Leviticus 11
William Kelly Major Works Commentary
And the LORD spake unto Moses and to Aaron, saying unto them,
Leviticus Chapter 11



Leviticus 11:1-8.

The preceding chapter announced that the priests were to differentiate between the holy and the unholy, and between unclean and clean. Here we have details pointed out among the living creatures of every sort, and first among the beasts on the earth. Those who drew near to God as their standing privilege were to decide according to the divine word.

" 1 And Jehovah spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying to them, 2 Speak to the children of Israel, saying, These [are] the animals which ye shall eat among all the beasts that [are] on the earth. 3 Whatsoever hath cloven hoofs, and feet split open, bringing up the cud, among the beasts, that shall ye eat. 4 Only these shall ye not eat of those that bring up the cud, or of those with cloven hoofs; the camel, for it bringeth up the cud but hath not cloven hoofs, it [is] unclean to you; 5 and the rock-badger, for it bringeth up the cud but hath not cloven hoofs, it [is] unclean to you; 6 and the hare, for it bringeth up the cud but hath not cloven hoofs, it [is] unclean to you; 7 and the swine, for it hath cloven hoofs and feet split open, but it bringeth not up the cud, it [is] unclean to you. 8 Of their flesh ye shall not eat, and their carcases ye shall not touch, they [are] unclean to you" (vers. 1-8).

Eating here as elsewhere is emblematic of communion. One appropriates what is thus taken in. But, sin having entered with all the disorders which ensue, it is given to God's people to have His gracious and wise direction, instead of being left to themselves and the varying caprices of independent judgment. As a general principle the difference of clean and unclean was known in early days. So we find Jehovah directing Noah to take to him of all clean animals by sevens, but of those not clean two, a male and its female, to enter the ark. And on this Noah acted when after the deluge he built an altar as his first recorded act, and offered up holocausts of every clean beast and of all clean birds. For the tenure of the post-diluvian earth hung on sacrifice.

But now that the priests were consecrated. particulars follow. Israel must have no fellowship where the outward walk was not firm, and this associated with the inward work of full digestion. The two requisites anion" the land animals are here marked respectively, by the hoofs not cloven in part, but feet quite split open, and by chewing or bringing up the cud. One only is insufficient. Both must co-exist to meet His mind for His people. Hence the cases are explained of animals familiarly known to them.

On the one hand the camel must be unclean to them, because it had not cloven hoofs, though a ruminating animal. The rock-badger, in the Authorised Version called the coney, was in the same predicament; and similarly, as it appears, the hare. On the other hand stood the swine, which did not chew the cud but swallowed its food voraciously, though it had cloven hoofs and feet quite split open; it should be unclean to them. They must neither eat the flesh nor touch the carcase.

Scripture is explicit on these qualities. A walk not according to flesh but according to Spirit is indispensable in those whom the law of the Spirit of life in Christ emancipated from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2). That the Spirit of God dwells in the Christian is a great and sure truth; but it is the very ground on which he is to glorify God in his body. We are exhorted to cleanse ourselves from every pollution of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in God's fear; and this as having the promise of His dwelling in us, and of receiving us as a Father, on our coming out from those not of Him, separate to Him, and touching nothing unclean (2 Cor. 6). Thus the inward reception and effect of the truth must go along with outward and holy decision, in order to form and manifest what God sanctions.

They that are of Christ Jesus crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts. But is this all that is requisite? Surely not. "If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit." "Be not deceived: God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man shall sow, this also shall ha reap. For he that soweth unto his own flesh from the flesh shall reap corruption; but he that soweth unto the Spirit from the Spirit shall reap life eternal. And let us not lose heart in doing well, for in due season we shall reap if we faint not." Here again we see the absolute necessity of combining a clean walk with the inward principle of a life nourished by the word of truth, by which we were begotten by God's will unto Himself. New creation alone has value in His eyes; for the old is fallen through sin, out of which is no way save by that cross of Christ; which proclaims the love and light of God in Him Whom the world hung there, as loudly as it does to the end its own fatal evil and ruin in so treating Him;

Hence it is as vain to rest on inward meditation; as on outward mortification, alone. For by itself either is but self, a vain boast in the flesh, in total ignorance of both God and man. But His grace meets man unclean, wilful and proud, in and by His Own Son, the Man without sin, to die for him and suffer for his sins. In resurrection a new condition enters, wherein He gives those who believe to live of His life and receive the Spirit of God, that we may walk accordingly, as we await His coming to take us to His own abode, the Father's house at His coming.

