Leviticus 11:36
Nevertheless a fountain or pit, wherein there is plenty of water, shall be clean: but that which toucheth their carcase shall be unclean.
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(36) Nevertheless a fountain or pit, wherein there is plenty of water.—Better, But wells and cisterns being gatherings together of water. But if the unclean carcase, or any portion of it, happens to fall or to be thrown into wells or cisterns, they are to be treated as large collections of water, such as pools, ponds, and lakes, and hence are exempt from contracting pollution. The constant change of water which takes place in these reservoirs counteracts the effects of the polluting carcase. When it is borne in mind how few are the wells and cisterns in the East, and how scarce water is, the merciful provision of this law will be apparent. According to the canon which obtained during the second Temple, this immunity was only applicable to receptacles of water actually in the ground, but not to collections of water in vessels.

But that which toucheth.—Better, but he who toucheth. But though the water into which the carcase has fallen is mercifully exempted, he who comes in contact with the carcase in the water and removes it from the water is unclean, because the carcase itself remains a source of defilement.

Leviticus 11:36-37. Nevertheless, a fountain or pit shall be clean — Of this no reason can be given, but the will of the Lawgiver, and his merciful condescension to men’s necessities, water being scarce in those countries; and for the same reason God would have the ceremonial law of sacrifices give place to the law of mercy. Seed — Partly because this was necessary provision for man, and partly because such seed would not be used for man’s food till it had received many alterations in the earth, whereby such pollution was taken away.

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.
]See Leviticus 2:4. The word rendered "ranges for pots" has been conjectured to mean either an excavated fireplace, fitted to receive a pair of ovens, or a support like a pair of andirons. 31-35. whosoever doth touch them, when … dead, shall be unclean until the even—These regulations must have often caused annoyance by suddenly requiring the exclusion of people from society, as well as the ordinances of religion. Nevertheless they were extremely useful and salutary, especially as enforcing attention to cleanliness. This is a matter of essential importance in the East, where venomous reptiles often creep into houses and are found lurking in boxes, vessels, or holes in the wall; and the carcass of one of them, or a dead mouse, mole, lizard, or other unclean animal, might be inadvertently touched by the hand, or fall on clothes, skin bottles, or any article of common domestic use. By connecting, therefore, the touch of such creatures with ceremonial defilement, which required immediately to be removed, an effectual means was taken to prevent the bad effects of venom and all unclean or noxious matter. Wherein there is plenty of water; of which no solid reason can be given, whilst such unclean things remain in them, but only the will of the Lawgiver, and his merciful condescension to men’s necessities, water being scarce in those countries; and for the same reason God would have the ceremonial law of sacrifices to be offered to God, give place to the moral law of mercy towards men.

Nevertheless, a fountain or pit, wherein there is plenty of water,.... Or, "a fountain or pit, a collection of waters", the copulative being wanting, as some observe, Aben Ezra takes notice of; or it may be by way of apposition, and so may explain what fountain or pit is meant, even such an one where there is a large continence of water, into which, if any carcass of a creeping thing fell, or any part of it, yet it

shall be clean: and fit for use, either because of the abundance of water in it, which could not be affected with the fall of such a creature into it as where there is but a small quantity; or rather this exception was made, because pools of water were of considerable value in these countries, and frequently in use for bathings, &c. and therefore for the good of men, and that they might not suffer so great a loss by such an accident, they are declared notwithstanding to be clean and free for use: hence you may learn, says Jarchi, that he that dips in them is pure from his uncleanness; that a man might lawfully make use of them for a bath on account of any uncleanness, notwithstanding the carcass of a creeping thing had fallen into it; as a mouse, or rat, or any such creature:

but that which toucheth their carcass shall be unclean; not the waters which touch the carcass, as Aben Ezra interprets it, for then the whole would be defiled, and unfit for use; but either the man that touched the carcass, laid hold upon it to pluck it out of the fountain or pit, or that which he made use of to get it out, or both these, were unclean in a ceremonial sense: the Targum of Jonathan is, "but he that toucheth their carcasses in the midst of these waters shall be unclean.''

Nevertheless a fountain or pit, wherein there is plenty of water, shall be clean: but that which {k} toucheth their carcase shall be unclean.

(k) So much of the water as touched it.

36. The continuous renewal of water in a well renders the uncleanness inappreciable, but he who takes out the carcase is rendered unclean by touching it. The case of the pit or cistern is not clear. It might be so large that the effect of a small swarming thing could be neglected, or the water might be replenished by rain.

Leviticus 11:36Springs and wells were not defiled, because the uncleanness would be removed at once by the fresh supply of water. But whoever touched the body of the animal, to remove it, became unclean.
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