Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Inserted Laws on Rites for the Dead, Foods Clean and Unclean, etc.
Between two laws, which forbid to Israel, as holy to Jehovah, certain rites of mourning for the dead, Deuteronomy 14:1 f., and the eating of what has died a natural death (with an appendix against seething a kid in its mother’s milk), Deuteronomy 14:21—both of which contain deuteronomic phrases—there lies a passage, Deuteronomy 14:3-20, on clean and unclean foods, in which the language is not deuteronomic, but has phrases peculiar to P. The first law against the mourning customs cannot be earlier than the end of the 7th century when these customs were not only practised in Israel but regarded as sanctioned. Further there are no parallels to these laws in JE, except to Deuteronomy 14:21, but there are parallels to all the rest in the late legislation of P (or H): Leviticus 11:2-23; Leviticus 20:25. Again the form of address is, unlike the laws in 13 and Deuteronomy 14:22 ff., throughout in the Pl., save only for the deuteronomic phrases in Deuteronomy 14:2-3; Deuteronomy 14:21. All this is reasonable ground for taking the whole section as a later (exilic or post-exilic) addition to the code of D (with the possible exceptions of Deuteronomy 14:3; Deuteronomy 14:21 which may be fragments of the original D). Note that there is no reference to such laws in the reforms of Josiah. The relations of this section to its parallel in Leviticus 11:2-23 are uncertain. Lev. does not contain the list of clean beasts which our form of the law gives, Deuteronomy 14:4, but otherwise is more elaborate and detailed. Probably neither is derived from the other, but both are developments from a common origin. Further the LXX version of our law varies from the Heb. Altogether then we have here another instance of the currency of various editions of the same law, tending to grow in different ways.
Ye are the children of the LORD your God: ye shall not cut yourselves, nor make any baldness between your eyes for the dead.1 f. Against certain Rites for the Dead
No parallel in JE; but one in H, Leviticus 19:28 a.
1. Sons are ye to Jehovah your God] The order of the EVV. misses the emphasis. Note not merely the change to the Pl. address but its cause, the conception of individual Israelites as the sons of Jehovah: not elsewhere in D. In the discourses in D Israel, the nation, is as the son of Jehovah, Deuteronomy 1:31, Deuteronomy 8:5 and so more definitely in J, Exodus 4:22 f., Hosea 11:1, and Jeremiah 31:20. The transition from this conception to the statement of Jehovah’s fatherhood of Israelites as individuals was natural; the two conceptions occur together in the Song Deuteronomy 32:5-6 and in Hosea and Jeremiah. The latter is already found in the 8th century, Hosea 1:10, Isaiah 1:2. But as we advance through the prophecies of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, with their strong individualism, to the exilic and post-exilic writings we find a great increase of references to Israelites as the sons of Jehovah, Jeremiah 3:14; Jeremiah 3:19; Jeremiah 3:22; Jeremiah 4:22, Ezek. (Ezekiel 2:4?), Ezekiel 20:21, Isaiah 63:8; Isaiah 63:16; Isaiah 64:8 (cp. Isaiah 57:4), Malachi 2:10, Deuteronomy 32:5, Psalm 73:15; Psalm 82:6. This is contemporary with the breaking up of the Jewish state and the destruction of the national worship. While then it is clear that one cannot take sons of Jehovah in this law as by itself proof of an exilic or post-exilic date, we can say that if it does not add to, it at least agrees with, the evidence in that direction adduced in the note below.
Many ancient nations believed in their descent from gods or demigods; and among them the Semitic peoples, e.g. the Moabites are called sons and daughters of Kemosh, Numbers 21:29. But the relation was conceived physically. In the O.T. God’s fatherhood and Israel’s sonship are historical and ethical, based not on physical generation, but on an act of love on God’s part, on His choice or adoption (cp. Romans 9:4) of the people, and on His deliverance of them from Egypt; and it is carried out by His providence of love and moral chastisement (see the references above and cp. Amos 3), which is nowhere more tenderly described than in this Book. But when all the O.T. references to God as the Father whether of Israel or Israelites and to them as His children have been reckoned up, how few are they in comparison to the number of times that sons, and children, of God occur in the N.T. God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts crying Abba Father (Galatians 4:6); joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17).
ye shall not cut or gash yourselves] So of the priests of Ba‘al (1 Kings 18:28) and in Ar. one form of the vb. is used of mutilations of animals, Leviticus 19:28 : you shall put no incision on your flesh (cp. Deuteronomy 21:5) nor any tattooing upon you.
nor set a baldness between your eyes] Leviticus 21:5 : not make a baldness on their head neither shave off the corner of their beard.
for the dead] That these customs were not practised merely from excess of grief, nor only as testifying to the continuance of the mourner’s blood-covenant with the dead, but also in acknowledgement of the divinity of the latter and as the mourners’ consecration to them, is implied in the reason given in Deuteronomy 14:2 for Israel’s abstention from such things. Jehovah’s people are holy and sacred to Himself alone. Hence, too, the inclusion of this law among those against the worship of strange gods. Moreover Jeremiah 16:7 describes a communion feast as part of the same rites. May not also the choice of the expression sons are ye to Jehovah be due to this cause, as if such rites implied an ancestor worship? For the worship of their ancestors by Arab tribes who bring offerings and sacrifice at their graves see Musil, Ethn. Ber. 329.
For the prevalence, among many ancient nations, particularly the Semitic, as well as among modern peoples, of these customs of gashing the flesh and shaving part of the hair or beard, apparently always with a religious implication, see W. R. Smith, Rel. Sem. 302 ff. Gashing, both of face and body called ‘Tashrit’ (cp. Heb.) was explained to Burton in Mekka as a sign ‘that the scarred was the servant of Allah’s House.’ (Pilgrimage, etc. ii. 234.) Mohammed expressly forbad the practice. The O.T. confirms it for Moab (Isaiah 15:2) and the Philistines (Jeremiah 47:5), and states that both customs were practised in Israel not only as usual and natural in mourning (equally so with the wearing of sackcloth), but as even sanctioned by Israel’s God (Amos 8:10; Isaiah 22:12): he calls to weeping … and baldness; Jeremiah 16:6 : as His punishment of an evil generation, the usual rites of mourning for its dead, including gashing and baldness, shall not be observed; Jeremiah 41:5 : men come from Shechem to the house of Jehovah with shaven heads and having gashed themselves; Ezekiel 7:18. Note, too, the absence from the earlier legislation of a law against these practices. The law first appears here and in H, Leviticus 19:28, Lev 21:25.
Unknown to Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and to those Shechem Jews who, in obedience to the central law of D, brought their offerings to the Temple, this law cannot have formed part of the original code of D; but is an exilic or post-exilic addition.
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.2. For thou art an holy people, etc.] Almost exactly as Deuteronomy 7:6 (q.v.). Note also the Sg. address in contrast to the Pl. of the context. This v. is, therefore, probably an addition by the hand which inserted these later laws in the code of D.
Thou shalt not eat any abominable thing.3. Thou shalt not eat any abominable thing] The same noun as abomination, Deuteronomy 7:25, q.v.; a term characteristic of D. The clause being also in the Sg. in a Pl. context (to which Sam., LXX have harmonised it) may be either the original law of D on this subject—cp. every abomination, Deuteronomy 12:31—or, like Deuteronomy 14:2, an addition by the deuteronomic editor.
3–20. Of Clean and Unclean Beasts, Fishes and Birds
Paralleled with elaborations in H, Leviticus 11:2-23 (see introductory note above p. 183; and cp. the comparative table in Driver’s Deut. 157 ff.; the chief similarities and differences are noted in the notes below), and very summarily also in Leviticus 20:25, H: ye shall separate between clean beast and unclean, and between unclean fowl and clean and shall not render your souls detestable (cp. Deuteronomy 7:26, Deuteronomy 11:31, Deuteronomy 12:11) by beast or fowl or anything wherewith the ground creepeth which I have separated from you as unclean.—In JE there is no parallel.—The references below to Tristram are to his Fauna and Flora of Western Palestine in the PEF Survey of W. Pal.; those to Doughty are to his Arabia Deserta.
