Deuteronomy 14:3
Thou shalt not eat any abominable thing.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) Thou shalt not eat any abominable thing.—That is, anything which Jehovah has pronounced abominable. The distinctions between His creatures were alike established and removed by the Creator. Yet, no doubt, they had also a sanitary purpose in relation to the chosen people.

14:1-21 Moses tells the people of Israel how God had given them three distinguishing privileges, which were their honour, and figures of those spiritual blessings in heavenly things, with which God has in Christ blessed us. Here is election; The Lord hath chosen thee. He did not choose them because they were by their own acts a peculiar people to him above other nations, but he chose them that they might be so by his grace; and thus were believers chosen, Eph 1:4. Here is adoption; Ye are the children of the Lord your God; not because God needed children, but because they were orphans, and needed a father. Every spiritual Israelite is indeed a child of God, a partaker of his nature and favour. Here is sanctification; Thou art a holy people. God's people are required to be holy, and if they are holy, they are indebted to the grace God which makes them so. Those whom God chooses to be his children, he will form to be a holy people, and zealous of good works. They must be careful to avoid every thing which might disgrace their profession, in the sight of those who watch for their halting. Our heavenly Father forbids nothing but for our welfare. Do thyself no harm; do not ruin thy health, thy reputation, thy domestic comforts, thy peace of mind. Especially do not murder thy soul. Do not be the vile slave of thy appetites and passions. Do not render all around thee miserable, and thyself wretched; but aim at that which is most excellent and useful. The laws which regarded many sorts of flesh as unclean, were to keep them from mingling with their idolatrous neighbours. It is plain in the gospel, that these laws are now done away. But let us ask our own hearts, Are we of the children of the Lord our God? Are we separate from the ungodly world, in being set apart to God's glory, the purchase of Christ's blood? Are we subjects of the work of the Holy Ghost? Lord, teach us from these precepts how pure and holy all thy people ought to live!Compare Leviticus 11. The variations here, whether omissions or additions, are probably to be explained by the time and circumstances of the speaker.De 14:3-21. What May Be Eaten, and What Not.

3. Thou shalt not eat any abominable thing—that is, anything forbidden as unclean (see on [130]Le 11:1).

i.e. Unclean and forbidden by me, which therefore should be abominable to you.

Thou shall not eat any abominable thing. That is so either in its own nature, or because forbidden by the Lord; what are such are declared in the following verses. Thou shalt not eat any abominable thing.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
3. Thou shalt not eat any abominable thing] The same noun as abomination, Deuteronomy 7:25, q.v.; a term characteristic of D. The clause being also in the Sg. in a Pl. context (to which Sam., LXX have harmonised it) may be either the original law of D on this subject—cp. every abomination, Deuteronomy 12:31—or, like Deuteronomy 14:2, an addition by the deuteronomic editor.

3–20. Of Clean and Unclean Beasts, Fishes and Birds

Paralleled with elaborations in H, Leviticus 11:2-23 (see introductory note above p. 183; and cp. the comparative table in Driver’s Deut. 157 ff.; the chief similarities and differences are noted in the notes below), and very summarily also in Leviticus 20:25, H: ye shall separate between clean beast and unclean, and between unclean fowl and clean and shall not render your souls detestable (cp. Deuteronomy 7:26, Deuteronomy 11:31, Deuteronomy 12:11) by beast or fowl or anything wherewith the ground creepeth which I have separated from you as unclean.—In JE there is no parallel.—The references below to Tristram are to his Fauna and Flora of Western Palestine in the PEF Survey of W. Pal.; those to Doughty are to his Arabia Deserta.

