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This chapter treats of creatures clean and unclean, as fit or not fit to be eaten; and first of beasts, whose signs are given, ( Leviticus 11:1-8) then of fishes, which are likewise described, ( Leviticus 11:9-12) after that of fowls, and those that are not to be eaten are particularly named, ( Leviticus 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, ( Leviticus 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, ( Leviticus 11:29-43) and these laws are enforced from the holiness and goodness of God, ( Leviticus 11:44,45) and the chapter is concluded with a recapitulation of them, ( Leviticus 11:46,47).
Ver. 1 . And the Lord spake unto Moses, and unto Aaron , etc.] The one being the chief magistrate, and the other the high priest, and both concerned to see the following laws put into execution; according to Jarchi, the Lord spoke to Moses that he might speak to Aaron; but being now in office, and one part of his office being to distinguish between clean and unclean, the following discourse is directed equally to him as to Moses: saying unto them ; as follows.
Ver. 2 . Speak unto the children of Israel, saying , etc.] For to them only belong the following laws, and not unto the Gentiles, as Jarchi rightly observes; these were parts of the ceremonial law, which was peculiarly given to them, and lay, among other things, in meats and drinks, and now abolished; for it is not what goes into a man that defiles him; nor is anything common or unclean of itself, but every creature of God is good if received with thanksgiving. The sons of Noah had free liberty, without any restraint or limitation, of using for food any living creature that moved upon the face of the earth; in the choice of which they were left to exercise their reason and judgment, and is the case with us now; but as men have not so nice a smell as some animals have, and cannot distinguish by their senses so well as they what food is most wholesome, which makes the exercise of their reason and judgment necessary, and the people of the Jews being a special people, and for whom the Lord had a peculiar regard; for the sake of their health, and to preserve them from diseases they were subject to, such as the leprosy and others, and to direct them to what was most salubrious and healthful, gave them the following laws; and which, though they are not obligatory upon us, yet may be a direction to us, in the use of what may be most suitable and proper food for us, the difference of climates, and of the constitutions of men’s bodies, being considered: not that we are to suppose, that the case of health was the only reason of delivering out these laws to the children of Israel, for other ends, besides that, may be thought to be had in view; as to assert his sovereign right to the creatures, and his disposal of them to them according to his will and pleasure; to lay a restraint on their appetites, to prevent luxury, and to teach them self denial, and compliance with his will; as also to keep them the more from the company and conversation of the Gentiles, by whom they otherwise might be led into idolatry; and to give them an aversion to their idols, to whom the creatures forbidden them to eat, many of them were either now or would be sacred to them; and chiefly to excite to a care for purity, both inward and outward, and create in the man abhorrence of those vices which may be signified by the ill qualities of several of the creatures; and to instruct them in the difference between holy and unholy persons, with whom they should or should not have communion; (see Acts 10:11-15,28) these are the beasts that ye shall eat among all the beasts that are on the earth ; they are not particularly mentioned here, but they are in ( Deuteronomy 14:4,5) and they are these ten; the ox, the sheep, and the goat, the hart, and the roebuck, and the fallow deer, and the wild goat, and the pygarg, and the wild ox, and the chamois; of all which, (see Gill on “ Deuteronomy 14:4-5”): here only some general things are observed to describe them by, as follow.
Ver. 3 . Whatsoever parteth the hoof, and is cloven footed , etc.] That is, whose hoof is parted and cloven quite through; for there are some creatures that have partitions in their feet, but not quite through, they are parted above, but underneath are joined together by a skin; wherefore both these phrases are used to describe the beasts lawful to be eaten: the Egyptians seem to have borrowed this law from the Jews, for Chaeremon says f212 , that they abstain from such four footed beasts that have only one hoof, or have many partitions, or have no horns: and so the Targum of Jonathan adds here, “which have horns,” which, though not in the text, agrees well with the creatures allowed by this law to be eaten, (see Deuteronomy 14:4,5) for such are all horned cattle; nor are there any cattle horned forbid to be eaten: and cheweth the cud among the beasts, that shall ye eat : who having no upper teeth cannot thoroughly chew their food at once, and therefore bring it up again out of their stomachs into their mouths and chew it over again, that it may be better prepared for digestion in the stomach, and so yield better nourishment; and this makes the flesh of such creatures fitter for food: and these creatures have more stomachs than one; the ventricles for rumination are four; the first is the paunch, which in oxen is so big as to hold food of fifty pound weight, the second the honeycomb, the third the tripe, the fourth the honey tripe, and to which are helpful the pectoral muscle, the abdomen, with the diaphragm f213 : all this might have a moral and spiritual meaning in it, and may be applied either to ministers of the word; who ought rightly to divide the word of truth, and give to everyone their part, and who should walk uprightly according to it, and who should give themselves up wholly to the meditation of it, and thoroughly digest it; and study to show themselves workmen, that need not to be ashamed; or to private Christians, who have a discerning spirit in spiritual things, and can distinguish not only morality from immorality, but spiritual things from carnal, heavenly things from earthly, the voice of Christ from the voice of a stranger, and the doctrines of Christ from the doctrines of men; and who also walk as they should do, by faith on Christ, in the ways of God, and according to the Gospel; these chew the cud, meditate on the word, feed upon it while delivered, recall it, and have it brought to their remembrance by the divine Spirit, and ponder it in their hearts; (see Psalm 1:1,2).
Ver. 4 . Nevertheless, these shall ye not eat , etc.] To whom one of these descriptive characters may agree but not the other: of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the hoof : there being some that chewed the cud but did not divide the hoof; others that divided the hoof but did not chew the cud, of which instances are given as follow: [as] the camel, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he [is] unclean unto you ; and not to be eaten, whether male or female; or rather, “though he cheweth the cud”; and this account agrees with what naturalists give of it; so Aristotle says it has not both rows of teeth, but wants its upper teeth, and chews as horned cattle do, and has bellies like theirs; for they have more bellies than one, as the sheep, and goat, and hart, and others; since the service of the mouth is not sufficient to grind the food for want of teeth, this is supplied by the bellies, which receive the food one after another; in the first it is undigested, in the second somewhat more digested, in the third more fully, in the fourth completely: and so many bellies the camel has, as a very learned searcher into these things observes; the first is the biggest, the second very small, the third much greater than the second, and the fourth equal to the second; in the second belly between the tunics, he says, seem to be the hydrophylacia, in which the water they drink is kept, very commodious for these animals passing through sandy deserts, so that they can long bear thirst: Pliny says four days: Leo Africanus relates a method used by travellers in the deserts of Lybia, who being in extreme want of water kill one of their camels, out of whose intestines they press out water; this they drink, this they carry about till they find a well, or must die with thirst: and the account also which is given of the feet of these creatures agrees; it parts the hoof, but not thoroughly, it is not cleft quite through, and so comes not up to Moses’s descriptive character of clean creatures; its hoof is divided in two, but so divided, as Aristotle observes, that it is but little divided on the back part unto the second joint of the toes; the fore part is very little divided, to the first joint of the toes, and there is something between the parts, as in the feet of geese: and so Pliny says it has two hoofs, but the lower part of the foot is but very little divided, so that it is not thoroughly cleft: but though the flesh of these creatures was forbidden the Jews, it was eaten by people of other nations; both Aristotle and Pliny commend the milk of camels; and by the former the flesh of them is said to be exceeding sweet; and Diodorus Siculus relates f222 , that what with their milk and their flesh, which is eaten, as well as on account of their carrying burdens, they are very profitable unto men; and Strabo says, the Nomades eat the flesh and milk of camels; and so the Africans, according to Leo Africanus f224 ; and a countryman of ours f225 , who lived some time in Arabia, relates, that when a camel falls they kill it, and the poorer sort of the company eat it; and he says that he himself ate of camel’s flesh, and that it was very sweet and nourishing: these creatures, in the mystic sense, may be an emblem of such persons, that carry their heads high, are proud and haughty, that boast of their riches, or trust in their righteousness.