Such love in God is the source, not only of faith, but of life in those that believe. So the apostle prayed that love might abound more and more in full knowledge and all intelligence (or, discernment), so as to approve the things that are excellent, in order that we might be pure and without a stumble unto Christ's day, being filled with the fruit of righteousness that is through Jesus Christ unto God's glory and praise. Nothing less than this could satisfy the heart's desire that knows Christ. It is therefore clean opposed to nature's walk in those whose God is the belly, and glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things. It is to win Christ in heaven - this one thing, forgetting all behind, and pressing on goalward toward the prize, to apprehend that for which also one was apprehended by Christ (Phil. 3).

So the apostle did not cease to pray for the Colossians, though they had not seen his face in flesh, that they might be filled with the knowledge of God's will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding. But was it to end in that inward enjoyment? Not so. It was "to walk worthily of the Lord unto all pleasing in every good work, bearing fruit and growing by the full knowledge of God." Thus is the believer to unite making the truth his own by inward digestion, and walking with firm and vigilant steps the path of Christ in a world of slippery places and of manifold defilements. We need to be strengthened with all power according to the might of His glory (and not only by His grace) unto all endurance and long-suffering with joy, giving thanks to the Father, that qualified us for sharing the inheritance of the saints in light, Who rescued us out of the power of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in Whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

The truth is very wondrous and blessed. How could it be otherwise, seeing it is Christ, whose twofold glory is unfolded in the verses that follow (Colossians 2:15-19). As therefore we received Him, the Christ, Jesus the Lord, the exhortation is, In Him walk, rooted, and being built up in Him, and confirmed in the faith, even as we were taught, abounding therein in thanksgiving. Here we read distinctly that God will have, not only a holy walk, but this based on the faith of His Son. This only is a sound, steady, and clean walk, the expression of a life flowing from Him Who is the truth, and nourished by it.



Leviticus 11:9-12.

The second class of liberty or of prohibition relates to the creatures which people the waters, salt or fresh, in seas and in rivers.

" 9 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, these shall ye eat. 10 But all that have not fins and scales in seas and in rivers, of all that swarm in the waters, and of every living creature (or, soul) that [is] in the waters, they [are] an abomination to you. 11 They shall be even an abomination to you: of their flesh ye shall not eat, and their carcase ye shall have in abomination. 12 Whatever in the waters hath no fins and scales, that [shall be] an abomination to you" (vers 9-12).

Here the principle is plain. The Israelite was free to eat of the abundance of the sea whatever had fins and scales. In fact such fish were wholesome; and the marks were easy to discern, like the rules as to land animals. But what believer doubts that a deeper bearing lay under that which is written? As the apostle asked in 1 Cor. 9, Is it for the oxen that God careth, or doth he say it altogether for our sakes? Surely for our sakes was it written. And so we may be assured is the direction here. The moral truth figured by these regulations was what He had chiefly at heart, the spirit, not the letter (save in executing the law on the lawless).

The line had to be drawn here too where the Jew might and where he might not freely partake. A fresh lesson is taken from the denizens of the waters. As Israel was not to eat of every sea or river fish, the believer is again instructed what he ought to avoid. Two marks are specified without which he was forbidden to eat. If they had not fins and scales, he must not make them his own. Both divine direction and divine protection are required in all things and at every step.

