Leviticus 17:13
And whatsoever man there be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, which hunteth and catcheth any beast or fowl that may be eaten; he shall even pour out the blood thereof, and cover it with dust.
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(13) And whatsoever man.—Better, what man soever (see Leviticus 17:3). Hitherto the law mainly discussed the blood of sacrificial animals, or those quadrupeds which were slaughtered at home. In this and the following verses the statute is extended to all other creatures which, though wild, are legally clean and used as food.

Which hunteth and catcheth.—Hunting, which was an amusement with other nations of antiquity, was with the serious Hebrew a matter of necessity. It was resorted to as a matter of necessity to exterminate dangerous beasts (Exodus 23:29), but more especially to procure food (Genesis 25:27; Proverbs 12:27). Besides the numerous pitfalls, snares, traps, &c, which are so frequently mentioned in the Bible, the Hebrews also employed arms in catching game (Genesis 27:3). When wounded, or when the game had to be killed to facilitate its being carried home, the hunters were liable to become careless about the blood, as is evident from the practice which obtained among some of the ancients. Thus we are told that the Zabians, when they slew a beast, put the blood into a vessel or into a hole which they dug in the ground, and then sat round and feasted on it. It is to prevent such outrages on the sacred blood, which the hunters were especially liable to commit when hungry, that the law is here enacted. An instance of the hungry army flying upon the spoil, killing the cattle in the field, and eating the flesh with the blood, is recorded in 1Samuel 14:32-34. (Comp. also Ezekiel 33:25.)

Any beast or fowl that may be eaten.—That is, those wild beasts or fowl which, according to the dietary law, were usually eaten. During the second Temple this was interpreted strictly to apply to the clean wild beasts, but not to those not permitted to be eaten.

He shall even pour out the blood.—The earth, from which all animals came forth at their creation (Genesis 1:24), is to receive back again the principle of their life. They proceeded from the womb of the earth, and their life-blood is to return to it. With such scrupulous care was this law observed during the second Temple, that the following Benediction was ordered to be recited when the blood was covered up: “Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who hath sanctified us by His precepts, and hath commanded us to cover up the blood.”

17:10-16 Here is a confirmation of the law against eating blood. They must eat no blood. But this law was ceremonial, and is now no longer in force; the coming of the substance does away the shadow. The blood of beasts is no longer the ransom, but Christ's blood only; therefore there is not now the reason for abstaining there then was. The blood is now allowed for the nourishment of our bodies; it is no longer appointed to make an atonement for the soul. Now the blood of Christ makes atonement really and effectually; to that, therefore, we must have regard, and not consider it as a common thing, or treat it with indifference.Rather, For the soul of the flesh is in the blood; and I have ordained it for you upon the altar, to make atonement for your souls, for the blood it is which makes atonement by means of the soul. In the Old Testament there are three words relating to the constitution of man;

(a) "life" as opposed to death Genesis 1:20; Deuteronomy 30:15;

(b) the "soul" as distinguished from the body; the individual life either in man or beast, whether united to the body during life, or separated from the body after death (compare Genesis 2:7);

(c) the "spirit" as opposed to the flesh Romans 8:6, and as distinguished from the life of the flesh; the highest element in man; that which, in its true condition, holds communion with God. The soul has its abode in the blood as long as life lasts. In Leviticus 17:14, the soul is identified with the blood, as it is in Genesis 9:4; Deuteronomy 12:23. That the blood is rightly thus distinguished from all other constituents of the body is acknowledged by the highest authorities in physiology.

"It is the fountain of life (says Harvey), the first to live, and the last to die, and the primary seat of the animal soul; it lives and is nourished of itself, and by no other part of the human body." John Hunter inferred that it is the seat of life, because all the parts of the frame are formed and nourished from it. "And if (says he) it has not life previous to this operation, it must then acquire it in the act of forming: for we all give our assent to the existence of life in the parts when once formed." Milne Edwards observes that, "if an animal be bled until it falls into a state of syncope, and the further loss of blood is not prevented, all muscular motion quickly ceases, respiration is suspended, the heart pauses from its action, life is no longer manifested by any outward sign, and death soon becomes inevitable; but if, in this state, the blood of another animal of the same species be injected into the veins of the one to all appearance dead, we see with amazement this inanimate body return to life, gaining accessions of vitality with each new quantity of blood that is introduced, eventual beginning to breathe freely, moving with ease, and finally walking as it was wont to do, and recovering completely." More or less distinct traces of the recognition of blood as the vehicle of life are found in Greek and Roman writers. The knowledge of the ancients on the subject may indeed have been based on the mere observation that an animal loses its life when it loses its blood: but it may deepen our sense of the wisdom and significance of the Law of Moses to know that the fact which it sets forth so distinctly and consistently, and in such pregnant connection, is so clearly recognized by modern scientific research.

