The scriptures and interpretation choices regarding
the JWs leaders' ban of the medical use of blood and major blood fractions
Gen.9:3,4 and related Genesis verses
Degree of blood removal
Binding on the whole world thereafter
Again, you can be of any religious or non-religious view and deliberate over
these interpretations. The JWs leaders' claim of a guarantee of their blood
doctrine is directly claimed to be based on the only reasonable interpretation
of scriptures, and it's indirectly taught as guaranteed because the JWs Govern-
ing Body claims to be God's sole channel of information on Earth, which is part-
ly meant as established due to how good they are at guaranteeing a meaning of
So in the following analysis, I'll present some conservative interpretations
with an eye toward seeing if the JWs leaders' doctrine is a genuine guarantee.
I'll present at least as many alternatives to the JWs leaders' doctrine, if not
all imaginable alternatives, enough to test to see if the scriptures about it
are interpretable no other reasonable way.
The JWs leaders include verses from Genesis and Mosaic law in teaching that
their blood transfusion ban is scripturally guaranteed. Where a verse might
be interpreted to refer to eating human blood, see p.35 for the views of the JWs
leaders verses others regarding the medical use of blood as a matter of eating.
I'll look at whether or not it's necessary to apply other OT references to blood
to a Christian's decision about the medical use of human blood, too, as I go
through the verses on the following pages.
Gen.9:3,4 and related Genesis verses
"Noah's Thanksoffering" by Joseph Anton Koch, 1803
One of the ways a person or animal can lose its life is by a large rapid loss
of blood. The early scriptures that mention blood establish that "blood" is
also taken figuratively for "life."
Gen.9:3-6, by the Jewish view, mean that people aren't allowed to eat from a
live animal; more importantly, murder of a person brings captal punishment.
"Blood" at v.4 is taken figuratively as at vv.5 and 6, in which "blood" shed re-
fers to whatever kind of capital punishment for any kind of murder of a human.
Gen.9:3-6, by the JWs leaders' view, imply a blood ritual at v.4 by taking
"blood" literally and figuratively, and vv.5 and 6 are to be just taken figura-
tively. The JWs leaders' interpretation of vv.3 and 4 is that they imply the
sort of slaughter, cutting an animal's throat, that removed a lot of blood and
caused the animal to lose its life. "Blood/life is only to be taken, and liter-
al animal blood is only to be eaten, as God allows or requires.
The Jewish and JWs leaders' view differ in a choice of literal or figurative
interpretation of the word "blood" at v.4.
Either choice should maintain a consistent logic with interpretation of the
rest of the scriptures without doing damage to any of them. The JWs leaders'
choice has the problem of being less consistent unless other ideas are imagined.
Degree of blood removal
The JWs leaders' view of degree of animal blood removal comes up here at Gen.
9:3,4, and the Jewish view of the degree of animal blood removal comes up later
with the establishment of Mosaic law in Exodus.
The JWs leaders' and Jewish ideas on degree of blood removal are basically a
difference in emphasis of language, to see removal as a generalization or abso-
lute, with neither one being perfect.
The Jewish view doesn't see God as requiring and indicating a degree of ani-
mal blood removal, required before using the animal for food, until later as
oral law to clarify the written law to Moses. It's believed that there God re-
quired the removal of all of the animal blood, which is to see the degree of
blood removal as an absolute. Actually, it would at times lead to practically
all the blood being removed if not absolutely all of it. In other words, the
blood removal would be as thorough as might be expected for a person of the
times if not by modern scientific examination.
The JWs leaders' view teaches that God indicated the degree of animal blood
removal, required before using the animal for food, at Gen.9:3,4. The JWs lead-
ers' stance sees God as requiring the removal of about half of it or a bit
more--the amount removed by cutting the animal's throat.
The JWs leaders' literature doesn't specify this, but the most thorough such
blood removal, involving hoisting the back end of the animal up for the slaught-
er, removes 50-58% of the blood (see p.12). The JWs leaders' stance on the de-
gree of blood removal amounts to a near-generalization. A generalization should
refer to what is mostly true, more than 50%, which it wouldn't reliably be on
the terms of just cutting the animal's throat. The Bible doesn't specify that
the meat had to be cooked, or the type or degree of cooking for it, and some
types of cooking help seal in the juices of meat or leave the meat rare instead
of well done.
Neither view requires all the blood to be removed at Gen.9:3,4.
I won't force the choice on the degree of animal blood rmoval intended. The
JWs leaders' literature implies that the Jewish view of degree of animal blood
removal is "fanatical"...
"The Watchtower," April 15, 1994, p.31, with reference to Num.15:30 (see 15:
...but I think it's just a difference of of interpretation of language; the
JWs leaders just imply the Jewish view is "fanatical" as persuasive rhetoric
from the JWs leaders' stance (the same way they use forced points to make their
distinctive doctrines out to be the only ones reasonably imaginable, as demon-
strated in earlier chapters). Either interpretation, absolute or generaliza-
tion, is imaginable but not clarified in writing in the Bible, so is the read-
er's choice in a conservative interpretation of it. Which degree God meant
would have been indicated by God other than in writing and passed along orally.