On Clean And Unclean Animals
First, some remarks are necessary on the form of the deuteronomic list. While most of the names have been reasonably identified with animals still found in Palestine—the credit of this is largely due to Canon Tristram—yet full success in such identification is not, and may never be, possible. Especially precarious is the equation of the names with single species. The names are generic, not specific. They are popular. They give proofs of a close observation of the structure and habits of the animals. But the statement that the hare and the rock-badger chew the cud is not correct; though Arab hunters still assert this of the rock-badger (see on Deuteronomy 14:7), and indeed ‘both in hare and hyrax the peculiar munching movements, the backward and forward movements of the lower jaw, are so strongly suggestive of cud-chewing, that one rather admires the suggestion that they do chew the cud.’
Like that in Leviticus 11:2-23 the list in Deut. is not exhaustive. It details the clean mammals, both domestic and wild, but not the clean birds. It names the unclean birds, but not the unclean mammals except the camel, hare, and rock-badger, nor the reptiles nor the insects. That some of these, the weasel, mouse, and lizards, are added in Leviticus 11:29 ff. starts the question whether at the time our list was drawn up it was felt to be enough to count upon the people’s natural repugnance to such vermin, without naming them; and whether the Levitical additions were due to a fresh temptation to use these animals, which Israel had meantime encountered by contact with foreign customs and cults. But this opens up our main subject.
What was the principle of the distinction between clean and unclean animals? Some of the data are obscure and conflicting; and different explanations are possible, none of which is wholly satisfactory. As we shall see, the complex result, which the Law presents, is probably due to many causes, both physical and spiritual.
The following facts are certain.
All Semitic peoples have distinguished between animals lawful and unlawful for food. But their customs, though similar, have varied very much in detail, and flesh which was enjoyed by one tribe was often forbidden to another. Nomad from fellaḥ, coast-dweller from desert-dweller, townsman from rustic, they have differed, and still differ in opinion and in practice as to the cleanness or uncleanness of certain animals.
From the earliest times and long before there was written Law on the subject, the same distinction prevailed in Israel. The O.T. traditions vary as to the origin of flesh-eating. J and P agree that in his first estate man did not eat flesh. In J’s record the fruits of the ground are given to man for nourishment—every tree pleasant to the sight and good for food—and the animals are created to be his companions; not till he is expelled from the garden and has to cultivate the soil cursed for his sake is anything said of his use of animals for clothing or sacrifice; at the same time serpents are cursed; Noah takes into the Ark seven pairs of every kind of clean animals and one pair of every kind not clean, and of the former offers ‘olôth, or whole burnt-sacrifices (Genesis 2:9; Genesis 2:16; Genesis 3:14 f., Deuteronomy 7:2; Deuteronomy 7:20). In P’s account man is granted dominion over all animals; cereals and fruit trees are given to him for food, but to the animals grass and herbage; Noah takes into the Ark two of every kind of living creature, along with all food wont to be eaten (Genesis 1:29 f., Deuteronomy 6:19 f.). P knows of no sacrifice nor of any distinction between clean and unclean animals before the legislation at Sinai (see I.P. 76, 80). Up to the establishment of the deuteronomic Law, all slaughter and eating of domestic animals was sacrificial, but venison was eaten without ritual (12). In the earlier histories the only reference to the distinction between clean and unclean foods is in Jdg 13:4; Jdg 13:7; Jdg 13:14, where Manoah’s wife is warned not to eat anything unclean, Heb. tâmé’, during her pregnancy. In Hosea 9:3 f. food eaten in exile is unclean, because it is eaten only for appetite and cannot be brought into a, or the, house of Jehovah, where alone the sacrifice is valid by which it is rendered clean1.
 If the passage is Hosea’s, and therefore earlier than D, we must translate a house of Jehovah: if with Marti the vv. are considered a later addition, we must translate the House, and understand by the consecration of the food that which was secured for the whole harvest and increase of flock and herd by the presentation in the temple of firstlings, first-fruits and tithes.
Again, the marks cited by our law as distinguishing clean from unclean mammals, viz. that they wholly cleave the hoof and that they chew the cud, cannot be intended as the cause or fundamental reason of the distinction. In such features there is nothing to constitute cleanness. They are cited merely as convenient signs for carrying out a distinction which rested on other grounds. They are an afterthought, and as we have seen in the case of the hare and the hyrax they are incorrect.
What then were the grounds on which the distinction rested? The answer has often been given that animals were called clean or unclean according as experience had proved them wholesome or unwholesome fare for man. It is true that the unclean birds of our list are feeders on carrion (only the heron, Deuteronomy 14:18, was long enjoyed in Europe); that the hare has often been considered unhealthy food, and that pork is dangerous especially in the East. Yet healthy peoples freely eat of both; the flesh of the rock-badger denied to Israel is, like that of lizards, enjoyed by Arabs; and some Arabs eat the breast of the ostrich, a rank feeder. Nor can unwholesomeness be the reason for denying camel-flesh to Israel; it is one of the commonest flesh-foods in Arabia. Again, within the same nation some forms of flesh are prohibited to one class of adults which are allowed to others. In several ancient religions the priests might not eat things permitted to the laity (W. R. Smith, Rel. Sem. 274); and among modern Arabs certain animals in certain conditions may be eaten only by men and others only by women (Musil, Ethn. Ber. 150). Further, camels are eaten in Palestine by Moslems, but not by Christians (Baldensperger, PEFQ, 1905, 120). It is well known that certain kinds of food, harmless to most individuals, disagree with others and may possibly sometimes disagree with whole families. But the differences of usage just cited, occurring as they do between whole tribes or religious bodies or religious ranks, or the sexes, cannot all be explained on physical grounds. It is clear, therefore, that the distinction between clean and unclean flesh-foods does not, at least wholly, rest upon their respective wholesomeness and unwholesomeness1.
 So already Patrick Fairbairn (Typology of Scripture, ii. 429 f.), who had not the advantage of the modern evidence quoted above, and who came to his conclusion solely on that of the lists in the Hebrew Law.
Another and a wider explanation, to which sufficient attention has not been given, is that a people’s distinction between clean and unclean animals was determined by the degree of their familiarity with them. This would account at least for those cases which are left unexplained by the other theory: the animals, namely, which are counted unclean and are yet wholesome food for man. Thus the camel, forbidden as food to Israel2 to whom it came as a foreign beast, takes with the Arabs, to whom it is a domestic animal, a leading rank among their foods, replacing the ox, which is not easily reared in the desert and is regarded by many as the less honourable food (see on Deuteronomy 14:4). Again fish, readily eaten by Arabs of the coast and of the well-watered Moab and Gilead, is abhorred by Arabs of the waterless desert (see on 9 f.), though these enjoy lizards and the like. Conversely the ostrich, a bird foreign to Palestine, is forbidden to Israel, but in Arabia, of which it is a native, its breast is eaten. Yet this solution offered for the problem is also not perfect. The hare and the wild-boar were as familiar in Palestine to Israel, to whom they were forbidden, as to the Arabs who enjoy them both.
 In Egypt and in the wilderness Israel had no camels, and under the monarchy their first camels are in charge of a man with an Arab name, Jerusalem, i. 323.
From such physical explanations the argument has therefore fallen back on religious beliefs and customs as the sole and sufficient grounds of the distinction.
We may begin with a religious explanation relevant only to the Hebrew Law. Principal Patrick Fairbairn (Typology of Scripture, ii. 427 ff.), developing the views of earlier divines, argues that the law of clean and unclean foods manifests at once the bounty and the discipline of God. For man’s body it provides enough wholesome fare and on this puts a stamp of sacredness; but by ruling out of the list of permitted foods some that are wholesome along with all that are unwholesome it trains the appetite to habits of discrimination and abstinence.
‘The outward distinction was from the first appointed for the sake of the spiritual instruction it was fitted to convey.’ It was ‘a symbol,’ and like others it disappeared with the rise of the higher freedom which is in Christ. Such a theory does justice to the law’s moral influence upon the people in their commerce with foreigners. Like that of the Sabbath, this law of foods helped to maintain Israel’s distinction from the heathen, especially throughout the Greek period. Yet the theory, formed at a time when the comparative study of religions was less advanced than it now is, fails to account for the existence among other Semites of food-customs very similar to those sanctioned by the Hebrew laws. We must seek for the origin of the latter in ideas and impressions common to the whole Semitic race.
