|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
11:1-47 What animals were clean and unclean. - These laws seem to have been intended, 1. As a test of the people's obedience, as Adam was forbidden to eat of the tree of knowledge; and to teach them self-denial, and the government of their appetites. 2. To keep the Israelites distinct from other nations. Many also of these forbidden animals were objects of superstition and idolatry to the heathen. 3. The people were taught to make distinctions between the holy and unholy in their companions and intimate connexions. 4. The law forbad, not only the eating of the unclean beasts, but the touching of them. Those who would be kept from any sin, must be careful to avoid all temptations to it, or coming near it. The exceptions are very minute, and all were designed to call forth constant care and exactness in their obedience; and to teach us to obey. Whilst we enjoy our Christian liberty, and are free from such burdensome observances, we must be careful not to abuse our liberty. For the Lord hath redeemed and called his people, that they may be holy, even as he is holy. We must come out, and be separate from the world; we must leave the company of the ungodly, and all needless connexions with those who are dead in sin; we must be zealous of good works devoted followers of God, and companions of his people.
Verses 20-23. - All fowls that creep should rather be rendered all winged creeping things, that is, all flying insects. None are allowed except the Saltatoria, or locust family. The word translated beetle signifies a sort of locust, like the other three words. That the locust was a regular article of food in Palestine is amply proved. "It is well known that locusts were eaten by many of the nations of antiquity, both in Asia and Africa, and even the ancient Greek thought the cicadas very agreeable in flavour (Arist. 'Hist. An.,' 5:30). In Arabia they are sold in the market, sometimes strung upon cords, sometimes by measure, and they are also dried and kept in bags for winter use.... They are generally cooked over hot coals, or on a plate, or in an oven, or stewed in butter, and eaten either with salt or with spice and vinegar, the head, wings, and feet being thrown away. They are also boiled in salt and water, and eaten with salt or butter. Another process is to dry them thoroughly, and then grind them into meal, and make cakes of them" (Keil). (Cf. Matthew 3:4.) The expression goeth upon all four, means groveling or going in a horizontal position, in contrast with two-legged birds, just spoken of.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
All fowls that creep,.... Or rather "every creeping thing that flies"; for what are designed are not properly fowls, but, as the Jewish writers interpret them, flies, fleas, bees, wasps, hornets, locusts, &c. so the Targum of Jonathan, Jarchi, Ben Gersom, and Maimonides (y):
going upon all four; that is, upon their four feet, when they walk or creep:
these shall be an abomination to you; not used as food, but detested as such.
(y) Maacolot Asurot, c. 2. l. 5.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
20. All fowls that creep, &c.—By "fowls" here are to be understood all creatures with wings and "going upon all fours," not a restriction to animals which have exactly four feet, because many "creeping things" have more than that number. The prohibition is regarded generally as extending to insects, reptiles, and worms.
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