As the fins were the organs which directed and balanced the movements of the fish, we can readily discern what the possession or the lack, corresponding to these, means spiritually. The word applied to the way in the prayer of faith seems to answer to the provision for the fish in both the prescribed respects. For it is not enough to be born of God, nor yet more to be justified by faith. Beyond controversy to have a new nature from God and to be rescued from the burden of a sin-oppressed conscience are indispensable. We also need a living and constant power of direction that we may know and do His will, to move where He desires or refrain according to His bidding. Who or what is sufficient for these things? Only in subjection to His word can we find ourselves obedient, as the Lord Jesus was; and to this obedience we are sanctified by the Holy Spirit. "Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his path? By taking heed according to thy word."

Hence the all-importance of prayerfully using scripture, as we may read in Luke 10:39-42; Luk 11:1-4, and Acts 6:4. "Let my cry come near before thee, O Jehovah; give me understanding according to thy word." This is as necessary to glorify Him in our souls as in our service of His name. "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." Zeal and energy otherwise expose to habitual danger. As men of God, we ought to trust neither our own hearts nor the direction of others. We ought to obey God rather than men. It is due to Him that we thus honour Him; and, looking to the Lord, we are entitled to count on the Holy Spirit to join His help to our weakness. Is He not a spirit of power, of love, and of sobriety? He will not fail to guide sons of God who distrust themselves and cry to our God and Father in the Lord's name. But it is through His word, and not our feeling and ideas. "I have refrained my feet from every evil path, that I might keep thy word."

And what is there to compare with God's word against the enemy? "By the word of Thy lips I have kept from the paths of the violent." It only is the sword of the Spirit; but here too we need all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching "hereunto with all perseverance, in order to wield it with effect. "Through faith" are we guarded by the power of God unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. But faith ever supposes and relies on His word. Otherwise one is prone to self-deception. Satan is as strong as we are weak; yet the word is, "Whom resist, steadfast in faith." For the word assures us, that, so believing, we have the Lord to stand with us, to deliver from every evil work, and preserve for His heavenly kingdom. "Princes also did sit and talk together against me: thy servant doth meditate in thy precepts. Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counsellors."

To feed on anything which leaves Christ out, to do without His direction and preserving care, is and ought to be an abomination to our souls. So the finless and scaleless creatures that moved and were in the waters the Israelite was to shun; alive or dead, they must be had in abomination by him. If they were destitute of the normal guidance and protection, which that twofold provision represents, he was not only not to eat but to hold them as a horror. But all that had divine direction and protection, he could freely use and appropriate fearlessly. "I am thine, save me; for I have sought thy precepts. The wicked have awaited to destroy me: I attend unto thy testimonies. I have seen an end of all perfection: thy commandment is exceeding broad." "Many are my persecutors and mine oppressors: I have not declined from thy testimonies."



Leviticus 11:13-19.

The next division handled is of the birds proscribed, which left other kinds free to the use of Israel.

" 13 And these ye shall have in abomination among the birds; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, and the osprey, and the sea eagle; 14 and the falcon, and the kite after its kind; 15 every raven after its kind; 16 and the ostrich, and the night hawk, and the seagull, and the hawk after its kind; 17 and the owl, and the gannet, and the ibis; 18 and the swan, and the pelican, and the vulture; 19 and the stork, the heron after its kind, and the hoopoe, and the bat"* (vers. 13-19). Of course the rendering in many cases is but approximate, some of the names occurring nowhere else. Nor is there any aim at scientific terminology, but a practical direction for Jehovah's people, with a moral application now for faith.

{*The bat brings up the rear as a flying creature frequenting the air, not the sea nor the earth, though neither feathered nor strictly a bird.}

Many birds of the heaven are characterised by qualities hateful to God for those He takes into relationship with Himself; others are unsuited to be the food of mankind. What can be more opposed to His character than fierce rapacity toward the living, and insatiable greed toward the dead? The utility of these last as scavengers, in the actual condition of a fallen world, may be of no small value for men who settle down in the earth as it is, denying a primeval paradise for our first parents, or striving to blot out the proofs of their exile through rebellion against God. If the Israelite was forbidden to make such birds his food, the Christian is to have no fellowship with ways morally analogous; but to avoid and reprove them. If some of these birds boldly seek their prey by day, others find their congenial pursuits in the darkness of the night. There are birds as remarkable for lack of family affection as others for loving care. But in man what is even this without the fear of God? Some are of towering pride, others of loathsome lust after the unclean; some are known as of plain exterior, others of attractive beauty; some have quiet habits and natural kindness; others are boisterous, tricky, or otherwise offensive. But all symbolise traits with which we should eschew all communion. Christ is to be our food.