APPENDIX

On Clean And Unclean Animals


(Deuteronomy 14:3-20)

First, some remarks are necessary on the form of the deuteronomic list. While most of the names have been reasonably identified with animals still found in Palestine—the credit of this is largely due to Canon Tristram—yet full success in such identification is not, and may never be, possible. Especially precarious is the equation of the names with single species. The names are generic, not specific. They are popular. They give proofs of a close observation of the structure and habits of the animals. But the statement that the hare and the rock-badger chew the cud is not correct; though Arab hunters still assert this of the rock-badger (see on Deuteronomy 14:7), and indeed ‘both in hare and hyrax the peculiar munching movements, the backward and forward movements of the lower jaw, are so strongly suggestive of cud-chewing, that one rather admires the suggestion that they do chew the cud.’

Like that in Leviticus 11:2-23 the list in Deut. is not exhaustive. It details the clean mammals, both domestic and wild, but not the clean birds. It names the unclean birds, but not the unclean mammals except the camel, hare, and rock-badger, nor the reptiles nor the insects. That some of these, the weasel, mouse, and lizards, are added in Leviticus 11:29 ff. starts the question whether at the time our list was drawn up it was felt to be enough to count upon the people’s natural repugnance to such vermin, without naming them; and whether the Levitical additions were due to a fresh temptation to use these animals, which Israel had meantime encountered by contact with foreign customs and cults. But this opens up our main subject.

What was the principle of the distinction between clean and unclean animals? Some of the data are obscure and conflicting; and different explanations are possible, none of which is wholly satisfactory. As we shall see, the complex result, which the Law presents, is probably due to many causes, both physical and spiritual.

The following facts are certain.

All Semitic peoples have distinguished between animals lawful and unlawful for food. But their customs, though similar, have varied very much in detail, and flesh which was enjoyed by one tribe was often forbidden to another. Nomad from fellaḥ, coast-dweller from desert-dweller, townsman from rustic, they have differed, and still differ in opinion and in practice as to the cleanness or uncleanness of certain animals.

From the earliest times and long before there was written Law on the subject, the same distinction prevailed in Israel. The O.T. traditions vary as to the origin of flesh-eating. J and P agree that in his first estate man did not eat flesh. In J’s record the fruits of the ground are given to man for nourishment—every tree pleasant to the sight and good for food—and the animals are created to be his companions; not till he is expelled from the garden and has to cultivate the soil cursed for his sake is anything said of his use of animals for clothing or sacrifice; at the same time serpents are cursed; Noah takes into the Ark seven pairs of every kind of clean animals and one pair of every kind not clean, and of the former offers ‘olôth, or whole burnt-sacrifices (Genesis 2:9; Genesis 2:16; Genesis 3:14 f., Deuteronomy 7:2; Deuteronomy 7:20). In P’s account man is granted dominion over all animals; cereals and fruit trees are given to him for food, but to the animals grass and herbage; Noah takes into the Ark two of every kind of living creature, along with all food wont to be eaten (Genesis 1:29 f., Deuteronomy 6:19 f.). P knows of no sacrifice nor of any distinction between clean and unclean animals before the legislation at Sinai (see I.P. 76, 80). Up to the establishment of the deuteronomic Law, all slaughter and eating of domestic animals was sacrificial, but venison was eaten without ritual (12). In the earlier histories the only reference to the distinction between clean and unclean foods is in Jdg 13:4; Jdg 13:7; Jdg 13:14, where Manoah’s wife is warned not to eat anything unclean, Heb. tâmé’, during her pregnancy. In Hosea 9:3 f. food eaten in exile is unclean, because it is eaten only for appetite and cannot be brought into a, or the, house of Jehovah, where alone the sacrifice is valid by which it is rendered clean1[153].

[153] If the passage is Hosea’s, and therefore earlier than D, we must translate a house of Jehovah: if with Marti the vv. are considered a later addition, we must translate the House, and understand by the consecration of the food that which was secured for the whole harvest and increase of flock and herd by the presentation in the temple of firstlings, first-fruits and tithes.

Again, the marks cited by our law as distinguishing clean from unclean mammals, viz. that they wholly cleave the hoof and that they chew the cud, cannot be intended as the cause or fundamental reason of the distinction. In such features there is nothing to constitute cleanness. They are cited merely as convenient signs for carrying out a distinction which rested on other grounds. They are an afterthought, and as we have seen in the case of the hare and the hyrax they are incorrect.

