Leviticus 11:9
These shall ye eat of all that are in the waters: whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them shall ye eat.
Jump to: BarnesBensonBICalvinCambridgeClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctGaebeleinGSBGillGrayGuzikHaydockHastingsHomileticsJFBKDKellyKJTLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWParkerPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBWESTSK
(9) These shall ye eat.—The water animals, which, as we have seen, constitute the second division of the animal kingdom, now follow the land animals. They are discussed in Leviticus 11:9-12. Like the clean quadrupeds, the salt-water and the fresh-water fish must comply with two conditions to bring them within the class of clean. They must have both scales and fins. It will be seen that in the case of the quadrupeds, not only are two criteria given by which the clean animals may be distinguished from the unclean, but that the law is illustrated by adducing ten land animals of the former kind (see Leviticus 11:2), and four of the latter (see Leviticus 11:4-7). In the case before us, however, not a single typical fish is given by name, and the law itself is expressed in the briefest and most generic manner possible. It was evidently left to those upon whom the administration of the law devolved to define it more minutely in order that it may be observed in practical life. Hence the following expanded definitions obtained during the second Temple:—(1) All fishes with scales have invariably also fins, but fishes which have fins have not always scales. Any fish, therefore, or even a piece of one exposed by itself for sale in the market, which exhibits scales may be eaten, for it is to be taken for granted that it had fins, or that the fins cannot be seen because of their extraordinary smallness. But, on the other hand, a fish with fins may exist without scales, and hence is unclean; (2) Clean fishes have a complete vertebral column, but the unclean have simply single joints, united by a gelatinous cord. To the former class belong, (a) “the soft fins,” or the salmon and trout, the capellan and grayling, the herring, the anchovy and the sardine, the pike and carp families, the cod, the hake and the haddock, the sole, the turbot, and the plaice; (b) “the spiny fins,” as the perch, the mackerel, and the tunny. To the latter class belong the shark tribe, the sturgeons with their caviare, the lamprey, and the nine-eyed eel; (3) The head of clean fishes is more or less broad, whilst that of the unclean kinds is more or less pointed at the end, as the eel, the mammalian species, &c.; (4) The swimming bladder of clean fishes is rounded at one end, and pointed at the other, whilst that of the unclean fishes is either rounded or pointed at both extremities alike. It is in allusion to this law that we are told in the parable of the fisherman, which is taken from Jewish life, that when they drew to shore the net with every kind of fishes, the fishermen sat down (i.e., to examine the clean and the unclean), and gathered the good (i.e., the clean), into the vessels, but cast the bad (i.e., the unclean) away (Matthew 13:48). The orthodox Jews to this day strictly observe these regulations, and abhor eating those fishes which are enumerated under the four above-named criteria of not clean. It is moreover to be remarked that fishes without scales are also still regarded in Egypt as unwholesome, and that the Romans would not permit them to be offered in sacrifice.

Leviticus 11:9-10. Whatsoever hath fins and scales — Both of them. Such fishes being more cleanly and more wholesome food than others. All that have not fins nor scales shall be an abomination — A late commentator, by a strange mistake, probably of the press, says here: “Fish with scales sooner incline to putrefaction than those that are without.” The fact is exactly the reverse. These are what medicinal writers call pisces molles, the soft kind of fish. And, as all sorts of fish, according to Dr. James, “are very subject to an alkaline putrefaction, so those without scales incline sooner and more to putrefaction than those furnished with them, and shell-fish most of all. And it may be laid down as a certain rule, that, of all sorts of animals, whether terrestrial or aquatic, those which putrefy soonest, incline the juices of our bodies most to putrefaction, when used as food, and so are least fit for ailment.”