Ver. 5 . And the coney , etc.] Or rabbit: because he cheweth the cud ; or “though he cheweth”; which yet, some observe, the coney or rabbit does not, it having upper teeth, and therefore they think some other creature is meant by Shaphan, the word here used; and Bochart is of opinion, that the Aljarbuo of the Arabians, a sort of mountain mouse, is meant, which chews the cud and divides not the hoof, and resides in rocks, which agrees with the account of the Shaphan in ( Proverbs 30:26) but this is rejected by Dr. Shaw f227 , who takes the creature here to be the Daman Israel, or Israel’s lamb, an animal of Mount Lebanon, a harmless creature of the same size and quality with the rabbit, and with the like incurvating posture, and disposition or the fore teeth, but is of a browner colour, with smaller eyes, and a head more pointed, like the marmots; the fore feet likewise are short, and the hinder are nearly as long in proportion as those of the jerboa; and though this animal is known to burrow sometimes in the ground, yet its usual residence and refuge is in the holes and clifts of the rocks; but a learned man f228 , and very inquisitive in the things of nature, tells us, that the “cuniculus”, coney, or rabbit, this sort of animals do chew half an hour after eating: but divideth not the hoof ; which is well known of this creature: he [is] unclean unto you ; not fit or proper to be eaten of, but to be abstained from as an unclean animal; and may be an emblem of timorous persons, as these creatures by Aristotle are observed to be, and it is well known they are; even of the fearful and unbelieving, reckoned among the impure, who will have their portion in the lake of fire, ( Revelation 21:8).
Ver. 6 . And the hare, because he cheweth the cud , etc.] Or, “though he chews” it: but divideth not the hoof, he [is] unclean to you ; and so not to be eaten; so Plutarch says, that the Jews are said to abstain from the hare, disdaining it as a filthy and unclean animal, and yet was in the greatest esteem with the Romans of any four footed beast, as Martial says f231 : Moses, as Bochart and other learned men observe, is the only writer that speaks of the hare as chewing the cud; though they also observe, that Aristotle makes mention of that in common with those that do chew the cud, namely a “coagulum” or “runnet” in its stomach; his words are, “all that have many bellies have what is called puetia , a coagulum or runnet, and of them that have but one belly, the hare;” only that: this creature being prone to lust, may be an emblem of lustful persons, who give up themselves to lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness, ( Ephesians 4:19).
Ver. 7 . And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be cloven footed , etc.] Not only its hoofs are parted, but cloven quite through, and so in this respect answers Moses’s first descriptive character of clean creatures; though Aristotle and Pliny speak of some kind of swine in Illyricum, Paeonia, and other places, which have solid hoofs; but perhaps these were not properly swine, though so called: yet he cheweth not the cud ; and a learned physician observes f236 , that such creatures that chew not the cud, so perfect a chyle cannot be elaborated by them as is by those that chew the cud, and therefore their flesh must be less wholesome; and of the swine, he says f237 , they have but one belly, and so there is no rumination or chewing the cud by them; wherefore they are to be placed, and are in a lower degree than the camel, the coney, and the hare; and as they cannot digest the chyle so well as those that chew the cud, and also live upon most sordid and filthy food, the eating of swine’s flesh, he observes, must produce many inconveniences to the body, as especially scorbutic, arthritic, scabious, and leprous disorders: so Manetho the Egyptian says f238 , that he that eats swine’s milk is liable to be filled with the leprosy; and Maimonides gives it as the principal reason of its being forbid the Jews, because it is such a filthy creature, and eats such filthy things: he [is] unclean to you : and so it has always been accounted by the Jews, and nothing is more abominable to them, as is even testified by Heathen f240 writers; and in this they have been imitated by many nations, particularly the Egyptians, who, as Herodotus says f241 , reckon swine a very filthy creature; so that if anyone does but touch it passing by, he is obliged to plunge himself into a river with his clothes on; and keepers of them may not go into any of their temples, nor do the rest of the Egyptians intermarry with them, but they marry among themselves; the reason of this their abhorrence of swine, Aelianus says f242 , is because they are so gluttonous that they will not spare their own young, nor abstain from human flesh; and this, says he, is the reason why the Egyptians hate it as an impure and voracious animal: likewise the Arabians entirely abstain from swine’s flesh, as Solinus says f243 , who adds, that if any of this sort of creatures is carried into Arabia, it immediately dies; and the same Pliny attests: and so the Phoenicians, the near neighbours of the Jews, would not eat the flesh of them; hence Antoninus is said to abstain from it after the manner of the Phoenicians , unless the historian should mean the Jews; also the Gallo- Grecians or Galatians f246 ; nay, even the Indians have such an abhorrence of it, that they would as soon taste of human flesh as taste of that f247 , and it is well known that the Mahometans abstain from it; and they have such an aversion to it, that if any chance to kill a wild pig, for tame they have none, they look on the merit of it to be almost equivalent to the killing a Christian in fight f248 : now these creatures may be an emblem of filthy and impure sinners, especially apostates, who return to their former impurities and wallow in them, ( 2 Peter 2:22).
Ver. 8 . Of their flesh shall ye not eat , etc.] Meaning, not of swine only, but of the camel, coney, and hare: and their carcass shall ye not touch ; which must not be understood of touching them in any sense; for then it would have been unlawful for a Jew to have rode upon a camel, or to take out and make use of hog’s lard in medicine; but of touching them in order to kill them, and prepare them for food, and eat them; and indeed all unnecessary touching of them is forbidden, lest it should bring them to the eating of them; though perhaps it may chiefly respect the touching of them dead: they [are] unclean to you : one and all of them; for as this was said of each of them in particular, so now of all of them together; and which holds good of all wild creatures not named, to whom the description above belongs, and which used to be eaten by other nations; some of which were called Pamphagi, from eating all sorts, and others Agriophagi, from eating wild creatures, as lions, panthers, elephants f249 , etc.
Ver. 9 . These shall ye eat of all that [are] in the waters , etc.] In the waters of the sea, or in rivers, pools, and ponds; meaning fishes; for though some persons abstain from eating them entirely, as the Egyptian priests, as Herodotus relates; and it was a part of religion and holiness, not with the Egyptians only, but with the Syrians and Greeks, to forbear eating them f251 ; and Julian gives two reasons why men should abstain from fishes; the one because what is not sacrificed to the gods ought not to be used for food; and the other is, because these being immersed in the deep waters, look not up to heaven; but God gave the people of Israel liberty of eating them, under certain limitations: whatsoever hath fins and scales, in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them shall ye eat ; some render it disjunctively, “fins or scales” f253 ; but as Maimonides observes, whatsoever has scales has fins; and who also says, if a fish has but one fin and one scale, it was lawful to eat: fins to fishes are like wings to birds, and oars to boats, with which they swim and move swiftly from place to place; and scales are a covering and a protection of them; and such fishes being much in motion, and so well covered, are less humid and more solid and substantial, and more wholesome: in a spiritual sense, fins may denote the exercise of grace, in which there is a motion of the soul, Godward, Christward, and heavenward; and scales may signify good works, which adorn believers, and protect them from the reproaches and calumnies of men.
Ver. 10 . And all that have not fins nor scales in the seas, and in the rivers , etc.] Such as eels, lampreys, etc. of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which [is] in the waters ; the former of these are interpreted by Aben Ezra and Ben Gersom of little fishes that have but a small body, and such as are created out of the waters; and the latter, of such as are produced of a male and female; or, as Maimonides explains it, the one signifies the lesser creatures, such as worms and horse leeches; the other greater ones, sea beasts, as sea dogs, etc. they shall be an abomination to you ; not only unclean, and so unfit to eat, but to be had in abhorrence and detestation, as being exceeding disagreeable and unwholesome; and, as a learned man observes f256 , to these prohibited in general belong all those animals in lakes, rivers, or seas, which are of a slow motion, and which, because of the slow motion of their bodies, do not so well digest their food; and for that may be compared with four footed beasts that have but one belly, and so unwholesome as they.
Ver. 11 . They shall be even an abomination to you , etc.] This is repeated again and again, to deter from the eating of such fishes, lest there should be any desire after them: ye shall not eat of their flesh , here mention is made of the flesh of fishes, as is by the apostle, ( 1 Corinthians 15:39). Aben Ezra observes, that their wise men say, this is according to the usage of words in those ages: but you shall have their carcasses in abomination ; not only abstain from eating them and touching them, but to express the utmost aversion to them.
Ver. 12 . Whatsoever hath no fins nor scales in the waters , etc.] Which is repeated that they might take particular notice of this law, and be careful to observe it, this being the only sign given: that [shall be] an abomination unto you ; the Targum of Jonathan says, that not only the flesh of such fish, but the broth, and pickles made of them, were to be an abomination; which contradicts what Pliny relates, that the Jews made a pickle of fishes that lacked scales; so Grotius understands him: this law of the Jews is taken notice of by Porphyry f258 , who says, it is forbidden all the Jews to eat horse flesh, or fishes that lack scales, or any animal that has but one hoof: and Pliny f259 , from an ancient author, Cassius Hemina, makes mention of a law of Numa, forbidding the use of fish that had not scales, in feasts made for the gods.