What then were the grounds on which the distinction rested? The answer has often been given that animals were called clean or unclean according as experience had proved them wholesome or unwholesome fare for man. It is true that the unclean birds of our list are feeders on carrion (only the heron, Deuteronomy 14:18, was long enjoyed in Europe); that the hare has often been considered unhealthy food, and that pork is dangerous especially in the East. Yet healthy peoples freely eat of both; the flesh of the rock-badger denied to Israel is, like that of lizards, enjoyed by Arabs; and some Arabs eat the breast of the ostrich, a rank feeder. Nor can unwholesomeness be the reason for denying camel-flesh to Israel; it is one of the commonest flesh-foods in Arabia. Again, within the same nation some forms of flesh are prohibited to one class of adults which are allowed to others. In several ancient religions the priests might not eat things permitted to the laity (W. R. Smith, Rel. Sem. 274); and among modern Arabs certain animals in certain conditions may be eaten only by men and others only by women (Musil, Ethn. Ber. 150). Further, camels are eaten in Palestine by Moslems, but not by Christians (Baldensperger, PEFQ, 1905, 120). It is well known that certain kinds of food, harmless to most individuals, disagree with others and may possibly sometimes disagree with whole families. But the differences of usage just cited, occurring as they do between whole tribes or religious bodies or religious ranks, or the sexes, cannot all be explained on physical grounds. It is clear, therefore, that the distinction between clean and unclean flesh-foods does not, at least wholly, rest upon their respective wholesomeness and unwholesomeness1[154].

[154] So already Patrick Fairbairn (Typology of Scripture, ii. 429 f.), who had not the advantage of the modern evidence quoted above, and who came to his conclusion solely on that of the lists in the Hebrew Law.

Another and a wider explanation, to which sufficient attention has not been given, is that a people’s distinction between clean and unclean animals was determined by the degree of their familiarity with them. This would account at least for those cases which are left unexplained by the other theory: the animals, namely, which are counted unclean and are yet wholesome food for man. Thus the camel, forbidden as food to Israel2[155] to whom it came as a foreign beast, takes with the Arabs, to whom it is a domestic animal, a leading rank among their foods, replacing the ox, which is not easily reared in the desert and is regarded by many as the less honourable food (see on Deuteronomy 14:4). Again fish, readily eaten by Arabs of the coast and of the well-watered Moab and Gilead, is abhorred by Arabs of the waterless desert (see on 9 f.), though these enjoy lizards and the like. Conversely the ostrich, a bird foreign to Palestine, is forbidden to Israel, but in Arabia, of which it is a native, its breast is eaten. Yet this solution offered for the problem is also not perfect. The hare and the wild-boar were as familiar in Palestine to Israel, to whom they were forbidden, as to the Arabs who enjoy them both.

[155] In Egypt and in the wilderness Israel had no camels, and under the monarchy their first camels are in charge of a man with an Arab name, Jerusalem, i. 323.

From such physical explanations the argument has therefore fallen back on religious beliefs and customs as the sole and sufficient grounds of the distinction.

We may begin with a religious explanation relevant only to the Hebrew Law. Principal Patrick Fairbairn (Typology of Scripture, ii. 427 ff.), developing the views of earlier divines, argues that the law of clean and unclean foods manifests at once the bounty and the discipline of God. For man’s body it provides enough wholesome fare and on this puts a stamp of sacredness; but by ruling out of the list of permitted foods some that are wholesome along with all that are unwholesome it trains the appetite to habits of discrimination and abstinence.

‘The outward distinction was from the first appointed for the sake of the spiritual instruction it was fitted to convey.’ It was ‘a symbol,’ and like others it disappeared with the rise of the higher freedom which is in Christ. Such a theory does justice to the law’s moral influence upon the people in their commerce with foreigners. Like that of the Sabbath, this law of foods helped to maintain Israel’s distinction from the heathen, especially throughout the Greek period. Yet the theory, formed at a time when the comparative study of religions was less advanced than it now is, fails to account for the existence among other Semites of food-customs very similar to those sanctioned by the Hebrew laws. We must seek for the origin of the latter in ideas and impressions common to the whole Semitic race.