11:1-47 What animals were clean and unclean. - These laws seem to have been intended, 1. As a test of the people's obedience, as Adam was forbidden to eat of the tree of knowledge; and to teach them self-denial, and the government of their appetites. 2. To keep the Israelites distinct from other nations. Many also of these forbidden animals were objects of superstition and idolatry to the heathen. 3. The people were taught to make distinctions between the holy and unholy in their companions and intimate connexions. 4. The law forbad, not only the eating of the unclean beasts, but the touching of them. Those who would be kept from any sin, must be careful to avoid all temptations to it, or coming near it. The exceptions are very minute, and all were designed to call forth constant care and exactness in their obedience; and to teach us to obey. Whilst we enjoy our Christian liberty, and are free from such burdensome observances, we must be careful not to abuse our liberty. For the Lord hath redeemed and called his people, that they may be holy, even as he is holy. We must come out, and be separate from the world; we must leave the company of the ungodly, and all needless connexions with those who are dead in sin; we must be zealous of good works devoted followers of God, and companions of his people.
]Any fish, either from salt water or fresh, might be eaten if it had both scales and fins. but no other creature that lives in the waters. Shellfish of all kinds, whether mollusks or crustaceans, and cetaceous animals, were therefore prohibited, as well as fish which appear to have no scales, like the eel; probably because they were considered unwholesome, and (under certain circumstances) found to be so. 9. These shall ye eat … whatsoever hath fins and scales—"The fins and scales are the means by which the excrescences of fish are carried off, the same as in animals by perspiration. I have never known an instance of disease produced by eating such fish; but those that have no fins and scales cause, in hot climates, the most malignant disorders when eaten; in many cases they prove a mortal poison" [Whitlaw]. Whatsoever hath fins and scales, to wit, both of them; such fishes being both more cleanly and more wholesome food than others. The names of them are not particularly mentioned, partly because most of them wanted names, the fishes not being brought to Adam and named by him as other creatures were; and partly because the land of Canaan had not many rivers, nor great store of fishes

These shall ye eat of all that are in the waters,.... In the waters of the sea, or in rivers, pools, and ponds; meaning fishes; for though some persons abstain from eating them entirely, as the Egyptian priests, as Herodotus (m) relates; and it was a part of religion and holiness, not with the Egyptians only, but with the Syrians and Greeks, to forbear eating them (n); and Julian (o) gives two reasons why men should abstain from fishes; the one because what is not sacrificed to the gods ought not to be used for food; and the other is, because these being immersed in the deep waters, look not up to heaven; but God gave the people of Israel liberty of eating them, under certain limitations:

whatsoever hath fins and scales, in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them shall ye eat; some render it disjunctively, "fins or scales" (p); but as Maimonides (q) observes, whatsoever has scales has fins; and who also says, if a fish has but one fin and one scale, it was lawful to eat: fins to fishes are like wings to birds, and oars to boats, with which they swim and move swiftly from place to place; and scales are a covering and a protection of them; and such fishes being much in motion, and so well covered, are less humid and more solid and substantial, and more wholesome: in a spiritual sense, fins may denote the exercise of grace, in which there is a motion of the soul, Godward, Christward, and heavenward; and scales may signify good works, which adorn believers, and protect them from the reproaches and calumnies of men.

(m) Euterpe, sive, l. 2. c. 37. (n) Plutarch. Sympos. p. 730. (o) Orat. 5. p. 330. (p) So Bootius. (q) Hilchot Maacolot Asurot, l. 1. sect. 24.

These shall ye eat of all that are in the waters: whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them shall ye eat.
Verses 9-12. - Whatsoever hath fins and scales. The absence of fins and scales, or their apparent absence - for phenomenal language is used, as before - gives to fish a repulsive look, on which is grounded the prohibition to eat them. Eels and shell-fish are thus forbidden, though a long course of experience has now taken away the feeling of repulsion with which they were once looked upon. The flesh of the beasts for, bidden to be eaten is only described as unclean, but that of the prohibited fish, birds, insects, and vermin, is designated as an abomination unto you. Leviticus 11:9(cf. Deuteronomy 14:9 and Deuteronomy 14:10). Of water animals, everything in the water, in seas and brooks, that had fins and scales was edible. Everything else that swarmed in the water was to be an abomination, its flesh was not to be eaten, and its carrion was to be avoided with abhorrence. Consequently, not only were all water animals other than fishes, such as crabs, salamanders, etc., forbidden as unclean; but also fishes without scales, such as eels for example. Numa laid down this law for the Romans: ut pisces qui sqamosi non essent ni pollicerent (sacrificed): Plin. h. n. 32, c. 2, s. 10. In Egypt fishes without scales are still regarded as unwholesome (Lane, Manners and Customs).
Leviticus 11:9 Interlinear
Leviticus 11:9 Parallel Texts

Leviticus 11:9 NIV
Leviticus 11:9 NLT
Leviticus 11:9 ESV
Leviticus 11:9 NASB
Leviticus 11:9 KJV

Leviticus 11:9 Bible Apps
Leviticus 11:9 Parallel
Leviticus 11:9 Biblia Paralela
Leviticus 11:9 Chinese Bible
Leviticus 11:9 French Bible
Leviticus 11:9 German Bible

Bible Hub

Leviticus 11:8
Top of Page
Top of Page