Leviticus 11 Commentary

Leviticus 11 Commentary: Israel’s menu defined.


We come to chapter 11 with the knowledge that the LORD had given man all the animals for food. Genesis is very clear on this one. As we look at the choices here, we begin to appreciate the message being communicated. The list of creatures is long: animals, fish, birds, insects and general reptiles.

From each category above we have selected creatures that could be eaten and those that could not be eaten.

The general observation is that animals that were dirty in nature or ate dirty things were dropped from the menu as they represented uncleanness.

The creatures that didn’t have an appealing structure or face were excluded from the menu. The birds of prey and carnivals were also dropped from the menu. You will also notice that both habitation and animal behavior became factors for this exam.

The point seem to be this: man should distance himself from sin. The rule list should remind him of things that the LORD hates. Just like associating with a dead unclean animal makes one unclean, associating with sin makes the saint dirty.

A bat mostly lives in darkness. Man must hate darkness and deeds that are done in darkness. A vulture is a scavenger, feeding on dead animals. They do not represent the cleanliness desired by the LORD. The eagle and the lion make a living by killing. They survive by terminating another’s life. Man is to be reminded of need to preserve and respect life. These are like visual teaching aids. Very powerful teaching aids indeed. A man must not survive at the expense of someone’s life.

We may suspect hygiene reasons in some of the rules. But the general principle is that there is a reason for these symbols which are still important today. In the New Testament, while any meat could be eaten, believers were specifically discouraged from eating meat sacrificed to idols. Again the principle is the same. We don’t want to associate ourselves with sin.

All creatures that move on their bellies must not be eaten. I think we can easily understand the reason.

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Published by Joseph Malekani

Joseph Malekani is a born-again Christian with a strong PAOG/Baptist background. He is heavily involved in student ministry with ZAFES – an IFES movement with focus on student ministry in Zambia. He is married to Audrey and they have two lovely children.

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