While the study of Semitic customs reveals everywhere (as we have seen) the practice of a distinction between clean and unclean foods and discovers great varieties in that practice, all of which cannot be explained on physical grounds alone; it also shows that many of the animals forbidden as food by the Hebrew laws were worshipped or were eaten sacramentally by the neighbours of Israel. Reasons of ritual have therefore been proposed—and by some exclusively proposed—as the basis of the distinction.
Heathen Arabs worshipped the lion and the nasr or carrion-vulture (W. R. Smith, Kinship and Marriage in Early Arabia, 208 ff.); fish with scales and without were sacred to certain Syrian deities (Rel. Sem. 430), and the people of Ḥarran sacrificed field-mice, dogs and swine (Id. 272 ff.). According to Isaiah 65:4 some Israelites provoked Jehovah by eating the flesh of swine and broth of foul things, and believed that such rites enhanced their holiness; and, Isaiah 66:17, they hallowed themselves by eating swine’s-flesh, the detestable thing (sheḳeṣ, or as others read shereṣ, creeping things), and mice (cp. Isaiah 66:3). Similarly Ezekiel (Ezekiel 8:10 f.) describes secret places in the Temple where every form of reptile and detestable thing and all the idols of the house of Israel were worshipped by the heads of Jewish families. Further sheḳeṣ is a term applied both to unclean beasts and the gods of the heathen.
From this the conclusion has been drawn that ‘the unclean creatures are the divine animals of the heathen’ (Kinship etc., 309); ‘because in one cult something is holy, in another it is impure …; we are led to conclude that it is religious grounds which lie below the prohibitions of certain foods by the Law …; the prohibition of the swine presents itself entirely as a protest against the holiness of that beast in some vanquished or foreign cult’ (Berth. on Leviticus 11). It is also pointed out that the laws against such foods in D, H and P appeared at the time when those cults largely prevailed in W. Asia (their mystical communions having displaced the old national or tribal cults) and had invaded Israel itself (Kinship, 308 f.). The case for this theory is therefore very strong, and is further supported by the reason given for the prohibition of certain foods to Israel in the short summary of H, Leviticus 20:26 : ye shall be holy to Jehovah, His exclusively and not another god’s.
Yet like the others this explanation fails to account for every case in the lists before us. For example, fish with scales are clean to Israel, though they were regarded as sacred to some Syrian deities; doves were eaten in Israel, though the peculiar symbols of a Syrian goddess; sheep were sacrificed in Israel as well as by all other Semites; and still more the ox was permitted to Israel both as sacrifice and food, although it was worshipped by the Canaanites and its sacredness formed the strongest temptation to idolatry which Israel encountered. Therefore the theory, that the animals forbidden by the Law were unclean to the people of Jehovah because of their sacredness to other deities, needs qualification.
This is offered by another explanation, according to which an animal was unclean to Israel not because it was sacramentally eaten in a heathen shrine, but because Israel themselves believed, or had once believed, that it was the inhabitation of some malignant, supernatural power. Referring to the prohibition of shereṣ or creeping things because so intensely unclean as to infect whatever they touch (Leviticus 11:29 ff.), W. R. Smith says: ‘So strict a taboo is hardly to be explained except by supposing that like the Arabian ḥanash1 they had supernatural and demoniac qualities’ (Rel. Sem. 275, cp. 143 and Kinship, 306). But such a religious belief itself requires explanation. It can have sprung only from these sources:—unfamiliarity with the animals pronounced unclean (as we have seen Arabs of the desert abhorring fish enjoyed by Arabs of the coast, or Israel regarding the camel as unclean while Arabs of all times have partaken of its flesh), or some experience of the pernicious effects of eating certain animals (as the Syrians, with whom fish were sacred to Atargatis, thought that ‘if they ate a sprat or anchovy they were visited with ulcers, swellings and wasting sickness,’ Rel. Sem., 429 f.), or some accidental coincidence between the eating of an animal and an outbreak of disease. It was very natural for men to ascribe to a hostile demon, resident in the animal, both the fear with which the sight of its strange or repulsive shape affected them and any sickness they may have suffered after eating its flesh. So they called this not ‘unwholesome’ but ritually unclean (ṭâmé’). The primary factor, however, in this religious instinct was the strangeness of the beast or its evil taste or the deleterious consequences, real or imaginary, of eating it. And this is confirmed by the primitive rule as to what fruits might be eaten: and Jehovah caused to spring every tree pleasant to the sight and good for food … and commanded men saying, Of every tree in the garden thou mayest surely eat (J, Genesis 2:9; Genesis 2:16). It is difficult to say whether ṭahôr and ṭâmé’ meant first physically, or ritually, clean and unclean, though the general analogy of such terms in Hebrew would point to the former; but it is at least significant that before animals were divided into ṭahôr and ṭamé’ they were simply called ṭahôr and not-ṭahôr (Genesis 7:2).
 Which covers reptiles, rats, mice, insects, etc.
Another form of the religious explanation of the distinction between clean and unclean animals derives this from totemism. The totem of a tribe is an animal (less frequently a plant) which the tribe recognise as physically akin to themselves and as invested with supernatural powers. W. R. Smith and others have argued that, like most primitive races, the ancient Semites also had their totems; and the evidence for this is considerable. The names of a number of Semitic persons and tribes are animal names. In the O.T. we find Rahel Ewe, Leah Antelope or wild-cow, Nun Fish, Kaleb Dog, ‘Akbor Mouse, Ḥuldah Weasel, Shaphan Rock-badger, ‘Oreb Raven and ’Ayyah Kite. Among the Arabs there are many more (W. R. Smith, Kinship, 17, 190 ff., gives a list of personal names identical with those both of clean and unclean animals; cp. Musil’s lists in Ethn. Ber. and Von Oppenheim’s in Vom Mittelmeer zum Persischen Golf). In Ḥarran the dog, and among the Arabs the rock-badger, were regarded as the brothers of man (Kinship, 201, 204). The totems are most frequently wild animals, for totemism is characteristic of the hunting stage of human life; and nothing does more to break it up than the adoption of pastoral habits along with the notions which these suggest of the kinship of man with his milk-giving beasts through fosterage. But primitively the domestic animals may also have been totems till higher ideas of divinity became attached to them. ‘In almost all ancient nations in the pastoral and agricultural stage the chief associations of the great deities are with the milk-giving animals; and it is these animals, the ox, the sheep, the goat, or in Arabia the camel, that appear as victims in the public and national worship.’ The gods grew out of and replaced the animal demons (Rel. Sem., 336 f.; cp. 129 f.). But the older ideas survived, as is seen from their recrudescence in Syria, in the 8th and 7th centt., when the national and tribal faiths were broken up. The sacredness imputed to all these animals would affect the use of them in different and opposite ways. It would compel abstention from them as common food, but it would also be the motive of their sacramental use upon solemn occasions, when by partaking of its flesh the tribesmen entered into communion with their totem. Tribes uniting with each other would respect the sacredness of their respective totems and thus alter or modify their own food customs. Or again the totem of their enemies might be solemnly slaughtered and eaten by a tribe as if to absorb the qualities of that beast or to signify the destruction of its human kin (Stade, Gesch. Isr., i. 485). Or again totems might be used medicinally. We cannot limit the directions in which the easily startled mind of primitive man will spring under fear, or hate, or hope, or some other passion. No wonder, then, that Stade (loc. cit.) describes all prohibitions of foods as going back to totemism. W. R. Smith (Kinship, 310) adds this argument: ‘that the Hebrew list of forbidden foods is largely made up of the names of creatures that there could be no temptation to eat under ordinary circumstances, is naturally explained by the theory just put forward.’
These general conclusions are, however, precarious. It cannot be proved that every animal unclean to Israel was, or had been, a totem of one of their own tribes or of an alien people. The hare does not appear as such, but on the contrary was believed by the Arabs to be avoided by all demons or jinns (Rel. Sem., 122 n. 1; cp. Jacob, Altarab. Beduinenleben, 20). Probably for that very reason, the use of its head or of one of its bones as an amulet was both ancient and widespread among the Arabs. Arabs also use as medicine one of the birds unclean to Israel, the rakhim or carrion-vulture (Deuteronomy 14:17), as well as parts of serpents (Musil, Ethn. Ber. , 19, 151). Yet the fact that all the unclean birds on the Hebrew lists are carrion-feeders leaves it as possible that the prohibition of them was due to the natural disgust they created as that it was due to their being, or to their having once been, the totems of Israelite or other clans. If the absence of any natural temptation to eat them is a reason for seeking a totemistic explanation of their unlawfulness as food, why are the beasts of prey not also detailed by name?
