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11. Clean and Unclean Food

And the Lord spake unto Moses and to Aaron, saying unto them, 2Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, These are the beasts which ye shall eat among all the beasts that are on the earth. 3Whatsoever parteth the hoof, and is clovenfooted, and cheweth the cud, among the beasts, that shall ye eat. 4Nevertheless these shall ye not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the hoof: as the camel, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you. 5And the coney, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you. 6And the hare, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you. 7And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you. 8Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcase shall ye not touch; they are unclean to you.

9These 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. 10And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you: 11They shall be even an abomination unto you; ye shall not eat of their flesh, but ye shall have their carcases in abomination. 12Whatsoever hath no fins nor scales in the waters, that shall be an abomination unto you.

13And these are they which ye shall have in abomination among the fowls; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the ospray, 14And the vulture, and the kite after his kind; 15Every raven after his kind; 16And the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckow, and the hawk after his kind, 17And the little owl, and the cormorant, and the great owl, 18And the swan, and the pelican, and the gier eagle, 19And the stork, the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat. 20All fowls that creep, going upon all four, shall be an abomination unto you. 21Yet these may ye eat of every flying creeping thing that goeth upon all four, which have legs above their feet, to leap withal upon the earth; 22 Even these of them ye may eat; the locust after his kind, and the bald locust after his kind, and the beetle after his kind, and the grasshopper after his kind. 23But all other flying creeping things, which have four feet, shall be an abomination unto you. 24And for these ye shall be unclean: whosoever toucheth the carcase of them shall be unclean until the even. 25And whosoever beareth ought of the carcase of them shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even. 26 The carcases of every beast which divideth the hoof, and is not clovenfooted, nor cheweth the cud, are unclean unto you: every one that toucheth them shall be unclean. 27And whatsoever goeth upon his paws, among all manner of beasts that go on all four, those are unclean unto you: whoso toucheth their carcase shall be unclean until the even. 28And he that beareth the carcase of them shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even: they are unclean unto you.

29These also shall be unclean unto you among the creeping things that creep upon the earth; the weasel, and the mouse, and the tortoise after his kind, 30And the ferret, and the chameleon, and the lizard, and the snail, and the mole. 31These are unclean to you among all that creep: whosoever doth touch them, when they be dead, shall be unclean until the even. 32And upon whatsoever any of them, when they are dead, doth fall, it shall be unclean; whether it be any vessel of wood, or raiment, or skin, or sack, whatsoever vessel it be, wherein any work is done, it must be put into water, and it shall be unclean until the even; so it shall be cleansed. 33And every earthen vessel, whereinto any of them falleth, whatsoever is in it shall be unclean; and ye shall break it. 34Of all meat which may be eaten, that on which such water cometh shall be unclean: and all drink that may be drunk in every such vessel shall be unclean. 35And every thing whereupon any part of their carcase falleth shall be unclean; whether it be oven, or ranges for pots, they shall be broken down: for they are unclean, and shall be unclean unto you. 36Nevertheless a fountain or pit, wherein there is plenty of water, shall be clean: but that which toucheth their carcase shall be unclean. 37And if any part of their carcase fall upon any sowing seed which is to be sown, it shall be clean. 38But if any water be put upon the seed, and any part of their carcase fall thereon, it shall be unclean unto you. 39And if any beast, of which ye may eat, die; he that toucheth the carcase thereof shall be unclean until the even. 40And he that eateth of the carcase of it shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even: he also that beareth the carcase of it shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even. 41And every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth shall be an abomination; it shall not be eaten. 42Whatsoever goeth upon the belly, and whatsoever goeth upon all four, or whatsoever hath more feet among all creeping things that creep upon the earth, them ye shall not eat; for they are an abomination. 43Ye shall not make yourselves abominable with any creeping thing that creepeth, neither shall ye make yourselves unclean with them, that ye should be defiled thereby. 44For I am the Lord your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 45For I am the Lord that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy. 46This is the law of the beasts, and of the fowl, and of every living creature that moveth in the waters, and of every creature that creepeth upon the earth: 47To make a difference between the unclean and the clean, and between the beast that may be eaten and the beast that may not be eaten.

