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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Leviticus 11:7

and the pig, for though it divides the hoof, thus making a split hoof, it does not chew cud, it is unclean to you.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Nave's Topical Bible - Cud;   Food;   Goat;   Hoof;   Sanitation;   Swine;   Thompson Chain Reference - Animals;   Beasts;   Swine;   Unclean;   The Topic Concordance - Abomination;   Meat;   Uncleanness;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Beasts;   Swine;  
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Beasts;   Clean and Unclean;   Swine;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Animals;   Uncleanness;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Beast;   Boar;   Swine;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Leper;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Animals;   Beast;   Clean, Cleanness;   Food;   Leviticus;   Swine;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Boar;   Clean and Unclean;   Food;   Leviticus;   Swine;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Animals;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Sparrow;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Clean and unclean;   Swine;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Beasts;   Swine;  
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Hare;   Palestine;   Swine;   Uncleanness;   Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia - Beasts;   Boar;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Allegorical Interpretation;   Clean and Unclean Animals;   Swine;   Vegetarianism;   Yudan ben Manasseh;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Verse Leviticus 11:7. And the swineחזיר chazir, one of the most gluttonous, libidinous, and filthy quadrupeds in the universe; and, because of these qualities, sacred to the Venus of the Greeks and Romans, and the Friga of our Saxon ancestors; and perhaps on these accounts forbidden, as well as on account of its flesh being strong and difficult to digest, affording a very gross kind of aliment, apt to produce cutaneous, scorbutic, and scrofulous disorders, especially in hot climates.

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These files are public domain.
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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Leviticus 11:7". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

Bridgeway Bible Commentary


Since Israel’s God was holy, Israel itself had to be holy (11:44-45). One duty of the priests was to distinguish between what was holy and unholy, clean and unclean (10:10). This holiness was to extend to every part of the people’s lives, including the food they ate and their bodily cleanliness. Those who broke any of the laws of cleanliness were considered unclean and had to be ceremonially cleansed before they could join again in the full religious life of the nation. The whole system of ritual cleanness and uncleanness was an object lesson in sin, its results and its cleansing.
Besides having a religious purpose, the laws ensured that the nation as a whole would be as physically healthy as possible. The laws prevented people from eating foods that could be harmful, ensured that diseases received proper attention, and limited the chances of infectious diseases spreading through the camp. The laws also prevented Israelites from mixing too freely with people of surrounding nations, and thereby helped preserve the purity of Israel’s religion.

Concerning animals (11:1-47)

In reading these laws, we should remember that they were given to a people few in number, living in a hot and very small country, in an age when scientific knowledge as we know it today was not possible. The laws were not meant to govern the lives of all people in every country or every age (Acts 10:13-15; Romans 14:14,Romans 14:20; 1 Corinthians 10:31; 1 Corinthians 10:31; 1 Timothy 4:4; 1 Timothy 4:4).

Groupings of animals as those that ‘chew the cud’, ‘have divided hoofs’, ‘have fins and scales’, etc. were not intended to be scientific classifications. Rather they were a simple means of identifying the various kinds of animals to be met in the region where Israel lived. Most of the animals here called unclean lived in places or fed on foods likely to contain germs. They could easily pass diseases on to any who ate their flesh (11:1-23).

Any person who touched the dead body of an animal was considered unclean till evening. In other words the person was quarantined till cleansed of possible disease-carrying germs (24-28; cf. Numbers 19:11-22).

In the case of lifeless objects that came in contact with anything dead, the treatment depended on how readily those objects could be washed or otherwise cleansed. If full cleansing was not possible, such as with earthenware pots, the object had to be destroyed (29-33). People had to be particularly careful concerning drinking water that was kept in earthenware pots, but a spring or well was usually considered safe since it had a constant supply of fresh water (34-40).
The section concludes with a reminder that these laws, though they brought obvious health benefits, were concerned basically with keeping the people holy before God. The covenant people of God were to be disciplined in what they ate and how they lived. They had to learn to choose the good and refuse the bad, if they were to maintain their lives in a right relation with him (41-47).

