|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 41-43. - The last class is that of vermin, which constitute a part of the un-winged creeping class already spoken of (verses 29, 30). Whatsoever goeth upon the belly indicates snakes, worms, maggots: whatsoever goeth upon all four, things that grovel, as moles, rats, hedgehogs; whatsoever hath more feet, or doth multiply feet, centipedes, caterpillars, spiders.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth,.... Nothing is called a creeping thing, as Jarchi says, but what is low, has short feet, and is not seen unless it creeps and moves: and "every creeping thing" comprehends, as Aben Ezra and Ben Gersom observe, the eight creeping things before mentioned, Leviticus 11:29 and mention is made of them here, that they might not be eaten, which is not expressed before; and being described as creeping things "on the earth", is, according to Jarchi, an exception of worms in pease, beans, and lentiles; and, as others observe, in figs and dates, and other fruit; for they do not creep upon the earth, but are within the food; but if they go out into the air, and creep, they are forbidden:
shall be an abomination; detested and abhorred as food:
it shall not be eaten; it shall not be lawful to eat such a creature. This, as Jarchi, is binding upon him that causes another to eat, as well as he that eats, the one is guilty as the other. And indeed such are not fit to eat, and cannot be wholesome and nourishing; for, as a learned physician observes (y), insects consist of particles exceeding small, volatile, unfit for nourishment, most of them live on unclean food, and delight in dung, and in the putrid flesh of other animals, and by laying their little eggs or excrements, corrupt honey, syrups, &c. see Ecclesiastes 10:1 and yet some sorts of them are eaten by some people. Sir Hans Sloane, after having spoken of serpents, rats, and lizards, sold for food to his great surprise at Jamaica, adds (z), but what of all things most unusual, and to my great admiration, was the great esteem set on a sort of "cossi" or timber worms, called cotton tree worms by the negroes and the Indians, the one the original inhabitants of Africa, and the other of America; these, he says (a), are sought after by them, and boiled in their soups, pottages, olios, pepper pots, and are accounted of admirable taste, like to, but much beyond marrow; yea, he observes (b), that not they only, but the most polite people in the world, the Romans, accounted them so great a dainty, as to feed them with meal, and endeavour breeding them up. He speaks (c) also of ants, so large as to be sold in the markets in New Granada, where they are carefully looked after, and bought up for food; and says, the negroes feed on the abdomen of these creatures: he observes (d), that field crickets were found in baskets among other provisions of the Indians. (y) Scheuchzer. Physic. Sacr. vol. 2. p. 302. (z) Nat. Hist. of Jamaica, vol. 1. Introduct. p. 25. (a) Ib. vol. 2. p. 193. (b) Introduct. ut supra. (a)) Vid. Plin. l. 17. c. 24. & Aelian. de Animal. l. 14. c. 13. (c) Ib. vol. 2. p. 221, 223. (d) Ib. p. 204. Vid. Aristotel. Hist. Animal. l. 5. c. 30.
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