Ver. 13 . And these [are they which] ye shall have in abomination among the fowls , etc.] No description or sign is given of fowls, as of beasts and fishes, only the names of those not to be eaten; which, according to Maimonides, are twenty four; so that all the rest but these are clean fowls, and might be eaten; wherefore the same writer observes f260 , that, “whoever was expert in these kinds, and in their names, might eat of every fowl which was not of them, and there was no need of an inquiry:” but what creatures are intended by these is not now easy to know; very different are the sentiments both of the Jews and Christians concerning them; and indeed it does not much concern us Christians to know what are meant by them, but as curiosity may lead us to such an inquiry, not thinking ourselves bound by these laws; but it is of moment with the Jews to know them, who think they are; wherefore, to supply this deficiency, they venture to give some signs by which clean and unclean fowls may be known, and they are three; such are clean who have a superfluous claw, and also a craw, and a crop that is uncovered by the hand f261 ; and on the contrary they are unclean, and not to be eaten, as says the Targum of Jonathan, which have no superfluous talon, or no craw, or a crop not uncovered: they shall not be eaten, they [are] an abomination ; and they are those that follow: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the ospray ; about the first of these there is no difficulty, all agree the eagle is intended; which has its name either from the nature of its sight, or from the casting of its feathers, or from its tearing with its bill: it is a bird of prey, a very rapacious creature, and sometimes called the bird of Jupiter, and sacred to the gods; and these may be the reasons why forbid to be eaten, as well as because its flesh is hard, and not fit for food, and unwholesome; “the ossifrage” or “bone breaker” has its name from its tearing its prey and breaking its bones for the marrow, as the word “peres” here used signifies, ( Micah 3:3) it is said to dig up bodies in burying places to eat what it finds in the bones f262 : this is thought to be of the eagle kind, as it is reckoned by Pliny f263 , though Aristotle speaks of it as very different from the eagle, as larger than that, and of an ash colour; and is so kind to the eagle’s young, that when they are cast out by that, it takes them and brings them up: the “ospray” is the “halioeetus”, or sea eagle, as the Septuagint version and several others render it; which Aristotle describes as having a large and thick neck, crooked wings, and a broad tail, and resides about the sea and shores: Pliny speaks of it as having a very clear sight, and, poising itself on high, having sight of a fish in the sea, will rush down at once and fetch it out of the water; and he also reports that she will take her young before they are fledged, and oblige them to look directly against the rays of the sun, and if any of them wink, or their eyes water, she casts them out of her nest as a spurious brood. Aristotle f267 , who relates the same, says she kills them.
The name of this creature, in the Hebrew text, seems to be taken from its strength; wherefore Bochart is of opinion, that the “melanoeetos”, or black eagle, which, though the least of eagles as to its size, exceeds all others in strength, as both Aristotle and Pliny say; and therefore, as the latter observes, is called by the Romans “valeria”, from its strength.
Maimonides f271 says of these two last fowls, which we render the ossifrage and the ospray, that they are not to be found on the continent, but in the desert places of the isles of the sea very far off, even those which are at the end of the habitable world.
Ver. 14 . And the vulture, and the kite after his kind .] Perhaps it might be better if the version was inverted, and the words be read, “and the kite, and the vulture, after his kind”; and the last word is by us rendered the vulture in ( Job 28:7) and very rightly, since the kite is not remarkable for its sight, any other than all rapacious creatures are, whereas the vulture is to a proverb; and besides, of the vulture there are two sorts, as Aristotle says f272 , the one lesser and whiter, the other larger and more of an ash colour; and there are some that are of the eagle kind f273 , whereas there is but one sort of kites; though Ainsworth makes mention of two, the greater of a ruddy colour, common in England, and the lesser of a blacker colour, known in Germany, but produces no authority for it; however, these are both ravenous creatures: of the kite, Aelianus says f274 , it is very rapacious, and will take meat out of the meat market, but not touch any sacrificed to Jupiter; the truth of which may well be questioned; and of vultures he reports f275 , that they will watch a dying man, and follow armies going to battle, expecting prey; (see Gill on “ Matthew 24:28”).
Ver. 15 . Every raven after his kind .] The red raven, night raven, the water raven, river raven, wood raven, etc. this also includes crows, rooks, pies, jays, and jackdaws, etc. The raven was with the Heathens sacred to Apollo f276 , is a voracious creature, and so reckoned among unclean ones, and unfit for food; nor does the care that God takes of these creatures, or the use he has made of them, contradict this; (see Job 38:41 <19E709> Psalm 147:9 1 Kings 17:4,6).
Ver. 16 . And the owl , etc.] The great and little owls being after mentioned, it seems best, by the word here used, to understand the “ostrich” with the Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, the Oriental versions, and the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan: the account which Pliny gives of the African and Ethiopic ostriches is this; that they are the largest of birds, and almost of the kind of beasts; that they exceed the height of a horseman on horseback, and are swifter than the horses; that their wings are given them to help them in their running, otherwise they are not flying fowls, nor are they lifted up from the earth. Their hoofs are like to those of harts, with which they fight, and are cloven, and serve to gather up stones, which in their flight they throw with their feet against them that follow them; they have a wonderful concoction, digesting whatever is swallowed down; and, according to Galen f278 , all the parts of them, their flesh and their eggs, are hard and difficult of digestion, and excermentitious: Aben Ezra says f279 , their flesh is as dry as a stick, and it is not usual to eat it, for there is no moisture in it; and therefore nothing can be eaten of the whole species, but the daughter or young one, for that being a female and little, there is some moisture in it; but not so the male when little; wherefore as the flesh of this creature is always reckoned by the Jews as unlawful to be eaten, it may the rather be supposed to be intended here, since if not here, it cannot be thought to be any where observed; and yet we find that both the eggs and the flesh of this creature have been eaten by some people: their eggs with the Indians were reckoned delicate eating, as Aelianus reports; and near the Arabians and Ethiopians were a people, as both Diodorus Siculus f281 and Strabo relate, who were called Struthophagi, from their living on ostriches; and they eat them in Peru, where they are common f283 ; and in several parts of Africa, as Nubia, Numidia, and Lybia, as Leo Africanus f284 relates: and the night hawk ; which, according to Pliny f285 , is sometimes called “cymindis”, and is seldom to be found in woods, sees not so well in the day time, and wages a deadly war with the eagle, and they are often found joined together: Bochart who thinks that the female ostrich is meant by the preceding bird, is of opinion that the male ostrich is meant here, there being no general name in the Hebrew language to comprehend both sexes: and the cuckoo ; a bird well known by its voice at least: some have thought it to be the same with the hawk, changing its figure and voice; but this has been refuted by naturalists f287 : but though it is here forbidden to be eaten, yet its young, when fat, are said to be of a grateful savour by Aristotle: and Pliny says, no bird is to be compared to it for the sweetness of its flesh, though perhaps it may not be here intended: the word is by the Septuagint rendered a “sea gull”, and so it is by Ainsworth, and which is approved of by Bochart f289 : and the hawk after his kind ; a well known bird, of which, according to Aristotle f290 , there are not less than ten sorts: Pliny says sixteen; it has its name in Hebrew from flying, it being a bird that flies very swiftly; (see Job 39:26) the hawk was a symbol of deity with the Egyptians, and was reverenced and worshipped by them f292 .
Ver. 17 . And the little owl, and the cormorant, and the great owl .] Ainsworth translates the words just the reverse, and takes the first word to signify the great owl, and the last the little one; the great owl may intend the great horn owl, called sometimes the eagle owl, which is thus described; it is of the size of a goose, and has large wings, capable of extending to a surprising breadth: its head is much of the size and figure of that of a cat, and has clusters of black feathers over the ears, rising to three fingers’ height; its eyes are very large, and the feathers of its rump long, and extremely soft; its eyes have yellow irises, and its beak black and crooked: it is all over mottled with white, reddish, and black spots; its legs are very strong, and are hairy down to the very ends of the toes, their covering being of a whitish brown f293 : and as this is called the great horn owl, others, in comparison of it, may be called the little owl. Some reckon several species of owls--there are of three sizes; the large ones are as big as a capon, the middle sized are as big as a wood pigeon, the smaller sort about the size of an ordinary pigeon--the horned owl is of two kinds, a larger and a smaller--the great owl is also of two sorts, that is, of a larger and a smaller kind f294 ; it is a bird sacred to Minerva: but though it is pretty plain that the last of the words used signifies a bird that flies in the twilight of the evening, from whence it seems to have its name, as Aben Ezra, Ben Gersom, and other Jewish writers observe, and fitly agrees with the owl which is not seen in the day, but appears about that time; yet the first is thought by Bochart to be the “onocrotalus” or “pelican”, which has under its bill a bag or sack, which will hold a large quantity of anything; and the word here used has the signification of a cup or vessel, (see <19A206> Psalm 102:6).