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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Leviticus 11:7". "Brideway Bible Commentary". 2005.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

He divide the hoof ... - It is cloven-footed and completely, etc. See Leviticus 11:3 note. Of all the quadrupeds of which the Law forbids the flesh to be eaten, the pig seems to have been regarded as the most unclean. Compare the marginal references. Several other nations have agreed with the Hebrews in this respect: the reason being that its flesh is unwholesome, especially in warm climates.

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These files are public domain.
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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Leviticus 11:7". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

Chuck Smith Bible Commentary

Shall we turn in our Bibles to Leviticus eleven?

Before we begin in the eleventh chapter of Leviticus, let's take a look at the first few verses of chapter twenty-eight of Deuteronomy, because sometimes we're prone to get bogged down in the law, and we think, "Oh my, I wish we could just pass over this." Is this really necessary? Aren't we under the grace of God and living in the age of grace? But in reality it is important that God is, that we realize that God is laying down for us certain spiritual laws.

And God has declared concerning His word, concerning His law, here in chapter twenty-eight,

"And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do all His commandments which I command thee this day, that the Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the Earth: and all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God. Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field. Blessed shalt be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of your cows and of your flocks of your sheep. Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store. Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out. The Lord shall cause thine enemies that rise up against thee to be smitten before thy face: They shall come out against thee one way, and flee before thee seven ways. The Lord shall command the blessing upon thee in thy storehouses, and in all that thou settest thine hand unto; and he shall bless thee in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee"( Deuteronomy 28:1-8 ). And so God has given to us certain spiritual laws. If we obey them, then we are to be blessed.

But if you go on and finish the book, the twenty-eighth chapter of Deuteronomy, you'll find the things that will transpire if you forsake the Law of God. If you seek to ignore it, and of course in verse fifteen He begins, "if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, then cursed shalt thou be in the city, cursed shalt thou be in the field, cursed shalt thou be thy basket in thy store. Cursed shalt be the fruit of thy body and the fruit of thy land, and the increase of your cows, ( Deuteronomy 28:15-18 ) and so forth and all the curses that would come.

Now in Joshua, chapter one, Moses gave sort of a final charge to Joshua. And in verse eight he declared, "This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success." So if you'll keep it, if you'll follow it, if you'll meditate in it, God will make your way prosperous then you will have good success.

In Psalm one, David declares, "Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful. But whose delight is in the law of the Lord; and in this law does he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by rivers of water, bringing forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper" ( Psalms 1:1-3 ).

Now, I know that you find it tedious sometimes going through these laws. But know this, that if you will meditate in them and then the emphasis is doing them, God's blessing is going to be upon your life. Now the children of Israel made a great mistake in that they thought that just because they had the law, they were justified by it. But Paul said it isn't just having the law, it's doing the law that brings the blessing.

So as we go back now to Leviticus chapter eleven. We find that in the eleventh chapter, the Lord is dealing with the foods that they could eat and the foods that they should not eat. Now to me it shows that God is interested in your health. If the Lord should speak to us today, I'm sure that He'd speak to us a lot about junk foods. And He would be interested in your diet because you can't really be eating a lot of junk food and ask God to give you a strong body.

Like I've shared with you when we used to go home from Bible school at night and buy ice cream and chocolate syrup and whipped cream and the whole thing. And then some guy would say, "Who's going to ask the blessing?" I said, "You can't ask God to bless this. It's no good for you, you know, it's not good for you." Eat it and take the consequences, but don't ask God to bless it. And so God is interested in good nutrition, and the foods that God allowed were foods that would be good, healthy, strengthening foods. Those foods that God disallowed for food there was a health reason behind the disallowing of each food.

Now in the New Testament, we realize that the Bible says that you know "All things are lawful for me", but yet Paul says, "all things edify not" ( 1 Corinthians 10:23 ). All things are not necessary. Peter saw a sheet let down from heaven with all kinds of clean and unclean things upon it, and the Lord said, "Arise, Peter, kill and eat." He said, "Oh not so, Lord, I have never eaten anything that was unclean"( Acts 11:7-8 ).

