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.
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.