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Bible Commentaries
Leviticus 11

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy ScripturesEverett's Study Notes

Verses 1-47

Leviticus 11:1-47 Dietary Laws (Clean and Unclean Meats) (Deuteronomy 14:3-21 ) In Leviticus 11:1-47 God gives the children of Israel dietary laws in order for them to walk in divine health. In Genesis 1:29 God gave to mankind the plants as their initial food. However, after the flood the Lord allowed man to eat animals (Genesis 9:3-4). . The Scriptures tell us that in the mouth of two or three witnesses, every matter is confirmed (Deuteronomy 17:6; Deuteronomy 19:15, Matthew 18:16, 2 Corinthians 13:1). Thus, we have confirmation that man needs to eat meat as part of a balanced and healthy diet.

Now that God has taken them out of bondage and healed them all (Psalms 105:37), He now teaches them how to stay healthy. This means that eating has divine rules and regulations, so that it becomes an act of worship. Even today these commandments from God regulate what Christians should eat, as Paul tells Timothy that the Word of God sanctifies what we are to eat (1 Timothy 4:4-5). The word “sanctifies” literally means, “to set a part as sacred.” Within the context of the Scriptures, God has set apart certain dietary laws for His children to follow.

Genesis 1:29, “And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.”

Genesis 9:3-4, “Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.”

1 Timothy 4:4-5, “For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.”

Psalms 105:37, “He brought them forth also with silver and gold: and there was not one feeble person among their tribes.”

God is concerned about man's health, and cleanliness. Therefore, the Scriptures reveal that our diets are a vital part of bringing us health. In this passage of Scripture God makes a distinction between clean and unclean animals. If we study this passage, we quickly see that the animals that eat plants and vegetation are considered clean while those animals that eat other animals are unclean.

a. Beasts (Leviticus 11:3-8) - Only grass and plant eating animals are fit for consumption. No carnivorous animals are listed here.

b. Fish (Leviticus 11:9-12) - No carnivorous animals in the waters are listed. Only fish, which eat other fish and plant-like foods are clean.

c. Birds (Leviticus 11:13-19) - Only seed-eating birds are clean.

d. Creeping Animals (Leviticus 11:20-23) - Only grass eaters like grasshoppers, locusts, etc. are clean.

Having a bachelor’s degree in animal science, I had the opportunity to study meat science. One thing that I never forgot was the clear distinction between the cleanness of some livestock animals over others, with the pig carrying the most bacteria in its meat. The cleaner animals were those like cows who ate grass. This allows their meat to stay fresh longer in a refrigerator than the meat of pork or chicken. In summary, clean and unclean meat has the support of science.

If we refer to other Scriptures, we can gain some additional insight into the reason why animals are placed into these two groups. We know that before the Fall the animal kingdom was not carnivorous, but ate strictly from the plant kingdom. We know from Isaiah 11:6-7 that the animal kingdom will one day return to this original order when mankind is redeemed. Thus, the animals that devour one another may be those animals that fell out of their original order after the Fall in the Garden. In fact, Norvel Hayes teaches that carnivorous predators are possessed by demons and driven into such a lifestyle, but those animals that continue to eat plants are those who followed God’s order for their lives. [19]

[19] Norvel Hayes, “Sermon,” Word of Faith Family Church, Dallas, Texas, 1989-93.

Isaiah 11:6-7, “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.”

Leviticus 11:44-45 Comments - Exhortation to Holiness Peter the apostle will quote from Leviticus 11:44-45 in his first Epistle when exhorting his readers to a lifestyle of holiness. After quoting this passage in 1 Peter 1:16 he bases his exhortation upon the redemption was purchased for them in Christ Jesus (1 Peter 1:18-19).

1 Peter 1:15-19, “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:”

In a similar way Moses charges the people to sanctify themselves in Numbers 11:44 and bases this charge upon their redemption from Egypt (Num 11:45), which identified them as a distinct people, the clean being separated from the unclean in order to have a purchased people unto God.

Leviticus 11:46 This is the law of the beasts, and of the fowl, and of every living creature that moveth in the waters, and of every creature that creepeth upon the earth:

Leviticus 11:47 To make a difference between the unclean and the clean, and between the beast that may be eaten and the beast that may not be eaten.

Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Leviticus 11". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/leviticus-11.html. 2013.
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