Leviticus 11:9
These shall you eat of all that are in the waters: whatever has fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them shall you eat.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(9) These shall ye eat.—The water animals, which, as we have seen, constitute the second division of the animal kingdom, now follow the land animals. They are discussed in Leviticus 11:9-12. Like the clean quadrupeds, the salt-water and the fresh-water fish must comply with two conditions to bring them within the class of clean. They must have both scales and fins. It will be seen that in the case of the quadrupeds, not only are two criteria given by which the clean animals may be distinguished from the unclean, but that the law is illustrated by adducing ten land animals of the former kind (see Leviticus 11:2), and four of the latter (see Leviticus 11:4-7). In the case before us, however, not a single typical fish is given by name, and the law itself is expressed in the briefest and most generic manner possible. It was evidently left to those upon whom the administration of the law devolved to define it more minutely in order that it may be observed in practical life. Hence the following expanded definitions obtained during the second Temple:—(1) All fishes with scales have invariably also fins, but fishes which have fins have not always scales. Any fish, therefore, or even a piece of one exposed by itself for sale in the market, which exhibits scales may be eaten, for it is to be taken for granted that it had fins, or that the fins cannot be seen because of their extraordinary smallness. But, on the other hand, a fish with fins may exist without scales, and hence is unclean; (2) Clean fishes have a complete vertebral column, but the unclean have simply single joints, united by a gelatinous cord. To the former class belong, (a) “the soft fins,” or the salmon and trout, the capellan and grayling, the herring, the anchovy and the sardine, the pike and carp families, the cod, the hake and the haddock, the sole, the turbot, and the plaice; (b) “the spiny fins,” as the perch, the mackerel, and the tunny. To the latter class belong the shark tribe, the sturgeons with their caviare, the lamprey, and the nine-eyed eel; (3) The head of clean fishes is more or less broad, whilst that of the unclean kinds is more or less pointed at the end, as the eel, the mammalian species, &c.; (4) The swimming bladder of clean fishes is rounded at one end, and pointed at the other, whilst that of the unclean fishes is either rounded or pointed at both extremities alike. It is in allusion to this law that we are told in the parable of the fisherman, which is taken from Jewish life, that when they drew to shore the net with every kind of fishes, the fishermen sat down (i.e., to examine the clean and the unclean), and gathered the good (i.e., the clean), into the vessels, but cast the bad (i.e., the unclean) away (Matthew 13:48). The orthodox Jews to this day strictly observe these regulations, and abhor eating those fishes which are enumerated under the four above-named criteria of not clean. It is moreover to be remarked that fishes without scales are also still regarded in Egypt as unwholesome, and that the Romans would not permit them to be offered in sacrifice.

Leviticus 11:9-10. Whatsoever hath fins and scales — Both of them. Such fishes being more cleanly and more wholesome food than others. All that have not fins nor scales shall be an abomination — A late commentator, by a strange mistake, probably of the press, says here: “Fish with scales sooner incline to putrefaction than those that are without.” The fact is exactly the reverse. These are what medicinal writers call pisces molles, the soft kind of fish. And, as all sorts of fish, according to Dr. James, “are very subject to an alkaline putrefaction, so those without scales incline sooner and more to putrefaction than those furnished with them, and shell-fish most of all. And it may be laid down as a certain rule, that, of all sorts of animals, whether terrestrial or aquatic, those which putrefy soonest, incline the juices of our bodies most to putrefaction, when used as food, and so are least fit for ailment.”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.
]Any fish, either from salt water or fresh, might be eaten if it had both scales and fins. but no other creature that lives in the waters. Shellfish of all kinds, whether mollusks or crustaceans, and cetaceous animals, were therefore prohibited, as well as fish which appear to have no scales, like the eel; probably because they were considered unwholesome, and (under certain circumstances) found to be so. 9. These shall ye eat … whatsoever hath fins and scales—"The fins and scales are the means by which the excrescences of fish are carried off, the same as in animals by perspiration. I have never known an instance of disease produced by eating such fish; but those that have no fins and scales cause, in hot climates, the most malignant disorders when eaten; in many cases they prove a mortal poison" [Whitlaw]. Whatsoever hath fins and scales, to wit, both of them; such fishes being both more cleanly and more wholesome food than others. The names of them are not particularly mentioned, partly because most of them wanted names, the fishes not being brought to Adam and named by him as other creatures were; and partly because the land of Canaan had not many rivers, nor great store of fishes These shall ye eat of all that are in the waters,.... In the waters of the sea, or in rivers, pools, and ponds; meaning fishes; for though some persons abstain from eating them entirely, as the Egyptian priests, as Herodotus (m) relates; and it was a part of religion and holiness, not with the Egyptians only, but with the Syrians and Greeks, to forbear eating them (n); and Julian (o) gives two reasons why men should abstain from fishes; the one because what is not sacrificed to the gods ought not to be used for food; and the other is, because these being immersed in the deep waters, look not up to heaven; but God gave the people of Israel liberty of eating them, under certain limitations:

whatsoever hath fins and scales, in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them shall ye eat; some render it disjunctively, "fins or scales" (p); but as Maimonides (q) observes, whatsoever has scales has fins; and who also says, if a fish has but one fin and one scale, it was lawful to eat: fins to fishes are like wings to birds, and oars to boats, with which they swim and move swiftly from place to place; and scales are a covering and a protection of them; and such fishes being much in motion, and so well covered, are less humid and more solid and substantial, and more wholesome: in a spiritual sense, fins may denote the exercise of grace, in which there is a motion of the soul, Godward, Christward, and heavenward; and scales may signify good works, which adorn believers, and protect them from the reproaches and calumnies of men.

(m) Euterpe, sive, l. 2. c. 37. (n) Plutarch. Sympos. p. 730. (o) Orat. 5. p. 330. (p) So Bootius. (q) Hilchot Maacolot Asurot, l. 1. sect. 24.

These shall ye eat of all that are in the waters: whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them shall ye eat.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verses 9-12. - Whatsoever hath fins and scales. The absence of fins and scales, or their apparent absence - for phenomenal language is used, as before - gives to fish a repulsive look, on which is grounded the prohibition to eat them. Eels and shell-fish are thus forbidden, though a long course of experience has now taken away the feeling of repulsion with which they were once looked upon. The flesh of the beasts for, bidden to be eaten is only described as unclean, but that of the prohibited fish, birds, insects, and vermin, is designated as an abomination unto you. (cf. Deuteronomy 14:4-8). Of the larger quadrupeds, which are divided in Genesis 1:24-25 into beasts of the earth (living wild) and tame cattle, only the cattle (behemah) are mentioned here, as denoting the larger land animals, some of which were reared by man as domesticated animals, and others used as food. Of these the Israelites might eat "whatsoever parteth the hoof and is cloven-footed, and cheweth the cud among the cattle." פּרסת שׁסע שׁסעת, literally "tearing (having) a rent in the hoofs," according to Deuteronomy 14:5 into "two claws," i.e., with a hoof completely severed in two. גּרה, rumination, μηρυκισμός (lxx), from גּרר (cf. יגּר Leviticus 11:7), to draw (Habakkuk 1:15), to draw to and fro; hence to bring up the food again, to ruminate. גּרה מעלת is connected with the preceding words with vav cop. to indicate the close connection of the two regulations, viz., that there was to be the perfectly cloven foot as well as the rumination (cf. Leviticus 11:4.). These marks are combined in the oxen, sheep, and goats, and also in the stag and gazelle. The latter are expressly mentioned in Deuteronomy 14:4-5, where - in addition to the common stag (איּל) and gazelle (צבי, δορκάς, lxx), or dorcas-antelope, which is most frequently met with in Palestine, Syria, and Arabia, of the size of a roebuck, with a reddish brown back and white body, horns sixteen inches long, and fine dark eyes, and the flesh of which, according to Avicenna, is the best of all the wild game-the following five are also selected, viz.: (1) יחמוּר, not βούβαλος, the buffalo (lxx, and Luther), but Damhirsch, a stag which is still much more common in Asia than in Europe and Palestine (see v. Schubert, R. iii. p. 118); (2) אקּו, probably, according to the Chaldee, Syriac, etc., the capricorn (Steinbock), which is very common in Palestine, not τραγέλαφος (lxx, Vulg.), the buck-stag (Bockhirsch), an animal lately discovered in Nubia (cf. Leyrer in Herzog's Cycl. vi. p. 143); (3) דּישׁן, according to the lxx and Vulg. πύραργος, a kind of antelope resembling the stag, which is met with in Africa (Herod. 4, 192), - according to the Chaldee and Syriac, the buffalo-antelope, - according to the Samar. and Arabic, the mountain-stag; (4) תּאו, according to the Chaldee the wild ox, which is also met with in Egypt and Arabia, probably the oryx (lxx, Vulg.), a species of antelope as large as a stag; and (5) זמר, according to the lxx and most of the ancient versions, the giraffe, but this is only found in the deserts of Africa, and would hardly be met with even in Egypt-it is more probably capreae sylvestris species, according to the Chaldee.
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