2. These are the beasts which ye shall eat. The holy fathers, before the birth of Moses, knew what animals were unclean; of which fact Noah afforded a manifest proof, when, by God’s command, he took into the ark seven pairs of the clean animals, and offered of them his sacrifice of thanksgiving to God. Certainly he could not have obeyed the command of God, unless he had either been taught by secret inspiration, or unless this tradition had descended to him from his forefathers. But there is nothing absurd in the notion that God, desiring to confirm the traditional distinction, appointed certain marks of difference whereby its observation might be more scrupulously attended to, and lest any transgression of it should creep in through ignorance. For God also consecrated the Sabbath to Himself from the creation of the world, and desired it to be observed by the people before the promulgation of the Law; and yet afterwards the peculiar holiness of the day was more distinctly expressed. Besides, the clean animals are here distinguished from the unclean, by name as well as by signs. The proper names, which are recited, are of little service to us now-a-days; because many species which are common in the East, are unknown elsewhere; and it was therefore easy for Jews 3535     “Rabins Juifs.” — Fr. who were born and had lived in distant countries, to fall into error about them; whilst, on the other hand, the more bold they are in their conjectures, the less are they to be trusted. As to many of them, I acknowledge that there is no ambiguity, especially as to the tame animals, or those that are to be found everywhere, or that have plain descriptions of them given in the Bible. A positive knowledge then is only to be sought from the signs which are here laid down; viz., that the animals which have cloven hoofs, and which ruminate, are clean: and that those are unclean in which either of these two things is wanting; that either sea or river fish, which have fins and scales, are clean. No such distinction as to birds is given, but only the unclean are named, which it was sinful to eat. Lastly, mention is made of reptiles. As to details, if there be anything worthy of observation, the place to consider them will be further on; let us now remember, in general, what I have before touched upon, viz., that whilst the Gentiles might eat every kind of food, many were forbidden to the Jews, in order that they might learn in their very food to cultivate purity; and this was the object of their separation from ordinary customs. Hence it arose that they use the word חלל, chalal 3636     חול is rendered by A.V. unholy, Leviticus 10:10; common, 1 Samuel 21:5; profane, Ezekiel 22:26, and Ezekiel 42:20, in which last instance common, or public, would have been more suitable. — W both for “to make common,” and to “contaminate;” and the word, חול, chol, signifies “polluted,” because it is opposed to anything holy or set apart. It is true, indeed, that the Gentiles, by natural instinct, have regarded with the utmost horror the eating of some of the animals which are here forbidden; still, God would surround His people with barriers, which must separate them from their neighbors.

Those who imagine that God here had regard to their health, as if discharging the office of a Physician, pervert by their vain speculation the whole force and utility of this law. I allow, indeed, that the meats which God permits to be eaten are wholesome, and best adapted for food; but, both from the preface, — in which God admonished them that holiness was to be cultivated by the people whom He had chosen, — as also from the (subsequent) abolition of this law, it is sufficiently plain that this distinction of meats was a part of that elementary instruction 3737     “Pedagogiae.” — Lat. “La doctrine puerile.” — Fr. under which God kept His ancient people.

"Let no man therefore judge you (says Paul) in meat or in drink, which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.” (Colossians 2:16-17.)

By which expressions he means, that what was spiritual had been shadowed forth in the external rite of abstaining from meats. To the same effect he elsewhere says, (Romans 14:14) that he knows and is persuaded, 3838     Vide C. in loco, (Calvin Society Translation,) and Owen’s note. C. evidently does not understand the words in the sense of our translation; “I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus,” — but rather as I have given them in the text, supposing the Apostle to speak of Christ, not as the author of his persuasion, but as the remover of the uncleanness referred to. The Fr. is “il sait, et est persuade qu’il n’y a rien impur a ceux, qui croyent en Jesus Christ; “he knows and is persuaded that there is nothing unclean to them that believe in Jesus Christ. that in the Lord Jesus Christ there is nothing unclean; viz., because Christ by his death has redeemed His people from slavish subjection. Hence it follows, that the prohibition of meats must be counted among the ceremonies, which were exercises in the worship of God. But here a question arises, how it is reconcilable that, even from the days of Noah, certain animals were unclean, and yet that all without exception were allowed to be eaten? I cannot agree with some in thinking that the distinction originally made by God grew obsolete by degrees; for God, in excepting the eating of blood only, makes a grant of whatsoever moves upon the earth as the food of the posterity of Noah. I therefore restrict to the sacrifices that uncleanness, with the knowledge of which the hearts of the Patriarchs were then inspired, nor do I doubt but that it was as lawful for Abraham, as well as for them, to eat swine’s flesh as the flesh of oxen. Afterwards, when God imposed the yoke of the Law to repress the licentiousness of the people, He somewhat curtailed this general permission, not because He repented of His liberality; but because it was useful to compel in this way to obedience these almost rude and uncivilized people. But, since before the Law the condition of the saints was the same as our own, it must be remembered, as I said before, that, agreeably to the dictates of nature, they spontaneously avoided certain foods, just as at present no one will hunt wolves or lions for food, nor desire to eat serpents and other venomous animals. But the object of this ordinance was different, viz., lest they who were God’s sacred and peculiar people, should freely and promiscuously communicate with the Gentiles.


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