13, 14. whatsoever man … hunteth—It was customary with heathen sportsmen, when they killed any game or venison, to pour out the blood as a libation to the god of the chase. The Israelites, on the contrary, were enjoined, instead of leaving it exposed, to cover it with dust and, by this means, were effectually debarred from all the superstitious uses to which the heathen applied it. Any beast; he instanceth in this kind, either because persons much given to that exercise are commonly too licentious, and being in haste might easily transgress; or because some might think the former prohibition did reach only to the blood of such creatures as were offered to God in sacrifice. Cover it with dust; partly, to beget an honourable respect unto the blood even of beasts, and much more of men; partly, lest the beasts should lick it up, and by tasting the sweetness of it be made more fierce and cruel to devour and destroy others; and partly, as a license from God upon this condition giving them a right to kill and eat such creatures, without any fear of the blood being imputed to them; for as the not covering of the blood portends the punishment which the sin of bloodshedding calls for, Job 16:18 Ezekiel 24:7,8, so covering it notes impunity.

And whatsoever man there be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you,.... This form of speaking, which is often used in this chapter, is still observed to point out the persons on whom the law is obligatory, Israelites and proselytes of righteousness:

which hunteth and catcheth any beast or fowl that may be eaten; that is, clean beasts and fowls, such as by a former law are observed; and this excepts unclean ones, as Jarchi, but includes all clean ones, whether wild or tame, that may be taken and killed though not taken in hunting; but such are particularly mentioned, because not only hunting beasts and fowl were common, but because such persons were more rustic and brutish and, being hungry, were in haste for their food, and not so careful about the slaying of the creatures, and of, taking care about their blood:

he shall even pour out the blood thereof, and cover it with dust; that it might not be eaten by men, nor licked up by beasts and that there might be kept up a reverend esteem of blood, being the life of the creature; and this covering of it, as Maimonides (l) tells us, was accompanied with a benediction in this form,"Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, the King of the world, who hath sanctified us by his precepts, and hath given commandment to us concerning covering of the blood:''and the same writer elsewhere (m) gives us another reason of this law, that the Israelites might not meet and feast about the blood, as the Zabians did, who, when they slew a beast, took its blood and put it into a vessel, or into a hole dug by them, and sat and feasted around it: see Leviticus 19:26.

(l) Hilchot Shechitah, c. 4. sect. 1.((m) Moreh Nevochim, p. 3. c. 46.

And whatsoever man there be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, which hunteth and catcheth any beast or fowl that may be {h} eaten; he shall even pour out the blood thereof, and cover it with dust.

(h) Which the law permits to be eaten, because it is clean.

13. of the children of Israel] The Samaritan text and certain of Kennicott’s Heb. MSS. read ‘house’ here, as in Leviticus 17:3; Leviticus 17:5; Leviticus 17:10. The LXX. (see above) have ‘sons’ in all four places, but the Vulg. follows MT.

the strangers that sojourn among them] Foreigners are here made to be subject to the same law in the matter as the home born. On the other hand, in Deut. (Deuteronomy 14:21) that which dieth of itself may be given to ‘the stranger’ or sold to ‘a foreigner.’ According to Dillm. the contradiction arises from a difference in standpoint, the direction in Deut. basing itself on real and practical life, while that of P has in mind an ideal theocracy. More probably, the greater strictness of P is the product of a time (later than Deut.) when emphasis was laid on the binding character of Israel’s laws upon the resident of foreign extraction, who desired to share the advantages afforded him. So Driver.

13, 14. Directions how the blood of beasts or fowls taken in hunting is to be dealt with.

Verses 13, 14. - Negatively, it has been ordered that blood shall not be eaten; positively, that it is to be offered to God. But there may be cases where the latter command cannot be caused out, as when animals are killed in hunting. On such occasions the man who kills the animal, whether he be an Israelite or a sojourner, is to pour out the blood thereof, and cover it with dust, regarding it as a sacred thing. Leviticus 17:13The blood also of such hunted game as was edible, whether bird or beast, was not to be eaten either by the Israelite or stranger, but to be poured out and covered with earth. In Deuteronomy 12:16 and Deuteronomy 12:24, where the command to slay all the domestic animals at the tabernacle as slain-offerings is repealed, this is extended to such domestic animals as were slaughtered for food; their blood also was not to be eaten, but to be poured upon the earth "like water," i.e., not quasi rem profanam et nullo ritu sacro (Rosenmller, etc.), but like water which is poured upon the earth, sucked in by it, and thus given back to the womb of the earth, from which God had caused the animals to come forth at their creation (Genesis 1:24). Hence pouring it out upon the earth like water was substantially the same as pouring it out and covering it with earth (cf. Ezekiel 24:7-8); and the purpose of the command was to prevent the desecration of the vehicle of the soulish life, which was sanctified as the medium of expiation.
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