And so many people take that as a green light from God to eat anything. I can eat the bacon, ham, and pork chops, and so forth because God said, "Don't call that unclean that which I have cleansed." God wasn't really talking about pork in that scripture. He was actually talking about the Gentiles, and He was dealing with Peter because God was going to call him to go to the Gentiles. And yet, I believe that Paul was a liberated enough Jew that I'm sure that he probably ate pork chops and all whenever they were set before him. Because he said, "All things are to be received with thanksgiving and eat what is set before you asking no questions".

However, that wasn't in regards to pork. It was just don't say, "Was this sacrificed to a pagan idol?" If they say, "Yes, it was." Then if you eat it you're going to offend your conscience and theirs and so-yet Jesus said, "It isn't what goes into a man's mouth that defiles the man, but that which comes out of his mouth" ( Matthew 15:11 ). And so, I do believe that in the New Testament the Lord did give us, as Gentiles, the privilege of eating meats that were forbidden to the Jews. When they sought to deal with the issue of the relationship of the Gentile church to the law, Peter said, "Don't put on them a yoke of bondage that neither we nor our fathers were able to bear." And so they did mention just one thing, don't eat things that are strangled actually, or refrain from the blood, and don't eat things that are sacrificed to idols. But they didn't go into the whole dietary list that God gave to them here in Leviticus.

Now as we look at the eleventh chapter of Leviticus, we find the beasts that God said that they could eat, and so He gave a basic rule.

Whatsoever parts the hoof, and is clovenfooted, and chews the cud, among the beasts, that shall ye eat ( Leviticus 11:3 ).

And then it gave examples of animals that could not be eaten because they didn't follow all three. They needed to have all three of these things. They needed to have the parted hoof, the cloven foot, and they needed to chew the cud.

Now the camel chews the cud, but divides not the hoof; and so the camel was not to be eaten. The coney chews the cud, but divides not the hoof; it's unclean. And the hare, because he cheweth the cud, but divides not the hoof; he's unclean to you ( Leviticus 11:4-6 ).

Now, I had someone tell me at one time they had a friend who didn't believe in God or the Bible anymore because of this particular scripture where the Bible talks about the rabbit chewing the cud. And he said the rabbit doesn't chew the cud, and therefore, if the Bible was truly the word of God, it wouldn't say that a rabbit chews the cud when a rabbit doesn't chew the cud. Well, this animal in the Hebrew actually is the arnebeth, and what kind of animal that is, I don't know. But the King James translators thought that it was perhaps a rabbit, but just what kind of an animal it truly was, we don't know. However, interestingly enough they have found out just lately that a rabbit does chew a cud. And there is now articles and scientific evidence to prove that a rabbit actually does chew a cud. And so this guy gave up his faith for nothing. How tragic, in deed.

Now, the swine or the pig was forbidden. Now we surely understand the health reasons for this. With wild rabbit, of course, there's always the danger of yellow fever. They are carriers of this disease. And if you eat wild rabbit, you have to be careful because there is a prevalent danger from wild rabbit of yellow fever. From the pig we know that if we eat pork, it is important that we cook it well done. You never order your pork chops raw or rare, because there is that danger of really getting trichinosis from rare pork. So you've got to cook it so all of the worms are totally killed. So that you are eating good dead worms instead of the possibility that some of them may not have been cooked until they were dead. And so, it's important that you really cook it well or else you are endangering your own health. Now, we know that now. We know that it is important and that a lot of people have become extremely sick from not cooking the pork well enough. And so we see that God was just protecting them rather than telling them how to cook it or make sure you cook it well. He just put it on one of the forbidden lists.

