Leviticus 11

Laws about Animals for Food

1 The LORD spoke again to Moses and to Aaron, saying to them,
2 "Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, '1These are the creatures which you may eat from all the animals that are on the earth.
3 'Whatever divides a hoof, thus making split hoofs, and chews the cud, among the animals, that you may eat.
4 'Nevertheless, 2you are not to eat of these, among those which chew the cud, or among those which divide the hoof: the camel, for though it chews cud, it does not divide the hoof, it is unclean to you.
5 'Likewise, the shaphan, for though it chews cud, it does not divide the hoof, it is unclean to you;
6 the rabbit also, for though it chews cud, it does not divide the hoof, it is unclean to you;
7 and the pig, for though it divides the hoof, thus making a split hoof, it does not chew cud, it is unclean to you.
8 'You shall not eat of their flesh nor touch their carcasses; they are unclean to you.
9 '3These you may eat, whatever * is in the water: all that have fins and scales, those in the water, in the seas or in the rivers, you may eat.
10 '4But whatever * is in the seas and in the rivers that does not have fins and scales among all the teeming life of the water, and among all the living creatures that are in the water, they are detestable things to you,
11 and they shall be abhorrent to you; you may not eat of their flesh, and their carcasses you shall detest.
12 'Whatever * in the water does not have fins and scales is abhorrent to you.

Avoid the Unclean

13 'These, moreover, 5you shall detest among the birds; they are abhorrent, not to be eaten: the eagle and the vulture and the buzzard,
14 and the kite and the falcon in its kind,
15 every raven in its kind,
16 and the ostrich and the owl and the sea gull and the hawk in its kind,
17 and the little owl and the cormorant and the great owl,
18 and the white owl and the pelican and the carrion vulture,
19 and the stork, the heron in its kinds, and the hoopoe, and the bat.
20 'All the winged insects that walk on all fours are detestable to you.
21 'Yet these you may eat among all the winged insects which walk on all fours: those which have above * their feet jointed legs with which to jump on the earth.
22 'These of them you may eat: the locust in its kinds, and the devastating locust in its kinds, and the cricket in its kinds, and the grasshopper in its kinds.
23 'But all other winged insects which are four-footed * are detestable to you.
24 'By these, moreover, you will be made unclean: whoever touches their carcasses becomes unclean until evening,
25 and 6whoever picks up any of their carcasses shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening.
26 'Concerning all the animals which divide the hoof but do not make a split hoof, or which do not chew cud, they are unclean to you: whoever touches them becomes unclean.
27 'Also whatever walks on its paws, among all the creatures that walk on all fours, are unclean to you; whoever touches their carcasses becomes unclean until evening,
28 and the one who picks up their carcasses shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening; they are unclean to you.
29 'Now these are to you the unclean among the swarming things which swarm on the earth: the mole, and the mouse, and the great lizard in its kinds,
30 and the gecko, and the crocodile, and the lizard, and the sand reptile, and the chameleon.
31 'These are to you the unclean among all the swarming things; whoever touches them when they are dead becomes unclean until evening.
32 'Also anything on which one of them may fall when they are dead becomes unclean, including any wooden article, or clothing, or a skin, or a sack -any article of which use is made -7it shall be put in the water and be unclean until evening, then it becomes clean.
33 'As for any 8earthenware vessel into which one of them may fall, whatever * is in it becomes unclean and you shall break the vessel.
34 'Any * of the food which may be eaten, on which water comes, shall become unclean, and any liquid which may be drunk in every vessel shall become unclean.
35 'Everything, moreover, on which part of their carcass may fall becomes unclean; an oven or a stove shall be smashed; they are unclean and shall continue as unclean to you.
36 'Nevertheless a spring or a cistern collecting water shall be clean, though the one who touches their carcass shall be unclean.
37 'If a part of their carcass falls on any seed for sowing which is to be sown, it is clean.
38 'Though if water is put on the seed and a part of their carcass falls on it, it is unclean to you.
39 'Also if one of the animals dies which you have for food, the one who touches its carcass becomes unclean until evening.
40 '9He too, who eats some of its carcass shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening, and the one who picks up its carcass shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening.
41 '10Now every swarming thing that swarms on the earth is detestable, not to be eaten.
42 'Whatever crawls on its belly, and whatever walks on all fours, whatever has many feet, in respect to every swarming thing that swarms on the earth, you shall not eat them, for they are detestable.
43 '11Do not render yourselves detestable through any of the swarming things that swarm; and you shall not make yourselves unclean with them so that you become unclean.
44 'For 12I am the LORD your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and 13be holy, for I am holy. And you shall not make yourselves unclean with any of the swarming things that swarm on the earth.
45 '14For I am the LORD who brought you up from the land of Egypt to be your God; thus 15you shall be holy, for I am holy.' "
46 This is the law regarding the animal and the bird, and every living thing that moves in the waters and everything that swarms on the earth,
47 16to make a distinction between the unclean and the clean, and between the edible creature and the creature which is not to 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.

Cross References 16

  • 1. Deuteronomy 14:3-21
  • 2. Acts 10:14
  • 3. Deuteronomy 14:9
  • 4. Deuteronomy 14:10
  • 5. Deuteronomy 14:12-19
  • 6. Leviticus 11:40
  • 7. Leviticus 15:12
  • 8. Leviticus 6:28; Leviticus 15:12
  • 9. Leviticus 17:15; Leviticus 22:8; Deuteronomy 14:21; Ezekiel 44:31
  • 10. Leviticus 11:29
  • 11. Leviticus 20:25
  • 12. Exodus 6:7; Exodus 16:12; Exodus 23:25; Isaiah 43:3; Isaiah 51:15
  • 13. Leviticus 19:2; 1 Peter 1:16
  • 14. Exodus 6:7; Exodus 20:2; Leviticus 22:33; Leviticus 25:38; Leviticus 26:45
  • 15. Leviticus 19:2; 1 Peter 1:16
  • 16. Leviticus 10:10; Ezekiel 22:26; Ezekiel 44:23

Footnotes 22

  • [a]. A small, shy, furry animal "(Hyrax syriacus)" found in the peninsula of the Sinai, northern Israel, and the region round the Dead Sea; KJV "coney," orig NASB "rock badger"
  • [b]. Or "hare"
  • [c]. Lit "detestable things"
  • [d]. Lit "detestable things"
  • [e]. Lit "a detestable thing"
  • [f]. Or "vulture"
  • [g]. Or "black vulture"
  • [h]. Specifically, "great horned owl"
  • [i]. Or "owl" or "jackdaw"
  • [j]. Lit "swarming things with wings"
  • [k]. V 20, note 1
  • [l]. V 20, note 1
  • [m]. Or "thorn-tailed lizard"
  • [n]. Or "lizard"
  • [o]. Species as yet undefined
  • [p]. Lit "with which work is done"
  • [q]. Lit "it"
  • [r]. I.e. if touched by a carcass; cf vv 29-32
  • [s]. I.e. if touched by a carcass; cf vv 29-32
  • [t]. Lit "hearth for supporting (two) pots"
  • [u]. Lit "of a gathering of"
  • [v]. Lit "your souls"

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO LEVITICUS 11

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