View Leviticus 11 in the note window.
Of clean and unclean beasts, ver. 1 - 8.
Fishes, ver. 9 - 12.
Fowls, ver. 13 - 19.
Creeping things whether flying, ver. 20 - 28.
or creeping upon the earth, ver. 29 - 43.
An exhortation to holiness, ver. 44, 45.
The conclusion, ver. 46, 47.
1: From the laws concerning the priests, he now comes to those which
belong to all the people. God spake to both of them, because the
cognizance of the following matters belonged to both: the priest was to
direct the people about the things forbidden or allowed, where any doubt
or difficulty arose; and the magistrate was to see the direction followed.
2: These are the beasts - Though every creature of God be good and
pure in itself, yet it pleased God to make a difference between clean and
unclean, which he did in part before the flood, (Ge 7:2), but more
fully here for many reasons; as,
- To assert his own sovereignty over man, and all the creatures which men
may not use but with God's leave.
- To keep up the wall of partition between the Jews and other nations,
which was very necessary for many great and wise purposes.
- That by bridling their appetite in things in themselves lawful, and some
of them very desirable, they might be better prepared and enabled to deny
themselves in things simply and grossly sinful.
- For the preservation of their health, some of the creatures forbidden
being, though used by the neighbouring nations, of unwholesome
nourishment, especially to the Jews, who were very obnoxious to
leprosies. To teach them to abhor that filthiness, and all those ill
qualities for which some of these creatures are noted.
3: Cloven - footed - That is, divided into two parts only: This clause
is added to explain and limit the former, as appears from (Le 11:26),
for the feet of dogs, cats &c. are parted or cloven into many parts.
And cheweth the cud - Heb. and bringeth up the cud, that is, the meat
once chewed, out of the stomach in the mouth again, that it may be chewed a
second time for better concoction. And this branch is to be joined with
the former, both properties being necessary for the allowed beasts. But
the reason hereof must be resolved into the will of the law - giver; though
interpreters guess that God would hereby signify their duties, by the first,
that of discerning between good and evil; and by the latter, that duty of
recalling God's word to our minds and meditating upon it.
4: The camel - An usual food in Arabia, but yielding bad
nourishment. Divideth not the hoof - So as to have his foot cloven in
two, which being expressed, (Le 11:3), is here to be understood.
Otherwise the camel's hoof is divided, but it is but a small and imperfect
5: As for the names of the following creatures, seeing the Jews
themselves are uncertain and divided about them, it seems improper to
trouble the unlearned readers with disputes about them.
8: Ye shall not touch - Not in order to eating, as may be gathered by
comparing this with (Ge 3:3). But since the fat and skins of some of
the forbidden creatures were useful, for medicinal and other good purposes,
and were used by good men, it is not probable that God would have them cast
away. Thus God forbad the making of images, (Ex 20:4), not
universally, but in order to the worshipping them, as Christian interpreters
9: Fins and scales - Both of them; such fishes being more cleanly,
and more wholesome food than others. The names of them are not particularly
mentioned, partly because most of them wanted names, the fish 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 fish.
11: Unto you - This clause is added to shew that they were neither
abominable in their own nature, nor for the food of other nations; and
consequently when the partition - wall between Jews and Gentiles
was taken away, these distinctions of meat were to cease.
13: Among the fowls - The true signification of the following
Hebrew words is now lost, as the Jews at this day confess; which not
falling out without God's singular providence may intimate the cessation of
this law, the exact observation whereof since Christ came is become
impossible. In general, this may be observed, that the fowls forbidden in
diet, are all either ravenous and cruel, or such as delight in the night and
darkness, or such as feed upon impure things; and so the signification of
these prohibitions is manifest, to teach men to abominate all cruelty or
oppression, and all works of darkness and filthiness. The ossifrage
and the osprey - Two peculiar kinds of eagles, distinct from that which
being the chief of its kind, is called by the name of the whole kind.
15: After his kind - According to the several kinds, known by this
general name, which includes, besides ravens properly so called, crows,
rooks, pyes, and others.
20: All fowls - Flying things that crawl or creep upon the earth, and
so degenerate from their proper nature, and are of a mongrel kind, which may
intimate that apostates and mongrels in religion are abominable in the sight
of God. Upon all four - Upon four legs, or upon more than four, which is
all one to the present purpose.
22: The locust - Locusts, though unusual in our food, were commonly
eaten by the Ethiopians, Lybians, Parthians, and other eastern people
bordering upon the Jews. And as it is certain the eastern locusts were
much larger than ours, so it is probable they were of different qualities,
and yielding better nourishment.
23: All other - That is, which have not those legs above and besides
their feet mentioned, (Le 11:21).
24: Unclean - And such were excluded both from the court of God's
house, and from free conversation with other men.
25: Beareth - Or, taketh away, out of the place where it may lie,
by which others may be either offended, or polluted.
27: Upon his paws - Heb. upon his hands, that is, which hath feet
divided into several parts like fingers, as dogs, cats, apes, and bears.
34: That on which such water cometh - That flesh or herbs or other
food which is dressed in water, in a vessel so polluted, shall be unclean;
not so, if it be food which is eaten dry, as bread, or fruits; the reason
of which difference seems to be this, that the water did sooner receive the
pollution in itself, and convey it to the food so dressed.
36: Of this no reason can be given, but the will of the law - giver and
his merciful condescension to men's necessities, water being scarce in those
countries; and for the same reason God would have the ceremonial law of
sacrifices, give place to the law of mercy.
37: Seed - Partly because this was necessary provision for man; and
partly because such seed would not be used for man's food till it had
received many alterations in the earth whereby such pollution was taken
38: If any water - The reason of the difference is, because wet seed
doth sooner receive, and longer retain any pollution and partly because such
seed was not fit to be sown presently, and therefore that necessity which
justified the use of the dry seed, could not be pretended in this case.
39: If any beast die - Either of itself, or being killed by some wild
beast, in which cases the blood was not poured forth, as it was when they
were killed by men either for food or sacrifice.
40: He that eateth - Unwittingly, for if he did it knowingly, it was
a presumptuous sin against an express law, (De 14:21), and therefore
punished with cutting off.
41: Every creeping thing - Except those expressly excepted,(Le 11:29,30).
42: Upon the belly - As worms and snakes, Upon all four - As toads
and divers serpents.
44: Ye shall be holy - By this he gives them to understand, that all
these cautions about eating or touching these creatures was not for any real
uncleanness in them, but only that by diligent observation of these rules
they might learn with greater care to avoid all moral pollutions, and to
keep themselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, and from all
familiar and intimate converse with notorious sinners.
45: That bringeth you up out of Egypt - This was a reason why they
should chearfully submit to distinguishing laws, who had been so honoured
with distinguishing favours.
46: This is the law - It was so, as long the Mosaic dispensation
lasted. But under the gospel we find it expressly repealed by a voice from
heaven, (Ac 10:15). Let us therefore bless God, that to us
every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused.