Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Ye are the children of the LORD your God: ye shall not cut yourselves, nor make any baldness between your eyes for the dead.
De 14:1, 2. God's People Must Not Disfigure Themselves in Mourning.
1. ye shall not cut yourselves … for the dead—It was a common practice of idolaters, both on ceremonious occasions of their worship (1Ki 18:28), and at funerals (compare Jer 16:6; 41:5), to make ghastly incisions on their faces and other parts of their persons with their finger nails or sharp instruments. The making a large bare space between the eyebrows was another heathen custom in honor of the dead (see on Le 19:27, 28; Le 21:5). Such indecorous and degrading usages, being extravagant and unnatural expressions of hopeless sorrow (1Th 4:13), were to be carefully avoided by the Israelites, as derogatory to the character, and inconsistent with the position, of those who were the people of God [De 14:2].
For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth.
Thou shalt not eat any abominable thing.
De 14:3-21. What May Be Eaten, and What Not.
3. Thou shalt not eat any abominable thing—that is, anything forbidden as unclean (see on Le 11:1).
These are the beasts which ye shall eat: the ox, the sheep, and the goat,
De 14:4-8. Of Beasts.
The hart, and the roebuck, and the fallow deer, and the wild goat, and the pygarg, and the wild ox, and the chamois.
5. The hart—(see on De 12:15).
fallow deer—The Hebrew word (Jachmur) so rendered, does not represent the fallow deer, which is unknown in Western Asia, but an antelope (Oryx leucoryx), called by the Arabs, jazmar. It is of a white color, black at the extremities, and a bright red on the thighs. It was used at Solomon's table.
wild goat—The word akko is different from that commonly used for a wild goat (1Sa 24:2; Ps 104:18; Pr 5:19), and it is supposed to be a goat-deer, having the body of a stag, but the head, horns, and beard of a goat. An animal of this sort is found in the East, and called Lerwee [Shaw, Travels].
pygarg—a species of antelope (Oryx addax) with white buttocks, wreathed horns two feet in length, and standing about three feet seven inches high at the shoulders. It is common in the tracks which the Israelites had frequented [Shaw].
wild ox—supposed to be the Nubian Oryx, which differs from the Oryx leucoryx (formerly mentioned) by its black color; and it is, moreover, of larger stature and more slender frame, with longer and more curved horns. It is called Bekkar-El-Wash by the Arabs.
chamois—rendered by the Septuagint Cameleopard; but, by others who rightly judge it must have been an animal more familiar to the Hebrews, it is thought to be the Kebsch (Ovis tragelaphus), rather larger than a common sheep, covered not with wool, but with reddish hair—a Syrian sheep-goat.
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.
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.
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.
These ye shall eat of all that are in the waters: all that have fins and scales shall ye eat:
And whatsoever hath not fins and scales ye may not eat; it is unclean unto you.
Of all clean birds ye shall eat.
De 14:11-20. Of Birds.
11-20. Of all clean birds ye shall eat—(See on Le 11:21).
But these are they of which ye shall not eat: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the ospray,
And the glede, and the kite, and the vulture after his kind,
13. glede—thought to be the same as that rendered vulture ( see on Le 11:14).
And every raven after his kind,
And the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckow, and the hawk after his kind,
15. the cuckow—more probably the sea-gull. [See on Le 11:16].
The little owl, and the great owl, and the swan,
16. the swan—rather, the goose [Michaelis]. [See on Le 11:18].
And the pelican, and the gier eagle, and the cormorant,
17. gier eagle—The Hebrew word Rachemah is manifestly identical with Rachamah, the name which the Arabs give to the common vulture of Western Asia and Egypt (Neophron percnopterus). [See on Le 11:18].
cormorant—rather, the plungeon; a seafowl. [See on Le 11:17].
And the stork, and the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat.
18. the lapwing—the upupa or hoop: a beautiful bird, but of the most unclean habits. [See on Le 11:19].
And every creeping thing that flieth is unclean unto you: they shall not be eaten.
But of all clean fowls ye may eat.
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 that dieth of itself—(See on Le 17:15; Le 22:8).
thou shalt give it unto the stranger that is in thy gates—not a proselyte, for he, as well as an Israelite, was subject to this law; but a heathen traveller or sojourner.
Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk—This is the third place in which the prohibition is repeated [Ex 23:19; 34:26]. It was pointed against an annual pagan ceremony (see on Ex 23:19; Ex 34:26).
[De 14:22-29. Law of the Tithe].
Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year.
22-27. Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed—The dedication of a tenth part of the year's produce in everything was then a religious duty. It was to be brought as an offering to the sanctuary; and, where distance prevented its being taken in kind, it was by this statute convertible into money.
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.
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,
And the Levite that is within thy gates; thou shalt not forsake him; for he hath no part nor inheritance with thee.
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, 29. At the end of three years … the Levite … shall come, &c.—The Levites having no inheritance like the other tribes, the Israelites were not to forget them, but honestly to tithe their increase [Nu 18:24]. Besides the tenth of all the land produce, they had forty-eight cities, with the surrounding grounds [Nu 35:7], "the best of the land," and a certain proportion of the sacrifices as their allotted perquisites. They had, therefore, if not an affluent, yet a comfortable and independent, fund for their support.
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.