And then God then spoke about those things that are in the water. And He gave certain basic overall rules and then gave some things that they should not do. But the basically overall, verse nine,

These shall ye eat of that which are in the waters: whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters, and in the seas, and in the rivers, them shall ye eat. But if they have not fins or scales in the seas, and in the rivers, and all that move in the waters, of any living thing..., they'd be an abomination to you ( Leviticus 11:9-10 ):

And so that would mean that there would be certain types of fish that should not be eaten. Of course, crab would be forbidden; clams would be forbidden; we do know that the shellfish during certain months of the year are deadly poisonous. And so God, again, is just protecting the people with these laws in regards to these things that are in the water. Now, as we learn more about these things, we can eat them. I mean you can have clam chowder, and you get your clams just so you know which months to gather them in and which months to not gather them.


Whatsoever, hath no fins nor scales in the waters, shall be an abomination to you ( Leviticus 11:12 ).

And then of the birds certain ones were not to be eaten. You weren't to eat the eagle, the ossifrage, the vulture, the kite, the raven, the owl, the night hawk, or the hawks-various types, the little owl, the cormorant, the great owl, the swan, the pelican, the gier eagle, the stork, the heron, the lapwing, the bat. I have never had any problem with any of these things. I've never been tempted to eat them and so this part of the law doesn't really cause me any concern whatsoever.

But then, verse twenty-one,

Yet these may ye eat of every flying or creeping thing that goeth upon all four, which have legs above their feet, to leap with all upon the eaRuth ( Leviticus 11:21 );

That means you can eat locusts and John the Baptist was eating locusts and wild honey. You can eat beetles if you are so inclined and grasshoppers, if that turns you on.

But the other flying creeping things, which have four feet, shall be an abomination unto you. And for these ye shall be unclean: whosoever touches the carcase of those ( Leviticus 11:23-24 )

And so forth. So God lays out and gives the rules then of the uncleanness, touching dead carcasses and unclean until evening and so forth, and the way you are to wash and so forth. And really a lot of it is just the care and the washing and the taking care of yourself after touching dead carcasses. And it's just good hygiene that God is teaching.

Now this is the law of the beasts, and of the fowl, and of every living creature that moves in the waters ( Leviticus 11:46 ),

And it's interesting how at the end of each chapter sort of summarizes what the chapter was about. And so in verse forty-six, you have sort of a summary of the things that God has dealt with.

The law of the beasts, the fowls, and every living creature that moves in the waters and every creature that creeps upon the earth to make a difference between the unclean and the clean, between the beasts that may be eaten and the beasts which shall not be eaten ( Leviticus 11:46-47 ).

I have noticed here that also mouse and lizards, and snails, and moles, are on the forbidden list. So, you gourmets who love your snails, just know that you probably would be healthier without them.


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Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Leviticus 11:7". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". 2014.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Note that God began positively. He told the Israelites what they could eat (Leviticus 11:2-3; cf. Genesis 1:29-30; Genesis 2:16-17). Then He gave them a list of unclean land animals (Leviticus 11:4-8).

Perhaps animals with cloven hoofs were unclean because they had only two digits instead of the basic five and were therefore thought of as abnormal. [Note: G. S. Cansdale, Animals of the Bible, p. 43.]

Apparently the technical definition of chewing the cud that we use today is not what the Hebrews understood by chewing the cud. Today we use this term to describe animals that do not initially chew their food thoroughly but swallow it and later regurgitate it and then chew it thoroughly. Some of the animals described in Leviticus as chewing the cud do not do that (e.g., camels [one-humped dromedaries], conies [rock hyraxes], and hares). However these animals do appear to chew their food thoroughly, so this may be what the Israelites thought of as chewing the cud.

Any dead animal was unclean, perhaps because death was not the normal condition of an animal.

"Sheep, goats, and oxen were the standard sacrificial animals of pastoralists. They have in common cloven hoofs and rumination. Interpreting this theologically one might say that as God had limited his ’diet’ to these animals, so must his people. It is man’s duty to imitate his creator (Leviticus 11:44-45). When the Israelite restricted his food to God’s chosen animals, he recalled that he owed all his spiritual privileges to divine election. As God had chosen certain animals for sacrifice, so he had chosen one nation ’out of all the peoples that are on the face of the earth’ to be ’a kingdom of priests and a holy nation’ (Deuteronomy 7:6; Exodus 19:6)." [Note: Wenham, The Book . . ., pp. 172-73.]