The word we render “cormorant”, the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan paraphrase it, a drawer of fish out of the sea, so Baal Hatturim; and thus it is interpreted in the Talmud f296 ; and the gloss upon it says, this is the water raven, which is the same with the cormorant; for the cormorant is no other than “corvus aquaticus”, or water raven; (see Gill on “ Zephaniah 2:14”). The Septuagint render it by “catarrhactes”, which, according to the description of it f297 , resides by rocks and shores that hang over water; and when it sees fishes swimming in it, it will fly on high, and contract its feathers, and flounce into the water, and fetch out the fish; and so is of the same nature, though not the same creature with the cormorant. Aben Ezra observes, that some say this is a bird which casts its young as soon as born; and this is said of the “catarrhactes”, that it lets down its young into the sea, and draws them out again, and hereby inures them to this exercise f298 .
Ver. 18 . And the swan , etc.] This is a bird well known to us, but it is a question whether it is intended by the word here used; for though it is so rendered in the Vulgate Latin, it is differently rendered by many others: the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem call it “otia”, which seems to be the same with the “otus” of Aristotle f299 , who says it is like an owl, having a tuft of feathers about its ears (from whence it has its name); and some call it “nycticorax”, or the owl; and here, by Bochart f300 , and others, the owl called “noctua” is thought to be meant; and with which agrees the account some Jewish writers give of it, as Aben Ezra and Baal Hatturim, who say it is a bird, which every one that sees is astonished at it, as other birds are at the owl, are frightened at the sight of it, and stupefied. But as the same word is used ( Leviticus 11:30) among the creeping things, for a mole, what Jarchi observes is worthy of consideration, that this is “calve (chauve) souris” (the French word for a bat), and is like unto a mouse, and flies in the night; and that which is spoken of among the creeping things is like unto it, which hath no eyes, and they call it “talpa”, a mole. The Septuagint version renders it by “porphyrion”, the redshank; and so Ainsworth; and is thought to be called by the Hebrew name in the text, from the blowing of its breath in drinking; for it drinks biting, as Aristotle says f301 : and the pelican ; which has its name in Hebrew from vomiting; being said by Aben Ezra and Baal Hatturim to be a bird that vomits its food; and it is observed by several naturalists f302 , of the pelican, that it swallows down shellfish, and after they have lain some time in its stomach, it vomits them up again; where having been heated, the shells open, and it picks out the meat: and the gier eagle ; or vulture eagle, the “gypoeetos” of Aristotle f303 , and who says it is called also “oripelargos”, or the mountain stork; and which Pliny also makes to be an eagle of the vulture kind. Dr. Shaw says f305 , that near Cairo there are several flocks of the “ach bobba” (white father, differing little from the stork but in its colour), the “percnopterus” or “oripelargos”, which like the ravens about London feed upon carrion, and nastiness that is thrown without the city; this the Arabs call “rachama”, the same with µjr , ( Leviticus 11:18) and hmjr in ( Deuteronomy 14:17) and whatever bird is here meant, it must be one that is tender toward its young, as its name signifies, as Aben Ezra and Baal Hatturim observe; and though both the eagle and the vulture are rapacious birds, yet have a great regard to their young; of the eagle (see Deuteronomy 32:11) and the vulture, with the Egyptians, was an “hieroglyphic” of a tender mother, or any merciful person; it being reported of it, that during the one hundred twenty days its young are under its care, it very rarely flies from them, being so solicitous of nourishing them; and that by making incisions in its thigh, it lets out a bloody flow of milk, when it has nothing else to support them f306 . The Talmudists say, that the bird “racham”, as it is here called, is the same with “serakrak”, and is by the Targum of Jonathan, and in the Syriac version, here rendered “serakraka”, so called from qrç , which signifies to “squall”; and, according to Munster f308 , is thought by some to be the “pica”, magpie, or rather the jay; and Dr. Shaw observes, that by a small transmutation of letters, that and the “shagarag” of the Arabs are the same; which he says is of the size and shape of a jay, though with a smaller bill, and shorter legs; the back is brownish; the head, neck, and belly, of a light green; and upon the wings and tail there are several spots or ringlets of a deep blue; it makes a “squalling” noise; and, he adds, it has no small affinity both in voice and plumage with the jay. The Septuagint version renders the word by the “swan”; which if not intended by the first word in this text, may by this, being kind to its young, though otherwise reckoned a cruel and unmerciful bird, as Bochart observes; some think the woodpecker is meant, so called from its love to its parents f311 .
Ver. 19 . And the stork , etc.]. A bird of passage, ( Jeremiah 8:7) it has its name from kindness, which it exercises both to its dam, and to its young.
Various writers speak of the kindness of these birds to their dams, which when they are old they take care of and feed them, to which the apostle is thought to allude, ( 1 Timothy 5:4) and its tenderness to its young is no less manifest: when the city of Delf in Holland was on fire, the storks were seen very busy to save their young from the flames, and which when they could not do, threw themselves into the midst of them, and perished with them, as Drusius from the Dutch historians relates. It is said to feed upon serpents; and hence by Virgil to be “invisa colubris”; and Juvenal says, it nourishes its young with them; and which may be a reason of its being forbid to be eaten, and is the reason given by the Mahometans for the prohibition of it; though on this account it was in great honour in Thessaly, that country being freed from serpents by it, and therefore they made it a capital crime to kill them, as Pliny relates; formerly people would not eat the stork, but at present it is much esteemed for the deliciousness of its flesh f317 the heron after her kind ; this bird has its name in Hebrew from its being soon angry, as Aben Ezra observes; and Jarchi calls it the angry vulture or kite, as it is in the Talmud f318 ; and adds, and it appears to me to be what they call the “heron”, one sort of which named “asterias”, as there is one sort so called by Pliny f319 ; it becomes tame in Egypt, and so well understands the voice of a man, as Aelianus reports, that if anyone by way of reproach calls it a servant or slothful, it is immediately exceeding angry. There are three kinds of herons, as both Aristotle and Pliny f322 ; and by a learned man of ours f323 , their names are thus given, the criel or dwarf heron, the blue heron, and the bittour; some reckon nineteen: and the lapwing ; the upupa or hoopoe; it has its name in Hebrew, according to Jarchi, from its having a double crest; and so Pliny ascribes to it a double or folded crest, and speaks of it as a filthy bird; and, according to Aristotle and Aelian f326 , its nest is chiefly made of human dung, that by the ill smell of it men may be kept from taking its young; and therefore may well be reckoned among impure fowl. Calmet says, there is no such thing as a lapwing to be seen in any part of England; but there are such as we call so, whether the same bird with this I cannot say: and the bat ; a little bird which flies in the night, Aben Ezra says; Kimchi f328 describes it a mouse with wings, which flies in the night, and we sometimes call it the “flitter mouse”; it is a creature between a fowl and a beast; and, as Aristotle says f329 , it partakes of both, and is of neither; and it is the only fowl, as Pliny observes, that has teeth and teats, that brings forth animals, and nourishes them with milk. It is a creature so very disagreeable, that one would think almost there was no need of a law to forbid the eating of it; and yet it is said by some to be eatable, and to be eaten, as Strabo f331 affirms, yea, to be delicious food. It is asserted f332 , that there is a sort of them in the east, larger than ordinary, and is salted and eaten--that there are bats in China as large as pullets, and are as delicate eating. Of these several fowls before mentioned, some are of the ravenous kind, and are an emblem of persecutors and covetous persons, and such as live by rapine and violence; others are of a lustful nature, and are an emblem of those who serve various lusts and pleasures, and give up themselves to uncleanness; others are night birds, and are a proper emblem of them whose works are works of darkness, and love darkness rather than the light; and others never rise higher than the earth, and so may denote earthly minded persons; and others live on impure things, and so fitly represent such who live an impure life; with all such the people of God are to have no fellowship.
Ver. 20 . All fowls that creep , etc.] Or rather “every creeping thing that flies”; for what are designed are not properly fowls, but, as the Jewish writers interpret them, flies, fleas, bees, wasps, hornets, locusts, etc. so the Targum of Jonathan, Jarchi, Ben Gersom, and Maimonides f333 : going upon [all] four ; that is, upon their four feet, when they walk or creep: [these shall be] an abomination to you ; not used as food, but detested as such.
