|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.
Verse 5. - The coney, Hebrew, shaphan; the Hyrax Syriacus, or wabr, still called in Southern Arabia tsofun, a little animal similar to but not identical with the rabbit. "They live in the natural caves and clefts of the rocks (Psalm 104:18), are very gregarious, being often seen seated in troops before the openings of their caves, and extremely timid, as they are quite defenseless (Proverbs 30:26). They are about the size of rabbits, of a brownish-gray or brownish-yellow color, but white under the belly; they have bright eyes, round ears, and no tail. The Arabs eat them, but do not place them before their guests" (Keil).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the coney,.... Or rabbit:
because he cheweth the cud; or "though he cheweth"; which yet, some observe, the coney or rabbit does not, it having upper teeth, and therefore they think some other creature is meant by Shaphan, the word here used; and Bochart (m) is of opinion, that the Aljarbuo of the Arabians, a sort of mountain mouse, is meant, which chews the cud and divides not the hoof, and resides in rocks, which agrees with the account of the Shaphan in Proverbs 30:26 but this is rejected by Dr. Shaw (n), who takes the creature here to be the Daman Israel, or Israel's lamb, an animal of Mount Lebanon, a harmless creature of the same size and quality with the rabbit, and with the like incurvating posture, and disposition or the fore teeth, but is of a browner colour, with smaller eyes, and a head more pointed, like the marmots; the fore feet likewise are short, and the hinder are nearly as long in proportion as those of the jerboa; and though this animal is known to burrow sometimes in the ground, yet its usual residence and refuge is in the holes and clifts of the rocks; but a learned man (o), and very inquisitive in the things of nature, tells us, that the "cuniculus", coney, or rabbit, this sort of animals do chew half an hour after eating:
but divideth not the hoof; which is well known of this creature:
he is unclean unto you; not fit or proper to be eaten of, but to be abstained from as an unclean animal; and may be an emblem of timorous persons, as these creatures by Aristotle (p) are observed to be, and it is well known they are; even of the fearful and unbelieving, reckoned among the impure, who will have their portion in the lake of fire, Revelation 21:8.
(m) Hierozoic par. 1. l. 3. c. 33. col. 1015, 1016. (n) Travels, p. 177, 348. Ed. 2.((o) Scheuchzer. ut supra, (Physic. Sacr. vol. 2.) p. 281. (p) Hist. Animal. l. 1. c. 1.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
5. the coney—not the rabbit, for it is not found in Palestine or Arabia, but the hyrax, a little animal of the size and general shape of the rabbit, but differing from it in several essential features. It has no tail, singular, long hairs bristling like thorns among the fur on its back; its feet are bare, its nails flat and round, except those on each inner toe of the hind feet, which are sharp and project like an awl. It does not burrow in the ground but frequents the clefts of rocks.
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