1 Ye are the children [bnei] of the Yahweh your Elohim: ye shall not cut yourselves, nor make any baldness between your eyes for the dead.

2 For thou art an holy people [Am Kadosh] unto the Yahweh thy Elohim, and Yahweh hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people [Am Segullah (treasured people)] unto himself, above all the nations [kol haamim] that are upon the earth [ha'adamah].

ACCORDING to the law ordained by angels in the hand of Moses, and styled "the word spoken by angels" (Heb.ii.2), mankind are separated into the holy and the unclean.

It constituted the twelve tribes of Israel a holy nation, a special and peculiar people (Ex. 19:6; Deut. 7:6; 14:2), while it left all other nations mere "sinners of the Gentiles" (Gal. 2:15), as

all men were originally constituted by the disobedience of Adam (Rom. 5:18), from whom they derive their descent.

The national holiness of Israel was constitutional, not inherent. The nation was composed of a stiff-necked, perverse and intractable people who were more disposed to the wickedness of other nations than to the practice of the law of Yahweh, their King. But the holy seed of Abraham was the substance in the nation's loins, on account of whom, and the things affirmed respecting him, it was not consumed (Isa. 6:13; 65:8, 9; Rom. 11:16) but carefully preserved, as having a "blessing in it," even "an inheritor of Yahweh's mountains," who shall cause his servants to rejoice, and the nations to shout aloud for joy.

Anything separated by Yahweh from things in general for His own special use is holy, irrespective of the nature or character of the thing. Hence, things animate and inanimate, animal, vegetable and mineral, solid and fluid, etc., have all been constituted holy by

the law. Thus there were holy utensils, holy and most holy places of worship, holy mountains and cities, and holy officials, though oftentimes very unrighteous men.

The holiness of this kind was the national holiness of the twelve tribes-a holiness conferred by the law of Moses, "which could make nothing perfect." It bestowed upon things a relative external holiness, a sort of halo of holiness confined to the surface, which left the mind and disposition, or heart of its subject untouched.

Mystery of the Covenant of the Holy Land Explained

Holy unto Yahweh 

To bring that momentous fact home to Israel was the fundamental purpose of the Law, and we have found all the topics which we have so far studied to have been merely different means to that one end. Each in its own peculiar and distinctive way served to quicken the nation's consciousness of its high rank and destiny; and each in pursuit of that aim made use of the same effective teaching technique, that of restating one simple basic lesson in a sequence of increasingly more emphatic forms.

Law and Grace Ch 10

All manner of ritual ordinances bore in upon them the stringency of their duty to keep these commandments. The regulation of their flesh eating reminded them that they, as God's people, were to the heathen what the clean animal was to the unclean, and taught them that they, being His, had to be holy like Him (Lev. 20 : 22-26; Deut. 14: 2-21).

So also with their clothing: it could not be of mixed cloth, part wool, part linen, thereby symbolizing that they had to be wholly His, not half like Him and half like heathendom around them.

Any form of hybrid spirituality was abhorrent to God and forbidden to them, as they were reminded symbolically in several ways. Ox and ass - clean and unclean - were not to be yoked together, either literally or figuratively (Lev. 19: 19; Deut 22: 9-11). The ribband and fringe on their garments (Num. 15: 37-40), and the inscriptions on their doorposts (Deut. 6: 9; 11 : 20) were to remind them of the tremendously significant fact,

"I am the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the Lord your God" (Num. 15: 41).

Law and Grace Ch 4

3 Thou shalt not eat any abominable thing [to'evah (detestable thing)].

That these distinctions were what might be called artificial is evident from Paul's remarks on meats, in Rom. 14: 

"I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him that esteemeth anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean", 

The words of Jesus were to the same effect. 

"Not that which goeth into a man, but that which cometh out of a man (evil thoughts, adulteries, etc.), that defileth the man."

Yet for the time being, while the law was in force, the distinctions between clean meats and defiling meats were real, and constituted part of the "righteousness which is of the law", touching which Paul was blameless.

The question which the mind is concerned to probe is- -what spiritual principle was allegorically involved in the distinction made between clean and unclean beasts? We are aided somewhat in this quest by the vision which was thrice shown to Peter to prepare him for a divinely-purposed message apparently inconsistent with the previous commandment of the law to stand apart from the Gentiles. By this vision, we see the unclean beasts stood for persons... The features of the vision are familiar to all who are familiar with the Scriptures. Still, they seem to need repeating in this connection.

"A certain vessel descended unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth wherein were all manner of four-footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common."

Peter doubted at first what this vision should mean; but when afterwards, by the Spirit's direction, he stood in the presence of a company of Gentiles in the house of Cornelius, to whom he was sent to open the door of faith, he understood. He said, 

"God hath shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean" (Acts 10:28).

