They shall be even an abomination to you; you shall not eat of their flesh, but you shall have their carcasses in abomination.
EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
11:1-47 What animals were clean and unclean. - These laws seem to have been intended, 1. As a test of the people's obedience, as Adam was forbidden to eat of the tree of knowledge; and to teach them self-denial, and the government of their appetites. 2. To keep the Israelites distinct from other nations. Many also of these forbidden animals were objects of superstition and idolatry to the heathen. 3. The people were taught to make distinctions between the holy and unholy in their companions and intimate connexions. 4. The law forbad, not only the eating of the unclean beasts, but the touching of them. Those who would be kept from any sin, must be careful to avoid all temptations to it, or coming near it. The exceptions are very minute, and all were designed to call forth constant care and exactness in their obedience; and to teach us to obey. Whilst we enjoy our Christian liberty, and are free from such burdensome observances, we must be careful not to abuse our liberty. For the Lord hath redeemed and called his people, that they may be holy, even as he is holy. We must come out, and be separate from the world; we must leave the company of the ungodly, and all needless connexions with those who are dead in sin; we must be zealous of good works devoted followers of God, and companions of his people.
Any fish, either from salt water or fresh, might be eaten if it had both scales and fins. but no other creature that lives in the waters. Shellfish of all kinds, whether mollusks or crustaceans, and cetaceous animals, were therefore prohibited, as well as fish which appear to have no scales, like the eel; probably because they were considered unwholesome, and (under certain circumstances) found to be so.
9. These shall ye eat … whatsoever hath fins and scales—"The fins and scales are the means by which the excrescences of fish are carried off, the same as in animals by perspiration. I have never known an instance of disease produced by eating such fish; but those that have no fins and scales cause, in hot climates, the most malignant disorders when eaten; in many cases they prove a mortal poison" [Whitlaw]. An abomination unto you,
to wit, for food. This clause is added to show that they were neither abominable in their own nature, nor for the food of other nations; and consequently when the partition-wall between Jews and Gentiles was taken away, these distinctions of meats were to cease. See Ac 10
They shall be even an abomination to you,.... This is repeated again and again, to deter from the eating of such fishes, lest there should be any desire after them:
ye shall not eat of their flesh, here mention is made of the flesh of fishes, as is by the apostle, 1 Corinthians 15:39. Aben Ezra observes, that their wise men say, this is according to the usage of words in those ages:
but you shall have their carcasses in abomination; not only abstain from eating them and touching them, but to express the utmost aversion to them. They shall be even an abomination unto you; ye shall not eat of their flesh, but ye shall have their carcasses in abomination.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Any animal which was wanting in either of these marks was to be unclean, or not to be eaten. This is the case with the camel, whose flesh is eaten by the Arabs; it ruminates, but it has not cloven hoofs. Its foot is severed, it is true, but not thoroughly cloven, as there is a ball behind, upon which it treads. The hare and hyrax (Klippdachs) were also unclean, because, although they ruminate, they have not cloven hoofs. It is true that modern naturalists affirm that the two latter do not ruminate at all, as they have not the four stomachs that are common to ruminant animals; but they move the jaw sometimes in a manner which looks like ruminating, so that even Linnaeus affirmed that the hare chewed the cud, and Moses followed the popular opinion. According to Bochart, Oedmann, and others, the shaphan is the jerboa, and according to the Rabbins and Luther, the rabbit or coney. But the more correct view is, that it is the wabr of the Arabs, which is still called tsofun in Southern Arabia (hyrax Syriacus), an animal which feeds on plants, a native of the countries of the Lebanon and Jordan, also of Arabia and Africa. They live in the natural caves and clefts of the rocks (Psalm 104:18
), are very gregarious, being often seen seated in troops before the openings to their caves, and extremely timid as they are quite defenceless (Proverbs 30:26
). They are about the size of rabbits, of a brownish grey or brownish yellow colour, but white under the belly; they have bright eyes, round ears, and no tail. The Arabs eat them, but do not place them before their guests.
(Note: See Shaw, iii. p. 301; Seetzen, ii. p. 228; Robinson's Biblical Researches, p. 387; and Roediger on Gesenius thesaurus, p. 1467.)
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