"Have the same mind one for another, not minding high things but going along with the lowly. Be not wise in your own eyes, rendering to no one evil for evil, providing things honest before all men. If possible, as much as in you lieth, be at peace with all men, avenging not yourselves, beloved, but give place to wrath" (Romans 12:16-19),

"And such were some of you; but ye were washed, but ye were sanctified, but ye were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God" (1 Corinthians 6:11).

"Let the stealer steal no more, but rather let him labour, working with his hands what is good, that he may have to distribute to him that hath need. Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but whatever is good for needful edification, that it may give grace to those that hear. And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God whereby ye were sealed unto redemption's day. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and railing, be put away from you, with all malice; and be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, even as God also in Christ forgave you. Be ye therefore imitators of God as beloved children; and walk in love, even as Christ also loved us, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour. But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not be even named among you, as it becometh saints; and filthiness and foolish talking or buffoonery which are not befitting, but rather thanksgiving .... Be not ye therefore fellow-partakers with them; for ye were once darkness, but are now light in the Lord: walk as children of light . . . and have no fellowship with the fruitless works of darkness, but rather also reprove them" (Eph. 4, 5).

But why cite more, when scripture so largely speaks similar language? Having Christ as our life, we are taught to feed on that heavenly bread, yea, to eat His flesh and drink His blood; for His flesh is true food, and His blood is true drink. He that eateth His flesh, and drinketh His blood, abideth in Christ, and Christ in him. As the living Father sent Christ, and He lived on account of (not merely "by") His Father, so, said He, he that eateth Me shall live on account of Me. Such is the communion that sustains the Christian. What is of the first man is mere offal, wholly unsuited and injurious to the new man.

Nor can there be a more defiling and destructive error among Christians than to substitute sacraments for Christ Himself and His precious sacrifice of Himself, not incarnate only but in death to God's glory and our redemption. Baptism and the Lord's Supper have their blessed place, one at the start, and the other not individual, but constant and in the fellowship of those that are His all through. But it is Christ Himself (and this He taught in John 5: 32-58) who gives and maintains the value of all else in its place, and preserves from the delusion of making an idol of any Christian institution. This indeed would be to feed on garbage to His dishonour.



Leviticus 11:20-25.

Here we have a brief prohibition of winged creatures that crawl. It is so comprehensive that the only need is to specify the few exceptions of which the Israelite might eat: all the rest were regarded as abominable for them.

" 20 Every winged insect (or, crawling thing) that goeth on [all] four [shall be] an abomination unto you 21 Yet these shall ye eat of every winged insect that goeth on [all] four: those that have legs above their feet with which to leap upon the earth. 22 These shall ye eat of them: the arbeh (or, locust) after its kind, and the salam after its kind, and the chargol after its kind, and the chagab after its kind. 23 But every winged insect that hath four feet [shall be] an abomination unto you. 24 And by these ye shall make yourselves unclean: whoever toucheth their carcase shall be unclean until the even. 25 And whoever carrieth of their carcase shall wash his garments, and be unclean until the even" (vers. 20-25).

We may assuredly dismiss from ver. 22 "the beetle" of the A.V. and "the cricket" of the R.V. The coleoptera are not to be mixed up with the orthoptera saltatoria Nor is "locust" and "bald locust" a satisfactory specification, if there be good ground to believe that all the four here named are varieties of locust, which we do not know enough to distinguish with confidence. Hence, as in not a few cases through the O.T., it seems safer to retain the Hebrew terms. The first "arbeh" is the more ordinary appellative derived from its great numbers (compare Jeremiah 46:23); the second, from its voracity, for it means "devourer"; the third, from its leaping, for it is equivalent to "hopper"; as the last seems called from its veiling the sun's light. But this is all we have for defining the species. It would seem that Joel 1:4 does not refer to the palmer-worm (gnawer), the canker-worm (licker), and the caterpillar (consumer), but rather to the locust generally, and probably in the different stages of its growth, all of which were most destructive to vegetable life as a scourge from God.