Above all the advocates of a totemistic explanation of the distinction between clean and unclean flesh-foods take no notice of certain other influences which must have disturbed and altered any system of foods based upon totemism. One of these was the frequency of famine as the result either of war or of natural causes. Deprived of their usual and sacred foods tribes would be forced to experiment with kinds of flesh which for one reason or another they had hitherto scrupulously avoided. In famine-cursed Arabia this may have been the origin of the eating of lizards and serpents. Nor can we ignore the common, everyday sagacity of men, always more or less sharpened by the struggle for the means of living. And, besides, there was the moral sense which we have already (in connection with the sacrifice of children) found operative even among the heathen Semites. If excesses in eating or in drinking, or sexual abuses, were developed in connection with rites, whose centre was the enjoyment of the flesh of a particular animal, there may well have been a revolt against the use of that flesh either ordinarily or as a sacrament.
Obviously, then, it is injudicious to allow to totemism more than a contributory part in the formation of those customs in the use of flesh-foods which prevailed throughout the Semitic world. Baldensperger’s description of the distinctions in eating wild beasts and birds observed by the present natives of Palestine implies that these are due to several factors:—tradition, observation of what the beasts and birds eat, and natural disgust at the propensities of some to carrion; but the general rules are evaded by fictitious excuses, and in particular birds regarded as ‘unclean’ will be eaten when accidentally killed (PEF, 1905, 120).
Probably all the causes suggested had something to do with the complex and varying results. Both physical and religious motives were at work; and the latter must have often been suggested by the former. As we have seen the strangeness or the repulsive appearance of an animal or the sickness which followed the eating of its flesh would inevitably start the belief that a demoniac power was present in the animal. In the case of animals adopted as totems other ideas were operative. Where the animal gave milk the sense of blood-kinship came naturally to the tribe living on its milk. Where a beast or bird of prey was adopted as the totem we can guess at the cause in some imagined friendliness on its part, or the wearing of its skin, or some human resemblance in its features, or some weird pride in imitating its habits or in likening its strength to one’s own. The effects of totemism on the tribe’s food-customs may be inferred with greater certainty; but as we have seen they are variable, opposite and even contradictory. And again all such religious and totemistic practices would be crossed and warped both by natural and by historical events; by the stress of famine and the outbreak of plague, or by migration and the alliances and amalgamations of tribes with different totems. For it is only by so complex a variety of influences, both within totemism and acting upon it, that we can account for what seem to be the arbitrary and inconsistent features in the various Semitic systems of the distinction of foods into clean and unclean. We cannot forget that through all the complexity of religious and social customs there must have been constantly operative the practical need of proving what beasts, birds and fishes were good for food and what were deleterious. Only thus can we explain the adoption of fish as food by tribes to which fish had been at first abhorrent. The simple rule to eat what was good for food is remembered in J as primitive and was no doubt always at work. It would require merely another of those religious fictions, in which Semitic societies were expert, to reconcile the happy experience of some new form of food with the religious system under which it had previously been forbidden.
That all such influences had also once affected the tribes which united to form Israel is certain. Even under the written Law Israel’s system of clean and unclean foods remains too similar to the customs of other Semites to leave us in doubt upon that point. But within historical times some of the influences had ceased to act directly on Israel and others came into operation. At the beginning of their history the Hebrews were out of the hunter stage of life and into the pastoral. Totemism, replaced by higher forms of religion, had disappeared or was confined to obscure portions of the people (note, however, as a survival to the days of Hezekiah the Neḥushtan or brazen serpent in the Temple). Food-customs springing from totemism or similar superstitions remained after their origin was forgotten. With the people’s settlement on more fertile lands the ox became, in addition to the goat and sheep, a domestic animal; and the sacredness of the relation of all three to the people is obvious from the fact that they could be eaten only sacramentally. On the other hand, Israel’s free use of certain wild animals may have been determined by the fact that like the domestic animals these ate of herbage only, while as they stood in no sacred relation to the people they might be slain and eaten without sacrifice. The people’s original unfamiliarity with the camel, joined it may be with the fact that it was sacred to foreigners, is a sufficient reason for considering its flesh as unclean. Further effects of their settlement are seen in the differences between others of their food-customs and those of the desert Arabs. They shared that aversion to wild boars and reptiles which (as we have seen) still distinguishes the fellaḥin from the nomads. Whatever may have been their original feelings as to fish, they ate fish in Palestine as freely as the Arabs begin to do after settlement in Moab or Gilead. That they ruled out eels and lampreys, the former with very minute scales the latter with none, is intelligible enough, since in shape these resemble serpents. They abstained from birds which feed on carrion and from loathsome wild animals; but whether the motive to this abstention was solely one of disgust or was due as well to the fact that these animals were sacred to other tribes is a point on which we have not enough evidence. On insects and reptiles Deuteronomy 14:9 f. is vague, locusts may or may not be forbidden by it; but H, Leviticus 11:20-23, defines what locusts may be eaten, and in a Priestly addition to H, Leviticus 11:2 ff., there are more detailed directions as to unclean beasts. Such differences imply a growth in the customs of Israel, especially with regard to animals on the line of separation and difficult to distinguish in their structure from each other. That the weasel (or rat?) and the mouse, while not mentioned in Deut., are expressly forbidden in Leviticus 11:29, may be due to the recrudescence in the 6th cent. of those rites in which their flesh was sacramentally enjoyed (see above); but more, probably we owe it to the scribes’ increasing love of detail, since Deuteronomy 14 is itself subsequent to the 7th cent.
We cannot doubt that the higher ethical spirit which distinguishes Israel from their Semitic kinsfolk, even from the earliest times, had some influence on the people’s practice with regard to foods, especially by disciplining the appetite. But of this there are no marks in the written law. There the determining factor is holiness, i.e. ritual separation to Jehovah. Of course from this there followed those ethical effects to which sufficient allusion has been made above.
These are the beasts which ye shall eat: the ox, the sheep, and the goat,4. These are the beasts which ye shall eat] Leviticus 11:2-23 has no list of clean beasts such as here follows.
ox, sheep, goat] For the sacramental nature of the slaying and eating of domestic animals see on Deuteronomy 12:20-28. In ancient times the enjoyment of flesh by ordinary people was rare; that of the domestic animals was limited to special occasions such as the arrival of a guest, or a family festival, but kings and the rich ate it every day, and successful raids were celebrated by feasting upon the animal spoil (e.g. Jdg 6:19, 1 Samuel 14:32; 1 Samuel 16:20; 1 Samuel 25:18; 1 Samuel 28:24, 2 Samuel 12:4, 1 Kings 4:23, Amos 6:4). The flesh was, as still in Syria and Arabia, usually of sheep and goats; Arabs regard the former as the more honourable for a guest. Bullocks and calves were slain much more seldom, except in great houses. So it is still with the fellaḥin; while in Arabia, where pasture is scarce and the oxen are for the most part meagre and stunted, ox flesh is very rarely eaten; and its place is taken by that of the camel (see below). Ancient Arab physicians held beef to be poisonous; in parts of S. Arabia it was eaten only by the very poor; to set it even before a servant was regarded as an insult (Georg Jacob, Altarabisches Beduinenleben, 94).