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Leviticus 11:7". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Distinctions between clean and unclean animals 11:1-23

We have here the same threefold division of animals that inhabit the land, sea, and air as the one that appears in the story of creation (Genesis 1:20-23).

"It has long been recognized . . . that the order of the purity laws in Leviticus 11 follows that of the creation of animal life in Genesis 1 (Rashi). Moreover, just as in Genesis 1 God distinguished ’good’ and ’evil’ in his new creation, so also in Leviticus 11 God distinguished the ’clean’ from the ’unclean.’ In addition, Leviticus 11-16 has numerous parallels to the pattern of Genesis 1-11." [Note: Sailhamer, p. 39.]

Rashi was a Jewish exegete who lived about A.D. 1040-1105.

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Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Leviticus 11:7". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

1. Uncleanness due to contact with certain animals ch. 11

"This chapter contains a selected list of creatures that divides each type of creature into various classes of purity. According to the final verse in the chapter, the decisive question was whether a class of animals was unclean or clean. The goal of the distinctions was to determine whether an animal could be eaten. The notion of uncleanness and cleanness is specifically applied in this chapter to the question of holiness. Violating any of the regulations relating to clean and unclean animals rendered one unclean (i.e., profane or common, Leviticus 11:44-45), and thus unable to enter into community worship (Leviticus 12:4). The purpose of the chapter is to tie the concept of holiness to God’s own example of holiness (Leviticus 11:45)." [Note: Sailhamer, p. 332.]

Uncleanness was not all the same under the Old Covenant; there were degrees of uncleanness. The uncleanness that certain defiling things caused required simple purification, for example, washing and waiting a short time. The uncleanness that other defiling things caused required more involved rites.

The reason or reasons for the distinction between a clean and an unclean animal are still somewhat unclear. Even the identity of some of the animals is obscure. [Note: G. Bare, Plants and Animals of the Bible, p. iii.]

"Many attempts have been made by scholars and expositors over the centuries to interpret the catalogue of abominable creatures in the book of Leviticus, but with uncertain results." [Note: Harrison, p. 27.]

Many ancient nations and religions observed lists of clean and unclean foods. These lists differed from one another but undoubtedly had their origin in the clean unclean distinction that God specified at the Flood (cf. Genesis 7:2-3). The presence of this distinction in the ancient Near East points to a common recognition of the inadvisability of eating certain foods. This recognition shows that the Fall has affected the whole creation, not just humankind (Romans 8:19-22).

There have been at least six major different explanations for the rationale behind the clean and unclean distinctions in the Mosaic Law. [Note: See Wenham, The Book . . ., pp. 166-71; Kim-Kwong Chan, "You Shall Not Eat These Abominable Things: An Examination of Different Interpretations On Deuteronomy 14:3-20," East Asia Journal of Theology 3:1 (1985):88-106; Joe M. Sprinkle, "The Rationale of the Laws of Clean and Unclean in the Old Testament," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 43:4 (December 2000):637-57; The New Bible Dictionary, "Clean and Unclean," by Charles L. Feinberg, pp. 238-41; Rooker, pp. 170-75.] Some of these views have very ancient pedigrees.

1.    The distinction is arbitrary. God simply told the Israelites what to do to test their obedience (cf. Genesis 2:16-17). They had no idea what the reasons for these distinctions were. [Note: See Hertz, p. 93; Merrill, p. 58; and Rooker, pp. 173, 174.] The problem with this approach is that it is negative; it offers no explanation that human beings can understand. Nevertheless this explanation may be the best one. This is the explanation that most scholars who despair of understanding a single principle that explains all cases take.


2.    The distinction is cultic. The reason the Israelites where to regard some animals as unclean was that the pagans used them in their worship and or associated them with their deities. Avoidance of these unclean animals then was a mark of the Israelites’ fidelity to the Mosaic Covenant. [Note: See Martin Noth, The Laws in the Pentateuch and Other Studies, pp. 56-59; Kenneth A. Mathews, Genesis 1-11:26, p. 157; and Ross, p. 255.] The problem with this view is that it explains very little of the evidence. The Israelites may have associated certain unclean animals with pagan cultic practices, but scholars have not been able to explain all the prohibitions on this basis alone.


