Leviticus 11
Clarke's Commentary
Laws concerning clean and unclean animals, Leviticus 11:1, Leviticus 11:2. Of Quadrupeds, those are clean which divide the hoof and chew the cud, Leviticus 11:3. Those to be reputed unclean which do not divide the hoof, though they chew the cud, Leviticus 11:4-6. Those to be reputed unclean also which, though they divide the hoof, do not chew the cud, Leviticus 11:7. Whosoever eats their flesh, or touches their carcasses, shall be reputed unclean, Leviticus 11:8. Of Fish, those are clean, and may be eaten which have fins and scales, Leviticus 11:9. Those which have not fins and scales to be reputed unclean, Leviticus 11:10-12. Of Fowls, those which are unclean, Leviticus 11:13-21. Of Insects, the following may be eaten: the bald locust, beetle, and grasshopper, Leviticus 11:22. All others are unclean and abominable, their flesh not to be eaten, nor their bodies touched, Leviticus 11:23-25. Farther directions relative to unclean beasts, Leviticus 11:26-28. Of Reptiles, and some small quadrupeds, those which are unclean, Leviticus 11:29, Leviticus 11:39. All that touch them shall be unclean, Leviticus 11:31; and the things touched by their dead carcasses are unclean also, Leviticus 11:32-35. Large fountains, or pits of water, are not defiled by their carcasses, provided a part of the water be drawn out, Leviticus 11:36. Nor do they defile seed by accidentally touching it, provided the water which has touched their flesh do not touch or moisten the seed, Leviticus 11:37, Leviticus 11:38. A beast that dieth of itself is unclean, and may not be touched or eaten, Leviticus 11:39, Leviticus 11:40. All creeping things are abominable, Leviticus 11:41-44. The reason given for these laws, Leviticus 11:45-47.

And the LORD spake unto Moses and to Aaron, saying unto them,
And the Lord spake unto Moses - In the preceding chapter the priests are expressly forbidden to drink wine; and the reason for this law is given also, that they might be able at all times to distinguish between clean and unclean, and be qualified to teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the Lord had spoken, Leviticus 10:10, Leviticus 10:11; for as inebriation unfits a person for the regular performance of every function of life, it must be especially sinful in those who minister in holy things, and to whom the teaching of the ignorant, and the cure of souls in general, are entrusted. Scheuchzer has remarked that no Christian state has made any civil law against drunkenness, (he must only mean the German states, for we have several acts of parliament against it in England), and that it is only punished by contempt. "Custom," says he, "that tyrant of the human race, not only permits it, but in some sort authorizes the practice, insomuch that we see priests and ministers of the Church ascend the pulpit in a state of intoxication, judges seat themselves upon the benches, physicians attend their patients, and others attempt to perform the different avocations of life, in the same disgraceful state." - Physic. Sacr., vol. iii., p. 64. This is a horrible picture of German manners; and while we deplore the extensive ravages made by this vice, and the disgrace with which its votaries are overwhelmed, we have reason to thank God that it very rarely has ever appeared in the pulpit, and perhaps was never once seen upon the bench, in our own country. Having delivered the law against drinking wine, Moses proceeds to deliver a series of ordinances, all well calculated to prevent the Israelites from mixing with the surrounding nations, and consequently from being contaminated by their idolatry. In Leviticus 11 he treats of unclean Meats. In Leviticus 12:1-8, 13, 14, and 15, he treats of unclean Persons, Garments, and Dwellings. In Leviticus 16 he treats of the uncleanness of the Priests and the People, and prescribes the proper expiations and sacrifices for both. In Leviticus 17 he continues the subject, and gives particular directions concerning the mode of offering, etc. In Leviticus 18 he treats of unclean matrimonial connections. In Leviticus 19 he repeats sundry laws relative to these subjects, and introduces some new ones. In Leviticus 20 he mentions certain uncleannesses practiced among the idolatrous nations, and prohibits them on pain of death. In Leviticus 21 he treats of the mourning, marriages, and personal defects of the priests, which rendered them unclean. And in Leviticus 22 he speaks of unclean sacrifices, or such as should not be offered to the Lord. After this, to the close of the book, many important and excellent political and domestic regulations are enjoined, the whole forming an eccleslastico-political system superior to any thing the world ever saw. Bishop Wilson very properly observes that, "by these laws of clean and unclean animals, etc., God did keep this people separated from the idolatrous world: and this is a standing proof, even to the present day, of the Divine authority of these Scriptures; for no power or art of man could have obliged so great and turbulent a nation to submit to such troublesome precepts as the Jews always have submitted to, had they not been fully convinced, from the very first, that the command was from God, and that it was to be obeyed at the peril of their souls."

Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, These are the beasts which ye shall eat among all the beasts that are on the earth.
Whatsoever parteth the hoof, and is clovenfooted, and cheweth the cud, among the beasts, that shall ye eat.
Whatsoever parteth the hoof, and is cloven-footed - These two words mean the same thing - a divided hoof, such as that of the ox, where the hoof is divided into two toes, and each toe is cased with horn.

Cheweth the cud - Ruminates; casts up the grass, etc., which had been taken into the stomach for the purpose of mastication. Animals which chew the cud, or ruminate, are provided with two, three or four stomachs. The ox has four: in the first or largest, called the ventriculus or paunch, the food is collected without being masticated, the grass, etc., being received into it as the beast crops it from the earth. The food, by the force of the muscular coats of this stomach, and the liquors poured in, is sufficiently macerated; after which, formed into small balls, it is thrown up by the esophagus into the mouth, where it is made very small by mastication or chewing, and then sent down into the second stomach, into which the esophagus or gullet opens, as well as into the first, ending exactly where the two stomachs meet. This is what is termed chewing the cud. The second stomach, which is called the reticulum, honeycomb, bonnet, or king's hood, has a great number of small shallow cells on its inward surface, of a pentagonal or five-sided form, exactly like the cells in a honey-comb; in this the food is farther macerated, and then pushed onward into the third stomach, called the omasum or many-plies, because its inward surface is covered with a great number of thin membranous partitions. From this the food passes into the fourth stomach, called the abomasum, or rede. In this stomach it is digested, and from the digested mass the chyle is formed, which, being absorbed by the lacteal vessels, is afterwards thrown into the mass of blood, and becomes the principle of nutrition to all the solids and fluids of the body. The intention of rumination, or chewing the cud, seems to be, that the food may be sufficiently comminuted, that, being more fully acted on by the stomachs, it may afford the greatest possible portion of nutritive juices. The word cud is probably not originally Saxon, though found in that language in the same signification in which it is still used. Junius, with great show of probability, derives it from the Cambro-British chwyd, a vomit, as it is the ball of food vomited, or thrown up, from the first stomach or paunch through the esophagus into the mouth, which is called by this name. Those who prefer a Saxon derivation may have it in the verb whence our word chew; and so cud might be considered a contraction of chewed, but this is not so likely as the preceding.

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.
And the coney, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.
The coney - שפן shaphan, not the rabbit, but rather a creature nearly resembling it, which abounds in Judea, Palestine, and Arabia, and is called by Dr. Shaw daman Israel, and by Mr. Bruce ashkoko. As this creature nearly resembles the rabbit, with which Spain anciently abounded, Bochart supposes that the Phoenicians might have given it the name of שפניה spaniah, from the multitude of שפנים shephanim (or spanim, as others pronounce it) which were found there. Hence the emblem of Spain is a woman sitting with a rabbit at her feet. See a coin of Hadrian in Scheuchzer.

And the hare, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.
The hare - ארנבת arnebeth, as Bochart and others suppose, from ארה arah, to crop, and ניב nib, the produce of the ground, these animals being remarkable for destroying the fruits of the earth. That they are notorious for destroying the tender blade of the young corn, is well known. It is very likely that different species of these animals are included under the general terms שפן shaphan, and ארנבת arnebeth, for some travelers have observed that there are four or five sorts of these animals, which are used for food in the present day in those countries. See Harmer, vol. iii., p. 331, edit. 1808. Some think the mountain rat, marmot, squirrel, and hedgehog, may be intended under the word shaphan.