But there is no doubt whatever that the locust is edible, whatever the Palestinians dreamt in their effort to substitute the fruit of the carob-tree. They have been and are esteemed a delicacy in the East. Drs. Kitto and Tristram pronounce them good when simply cooked, and not unlike our shrimps. So that the plain meaning of the text is vindicated beyond legitimate doubt. The believer needs no confirmative proof beyond Matthew 3:4, Mark 1:6. Rapacious as they were, their food was vegetable. They were not unclean; whereas the other members of the insect realm that flew and crawled on their feet were unfit for food, and an abomination for Israel.

The spiritual lesson couched under the permission to eat at any rate some species of the locust here specified is not so easy to say. It would not become the present writer to give his thought with any pretension where other servants of God preserve silence. But as communion is certainly taught by the figure of eating, here too it can mean nothing else. God then employed these creatures as a scourge, not only for His enemies as we see in Egypt but for the chastening of His people, ungrateful and rebellious as they too often were. May we not view the eating of these locusts as meaning that, while called to patient grace in our own walk across a world wholly and incurably opposed to God as it is, we may have fellowship with His inflictions from time to time, in reproof of audacious self-will and its hostility to the name of the Lord, to His word, and to His followers?

Never have Christians meddled with governing the world, save to His dishonour and their own shame. They are now called to suffer with Christ; by-and-by they shall reign with Him. Even He has not yet taken His great power for reigning. He sits upon His Father's throne, as the earth-rejected Christ, waiting the word from His Father to execute judgment and sit on His own throne (Revelation 3:21). Hence we learn that, whatever God's providential dealings (and they are admirable), it is an error to talk of "the Lord reigning" as yet. He awaits the time, which, when it comes, will leave not a soul in doubt of its actuality and power. When He reigns in the Psalmist's sense, all creation will rejoice, instead of groaning as now. But He does chastise from time to time even now, and will still more manifestly when the Apocalyptic judgments follow the translation of the heavenly saints, as in Rev. 6 - 18. And assuredly the saints, cognisant of His scourges, join their Amen, and worship, though they take no direct part in inflicting any. But it is, or will be, A permitted and appropriate fellowship. Let every believer judge before Him, what the intended instruction is.

There is no obscurity however in what defiles (vers. 24, 25). To touch the carcase renders unclean till even; to bear aught of the carcase entailed the necessity of washing the clothes and of uncleanness till then. Death came through sin, and Jehovah would have it felt by His people. Heathen feeling sought to hide it under flowers; but Israel were taught its defiling effect. So are we exhorted to touch no unclean thing, as well as to come out and be separate to the Lord according to our new and near relation to Him. Christ gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify to Himself a people for His own possession, zealous of good works, not benevolent only but honourable in His eyes. Therefore, having promises of His love and blessing, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in His fear.



Leviticus 11:26-31.

Here the beginning of the prohibition is not a reflex of what we have already in vers. 3, 4, but regards their own cases according to ver. 24; see also vers. 27, 28.

"26 Every beast that hath cloven hoofs, but is not quite split open, nor cheweth the cud, shall be unclean to you; everyone that toucheth them shall be unclean. 27 And whatever goeth on its paws, among all beasts that go on all four, those are unclean to you: whoever toucheth their carcase shall be unclean until the even. 28 And he that beareth the carcase of them shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even: they are unclean to you" (vers. 26-28).

Death was the great defiler, death as the wages of sin, the greatest defiler of all. Yet it was not left to a general principle; in these verses the Israelite was expressly told that a touch of those carcases unfitted him for his usual communion of privilege under the law. No one that did but touch was exempt from the consequence; no contact could be passed over with impunity. "Bearing a carcase" might be to remove it out of the way, without any wish to use it for purpose of gain or any other selfish end. Even so the bearer must take the place of defilement, wash his clothes, and be himself unclean till even. The requirement was inflexible.