Ver. 21 . Yet these may ye eat , etc.] Which are after described and named: of every flying creeping thing that goeth upon [all] four ; even though it is a creeping thing that flies and goes upon four feet, provided they be such, which have legs above their feet, to leap withal upon the earth ; there is a double reading of this clause; the textual reading is, “which have not legs”, and is followed by several interpreters and translators; and the marginal reading, which we follow, is, “which have legs”; and both are to be regarded as true, and written by Moses, as Ainsworth observes; for locusts are born without legs, and yet creep low, as Pliny asserts f334 , and they have them afterwards; and it is a canon of the Jews, that what have not legs or wings now, or have not wings to cover the greatest part of them, but shall have after a time when grown up, these are as free (to eat) now, as when grown up f335 . Dr. Shaw thinks the words may bear this construction, “which have knees upon” or “above their [hinder] legs, to leap withal upon the earth”; and applying this to the locust afterwards, and only instanced in, he observes, that this has the two hindermost of its legs and feet much stronger, larger, and longer than any of the foremost. In them the knee, or the articulation of the leg and thigh, is distinguished by a remarkable bending or curvature, whereby it is able, whenever prepared, to jump, to spring, or raise itself up with great force and activity. And these Aristotle calls the leaping parts; and though he attributes to the locust six feet, as does also Pliny f338 , yet he takes the two leaping parts into the account; whereas Moses distinguishes those two from the four feet; and so Austin observes, that Moses does not reckon among the feet the two hinder thighs with which locusts leap, which he calls clean, and thereby distinguishes them from such unclean flying creatures which do not leap with their thighs, such as beetles; and so the Jewish writers always describe a clean locust as having four feet, and two legs, thighs, or knees.
Maimonides gives three signs of them, which are these, whatsoever has four feet and four wings, which cover the greatest part of its body in length, and the greatest part of the compass of it, and has two thighs or knees to leap with, they are of the clean kind; and although its head is long, and it hath a tail, if its name is “chagob” (a locust) it is clean.
Ver. 22 . [Even] these of them ye may eat , etc] The four following ones, which seem to be no other than four sorts of locusts: the locust after his kind ; this is the common locust, called by the name of Arbeh, from the great multiplication and vast multitudes of them; the phrase, “after his kind”, and which also is used in all the following instances, signifies the whole entire species of them, which might be eaten: and the bald locust after his kind ; which in the Hebrew text is Soleam, and has its name, as Aben Ezra suggests, from its ascending rocks: but since locusts do not climb rocks, or have any peculiar regard for them, rather this kind of locust may be so called, from their devouring and consuming all that come in their way f341 , from the Chaldee word µ[ls , which signifies to swallow, devour, and consume; but why we should call it the bald locust is not so clear, though it seems there were such, since the Jews describe some that have no baldness, which the gloss explains, whose head is not bald f342 , which shows that some are bald; and so, this is described by Kimchi f343 , it has an eminence, a rising, or bunch upon it; some render it baldness, and it hath no tail, and its head is long; and so Ben Melech: and the beetle after his kind ; which is another sort of locust called Chargol, and should not be rendered a beetle, for no sort of beetles are eatable, nor have legs to leap withal, and so come not under the general description given of such flying, creeping things, fit to eat: Kimchi says it is one kind of a locust f344 , and Hiscuni derives its name from djt and lgr , because it strives to leap with its feet, which answers to the above descriptive character: the Septuagint and Vulgate Latin versions, and some others, render it by Ophiomachus, a fighter with serpents, to which the locust is an enemy, and kills them, taking fast hold of their jaws, as Pliny says f345 , and so Aristotle f346 : and the grasshopper after his kind ; this is another, and the fourth kind of the locust that might be eaten; its name is Chagab, from the Arabic word Chaguba, “to vail”, locusts vailing the light of the sun: and according to the Jewish doctors, it is a name which every locust fit to eat should have; “among the locusts (fit for food) are these, who have four feet, and four wings and thighs, and wings covering the greatest part of them, and whose name is Chagab f347 ;” and commentators say f348 , it must be called by this name, as well as have those signs: the difference between these several sorts is with them this; the Chagab has a tail, but no bunch; Arbeh neither bunch nor tail; and Soleam has a bunch, but not a tail; and Chargol has both bunch and tail f349 :
Maimonides reckons up eight sorts of them fit to eat; and these creatures were not only eaten by the Jews, but by several other nations: with the Parthians they were very agreeable and grateful food, as Pliny f351 relates; who also says , that some part of the Ethiopians live only upon them all the year, hardened in smoke, and with salt: Diodorus Siculus f353 makes mention of the same, and calls them Acridophagi, locust eaters, and gives a particular account of their hunting and taking them, and preserving them for food; and so does Strabo f354 ; and the same Solinus relates of those that border on Mauritania; and they are still eaten in Barbary, where they dry them in ovens to preserve them, and then either eat them alone, or pounded and mixed with milk: their taste is said to be like shrimps f356 ; and Bochart has shown, from various writers, that they were a delicious food with the Greeks, especially among the common people; and so they are with the Indians f358 .
Ver. 23 . But all [other] flying creeping things , etc.] Excepting the four sorts before mentioned, wherefore we rightly supply the word “other”: which have four feet ; or more; the Vulgate Latin version adds, “only”, but wrongly; for those that have more are unclean, and forbidden to be eaten, excepting those in the preceding verse; and most creeping things that fly have six feet, as the locusts themselves, reckoning their leaping legs into the number; though it may be observed, that those creatures that have six feet have but four equal ones, on which they walk or creep; and the two foremost, which are longer, are as hands to them to wipe their eyes with, and protect them from anything that may fall into them and hurt them; they not being able to see clearly because of the hardness of their eyes, as Aristotle observes, and particularly it may be remarked of the fly, as it is by Lucian f360 , that though it has six feet it only goes on four, using the other two foremost as hands; and therefore you may see it walking on four feet, with something eatable in its hands, lifting them up on high, just after the manner of men: now all such creatures that have four feet or more, excepting the above, [shall be] an abomination unto you ; abhorred as food, and abstained from.
Ver. 24 . And for these ye shalt be unclean , etc.] That is, for eating them; or should they eat them they would be unclean: whosoever toucheth the carcass of them shall be unclean until the even ; not only he was unclean that ate them, but he that even touched their dead bodies was reckoned unclean; might not go into the tabernacle, nor have conversation with men, nor eat of the holy things, which were forbid men in any uncleanness; and though there is no mention of his washing himself, it may be understood, this being a short or concise way of speaking, as Aben Ezra observes; who adds, that it was necessary that he should wash himself in water; which was typical of washing and cleansing by the grace and blood of Christ, without which a man cannot be cleansed from the least sin, and pollution by it; and may signify that during the legal dispensation there was no proper cleansing from sin, until the evening of the world, when Christ came and shed his blood for the cleansing of it.
Ver. 25 . And whosoever beareth [ought] of the carcass of them , etc.] That carries them from one place to another, out of the camp, city, village, or house or field where they may lie; and though this is done with a good design, as being offensive or infectious, yet such an one shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even ; from whence both Jarchi and Aben Ezra infer, that the pollution by hearing or carrying is greater than that by touching; since such a man, so defiled, was obliged to wash his clothes as well as his body; so saints, that have contracted pollution by any manner of sin, are to wash their garments and make them white in the blood of the Lamb, ( Revelation 7:14).
Ver. 26 . [The carcasses] of every beast which divideth the hoof, and is not cloven footed , etc.] As the camel: nor cheweth the cud ; though it may divide the hoof, as the swine; and on the other hand, such as may chew the cud, and yet not dividing the hoof, as the coney and hare; for the Scripture here, as Aben Ezra observes again, uses a short and concise way of speaking: these [are] unclean unto you ; to be reckoned by them such, and neither to be eaten nor touched: everyone that toucheth them shall be unclean ; until the evening; and obliged to washing, though not expressed: this is not to be understood of touching them while alive, as some Sadducees or Karaites understand it, according to Aben Ezra; for camels, horses, mules, etc. might be, and were rode upon, and so touched; but of them when dead, or their carcases, as is rightly supplied in the beginning of the verse; and the Jewish writers f361 understand this of the flesh of the carcass only, not of the bones, horns, and hoofs, which, they say, do not defile, only the flesh: this is repeated from ( Leviticus 11:8).
Ver. 27 . Whatsoever goeth upon his paws , etc.] Or “the palms” of his hands; meaning such creatures, whose feet are not divided into two parts, but into many, like the fingers of an hand, as apes, lions, bears, wolves, foxes, dogs, cats, etc. among all manner of beasts that go on [all] four ; this is added, to distinguish them from fowl, such as are clean; who walk but on two feet, though their feet are divided into fingers or talons, and may be called hands on which they walk: these [are] unclean unto you : and as they might not be eaten, so neither touched, as follows: whoso toucheth their carcass shall be unclean until the even ; (see Gill on “ Leviticus 11:24”).
