And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be cloven footed, yet he chews not the cud; he is unclean to you.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted.—Better, And the swine, though he is clovenfooted, and entirely separateth the hoofs. (See Leviticus 11:3.) Having given these illustrations of animals which comply with the first condition only—i.e., which are ruminant but not bisulcous—and hence must not be eaten, the lawgiver now concludes the list of prohibited quadrupeds with an illustration of a contrary nature—viz., the swine, which comply with the second condition only, but not with the first. Here, too, the description is according to appearance. The feet of the pig tribe generally have four toes enclosed in separate hoofs. The two middle hoofs, however, are much larger, and are divided by a deep cleft, and hence to all appearances the swine is bisulcous. Though the law before us simply describes the swine as wanting in one of the two criteria, like the camel, the coney, and the hare, yet the abhorrence which the Jews, as a nation, have always had of this animal, and the impurity which they have ascribed to it infinitely surpass their repulsion of any other unclean beast. For this reason it became the symbol of defilement and the badge of insult (Psalm 65:4; Psalm 66:3; Psalm 66:17; Proverbs 11:22). The eating of pork was regarded as renouncing the Law, and as a sign of apostasy. Hence Antiochus Epiphanes adopted it as a test that those Jews who ate it had forsaken their religion and submitted to his rule. Hence we read that when swine’s flesh was forced into the mouth of Eleazar, the aged scribe, he “spit it forth, choosing rather to die gloriously than to live stained with such an abomination” (2 Maccabees 6:18-19). During the time of the commonwealth there were no swine in Judea. Hence it was in a “far country” that the prodigal son was sent into the field to feed the swine (Luke 15:13-15). The swine in Galilee in our Lord’s time (Matthew 8:30) were undoubtedly kept by Gentiles for the Roman legion. The very name of swine (chazir) was discarded, and the animal was designated by the euphemistic expression, “the other thing.” This “brutish of all animals” was, moreover, regarded as propagating cutaneous and many other disorders. The Talmud declares that “ten measures of pestilential diseases were spread over the earth, and nine of them fell to the share of pigs.” On the other hand, many of the Pagan nations regarded the swine as an emblem of the productive power of nature. Hence they sacrificed them to those deities to whom they ascribed the fertility of the soil, and the fruitfulness of cattle. Thus, the Egyptians offered them in honour of Isis and Osiris once a year at the festival of the full moon. The Athenians, too, offered the swine in their mysteries; so did the Boetians and the early Romans.Leviticus 11:7. And the swine — This animal is remarkable for filthiness, and for feeding on all manner of ordure, even carrion if it falls in its way, and therefore a sow wallowing in the mire is set forth as an emblem of impurity, by writers sacred and profane. And Maimonides alleges its filthiness as the chief reason of its flesh being prohibited. Vossius, however, adds another, namely, that it had a tendency to breed the leprosy, a disease incident to those countries. And, according to the author of the Medicinal Dictionary, it is the only animal in the creation subject to the leprosy, and to something very like the king’s evil, called in Latin scrofula, from scrofa, a sow. The flesh, therefore, of this animal could not but be highly improper, as an aliment, for a people subject to leprosies, as the Jews appear to have been, and who were inhabitants of a warm climate, which renders every thing more inclinable to putrefaction.
]Leviticus 11:3 note. Of all the quadrupeds of which the Law forbids the flesh to be eaten, the pig seems to have been regarded as the most unclean. Compare the marginal references. Several other nations have agreed with the Hebrews in this respect: the reason being that its flesh is unwholesome, especially in warm climates.
the swine, but called it another or a strange thing, lest the naming of it should tempt them to eat this meat, which was so commonly used and so much esteemed by others.