It is not for the Christian a matter of eating or drinking. "Handle not, nor taste, nor touch" are legal ordinances cited in Colossians 2:21 in order to the apostle's peremptory denial that we are subject to such injunctions. The Christian does not belong to a Jewish Messiah alive according to flesh; but the Jews were a people living in the world. We died with Christ from the elements of the world. They had their fitting place when Jehovah governed His earthly people tried under law. The result of the trial was their guilt and ruin, even so far as crucifying their own - Jehovah's - Messiah by the hands of lawless men. Carnal ordinances are thus shown to be no honour to God any more than real good to man. The people so distinguished were those most distinguished for their hatred of the Holy and the Righteous Servant, the Anointed of Jehovah. Yet His death of the cross is not only the extreme of man's wicked rejection, but the stoning basis, as His resurrection was the starting-point, of Christianity. And the initiatory institute, the baptism of water, is the symbol, not only of His death, but that we, Gentile or Jew, who confess Him also died with Christ. Hence restrictions of touch, taste, and the like are for us passed away. We by faith stand on the resurrection side of Christ's grave; yet none the less but the more are we exhorted to cleanse ourselves, as God's children here below, from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (2 Corinthians 7:1).

" 29 And these shall be unclean to you among the creeping [or, swarming] things that creep on the earth: the mole, and the mouse, and the tortoise after its kind; 30 and the gecko, and the land-crocodile, and the lizard, and the sand-lizard, and the chameleon. 31 These shall be unclean to you among all that creep: whoever toucheth them when they are dead, shall be unclean until the even" (vers. 29-31).

In this regulation creeping things without wings are forbidden. The creatures that burrow were unclean for the people of old separated to God, as were those that devoured and destroyed in the field. So were such as flitted in the sun, silent or crying, that hid in the sand, or that dived into congenial rubbish. Some too might enjoy the grass or the shrub or the tree, and not without lively activity after its insect prey, and with beauty of colour too. They might not all grovel on the earth. But they were to be alike unclean. Whoever touched them when dead should be unclean till even.

Thus had Israel to learn how universally the creature was defiled through man's sin; for this he was taught of God as no other nation knew, nor even the most thoughtful of philosophers ever guessed. Yet till it be known, all is darkness before us, and man walks in a living lie amidst the defilements of death. Israel alone were made to feel it in an external way by ordinances which made the burden press, save on such hardened men as turned the legal yoke into a claim of self-righteousness and glorying over others.

We as Christians are sanctified in a more excellent way, as having not the mere restraint of laws which negatives the unclean and unwholesome. We have the truth fully revealed in all its positive objectiveness and the immense penetration of its principles, which apply to every detail of life and relationship. Hence did our Lord ask of the Father, "Sanctify them by (or, in) the truth: Thy word is truth"; but He also added, "And for their sakes I sanctify myself that they also may be sanctified by (or, in) truth." Christ not only brought them down the truth in His own person and teaching here, but now He crowned it by setting Himself apart in heaven that they might enter it still more deeply and in the heavenly form and character which His ascension imparts. For as is the Heavenly One, such also are the heavenly ones, albeit still on earth, and not yet of course bearing the image of the Heavenly One.



Leviticus 11:32-40.

In the verses that follow the Israelite was instructed, as to another class of pollution, through the touch of these creatures when dead. This must have caused the yoke of the law to press heavily on their neck; for they were not moral delinquencies but ceremonial only, and at the same time of inevitable and most frequent occurrence. It was the law of Jehovah, under which they lived, and which claimed their implicit obedience. Nothing could righteously deliver from it, save His death Who honoured it to the uttermost. For He not only died for us when we were mere and lost sinners, but we died with Him, and thereby, had we been Hebrews of Hebrews, we were made dead to the law by the body of the Christ. Henceforward we belong to Him in another condition, even to Him Who was raised up from out of dead persons, in order that we might bear fruit to God.