While the study of Semitic customs reveals everywhere (as we have seen) the practice of a distinction between clean and unclean foods and discovers great varieties in that practice, all of which cannot be explained on physical grounds alone; it also shows that many of the animals forbidden as food by the Hebrew laws were worshipped or were eaten sacramentally by the neighbours of Israel. Reasons of ritual have therefore been proposed—and by some exclusively proposed—as the basis of the distinction.

Heathen Arabs worshipped the lion and the nasr or carrion-vulture (W. R. Smith, Kinship and Marriage in Early Arabia, 208 ff.); fish with scales and without were sacred to certain Syrian deities (Rel. Sem. 430), and the people of Ḥarran sacrificed field-mice, dogs and swine (Id. 272 ff.). According to Isaiah 65:4 some Israelites provoked Jehovah by eating the flesh of swine and broth of foul things, and believed that such rites enhanced their holiness; and, Isaiah 66:17, they hallowed themselves by eating swine’s-flesh, the detestable thing (sheḳeṣ, or as others read shereṣ, creeping things), and mice (cp. Isaiah 66:3). Similarly Ezekiel (Ezekiel 8:10 f.) describes secret places in the Temple where every form of reptile and detestable thing and all the idols of the house of Israel were worshipped by the heads of Jewish families. Further sheḳeṣ is a term applied both to unclean beasts and the gods of the heathen.

From this the conclusion has been drawn that ‘the unclean creatures are the divine animals of the heathen’ (Kinship etc., 309); ‘because in one cult something is holy, in another it is impure …; we are led to conclude that it is religious grounds which lie below the prohibitions of certain foods by the Law …; the prohibition of the swine presents itself entirely as a protest against the holiness of that beast in some vanquished or foreign cult’ (Berth. on Leviticus 11). It is also pointed out that the laws against such foods in D, H and P appeared at the time when those cults largely prevailed in W. Asia (their mystical communions having displaced the old national or tribal cults) and had invaded Israel itself (Kinship, 308 f.). The case for this theory is therefore very strong, and is further supported by the reason given for the prohibition of certain foods to Israel in the short summary of H, Leviticus 20:26 : ye shall be holy to Jehovah, His exclusively and not another god’s.

Yet like the others this explanation fails to account for every case in the lists before us. For example, fish with scales are clean to Israel, though they were regarded as sacred to some Syrian deities; doves were eaten in Israel, though the peculiar symbols of a Syrian goddess; sheep were sacrificed in Israel as well as by all other Semites; and still more the ox was permitted to Israel both as sacrifice and food, although it was worshipped by the Canaanites and its sacredness formed the strongest temptation to idolatry which Israel encountered. Therefore the theory, that the animals forbidden by the Law were unclean to the people of Jehovah because of their sacredness to other deities, needs qualification.