The hart, and the roebuck, and the fallow deer, and the wild goat, and the pygarg, and the wild ox, and the chamois.5. Seven varieties of game; LXX B gives only five: hart, gazelle, roebuck, wild-ox and giraffe (?); codd. AF, etc. add after gazelle, buffalo and tragelaphos. It may not be unnecessary to remark that neither to the nomads nor to the fellaḥîn is hunting sport; it is, especially to the former, a hard and hungry search for food. ‘The nomad is not a hunter’ (Doughty, i. 157). The hunters of Arabia are the Sleyb, wandering gypsies without cattle and camels: according to Burckhardt (p. 12) they live on dried gazelle-flesh. Besides the varieties of game given here as edible, the ancient Arabs relished also the flesh of the wild-ass (Georg Jacob, op. cit. 115).
hart and gazelle] ’Ayyal, ṣebi: see on Deuteronomy 12:22; cp. Deuteronomy 12:15, Deuteronomy 15:22; hart probably fallow deer, cervus dama; gazelle, gazella dorcas.
roebuck] Yaḥmûr also deut 1 Kings 4:23 (Deuteronomy 5:3) A.V. fallow-deer. Yakhmûr is the name still given to a deer found on Mt Carmel (Conder, Tent Work, i. 173) and identified as the roebuck, cervus capreolus; called in Gilead khamûr (Post, PEFQ, 1890, 171 f.; Conder, id. 173); also seen on Lebanon (Tr. 4). Found throughout Europe it does not range farther S. than Palestine. As roebuck is the name of the male, roedeer is perhaps the better rendering.
wild goat] ’Aḳḳo only here, LXX AF τραγέλαφος, Targ. ya‘al, ibex such as about Engedi, 1 Samuel 24:2. With ’aḳḳo as if for ’anḳo cp. Ar. ’anaḳ (= long-necked) goat.
pygarg] As LXX πύγαργος ‘white-rump.’ The Heb. dîshon (as if from Heb. dash = tread, leap) is rather antelope: the large white addax (Tr. 5).
antelope] te‘o only here and Isaiah 51:20, LXX ὄρυξ, A.V. wild-ox. Tristram (p. 5) takes the name as generic and suggests that it covers both the antilope bubalis, which, he says, is called ‘wild-cow’ in Moab and Gilead, and a leucoryx ‘the Oryx or white antelope,’ to which the Arabs of Arabia give the name of ‘wild-ox’ (G. Jacob, op. cit. 117, citing from Ar. poets descriptions of it as shining like a white-washed house or as if with a white tunic); Post (Hastings’ D.B. ‘Ox’) proposes the oryx beatrix; Doughty (1. 328) takes the woṭhŷḥî of central Arabia, ‘an antelope beatrix,’ to be the O.T. re’em or wild-ox. R.V. antelope and A.V. wild-ox are thus probably both correct, the former giving the genus of the animal the latter its popular name among the Hebrews and the Arabs. With regard to the Heb. name te’o or the’o I notice that Lane gives the Ar. Sha’ (sh and the soft th correspond) as applied to the wild-bull or wild-cow.
chamois] Certainly not this! This animal is European and is not found so far S. as Palestine. Heb. zemer, Targ. diṣa, wild-goat. In the Mts of Yemen the wild maned sheep, ovis tragelaphus, was anciently numerous (G. Jacob, p. 21). Probably mountain-goat or -sheep.
Thus the names in this verse are all general and popular; each may have covered more than one species found in Syria or Arabia: to identify it with any one species is foolish.
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.6. There might also be eaten any beast with both of these marks:—
that parteth the hoof, and hath the hoof cloven in two] Lit. and cleaveth a cleft of two hoofs. The hoof must be entirely cloven (see below on camel);
and cheweth the cud] Heb. bringeth up the gerah, Ar. girrah, so called from either the straining or the gurgling of the process.
Nevertheless these ye shall not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the cloven hoof; as the camel, and the hare, and the coney: for they chew the cud, but divide not the hoof; therefore they are unclean unto you.7. Nevertheless] Not raḳ with which qualifications to laws are introduced by D (see on Deuteronomy 10:15, Deuteronomy 12:15 f.) but ’ak, Deuteronomy 16:5, Deuteronomy 18:20, cp. Deuteronomy 12:22.
camel, hare, rock-badger] In Leviticus 11:4-6 taken separately and each with a repetition of the formula because it cheweth the cud but parteth not the hoof. The camel chews the cud but its hoof is only partly cloven (see on Deuteronomy 14:6): sacrificed and eaten by Nabateans and ancient Arabs (Wellhausen, Reste Arab. Heid. 112, W. R. Smith, Rel. Sem. 201, 263, 320) though forbidden to Christian Arabs because of its use in heathen rites (id. 265), the camel is still eaten in Arabia (Burton, Pilgr. to Med. and Mecca, ii. 217, Doughty, ii. 209, 345, Musil, Edom, i. 247, Ethn. Ber. 71, 150, 423, 453 f.); taking the place of the ox of the settled Semites (see on Deuteronomy 14:4).—The hare, ’arnebeth, Ar. ’arnob, does not chew the cud and its feet are neither hoofed nor cleft; there are several species in and round Syria (Tr. 8 f., who singles out the lepus syriacus), and the beast is common in Arabia, where it is eaten (Doughty, i. 70, 567, ii. 238); hare’s bone, foot and head were used as amulets (W. R. Smith, Rel. Sem. 362, G. Jacob, op. cit. 20).—The rock-badger, shaphan, Ar. wabr and ṭubsun; procavia (hyrax) syriaca (Tristram, 1) does not chew the cud. It seems, however, to the observer to chew the cud: ‘both the jerboa and the wabr ruminate, say the hunters, because they are often shot with the cud in their mouth’ (Doughty, ii. 238). It is eaten by all the nomads (id. i. 127); ‘about the size of a small rabbit and has a superficial resemblance to that rodent.… The zoological position of the order is obscure, there are 14 species’ (Shipley, E.B. ‘Coney,’ which see for further information). A.V. and R.V. coney, Old Eng. for rabbit. Driver (Deuteronomy 3 p. xxii) suggests the translation rock-rabbit, a name given to an allied species of the Hyrax (H. Capensis) about the Cape of Good Hope.
And the swine, because it divideth the hoof, yet cheweth not the cud, it is unclean unto you: ye shall not eat of their flesh, nor touch their dead carcase.8. swine] ḥǎzîr, Ar. khanzir; from the animal’s indiscriminate feeding the flesh is liable to become the host of many parasites and therefore without care dangerous especially in warm climates. Used in heathen sacrifices, Isaiah 65:4 f., 17. Nomad Arabs eat the wild boar: ‘only the fellaḥîn say that they do not eat the wild-boar; their neighbours, however, assert the contrary of them’ (Musil, Ethn. Ber. 151). On the sacredness of the pig among other peoples and the use of it in making charms and amulets see W. R. Smith, Rel. Sem. 272, 429. LXX has here a fuller text as in Leviticus 11:7. Note that no mention is made of the wilder beasts of prey: lion, panther, bear, wolf, hyaena or jackal. On the use of the hyaena, etc. by the present fellaḥîn see PEFQ, 1905, 120. Wolf-flesh is regarded as medicinal in Arabia (Doughty, i. 337).
These ye shall eat of all that are in the waters: all that have fins and scales shall ye eat:9, 10. On clean and unclean Fishes; Leviticus 11:9-12 substantially the same but more elaborate. On the numerous fishes of Palestine see Tristram, 162 ff. No species are here enumerated, nor in the rest of the O.T.; but, chiefly under foreign influence, specific names appear in the Talmud and Mishna. On their use as food see Kennedy in E.B. and the present writer’s Jerusalem, i. 317 f. The rule given here, that only those with fins (points) or scales are clean practically rules out eels1, lampreys and others, with of course all shellfish, some of which are wholesome fare. In inquiring for a reason for their exclusion, their likeness in shape to serpents must be kept in view; on the sacredness of fish (including eels) to certain Semitic deities see W. R. Smith, Rel. Sem. 157 ff. In Arabia the practice varies. Fish are eaten in Madaba and Kerak and on the coasts of the peninsula; but inland Arabs though eating lizards and locusts appear to abhor fish: ‘the most have never seen them and do not desire them’ (Musil, Ethn. Ber. 21). The true Bedawee despises the fish-eater (Georg Jacob, op. cit. 25). Cp. Baldensperger, PEFQ, 1905, 119.
 Eels have indeed numerous small scales.
And whatsoever hath not fins and scales ye may not eat; it is unclean unto you.
Of all clean birds ye shall eat.11–20. Of Birds, cp. Leviticus 11:13-19; only the unclean are named; of clean birds we know of the dove, quail, partridge and barbur.