And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you.
And the swine - חזיר chazir, one of the most gluttonous, libidinous, and filthy quadrupeds in the universe; and, because of these qualities, sacred to the Venus of the Greeks and Romans, and the Friga of our Saxon ancestors; and perhaps on these accounts forbidden, as well as on account of its flesh being strong and difficult to digest, affording a very gross kind of aliment, apt to produce cutaneous, scorbutic, and scrofulous disorders, especially in hot 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.
Whatsoever hath fins and scales - Because these, of all the fish tribe, are the most nourishing; the others which are without scales, or whose bodies are covered with a thick glutinous matter, being in general very difficult of digestion.

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,
And these - among the fowls - the eagle - נשר nesher, from nashar, to lacerate, cut, or tear to pieces; hence the eagle, a most rapacious bird of prey, from its tearing the flesh of the animals it feeds on; and for this purpose birds of prey have, in general, strong, crooked talons and a hooked beak. The eagle is a cruel bird, exceedingly ravenous, and almost insatiable.

The ossifrage - Or bone-breaker, from os, a bone, and frango, I break, because it not only strips off the flesh, but breaks the bone in order to extract the marrow. In Hebrew it is called פרס peres, from paras, to break or divide in two, and probably signifies that species of the eagle anciently known by the name of ossifraga, and which we render ossifrage.

Ospray - עזניה ozniyah, from עזן azan, to be strong, vigorous; generally supposed to mean the black eagle, such as that described by Homer, Iliad. lib. xxi., ver. 252.

Αιετου οιματ' εχων μελανος, του θηρητηρος,

Ὁς θ' αμα καρτιστος τε και ωκιστος πετεηνων.

"Having the rapidity of the black eagle, that bird of prey, at once the swiftest and the strongest of the feathered race." Among the Greeks and Romans the eagle was held sacred, and is represented as carrying the thunderbolts of Jupiter. This occurs so frequently, and is so well known, that references are almost needless. See Scheuchzer.

And the vulture, and the kite after his kind;
The vulture - דאה daah, from the root to fly, and therefore more probably the kite or glede, from its remarkable property of gliding or sailing with expanded wings through the air. The דאה daah is a different bird from the דיה daiyah, which signifies the vulture. See Bochart, vol. iii., col. 195.

The kite - איה aiyah, thought by some to be the vulture, by others the merlin. Parkhurst thinks it has its name from the root אוה avah, to covet, because of its rapaciousness; some contend that the kite is meant. That it is a species of the hawk, most learned men allow. See Bochart, vol. iii., col..

Every raven after his kind;
Every raven - ערב oreb, a general term comprehending the raven, crow, rook, jackdaw, and magpie.

And the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckow, and the hawk after his kind,
The owl - בת היענה bath haiyaanah, the daughter of vociferation, the female ostrich, probably so called from the noise they make. "In the lonesome part of the night," says Dr. Shaw, "the ostriches frequently make a very doleful and hideous noise, sometimes resembling the roar of the lion; at other times, the hoarser voice of the bull or ox." He adds, "I have heard them groan as if in the deepest agonies." - Travels, 4th edition, p. 455. The ostrich is a very unclean animal, and eats its own ordure as soon as it voids it, and of this Dr. Shaw observes, (see above), it is remarkably fond! This is a sufficient reason, were others wanting, why such a fowl should be reputed to be unclean, and its use as an article of diet prohibited.

The night hawk - תחמס tachmas, from חמס chamas, to force away, act violently and unjustly; supposed by Bochart and Scheuchzer to signify the male ostrich, from its cruelty towards its young; (see Job 39:13-18); but others, with more reason, suppose it to be the bird described by Hasselquist, which he calls the strix Orientalis, or Oriental owl. "It is of the size of the common owl, living in the ruins and old deserted houses of Egypt and Syria; and sometimes in inhabited houses. The Arabs in Egypt call it Massasa, the Syrians Bana. It is very ravenous in Syria, and in the evenings, if the windows be left open, it flies into the house and kills infants, unless they are carefully watched; wherefore the women are much afraid of it." - Travels, p. 196. If this is the fowl intended, this is a sufficient reason why it should be considered an abomination.