The beasts, then, stood for men, and the peculiarities constituting them clean and unclean respectively, were but typical of qualities in men that make them suitable or otherwise for divine use. That those peculiarities should be associated with and resultant on certain states of flesh rendering them fit or unfit for use as human food, is an added excellence to the type, but the type is the main thing for us to consider.

The physical qualities of the flesh rejected as food are very secondary. A good digestion can assimilate almost any edible substance to the requirements of nutrition. It was the divine law in the case that was the material element. Now that the objects of the law have been accomplished in Christ, the law has been taken away. It was nailed to his cross (Col. 2:14). It

 "stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed till the time of the reformation", and "could not make him that did the service perfect as pertaining to the conscience" (Heb. 9:10). 

But the lessons taught by the law remain.

And let it also be said, the discernments of wisdom, as bearing on natural things, remain. It does not follow because distinctions between clean and unclean beasts have been done away as a ground of acceptance to God, that therefore a wise man will eat anything or drink anything without regard to their physical effects. It still remains a command to abhor that which is evil, and to cleave to that which is good and lovely and of excellent report. There are some things that are of excellent report with all men: such as bread, water, the fruits of the field, the rain of heaven, and a thousand things besides.

But there are other things and other habits that are not of excellent report, because of bad effects on the best faculties of men--that weaken and lower and debase the best powers of men, and that are always found in association with evil. Such are opium, tobacco, spirits, and the alcoholic drinks in common use among the people. They are in high favour with the children of the devil everywhere. They are not to be found with those who follow after righteousness, temperance, chasteness, holiness, in preparation for eternal association with Him who is Holiness itself. While all extremes and crochets are to be avoided, there is a middle ground of wisdom and excellence that affords a natural meeting place for the sons of God.

There are extremes of liberty from the law of Moses that degenerate to hurtful license: and there are extremes of fastidiousness as to meats and drinks that are hurtful to the true aims of the Gospel. The good sense fostered by the apostolic epistles is not likely to be found at either end, but in the wholesome middle ground, where all things that may be lawful are not necessarily practised as expedient, because of dangers in various directions. 

While no man is to judge another with respect to "meat, or drink, or an holy day, or the new moon, or the sabbath days" (Col. 2:16), we are to judge ourselves very severely under the law of Christ, which enjoins that we "neither eat flesh nor drink wine" if a brother is thereby stumbled, made weak or drawn into danger (Rom. 14:21).

Law of Moses Ch 29

4 These are the beasts which ye shall eat: the ox, the sheep, and the goat, [the shor, the seh, and the izzim]

5 The hart, and the roebuck [gazelle], and the fallow deer [yachmur], and the wild goat [akko], and the pygarg [antelope], and the wild ox, and the chamois [wild goat].

All fleet footed, graceful creatures.

6 And every beast that parteth the hoof, and cleaveth the cleft into two claws, and cheweth the cud among the beasts, that ye shall eat.

What sort of men are they who correspond to the type of cud-chewing and hoof-parting animals? We are in the presence of at least the shadow of an answer when we hear the modern phrase "chewing the cud of reflection".

The literal act of chewing the cud is part of the process of preparing the food for assimilation by the animal tissues. Digestion in the grand requisite. For gross organizations, no great thoroughness is necessary in the process: a short alimentary canal is sufficient for the carnivorous races. The lion and the tiger bolt their food and it is converted quickly.

But in the higher races, where a finer result is aimed at, in producing food for man in the flesh of the ox and sheep, there is a greater elaborateness in the structure provided for the conversion of grass and turnips into beef and mutton. The chewing of the cud belongs to the greater elaborateness of structure: the thorough preparation of food for conversion into life is the essential idea of this act.

It is not difficult to go from the typical to the spiritual in this matter. There is spiritual food and there is spiritual life that results from the eating and assimilation of that food. "Thy words were found, and I did eat them", said Jeremiah. "The entrance of thy word giveth light", wrote the Psalmist. "He that eateth me shall live by me", said Christ; "the words that I speak unto you are spirit and life".

Men, then, who are given to turning over in their minds the divine knowledge conveyed in the words of truth are men who spiritually chew the cud. They are spiritually ruminant animals. They are the clean among men. As Jesus said, "Ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you."

There is nothing mystical about this. It is the obvious fact that a man with the word of God stored in his mind, is a clean man by comparison with the man in whom the mere mind of the flesh prevails. He is clean in thought, clean in action, clean in all his ways--in a word, holy. His holiness is not the result of natural organization, but of the presence in that organization of the truth which sanctifies. The truth is the sanctifying power, and this not merely as a thing once learnt, but a thing constantly read and thought about.