But these are they of which ye shall not eat: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the ospray,12. eagle] nesher, Ar. nisr, the great vulture or griffon, gyps fulvus, identified by the baldness of its head and neck, Micah 1:16; from its frequency and its size ‘the most striking ornithological feature of Palestine’ (Tr. 95 f.); worshipped among Syrians and Arabs.
gier eagle] peres, the breaker, A.V. the ossifrage, the Lämmergeier or bearded vulture. It carries its prey to a great height and then drops it, repeating the operation till the prey is shattered (Tr. 94), LXX, γρύψ.
ospray] ‘oznîyyah; LXX, ἁλιάετος (the sea-eagle or osprey). Tristram (98) takes it either as generic for all the eagles, or specific either for the golden eagle, ‘not uncommon in winter over the whole country’ but in summer only on Lebanon and Hermon, or (107) the osprey, which would be likely from its fish-eating habits to have a special name. Read eagle. In Arabia the small swart-brown eagle of the desert is called ‘agab (spelt ‘aḳab), ‘flying in the air they resemble sea-mews’ (Doughty, i. 328, ii. 218).
And the glede, and the kite, and the vulture after his kind,13. glede, falcon, kite] ra’ah, ’ayyah, dayyah, of which the first is probably a clerical error for da’ah (from da’ah, to dart, of the eagle, Deuteronomy 28:49), darter or swooper, and the third a later variant of the same, being a gloss on the first (the LXX has only two names in the v.).
Tristram (102, 98) suggests both the milvus migrans, the black kite, and the buteo vulgaris, the common buzzard: Ar. ’aḳab is applied to all smaller eagles and buzzards. The ’ayyah (from its cry; cp. Ar. yuyu), Tristram (102) takes as mulvus ictinus, the kite or red kite, ‘perhaps the keenest-sighted of all the birds of prey,’ cp. Job 28:7. Read black and red kite or buzzard and kite. LXX, γύψ and ἴκτινος.
after its kind] A phrase characteristic of P.
And every raven after his kind,14. and every raven, etc.] ‘oreb Ar. ghorâb, covering all the species of the corvidae in Palestine of which Tristram (74 ff.) distinguishes eight; a carrion feeder with the ’agab and rakham (Doughty, ii. 41, 218); that it was regarded by some tribes as sacred is seen from the use of its name as a personal name, Jdg 7:25, and as a clan name among Arabs to-day. LXX B omits this clause; other codd. have it.
And the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckow, and the hawk after his kind,15. ostrich] bath hay-ya‘aneh either daughter of greed or of the plain; Arabs call it father of the plains; they eat the breast (Doughty, i. 132 f.). LXX, στρουθός.
night hawk] taḥmas (violence; Ar. zalîm also means both violence and ostrich). Some take it as the male ostrich. Tristram (90): the barn-owl, strix flammea. LXX, γλᾶυξ.
seamew] shahaph, LXX, λάρος, cormorant; gull (Post, Hastings’ D.B.); sterna fluviatilis, tern (Tr. 135).
hawk] neṣ, LXX, ἱέραξ. Tristram (106): generic for all small hawks, such as sparrow-hawk (accipiter nisus, 106), kestrel, etc.
The little owl, and the great owl, and the swan,16. little owl] kôs, LXX, νυκτικόραξ (?), both night-jar and screech-owl. Tristram (93): ‘probably’ the southern little owl, Athene glaux, ‘one of the most universally distributed birds in the Holy Land.’ It inhabits ruins, Psalm 102:6 (7). Arabs call it ‘mother of ruins.’
great owl] yanshuph, LXX, εἶβις. Tristram (93): eagle-owl, bubo ascalaphus, haunting ruins and caverns.
horned owl] tinshemeth, A.V. swan. Tristram: probably the glossy ibis. Owls are eaten by one tribe, at least, in Arabia, for which they are derided by other Arabs (Doughty, i. 305). The owl is one of the birds to which most often the Arabs attribute human qualities.
And the pelican, and the gier eagle, and the cormorant,17. pelican] ḳa‘ath, LXX, πελεκάν. Tristram (108) suggests the roseate pelican, P. onocrotalus.
vulture] raḥamah, Ar. rakhim, ‘a small white carrion eagle,’ migratory, and haunting the abodes of men, one of the commonest carrion birds in Arabia, ‘the white scavenger’ (Doughty, passim; cp. Burton, Pilgrimage, etc., ii. 62); according to Tristram (96) the neophron percnopterus; in Arabia their flesh is forbidden meat, yet mothers give it to their children to expel worms (Doughty, i. 393). The name appears to be derived from its affection to its young, which in Deuteronomy 32:11 is imputed also to the nesher. LXX, κύκνος, swan.
cormorant] shalak, that hurls itself on the prey. LXX, καταράκτης. Tristram (107): phalacrocorax carbo.
And the stork, and the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat.18. stork] ḥasîdah. Tristram (111): white stork, ciconia alba; an unclean feeder (on offal, etc.), its flesh is rank.
heron] ’anaphah. Tristram (109): the common heron, ardea cinerea: an edible bird, in Europe once highly prized at table; but feeding on, besides fish, many unclean land animals, snakes, rats, etc.
hoopoe] dukiphath, A. V. lapwing. Tristram (89): hoopoe, upupa epops.
bat] ‘aṭalleph (cp. ἀττέλαβος, a kind of locust in N. Africa, Herod, iv. 172). In Palestine it haunts caverns and (as in Egypt) sepulchres. There is no doubt that the cheeping and muttering attributed to the dead (Isaiah 7) was derived from the sound made by the crowds of this animal when disturbed in sepulchres.
And every creeping thing that flieth is unclean unto you: they shall not be eaten.19. all winged creeping things are unclean] Lit. swarming things that fly, all winged insects. To this Leviticus 11:21 f. adds that go upon all fours and excepts from the rule such as have jointed legs above their feet to leap on the earth, i.e. various kinds of leaping locusts, as distinguished from the running locust (see Shipley and Cook, art. ‘Locust’ in E.B.). They come under the clean insects of the next v.
But of all clean fowls ye may eat.20. Of all clean winged things ye may eat] R.V. fowl is misleading; the term winged covers both birds and flying insects and here probably refers only to the latter. Arabs and other eastern peoples eat locusts not only in time of famine; fried or made into cakes they are considered a delicacy (Burton, Pilgrimage, etc., ii. 117; Doughty, i. 472, ii. 245 f., 323; Musil, Ethn. Ber. 151).
Nothing is said of reptiles (frogs may be supposed to fall under the class of unclean fishes, Deuteronomy 14:10). Leviticus 11:29 ff. counts as unclean, the weasel, mouse, lizards, chameleon and Leviticus 11:41 serpents. Arabs eat lizards, ‘very sweet meat,’ though some abhor them as serpents (Doughty, i. 70, 326, ii. 533: cp. for ancient Arabia, G. Jacob, 24, 95); and even one species of serpent is eaten (Musil, Ethn. Ber. 151). And mice are eaten both by some Arabs and in N. Syria (Tristram).
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.21. Ye shall not eat of any thing which dieth of itself] Lit. any carcase, anything found dead, without being slain by the finder. There is a possible case in Doughty, ii. 129; but usually when an Arab sees his camel must die, in consequence of an accident, he slays it forthwith.
thou mayest give it unto the stranger] The gçr or foreigner settled in Israel (see on Deuteronomy 1:16), distinct from the following foreigner, not settled, but trading, with Israel.
E, Exodus 22:30 (31) enjoins that flesh torn of beasts shall be given to dogs; but H, Leviticus 17:15, enjoins that neither that which dies of itself nor what is torn of beasts shall be eaten either by Israelite or by gêr: obviously a later law, when the position of the gêr was more established in Israel and he was brought further into religious communion.
for thou art an holy people] As in Deuteronomy 14:2.
See further on Unclean and Clean Foods, Appendix I.
Thou shalt not seethe a kid in its mother’s milk] So E, Exodus 23:19, and J, Exodus 34:26. The prohibition has a natural seemliness like those laws in H, Leviticus 22:27 f., which forbid the sacrifice of a calf, lamb, or kid till it has been seven days under the dam, and the sacrifice of the dam and young together. But there must be other motives behind the law. That it occurs among laws on ritual implies that the practice it vetoes had a sacramental meaning (as Calvin on Exodus 33:19 points out); that both in E and J it immediately follows the offering of first-fruits suggests that this meaning was connected with the security of the harvest or of the fertility of the soil: ‘a superstitious usage of some of the Gentiles, who, ’tis said, at the end of their harvest seethed a kid in its dam’s milk, and sprinkled that milk pottage in a magical way upon their gardens and fields to make them the more fruitful the next year.’