3.    The distinction is hygienic. Those who hold this view believe that the unclean animals were unfit to eat because they carried diseases or were unhealthful. [Note: See Samuel Kellogg, The Book of Leviticus.] This view has gained popularity in recent times as many readers have become increasingly concerned about health care and medical science. [Note: See Sim McMillan, None of These Diseases; and Jay D. Fawver and R. Larry Overstreet, "Moses and Preventive Medicine," Bibliotheca Sacra 147:587 (July-September 1990)270-85.] One advocate of this view expressed it as follows.


"In general it can be said that the laws protected Israel from bad diet, dangerous vermin, and communicable diseases. Only in very recent days have better laws of health been possible with the advance of medicine. These were rule-of-thumb laws that God gave in his wisdom to a people who could not know the reason for the provision." [Note: Harris, p. 569.]


There are good reasons, however, for believing that the Israelites did not view these provisions as hygienic. First, hygiene can explain only some of the distinctions. Second, there is no hint in the Old Testament that God regarded all the animals He proscribed as dangerous to health. Third, this view fails to explain why God did not forbid poisonous plants as well as dangerous animals. Fourth, if these animals were dangerous to eat, why did Jesus Christ pronounce them good later (Mark 7:19)?


4.    The distinction is symbolical. This view sees the behavior and habits of the clean animals as illustrating how the Israelites were to behave. The unclean animals represented sinful people. [Note: See Mary Douglas, Purity and Danger; Bonar, pp. 214-15; and Keil and Delitzsch, 2:372.] Some commentators have adopted this view but have applied the criterion subjectively, without careful regard to the text of the whole Mosaic Law. However when one views the data in the Mosaic Law comprehensively and seeks to understand the distinctions on that basis, this view seems to make sense.


5.    The distinction is aesthetic, based on the animal’s appearance. [Note: Walther Eichrodt, Theology of the Old Testament, 1:136.] This view seems entirely subjective.


6.    The distinction is ethical. This view is similar to view 4 above. The animals chosen taught reverence for life. [Note: Jacob Milgrom, "The Biblical Diet Laws as an Ethical System," Interpretation 17 (1963):291] This view also seems highly subjective and impossible to prove. [Note: See David P. Wright, "Observations on the Ethical Foundations of the Biblical Dietary Laws: A Response to Jacob Milgrom," in Religion and Law: Biblical-Judaic and Islamic Perspectives, p. 197.]

Probably a combination of these reasons is best, though the basic idea underlying holiness and cleanness seems to have been wholeness and normalcy. [Note: Wenham, The Book . . ., pp. 18-25, 169; Rooker, p. 192; Ross, p. 253; and Longman and Dillard, p. 90.] God seems to have regarded imperfection or abnormality in the animal world as unclean.

"Holiness requires that individuals shall conform to the class to which they belong." [Note: Douglas, p. 53.]

This does not explain all the cases, however. For example, why did God declare sheep and goats clean but pigs and camels unclean? One explanation is that sheep and goats conform to the norms of behavior that are typical of pastoral animals (chewing their cud and or having cloven feet). Pigs and camels do not. [Note: Ibid., pp. 54-55.] One problem with this "normalcy" view is that it seems to run counter to the fact that God declared all animals, including pigs and camels, good after He created them (Genesis 1:25). [Note: Wolf, p. 177.]

