The milk most commonly mentioned in the Bible is that of sheep and goats (Prov. 27:27; Deut. 32:14), but cows' milk was also known and was consumed at least in the form of curds (Isa. 7:21–22). Milk is considered among the finest of foods (Deut. 32:14; Isa. 55:1) and is used as a term of abundance (Joel 4:18; Isa. 60:16), as the standard of whiteness (Lam. 4:7) and, with honey, of sweetness (Song 4:11). A "land flowing with milk and honey" refers to the abundant fertility of Canaan (e.g., Ex. 3:8, 17; Num. 13:27; Deut. 6:3; Jer. 11:5) and of Egypt (Num. 16:13). The prohibition against boiling a kid in its mother's milk (Ex. 23:19; 34:26; Deut. 14:21) most probably refers to a Canaanite sacrificial custom. Some scholars believe that this practice is referred to in Ugaritic text 52, line 14, but the textual restoration is uncertain. Boiling in milk – called "its mother's milk" – is a common way of preparing a kid or a lamb among modern Arabs, but it has no ritual significance for them. (Tikva S. Frymer) -In Halakhah The milk of clean animals such as cows, sheep, and goats, etc., although it comes "from the living" (min ha-ḥai, Bek. 6b), is permitted for consumption, but not the milk of unclean animals or of those suffering from visible disease which causes the animal to be ritually unfit for consumption (terefah), or that oran animal which after ritual slaughtering is found to have suffered from such a disease. In the latter case, all milk which the animal produced during the three days before it was slaughtered is forbidden to be used (Sh. Ar., YD 81:2). Milk bought from a non-Jew is forbidden for consumption out of fear that he may have mixed it, either through carelessness or in order to improve it, with milk of unclean animals. If a Jew was present at the milking, the milk may be used (ibid., 115:1). There are, however, opinions that nowadays, even if the Jews did not supervise the milking, the milk is permitted since the law of the land forbids adulterating the milk. By many authorities butter made by gentiles is permitted for consumption on the grounds that butter cannot be produced from the milk of unclean animals (Av. Zar. 35b, Maim. Yad, Ma'akhalot Asurot, 3:12, 15, 16). -BIBLIOGRAPHY: C.H. Gordon, Ugaritic Text-Book (1966), 174; Eisenstein, Dinim, 68: ET, 5 (1953), 84–91: S. Lieberman, Ha-Yerushalmi ki-Feshuto (1934), 39–42.

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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