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the Week of Proper 3 / Ordinary 8
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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 14

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

Ye are the children of the LORD your God: ye shall not cut yourselves, nor make any baldness between your eyes for the dead.

Ye are the children of the Lord your God - children or sons. Israel, in a national capacity, were called so (Deuteronomy 32:19; Exodus 4:22; Hosea 11:1; Matthew 2:15), although not every person in the nation could on this account be a "son of God."

Ye shall not cut yourselves ... for the dead. Harmer ('Observations,' 105:) considers "the dead" to mean in this passage 'dead idols' (Zechariah 13:6). [But laameet (H4191) must be taken here as synonymous with lªnepesh (H5315), Leviticus 21:1, where it signifies 'the dead among the people.'] It was a common practice of idolaters, both on ceremonious occasions of their worship (1 Kings 18:28) and at funerals (cf. Jeremiah 16:6; Jeremiah 41:5), to make ghastly incisions on their faces and other parts of their persons with their finger-nails or sharp instruments. It was a Canaanite or Phoenician, not an Egyptian, custom to cut one's self in mourning.

The making of a large bare space between the eyebrows was another pagan custom in honour of the dead (see the notes at Leviticus 19:27-28; Leviticus 21:5). Both these practices had been expressly forbidden by the law. But it appears, from the repetition of the interdict, that they were still in use on occasions of great mourning and affliction for a deceased relative or friend (cf. Jeremiah 41:5; Jeremiah 47:5; Jeremiah 48:37).

That the spirit, especially with the letter of the law was violated is manifest from the added motive in 5:2. Such indecorous and degrading usages, being extravagant and unnatural expressions of hopeless sorrow (1 Thessalonians 4:13), were to be carefully avoided by the Israelites, as derogatory to the character and inconsistent with the position of those who were the people of God.

Verse 2

For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 3

Thou shalt not eat any abominable thing.

Thou shalt not eat any abominable thing - i:e., anything forbidden as unclean, (see the notes at Leviticus 11:1-47.)


Verse 4

These are the beasts which ye shall eat: the ox, the sheep, and the goat,

These are the beasts which ye shall eat. The specification of mammalia, whose flesh would be excellent, is full and particular here, because the Israelites were about to be settled in the land of promise, on the mountain pastures of which a portion of the tribes were already established, and where those beasts abounded.

Verse 5

The hart, and the roebuck, and the fallow deer, and the wild goat, and the pygarg, and the wild ox, and the chamois.

The hart - (see the note at Deuteronomy 12:15.)

Fallow deer, [ wªyachmuwr (H3180), from chaamar (H2560), to be red] - does not represent the fallow deer, which is unknown in Western Asia, but an antelope (Oryx leucoryx) called by the Arabs, Jazmar. It is of a white colour, black at the extremities, and a bright red on the thighs. It was used at Solomon's table (1 Kings 4:23). Niebuhr describes it as frequenting the sandy deserts of Eastern Arabia, where it finds its favourite food from the leaves of the dwarfish acacias; and most probably it abounded in the Transjordanic pasture lands obtained by the Israelites.

Wild goat, [ wª'aqow (H689); Septuagint, dorkada]. This word is different from that commonly used for a wild goat (1 Samuel 24:2; Psalms 104:18; Proverbs 5:19); and it is supposed to be the tragelaphus, a goat deer having the body of a stag, but the head, horns, and beard of a goat. An animal of this sort is found in the East, and called Lerwee (Shaw's 'Travels,' supplement, p. 96; also 'Nineveh and its Remains,' 2:, p. 431).

Pygarg, [ wªdiyshon (H1788); Septuagint, pugargon] - a species of antelope (Oryx addar) with white buttocks, wreathed horns 2 feet in length, and standing about 3 feet 7 inches high at the shoulders. It is common in the tracts which the Israelites had frequented (Shaw).

Wild ox, [ uwt'ow (H8377); Septuagint, oruga] - supposed to be the Nubian Oryx, which differs from the Oryx leucoryx (called "wild bull," Isaiah 51:20; also by the Targums), formerly mentioned, by its black colour; and it is, moreover, of larger stature and a more slender frame, with longer and more curled horns. It is called Bekkar-El-Wash by the Arabs.

