Leviticus 11:6
And the hare, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.
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(6) 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.

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.
]The coney - The Old English name for a rabbit. The animal meant is the Hyrax Syriacus. It bears some resemblance to the guinea-pig or the marmot, and in its general appearance and habits 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.

6. the hare—Two species of hare must have been pointed at: the Sinai hare, the hare of the desert, small and generally brown; the other, the hare of Palestine and Syria, about the size and appearance of that known in our own country. Neither the hare nor the coney are really ruminating. They only appear to be so from working the jaws on the grasses they live on. They are not cloven-footed; and besides, it is said that from the great quantity of down upon them, they are very much subject to vermin—that in order to expel these, they eat poisonous plants, and if used as food while in that state, they are most deleterious [Whitlaw]. No text from Poole on this verse.

And the hare, because he cheweth the cud,.... Or, "though he chews" it:

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.)

(q) Sympos. l. 9. c. 5. (r) L. 13. Epigr. 87. (s) Ut supra, (Hierozoic par. 1. l. 3.) c. 31. col. 977. (t) De Part. Animal. l. 3. c. 15. & Hist. Animal. l. 3. c. 21.

And the hare, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.
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 11:6Any 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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