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Friday, June 14th, 2024
the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10
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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 14

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-29

Deuteronomy 14:1 . Ye shall not cut yourselves for the dead. Jeremiah mentions the not paying these honours to the dead as a punishment: Jeremiah 16:6. It was once a general custom among the heathen, for the males and females to cut off their hair and bury it with a deceased father. The Israelites, it is evident, in adolatrous times, adopted almost every custom of the heathens. Hence, says the prophet, Jeremiah 48:37, when alluding to the destruction of his country by the Babylonians, “Every head shall be bald, and every beard clipped: upon all hands shall be cuttings, and upon the loins sackcloth.” The Arabs have long been noticed for cutting their flesh for the dead, and following the corpse with dreadful shrieks. The native Irish retain something of this custom still. About every two minutes, while following a corpse, the women raise a sudden and terrific yell; and in the intervals between the cries, they amuse themselves by looking at the shop- windows. The people of Otaheite carry these customs to great excess. See Wilson’s Missionary Voyage.

Deuteronomy 14:5 . The hart. Every species of the deer is implied. The wild ox is the buffalo, a native of all the continents. The pygarg is a species of the goat, but the chamois is difficult to ascertain. Bochart calls it the Rupicapra, or goat that skips on the rock, as a roe in the plains. It has a slender back, and upright horns, hooked at the end. Behind each ear there is a large orifice in the skin, the forehead is white, along the cheeks is a dusky bar, the rest of the body is of a deep brown colour. The tail is short, the hoofs are long and much divided. The difficulty of identifying what animal is here meant, arises from the Septuagint, and most other versions having rendered it the Camelopard. This latter animal has short straight horns covered with hair, in the forehead there is a tubercle about two inches high, resembling a third horn. The height from the crown of the head to the soles of the forefeet is usually seventeen feet, and from the top of the rump to the bottom of the hind feet only nine. The length of the body is seven, and from the withers to the loins only six feet. Pennant. Hence, as this is a scarce animal, the chamois seems more likely to be the true reading.

Deuteronomy 14:6 . Cheweth the cud. Oxen, sheep, &c. for want of the upper fore- teeth, cannot perfect the mastication of their food, and the operation would keep them too long upon their feet. Hence the Creator has provided them with an upper stomach, that reposing on the grass they may chew their food small at ease.

Deuteronomy 14:13 . The glede. See Leviticus 11:0. Though it is not possible to identify some species of the animals and fowls mentioned by Moses; yet no difficulty arises to the conscience of a Jew, for the genus or class is well understood.

Deuteronomy 14:19 . Every creeping thing that flieth. The bat is here included, of which the English seems the smallest species. They bring forth young, and give suck like the mouse; but otherwise they approach the character of birds. They fly at night, when their enemies are asleep.

Deuteronomy 14:23 . The tithe of thy corn. See on Deuteronomy 26:12.


The distinction between meats clean and unclean, seems to have existed from the first permission of man to eat flesh. Attention was paid to it when the animals were selected for the ark. Providence, ever watchful of human happiness, here prescribes the more wholesome animals for food. It is a fact sufficiently attested that scrophulous and other kindred diseases prevail chiefly in large towns and manufacturing districts, where there is a greater consumption of the less nutricious kinds of animal and vegetable food, than in more healthy parts of the country: and if providence have expressed its care over man in this way, let us assiduously seek for the soul the wholesome food of sound doctrine and evangelical truth, then shall we grow thereby to the health of everlasting life. For the kingdom of God is not in meats and drinks, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 14". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/deuteronomy-14.html. 1835.
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