yet he cheweth not the cud; and a learned physician observes (x), that such creatures that chew not the cud, so perfect a chyle cannot be elaborated by them as is by those that chew the cud, and therefore their flesh must be less wholesome; and of the swine, he says (y), they have but one belly, and so there is no rumination or chewing the cud by them; wherefore they are to be placed, and are in a lower degree than the camel, the coney, and the hare; and as they cannot digest the chyle so well as those that chew the cud, and also live upon most sordid and filthy food, the eating of swine's flesh, he observes, must produce many inconveniences to the body, as especially scorbutic, arthritic, scabious, and leprous disorders: so Manetho the Egyptian says (z), that he that eats swine's milk is liable to be filled with the leprosy; and Maimonides (a) gives it as the principal reason of its being forbid the Jews, because it is such a filthy creature, and eats such filthy things:
he is unclean to you: and so it has always been accounted by the Jews, and nothing is more abominable to them, as is even testified by Heathen (b) writers; and in this they have been imitated by many nations, particularly the Egyptians, who, as Herodotus says (c), reckon swine a very filthy creature; so that if anyone does but touch it passing by, he is obliged to plunge himself into a river with his clothes on; and keepers of them may not go into any of their temples, nor do the rest of the Egyptians intermarry with them, but they marry among themselves; the reason of this their abhorrence of swine, Aelianus says (d), is because they are so gluttonous that they will not spare their own young, nor abstain from human flesh; and this, says he, is the reason why the Egyptians hate it as an impure and voracious animal: likewise the Arabians entirely abstain from swine's flesh, as Solinus says (e), who adds, that if any of this sort of creatures is carried into Arabia, it immediately dies; and the same Pliny (f) attests: and so the Phoenicians, the near neighbours of the Jews, would not eat the flesh of them; hence Antoninus is said to abstain from it after the manner of the Phoenicians (g), unless the historian should mean the Jews; also the Gallo-Grecians or Galatians (h); nay, even the Indians have such an abhorrence of it, that they would as soon taste of human flesh as taste of that (i), and it is well known that the Mahometans abstain from it; and they have such an aversion to it, that if any chance to kill a wild pig, for tame they have none, they look on the merit of it to be almost equivalent to the killing a Christian in fight (k): now these creatures may be an emblem of filthy and impure sinners, especially apostates, who return to their former impurities and wallow in them, 2 Peter 2:22.
(u) Hist. Animal. l. 2. c. 1.((w) Nat. Hist. l. 11. c. 46. (x) Scheuchzer. ut supra, (Physic. Sacr. vol. 2.) p. 282. (y) Ib. p. 284. (z) Apud Aelian. de Animal. l. 10. c. 16. (a) Moreh Nevochim, par. 3. c. 48. (b) "Et vetus indulget", &c. Juvenal. Satyr. 6. "nec distare putant", &c. Ib. Satyr. 14. Vid. Porphyr. de Abstinentia, l. 4. sect. 11, 12. (c) Euterpe, sive, l. 2. c. 47. (d) Ut supra. (Apud Aelian. de Animal. l. 10. c. 16.) (e) Polyhistor. c. 46. (f) Nat. Hist. l. 8. c. 52. (g) Herodian. Hist. l. 5. c. 16. (h) Pausan. Achaica, sive, l. 7. p. 430. (i) Ctesias apud Aelian. de Animal. l. 16. c. 37. (k) Pitts's Account of the Mahometans, p. 163.And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be cloven-footed, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)7. The flesh of the pig is forbidden because it is not a ruminant. Of the four animals here mentioned, the swine was specially obnoxious to the Jews, either owing to its being an object of heathen worship (cp. Isaiah 65:4; Isaiah 66:3; Isaiah 66:17), or for sanitary reasons. To eat pork was by them regarded as abjuring their religion, and it is recorded as one of the abominations that were forced upon the Jews by Antiochus Epiphanes in the Maccabaean persecution, 2Ma 6:18-19.Verse 7. - The swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted. Here, again, the description is not according to anatomical analysis, but to ordinary appearance. The pig appears to be cloven-footed, and it would be misleading to give any other account of his foot in ordinary speech, but scientifically speaking, he has four toes. The prohibition of the use of swine's flesh does not arise from the fear of trichinosis or other disease, but from the disgust caused by the carnivorous and filthy habits of the Eastern pig. The repulsion originally felt for swine's flesh was natural, and, where the animal is carnivorous, is still natural, but where its habits are changed, and it has become simply graminivorous, the feeling has ceased to exist. Leviticus 11:1; Leviticus 13:1; Leviticus 15:1), as Aaron had been sanctified through the anointing to expiate the sins and uncleannesses of the children of Israel.
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