Leviticus 11

1 The Lord gave Moses and Aaron the following regulations
2 for the people of Israel. You may eat any land animal
3 that has divided hoofs and that also chews the cud,
4 but you must not eat camels, rock badgers, or rabbits. These must be considered unclean; they chew the cud, but do not have divided hoofs.
7 Do not eat pigs. They must be considered unclean; they have divided hoofs, but do not chew the cud.
8 Do not eat these animals or even touch their dead bodies; they are unclean.
9 You may eat any kind of fish that has fins and scales,
10 but anything living in the water that does not have fins and scales must not be eaten.
11 Such creatures must be considered unclean. You must not eat them or even touch their dead bodies.
12 You must not eat anything that lives in the water and does not have fins and scales.
13 You must not eat any of the following birds: eagles, owls, hawks, falcons; buzzards, vultures, crows; ostriches; seagulls, storks, herons, pelicans, cormorants; hoopoes; or bats.
20 All winged insects are unclean,
21 except those that hop.
22 You may eat locusts, crickets, or grasshoppers.
23 But all other small things that have wings and also crawl must be considered unclean.
24 If you touch the dead bodies of the following animals, you will be unclean until evening: all animals with hoofs, unless their hoofs are divided and they chew the cud, and all four-footed animals with paws. If you carry their dead bodies, you must wash your clothes, but you will still be unclean until evening.
29 Moles, rats, mice, and lizards must be considered unclean.
31 Whoever touches them or their dead bodies will be unclean until evening.
32 And if their dead bodies fall on anything, it will be unclean. This applies to any article of wood, cloth, leather, or sacking, no matter what it is used for. It shall be dipped in water, but it will remain unclean until evening.
33 And if their bodies fall into a clay pot, everything that is in it shall be unclean, and you must break the pot.
34 Any food which could normally be eaten, but on which water from such a pot has been poured, will be unclean, and anything drinkable in such a pot is unclean.
35 Anything on which the dead bodies fall is unclean; a clay stove or oven shall be broken,
36 but a spring or a cistern remains clean, although anything else that touches their dead bodies is unclean.
37 If one of them falls on seed that is going to be planted, the seed remains clean.
38 But if the seed is soaking in water and one of them falls on it, the seed is unclean.
39 If any animal that may be eaten dies, anyone who touches it will be unclean until evening.
40 And if any of you eat any part of the animal, you must wash your clothes, but you will still be unclean until evening; any of you who carry the dead body must wash your clothes, but you will still be unclean until evening.
41 You must not eat any of the small animals that move on the ground,
42 whether they crawl, or walk on four legs, or have many legs.
43 Do not make yourselves unclean by eating any of these.
44 I am the Lord your God, and you must keep yourselves holy, because I am holy. 1
45 I am the Lord who brought you out of Egypt so that I could be your God. You must be holy, because I am holy.
46 This, then, is the law about animals and birds, about everything that lives in the water, and everything that moves on the ground.
47 You must be careful to distinguish between what is ritually clean and unclean, between animals that may be eaten and those that may not.

Leviticus 11 Commentary

Chapter 11

What animals were clean and unclean.

- These laws seem to have been intended, 1. As a test of the people's obedience, as Adam was forbidden to eat of the tree of knowledge; and to teach them self-denial, and the government of their appetites. 2. To keep the Israelites distinct from other nations. Many also of these forbidden animals were objects of superstition and idolatry to the heathen. 3. The people were taught to make distinctions between the holy and unholy in their companions and intimate connexions. 4. The law forbad, not only the eating of the unclean beasts, but the touching of them. Those who would be kept from any sin, must be careful to avoid all temptations to it, or coming near it. The exceptions are very minute, and all were designed to call forth constant care and exactness in their obedience; and to teach us to obey. Whilst we enjoy our Christian liberty, and are free from such burdensome observances, we must be careful not to abuse our liberty. For the Lord hath redeemed and called his people, that they may be holy, even as he is holy. We must come out, and be separate from the world; we must leave the company of the ungodly, and all needless connexions with those who are dead in sin; we must be zealous of good works devoted followers of God, and companions of his people.

Cross References 1

  • 1. 11.44Leviticus 19.2; 1 P 1.16.

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. [The identification of some of the birds in verses 13-19 is uncertain.]

Chapter Summary


This chapter treats of creatures clean and unclean, as fit or not fit to be eaten; and first of beasts, whose signs are given, Le 11:1-8 then of fishes, which are likewise described, Le 11:9-12 after that of fowls, and those that are not to be eaten are particularly named, Le 11:13-19 next of creeping things, which are distinguished into two sorts, as flying creeping things, of which those that are unclean, their carcasses are not even to be touched, as neither the carcasses of unclean beasts, Le 11:20-28 and creeping things on the earth, which defile by touching, as well as eating, and make everything unclean, upon which, being dead, they fall, Le 11:29-43 and these laws are enforced from the holiness and goodness of God, Le 11:44,45 and the chapter is concluded with a recapitulation of them, Le 11:46,47.

Leviticus 11 Commentaries