This is offered by another explanation, according to which an animal was unclean to Israel not because it was sacramentally eaten in a heathen shrine, but because Israel themselves believed, or had once believed, that it was the inhabitation of some malignant, supernatural power. Referring to the prohibition of shereṣ or creeping things because so intensely unclean as to infect whatever they touch (Leviticus 11:29 ff.), W. R. Smith says: ‘So strict a taboo is hardly to be explained except by supposing that like the Arabian ḥanash1[156] they had supernatural and demoniac qualities’ (Rel. Sem. 275, cp. 143 and Kinship, 306). But such a religious belief itself requires explanation. It can have sprung only from these sources:—unfamiliarity with the animals pronounced unclean (as we have seen Arabs of the desert abhorring fish enjoyed by Arabs of the coast, or Israel regarding the camel as unclean while Arabs of all times have partaken of its flesh), or some experience of the pernicious effects of eating certain animals (as the Syrians, with whom fish were sacred to Atargatis, thought that ‘if they ate a sprat or anchovy they were visited with ulcers, swellings and wasting sickness,’ Rel. Sem., 429 f.), or some accidental coincidence between the eating of an animal and an outbreak of disease. It was very natural for men to ascribe to a hostile demon, resident in the animal, both the fear with which the sight of its strange or repulsive shape affected them and any sickness they may have suffered after eating its flesh. So they called this not ‘unwholesome’ but ritually unclean (ṭâmé’). The primary factor, however, in this religious instinct was the strangeness of the beast or its evil taste or the deleterious consequences, real or imaginary, of eating it. And this is confirmed by the primitive rule as to what fruits might be eaten: and Jehovah caused to spring every tree pleasant to the sight and good for food … and commanded men saying, Of every tree in the garden thou mayest surely eat (J, Genesis 2:9; Genesis 2:16). It is difficult to say whether ṭahôr and ṭâmé’ meant first physically, or ritually, clean and unclean, though the general analogy of such terms in Hebrew would point to the former; but it is at least significant that before animals were divided into ṭahôr and ṭamé’ they were simply called ṭahôr and not-ṭahôr (Genesis 7:2).

[156] Which covers reptiles, rats, mice, insects, etc.

Another form of the religious explanation of the distinction between clean and unclean animals derives this from totemism. The totem of a tribe is an animal (less frequently a plant) which the tribe recognise as physically akin to themselves and as invested with supernatural powers. W. R. Smith and others have argued that, like most primitive races, the ancient Semites also had their totems; and the evidence for this is considerable. The names of a number of Semitic persons and tribes are animal names. In the O.T. we find Rahel Ewe, Leah Antelope or wild-cow, Nun Fish, Kaleb Dog, ‘Akbor Mouse, Ḥuldah Weasel, Shaphan Rock-badger, ‘Oreb Raven and ’Ayyah Kite. Among the Arabs there are many more (W. R. Smith, Kinship, 17, 190 ff., gives a list of personal names identical with those both of clean and unclean animals; cp. Musil’s lists in Ethn. Ber. and Von Oppenheim’s in Vom Mittelmeer zum Persischen Golf). In Ḥarran the dog, and among the Arabs the rock-badger, were regarded as the brothers of man (Kinship, 201, 204). The totems are most frequently wild animals, for totemism is characteristic of the hunting stage of human life; and nothing does more to break it up than the adoption of pastoral habits along with the notions which these suggest of the kinship of man with his milk-giving beasts through fosterage. But primitively the domestic animals may also have been totems till higher ideas of divinity became attached to them. ‘In almost all ancient nations in the pastoral and agricultural stage the chief associations of the great deities are with the milk-giving animals; and it is these animals, the ox, the sheep, the goat, or in Arabia the camel, that appear as victims in the public and national worship.’ The gods grew out of and replaced the animal demons (Rel. Sem., 336 f.; cp. 129 f.). But the older ideas survived, as is seen from their recrudescence in Syria, in the 8th and 7th centt., when the national and tribal faiths were broken up. The sacredness imputed to all these animals would affect the use of them in different and opposite ways. It would compel abstention from them as common food, but it would also be the motive of their sacramental use upon solemn occasions, when by partaking of its flesh the tribesmen entered into communion with their totem. Tribes uniting with each other would respect the sacredness of their respective totems and thus alter or modify their own food customs. Or again the totem of their enemies might be solemnly slaughtered and eaten by a tribe as if to absorb the qualities of that beast or to signify the destruction of its human kin (Stade, Gesch. Isr., i. 485). Or again totems might be used medicinally. We cannot limit the directions in which the easily startled mind of primitive man will spring under fear, or hate, or hope, or some other passion. No wonder, then, that Stade (loc. cit.) describes all prohibitions of foods as going back to totemism. W. R. Smith (Kinship, 310) adds this argument: ‘that the Hebrew list of forbidden foods is largely made up of the names of creatures that there could be no temptation to eat under ordinary circumstances, is naturally explained by the theory just put forward.’