Chamois, [ waazaamer (H2169) - rendered by the Septuagint, kameelopardalin; but by others, who rightly judge, it must have been an animal more familiar to the Hebrews]: it is thought to be the Kebsch (Ovis tragelaphus), rather larger than a common sheep, covered, not with wool, but with reddish hair-a Syrian sheep-like goat.


Verses 6-10

And every beast that parteth the hoof, and cleaveth the cleft into two claws, and cheweth the cud among the beasts, that ye shall eat.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 11

Of all clean birds ye shall eat.

Of all clean birds ye shall eat - (see the note at Leviticus 11:21.)

Verse 12

But these are they of which ye shall not eat: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the ospray,

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 13

And the glede, and the kite, and the vulture after his kind,

Glede, [ wªhaaraa'aah (H7201)] - thought to be the same kind as that rendered vulture, Leviticus 11:14-15.

Verse 14

And every raven after his kind,

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 15

And the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckow, and the hawk after his kind,

The owl, [ bat (H1323) haya`ªnaah (H3284)] - daughter of the female ostrich; i:e., the female ostrich herself (Gesenius).

The cuckow, [ hashaachap (H7828)] - more probably the sea gull.

Verse 16

The little owl, and the great owl, and the swan,

The swan - rather the goose (Michaelis) or the kite (Gesenius).

Verse 17

And the pelican, and the gier eagle, and the cormorant,

Gier eagle, [ haaraachaamaah (H7360)] - is manifestly identical with Rachamah, the name which the Arabs give to the common vulture of Western Asia and Egypt (Neophron perenopterus).

Cormorant - rather the Plungeon, a sea fowl.

Verse 18

And the stork, and the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat.

The lapwing - the upupu or hoopoe, a beautiful bird, but of the most unclean habits.

Verse 19

And every creeping thing that flieth is unclean unto you: they shall not be eaten.

Every creeping thing that flieth is unclean unto you. 'The edible kinds of locusts are passed over, because it was not the intention of Moses to repeat every particular of the earlier laws in these addresses. But when Knobel gives this explanation of the omission that the eating of locusts is prohibited in Deuteronomy, and the Deuteronomist passes over, because in his more advanced age there was apparently no longer any necessity for the prohibition, this arbitrary interpretation is proved to be at variance with historical truth, by the fact that locusts were eaten by John the Baptist, inasmuch as this proves, at all events, that a more advanced age had not given up the custom of eating locusts (Keil and Delitzsch 'On the Pentateuch,' Clark's edition, 2:, p. 367, note).

Verse 20

But of all clean fowls ye may eat.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 21

Ye shall not eat of any thing that dieth of itself: thou shalt give it unto the stranger that is in thy gates, that he may eat it; or thou mayest sell it unto an alien: for thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk.

Ye shall not eat of any thing that dieth of itself - (see the notes at Leviticus 17:15; Leviticus 22:8.)

Thou shalt give it unto the stranger - not a proselyte, because he, as well as an Israelite, was subject to this law; but a pagan traveler or sojourner.

Thou shalt not seethe a kid. This is the third place in which the prohibition is repeated. It was pointed against an annual pagan ceremony (see the notes at Exodus 23:19; Exodus 34:26).

Verses 22-27

Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year.

Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed. The dedication of a tenth part of the year's produce in everything was then a religious duty (see the notes at Deuteronomy 12:17; Deuteronomy 26:12). It was to be brought as an offering to the sanctuary; and where distance prevented its being taken in kind, it was by this statute convertible into money, with which, on arrival in the city of solemnities, the materials of a private sacrifice or free-will offering were purchased. It is spoken of here entirely as the voluntary act of the people (cf. Amos 4:4), whereas the first tithes were the legal dues of the Levites (see the notes at Numbers 10:10; Numbers 18:26; Nehemiah 10:38).

Verses 28-29

At the end of three years thou shalt bring forth all the tithe of thine increase the same year, and shalt lay it up within thy gates:

At the end of three years ... the Levite ... shall come ... The Levites having no inheritance like the other tribes, the Israelites were not to forget them, but honestly to tithe their increase. Besides the tenth of all the land produce, they had 48 cities, with the surrounding grounds, the best of the land," and a certain proportion of the sacrifices as their allotted perquisites. They had therefore, if not an affluent, yet a comfortable and independent, fund for their support.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 14". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/deuteronomy-14.html. 1871-8.
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