The cuckoo - שחף shachaph, supposed rather to mean the sea mew; called shachaph, from שחפת shachepheth, a wasting distemper, or atrophy, (mentioned Leviticus 26:16; Deuteronomy 28:22), because its body is the leanest, in proportion to its bones and feathers, of most other birds, always appearing as if under the influence of a wasting distemper. A fowl which, from its natural constitution or manner of life, is incapable of becoming plump or fleshy, must always be unwholesome; and this is reason sufficient why such should be prohibited.

And the hawk - נץ nets, from the root נצה natsah, to shoot forth or spring forward, because of the rapidity and length of its flight, the hawk being remarkable for both. As this is a bird of prey, it is forbidden, and all others of its kind.

And the little owl, and the cormorant, and the great owl,
The little owl - כוס cos, the bittern, night-raven or night-owl, according to most interpreters. Some think the onocrotalus or pelican may be intended; for as the word כוס cos signifies a cup in Hebrew, and the pelican is remarkable for a pouch or bag under the lower jaw, it might have had its Hebrew name from this circumstance; but the kaath in the following verse is rather supposed to mean this fowl, and the cos some species of the bubo or owl. See Bochart, vol. iii., col. 272.

The cormorant - שלך shalach, from the root which signifies to cast down; hence the Septuagint καταρρακτης, the cataract, or bird which falls precipitately down upon its prey. It probably signifies the plungeon or diver, a sea fowl, which I have seen at sea dart down as swift as an arrow into the water, and seize the fish which it had discovered while even flying, or rather soaring, at a very great height.

The great owl - ינשוף yanshuph, according to the Septuagint and the Vulgate, signifies the ibis, a bird well known and held sacred in Egypt. Some critics, with our translation, think it means a species of owl or night bird, because the word may be derived from נשף nesheph, which signifies the twilight, the time in which owls chiefly fly about. See Bochart, vol. iii., col. 281.

And the swan, and the pelican, and the gier eagle,
The swan - תנשמת tinshemeth. The Septuagint translate the word by πορφυριωνα, the porphyrion, purple or scarlet bird. Could we depend on this translation, we might suppose the flamingo or some such bird to be intended. Some suppose the goose to be meant, but this is by no means likely, as it cannot be classed either among ravenous or unclean fowls. Bochart thinks the owl is meant.

The pelican - קאת kaath. As קאת kaah signifies to vomit up, the name is supposed to be descriptive of the pelican, who receives its food into the pouch under its lower jaw, and, by pressing it on its breast with its bill, throws it up for the nourishment of its young. Hence the fable which represents the pelican wounding her breast with her bill, that she might feed her young with her own blood; a fiction which has no foundation but in the above circumstance. Bochart thinks the bittern is meant, vol. iii., col. 292.

The gier eagle - רחם racham. As the root of this word signifies tenderness and affection, it is supposed to refer to some bird remarkable for its attachment to its young; hence some have thought that the pelican is to be understood. Bochart endeavors to prove that it means the vulture, probably that species called the golden vulture - Bochart, vol. iii., col. 303.

And the stork, the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat.
The stork - חסידה chasidah, from חסד chasad, which signifies to be abundant in kindness, or exuberant in acts of beneficence; hence applied to the stork, because of its affection to its young, and its kindness in tending and feeding its parents when old; facts attested by the best informed and most judicious of the Greek and Latin natural historians. See Bochart, Scheuchzer, and Parkhurst, under the word חסד chasad. It is remarkable for destroying and eating serpents, and on this account might be reckoned by Moses among unclean birds.

The heron - אנפה anaphah. This word has been variously understood: some have rendered it the kite, others the woodcock, others the curlew, some the peacock, others the parrot, and others the crane. The root אנף anaph, signifies to breathe short through the nostrils, to snuff, as in anger; hence to be angry: and it is supposed that the word is sufficiently descriptive of the heron, from its very irritable disposition. It will attack even a man in defense of its nest; and I have known a case where a man was in danger of losing his life by the stroke of a heron's bill, near the eye, who had climbed up into a high tree to take its nest. Bochart supposes a species of the eagle to be meant, vol. iii., col. 335.