These general conclusions are, however, precarious. It cannot be proved that every animal unclean to Israel was, or had been, a totem of one of their own tribes or of an alien people. The hare does not appear as such, but on the contrary was believed by the Arabs to be avoided by all demons or jinns (Rel. Sem., 122 n. 1; cp. Jacob, Altarab. Beduinenleben, 20). Probably for that very reason, the use of its head or of one of its bones as an amulet was both ancient and widespread among the Arabs. Arabs also use as medicine one of the birds unclean to Israel, the rakhim or carrion-vulture (Deuteronomy 14:17), as well as parts of serpents (Musil, Ethn. Ber. , 19, 151). Yet the fact that all the unclean birds on the Hebrew lists are carrion-feeders leaves it as possible that the prohibition of them was due to the natural disgust they created as that it was due to their being, or to their having once been, the totems of Israelite or other clans. If the absence of any natural temptation to eat them is a reason for seeking a totemistic explanation of their unlawfulness as food, why are the beasts of prey not also detailed by name?

Above all the advocates of a totemistic explanation of the distinction between clean and unclean flesh-foods take no notice of certain other influences which must have disturbed and altered any system of foods based upon totemism. One of these was the frequency of famine as the result either of war or of natural causes. Deprived of their usual and sacred foods tribes would be forced to experiment with kinds of flesh which for one reason or another they had hitherto scrupulously avoided. In famine-cursed Arabia this may have been the origin of the eating of lizards and serpents. Nor can we ignore the common, everyday sagacity of men, always more or less sharpened by the struggle for the means of living. And, besides, there was the moral sense which we have already (in connection with the sacrifice of children) found operative even among the heathen Semites. If excesses in eating or in drinking, or sexual abuses, were developed in connection with rites, whose centre was the enjoyment of the flesh of a particular animal, there may well have been a revolt against the use of that flesh either ordinarily or as a sacrament.

Obviously, then, it is injudicious to allow to totemism more than a contributory part in the formation of those customs in the use of flesh-foods which prevailed throughout the Semitic world. Baldensperger’s description of the distinctions in eating wild beasts and birds observed by the present natives of Palestine implies that these are due to several factors:—tradition, observation of what the beasts and birds eat, and natural disgust at the propensities of some to carrion; but the general rules are evaded by fictitious excuses, and in particular birds regarded as ‘unclean’ will be eaten when accidentally killed (PEF, 1905, 120).

Probably all the causes suggested had something to do with the complex and varying results. Both physical and religious motives were at work; and the latter must have often been suggested by the former. As we have seen the strangeness or the repulsive appearance of an animal or the sickness which followed the eating of its flesh would inevitably start the belief that a demoniac power was present in the animal. In the case of animals adopted as totems other ideas were operative. Where the animal gave milk the sense of blood-kinship came naturally to the tribe living on its milk. Where a beast or bird of prey was adopted as the totem we can guess at the cause in some imagined friendliness on its part, or the wearing of its skin, or some human resemblance in its features, or some weird pride in imitating its habits or in likening its strength to one’s own. The effects of totemism on the tribe’s food-customs may be inferred with greater certainty; but as we have seen they are variable, opposite and even contradictory. And again all such religious and totemistic practices would be crossed and warped both by natural and by historical events; by the stress of famine and the outbreak of plague, or by migration and the alliances and amalgamations of tribes with different totems. For it is only by so complex a variety of influences, both within totemism and acting upon it, that we can account for what seem to be the arbitrary and inconsistent features in the various Semitic systems of the distinction of foods into clean and unclean. We cannot forget that through all the complexity of religious and social customs there must have been constantly operative the practical need of proving what beasts, birds and fishes were good for food and what were deleterious. Only thus can we explain the adoption of fish as food by tribes to which fish had been at first abhorrent. The simple rule to eat what was good for food is remembered in J as primitive and was no doubt always at work. It would require merely another of those religious fictions, in which Semitic societies were expert, to reconcile the happy experience of some new form of food with the religious system under which it had previously been forbidden.