Ver. 28 . And he that beareth the carcass of them , etc.] Carries it upon any account, from place to place: shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even ; as he that bore the carcasses of any of the flying creeping things, ( Leviticus 11:25) they are unclean to you ; even the carcasses of the one and of the other; and to all the Israelites, men, women, and children, as Aben Ezra observes.
Ver. 29 . These also [shall be] unclean unto you among the creeping things that creep upon the earth , etc.] As distinguished from those creeping things that fly, these having no wings as they; and which were equally unclean, neither to be eaten nor touched, neither their blood, their skin, nor their flesh, as the Targum of Jonathan paraphrases it: and the Misnic doctors say that the blood of a creeping thing and its flesh are joined together: and Maimonides observes, that this is a fundamental thing with them, that the blood of a creeping thing is like its flesh; which in Siphre (an ancient book of theirs) is gathered from what is said in ( Leviticus 11:29) “these shall be unclean”, etc. hence the wise men say, the blood of a creeping thing pollutes as its flesh: the creeping things intended are as follow: the weasel, and the mouse, and the tortoise after his kind ; the first of these, “the weasel”, a creature well known; there are two sorts of it, as Pliny says, the field weasel, and the house weasel; the former are called by the Jewish writers the weasel of the bushes f366 , and the latter the weasel that dwells in the foundations of houses f367 ; and of the former there was a doubt among some of them whether it was a species of the eight reptiles in ( Leviticus 11:29) or whether it was a species of animals f368 ; and which, Maimonides says, is a species of foxes like to weasels: Bochart thinks the mole is intended; but the generality of interpreters understand it of the weasel; and so Jarchi and Kimchi, and Philip Aquinas f370 , interpret it by “mustela”, the weasel: however, all agree the second is rightly interpreted “the mouse”; which has its name in Hebrew from its being a waster and destroyer of fields; an instance of which we have in ( 1 Samuel 6:5 (see Gill on “ 1 Samuel 6:5”)); so that this sort may be chiefly intended, though it includes all others, who are distinguished by their colours, the black, the red, and the white, which are all mentioned by Jonathan in his paraphrase of the text: this animal, as a learned physician expresses it, eats almost everything, gnaws whatever it meets with, and, among other things, is a great lover of swine’s flesh, which was an abomination to the Jews; nor does it abstain from dung, and therefore it is no wonder it should be reckoned among impure creatures; and yet we find they were eaten by some people, (see Isaiah 66:17) especially the dormouse; for which the old Romans made conveniences to keep them in, and feed them, and breed them for the table f372 : so rats in the West Indies are brought to market and sold for food, as a learned author of undoubted credit assures us, who was an eyewitness of it: the last in this text, “the tortoise”, means the land tortoise; it has its name from the shell with which it is covered, this word being sometimes used for a covered wagon, ( Numbers 7:3) there are various kinds of them, as Pliny and other writers observe, and who, as Strabo and Mela also, speak of a people they call Chelonophagi, or tortoise eaters: a tortoise of the land kind is esteemed a very delicate dish:
Dr. Shaw f377 , speaking of the land and water tortoises in Barbary, says, the former, which hides itself during the winter months, is very palatable food, but the latter is very unwholesome: the Septuagint version renders it, the “land crocodile”, which, is approved of by Bochart f378 : and Leo Africanus says f379 , that many in Egypt eat the flesh of the crocodile, and affirm it to be of good savour; and so Benzon says, its flesh is white and tender, and tastes like veal; though some among them, as Strabo asserts, have a great antipathy and hatred to them; and others worship them as gods, and neither can be supposed to eat them; the land crocodiles are eaten by the Syrians, as Jerom affirms, for those feeding on the sweetest flowers, as is said, their entrails are highly valued for their agreeable odour: Jarchi says, it is a creature like a frog; he means a toad; so Philip Aquinas and many render the word: Dr. Shaw takes the creature designed to be the sharp-scaled tailed lizard f383 .
Ver. 30 . And the ferret , etc.] Whatever creature is here meant, it has its name in Hebrew from the cry it makes; and so the ferret has but one note in its voice, which is a shrill, but small, whining cry: it is used to drive rabbits out of their holes: the Septuagint and Vulgate Latin versions render the word by “mygale”, the weasel mouse, or “mus areneus” of the Latins, the shrew or shrew mouse: it has something of the mouse and weasel, from whence it has its name in Greek, being of the size of the one, and the colour of the other: but Bochart is of opinion, that a sort of lizard called “stellio”, an evet or newt, is meant; one sort of which, according to Pliny f385 , makes a bitter noise and screaking: and [the] chameleon ; this is a little creature like a lizard, but with a larger and longer head; it has four feet, and on each foot three claws; its tail is long; with this, as well as with its feet, it fastens itself to the branches of trees; its tail is flat, its nose long, and made in an obtuse point; its back is sharp, its skin plaited and jagged like a saw, from the neck to the last joint of the tail, and upon its head it hath something like a comb; in other respects it is made like a fish; that is to say, it has no neck f386 ; what is said of its living on air, and changing colour according to what it is applied, are now reckoned vulgar mistakes: but whatever creature is here meant, it seems to have its name in Hebrew from its strength, wherefore Bochart f387 takes the “guaril” or “alwarlo” of the Arabs to be meant; which is the stoutest and strongest sort of lizard, and is superior in strength to serpents, and the land tortoise, with which it often contends: and the lizard ; so Jarchi interprets the word by a “lizard”; it has a larger letter than usual in it, that this creature might be taken notice of, and guarded against as very pernicious, and yet with some people it is eaten:
Calmet says f388 , there are several sorts of lizards, which are well known: there are some in Arabia of a cubit long, but in the Indies there are some, they say, of twenty four feet in length: in America, where they are very good, they eat them: one lizard is enough to satisfy four men: and so in the West Indies, says Sir Hans Sloane f389 , I was somewhat surprised to see serpents, rats, and lizards sold for food, and that to understanding people, and of a very good and nice palate; and elsewhere f390 , he says, all nations inhabiting these parts of the world (the West Indies) do the same: “Guanes” or “lizards” are very common in Jamaica, and eaten there, and were of great use when the English first took this island, being, as I was assured, says he, commonly sold by the first planters for half a crown apiece: Dr. Shaw says, that he was informed that more than 40,000 persons in Cairo, and in the neighbourhood, live upon no other food than lizards and serpents, though he thinks f392 , because the chameleon is called by the Arabs “taitah”, which differs little in name from hajl , “letaah”, here; that therefore that, which is indeed a species of the lizard, might, with more propriety, be substituted for it: and the snail ; so the word is rendered by Jarchi, on the place, and by Kimchi, and Philip Aquinas, and David de Pomis, in their lexicons; and these creatures, though forbid to the Jews, yet are not only used for medicine, but also for food by many: snails of several kinds, we are told, are eaten with much satisfaction in Italy and France: in Silesia they make places for the breeding of them at this day, where they are fed with turnip tops, etc. and carefully preserved for the market; and the Romans took care of them in the same manner f393 : Bochart thinks a kind of lizard is meant, which lies in sand, called by the Arabs “chulaca”, or “luchaca”, because the word here used signifies, in the Talmudic language, sandy ground: and the mole ; and so it is interpreted by Onkelos and Jarchi here, and by David de Pomis, and Philip Aquinas, in their lexicons: the same word is used for a certain sort of fowl, which we translate the “swan”; ( Leviticus 11:18) but here of a creeping thing: whatever is intended by it, it seems to have its name from its breath; either in a contrary signification, if understood of the mole, which either holds its breath, or breathes not while under ground; or from its breathing more freely, wherefore Bochart takes it to be the “chameleon”; which, as Pliny f397 says, is always gaping with its mouth for air; and it has been a vulgar notion, though a wrong one, that it lives upon it: the Targum of Jonathan interprets it by the “salamander”; now whoever ate any of the above eight creeping things, according to the Jewish canons, was to be beaten f398 .
Ver. 31 . These are unclean to you of all that creep , etc.] Unfit for food, and not to be touched, at least when dead, as in the next clause, that is, these eight sorts of creeping things before mentioned, as the Targum of Jonathan expresses it, and these only, as Maimonides says f399 : whosoever doth touch them when they are dead shall be unclean until the even ; for touching them while alive did not defile, only when dead; and this the Jews interpret, while they are in the case in which they died, that is, while they are moist; for, as Ben Gersom says, if they are so dry, as that they cannot return to their moisture, they do not defile; for which reason, neither the bones, nor nails, nor nerves, nor skin of these creeping things, defile; but, they say f400 , while the back bone is whole, and the bones cleave to it, then a creeping thing is reckoned moist, and while it is so it defiles.