"Further analysis demonstrates that each sphere of the animal realm is similarly structured. Water creatures divide into the clean and the unclean, but land and air creatures further subdivide into clean animals that may be eaten and clean animals that may be sacrificed as well as eaten. This threefold division of animals-unclean, clean, and sacrificial-parallels the divisions of mankind, the unclean, i.e., those excluded from the camp of Israel, the clean, i.e., the majority of ordinary Israelites, and those who offer sacrifice, i.e., the priests. This tripartite division of both the animal world and the human realm is no coincidence, as is demonstrated by various laws in the Pentateuch, which apply similar principles to man and beast (Genesis 1:29-30; Exodus 13:2; Exodus 13:13; Exodus 20:10; Exodus 21:28 ff; Exodus 22:28-29 [Eng. 29-30]; Leviticus 26:22). Once it is admitted that the animals symbolize the human world, the uncleanness of the birds of prey becomes intelligible: they are detestable because they eat carrion and flesh from which the blood has not been drained properly, acts that make men unclean (Leviticus 11:13-19; cf. Leviticus 11:40 and Leviticus 17:10 ff.)." [Note: Wenham, The Book . . ., p. 170.]

As late as New Testament times the Jews appear to have regarded their food laws as symbolic of the division between themselves and Gentiles (Cf. Acts 10:14; Acts 10:28). The abolition of these laws under the New Covenant illustrates the fact that by His death Jesus Christ has broken down the wall of partition that separated Jews and Gentiles for so long (Ephesians 2:11-22).

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Leviticus 11:7". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be cloven footed,.... 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 u and Pliny w 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 x, 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 y, 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 z, that he that eats swine's milk is liable to be filled with the leprosy; and Maimonides a 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 b writers; and in this they have been imitated by many nations, particularly the Egyptians, who, as Herodotus says c, 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 d, 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 e, who adds, that if any of this sort of creatures is carried into Arabia, it immediately dies; and the same Pliny f 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 g, unless the historian should mean the Jews; also the Gallo-Grecians or Galatians h; nay, even the Indians have such an abhorrence of it, that they would as soon taste of human flesh as taste of that i, 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 k: 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.

u Hist. Animal. l. 2. c. 1. w Nat. Hist. l. 11. c. 46. x Scheuchzer. ut supra, (Physic. Sacr. vol. 2.) p. 282. y Ib. p. 284. z Apud Aelian. de Animal. l. 10. c. 16. a Moreh Nevochim, par. 3. c. 48. b "Et vetus indulget", &c. Juvenal. Satyr. 6. "nec distare putant", &c. Ib. Satyr. 14. Vid. Porphyr. de Abstinentia, l. 4. sect. 11, 12. c Euterpe, sive, l. 2. c. 47. d Ut supra. (Apud Aelian. de Animal. l. 10. c. 16.) e Polyhistor. c. 46. f Nat. Hist. l. 8. c. 52. g Herodian. Hist. l. 5. c. 16. h Pausan. Achaica, sive, l. 7. p. 430. i Ctesias apud Aelian. de Animal. l. 16. c. 37. k Pitts's Account of the Mahometans, p. 163.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Leviticus 11:7". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

Distinction of Meats. B. C. 1490.

      1 And the LORD spake unto Moses and to Aaron, saying unto them,   2 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, These are the beasts which ye shall eat among all the beasts that are on the earth.   3 Whatsoever parteth the hoof, and is clovenfooted, and cheweth the cud, among the beasts, that shall ye eat.   4 Nevertheless these shall ye not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the hoof: as the camel, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.   5 And the coney, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.   6 And the hare, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.   7 And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you.   8 Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcase shall ye not touch; they are unclean to you.