The lapwing - דוכיפת duchiphath, the upupa, hoopoe, or hoop, a crested bird, with beautiful plumage, but very unclean. See Bochart, and Scheuchzer. Concerning the genuine meaning of the original, there is little agreement among interpreters.

The bat - עטלף atalleph, so called, according to Parkhurst, from עט at, to fly, and עלף alaph, darkness or obscurity, because it flies about in the dusk of the evening, and in the night: so the Septuagint νυκτερις, from νυξ, the night; and the Vulgate vespertilio, from vesper, the evening. This being a sort of monster partaking of the nature of both a bird and beast, it might well be classed among unclean animals, or animals the use of which in food should be avoided.

All fowls that creep, going upon all four, shall be an abomination unto you.
All fowls that creep - Such as the bat, already mentioned, which has claws attached to its leathern wings, and which serve in place of feet to crawl by, the feet and legs not being distinct; but this may also include all the different kinds of insects, with the exceptions in the following verse.

Going upon all four - May signify no more than walking regularly or progressively, foot after foot as quadrupeds do; for it cannot be applied to insects literally, as they have in general six feet, many of them more, some reputed to have a hundred, hence called centipedes; and some a thousand, hence called millipedes; words which often signify no more than that such insects have a great number of feet.

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;
Which have legs above their feet - This appears to refer to the different kinds of locusts and grasshoppers, which have very remarkable hind legs, long, and with high joints, projecting above their backs, by which they are enabled to spring up from the ground, and leap high and far.

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.
The locust - ארבה arbeh, either from ארב arab, to lie in wait or in ambush, because often immense flights of them suddenly alight upon the fields, vineyards, etc., and destroy all the produce of the earth; or from רבה rabah, he multiplied, because of their prodigious swarms. See a particular account of these insects in the notes on Exodus 10:4 (note).

The bald locust - סלעם solam, compounded, says Mr. Parkhurst, from סלע sala, to cut, break, and עם am, contiguity; a kind of locust, probably so called from its rugged, craggy form. See the first of Scheuchzer's plates, vol. iii., p. 100.

The beetle - חרגל chargol. "The Hebrew name seems a derivative from חרג charag, to shake, and רגל regel, the foot; and so to denote the nimbleness of its motions. Thus in English we call an animal of the locust kind a grasshopper; the French name of which is souterelle, from the verb sauter, to leap" - Parkhurst. This word occurs only in this place. The beetle never can be intended here, as that insect never was eaten by man, perhaps, in any country of the universe.

The grasshopper - חגב chagab. Bochart supposes that this species of locust has its name from the Arabic verb hajaba to veil; because when they fly, as they often do, in great swarms, they eclipse even the light of the sun. See the notes on Exodus 10:4, and the description of ten kinds of locusts in Bochart, vol. iii., col. 441. And see the figures in Scheuchzer, in whose plates 20 different species are represented, vol. iii., p. 100. And see Dr. Shaw on the animals mentioned in this chapter. Travels, p. 419, etc., 4th. edition; and when all these are consulted, the reader will see how little dependence can be placed on the most learned conjectures relative to these and the other animals mentioned in Scripture. One thing however is fully evident, viz., that the locust was eaten, not only in those ancient times, in the time of John Baptist, Matthew 3:4, but also in the present day. Dr. Shaw ate of them in Barbary "fried and salted," and tells us that "they tasted very like crayfish." They have been eaten in Africa, Greece, Syria, Persia, and throughout Asia; and whole tribes seem to have lived on them, and were hence called acridophagoi, or locust-eaters by the Greeks. See Strabo lib. xvi., and Pliny, Hist. Nat., lib. xvii., c. 30.

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.
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.
Whatsoever goeth upon his paws - כפיו cappaiv, his palms or hands, probably referring to those animals whose feet resemble the hands and feet of the human being, such as apes, monkeys, and all creatures of that genus; together with bears, frogs, etc.

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 weasel - חלד choled, from chalad, Syr., to creep in. Bochart conjectures, with great propriety, that the mole, not the weasel, is intended by the Hebrew word: its property of digging into the earth, and creeping or burrowing under the surface, is well known.

