a lot more to work on other than kil’ayim, but if the seed is cursed, so will the harvest be!
We are allowed to do a lot! – fertile hybrids
We can plant any combination of plants in the same field, and we can change the properties of a species by working together with it.
Luther Burbank was an expert on this subject. The “Plant Wizard,” developed more than 800 strains and varieties of plants over his 55-year career.
Burbank’s varied creations included fruits, flowers, grains, grasses, and vegetables. He developed a spineless cactus (useful for cattle-feed) and the plumcot. (source: wikipedia, recommend reading more.)
He did this without splicing genes like today or splicing plant segments like in earlier days.
His “hybrids” were obtained by encouraging plants similar enough to pollinate one another to do so.
He never combined a human with a rice or a frog with a tomato- that can only be done by splicing, and YHWH commands us not to do that with the commandment of Kilayim.
A famous quote of his (also taken from wikipedia, is it a crime?)
“I love humanity, which has been a constant delight to me during all my seventy-seven years of life; and I love flowers, trees, animals, and all the works of Nature as they pass before us in time and space.
What a joy life is when you have made a close working partnership with Nature, helping her to produce for the benefit of mankind new forms, colors, and perfumes in flowers which were never known before; fruits in form, size, and flavor never before seen on this globe; and grains of enormously increased productiveness, whose fat kernels are filled with more and better nourishment, a veritable storehouse of perfect food—new food for all the world’s untold millions for all time to come.”
Rewards of Obedience and Jubilee
This is what God wants us to do: To be The Gardeners of Eden.
All in all, we have to understand that the blessings of YHWH come to those who keep ALL of his mitzwoth (commandments).
Hypothetically someone wouldn’t have to believe in Yeshua, but living in Israel, I see more and more that people think that they know the Father, and don’t, have no idea about the Mother (Holy Spirit), but a Jew who knows the Son knows all three.
Yeshua told us that we needed the commandments because our hearts were hard.
In ancient Hebrew heart (לב) is also mind.
A spiritual person full of love with an open mind often feels drawn to good food and organic agriculture, but doesn’t realize he has scripture on his side also.
If our hearts are hard (meaning we’re anything less than Moshe or Yeshua) then we need to follow commandments, but often good God-fearers keep them intuitively without even knowing them.
God says that only if we keep ALL of his mitzwoth he’ll make the rain come (especially important in Israel), and the plants grow and the harvest come in it’s season and we will eat and be satisfied and bless YHWH.
The land even would bring forth yield on the Sabbatical years and the Jubilees- when no seed had been planted!
We live in the same world, have the same God, have more or less the same Torah, and some of us even live in the same land.
With Yeshua it’s easier to keep the commandments, since he took the authority away from the Rabbis put our priorities in order, and showed us how to live by example.
We can have all of these things happen, but Jubilee will never happen in a field sown with genetically modified seeds.