 Some have even supposed that it was meant to exclude kids from use as food till they were weaned, which is neither ‘agreeable to reason’ (Calvin) nor to H’s law quoted above.
 M. Henry on Exodus 23:19. He may have got this from Maimonides through Bochart, or through Spencer whose Leges Hebraeorum was published some years before his own commentary. W. R. Smith (Ret. Sem. 204 n.) suggests that as certain primitive peoples appear to regard milk as equivalent to blood, the seething of a kid in its mother’s milk would involve the partakers of the flesh in the guilt of ‘eating with the blood.’ Calvin had made the same suggestion with a more apposite emphasis: ‘God would not admit a monstrous thing in His sacrifice, that a kid’s flesh should be cooked in its dam’s milk, and thus, as it were, in its own blood.’—From its wording this law cannot mean the prohibition of any milk in sacrifice (to-day in Arabia sheep and goats are said to taste better when boiled in milk, Musil, Ethn. Ber. 149, and are frequently so cooked), yet it is significant that milk nowhere appears among the festal offerings of Israel, probably because of its ready fermentation (W. R. Smith).
Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year.22. Thou shalt surely tithe] Heb. tithing thou shalt tithe: an idiom emphasising the bare fact.
increase] Lit. income (or in-brought), revenue, all the produce.
of thy seed] Not of cereals alone, but inclusive of plantations as the next clause and the oil and wine of Deuteronomy 14:23 show. Dillm. cites Isaiah 17:10 f.; Jeremiah 2:21; Ezekiel 17:5.
field] sadeh, here in its latest sense of cultivated ground; see on Deuteronomy 7:22, Deuteronomy 11:15, etc.
22–29. Of Tithes
A tithe shall be taken of all the yearly produce of what is sown in the field, further defined as corn, wine and oil, and carried to the Sanctuary and eaten before God by the offerers along with the firstlings of oxen and sheep (Deuteronomy 14:22 f.); but Israelites who dwell too far from the Sanctuary for this may turn their tithes into money, purchase at the Temple whatever they desire, and feast before God along with their households and Levites (Deuteronomy 14:24-27). Every third year, however, they are to retain all the tithe within their gates for the Levites and other landless poor to consume (Deuteronomy 14:28 f.).—In the Sg. address throughout, like the third form of the law of the Single Sanctuary, Deuteronomy 12:13 ff., with which also it has in common some phrases and ideas not found in the Pl. form of that law:—the definition of the tithe, corn, wine and oil; thou shalt not forsake the Levite (unless this be an addition, see on Deuteronomy 14:27); the wide permission to eat whatsoever thy soul desireth = after all the desire of thy soul, Deuteronomy 12:20 f.; another qualification of the law, in order to meet the needs of those at a distance, with the identical phrase because the place is too far from thee which etc., Deuteronomy 12:21 (Steuernagel’s statement that the phrases eat before Jehovah, eat and be satisfied, etc., are also peculiar to the Sg. is very doubtful).
There is no law of tithes (so-called) in E or J; those in P, Numbers 18:21-32 (with the corresponding practice, Nehemiah 10:37 f.) and Leviticus 27:30 f., fundamentally differ from D’s law of tithes. On this and the questions it raises and their solution in the later law of Israel, see Additional Note below.
And thou shalt eat before the LORD thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the LORD thy God always.23. eat before the Lord] See on Deuteronomy 12:7.
the place which he shall choose] Sam., LXX, which Jehovah thy God shall choose; see on Deuteronomy 12:5. Before this the tithe was offered at the local sanctuaries, Amos 4:4.
corn, wine, and oil] Defining that which cometh forth from the field. A purely vegetable tithe: so always in D as in Numbers 18:27; Numbers 18:30, corn of threshing floor, fulness of winepress or vat (cp. D, Deuteronomy 15:14, Deuteronomy 16:13), Nehemiah 10:35-37 (Nehemiah 10:36-38), tithe of the ground (cp. Leviticus 27:30, whether of the seed of the land or fruit of tree). To this an animal tithe is added by Leviticus 27:32 and 2 Chronicles 31:6. Corn stands for all cereals; it is singular that nowhere is the fig, the third of the great triad of Israel’s fruit trees, mentioned along with wine and oil.
and the firstlings, etc.] The law of firstlings is Deuteronomy 15:19 ff.; here they are mentioned only incidentally, perhaps because the tithes were to be presented at the same time with them. There is no reference here to an animal tithe. ‘Mere firstlings, set apart from the yearly increase of the herds, distinct from the firstborn and offered as a substitute for the animal tithe, are not to be thought of’ (Dillm.).
that thou mayest learn to fear] Such regular offerings mean the practice of the fear of God, for by them the offerers acknowledge that to God and not to their own labour the blessings of their fields are due. The same intention is attributed to making the people hear God’s word, Deuteronomy 4:10 (q.v.), and to the injunction to the king to read always in the law, Deuteronomy 17:19.
24 f. Another practical consequence of the centralisation of the worship, like that which permits the profane slaughter and enjoyment of animals, Deuteronomy 12:21 ff.
if the way be too long for thee, etc.] Cp. Deuteronomy 12:21 : if the place … be too far from thee, Deuteronomy 19:6.
when the Lord thy God shall bless thee] Means neither with a great extension of thy land (Knobel) nor with so rich a harvest that thou art unable to carry the tithe of it so far (Dillm.), but, more generally, with thy yearly harvests. Was there, then, no tithe when the harvest failed?
shalt thou turn it into money] Heb. may mean either give it in, or in exchange for, money. The Heb. keseph often = silver, usually supposed to have been called so from its paleness (W. R. Smith, Journ. Phil. xiv. 125); but the root is just as probably to cut off, or cut in pieces (Jerusalem, i. 329), and keseph is therefore applicable, and is applied, to other metals. In any case money is the right translation here. Coins proper were not in use in Israel before the Persian period; but from a very early date there was a metallic currency, partly in silver (cp. 1 Samuel 9:8, quarter of a silver shekel, 2 Samuel 14:26, shekels stamped by David) and partly in copper (which was current in Palestine by 1400 b.c., Tell-el-Amarna Letters); of the latter the gera or 20th part of the shekel, Ezekiel 45:12, was no doubt one form. On the currency in W. Asia see A. R. S. Kennedy in Hastings’ D.B. art. ‘Money.’
thou shalt bind up the money in thine hand] Heb. confine. As the Heb. for purse (Genesis 42:35; Proverbs 7:20) comes from another form of this root, we might use the Eng. denom. vb. thou shalt purse it in thine hand. Usually money was carried in the girdle, but this seems to imply a form of purse attached to the fingers or wrist.
And if the way be too long for thee, so that thou art not able to carry it; or if the place be too far from thee, which the LORD thy God shall choose to set his name there, when the LORD thy God hath blessed thee:
Then shalt thou turn it into money, and bind up the money in thine hand, and shalt go unto the place which the LORD thy God shall choose:
And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the LORD thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household,26. and thou shalt bestow the money] It was this law, which with other customs led to the rise of markets for cattle and other commodities in the Temple Courts with the consequent abuses, fostered by the priests for their own enrichment, which our Lord chastised. Cp. Jeremiah 6:13; Jeremiah 7:11; Jeremiah 23:11.
for whatsoever thy soul desireth … asketh of thee] On the soul as seat of the appetite see Deuteronomy 12:20; on desireth, Deuteronomy 5:21. The emphatic liberality of this provision is striking. Though the tithe is a vegetable one, flesh may be substituted for it: cp. Deuteronomy 14:23 according to which it was to be eaten with the firstlings.
or for wine, or for strong drink] The attempt is sometimes made to argue that the juice of the vine when praised or prescribed in the O.T. is never an intoxicating liquor. That is clearly contradicted here; strong drink is a true transl. of the Heb. shekar, ‘omne quod inebriare potest’ (Jerome), which because of its effects is condemned in Isaiah 5:11; Isaiah 5:22; Isaiah 28:7; Micah 2:11; 1 Samuel 1:15; Proverbs 20:1, and is forbidden to priests on duty, Leviticus 10:9; cp. Proverbs 31:4, prescribed to invalids. The adj. from it shikkor = drunkard. In Israel there was the same difference of opinion as to its use which prevails among ourselves.
and thou shalt rejoice] See on Deuteronomy 12:7.
thou and thine household] As in Deuteronomy 12:7; Deuteronomy 12:12; Deuteronomy 12:18 : the tithes or their equivalent are to be enjoyed, not as in P by the Temple Levites and Priests but by the offerers and their families including—
And the Levite that is within thy gates; thou shalt not forsake him; for he hath no part nor inheritance with thee.27. the Levite within thy gates] The rural minister, dispossessed of his allowances by the removal of the tithe from the local sanctuaries.
thou shalt not forsake him] Not in LXX: which adds stranger, orphan, and widow, and other formulas—an instance of how readily these were added by various editors.
