What does the Bible say about cannibalism? 

Author: BibleAsk Team


Cannibalism is defined as the eating of human flesh by human beings. The word “cannibalism is derived from the cannibals who lived in the Island of Carib whose legends were recorded in the 17th century. Cannibalism has been well documented by heathens who lived in different areas of the world like Fiji, the Amazon Basin, the Congo, and among the Māori people of New Zealand.

Even in our modern times, Cannibalism has sometimes been practiced as a last resort by individuals experiencing famine. Famous examples include the story of the Donner Party (1846–47) and recently, the crash of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 (1972), where some survivors ate the flesh of the dead passengers.  

The Bible Mentions Cannibalism

Cannibalism is mentioned in the Bible as a tragic consequence to Israel’s apostasy from God (Leviticus 26:29; Deuteronomy 28:53-57; Jeremiah 19:9; Lamentations 2:20; 4:10; Ezekiel 5:10). The Lord, through Moses, warned the nation of Israel against falling away which led to dire consequences, such as cannibalism.

God Said, “But if you don’t obey the Lord your God and faithfully carry out all his commands and statutes that I’m giving you today, then all these curses will come upon you and overwhelm you...You’ll eat your own children—the flesh of your sons and daughters, whom the Lord your God gave you—on account of the siege and the distress with which your enemy will oppress you” (Deuteronomy 28: 15,53).

When the nation of Israel rebelled against God and adopted the idolatry of the heathen nations around them, they lost His shield of protection. Consequently, they were attacked and surrounded by their enemies. During the siege, they experienced famines and some ate their children. 

This took place in the siege of Samaria by the Syrians (2 Kings 6:26–29), in the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar (Lamentations 2:20; 4:10), and again in the siege of Jerusalem by Titus. And Josephus, the Jewish historian, recorded one instance where a mother ate her own child because of the terrible famine in Jerusalem during the siege of Titus in A.D. 70 (Wars vi. 3. 4). 

Does God Allow Cannibalism? 

God clearly forbade cannibalism. After the flood, He allowed Noah and his descendants to eat meat: “Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything” (Genesis 9:3). 

But the Lord didn’t include human flesh for He clearly instructed, “From the hand of every man’s brother I will require the life of man. Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man” (Genesis 9:5, 6). Thus, the life of man was made secure against other men by a solemn proclamation of the sanctity of human life.  

The life of man is sacred, for at the creation, God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” (Genesis 1:26, 27). God declared that humans are greatly superior, very unique and distinct from the animal kingdom simply because they were created in His image. Therefore, the life of man was not to be destroyed by another man.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team 

Leave a Comment