Leviticus 11

Norms Concerning Ritual Purity[a]

Chapter 11

Clean and Unclean Animals.[b] 1 The Lord said to Moses and to Aaron, 2 “Tell the children of Israel: These are the animals that you may eat from among all the animals upon the earth. 3 You may eat any animal that has a cloven hoof and that eats its cud. 4 From among those animals that chew their cud and have cloven hoofs, you shall not eat the following: camels, for it chews its cud but does not have a divided hoof, so it will be considered to be unclean; 5 the rock badger, for it chews its cud but does not have a divided hoof, so it will be considered to be unclean; 6 the hare, for it chews its cud but does not have a divided hoof, so it will be considered to be unclean; 7 the pig, for its hoof is divided and is cloven hoofed, but it does not chew its cud, so it will be considered to be unclean. 8 You shall not eat their meat nor shall you touch their carcasses. They will be considered to be unclean.

9 “These are the animals that you may eat that live in the water: you may eat anything that has fins and scales in the seas or the rivers. 10 But all the animals that move through the water, whether seas or rivers, that do not have fins or scales will be considered to be an abomination.

11 “They will be an abomination for you. You shall not eat their meat and you shall consider their carcasses to be an abomination. 12 Everything in the water that does not have fins and scales will be an abomination for you.

13 “Among birds the following will be considered to be an abomination; they will not be eaten for they are an abomination: the eagle, the bearded vulture and the osprey, 14 the vulture and every type of falcon, 15 every type of raven, 16 the ostrich, the nighthawk, the sea gull, and every type of hawk, 17 the owl, the cormorant, the ibis, 18 the swan, the pelican, the carrion vulture, 19 the stork, every kind of heron, the hoopoe, and the bat.

20 “All winged creatures that crawl upon four legs will be considered to be an abomination for you. 21 Yet from among the insects that walk upon all fours, you may eat those that have two legs above their feet to jump upon the earth. 22 Therefore, you may eat the following: all kinds of locusts, every kind of bald locust, every kind of grasshopper, and every kind of cricket. 23 But every other flying insect that has four feet will be considered to be an abomination.

24 “By these you shall become unclean, whoever touches their carcasses shall be unclean until the evening 25 and whoever carries their carcasses must wash his clothes and shall be unclean until the evening. 26 You shall consider every animal to be unclean that has undivided hoofs and does not chew its cud. Whoever touches them shall be unclean. 27 Every animal that walks upon all fours and walks upon its paws will be unclean to you. Whoever touches their carcasses shall be considered to be unclean until the evening. 28 Whoever carries their carcasses must wash his clothes and shall be considered to be unclean until the evening. These animals will be considered to be unclean.

29 [c]“These are the animals that crawl upon the earth that will be considered to be unclean: the weasel, the mouse, every kind of tortoise, 30 the gecko, the crocodile, the lizard, the snail, and the chameleon. 31 These creeping things will be unclean for you. Whoever touches their dead bodies will be considered to be unclean until the evening. 32 Anything upon which one of these falls when it is dead will be considered to be unclean, whether it be a wooden vessel or clothing or a skin or a sack, no matter what it is made of. It is to be washed in water and will be considered to be unclean until the evening. Then it will be clean. 33 If one of them falls into an earthen vessel, whatever it contains, it will be considered to be unclean, and it will be broken. 34 Any food upon which water falls will be considered to be unclean. Any liquid that can be drunk in any vessel will be considered to be unclean. 35 Everything upon which any part of their carcass falls will be considered to be unclean. Ovens and stoves will be smashed. They are unclean, and will be held to be unclean by you. 36 But a spring or a cistern where water is stored will be clean. Whoever touches their carcasses shall be unclean. 37 If any part of their carcasses falls upon seed for sowing, it will still be clean. 38 But if water falls on the seed and part of their carcasses falls on it, it is unclean to you.

39 “If an animal dies that was intended for food, whoever touches its carcass shall be unclean until the evening. 40 Whoever eats some of its carcass shall wash his clothes and shall be unclean until the evening. Whoever picks up its carcass shall wash his clothes and shall be unclean until the evening.

41 “Every creeping thing that crawls upon the earth will be an abomination. It will not be eaten. 42 Everything that goes about upon its belly, and everything that goes about upon on all four legs, and everything that has many feet, hence, any of the creeping things that crawl upon the earth, are not to be eaten, for they are an abomination. 43 You shall not make yourselves abominable with any of the creeping things that crawl, nor shall you defile yourselves because of them, lest you make yourselves unclean.

44 [d]“I am the Lord, your God. Consecrate yourselves and be holy for I am holy.[e] You will not defile yourselves with any of the creeping things that crawl upon the earth. 45 I am the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God. Therefore, be holy, for I am holy.

46 “This is the law concerning animals and birds and every living creature that moves in the water and everything that crawls upon the earth, 47 so that you might know the difference between that which is unclean and that which is clean, between the animals that you can eat and those that you should not eat.”

Footnotes

  1. Leviticus 11:1 Lacking as they did a knowledge of many of the secrets of nature, the ancients imagined hidden forces that were stronger than those of human beings and could do them harm. It was from this remote past that Israel inherited many prohibitions for their daily lives (chs. 11–16).
  2. Leviticus 11:1 The animals forbidden were all those that were consecrated to pagan divinities or whose flesh excited repugnance. In classifying the animals that are listed, the author relies on more or less accurate observation (see also Deut 14:3ff); some of the animals are difficult to identify. The distinction between clean and unclean was abolished by Christian revelation (Mk 7:14, 23; Acts 10:9-16).
  3. Leviticus 11:29 The prescriptions listed are also to be regarded as hygienic measures.
  4. Leviticus 11:44 These verses give the deeper reason for the criteria of clean and unclean: the Lord had delivered his people from Egyptian slavery so that they might acknowledge and worship him as the only true God. Animals that crawled along the ground did not enjoy a good reputation; in fact, the serpent, which was venerated by pagans, was regarded from the outset as an instrument of evil (Gen 3).
  5. Leviticus 11:44 Be holy for I am holy: the central and repeated theme of Leviticus is holiness. The children of Israel are totally dedicated to God and to be like him because of what he has done for his people (see Mt 5:48).

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