(The JWs leaders' choice of it for Gen.9:3,4, and that it's binding on the
whole world thereafter, runs into problems with later verses, though, as will be
The JWs leaders' and Christian rejection of Jewish oral law doesn't determine
what the degree of animal blood removal was first eastablished to be, either for
Noah (JWs leaders' stance) or Moses (Jewish view). Either degree is imaginable
for those early times. (The JWs leaders' choice of it for Gen.9:3,4, and that
it's binding on the whole world thereafter, runs into the most problems with
later OT and NT verses, though.)
For a non-Jewish interpretation of the New Testament, the Jewish view is main-
ly important as the view recorded in history as the one of Jewish religion in
the time of Jesus and the apostles. (The JWs leaders' stance isn't as well re-
conciled with that, as will be shown later.)
Binding on the whole world thereafter
Both many of the orthodox Jewish view, and those of the JWs leaders' view, see
Gen.9:3,4 as binding not only on Noah's group--all the people in the world at
the time, and their descendants who kept the concern and became a minority in
the world by Moses' day, but binding on all the people in the world thereafter.
Deut.14:21 (see p.19), of later Mosaic law, and Acts 15:29, Rom.14, and 1 Cor.8-
11:1 (see pp.31-37), of Christianity, are among the later verses to reconcile
with the view chosen for Gen.9:3,4.
The scriptures don't give unambiguous details about what, if any, ritual use
of animal blood was involved in offering animals on altars till the account of
Moses in Exodus. The ones in Genesis are burnt offerings of the whole animal
(or the near-sacrifice of Isaac--Gen.22:2,9) on the altar (Gen.8:20; 22:13;
also see Job 1:5; 42:8). None of it was eaten. In Mosaic law, animals are
slaughtered by the altar, not on it, for offerings with ritual blood use (Lev.
I won't force a choice of whether or not Gen.9:3,4 was binding on the whole
world thereafter. But no scriptures beyond the passage make a clear reference
to Noah and Gen.9:3,4, or require that one of those interpretations of Gen.9:3,
4 was binding on the whole world thereafter, and it isn't necessary to imagine
it to have a reasonable interpretation of them.
It's not a necessary personal belief since it would involve God requiring
commitment to an orthodox Jewish (don't eat from a live animal) kindness to ani-
mals and diet concern, or JWs leaders' (remove about half of the blood before
you eat animal meat) ritual diet concern, that most of Noah's group's descen-
dants forgot about, as most forgot about the God it was for. God can be imag-
ined as having a change of plans as his followers went, in Noah's day, from be-
ing everyone in the world to a small minority of the world, with most people
living in places far from where God picked teachers, like Moses, to teach or
showed any concern to send them to teach. It's all He needs to be seen as do-
God needs to be seen as true to his word, but the follower will allow Him His
prerogative to go with a certain interpretation and what to do about it--we
can't impose all of our own interpersonal concerns to oblige Him to. A follower
might want Him to be seen as constant but should also reckon on Him as wanting
to be fair, and he didn't make any subsequent broadcasts to the whole world
about being obedient to Gen.9:3,4 or indicate with subsequent OT and NT verses
that followers to spread a non-Jewish/non-Christian Noahide minimum requirement
through the world.
He could be concerned that it would be unfair to judge people in regard to a
rule for a God they were unaware of--especially, in the JWs leaders' case, a
ritual diet rule a small list of the most important ethical concerns wouldn't
indicate, either. If the main point of the rule was ethical concern for the
best diet for human life, you'd expect to see a list of poisonous plants, dan-
gers created by the improper handling of meat or eating too much fat, etc.
The JWs leaders' stance could be imagined as reserving literal blood for sac-
rifice, but the crucifixion of Jesus made all other sacrifice unnecessary and
all other blood of no sacrificial value to Christians.
So if it were really a concern we were to know about, we should expect to see
evidence of it in the subsequent writings and not the contradictions of it we
The first verse the JWs leaders' stance on Gen.9:3,4 runs against is Deut.14:
21. If you take blood at Gen.9:3,4 literally, allow the possibility of the JW's
leaders' preference for the degree of blood removal caused by slaughter, and see
it as binding on the whole world thereafter, it should prevent alien residents
and foreigners from eating from animals found dead and unbled at Deut.14:21.
This is the JW's leaders' explanation:
"After the Flood, Noah and his sons, the progenitors of all persons alive
today, were commanded to show respect for the life, the blood, of fellowmen.
(Ge 9:1,5,6) Also, God kindly allowed them to add animal flesh to their diet.
However, they had to acknowledge that the life of any animal killed for food
belonged to God, doing so by pouring its blood out as water on the ground.
