Moses in this chapter teaches them,
I. To distinguish themselves from their neighbours by a singularity,
1. In their mourning,
2. In their meat,
II. To devote themselves unto God, and, in token of that, to give him
his dues out of their estates, the yearly tithe, and that every third
year, for the maintenance of their religious feasts, the Levites, and
|What Might Be Eaten, and What Not.
||B. C. 1451.|
1 Ye are the children of the LORD your God: ye shall not cut
yourselves, nor make any baldness between your eyes for the dead.
2 For thou art a holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the
LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above
all the nations that are upon the earth.
3 Thou shalt not eat any abominable thing.
4 These are the beasts which ye shall eat: the ox, the sheep,
and the goat,
5 The hart, and the roebuck, and the fallow deer, and the wild
goat, and the pygarg, and the wild ox, and the chamois.
6 And every beast that parteth the hoof, and cleaveth the cleft
into two claws, and cheweth the cud among the beasts, that ye
7 Nevertheless these ye shall not eat of them that chew the
cud, or of them that divide the cloven hoof; as the camel, and
the hare, and the coney: for they chew the cud, but divide not
the hoof; therefore they are unclean unto you.
8 And the swine, because it divideth the hoof, yet cheweth not
the cud, it is unclean unto you: ye shall not eat of their
flesh, nor touch their dead carcase.
9 These ye shall eat of all that are in the waters: all that
have fins and scales shall ye eat:
10 And whatsoever hath not fins and scales ye may not eat; it
is unclean unto you.
11 Of all clean birds ye shall eat.
12 But these are they of which ye shall not eat: the eagle,
and the ossifrage, and the ospray,
13 And the glede, and the kite, and the vulture after his kind,
14 And every raven after his kind,
15 And the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckow, and the
hawk after his kind,
16 The little owl, and the great owl, and the swan,
17 And the pelican, and the gier eagle, and the cormorant,
18 And the stork, and the heron after her kind, and the
lapwing, and the bat.
19 And every creeping thing that flieth is unclean unto you:
they shall not be eaten.
20 But of all clean fowls ye may eat.
21 Ye shall not eat of any thing that dieth of itself: thou
shalt give it unto the stranger that is in thy gates, that he
may eat it; or thou mayest sell it unto an alien: for thou art
a holy people unto the LORD thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid
in his mother's milk.
Moses here tells the people of Israel,
I. How God had dignified them, as a peculiar people, with three
distinguishing privileges, which were their honour, and figures of
those spiritual blessings in heavenly things with which God has in
Christ blessed us.
1. Here is election: The Lord hath chosen thee,
Not for their own merit, nor for any good works foreseen, but because
he would magnify the riches of his power and grace among them. He did
not choose them because they were by their own dedication and
subjection a peculiar people to him above other nations, but he chose
them that they might be so by his grace; and thus were believers
2. Here is adoption
"You are the children of the Lord your God, formed by him into a
people, owned by him as his people, nay, his family, a people near
unto him, nearer than any other." Israel is my son, my
first-born; not because he needed children, but because they were
orphans, and needed a father. Every Israelite is indeed a child of God,
a partaker of his nature and favour, his love and blessing Behold
what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us!
3. Here is sanctification
"Thou art a holy people, separated and set apart for God,
devoted to his service, designed for his praise, governed by a holy
law, graced by a holy tabernacle, and the holy ordinances relating to
it." God's people are under the strongest obligations to be holy, and,
if they are holy, are indebted to the grace of God that makes them so.
The Lord has set them apart for himself, and qualified them for his
service and the enjoyment of him, and so has made them holy to
II. How they ought to distinguish themselves by a sober singularity
from all the nations that were about them. And, God having thus
advanced them, let not them debase themselves by admitting the
superstitious customs of idolaters, and, by making themselves like
them, put themselves upon the level with them. Be you the children
of the Lord your God; so the Seventy read it, as a command, that
is, "Carry yourselves as becomes the children of God, and do nothing to
disgrace the honour and forfeit the privileges of the relation." In two
things particularly they must distinguish themselves:--
1. In their mourning: You shall not cut yourselves,
This forbids (as some think), not only their cutting themselves at
their funerals, either to express their grief or with their own blood
to appease the infernal deities, but their wounding and mangling
themselves in the worship of their gods, as Baal's prophets did
(1 Kings 18:28),
or their marking themselves by incisions in their flesh for such and
such deities, which in them, above any, would be an inexcusable crime,
who in the sign of circumcision bore about with them in their bodies
the marks of the Lord Jehovah. So that,
(1.) They are forbidden to deform or hurt their own bodies upon any
account. Methinks this is like a parent's change to his little
children, that are foolish, careless, and wilful, and are apt to play
with knives: Children, you shall not cut yourselves. This is the
intention of those commands which oblige us to deny ourselves; the true
meaning of them, if we understood them aright, would appear to be,
Do yourselves no harm. And this also is the design of those
providences which most cross us, to remove from us those things by
which we are in danger of doing ourselves harm. Knives are taken from
us, lest we should cut ourselves. Those that are dedicated to God as a
holy people must do nothing to disfigure themselves; the body is for
the Lord, and is to be used accordingly.
