The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire BibleLeviticus 11:13
And these [are they which] ye shall have in abomination
among the fowls…
No description or sign is given of fowls, as
of beasts and fishes, only the names of those not to be eaten; which,
according to Maimonides, are twenty four; so that all the rest but
these are clean fowls, and might be eaten; wherefore the same writer
observes F24, that,
``whoever was expert in these kinds, and in their names, might
eat of every fowl which was not of them, and there was no
need of an inquiry:''
but what creatures are intended by these is not now easy to know; very
different are the sentiments both of the Jews and Christians concerning
them; and indeed it does not much concern us Christians to know what
are meant by them, but as curiosity may lead us to such an inquiry, not
thinking ourselves bound by these laws; but it is of moment with the
Jews to know them, who think they are; wherefore, to supply this
deficiency, they venture to give some signs by which clean and unclean
fowls may be known, and they are three; such are clean who have a
superfluous claw, and also a craw, and a crop that is uncovered by the
hand F25; and on the contrary they are unclean, and not to be eaten, as
says the Targum of Jonathan, which have no superfluous talon, or no
craw, or a crop not uncovered:
they shall not be eaten, they [are] an abomination;
and they are
those that follow:
the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the ospray;
about the first of
these there is no difficulty, all agree the eagle is intended; which
has its name either from the nature of its sight, or from the casting
of its feathers, or from its tearing with its bill: it is a bird of
prey, a very rapacious creature, and sometimes called the bird of
Jupiter, and sacred to the gods; and these may be the reasons why
forbid to be eaten, as well as because its flesh is hard, and not fit
for food, and unwholesome; "the ossifrage" or "bone breaker" has its
name from its tearing its prey and breaking its bones for the marrow,
as the word "peres" here used signifies, (Micah 3:3) it is said to dig
up bodies in burying places to eat what it finds in the bones F26: this
is thought to be of the eagle kind, as it is reckoned by Pliny F1,
though Aristotle F2 speaks of it as very different from the eagle, as
larger than that, and of an ash colour; and is so kind to the eagle's
young, that when they are cast out by that, it takes them and brings
them up: the "ospray" is the "halioeetus", or sea eagle, as the
Septuagint version and several others render it; which Aristotle F3
describes as having a large and thick neck, crooked wings, and a broad
tail, and resides about the sea and shores: Pliny F4 speaks of it as
having a very clear sight, and, poising itself on high, having sight of
a fish in the sea, will rush down at once and fetch it out of the
water; and he also reports that she will take her young before they are
fledged, and oblige them to look directly against the rays of the sun,
and if any of them wink, or their eyes water, she casts them out of her
nest as a spurious brood. Aristotle F5, who relates the same, says she
kills them. The name of this creature, in the Hebrew text, seems to be
taken from its strength; wherefore Bochart F6 is of opinion, that the
"melanoeetos", or black eagle, which, though the least of eagles as to
its size, exceeds all others in strength, as both Aristotle F7 and
Pliny F8 say; and therefore, as the latter observes, is called by the
Romans "valeria", from its strength. Maimonides F9 says of these two
last fowls, which we render the ossifrage and the ospray, that they are
not to be found on the continent, but in the desert places of the isles
of the sea very far off, even those which are at the end of the
F24 Maacolot Asurot, c. 1. sect. 14, 15.
F25 T. Bab. Cholin, fol. 75. 1. Maimon. ib. sect. 15.
F26 Calmet's Dictionary in the word "Ossifraga".
F1 Nat. Hist. l. 10. c. 3.
F2 Hist. Animal. l. 6. c. 6. l. 8. c. 3. & l. 9. c. 34.
F3 Ib. l. 9. c. 32.
F4 Ut supra. (Nat. Hist. l. 10. c. 3.)
F5 Ib. c. 34.
F6 Hierozoic. par. 2. l. 2. c. 6. col. 188.
F7 Ut supra, (Hist. Animal. l. 9.) c. 32.
F8 Ut supra. (Nat. Hist. l. 10. c. 3.)
F9 Maacolot Asurot, c. 1. sect. 17.
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Leviticus 11:13". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". <http://classic.studylight.org/com/geb/view.cgi?book=le&chapter=011&verse=013>. 1999.