That all such influences had also once affected the tribes which united to form Israel is certain. Even under the written Law Israel’s system of clean and unclean foods remains too similar to the customs of other Semites to leave us in doubt upon that point. But within historical times some of the influences had ceased to act directly on Israel and others came into operation. At the beginning of their history the Hebrews were out of the hunter stage of life and into the pastoral. Totemism, replaced by higher forms of religion, had disappeared or was confined to obscure portions of the people (note, however, as a survival to the days of Hezekiah the Neḥushtan or brazen serpent in the Temple). Food-customs springing from totemism or similar superstitions remained after their origin was forgotten. With the people’s settlement on more fertile lands the ox became, in addition to the goat and sheep, a domestic animal; and the sacredness of the relation of all three to the people is obvious from the fact that they could be eaten only sacramentally. On the other hand, Israel’s free use of certain wild animals may have been determined by the fact that like the domestic animals these ate of herbage only, while as they stood in no sacred relation to the people they might be slain and eaten without sacrifice. The people’s original unfamiliarity with the camel, joined it may be with the fact that it was sacred to foreigners, is a sufficient reason for considering its flesh as unclean. Further effects of their settlement are seen in the differences between others of their food-customs and those of the desert Arabs. They shared that aversion to wild boars and reptiles which (as we have seen) still distinguishes the fellaḥin from the nomads. Whatever may have been their original feelings as to fish, they ate fish in Palestine as freely as the Arabs begin to do after settlement in Moab or Gilead. That they ruled out eels and lampreys, the former with very minute scales the latter with none, is intelligible enough, since in shape these resemble serpents. They abstained from birds which feed on carrion and from loathsome wild animals; but whether the motive to this abstention was solely one of disgust or was due as well to the fact that these animals were sacred to other tribes is a point on which we have not enough evidence. On insects and reptiles Deuteronomy 14:9 f. is vague, locusts may or may not be forbidden by it; but H, Leviticus 11:20-23, defines what locusts may be eaten, and in a Priestly addition to H, Leviticus 11:2 ff., there are more detailed directions as to unclean beasts. Such differences imply a growth in the customs of Israel, especially with regard to animals on the line of separation and difficult to distinguish in their structure from each other. That the weasel (or rat?) and the mouse, while not mentioned in Deut., are expressly forbidden in Leviticus 11:29, may be due to the recrudescence in the 6th cent. of those rites in which their flesh was sacramentally enjoyed (see above); but more, probably we owe it to the scribes’ increasing love of detail, since Deuteronomy 14 is itself subsequent to the 7th cent.

We cannot doubt that the higher ethical spirit which distinguishes Israel from their Semitic kinsfolk, even from the earliest times, had some influence on the people’s practice with regard to foods, especially by disciplining the appetite. But of this there are no marks in the written law. There the determining factor is holiness, i.e. ritual separation to Jehovah. Of course from this there followed those ethical effects to which sufficient allusion has been made above.

Verse 3. - Any abominable thing. Any abomination, i.e. anything which is an abomination to the Lord, having been by him pronounced unclean and forbidden; "anything which I have put far away from you (i.e. made to be abominable to you)" (Targum Jonath.). "Every creature of God is good," and "there is nothing unclean of itself" (1 Timothy 4:4; Romans 14:14); "but by the ordinance of God, certain creatures, meats, and drinks were made unclean to the Jews... and this taught them holiness in abstaining from the impure communion with the wicked" (Ainsworth). Deuteronomy 14:3With reference to food, the Israelites were to eat nothing whatever that was abominable. In explanation of this prohibition, the laws of Leviticus 11 relating to clean and unclean animals are repeated in all essential points in vv. 4-20 (for the exposition, see at Leviticus 11); also in Deuteronomy 14:21 the prohibition against eating any animal that had fallen down dead (as in Exodus 32:30 and Leviticus 17:15), and against boiling a kid in its mother's milk (as in Exodus 23:19).
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