Ver. 32 . And upon whatsoever [any] of them, when they are dead, doth fall, it shall be unclean , etc.] Any of the above eight creeping things, that is, of their flesh, for as for their bones, nails, nerves, and skin, as before observed, being separated from them and dry, they do not defile: whether [it be] any vessel of wood, or raiment, or skin, or sack ; every wooden vessel, as the Targum of Jonathan; and all sorts of clothes, of woollen, linen, or silk, and all sorts of skins, excepting skins of sea beasts; for these, according to the Jews f401 , received no pollution; and also sacks or sackcloth, made of goats’ hair, and the like: whatsoever vessel [it be], wherein any work is done ; any tool or instrument made use of by any artificer in his trade, or any vessel wrought by him: it must be put into water ; dipped into it, even into forty seahs of water, according to the Targum of Jonathan; and which is to be understood, not of any working tool, or finished vessel only, but of any vessel of wood, raiment, skin, or sack, before mentioned: it shall be unclean until the even ; even though put into water and washed: so it shall be cleansed ; in the above manner, by being put or dipped into water; or “afterwards”, as the Septuagint, when it has been dipped and the even is come, and not before.
Ver. 33 . And every earthen vessel, whereinto [any] of them falleth , etc.] Any of the above eight reptiles, should they by chance fall into the midst an earthen vessel: whatsoever [is] in it shall be unclean ; if it only by falling touched the outside of it, it was not unclean; but if it fell into it, then whatever was contained in it was unclean; for, as Jarchi says, an earthen vessel does not pollute or receive pollution, but from the air of it f402 , from its inside: and ye shall break it ; other vessels might be put into water and rinsed, and so be cleansed, but earthen vessels, being of no great value, were to be broken in pieces: an emblem this, as Ainsworth suggests, of the dissolution of our bodies, which are as earthen vessels, and of the destruction of sin thereby, and of the entire removal of it by death.
Ver. 34 . Of all meat which may be eaten , etc.] Which otherwise is lawful to eat and fit for food, whether herbs, or whether the flesh of clean creatures: [that] on which [such] water cometh shall be unclean ; that is, such water as is put into an unclean vessel, become so by the fall of any unclean reptile into it; wherefore such water poured out upon any sort of food, clean and fit to eat, or that is put into such water, to be dressed, it becomes unclean and unfit to eat; for the vessel, being unclean, defiles the water, and the water defiles the food: Jarchi interprets this of water in general, which coming upon anything eatable, prepares it for uncleanness; “we learn (says he) that no food is fit and prepared to receive defilement until water comes upon it once; and after it is come upon it once, it receives defilement for ever, even though it becomes dry;” but the former seems to be the true sense: and all drink that may be drank in every such vessel shall be unclean ; whatever otherwise might be lawfully drank, yet being put into such a vessel, into which any unclean reptile was fallen, or being in it when it fell into it, became unclean and not fit to be drank; and those liquors which receive uncleanness, and make meats unclean by coming on them, according to the Misnic doctors f403 , are these seven, dew, water, wine, oil, blood, milk, and honey.
Ver. 35 . And everything whereupon [any part] of their carcass falleth shall be unclean , etc.] Before the Scripture seems to speak of anyone of the reptiles perfect, that falling upon anything should pollute it; but here of any part of them, though ever so small, which should, through any accident, fall and light upon anything, even that would render it unclean and unfit for use: [whether it be] oven, [or] ranges of pots ; the one to bake bread in, and the other to boil flesh in, as Aben Ezra observes: they shall be broken down ; and no more made use of for baking and boiling: [for] they are unclean, and shall be unclean to you ; were made hereby unfit for use, and should not be used: the Jewish writers explain the phrase, “to you”, to your necessity, that which they had need of, but now should not use nor receive advantage from; even “to you”; all men, women, and children, as Hiskuni interprets it: all this was ordered to create in them an abhorrence of these creatures, and to make them cautious of eating and touching them, and careful that they come not nigh, or touched, or fell upon anything, since it would give them so much trouble, as well as occasion loss.
Ver. 36 . Nevertheless, a fountain or pit, [wherein there is] plenty of water , etc.] Or, “a fountain or pit, a collection of waters”, the copulative being wanting, as some observe, Aben Ezra takes notice of; or it may be by way of apposition, and so may explain what fountain or pit is meant, even such an one where there is a large continence of water, into which, if any carcass of a creeping thing fell, or any part of it, yet it shall be clean : and fit for use, either because of the abundance of water in it, which could not be affected with the fall of such a creature into it as where there is but a small quantity; or rather this exception was made, because pools of water were of considerable value in these countries, and frequently in use for bathings, etc. and therefore for the good of men, and that they might not suffer so great a loss by such an accident, they are declared notwithstanding to be clean and free for use: hence you may learn, says Jarchi, that he that dips in them is pure from his uncleanness; that a man might lawfully make use of them for a bath on account of any uncleanness, notwithstanding the carcass of a creeping thing had fallen into it; as a mouse, or rat, or any such creature: but that which toucheth their carcass shall be unclean ; not the waters which touch the carcass, as Aben Ezra interprets it, for then the whole would be defiled, and unfit for use; but either the man that touched the carcass, laid hold upon it to pluck it out of the fountain or pit, or that which he made use of to get it out, or both these, were unclean in a ceremonial sense: the Targum of Jonathan is, “but he that toucheth their carcasses in the midst of these waters shall be unclean.”
Ver. 37 . And if [any part] of their carcass fall upon any sowing seed that is to be sown , etc.] That which is selected from the other seed in order to be sown, and which is laid by and laid up for that purpose; should the carcass, or any part of the carcass of a creeping thing fall upon an heap of it, into a vessel in which it was put, as a dead mouse or the like: [yet] it shall be clean ; be fit for use and sown in the earth; because being cast into the earth, and dying and quickening there, and then springing up again in stalk and ear, it would go through various changes before it became the food of man: the Targum of Jonathan describes it, such as is sown in its dryness, or being dry; for if it was wetted it was unfit for use, as follows.
Ver. 38 . But if [any] water be put upon the seed , etc.] Either accidentally or on purpose; whether on sowing seed, and with water with which they water the field, as Aben Ezra interprets it; or on seed used for food, by steeping it in water, as sometimes wheat is, and boiled; and whether it is water or the rest of the liquors, and whether they are put on the seed, or the seed falls into them, it matters not, as Jarchi says: and [any part] of their carcass fall thereon ; that is, on the seed, though Aben Ezra observes, some say upon the water: the Targum of Jonathan adds, in its moisture, or while it is wet; and so may be thought to be more susceptible of impurity from the touch of a dead reptile, or any part of it, and which would render it unfit for sowing or eating, until it was dried and cleansed; yea, Jarchi says, if it falls thereon, even after it is dried: it [shall be] unclean unto you ; unfit for use.
Ver. 39 . And if any beast of which ye may eat die , etc.] Any clean beast, as the ox, sheep, goat, deer, etc. what, if rightly killed, is very lawful to eat of; but if it died of itself through any distemper, or was torn by the wild beasts, so the Targum of Jonathan: he that toucheth the carcass thereof shall be unclean until the even ; not the bones, nerves, horns, hoofs, or skin, as Jarchi observes; these might be handled, because some of them, at least, were wrought up into one instrument or another, by artificers, for use and service, but the flesh of them might not be touched; whoever did touch it was ceremonially unclean, and might not go into the sanctuary, or have conversation with men, until the evening of the day in which this was done.
Ver. 40 . And he that eateth of the carcass of it , etc.] For though it might be eaten, if rightly killed, yet not if it died of itself, or was strangled, or torn to pieces by wild beasts: shall wash his clothes ; besides his body, which even he that touched it was obliged to: and be unclean until the even ; though he and his clothes were washed, and he might not go into the court of the tabernacle, or have any concern with holy things, or conversation with men: he also that beareth the carcass of it ; removes it from one place to another, carries it to the dunghill, or a ditch, and there lays it, or buries it in the earth: shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even ; from whence, as before observed by the Jewish writers, uncleanness by bearing is greater than uncleanness by touching, since the former obliged to washing of clothes, not so the latter; so Jarchi here; and yet still was unclean until the evening, though he had washed himself in water, as Aben Ezra notes; and so says Jarchi, though he dips himself, he has need of the evening of the sun.
