And the LORD spake unto Moses and to Aaron, saying unto them,
Yahweh speaks to Moses and Aaron conjointly. (Compare Leviticus 13:1; Leviticus 15:1.) The high priest, in regard to the legal purifications, is treated as co-ordinate with the legislator.
Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, These are the beasts which ye shall eat among all the beasts that are on the earth.
Rather, "These are the animals which ye may eat out of all the beasts;" that is, out of the larger creatures, the quadrupeds, as distinguished from birds and reptiles. See Genesis 1:24. Of quadrupeds, those only might be eaten which completely divided the hoof and chew the cud Leviticus 11:3-8.
Whatsoever parteth the hoof, and is clovenfooted, and cheweth the cud, among the beasts, that shall ye eat.
Parteth ... - Rather, is clovenfooted and completely separates the hoofs.
Nevertheless these shall ye not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the hoof: as the camel, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.
Divideth not the hoof - The toes of the camel are divided above, but they are united below in a sort of cushion or pad resting upon the hard bottom of the foot, which is "like the sole of a shoe." The Moslems eat the flesh of the camel, but it is said not to be wholesome.
And the coney, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.
The coney - The Old English name for a rabbit. The animal meant is the Hyrax Syriacus. It bears some resemblance to the guinea-pig or the marmot, and in its general appearance and habits Proverbs 30:26; Psalm 104:18, it might easily be taken for a rodent. But Cuvier discovered that it is, in its anatomy, a true pachyderm, allied to the rhinoceros and the tapir, inferior to them as it is in size.
He cheweth the cud - The Hyrax has the same habit as the hare, the rabbit, the guinea-pig, and some other rodents, of moving its jaws when it is at rest as if it were masticating. The rodents were familiarly spoken of as ruminating animals, just as the bat was reckoned among birds because it flies (see Leviticus 11:19), and as whales and their congeners are spoken of as fish, when there is no occasion for scientific accuracy.
And the hare, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.
And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you.
He divide the hoof ... - It is cloven-footed and completely, etc. See Leviticus 11:3 note. Of all the quadrupeds of which the Law forbids the flesh to be eaten, the pig seems to have been regarded as the most unclean. Compare the marginal references. Several other nations have agreed with the Hebrews in this respect: the reason being that its flesh is unwholesome, especially in warm climates.
Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcase shall ye not touch; they are unclean to you.
These shall ye eat of all that are in the waters: whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them shall ye eat.
Any fish, either from salt water or fresh, might be eaten if it had both scales and fins. but no other creature that lives in the waters. Shellfish of all kinds, whether mollusks or crustaceans, and cetaceous animals, were therefore prohibited, as well as fish which appear to have no scales, like the eel; probably because they were considered unwholesome, and (under certain circumstances) found to be so.
And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you:
They shall be even an abomination unto you; ye shall not eat of their flesh, but ye shall have their carcases in abomination.
Whatsoever hath no fins nor scales in the waters, that shall be an abomination unto you.
And these are they which ye shall have in abomination among the fowls; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the ospray,
As far as they can be identified, the birds here mentioned are such as live upon animal food. They were those which the Israelites might have been tempted to eat, either from their being easy to obtain, or from the example of other nations, and which served as types of the entire range of prohibited kinds.
The Ossifrage, or bone-breaker, was the lammer-geyer, and the "ospray" (a corruption of ossifrage) the sea-eagle.
And the vulture, and the kite after his kind;
The vulture - Rather, the (black) kite Isaiah 34:15 : "the kite," rather the red kite, remarkable for its piercing sight Job 28:7.
Every raven after his kind;
Every raven after his kind - i. e. the whole family of corvidae.
And the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckow, and the hawk after his kind,
And the owl ... - Rather, "and the ostrich, and the owl, and the gull, and the hawk," etc.
And the little owl, and the cormorant, and the great owl,
And the swan, and the pelican, and the gier eagle,
The swan - More probably the ibis, the sacred bird of the Egyptians. "The gier eagle" is most likely the Egyptian vulture, a bird of unprepossessing appearance and disgusting habits, but fostered by the Egyptians as a useful scavenger.
And the stork, the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat.
The heron ... the lapwing - Rather, the great plover the hoopoe, so called from its peculiar cry.
All fowls that creep, going upon all four, shall be an abomination unto you.
Rather, "All creeping things which have wings," etc. The word rendered creeping things may be regarded as coextensive with our word vermin. It is derived from a verb which signifies not only to creep, but to teem, or bring forth abundantly Genesis 1:21; Genesis 8:17; Exodus 8:3; Psalm 105:30, and so easily came to denote creatures which are apt to abound, to the annoyance of mankind.
Yet these may ye eat of every flying creeping thing that goeth upon all four, which have legs above their feet, to leap withal upon the earth;
Legs above their feet, to leap withal upon the earth - The families of the Saltatoria, of which the common cricket, the common grasshopper, and the migratory locust, may be taken as types.