The mouse - עחבר achbar. Probably the large field rat, or what is called by the Germans the hamster, though every species of the mus genus may be here prohibited.

The tortoise - צב tsab. Most critics allow that the tortoise is not intended here, but rather the crocodile, the frog, or the toad. The frog is most probably the animal meant, and all other creatures of its kind.

And the ferret, and the chameleon, and the lizard, and the snail, and the mole.
The ferret - אנקה anakah, from אנק anak, to groan, to cry out: a species of lizard, which derives its name from its piercing, doleful cry. See Bochart, vol. ii., col. 1066.

The chameleon - כח coach. Bochart contends that this is the waril or guaril, another species of lizard, which derives its name from its remarkable strength and vigor in destroying serpents, the Hebrew כח cach signifying to be strong, firm, vigorous: it is probably the same with the mongoose, a creature still well known in India, where it is often domesticated in order to keep the houses free from snakes, rats, mice, etc.

The lizard - לטאה letaah. Bochart contends that this also is a species of lizard, called by the Arabs wahara, which creeps close to the ground, and is poisonous.

The snail - חמט chomet, another species of lizard, according to Bochart, called huluka by the Arabians, which lives chiefly in the sand - Vol. ii., col. 1075.

The mole - תנשמת tinshameth, from נשם nasham, to breathe. Bochart seems to have proved that this is the chameleon, which has its Hebrew name from its wide gaping mouth, very large lungs, and its deriving its nourishment from small animals which float in the air, so that it has been conjectured by some to feed on the air itself - Vol. iii., col. 1073. A bird of the same name is mentioned Leviticus 11:18, which Bochart supposes to be the night-owl - Vol. iii., col. 286.

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.
Any vessel of wood - Such as the wooden bowls still in use among the Arabs. Or raiment, or skin - any trunks or baskets covered with skins, another part of the furniture of an Arab tent; the goat-skins, in which they churn their milk, may be also intended. Or sack - any hair-cloth used for the purpose of transporting goods from place to place.

And every earthen vessel, whereinto any of them falleth, whatsoever is in it shall be unclean; and ye shall break it.
And every earthen vessel - Such pitchers as are commonly used for drinking out of, and for holding liquids. M. De la Roque observes that hair-sacks, trunks, and baskets, covered with skin, are used among the travelling Arabs to carry their household utensils in, which are kettles or pots, great wooden bowls, hand-mills, and pitchers. It is very likely that these are nearly the same with those used by the Israelites in their journeyings in the wilderness, for the customs of these people do not change.

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.
Ranges for pots - To understand this, we must observe that the Arabs dig a hole in their tent, about a foot and a half deep; three-fourths of this, says Rauwolff, they lay about with stones, and the fourth part is left open for the purpose of throwing in their fuel. This little temporary building is probably what is here designed by ranges for pots; and this was to be broken down when any unclean thing had fallen upon it. See Harmer, vol. 1., p. 464.

Nevertheless a fountain or pit, wherein there is plenty of water, shall be clean: but that which toucheth their carcase shall be unclean.
A fountain or pit, etc. - This must either refer to running water, the stream of which soon carries off all impurities, or to large reservoirs where the water soon purifies itself; the water in either which touched the unclean thing, being considered as impure, the rest of the water being clean.

And if any part of their carcase fall upon any sowing seed which is to be sown, it shall be clean.
Any sowing seed - If any part of an impure carcass fall accidentally on seed about to be sown, it shall not on that account be deemed unclean; but if the water put to the seed to prepare it for being sown, shall be touched by such impure carcass, the seed shall be considered as unclean, Leviticus 11:38. Probably this may be the meaning of these passages.

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 - In the word גהון gahon, the vau holem, in most Hebrew Bibles, is much larger than the other letters; and a Masoretic note is added in the margin, which states that this is the middle letter of the law; and consequently this verse is the middle verse of the Pentateuch.

Whatsoever hath more feet - Than four; that is, all many-footed reptiles, as well as those which go upon the belly having no feet, such as serpents; besides the four-footed smaller animals mentioned above.

