Yahweh's Laws from 96 to 113
Lev 11:1 - Lev 11:47
Clean and Unclean Animals
Lev 11:1 Then Yahweh spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying to them,
Lev 11:2 "Speak to the Israelites, saying, 'These are the animals that you may eat from all the animals that are on the land:
Lev 11:3 Any among the animals that has a divided hoof and has a split cleft in the hoof, such you may eat.
Lev 11:4 However, these you may not eat from those that chew the cud and from those that have a divided hoof: the camel, because it is a chewer of cud but it does not have a hoof that is divided—it is unclean for you;
Lev 11:5 and the coney, because it is a chewer of cud but it does not have a hoof that is divided—it is unclean for you;
Lev 11:6 and the hare, because it is a chewer of cud but it does not have a hoof that is divided—it is unclean for you;
Lev 11:7 and the pig, because it has a divided hoof and has a split cleft in the hoof but it does not chew cud—it is unclean for you.
Lev 11:8 You must not eat from their meat, and you must not touch their dead body—they are unclean for you.
Lev 11:9 "'These you may eat from all that are in the water: any in the water that has a fin and scales, whether in the seas or in the streams—such you may eat.
Lev 11:10 But any that does not have a fin and scales, whether in the seas or in the streams, among all the water's swarmers among all the living creatures that are in the water—they are a detestable thing to you.
Lev 11:11 And they shall be detestable to you; you must not eat from their meat, and you must detest their dead body.
Lev 11:12 Any that does not have a fin and scales in the water—it is a detestable thing to you.
Lev 11:13 "'And these you must detest from the birds; they must not be eaten—they are detestable: the eagle and the vulture and the short-toed eagle,
Lev 11:14 and the red kite and the black kite according to its kind,
Lev 11:15 every crow according to its kind,
Lev 11:16 and the ostrich and the short-eared owl and the seagull and the hawk according to its kind,
Lev 11:17 and the little owl and the cormorant and the great owl,
Lev 11:18 and the barn owl and the desert owl and the carrion vulture,
Lev 11:19 and the stork, the heron according to its kind and the hoopoe and the bat.
Lev 11:20 "'Any winged insect that walks on all fours is detestable to you.
Lev 11:21 Only this may you eat from any of the winged insects that walk on all fours—that which has jointed legs above its feet for leaping upon the land.
Lev 11:22 From these you may eat the locust according to its kind and the bald locust according to its kind and the cricket according to its kind and the grasshopper according to its kind.
Lev 11:23 But any other winged insect that has four legs is detestable to you.
Lev 11:24 And by these you shall become unclean—anyone who touches their dead body shall become unclean until the evening,
Lev 11:25 and anyone who carries their dead body must wash his garments, and he shall be unclean until the evening.
Lev 11:26 "'With regard to any animal that has a divided hoof but does not split the hoof, or does not have a cud for chewing—they are unclean for you; anyone who touches them shall become unclean.
Lev 11:27 And anything that walks upon its paws among any of the animals that walks on all fours—they are unclean for you; anyone who touches their dead body shall become unclean until the evening,
Lev 11:28 and the one who carries their dead body must wash his garments, and he shall be unclean until the evening—they are unclean for you.
Lev 11:29 "'And these are the unclean for you among the swarmers that swarm on the land: the weasel and the mouse and the thorn-tailed lizard according to its kind,
Lev 11:30 and the gecko and the land crocodile and the lizard and the sand lizard and the chameleon.
Lev 11:31 These are the unclean for you among all the swarmers; anyone who touches them at their death shall become unclean until the evening.
Lev 11:32 And anything on which one of them falls at their death shall become unclean: any object of wood or garment or skin or sackcloth—any object that has performed work—must be placed in water, and it shall be unclean until the evening, and then it shall be clean.
Lev 11:33 And any clay vessel into which it falls shall become unclean, and you must break it.
Lev 11:34 Any of the food that could be eaten on which water from such a vessel comes shall become unclean, and any liquid that could be drunk in any such vessel shall become unclean.
Lev 11:35 And anything on which one of their dead bodies falls shall become unclean: an oven or a stove must be broken—they are unclean and shall be unclean for you.
Lev 11:36 Surely a spring or a cistern collecting water shall be clean, but that which touches their dead body shall become unclean.
Lev 11:37 And when one of their dead bodies falls on any seed for sowing, it is clean.
Lev 11:38 But when water is put on the seed and one of their dead bodies falls on it, it is unclean for you.
Lev 11:39 "'And when one of the animals dies that is for you to eat, the one who touches its dead body shall become unclean until the evening.
Lev 11:40 And the one who eats some of its dead body must wash his garments, and he shall be unclean until the evening; and the one who carries its dead body must wash his garments, and he shall be unclean until the evening.
Lev 11:41 "'And any swarmer that swarms on the land is detestable; it must not be eaten.
Lev 11:42 You must not eat anything that moves upon its belly or that walks on all fours, even any with numerous feet belonging to any swarmer that swarms on the land, because they are detestable.
Lev 11:43 You must not defile yourselves with any swarmer that swarms, and you must not make yourselves unclean by them and so be made unclean by them,
Lev 11:44 because I am Yahweh your Sovereign, and you must keep yourselves sanctified, so that you shall be holy, because I am holy. And you must not make yourselves unclean with any swarmer that moves along on the land,
Lev 11:45 because I am Yahweh, who brought you up from the land of Egypt to be for you as Sovereign. Thus you shall be holy, because I am holy.
