And the hare, because he chews the cud, but divides not the hoof; he is unclean to you.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)And the hare, because he cheweth the cud, but.—Better, though he cheweth the cud, yet. Other nations, too, shunned the flesh of hares. The Parsees considered the hare as the most unclean of all animals, and the ancient Britons abstained from eating it because of the loathsome disorders to which the hare is subject. Like the rabbit, or the hyrax, the hare has not the peculiar stomach of the true ruminant; but, like the rabbit, the hare, when sitting at rest, so moves its jaws that it appears to masticate. As the object of the legislator was to furnish the people with marks by which they were to distinguish the clean from the unclean animals, he necessarily adopted those which were in common vogue, and which alone were intelligible in those days.Leviticus 11:6. The hare, because (rather, though) he cheweth the cud — He has a runnet in his stomach, as those animals have which chew the cud, and therefore is said to chew it. The hare is extremely timorous, and therefore uses a great deal of exercise, by way of precaution, when it goes to seek its food, and at the approach of danger, either real or imaginary. This probably contributes to the exaltation of the salts. Hence it has a very high taste, even in our cold climate, which is an evidence that the animal flesh which gives it is strongly inclined to alkaline putrefaction.
]Proverbs 30:26; Psalm 104:18, it might easily be taken for a rodent. But Cuvier discovered that it is, in its anatomy, a true pachyderm, allied to the rhinoceros and the tapir, inferior to them as it is in size.
He cheweth the cud - The Hyrax has the same habit as the hare, the rabbit, the guinea-pig, and some other rodents, of moving its jaws when it is at rest as if it were masticating. The rodents were familiarly spoken of as ruminating animals, just as the bat was reckoned among birds because it flies (see Leviticus 11:19), and as whales and their congeners are spoken of as fish, when there is no occasion for scientific accuracy.
but divideth not the hoof, he is unclean to you; and so not to be eaten; so Plutarch (q) says, that the Jews are said to abstain from the hare, disdaining it as a filthy and unclean animal, and yet was in the greatest esteem with the Romans of any four footed beast, as Martial says (r): Moses, as Bochart (s) and other learned men observe, is the only writer that speaks of the hare as chewing the cud; though they also observe, that Aristotle (t) makes mention of that in common with those that do chew the cud, namely a "coagulum" or "runnet" in its stomach; his words are,"all that have many bellies have what is called a coagulum or runnet, and of them that have but one belly, the hare;''only that: this creature being prone to lust, may be an emblem of lustful persons, who give up themselves to lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness, Ephesians 4:19. (The "hare" is this verse may be an animal that is now is extinct but was alive at the time of Moses. It is only other mentioned in Deuteronomy 14:7. Editor.)And the hare, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Verse 6. - The hare, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof, There is little doubt that the same animal as our hare is meant. Neither the hare, however, nor the hyrax chews the cud in the strict sense of the words. But they have the appearance of doing so. The rule respecting chewing the cud was given to and by Moses as a legislator, not as an anatomist, to serve as a sign by which animals might be known to be clean for food. Phenomenal not scientific language is used here, as in Joshua 10:12, "as we might speak of whales and their congeners as fish, when there is no need of scientific accuracy" (Clark). "All these marks of distinction in the Levitical law are wisely and even necessarily made on the basis of popular observation and belief, not on that of anatomical exactness. Otherwise the people would have been continually liable to error. Scientifically, the camel would be said to divide the hoof, and the hare does not chew the cud. But laws for popular use must necessarily employ terms as they are popularly understood. These matters are often referred to as scientific errors; whereas they were simply descriptions, necessarily popular, for the understanding and enforcement of the law" (Gardiner). Leviticus 10:1. has befallen me (קרא equals קרה, as in Genesis 42:4); "and if I had eaten the sin-offering to-day, would it have been well-pleasing to Jehovah?" וגו ואכלתּי is a conditional clause, as in Genesis 33:13, cf. Ewald, 357. Moses rested satisfied with this answer. Aaron acknowledged that the flesh of the sin-offering ought to have been eaten by the priest in this instance (according to Leviticus 6:19), and simply adduced, as the reason why this had not been done, the calamity which had befallen his two eldest sons. And this might really be a sufficient reason, as regarded both himself and his remaining sons, why the eating of the sin-offering should be omitted. For the judgment in question was so solemn a warning, as to the sin which still adhered to them even after the presentation of their sin-offering, that they might properly feel "that they had not so strong and overpowering a holiness as was required for eating the general sin-offering" (M. Baumgarten). This is the correct view, though others find the reason in their grief at the death of their sons or brethren, which rendered it impossible to observe a joyous sacrificial meal. But this is not for a moment to be thought of, simply because the eating of the flesh of the sin-offering was not a joyous meal at all (see at Leviticus 6:19).
(Note: Upon this mistaken view of the excuse furnished by Aaron, Knobel has founded his assertion, that "this section did not emanate from the Elohist, because he could not have written in this way," an assertion which falls to the ground when the words are correctly explained.)
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