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.
Ye shall - sanctify yourselves - Ye shall keep yourselves separate from all the people of the earth, that ye may be holy; for I am holy. And this was the grand design of God in all these prohibitions and commands; for these external sanctifications were only the emblems of the internal purity which the holiness of God requires here, and without which none can dwell with him in glory hereafter. See at the conclusion of this chapter. The contents of this chapter must furnish many profitable reflections to a pious mind.

1. From the great difficulty of ascertaining what animals are meant in this part of the law, we may at once see that the law itself must be considered as abrogated; for there is not a Jew in the universe who knows what the animals are, a very few excepted, which are intended by these Hebrew words; and therefore he may be repeatedly breaking this law by touching and being touched either by the animals themselves or their produce, such as hair, wool, fur, skin, intestines, differently manufactured, etc., etc. It therefore appears that this people have as little law as they have gospel.

2. While God keeps the eternal interests of man steadily in view, he does not forget his earthly comfort; he is at once solicitous both for the health of his body and his soul. He has not forbidden certain aliments because he is a Sovereign, but because he knew they would be injurious to the health and morals of his people. The close connection that subsists between the body and the soul we cannot fully comprehend; and as little can we comprehend the influence they have on each other. Many moral alterations take place in the mind in consequence of the influence of the bodily organs; and these latter are greatly influenced by the kind of ailment which the body receives. God knows what is in man, and he knows what is in all creatures; he has therefore graciously forbidden what would injure both body and mind, and commanded what is best calculated to be useful to both. Solid-footed animals, such as the horse, and many-toed animals, such as the cat, etc., are here prohibited. Beasts which have bifid or cloven hoofs, such as the ox and sheep, are considered as proper for food, and therefore commanded. The former are unclean, i. e., unwholesome, affording a gross nutriment, often the parent of scorbutic and scrofulous disorders; the latter clean, i. e., affording a copious and wholesome nutriment, and not laying the foundation of any disease. Ruminating animals, i. e., those which chew the cud, concoct their food better than the others which swallow it with little mastication, and therefore their flesh contains more of the nutritious juices, and is more easy of digestion, and consequently of assimilation to the solids and fluids of the human body; on this account they are termed clean, i. e., peculiarly wholesome, and fit for food. The animals which do not ruminate do not concoct their food so well, and hence they abound with gross animal juices, which yield a comparatively unwholesome nutriment to the human system. Even the animals which have bifid hoofs but do not chew the cud, such as the swine, and those which chew the cud but are not bifid, such as the hare and rabbit, are by Him who knows all things forbidden, because he knew them to be comparatively innutritive. In all this God shows himself as the tender Father of a numerous family, pointing out to his inexperienced, froward, and ignorant children, those kinds of aliments which he knows will be injurious to their health and domestic happiness, and prohibiting them on pain of his highest displeasure. On the same ground he forbade all fish that have not both fins and scales, such as the conger, eel, etc., which abound in gross juices and fat which very few stomachs are able to digest. Who, for instance, that lives solely on swine's flesh, has pure blood and healthy juices? And is it not evident, in many cases, that the man partakes considerably of the nature of the brute on which he exclusively feeds? I could pursue this inquiry much farther, and bring many proofs founded on indisputable facts, but I forbear; for he who might stand most in need of caution, would be the first to take offense.

3. As the body exists only for the sake of the soul, and God feeds and nourishes it through the day of probation, that the soul may here be prepared for the kingdom of heaven; therefore he shows in the conclusion of these ordinances, that the grand scope and design of all was that they might be a holy people, and that they might resemble him who is a holy God - God Is Holy; and this is the eternal reason why all his people should be holy - should be purified from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. No faith in any particular creed, no religious observance, no acts of benevolence and charity, no mortification, attrition, or contrition, can be a substitute for this. We must be made partakers of the Divine nature. We must be saved from our sins - from the corruption that is in the world, and be made holy within and righteous without, or never see God. For this very purpose Jesus Christ lived, died, and revived, that he might purify us unto himself; that through faith in his blood our sins might be blotted out, and our souls restored to the image of God - Reader, art thou hungering and thirsting after righteousness? Then blessed art thou, for thou shalt be filled.

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.
Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke [1831].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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