on Leviticus 11 :44
Ye shall - sanctify yourselves - Ye shall keep yourselves separate from all the people of the earth, that ye may be holy; for I am holy. And this was the grand design of God in all these prohibitions and commands; for these external sanctifications were only the emblems of the internal purity which the holiness of God requires here, and without which none can dwell with him in glory hereafter. See at the conclusion of this chapter. The contents of this chapter must furnish many profitable reflections to a pious mind.
1. From the great difficulty of ascertaining what animals are meant in this part of the law, we may at once see that the law itself must be considered as abrogated; for there is not a Jew in the universe who knows what the animals are, a very few excepted, which are intended by these Hebrew words; and therefore he may be repeatedly breaking this law by touching and being touched either by the animals themselves or their produce, such as hair, wool, fur, skin, intestines, differently manufactured, etc., etc. It therefore appears that this people have as little law as they have gospel.
2. While God keeps the eternal interests of man steadily in view, he does not forget his earthly comfort; he is at once solicitous both for the health of his body and his soul. He has not forbidden certain aliments because he is a Sovereign, but because he knew they would be injurious to the health and morals of his people. The close connection that subsists between the body and the soul we cannot fully comprehend; and as little can we comprehend the influence they have on each other. Many moral alterations take place in the mind in consequence of the influence of the bodily organs; and these latter are greatly influenced by the kind of ailment which the body receives. God knows what is in man, and he knows what is in all creatures; he has therefore graciously forbidden what would injure both body and mind, and commanded what is best calculated to be useful to both. Solid-footed animals, such as the horse, and many-toed animals, such as the cat, etc., are here prohibited. Beasts which have bifid or cloven hoofs, such as the ox and sheep, are considered as proper for food, and therefore commanded. The former are unclean, i. e., unwholesome, affording a gross nutriment, often the parent of scorbutic and scrofulous disorders; the latter clean, i. e., affording a copious and wholesome nutriment, and not laying the foundation of any disease. Ruminating animals, i. e., those which chew the cud, concoct their food better than the others which swallow it with little mastication, and therefore their flesh contains more of the nutritious juices, and is more easy of digestion, and consequently of assimilation to the solids and fluids of the human body; on this account they are termed clean, i. e., peculiarly wholesome, and fit for food. The animals which do not ruminate do not concoct their food so well, and hence they abound with gross animal juices, which yield a comparatively unwholesome nutriment to the human system. Even the animals which have bifid hoofs but do not chew the cud, such as the swine, and those which chew the cud but are not bifid, such as the hare and rabbit, are by Him who knows all things forbidden, because he knew them to be comparatively innutritive. In all this God shows himself as the tender Father of a numerous family, pointing out to his inexperienced, froward, and ignorant children, those kinds of aliments which he knows will be injurious to their health and domestic happiness, and prohibiting them on pain of his highest displeasure. On the same ground he forbade all fish that have not both fins and scales, such as the conger, eel, etc., which abound in gross juices and fat which very few stomachs are able to digest. Who, for instance, that lives solely on swine's flesh, has pure blood and healthy juices? And is it not evident, in many cases, that the man partakes considerably of the nature of the brute on which he exclusively feeds? I could pursue this inquiry much farther, and bring many proofs founded on indisputable facts, but I forbear; for he who might stand most in need of caution, would be the first to take offense.
3. As the body exists only for the sake of the soul, and God feeds and nourishes it through the day of probation, that the soul may here be prepared for the kingdom of heaven; therefore he shows in the conclusion of these ordinances, that the grand scope and design of all was that they might be a holy people, and that they might resemble him who is a holy God - God Is Holy; and this is the eternal reason why all his people should be holy - should be purified from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. No faith in any particular creed, no religious observance, no acts of benevolence and charity, no mortification, attrition, or contrition, can be a substitute for this. We must be made partakers of the Divine nature. We must be saved from our sins - from the corruption that is in the world, and be made holy within and righteous without, or never see God. For this very purpose Jesus Christ lived, died, and revived, that he might purify us unto himself; that through faith in his blood our sins might be blotted out, and our souls restored to the image of God - Reader, art thou hungering and thirsting after righteousness? Then blessed art thou, for thou shalt be filled.
on Leviticus 11 :44
These verses set forth the spiritual ground on which the distinction between clean and unclean is based. Compare the marginal references and Leviticus 10:10; Leviticus 20:25-26; 1 Peter 1:15-16.
The basis of the obligation to maintain the distinction was the call of the Hebrews to be the special people of Yahweh. It was to he something in their daily life to remind them of the covenant which distinguished them from the nations of the world. By Jesus Christ it was revealed Matthew 15:11 to the elect people that they were no longer to he tied by the letter of the Law in regard to their food, but were to be left to the exercise of a regenerated judgment. They were to learn that the kingdom of God is not eating, or abstaining from, meats and drinks; but righteousness, and truth, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17. Compare Acts 10:15; 1 Timothy 4:4).
on Leviticus 11 :44
11:44 Ye shall be holy - By this he gives them to understand, that all these cautions about eating or touching these creatures was not for any real uncleanness in them, but only that by diligent observation of these rules they might learn with greater care to avoid all moral pollutions, and to keep themselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, and from all familiar and intimate converse with notorious sinners.