|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 44-47. - These concluding verses give a religious sanction to the previous regulations, and make them matters of sacred, not merely sanitary or political, obligation. They were to sanctify themselves, that is, to avoid uncleanness, because God is holy, and they were God's. They were thus taught that ceremonial cleanness of the body was a symbol of holiness of heart, and a means of attaining to the latter. For I am the Lord that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt. It is possible that Egypt may be named as being the laud of animal-worship. To be your God; ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy. The only way by which there can be communion between God and man is the way of holiness. Jewish industry and care has counted the number of letters in the Pentateuch, and marked by the use of the letter ו in larger type, in the word גָּחון, which occurs in verse 42, that that letter is the middle letter of the whole work from the beginning of Genesis to the end of Deuteronomy. It is easy to see what a protection to the text such minute and scrupulous care must be.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For I am the Lord your God,.... Their Lord, and therefore had a right to enjoin them what laws he pleased concerning their food; and their God, their covenant God, and therefore would consult their good, and direct them to what was most proper, convenient, and wholesome for them:
ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy, for I am holy; that is, separate themselves from all other people, and be distinct from them, by using a different diet from theirs, as their Lord and God was different from all others, so called; and thus by observing his commands, and living according to his will, and to his glory, they would be holy in a moral sense, as they ought to be, who were under the peculiar care and notice of a holy God, and so highly favoured by him; and particularly by attending to the above laws concerning food, they would be kept from mixing with, and having conversation with the Gentiles, and so be preserved from falling into idolatry, and continue a holy people, serving and worshipping the Lord their God, and him only; and which seems to be a principal view as to religion, in delivering out the above commands:
neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth; which is repeated to keep them at the utmost distance from these things, and to fill them with an aversion to them, that they might be careful to avoid them. There is no penalty annexed to these laws, but the breach of them making them unclean, thereby they were debarred the use of the sanctuary, and of holy things, and of the conversation of men, for that day; but, according to the Jewish writers, such transgressions were punishable with stripes. Jarchi observes out of the Talmud (l), that he that eateth "putitha" (a small water reptile) was to be beaten four times, and if an ant or pismire five times, and if a wasp or hornet six times. (l) T. Bab. Erubin, fol. 28. 1. Pesachim, fol. 24. 1. Maccot, fol. 16. 2.
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