" 32 And on whatever any of them when they are dead falleth, it shall be unclean; all vessels of wood, or garment, or skin, or sack, every vessel wherewith work is done. it shall be put into water, and be unclean until the even; then shall it be clean. 33 And every earthen vessel, whereinto [any] of them falleth, whatever is in it shall be unclean; and ye shall break it. 34 All food that is eaten on which [such] water hath come shall be unclean, and all drink that is drunk shall be unclean in every [such] vessel. 35 And every thing whereon [aught] of their carcase falleth shall be unclean; oven or range shall be broken down: they are unclean and shall be unclean to you. 36 Nevertheless a spring or a well, a collection of water, shall be clean. But he that toucheth their carcase shall be unclean. 37 And if [aught] of their carcase fall on any sowing-seed that is to be sown, it is clean; 38 but if water be put on the seed, and [aught] of their carcase fall thereon, it is unclean to you. 39 And if any beast die that is to you for food, he that toucheth the carcase thereof shall be unclean until the even; 40 and he that eateth of its carcase shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even; he also that carrieth its carcase shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even" (vers. 32-40).

Here we read the application of all three rules, Handle not, nor taste, nor touch. Indeed the first of these prohibitions goes yet farther, for if any of them when dead were to fall on another thing, it became unclean: vessels of wood, raiment, or sack, every vessel for work had to be put into water, and be unclean till evening. Even involuntary contact with these dead things defiled; so that the vessels described in ver. 32 must be put in water for cleansing, and those in ver. 33 must be quite broken. Not Rabbis, but the apostle Peter tells us the truth: it was a yoke which neither they nor their fathers were able to bear. Every form of service, and the means of living, contract pollution in a scene where death reigns.

Two exceptions are specified in vers. 36, 37. First, a fountain or well, a quantity of water resisted pollution from this source; but that which touched the carcase was unclean. Next, seed for sowing was not thereby defiled, if aught dead fell on it. The cleansing by the word, and the life that quickens, were superior to death, the figure of what is special to Christ and His own. But if the seed were for other use, it was rendered unclean.

Further, not merely the forbidden creatures, minute as many are, but even such as might be eaten were defiling if they "died." This appears, not if killed duly but dying: he that touched its carcase, he that eat of it, and he that bore it off, were severally unclean till even (vers. 39, 40).

Our purity has its source in Christ, Who is not only life to us by faith, but washes us by the word, and purifies us by the hope of His coming. And the Holy Spirit glorifies Christ by showing us Him and His things to preserve us from evil and promote our growth till we shall be like Him when He is manifested. Only then shall we be conformed to His image, however we abiding in Him ought now to walk as He walked. His commandments are not grievous. We live of His life, and would walk in dependence, obedience, and confidence of His love. Yet how peremptorily the Spirit warns against participation in lawlessness, in fellowship with darkness, in concord with Belial, in sharing with an unbeliever. Babylon is the caricature of the bride, the Lamb's wife, and is the great centre and seat of corruption, mingling things holy and profane. The bride is espoused to one man, in faith, love, and heavenly separateness, longing to be presented a chaste virgin to Christ.

But it would be a self-deception to assume or suppose that those who take the [right place of separateness to the Lord's name are not exposed to this danger. None in fact are more tempted by the enemy whose great aim is, through such as profess the truth, to tarnish the excellent Name. Satan is ever on the watch to entangle and undermine, to corrupt and to destroy; and the fond fancy that Christians, and in particular Christians gathered to His name, cannot be drawn into such an evil, is a delusion which paves the way for any and every failure.



Leviticus 11:41-47.

Here the things that crept on the earth are forbidden to be eaten. It is a lower grade than in ver. 2, and ver. 9; for these flew or hopped. Those which now come before us crawled and went on their belly. Nor is it touch we read of here, but eating.