This was like giving it back to God, not using it for one’s own purposes.—De
"At Deuteronomy 14:21 allowance was made for selling to an alien resident
or a foreigner an animal that had died of itself or that had been torn by a
beast. Thus a distinction was made between the blood of such animals and that
of animals that a person slaughtered for food. (Compare Le 17:14-16.) The Is-
raelites, as well as alien residents who took up true worship and came under
the Law covenant, were obligated to live up to the lofty requirements of that
Law. People of all nations were bound by the requirement at Genesis 9:3,4,
but those under the Law were held by God to a higher standard in adhering to
that requirement than were foreigners and alien residents who had not become
worshipers of Jehovah." ("Insight on the Scriptures," Vol.1, "Blood")
The JWs' leaders' ruling is that Gen.9:3,4 bans the eating of unbled animals,
such as those found dead and unbled, for everyone in the world thereafter to the
present...while also ruling that it stopped being true since Mosaic law (?!).
The JWs' leaders teach that at Lev.17:10-16 and Deut.14:21, instead of full fol-
lowers of Mosaic law being required to tell others to at least follow Gen.9:3,4,
full followers of Mosaic law were to tell others they have a diminished revision
of Gen.9:3,4 because they're not full followers of Mosaic law.
(And I think not eating animals found dead, possibly dead from sickness or
spoiled, would be an extremely easy rule to live by. You'd have to prove
"lofty" standards to me some other way.)
Likewise, the JWs' leaders' ruling is that, on the basis of their ruling on
Deut.14:21, doctors and nurses who are JWs can administer the medical use of
blood/major blood products to non-JWs as a matter of conscience. ("The Watch-
tower," Nov.15, 1964, pp.682-683 "Employment and Your Conscience," and April 4,
1975, pp.215-216 "Are You Guided by a Sensitive Christian Conscience?")
The ones God chose to be Mosaic law followers were to know they were at odds
with, or unknown to, the vast majority of the rest of the world. Deut.14:21 is
meant to accentuate that, and, in contradiction to the JWs leaders' stance that
Gen.9:3,4 refers to literal animal blood, requires Mosaic law followers to give
animals found dead and unbled to foreigners and partial converts to use as food.
Deut.14:21 better indicates the Jewish view if one picks a view of Gen.9:3-6
as binding on the whole world thereafter. By that view, literal blood removal
became a rule in Mosaic law, and Deut.14:21 indicates that blood removal was
something used by the ones God had a covenant with as a ritual way to regard
others as less than total converts--as not committed to all of Mosaic law. An
ethically important way wouldn't have been used for that.
What total converts were told to do amounts to requiring them to tell others
to disobey a JWs leaders' interpretation of Gen.9:3,4.
The idea of a small Noahide set of rules to regard non-followers with, and en-
courage them to obey, appears to have developed in NT times as part of the Jew-
ish view of oral law.
The JWs leaders' stance is similar but ironically the JWs leaders just apply
it to their stance of the rules of Acts 15:29, etc. Neither the JWs leaders nor
the NT require Christians to teach non-Christians a Noahide minimum standard to
live by to be acceptable to Jesus though they want to remain non-Christians.
Paul isn't told to offer a Noahide secondary discount package for salvation,
etc. Besides, how would they offer animal sacrifices for forgiveness, as Noah
did, if the Christian view is that the crucifixion made them obsolete?
The writings indicate that if a non-follower was to be made aware of God and
taught how to to commit to him, they should be taught to commit to the latest
covenant, Mosaic or Christian, not just Gen.9:3,4. The full converts of either
one aren't told to go into other territories and enforce the JWs leaders' view
of Gen.9:3,4 of what meat others could eat, just as they're not obliged by Gen.
9:5,6 to go into other people's countries and look for foreign murderers to exe-
And if we use the "common" view of Acts 15, as I call the general non-JWs
leaders' Christian view at p.35, it's in its favor that one reason we don't know
the degree of blood removal understood from Noah through Moses is that we don't
Whether the Jewish view of oral law about degree of blood removal indicates
the degree Noah and Moses, etc., understood or not, The phrasing of the four
rules of the Council of Jerusalem and Paul's writings on food better indicate a
regard of those of that Jewish view whom the Christians were trying to assimi-
late with to gain them to Jesus.
"The Creation of Adam" by Michelangelo, 1511
The blood/"life" symbolism, indicating shed "blood" as symbolic for taking
the life of an animal intended as food (by either the JWs leaders' or Jewish
view), of Gen.9:3,4, and the use of shed "blood" as symbolic for taking a human
life in verses 5 and 6, about capital punishment for murder, seems to be in-
tended to carry meanings found in earlier verses, which are:
God creates plants, animals, and humans. Animals and humans are noted as
living, and humans are created in God's image.
Adam and Eve and animals are given permission by God to eat only vegetation--
not to eat animals with the breath of life.
Adam (and Eve) are condemned to grow old and die, and are banished from the
garden without permission for Adam to eat from the tree of life and, like God,