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:28. At the end of every three years] Deuteronomy 26:12 : when thou hast finished tithing all the tithe of thine income in the third year, which is the year of tithing. See below.
thou shalt bring forth] That is for public or profane use as opposed to the bringing in of offerings designed for use in the sanctuary: cp. Deuteronomy 17:5, Deuteronomy 21:19, Deuteronomy 22:15; Deuteronomy 22:21; Deuteronomy 22:24.
all the tithe] All, not prefixed to tithe in Deuteronomy 14:22, has been variously interpreted either as meaning that the whole tithe was not exacted for the sanctuary in the first and second years but only a nominal tithe (as under Moslem law the tithe was sometimes only. 1/20 or even 1/40th of the crop), and was to be fully exacted only in each third year for charitable purposes; or else that in the third year no tithe was taken to the Temple but all the tithe was given to the local poor (Oettli, Berth. and others). The latter seems the more likely. Steuernagel thinks that every third year there were two tithes exacted, that for the poor being in addition to that taken every year to the Sanctuary. But in that case the law would not have described the third year tithe for the poor as all the tithe.
and shall lay it up within thy gates] Rather, let it remain or (lit.) rest there; either in distinction to the tithes of the other two years, which are carried from home to the Sanctuary; or else because instead of being consumed at once like those tithes it is to be stored for the continual sustenance of—
And the Levite, (because he hath no part nor inheritance with thee,) and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, which are within thy gates, shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied; that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hand which thou doest.29. the Levite] because he is landless and through the abolition of the local shrines has been deprived of his means of subsistence, and of—
the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow] for they also are landless. D frequently emphasises the duty of caring for them, Deuteronomy 16:11; Deuteronomy 16:14, Deuteronomy 24:17; Deuteronomy 24:19 ff., Deuteronomy 26:12 f.
shall eat and be satisfied] Here the words before Jehovah and rejoice, used in connection with the eating of tithes at the Sanctuary, are omitted; for this is not like that, a festal celebration. On the contrary the third year tithe is designed for the common daily sustenance of those poor persons. This secularisation of the tithe (as it would be called to-day) is interesting; see Additional Note.
that the Lord thy God may bless thee] Deuteronomy 26:15. Such devotion of the tithe to the poor is a condition of the increase of the crop from which it is made.
Additional Note on Tithes
According to 1 Samuel 8:15; 1 Samuel 8:17, a king if granted to Israel would be expected—in conformity with the practice of several ancient monarchies—to exact a tithe of his subjects’ cereal crops, vines, olives, herds and flocks. No religious offering under the name of tithe appears in the earlier legislation, the Holiness Code (Leviticus 17-26), or Ezekiel. Yet all these require an offering of the firstfruits of the soil:—E, Exodus 22:29 (28), thou shalt not delay thy fulness nor thy trickling (see Driver’s note), LXX firstfruits of thy threshing-floor and wine-press, like D’s law of tithes associated with firstlings, Exodus 22:30 (29); H, Leviticus 23:11 demands merely a sheaf of the firstfruits (reshîth) of harvest; Ezekiel 20:40, I will require your contributions (terumôth) and the firstfruits (reshîth) of your oblations. In the 8th century tithes were offered on the 3rd day of the feast at the royal sanctuary at Bethel (Amos 4:4 : see Wellh.’s note); and E, Genesis 28:22 ascribes to Jacob at the same sanctuary the promise to God to tithe all He would give him.
From these data several inferences have been drawn:—(1) that the tithes of D and the later legislation (see below) were the same as the first-fruits (reshîth and bikkurim) of the earlier (Nowack, Hebr. Arch. ii. 257 ff.), cp. the synonymousness of ἀπαρχαί and δεκάται, Dion Halic. i. 23 f. and Philo’s ἀπαρχῆς ἀπαρχή for the priests’ tithe of the Levites’ tithe in P (De Mut. Nom. 1607, Mangey); (2) that the same offering was called firstfruits at some sanctuaries, tithes at others (Now., G. F. Moore, E.B. art. ‘Tithes’ § 1); (3) that tithes is the later name (W. R. Smith, Rel. Sem. 226 ff.); (4) that the use of this name at Bethel, a royal sanctuary, was due to the appropriation of the king’s tithe to the support of the shrine, the result of Phoenician influence in N. Israel, for the earliest reference to a religious tithe is Phoenician (ibid.); (5) that these tithes were the material of a feast for not only the offerers but all the worshippers, including the poor, whose rights to them were sometimes cruelly absorbed by the rich (ibid.). What is sure is that from the time of their settlement Israel shared the belief of many primitive peoples (Frazer, Golden Bough2, ii. 459) that they might not enjoy their harvests till they offered the Deity some of the firstfruits. This was done at the local sanctuaries and became the occasion of a joyful feast, in which the officiating priest, the poor and all who had gêr, or guest, rights at the sanctuary would share. At some places these offerings were called tithes, either because it was found to be necessary to fix their proportion to the whole harvest, or because the royal tithe was actually appropriated to the support of the sanctuary and the solemn entertainment of the worshipping guests.
The tithe-laws of D imply that some such custom prevailed at the rural sanctuaries; but like many others it had to be adapted to D’s law of One Sanctuary. This was done by dividing the tithe between religious and charitable uses. Two years out of three the Israelite farmer must take the tithe, either in kind or in money, to the one sanctuary and (that he might learn to fear God) eat it there before God, with his household and the Levite, who by the abolition of his shrine had lost his opportunity of eating before God. But this deprived both the latter and the other landless poor of their rights in what had included benefactions for them all. Therefore every third year (see on 28 f.) all the tithe was to be stored and reserved for their sustenance, without any religious rites, either in the offering of it (except the prayer Deuteronomy 26:12 ff.), or in their enjoyment of it (note the omission in 28 f. of eating before Jehovah). Some think indeed that this third year tithe is the oldest element in D’s law and in fact had been the only real tithe (cp. the expression the year of tithing; Deuteronomy 26:12). But all that is older in it is the right of the Levite and the poor and the gçrîm to a share of the annual tithes offered at the local sanctuaries. When these were disestablished and the purely religious interests involved in the tithe could only be satisfied at the One Sanctuary, D compensated the rural Levites and the poor by granting them the whole of the third year’s tithe.
In P the tithe-law, Numbers 18:21-32, is very different. All the tithe in Israel, the tithe of the children of Israel which they offer as a contribution to Jehovah is given as an inheritance to the landless Levites, for the service which they serve, even the service of the tent of the meeting, the central sanctuary, and they in turn are to give a tithe of this tithe to Aaron the priest. And this was that part of the law of God given by Moses and sworn to by the people under Nehemiah, according to which they were to bring in the tithes of their ground to the Levites—the Levites take the tithes in all the townships of our tillage—and the Levites were to bring the tithe of their tithe to the house of God (Nehemiah 10:37 f.). These injunctions are irreconcileable with those of D. The tithe, which in D is enjoyed by the offerers, by the Levites of the rural sanctuaries, and by the poor and the gçrîm, is in P the inheritance of the Levites at the central sanctuary. D and P represent not, only differing practices, but incompatible principles of practice. Which is the earlier of the two? It is of course possible to argue that the original disposition of the tithe was purely religious or ecclesiastical and that D represents a later and more liberal spirit, which extended the enjoyment of it to the laity. But the converse is far more probable in view of that steady increase of all the priests’ establishments and revenues—with the consequent encroachments on the rights of the people—which is so fully illustrated in the historical Books. For an interesting and suggestive discussion of the problems arising from this subject see ‘The Deuteronomic Tithe’ by Prof. J. M. Powis Smith in The Amer. Journ. of Theology, January, 1914.