" 41 And every creeping thing which creepeth, (or, crawleth) on the earth shall be an abomination; it shall not be eaten. 42 Whatever goeth on the belly, and whatever goeth on all four, and all that have a great many feet, of every manner of creeping thing which creepeth on the earth, these ye shall not eat; for they are an abomination. 43 Ye shall not make yourselves abominable through any creeping thing which creepeth, nor shall ye make yourselves (souls) unclean with them, that ye should be defiled thereby. 44 For I am Jehovah your God; and ye shall sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy, for I am holy; and ye shall not make yourselves unclean through any manner of creeping thing which creepeth on the earth. 45 For I am Jehovah who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God; ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy" (vers. 41-45).

We turn from the touch of death to the eating of crawling things, which is pronounced an abomination and utterly forbidden. Man depraved by sin is easily led to feed on the loathsome. Jehovah takes note of the meanest creatures, such things as crawl on the earth, to prohibit them as food for His people. Creatures that go on the belly, or on all four, or with numerous feet, have their place and function in the realm of nature; but they are denounced for Israel's use: even all crawling things that crawl on the earth, these ye shall not eat, for they are an abomination. "Ye shall not make yourselves abominable with any crawling thing that crawleth, nor shall ye make yourselves unclean with them, that ye should be defiled thereby." Nature has no power against the fall or its effects; nor has the law power save to prohibit, and if violated to condemn. Such was Jehovah's attitude as thus putting Israel to the proof by the law. "For I am Jehovah your God: sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy, for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of crawling thing that crawleth on the earth. For I am Jehovah that brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy." But law gave power no more than life, which are alone given in Christ received by faith. Therefore all was unavailing for unbelieving Israel, themselves the most unclean of all.

Immense and fundamental is the change brought about by Him Who came in love and went down for the guilty and lost to the dust of death, yea under divine judgment beyond all man can see or realise. And this was significantly brought before the vision of the apostle of the circumcision, and with express bearing on the uncircumcised Gentile. Hence he was given to behold heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending, as a great sheet, by four corners let down on the earth, in which were all the quadrupeds and creeping things of the earth, and birds of heaven. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter, kill and eat. But Peter said, By no means, Lord; for I never ate anything common or unclean. And there was a voice again the second time to him, What things God cleansed, do not thou call (or, make) common. And this took place thrice, and the vessel was taken up into heaven. The fullest witness was given.

Thus grace accomplished what was impossible for the law; and this, because God condemned sin in the flesh, and sacrificially for sin, in His own Son. There is too sanctification for the foulest in the cleansing power of the blood of Jesus; and He proclaims it to every creature that whosoever believes may be saved. For as law was just an earthly dealing at Sinai (but the Saviour was from heaven), so the issue is heavenly. Thus God in Christ has wrought for His own glory, where man proved a total failure, as He knew from the first it must be so.

Hence while sanctification is an immutable truth of God since sin entered the world, it has now a divine character by grace, instead of being a moral requirement and ineffective under law. So we see in 1 Peter 1:2 sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus, which is the principle of vital work from the start; and the practical exhortation follows in vers. 15-21 to holiness in all manner of conduct grounded on redemption. For it is no longer external or fleshly but a living reality, which takes account of man as he is, guilty and sinful, and can reach equally to the most distant and dark; for God acts in sovereign grace through our Lord Jesus and by His quickening Spirit.

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.
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.
And the hare, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.
And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you.
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.
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 the vulture, and the kite after his kind;
Every raven after his kind;
And the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckow, and the hawk after his kind,
And the little owl, and the cormorant, and the great owl,
And the swan, and the pelican, and the gier eagle,
And the stork, the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat.
All fowls that creep, going upon all four, shall be an abomination unto you.
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;
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.
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.
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,
And the ferret, and the chameleon, and the lizard, and the snail, and the mole.
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.
And every earthen vessel, whereinto any of them falleth, whatsoever is in it shall be unclean; and ye shall break it.
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.
Nevertheless a fountain or pit, wherein there is plenty of water, shall be clean: but that which toucheth their carcase shall be unclean.
And if any part of their carcase fall upon any sowing seed which is to be sown, it shall be clean.
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.
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.
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.
Kelly Commentary on Books of the Bible

Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

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