Leviticus 11

1 God spoke to Moses and Aaron:
2 "Speak to the People of Israel. Tell them: Of all the animals on Earth, these are the animals that you may eat:
3 "You may eat any animal that has a split hoof, divided in two, and that chews the cud,
4 but not an animal that only chews the cud or only has a split hoof. For instance, the camel chews the cud but doesn't have a split hoof, so it's unclean.
5 The rock badger chews the cud but doesn't have a split hoof and so it's unclean.
6 The rabbit chews the cud but doesn't have a split hoof so is unclean.
7 The pig has a split hoof, divided in two, but doesn't chew the cud and so is unclean.
8 You may not eat their meat nor touch their carcasses; they are unclean to you.
9 "Among the creatures that live in the water of the seas and streams, you may eat any that have fins and scales.
10 But anything that doesn't have fins and scales, whether in seas or streams, whether small creatures in the shallows or huge creatures in the deeps, you are to detest.
11 Yes, detest them. Don't eat their meat; detest their carcasses.
12 Anything living in the water that doesn't have fins and scales is detestable to you.
13 "These are the birds you are to detest. Don't eat them. They are detestable: eagle, vulture, osprey,
14 kite, all falcons,
15 all ravens,
16 ostrich, nighthawk, sea gull, all hawks,
17 owl, cormorant, ibis,
18 water hen, pelican, Egyptian vulture,
19 stork, all herons, hoopoe, bat.
20 "All flying insects that walk on all fours are detestable to you.
21 But you can eat some of these, namely, those that have jointed legs for hopping on the ground:
22 all locusts, katydids, crickets, and grasshoppers.
23 But all the other flying insects that have four legs you are to detest.
24 "You will make yourselves ritually unclean until evening if you touch their carcasses.
25 If you pick up one of their carcasses you must wash your clothes and you'll be unclean until evening.
26 "Every animal that has a split hoof that's not completely divided, or that doesn't chew the cud is unclean for you; if you touch the carcass of any of them you become unclean.
27 "Every four-footed animal that goes on its paws is unclean for you; if you touch its carcass you are unclean until evening.
28 If you pick up its carcass you must wash your clothes and are unclean until evening. They are unclean for you.
29 "Among the creatures that crawl on the ground, the following are unclean for you: weasel, rat, all lizards,
30 gecko, monitor lizard, wall lizard, skink, chameleon.
31 Among the crawling creatures, these are unclean for you. If you touch them when they are dead, you are ritually unclean until evening.
32 When one of them dies and falls on something, that becomes unclean no matter what it's used for, whether it's made of wood, cloth, hide, or sackcloth. Put it in the water - it's unclean until evening, and then it's clean.
33 If one of these dead creatures falls into a clay pot, everything in the pot is unclean and you must break the pot.
34 Any food that could be eaten but has water on it from such a pot is unclean, and any liquid that could be drunk from it is unclean.
35 Anything that one of these carcasses falls on is unclean - an oven or cooking pot must be broken up; they're unclean and must be treated as unclean.
36 A spring, though, or a cistern for collecting water remains clean, but if you touch one of these carcasses you're ritually unclean.
37 If a carcass falls on any seeds that are to be planted, they remain clean.
38 But if water has been put on the seed and a carcass falls on it, you must treat it as unclean.
39 "If an animal that you are permitted to eat dies, anyone who touches the carcass is ritually unclean until evening.
40 If you eat some of the carcass you must wash your clothes and you are unclean until evening. If you pick up the carcass you must wash your clothes and are unclean until evening.
41 "Creatures that crawl on the ground are detestable and not to be eaten.
42 Don't eat creatures that crawl on the ground, whether on their belly or on all fours or on many feet - they are detestable.
43 Don't make yourselves unclean or be defiled by them, because I am your God.
44 "Make yourselves holy for I am holy. Don't make yourselves ritually unclean by any creature that crawls on the ground.
45 I am God who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Be holy because I am holy.
46 "These are the instructions on animals, birds, fish, and creatures that crawl on the ground.
47 You have to distinguish between the ritually unclean and the clean, between living creatures that can be eaten and those that cannot be eaten."

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.

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