      Now that Aaron was consecrated a high priest over the house of God, God spoke to him with Moses, and appointed them both as joint-commissioners to deliver his will to the people. He spoke both to Moses and to Aaron about this matter; for it was particularly required of the priests that they should put a difference between clean and unclean, and teach the people to do so. After the flood, when God entered into covenant with Noah and his sons, he allowed them to eat flesh (Genesis 9:13), whereas before they were confined to the productions of the earth. But the liberty allowed to the sons of Noah is here limited to the sons of Israel. They might eat flesh, but not all kinds of flesh; some they must look upon as unclean and forbidden to them, others as clean and allowed them. The law in this matter is both very particular and very strict. But what reason can be given for this law? Why may not God's people have as free a use of all the creatures as other people? 1. It is reason enough that God would have it so: his will, as it is law sufficient, so it is reason sufficient; for his will is his wisdom. He saw good thus to try and exercise the obedience of his people, not only in the solemnities of his altar, but in matters of daily occurrence at their own table, that they might remember they were under authority. Thus God had tried the obedience of man in innocency, by forbidding him to eat of one particular tree. 2. Most of the meats forbidden as unclean are such as were really unwholesome, and not fit to be eaten; and those of them that we think wholesome enough, and use accordingly, as the rabbit, the hare, and the swine, perhaps in those countries, and to their bodies, might be hurtful. And then God in this law did by them but as a wise and loving father does by his children, whom he restrains from eating that which he knows will make them sick. Note, The Lord is for the body, and it is not only folly, but sin against God, to prejudice our health for the pleasing of our appetite. 3. God would thus teach his people to distinguish themselves from other people, not only in their religious worship, but in the common actions of life. Thus he would show them that they must not be numbered among the nations. It should seem there had been, before this, some difference between the Hebrews and other nations in their food, kept up by tradition; for the Egyptians and they would not eat together, Genesis 43:32. And even before the flood there was a distinction of beasts into clean and not clean (Genesis 7:2), which distinction was quite lost, with many other instances of religion, among the Gentiles. But by this law it is reduced to a certainty, and ordered to be kept up among the Jews, that thus, by having a diet peculiar to themselves, they might be kept from familiar conversation with their idolatrous neighbours, and might typify God's spiritual Israel, who not in these little things, but in the temper of their spirits, and the course of their lives, should be governed by a sober singularity, and not be conformed to this world. The learned observe further, That most of the creatures which by this law were to be abominated as unclean were such as were had in high veneration among the heathen, not so much for food as for divination and sacrifice to their gods; and therefore those are here mentioned as unclean, and an abomination, which yet they would not be in any temptation to eat, that they might keep up a religious loathing of that for which the Gentiles had a superstitious value. The swine, with the later Gentiles, was sacred to Venus, the owl to Minerva, the eagle to Jupiter, the dog to Hecate, c., and all these are here made unclean. As to the beasts, there is a general rule laid down, that those which both part the hoof and chew the cud were clean, and those only: these are particularly mentioned in the repetition of this law (Deuteronomy 14:4; Deuteronomy 14:5), where it appears that the Israelites had variety enough allowed them, and needed not to complain of the confinement they were under. Those beasts that did not both chew the cud and divide the hoof were unclean, by which rule the flesh of swine, and of hares, and of rabbits, was prohibited to them, though commonly used among us. Therefore, particularly at the eating of any of these, we should give thanks for the liberty granted us in this matter by the gospel, which teaches us that every creature of God is good, and we are to call nothing common or unclean. Some observe a significancy in the rule here laid down for them to distinguish by, or at least think it may be alluded to. Meditation, and other acts of devotion done by the hidden man of the heart, may be signified by the chewing of the cud, digesting our spiritual food; justice and charity towards men, and the acts of a good conversation, may be signified by the dividing of the hoof. Now either of these without the other will not serve to recommend us to God, but both must go together, good affections in the heart and good works in the life: if either be wanting, we are not clean, surely we are not clean. Of all the creatures here forbidden as unclean, none has been more dreaded and detested by the pious Jews than swine's flesh. Many were put to death by Antiochus because they would not eat it. This, probably, they were most in danger of being tempted to, and therefore possessed themselves and their children with a particular antipathy to it, calling it not by its proper name, but a strange thing. It should seem the Gentiles used it superstitiously (Isaiah 65:4), they eat swine's flesh; and therefore God forbids all use of it to his people, lest they should learn of their neighbours to make that ill use of it. Some suggest that the prohibition of these beasts as unclean was intended to be a caution to the people against the bad qualities of these creatures. We must not be filthy nor wallow in the mire as swine, nor be timorous and faint-hearted as hares, nor dwell in the earth as rabbits; let not man that is in honour make himself like these beasts that perish. The law forbade, not only the eating of them, but the very touching of them; for those that would be kept from any sin must be careful to avoid all temptations to it, and every thing that looks towards it or leads to it.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Leviticus 11:7". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". 1706.