Even these of them ye may eat; the locust after his kind, and the bald locust after his kind, and the beetle after his kind, and the grasshopper after his kind.
In the uncertainty of identifying these four creatures, it has been suggested that some of the names may belong to locusts in an imperfect state of development. Most modern versions have taken a safer course than our translators, by retaining the Hebrew names.
But all other flying creeping things, which have four feet, shall be an abomination unto you.
And for these ye shall be unclean: whosoever toucheth the carcase of them shall be unclean until the even.
Unclean - If the due purification was omitted at the time, through negligence or forgetfulness, a sin-offering was required. See Leviticus 5:2.
And whosoever beareth ought of the carcase of them shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even.
The carcases of every beast which divideth the hoof, and is not clovenfooted, nor cheweth the cud, are unclean unto you: every one that toucheth them shall be unclean.
And whatsoever goeth upon his paws, among all manner of beasts that go on all four, those are unclean unto you: whoso toucheth their carcase shall be unclean until the even.
And he that beareth the carcase of them shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even: they are unclean unto you.
These also shall be unclean unto you among the creeping things that creep upon the earth; the weasel, and the mouse, and the tortoise after his kind,
The identification of "the creeping things" here named is not always certain. They are most likely those which were occasionally eaten. For the "Tortoise" read "the great lizard," for the "ferret" the "gecko" (one of the lizard tribe), for the "chameleon" read the "frog" or the Nile lizard: by the word rendered "snail" is probably meant another kind of lizard, and by the "mole" the "chameleon."
And the ferret, and the chameleon, and the lizard, and the snail, and the mole.
These are unclean to you among all that creep: whosoever doth touch them, when they be dead, shall be unclean until the even.
And upon whatsoever any of them, when they are dead, doth fall, it shall be unclean; whether it be any vessel of wood, or raiment, or skin, or sack, whatsoever vessel it be, wherein any work is done, it must be put into water, and it shall be unclean until the even; so it shall be cleansed.
And every earthen vessel, whereinto any of them falleth, whatsoever is in it shall be unclean; and ye shall break it.
Earthen vessel - See the marginal references.
Of all meat which may be eaten, that on which such water cometh shall be unclean: and all drink that may be drunk in every such vessel shall be unclean.
And every thing whereupon any part of their carcase falleth shall be unclean; whether it be oven, or ranges for pots, they shall be broken down: for they are unclean, and shall be unclean unto you.
See Leviticus 2:4. The word rendered "ranges for pots" has been conjectured to mean either an excavated fireplace, fitted to receive a pair of ovens, or a support like a pair of andirons.
Nevertheless a fountain or pit, wherein there is plenty of water, shall be clean: but that which toucheth their carcase shall be unclean.
And if any part of their carcase fall upon any sowing seed which is to be sown, it shall be clean.
But if any water be put upon the seed, and any part of their carcase fall thereon, it shall be unclean unto you.
And if any beast, of which ye may eat, die; he that toucheth the carcase thereof shall be unclean until the even.
And he that eateth of the carcase of it shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even: he also that beareth the carcase of it shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even.
And every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth shall be an abomination; it shall not be eaten.
Whatsoever goeth upon the belly, and whatsoever goeth upon all four, or whatsoever hath more feet among all creeping things that creep upon the earth, them ye shall not eat; for they are an abomination.
Whatsoever goeth upon the belly - i. e. all footless reptiles, and mollusks, snakes of all kinds, snails, slugs, and worms. "Whatsoever goeth upon all four;" i. e. "creeping things," or vermin; such as the weasel, the mouse or the lizard. Whatsoever hath more feet; i. e. all insects, except the locust family (Leviticus 11:22 note), myriapods, spiders, and caterpillars.
Ye shall not make yourselves abominable with any creeping thing that creepeth, neither shall ye make yourselves unclean with them, that ye should be defiled thereby.
For I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
These verses set forth the spiritual ground on which the distinction between clean and unclean is based. Compare the marginal references and Leviticus 10:10; Leviticus 20:25-26; 1 Peter 1:15-16.
The basis of the obligation to maintain the distinction was the call of the Hebrews to be the special people of Yahweh. It was to he something in their daily life to remind them of the covenant which distinguished them from the nations of the world. By Jesus Christ it was revealed Matthew 15:11 to the elect people that they were no longer to he tied by the letter of the Law in regard to their food, but were to be left to the exercise of a regenerated judgment. They were to learn that the kingdom of God is not eating, or abstaining from, meats and drinks; but righteousness, and truth, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17. Compare Acts 10:15; 1 Timothy 4:4).
For I am the LORD that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.
This is the law of the beasts, and of the fowl, and of every living creature that moveth in the waters, and of every creature that creepeth upon the earth:
To make a difference between the unclean and the clean, and between the beast that may be eaten and the beast that may not be eaten.