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SECT. IX. And the difference of meats.

WHAT has been said concerning the law of sacrifices, the same may be affirmed of that in which different kinds of meat are prohibited. It is manifest, that after the universal deluge, God gave to Noah and his posterity a right to use any sort of food;599599   The mention of clean and unclean creatures seems to be an objection against this, in the history of the deluge; but either that was said by way of prolepsis to those who knew the law; or, by unclean, ought to be understood, those which men naturally avoid for food, such as Tacitus calls profane, Hist. iv. Unless any one had rather understand by clean, those which are nourished by herbs; and by unclean, those which feed on other living creatures. which right descended not only to Japhet and Ham, but also to Shem and his posterity, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But afterwards, when the people in Egypt were tinctured with the vile superstition of that nation; then it was that God first prohibited the eating some sort of living creatures; either because for the most part such were offered by the Egyptians to their gods,600600   Origen, in his fourth book against Celsus: “Some wicked dæmons, and (as I may call them) Titanic or gigantic ones, who were rebellious against the true God, and the heavenly angels, and fell from heaven, and are continually moving about gross and unclean bodies here on earth, having some fore-sight of things to come, by reason of their freedom from earthly bodies; and being conversant in such things, and being desirous to draw off mankind from the true God, they enter into living creatures, especially those that are ravenous, wild, and sagacious, and move them to what they will: or else, they stir up the fancies of such living creatures to fly or move in such a manner; that men, taken by the divination in these dumb creatures, might not seek the God that comprehends the universe, nor enquire after the pure worship of God; but suffer their reason to degenerate into earthly things; such as birds and dragons, foxes and wolves. For it is observed by those who are skilful in these things, that future predictions are made by such living creatures as these; the daemons having no power to effect that in tame creatures, which, by reason of their likeness in wickedness, not real, but seeming wickedness in such creatures, they are able to effect in other creatures. Whence, if any thing he wonderful in Moses, this particularly deserves our admiration, that, discerning the different natures of living creatures, and whether instructed by God concerning them, and the dæmons appropriated to every one of them; or whether he understood by his own wisdom, the several ranks and sorts of them; he pronounced them unclean, which were esteemed by the Egyptians and other nations to cause divination, and he declared the other to be clean.” The like to which we find in Theodoret, book vii. against the Greeks: and not very different from this is that of Manetho, “having established in the law many other things, particularly such as were contrary to the customs of the Egyptians.” And that which Tacitus says of the Jews: “All things are profane amongst them which are sacred amongst us.” And afterwards: “They slay a ram in contempt of Jupiter Ammon; and sacrifice an ox, which the Egyptians worshipped the god Apis by.” 191and they made divination by them; or because in that typical law, the particular voices of men were represented by certain kinds of living creatures.601601   Barnabas in his epistle: “Moses said, Ye shall not eat a swine, nor an eagle, nor a hawk, nor a raven, nor any fish which hath no fins. By which he meant three opinions figuratively expressed. What he aims at is evident from these words in Deuteronomy: And my judgments shall be established amongst my people. Now the commandment of God is not literally to prohibit eating them; but Moses spake of them in a spiritual sense. He mentions swine for this end, that they should not converse with men who resemble swine; for when they live in luxury, they forget their master; but when they want, they own their master: thus a swine, while he is eating, will not know his master; when he is hungry, he cries out, and when he is full, he is quiet. Again, Thou shalt not, says he, eat the eagle, or the hawk, or the kite, or the raven. As much as to say, you shall not converse with such men, who know not how to get their food by labour and pains, but unjustly steal it from others; and who walk about as if they were sincere, when they lie in wait for others; Thus these slothful creatures contrive how they may devour the flesh of others, being pestilent by their wickedness. Again, Thou shalt not eat, says be, the lamprey, nor the pourcontrel, nor the cuttle; that is to say, you shall not converse with those men who are finally wicked, and condemned to death; as these sort of fish alene are doomed to swim at the bottom of the sea, not like others to hover on the top of the water, but to dwell on the ground at the bottom. Also, he says, thou shalt not eat the coney: wherefore? that you may not be a corrupter of children, nor such like; for the hare has a new place to lay her excrements in every year; for so many years as she lives, so many holes bas she under ground. Further, thou shalt not eat the hyæna; that is, thou shalt not be au adulterer, or unclean person, or such like: for what reason? because this creature changes its nature every year, and sometimes is a male, and sometimes a female. And he justly hated the weasel; as much as to say, you shall not be like such persons, who, we have heard, have committed iniquity in their mouths, by uncleanness; neither shall you have correspondence with such workers of iniquity; for this animal conceives in its mouth. Concerning meats, therefore, Moses meant three things spiritually; but they, through fleshly inclinations, understood him of meats. But David knew these three opinions, and therefore agreeably thereto he says, Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, as fishes wander in darkness at the bottom of the sea; and hath not stood in the way of sinners, viz. like them, who, though they would seem to fear God, sin like swine: and hath not sat in the seat of the scornful, like birds watching for their prey. Thus you have the end and the meaning of them. But Moses commanded to eat every creature that is cloven-footod, and that chew. etb the cud. And what does he mean by this? He that receiveth meat, knoweth him that feeds him, and is satisfied with it, and seems to rejoice: which is very well said, if we consider the command. What, therefore, is the meaning of it? Why, converse with those who fear their master; with those who meditate in their hearts upon the word they have received; with those who speak of and keep the judgments of their master; with those who know that meditation is a pleasant work, and belongs to those who thoroughly consider their master’s word. But what means cloven-footed? That a man should walk uprightly in this world, in expectation of another life. See what excellent laws are established by Moses.” Clemens commends this of Barnabas, in his fifth Strome. You may find also many things partly alike, and partly the same with these, in Philo’s book of agriculture; and in the book entitled, “The wicked lay snares for the righteous;” which are too long to be transcribed. The like is to be seen in Eusebius, out of Aristæus, book viii. chap. 9. That these precepts 198were not universal, appears from the instance of what is appointed concerning the flesh of a beast that died of itself, Deut. xiv. that it was not lawful for the Israelites to eat it, but it was lawful for strangers, which strangers the Jews were commanded to perform all good offices to, as esteemed 109of God.602602   Holy men, but not circumcised, which you find mentioned, Levit. xxii. 25. and xxv. 40, 47. and in the Talmud, chap. of the king, and of the council; and in Maimonides’s book of idolatry. And the ancient Hebrew teachers openly declare, that in the times of the Messiah, the law of the prohibition of meats should cease, and that swine’s flesh should be as clean as that of an ox.603603   Thus R. Samuel in Mecor Chaim. The Talmud, entitled Nida, says, the law was to continue but till the times of the Messiah. We may moreover observe, that some Hebrew teachers, amongst whom is Bachai, were of opinion that the laws concerning forbidden meats, were peculiar to the land of Canaan, nor was any one obliged to observe them out of the bounds thereof. And beside, the Jews themselves are ignorant, or at least dispute about the signification of many of the names of those animals; which we cannot think God would have permitted, if the obligations to observe that law were to have continued till this time. And certainly since God designed to gather a people to himself out of all nations, it was more reasonable that he should make liberty, and not bondage, in such things common to all. Now follows an examination of festival days.


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