(2.) They are forbidden to disturb and afflict their own minds with
inordinate grief for the loss of near and dear relations: "You shall
not express or exasperate you sorrow, even upon the most mournful
occasions, by cutting yourselves, and making baldness between your
eyes, like men enraged, or resolvedly hardened in sorrow for the dead,
as those that have no hope,"
1 Thessalonians 4:13.
It is an excellent passage which Mr. Ainsworth here quotes from one of
the Jewish writers, who understands this as a law against immoderate
grief for the death of our relations. If your father (for
instance) die, you shall not cut yourselves, that is, you
shall not sorrow more than is meet, for you are not fatherless, you
have a Father, who is great, living, and permanent, even the holy
blessed God, whose children you are,
But an infidel (says he), when his father dies, hath no
father that can help him in time of need; for he hath said to a stock,
Thou art my father, and to a stone, Thou hast brought me forth
therefore he weeps, cuts himself, and makes himself bald. We
that have a God to hope in, and a heaven to hope for, must bear up
ourselves with that hope under every burden of this kind.
2. They must be singular in their meat. Observe,
(1.) Many sorts of flesh which were wholesome enough, and which other
people did commonly eat, they must religiously abstain from as unclean.
This law we had before
where it was largely opened. It seems plainly, by the connection here,
to be intended as a mark of peculiarity; for their observance of it
would cause them to be taken notice of in all mixed companies as a
separate people, and would preserve them from mingling themselves with,
and conforming themselves to, their idolatrous neighbours.
[1.] Concerning beasts, here is a more particular enumeration of those
which they were allowed to eat then was in Leviticus, to show that they
had no reason to complain of their being restrained from eating swines'
flesh, and hares, and rabbits (which were all that were then forbidden,
but are now commonly used), when they were allowed so great a variety,
not only of that which we call butcher's meat
which alone was offered in sacrifice, but of venison, which they had
great plenty of in Canaan, the hart, and the roe-buck, and the
which, though never brought to God's altar, was allowed them at their
own table. See
When of all these (as Adam of every tree of the garden) they
might freely eat, those were inexcusable who, to gratify a perverse
appetite, or (as should seem) in honour of their idols, and in
participation of their idolatrous sacrifices, ate swines' flesh, and
had broth of abominable things (made so by this law) in their
[2.] Concerning fish there is only one general rule given, that
whatsoever had not fins and scales (as shell-fish and eels, besides
leeches and other animals in the water that are not proper food) was
unclean and forbidden,
[3.] No general rule is given concerning fowl, but those are
particularly mentioned that were to be unclean to them, and there are
few or none of them which are here forbidden that are now commonly
eaten; and whatsoever is not expressly forbidden is allowed,
Of all clean fowls you may eat.
[4.] They are further forbidden, First, To eat the flesh of any
creature that died of itself, because the blood was not separated from
it, and, besides the ceremonial uncleanness which it lay under (from
it is not wholesome food, nor ordinarily used among us, except by the
poor. Secondly, To seethe a kid in its mother's milk,
either to gratify their own luxury, supposing it a dainty bit, or in
conformity to some superstitious custom of the heathen. The Chaldee
paraphrasts read it, Thou shalt not eat flesh--meats and milk--meats
together; and so it would forbid the use of butter as sauce to any
(2.) Now as to all these precepts concerning their food,
[1.] It is plain in the law itself that they belonged only to the Jews,
and were not moral, nor of perpetual use, because not of universal
obligation; for what they might not eat themselves they might give to a
stranger, a proselyte of the gate, that had renounced idolatry, and
therefore was permitted to live among them, though not circumcised; or
they might sell it to an alien, a mere Gentile, that came into their
country for trade, but might not settle it,
They might feed upon that which an Israelite might not touch, which is
a plain instance of their peculiarity, and their being a holy people.
[2.] It is plain in the gospel that they are now antiquated and
repealed. For every creature of God is good, and nothing now to be
refused, or called common and unclean,
1 Timothy 4:4.
|Tithes for Feasting and Charity.
||B. C. 1451.|
22 Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that
the field bringeth forth year by year.
23 And thou shalt eat before the LORD thy God, in the place
which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy
corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy
herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the LORD
thy God always.
24 And if the way be too long for thee, so that thou art not
able to carry it; or if the place be too far from thee, which
the LORD thy God shall choose to set his name there, when the
LORD thy God hath blessed thee:
25 Then shalt thou turn it into money, and bind up the money
in thine hand, and shalt go unto the place which the LORD thy God
26 And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul
lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong
drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat
there before the LORD thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and
27 And the Levite that is within thy gates; thou shalt not
forsake him; for he hath no part nor inheritance with thee.
