1. ye shall not cut yourselves . . . for the dead--It was a common practice of idolaters, both on ceremonious occasions of their worship ( 1 Kings 18:28 ), and at funerals (compare Jeremiah 16:6 , 41:5 ), to make ghastly incisions on their faces and other parts of their persons with their finger nails or sharp instruments. The making a large bare space between the eyebrows was another heathen custom in honor of the dead Such indecorous and degrading usages, being extravagant and unnatural expressions of hopeless sorrow ( 1 Thessalonians 4:13 ), were to be carefully avoided by the Israelites, as derogatory to the character, and inconsistent with the position, of those who were the people of God ( Deuteronomy 14:2 ).
Deuteronomy 14:3-21 . WHAT MAY BE EATEN, AND WHAT NOT.
Deuteronomy 14:4-8 . OF BEASTS.
fallow deer--The Hebrew word (Jachmur) so rendered, does not represent the fallow deer, which is unknown in Western Asia, but an antelope (Oryx leucoryx), called by the Arabs, jazmar. It is of a white color, black at the extremities, and a bright red on the thighs. It was used at Solomon's table.
wild goat--The word akko is different from that commonly used for a wild goat ( 1 Samuel 24:2 , Psalms 104:18 , Proverbs 5:19 ), and it is supposed to be a goat-deer, having the body of a stag, but the head, horns, and beard of a goat. An animal of this sort is found in the East, and called Lerwee [SHAW, Travels].
pygarg--a species of antelope (Oryx addax) with white buttocks, wreathed horns two feet in length, and standing about three feet seven inches high at the shoulders. It is common in the tracks which the Israelites had frequented [SHAW].
wild ox--supposed to be the Nubian Oryx, which differs from the Oryx leucoryx (formerly mentioned) by its black color; and it is, moreover, of larger stature and more slender frame, with longer and more curved horns. It is called Bekkar-El-Wash by the Arabs.
chamois--rendered by the Septuagint Cameleopard; but, by others who rightly judge it must have been an animal more familiar to the Hebrews, it is thought to be the Kebsch (Ovis tragelaphus), rather larger than a common sheep, covered not with wool, but with reddish hair--a Syrian sheep-goat.
Deuteronomy 14:11-20 . OF BIRDS.
17. gier eagle--The Hebrew word Rachemah is manifestly identical with Rachamah, the name which the Arabs give to the common vulture of Western Asia and Egypt (Neophron percnopterus).
cormorant--rather, the plungeon; a seafowl.
21. Ye shall not eat of any thing that dieth of
thou shalt give it unto the stranger that is in thy gates--not a proselyte, for he, as well as an Israelite, was subject to this law; but a heathen traveller or sojourner.
Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk--This is the third place in which the prohibition is repeated [ Exodus 23:19 , 34:26 ]. It was pointed against an annual pagan ceremony
[ Deuteronomy 14:22-29 . LAW OF THE TITHE].
22-27. Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed--The dedication of a tenth part of the year's produce in everything was then a religious duty. It was to be brought as an offering to the sanctuary; and, where distance prevented its being taken in kind, it was by this statute convertible into money.
28, 29. At the end of three years . . . the Levite . . . shall come, &c.--The Levites having no inheritance like the other tribes, the Israelites were not to forget them, but honestly to tithe their increase [ Numbers 18:24 ]. Besides the tenth of all the land produce, they had forty-eight cities, with the surrounding grounds [ Numbers 35:7 ], "the best of the land," and a certain proportion of the sacrifices as their allotted perquisites. They had, therefore, if not an affluent, yet a comfortable and independent, fund for their support.