Leviticus 11:39
And if any beast, of which ye may eat, die; he that toucheth the carcase thereof shall be unclean until the even.
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(39) And if any beast.—That is, a clean animal, which is both bisulcous and ruminant, but which has not been properly slaughtered, having died from any disease or accident. During the second Temple, the law here enacted was restricted to quadrupeds, domestic or wild, but was not applicable to birds and fishes.

He that toucheth the carcase.—The carcase, in this case, is to be regarded as the dead body of an unclean animal (see Leviticus 11:24-28), and defiles by contact. (See also Leviticus 17:15.) This, however, only applies to the flesh of the quadruped. The skin, the bones, the sinews, the horns, and the claws are clean, the sacred Scriptures even being written on the prepared skins; and the horns used for the trumpets or horns of the sanctuary, according to the canons of the Pharisees, whilst the Samaritans and the Sadducees regarded them as polluting.

Leviticus 11:39-42. If any beast die — Either of itself, or being killed by some wild beast, in which cases the blood was not poured forth, as it was when they were killed by men either for food or sacrifice. He that eateth — Unwittingly, for if he did it knowingly, it was a presumptuous sin against an express law, (Deuteronomy 14:21,) and therefore punished as such. Every creeping thing — Except those expressly excepted, Leviticus 11:29-30. Upon the belly — As worms and snakes. Upon all four — As toads and divers serpents.

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. If any beast die; either of itself, or being killed by some wild beast, in which cases the blood was not poured forth, as it was when they were killed by men either for food or sacrifice.

And if any beast of which ye may eat die,.... Any clean beast, as the ox, sheep, goat, deer, &c. what, if rightly killed, is very lawful to eat of; but if it died of itself through any distemper, or was torn by the wild beasts, so the Targum of Jonathan:

he that toucheth the carcass thereof shall be unclean until the even; not the bones, nerves, horns, hoofs, or skin, as Jarchi observes; these might be handled, because some of them, at least, were wrought up into one instrument or another, by artificers, for use and service, but the flesh of them might not be touched; whoever did touch it was ceremonially unclean, and might not go into the sanctuary, or have conversation with men, until the evening of the day in which this was done.

And if any beast, of which ye may eat, die; he that toucheth the carcass thereof shall be unclean until the even.
39. The carcase even of a clean beast causes uncleanness.

Verses 39, 40. - The loathsomeness of the bodies of even clean animals that have died a natural death, makes them also the means of conveying defilement to any one who touches them. Leviticus 11:39Lastly, contact with edible animals, if they had not been slaughtered, but had died a natural death, and had become carrion in consequence, is also said to defile (cf. Leviticus 11:39, Leviticus 11:40 with Leviticus 11:24-28). This was the case, too, with the eating of the swarming land animals, whether they went upon the belly,

(Note: The large ו in גּחון (Leviticus 11:42) shows that this vav is the middle letter of the Pentateuch.)

as snakes and worms, or upon four feet, as rats, mice, weasels, etc., or upon many feet, like the insects (Leviticus 11:41-43). Lastly (Leviticus 11:44, Leviticus 11:45), the whole law is enforced by an appeal to the calling of the Israelites, as a holy nation, to be holy as Jehovah their God, who had brought them out of Egypt to be a God to them, was holy (Exodus 6:7; Exodus 29:45-46).

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