Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
De 14:1, 2.
1. ye shall not cut yourselves . . . for the dead--It was a common
practice of idolaters, both on ceremonious occasions of their worship
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;
Such indecorous and degrading usages, being extravagant and unnatural
expressions of hopeless sorrow
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
3. Thou shalt not eat any abominable thing--that is, anything
forbidden as unclean
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
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,
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.
11-20. Of all clean birds ye shall
13. glede--thought to be the same as that rendered vulture (
15. the cuckow--more probably the sea-gull.
16. the swan--rather, the goose [MICHAELIS].
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).
cormorant--rather, the plungeon; a seafowl.
18. the lapwing--the upupa or hoop: a beautiful bird, but of the
most unclean habits.
21. Ye shall not eat of any thing that dieth of
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
LAW OF THE
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.
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
Besides the tenth of all the land produce, they had forty-eight cities,
with the surrounding grounds
"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.