28 At the end of three years thou shalt bring forth all the
tithe of thine increase the same year, and shalt lay it up
within thy gates:
29 And the Levite, (because he hath no part nor inheritance
with thee,) and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow,
which are within thy gates, shall come, and shall eat and be
satisfied; that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work
of thine hand which thou doest.
We have here a part of the statute concerning tithes. The productions
of the ground were twice tithed, so that, putting both together, a
fifth part was devoted to God out of their increase, and only four
parts of five were for their own common use; and they could not but own
they paid an easy rent, especially since God's part was disposed of to
their own benefit and advantage. The first tithe was for the
maintenance of their Levites, who taught them the good knowledge of
God, and ministered to them in holy things; this is supposed as
anciently due, and is entailed upon the Levites as an inheritance, by
&c. But it is the second tithe that is here spoken of, which was to be
taken out of the remainder when the Levites had had theirs.
I. They are here charged to separate it, and set it apart for God:
Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of they seed,
The Levites took care of their own, but the separating of this was left
to the owners themselves, the law encouraging them to be honest by
reposing a confidence in them, and so trying their fear of God. They
are commanded to tithe truly, that is, to be sure to do it, and
to do it faithfully and carefully, that God's part might not be
diminished either with design or by oversight. Note, We must be sure to
give God his full dues out of our estates; for, being but stewards of
them, it is required that we be faithful, as those that must give
II. They are here directed how to dispose of it when they had separated
it. Let every man lay by as God prospers him and gives him success, and
then let him lay out in pious uses as God gives him opportunity; and it
will be the easier to lay out, and the proportion will be more
satisfying, when first we have laid by. This second tithe may be
1. In works of piety, for the first two years after the year of
release. They must bring it up, either in kind or in the full value of
it, to the place of the sanctuary, and there must spend it in holy
feasting before the Lord. If they could do it with any convenience,
they must bring it in kind
but, if not, they might turn it into money
and that money must be laid out in something to feast upon before the
Lord. The comfortable cheerful using of what God has given us, with
temperance and sobriety, is really the honouring of God with it.
Contentment, holy joy, and thankfulness, make every meal a religious
feast. The end of this law we have
That thou mayest learn to fear the Lord thy God always; it was
to keep them right and firm to their religion,
(1.) By acquainting them with the sanctuary, the holy things, and the
solemn services that were there performed. What they read the
appointment of their Bibles, it would do them good to see the
observance of in the tabernacle; it would make a deeper impression upon
them, which would keep them out of the snares of the idolatrous
customs. Note, It will have a good influence upon our constancy in
religion never to forsake the assembling of ourselves together,
By the comfort of the communion of saints, we may be kept to our
communion with God.
(2.) By using them to the most pleasant and delightful services of
religion. Let them rejoice before the Lord, that they may learn to
fear him always. The more pleasure we find in the ways of religion
the more likely we shall be to persevere in those ways. One thing they
must remember in their pious entertainments--to bid their Levites
welcome to them. Thou shalt not forsake the Levites
"Let him never be a stranger to thy table, especially when thou eatest
before the Lord."
2. Every third year this tithe must be disposed of at home in works of
Lay it up within they own gates, and let it be given to the
poor, who, knowing the provision this law had made for them, no doubt
would come to seek it; and, that they might make the poor familiar to
them and not disdain their company, they are here directed to welcome
them to their houses. "Thither let them come, and eat and be
satisfied." In this charitable distribution of the second tithe they
must have an eye to the poor ministers and add to their encouragement
by entertaining them, then to poor strangers (not only for the supply
of their necessities, but to put a respect upon them, and so to invite
them to turn proselytes), and then to the fatherless and widow, who,
though perhaps they might have a competent maintenance left them, yet
could not be supposed to live so plentifully and comfortably as they
had done in months past, and therefore they were to countenance them,
and help to make them easy by inviting them to this entertainment. God
has a particular care for widows and fatherless, and he requires that
we should have the same. It is his honour, and will be ours, to help
the helpless. And if we thus serve God, and do good with what we have,
it is promised here that the Lord our God will bless us in all the
work of our hand. Note,
(1.) The blessing of God is all in all to our outward prosperity, and,
without that blessing, the work of our hands which we do will bring
nothing to pass.
(2.) The way to obtain that blessing is to be diligent and charitable.
The blessing descends upon the working hand: "Except not that God
should bless thee in thy idleness and love of ease, but in all the work
of they hand." It is the hand of the diligent, with the blessing of God
upon it, that makes rich,
And it descends upon the giving hand; he that thus scatters certainly
increases, and the liberal soul will be made fat. It is an undoubted
truth, though little believed, that to be charitable to the poor, and
to be free and generous in the support of religion and any good work,
is the surest and safest way of thriving. What is lent to the Lord
will be repaid with abundant interest. See