Lev 11:46 "'This is the regulation of the animals and the birds and all living creatures that move along in the water and concerning all the creatures that swarm on the land,
Lev 11:47 to distinguish between the unclean and the clean and between the animal that is to be eaten and the animal that must not be eaten.'"
Matthew Henry Commentaries
Leviticus 11:1 - 47
Now that Aaron was consecrated a high priest over the house of Yahweh, Yahweh spoke to him with Moses, and appointed them both as joint-commissioners to deliver His will to the people. He spoke both to Moses and to Aaron about this matter; for it was particularly required of the priests that they should put a difference between clean and unclean, and teach the people to do so.
After the flood, when Yahweh entered into covenant with Noah and his sons, He allowed them to eat flesh (Gen_9:13), whereas before they were confined to the productions of the earth.
But the liberty allowed to the sons of Noah is here limited to the sons of Israel.
They might eat flesh, but not all kinds of flesh; some they must look upon as unclean and forbidden to them, others as clean and allowed them. The law in this matter is both very particular and very strict.
But what reason can be given for this law? Why may not Yahweh's people have as free a use of all the creatures as other people?
1. It is reason enough that Yahweh would have it so: His will, as it is law sufficient, so it is reason sufficient; for His will is His wisdom. He saw good thus to try and exercise the obedience of His people, not only in the solemnities of His altar, but in matters of daily occurrence at their own table, that they might remember they were under authority.
Thus Yahweh had tried the obedience of man in innocency, by forbidding him to eat of one particular tree.
2. Most of the meats forbidden as unclean are such as were really unwholesome, and not fit to be eaten; and those of them that we think wholesome enough, and use accordingly, as the rabbit, the hare, and the swine, perhaps in those countries, and to their bodies, might be hurtful.
And then Yahweh in this law did by them but as a wise and loving father does by his children, whom he restrains from eating that which he knows will make them sick.
Note, Yahweh is for the body, and it is not only folly, but sin against Yahweh, to prejudice our health for the pleasing of our appetite.
3. Yahweh would thus teach His people to distinguish themselves from other people, not only in their religious worship, but in the common actions of life.
Thus He would show them that they must not be numbered among the nations. It should seem there had been, before this, some difference between the Hebrews and other nations in their food, kept up by tradition; for the Egyptians and they would not eat together, Gen_43:32.
And even before the flood there was a distinction of beasts into clean and not clean (Gen_7:2), which distinction was quite lost, with many other instances of religion, among the Gentiles.
But by this law it is reduced to a certainty, and ordered to be kept up among the Hebrews, that thus, by having a diet peculiar to themselves, they might be kept from familiar conversation with their idolatrous neighbours, and might typify Yahweh's spiritual Israel, who not in these little things, but in the temper of their spirits, and the course of their lives, should be governed by a sober singularity, and not be conformed to this world.
The learned observe further, That most of the creatures which by this law were to be abominated as unclean were such as were had in high veneration among the heathen, not so much for food as for divination and sacrifice to their gods; and therefore those are here mentioned as unclean, and an abomination, which yet they would not be in any temptation to eat, that they might keep up a religious loathing of that for which the Gentiles had a superstitious value.
The swine, with the later Gentiles, was sacred to Venus, the owl to Minerva, the eagle to Jupiter, the dog to Hecate, etc., and all these are here made unclean.
As to the beasts, there is a general rule laid down, that those which both part the hoof and chew the cud were clean, and those only: these are particularly mentioned in the repetition of this law (Deu_14:4, Deu_14:5), where it appears that the Israelites had variety enough allowed them, and needed not to complain of the confinement they were under.
Those beasts that did not both chew the cud and divide the hoof were unclean, by which rule the flesh of swine, and of hares, and of rabbits, was prohibited to them, though commonly used among us.
Therefore, particularly at the eating of any of these, we should give thanks for the liberty granted us in this matter by the gospel, which teaches us that every creature of Yahweh is good, and we are to call nothing common or unclean.
Some observe a significancy in the rule here laid down for them to distinguish by, or at least think it may be alluded to. Meditation, and other acts of devotion done by the hidden man of the heart, may be signified by the chewing of the cud, digesting our spiritual food; justice and charity towards men, and the acts of a good conversation, may be signified by the dividing of the hoof.
Now either of these without the other will not serve to recommend us to Yahweh, but both must go together, good affections in the heart and good works in the life: if either be wanting, we are not clean, surely we are not clean. Of all the creatures here forbidden as unclean, none has been more dreaded and detested by the pious Hebrews than swine's flesh.
Many were put to death by Antiochus because they would not eat it. This, probably, they were most in danger of being tempted to, and therefore possessed themselves and their children with a particular antipathy to it, calling it not by its proper name, but a strange thing.
It should seem the Gentiles used it superstitiously (Isa_65:4), they eat swine's flesh; and therefore Yahweh forbids all use of it to His people, lest they should learn of their neighbours to make that ill use of it.
Some suggest that the prohibition of these beasts as unclean was intended to be a caution to the people against the bad qualities of these creatures. We must not be filthy nor wallow in the mire as swine, nor be timorous and faint-hearted as hares, nor dwell in the earth as rabbits; let not man that is in honour make himself like these beasts that perish.
The law forbade, not only the eating of them, but the very touching of them; for those that would be kept from any sin must be careful to avoid all temptations to it, and every thing that looks towards it or leads to it.