A quick search reveals that the phrase "without defect" appears at least 46 times in the Old Testament. What happened to the animals that had defects? What is a defect, and were they fit for consumption by people?

  • 1
    In the 46 examples, were any in a context of other than offerings for sacrifice? Mar 24, 2016 at 19:12

2 Answers 2


I think Malachi offers a little more insight into this:

When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says the LORD of hosts. - Malachi 1:8 ESV

These are animals that would not be eaten or bred due to illness or other problems. The idea is that it's not really a sacrifice if it has little value to begin with.

  • That passage seems to me to be talking about particularly egregious defects. What about those with minor defects, as presumably most would have had? Mar 24, 2016 at 18:44
  • Good question. That passage in Malachi is the only biblical source I know of that begins to eloaborate on the idea at all. Deuteronomy 17:1 hits on the idea of simple blemishes, but is fairly silent on the why aspect. Mar 24, 2016 at 19:11

What is an animal with a defect?

According to Deuteronomy 15:21 (NIV) lameness or blindness would be considered a defect. In my personal experience around cattle not having both testicles is a defect. So to protect the quality of your herd you wouldn't want to breed that animal back into the herd. It would however be o.k. for consumption. Even though I don't have anything to reference this too an illness and a defect would be two different things. Obviously you wouldn't want to eat a sick or ill animal.

What would they do with these animals with defects, and could they eat them?

According to Deuteronomy 15:22-23 (NIV) You are to eat it (the animals with the defect) in your own towns. Both the ceremonially unclean and the clean may eat it, as if it were a gazelle or a deer. 23 But you must not eat the blood; pour it on the ground like water.

So just because it wasn't acceptable for sacrifice doesn't mean the animals with defects were wasted or destroyed. Waste not want not!


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .