Leviticus 11

Food That Is "Clean" and Food That Is Not

1 The LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron. He said to them,
2 "Speak to the people of Israel. Tell them, 'Many animals live on land. Here are the only ones you can eat.
3 You can eat any animal that has hoofs that are separated completely in two. But it must also chew the cud.
4 " 'Some animals only chew the cud. Some only have hoofs that are separated in two. You must not eat those animals. " 'Camels chew the cud. But their hoofs are not separated in two. So they are not "clean" for you.
5 " 'Rock badgers chew the cud. But their hoofs are not separated in two. So they are not "clean" for you.
6 " 'Rabbits chew the cud. But their hoofs are not separated in two. So they are not "clean" for you.
7 " 'Pigs have hoofs that are separated completely in two. But they do not chew the cud. So they are not "clean" for you.
8 " 'You must not eat the meat of those animals. You must not even touch their dead bodies. They are not "clean" for you.
9 " 'Many creatures live in the water of the oceans and streams. You can eat all of those that have fins and scales.
10 " 'But be sure to avoid all of the creatures in the oceans or streams that do not have fins and scales. That includes all of those that move together in groups and all of those that do not.
11 Be sure to avoid them. Do not eat their meat. Do not even touch their dead bodies.
12 Be sure to avoid everything that lives in the water that does not have fins and scales.
13 " 'Here are the birds you must be sure to avoid. Do not eat them. Be sure to avoid them. " 'They include eagles, vultures and black vultures.
14 They include red kites and all kinds of black kites.
15 They include all kinds of ravens.
16 They include horned owls, screech owls, gulls and all kinds of hawks.
17 " 'They include little owls, cormorants and great owls.
18 They include white owls, desert owls and ospreys.
19 They also include storks, hoopoes, bats and all kinds of herons.
20 " 'Be sure to avoid every flying insect that walks on all fours.
21 But you can eat some creatures that have wings and walk on all fours. Their legs have joints so they can hop on the ground.
22 " 'Here are the insects you can eat. You can eat all kinds of locusts, katydids, crickets and grasshoppers.
23 But be sure to avoid every other creature that has wings and four legs.
24 " 'You will make yourselves "unclean" if you eat those things. If you touch their dead bodies, you will be "unclean" until evening.
25 If a person picks up one of their dead bodies, he must wash his clothes. He will be "unclean" until evening.
26 " 'Suppose an animal has hoofs that are not separated completely in two. Or suppose an animal does not chew the cud. Then those animals are not "clean" for you. If you touch the dead body of any of them, you will not be "clean."
27 " 'Many animals walk on all fours. But those that walk on their paws are not "clean" for you. Anyone who touches their dead bodies will be "unclean" until evening.
28 If he picks up their dead bodies, he must wash his clothes. He will be "unclean" until evening. They are not "clean" for him.
29 " 'Many animals move around on the ground. Here are the ones that are not "clean" for you. They include weasels, rats and all kinds of large lizards.
30 They also include geckos, monitor lizards, wall lizards, skinks and chameleons.
31 Those are the animals that move around on the ground that are not "clean" for you. If you touch their dead bodies, you will be "unclean" until evening.
32 " 'Suppose one of them dies and falls on something. Then that article will not be "clean." It does not matter what it is used for. It does not matter whether it is made out of wood, cloth, hide or black cloth. Put it in water. It will be "unclean" until evening. After that, it will be "clean."
33 " 'Suppose one of those animals falls into a clay pot. Then everything that is in the pot will be "unclean." You must break the pot.
34 Any food that could be eaten but has water on it that came from that pot is not "clean." And any liquid that could be drunk from it is not "clean."
35 " 'Anything that the dead body of one of those animals falls on becomes "unclean." If it is an oven or cooking pot, break it. It is "unclean." And you must consider it "unclean."
36 " 'But a spring or a well for collecting water remains "clean." That is true even if the dead body of one of those animals falls into it. But anyone who touches the dead body is not "clean."
37 " 'If the dead body falls on any seeds that have not been planted yet, the seeds remain "clean."
38 But suppose water has already been put on the seeds. And suppose the dead body falls on them. Then they are not "clean" for you.
39 " 'Suppose an animal you are allowed to eat dies. If anyone touches its dead body, he will be "unclean" until evening.
40 If he eats part of the dead body, he must wash his clothes. He will be "unclean" until evening. If he picks up the dead body, he must wash his clothes. He will be "unclean" until evening.
41 " 'Be sure to avoid every creature that moves around on the ground. Do not eat it.
42 Do not eat any of those creatures. It does not matter whether they move on their bellies. It does not matter whether they walk on all fours or on many feet. Be sure to avoid them.
43 Do not make yourselves "unclean" by eating any of those animals. Do not make yourselves "unclean" because of them. Do not let them make you "unclean."
44 " 'I am the LORD your God. Set yourselves apart. Be holy, because I am holy. Do not make yourselves "unclean" by eating any creatures that move around on the ground.
45 I am the Lord. I brought you up out of Egypt to be your God. So be holy, because I am holy.
46 " 'Those are the rules about animals and birds. Those are the rules about every living thing that moves in the water. And those are the rules about every creature that moves around on the ground.
47 You must be able to tell the difference between what is "clean" and what is not. You must also be able to tell the difference between the living creatures that can be eaten and those that can't.' "

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

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