Ver. 41 . And every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth , etc.] Nothing is called a creeping thing, as Jarchi says, but what is low, has short feet, and is not seen unless it creeps and moves: and “every creeping thing” comprehends, as Aben Ezra and Ben Gersom observe, the eight creeping things before mentioned, ( Leviticus 11:29,30) and mention is made of them here, that they might not be eaten, which is not expressed before; and being described as creeping things “on the earth”, is, according to Jarchi, an exception of worms in pease, beans, and lentiles; and, as others observe, in figs and dates, and other fruit; for they do not creep upon the earth, but are within the food; but if they go out into the air, and creep, they are forbidden: [shall be] an abomination ; detested and abhorred as food: it shall not be eaten ; it shall not be lawful to eat such a creature. This, as Jarchi, is binding upon him that causes another to eat, as well as he that eats, the one is guilty as the other. And indeed such are not fit to eat, and cannot be wholesome and nourishing; for, as a learned physician observes f405 , insects consist of particles exceeding small, volatile, unfit for nourishment, most of them live on unclean food, and delight in dung, and in the putrid flesh of other animals, and by laying their little eggs or excrements, corrupt honey, syrups, etc. (see Ecclesiastes 10:1) and yet some sorts of them are eaten by some people. Sir Hans Sloane, after having spoken of serpents, rats, and lizards, sold for food to his great surprise at Jamaica, adds f406 , but what of all things most unusual, and to my great admiration, was the great esteem set on a sort of “cossi” or timber worms, called cotton tree worms by the negroes and the Indians, the one the original inhabitants of Africa, and the other of America; these, he says f407 , are sought after by them, and boiled in their soups, pottages, olios, pepper pots, and are accounted of admirable taste, like to, but much beyond marrow; yea, he observes f408 , that not they only, but the most polite people in the world, the Romans, accounted them so great a dainty, as to feed them with meal, and endeavour breeding them up. He speaks also of ants, so large as to be sold in the markets in New Granada, where they are carefully looked after, and bought up for food; and says, the negroes feed on the abdomen of these creatures: he observes f410 , that field crickets were found in baskets among other provisions of the Indians.
Ver. 42 . Whatsoever goeth upon the belly , etc.] Jarchi’s paraphrase is, “whatsoever goeth”, as worms and beetles, and the like to them, “upon the belly”, this is the serpent; and to go upon the belly is the curse denounced upon it, ( Genesis 3:14) this and every such creature are forbidden to be eaten; as there are others who either have no feet, or what they have so short, that they seem to go upon their belly; and yet, as horrible and detestable as the serpent is, it has been the food of some, and accounted very delicious, as by a people mentioned by the Arabic geographer f411 .
Mela speaks of a people, who, from their eating serpents, were called Ophiophagi, serpent eaters; and Pliny says of the Troglodytes, that the flesh of serpents was their food. The Spaniards, when they first found out the West Indies, going ashore on the isle of Cuba, found certain spits of wood lying at the fire, having fish on them, about one hundred pound weight, and two serpents of eight feet long, differing nothing from the crocodiles in Egypt, but not so big; there is nothing, says my author f414 , among the delicate dishes (of the natives of that place), they esteem so much as these serpents, insomuch that it is no more lawful for the common people to eat of them, than of peacocks and pheasants among us; the Spaniards at first durst not venture to taste of them, because of their horrible deformity and loathsomeness; but the brother of Columbus being allured by a sister of one of the kings of the country to taste of them, found them very delicious, on which he and his men fell to, and ate freely of them, affirming them to be of more pleasant taste than either our pheasants or partridges; and that there is no meat to be compared with the eggs of these serpents f415 . Diodorus Siculus speaks of serpents in the island of Taprobane of great size, harmless to men, and whose flesh is eaten, and of a sweet savour: and whatsoever goeth upon [all] four ; that is, whatsoever creeping thing; for otherwise there are beasts that go upon all four that are clean and fit to eat; but this is observed to distinguish this sort of creeping things from those that go upon their belly, and from those that have more feet, as in the next clause; Jarchi particularly instances in the scorpion: or whatsoever hath mere feet among all creeping things that creep upon the earth ; such as caterpillars, and particularly the Scolopendra, which the eastern people call Nedal; so Jarchi says, this is Nedal, a reptile which hath feet from its head to its tail, called Centipeda; and the Targum of Jonathan is, “from the serpent, to the Nedal or Scolopendra, which has many feet.”
Some of then, have seventy two, thirty six on a side, and others eighty four; some fewer, but all have many: them ye shall not eat, for they [are] an abomination ; abominable for food, and to be had in the utmost aversion.
Ver. 43 . Ye shall not make yourselves abominable with any creeping thing that creepeth , etc.] With any creeping thing that flies in the air, excepting the four sorts of locusts, ( Leviticus 11:22) and with any creeping thing in the waters, ( Leviticus 11:10) or with anything that creeps on the land, by eating any of them; which being abominable for food, would make the eater of them so to God, he thereby breaking a command of his: neither shall you make yourselves unclean with them ; by touching and bearing them, as with dead beasts, so with dead flies and the like: that ye should be defiled thereby ; in a ceremonial sense.
Ver. 44 . For I [am] the Lord your God , etc.] Their Lord, and therefore had a right to enjoin them what laws he pleased concerning their food; and their God, their covenant God, and therefore would consult their good, and direct them to what was most proper, convenient, and wholesome for them: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy, for I [am] holy ; that is, separate themselves from all other people, and be distinct from them, by using a different diet from theirs, as their Lord and God was different from all others, so called; and thus by observing his commands, and living according to his will, and to his glory, they would be holy in a moral sense, as they ought to be, who were under the peculiar care and notice of a holy God, and so highly favoured by him; and particularly by attending to the above laws concerning food, they would be kept from mixing with, and having conversation with the Gentiles, and so be preserved from falling into idolatry, and continue a holy people, serving and worshipping the Lord their God, and him only; and which seems to be a principal view as to religion, in delivering out the above commands: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth ; which is repeated to keep them at the utmost distance from these things, and to fill them with an aversion to them, that they might be careful to avoid them. There is no penalty annexed to these laws, but the breach of them making them unclean, thereby they were debarred the use of the sanctuary, and of holy things, and of the conversation of men, for that day; but, according to the Jewish writers, such transgressions were punishable with stripes. Jarchi observes out of the Talmud f417 , that he that eateth “putitha” (a small water reptile) was to be beaten four times, and if an ant or pismire five times, and if a wasp or hornet six times.
Ver. 45 . For I am the Lord that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt , etc.] He had brought them out of it, and was now bringing them on in the wilderness towards Canaan’s land, in order to settle them there; and this is observed, to show what obligations they lay under to him to observe his commands; for since he had done such great things for them, it became them to be obedient to him in all things: and the more, since his end herein was, as he observes to them, to be your God ; to make it appear that he was their God, and they were his special people, whom he had chosen for himself above all people upon the earth; that he was their King and their God, to protect and defend them, to provide for them, and take care of them, and bestow all good things on them proper for them: ye shall therefore be holy, for I [am] holy ; separate from all others as he was, living holy lives and conversations, agreeably to his will made known to them, in imitation or him who had chosen and called them to be his people; for, since holiness is his nature, it becomes them who are his house and family, his subjects and people.
Ver. 46 . This [is] the law of the beasts , etc.] Clean and unclean, what were to be eaten, and what not, and of the fowl ; ( Leviticus 11:2-8) the unclean ones, which are particularly mentioned that they might be avoided, all others excepting them being allowed, ( Leviticus 11:13-19): and of every living creature that moveth in the waters ; all sorts of fish in the sea, rivers, ponds, and pools, such as have fins and scales, these were to be eaten, but, if they had neither, were forbidden, ( Leviticus 11:9-12): and of every creature that creepeth upon the earth ; eight of which are mentioned particularly, which, when dead, defiled by touching; and all others are forbidden to be eaten, ( Leviticus 11:29-43) together with such creeping things that fly, excepting those that had legs above their feet to leap with, ( Leviticus 11:20-23). This is a recapitulation of the several laws respecting them, though not in the exact order in which they are delivered in this chapter.
Ver. 47 . To make a difference between the unclean and the clean , etc.] Whether of beasts, fish, fowl, and flying creeping things: and between the beast that may be eaten, and the beast that may not be eaten ; the former clause takes in all in general, this instances in a particular sort of creatures; and the first mentioned of which, that might be eaten, are, that part the hoof, are cloven footed, and chew the cud; and that might not, that chew the cud, but divide not the hoof, or divide the hoof, but chew not the cud; and now, by such like descriptions and distinctions of the creatures treated of, the Israelites would be able to make a difference between the one and the other, and know what was to be eaten, and what not.