Leviticus 11:42
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.
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(42) Whatsoever goeth upon the belly.In explanation of the general statement made in the preceding verse, three classes of creeping things are here adduced. (1) Those which move by the aid of the under part of the stomach, here described as “going upon the belly,” as serpents (see Genesis 3:14) and serpentine worms.

And whatsoever goeth upon all four.—Those (2) which have four legs and yet move like reptiles, as scorpions, beetles, &c.

Or whatsoever hath more feet.—Better, whatsoever hath many feet, that is (3), those which have a number of such short feet that they cannot easily be discerned by the naked eye, and appear to crawl about upon their stomachs, as caterpillars, centipedes, millipedes, &c.

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.
]Whatsoever goeth upon the belly - i. e. all footless reptiles, and mollusks, snakes of all kinds, snails, slugs, and worms. "Whatsoever goeth upon all four;" i. e. "creeping things," or vermin; such as the weasel, the mouse or the lizard. Whatsoever hath more feet; i. e. all insects, except the locust family (Leviticus 11:22 note), myriapods, spiders, and caterpillars. 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. Upon the belly, as worms and snakes.

Upon all four as toads and divers serpents.

More feet, to wit, more than four, as caterpillars, &c.

Whatsoever goeth upon the belly,.... Jarchi's paraphrase is, "whatsoever goeth", as worms and beetles, and the like to them, "upon the belly", this is the serpent; and to go upon the belly is the curse denounced upon it, Genesis 3:14 this and every such creature are forbidden to be eaten; as there are others who either have no feet, or what they have so short, that they seem to go upon their belly; and yet, as horrible and detestable as the serpent is, it has been the food of some, and accounted very delicious, as by a people mentioned by the Arabic geographer (e). Mela (f) speaks of a people, who, from their eating serpents, were called Ophiophagi, serpent eaters; and Pliny (g) says of the Troglodytes, that the flesh of serpents was their food. The Spaniards, when they first found out the West Indies, going ashore on the isle of Cuba, found certain spits of wood lying at the fire, having fish on them, about one hundred pound weight, and two serpents of eight feet long, differing nothing from the crocodiles in Egypt, but not so big; there is nothing, says my author (h), among the delicate dishes (of the natives of that place), they esteem so much as these serpents, insomuch that it is no more lawful for the common people to eat of them, than of peacocks and pheasants among us; the Spaniards at first durst not venture to taste of them, because of their horrible deformity and loathsomeness; but the brother of Columbus being allured by a sister of one of the kings of the country to taste of them, found them very delicious, on which he and his men fell to, and ate freely of them, affirming them to be of more pleasant taste than either our pheasants or partridges; and that there is no meat to be compared with the eggs of these serpents (i). Diodorus Siculus (k) speaks of serpents in the island of Taprobane of great size, harmless to men, and whose flesh is eaten, and of a sweet savour:

and whatsoever goeth upon all four; that is, whatsoever creeping thing; for otherwise there are beasts that go upon all four that are clean and fit to eat; but this is observed to distinguish this sort of creeping things from those that go upon their belly, and from those that have more feet, as in the next clause; Jarchi particularly instances in the scorpion:

or whatsoever hath mere feet among all creeping things that creep upon the earth; such as caterpillars, and particularly the Scolopendra, which the eastern people call Nedal; so Jarchi says, this is Nedal, a reptile which hath feet from its head to its tail, called Centipeda; and the Targum of Jonathan is, "from the serpent, to the Nedal or Scolopendra, which has many feet.'' Some of then, have seventy two, thirty six on a side, and others eighty four; some fewer, but all have many:

them ye shall not eat, for they are an abomination; abominable for food, and to be had in the utmost aversion. (e) Clim. 1. par. 6. (f) De Situ Orbis, l. 3. c. 8. (g) Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 8. (h) Peter Martyr de Angleria, Decad. 1. l. 3.((i) Ib. l. 5. (k) Bibliothec. l. 3. p. 141.

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.
Leviticus 11:42Lastly, 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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