The sheep nibbles the grass all the day long. Men of God are in harmony with the command which says "Be thou in the fear of God all the day long", The sheep is constantly growing as a sheep. If it ceased its activities as a living animal, it would die. In the antitype, the process of spiritual life is constantly going on. There is no arrest or suspension. The word of God is read and pondered every day: God is thanked every day, "in sincerity and truth", both at meal tables, and at bedside night and morning.

God is before the mind every day, as a factor in all life's calculations. The truth is much more than a knowledge of the fact that man is mortal and that Christ is the Saviour and that the Kingdom is coming. It is a knowledge of God as the possessor of heaven and earth and the weigher of actions. This knowledge cannot be retained except by the constant reading and reflection typified by the chewing of the cud by the clean animals--reckoned clean because they did so.

Law of Moses Ch 29

Chewing the cud

If you cannot eat beef,‭ ‬eat mutton,‭ ‬and if this disagree,‭ ‬try fish,‭ ‬but do not,‭ ‬because of your inability to take every kind of food,‭ ‬abuse food in general.‭ ‬Remember that the food is right enough,‭ ‬and that the fault lies in your feeble and out-of-health digestion.‭

To turn from the natural to the spiritual.‭ ‬Do not grow sulky with the Bible,‭ ‬because you cannot appreciate it in all its parts.‭ ‬Let the parts that disagree alone for the moment,‭ ‬and thankfully feed on those that do agree.‭ ‬Do this,‭ ‬and your health will improve.‭

Oh‭! ‬the folly of some men,‭ ‬who elect to stand aloof and starve and die rather than feed and strengthen themselves on the simple,‭ ‬elementary,‭ ‬obviously true and good,‭ ‬first principles of the Word.‭

It is the same old story.‭ ‬Because of hard sayings,‭ ‬men turn aside and walk no more with Christ‭ (‬Jno.‭ vi. ‬66‭)‬. 

Bro AT Jannaway

The Christadelphian, Sept 1899

7 Nevertheless these ye shall not eat of them that [only] chew the cud, or of them that [only]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 [tameh] unto you.

The hoof is a horny enclosure of the foot in hermetically sealed case, which, while contributory to the comfort of the animal, disqualifies it for walking on any but level ground. It cannot clamber among rocks or difficult places. It is liable to stumble on uneven ground: whereas, when the hoof is divided, and each half is parted into claws, the creature can easily walk on hill sides and even among rocky places ---as in the case of the goat or sheep. Surefootedness is the result of dividing the hoof and parting the clefts.

It does not seem difficult to see why this should be selected as a typical characteristic of acceptable men. "He that walketh wisely walketh surely." "Walk in wisdom towards them that are without." "Walk as becometh the gospel." This "walking" is the practical direction of our affairs.

A man who failed in this would be a very unsatisfactory kind of man, however much he might be given to ruminating on the word of God. A man all theory and no action--first class at describing what ought to be done, but with no gift at practising what he preached--would be the poor sort of creature signified by that which only chewed the cud but did not divide the hoof.

The other state of the case would be equally abortive--that is, where there might be excellent capacity for execution, but no understanding of what the will of God required. This case is also provided against in the type [next verse].

Law of Moses Ch 29

8 And the swine [chazir] [Lev 11: 7], because it divideth the hoof, yet cheweth not the cud, it is unclean [tameh] unto you: ye shall not eat of their flesh [basar], nor touch their dead carcase [nevelah].


In relation to eating of meats, or not eating of them, it is easier to ask questions than to answer them. Why Yahweh thought proper to do this, and not to do that, is easier asked than answered.

In Paul's day there was a class of professors who were very much addicted to the work of perplexing themselves about recondite matters to the neglect of what was obvious and plain. He says,

"they intruded into things which they had not seen, being puffed up in vain by the mind of their flesh." Col. 2:18.

We must be careful that we fall not into this error; and to avoid it, it is necessary, that we keep a strict watch over "the flesh," which is much more gratified in intruding into the motives of others, even of the Creator himself, than in accepting his testimony and simply keeping his commands.

"The flesh" is not satisfied with

"the simplicity which is in Christ."

...Out of respect to our correspondent as a brother in Christ, we entertain his question, for which, and for all similar, we have none. He asks us, why Yahweh commanded Israel to abstain from swine's flesh? We answer, for the reason Yahweh himself gives, which is because

"he cheweth not the cud." "Whatsoever parteth the hoof and is cloven footed, and cheweth the cud, among the beasts, that shall ye eat."

Swine are cloven footed, and if they had chewed the cud, they would have been as clean to Israel for food as any other animal; but as they chewed not the cud, they were constituted legally unclean to Israel. To abstain from eating swine's flesh, or horseflesh, was therefore "an element of the world"—a part of

"the righteousness of the law which is fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh (or hand-writing of ordinances pertaining to the flesh) but after the Spirit."

Eels are as unclean by the same law, because they have no scales.

But some may inquire, why was the distinction of clean and unclean arbitrarily imposed at all? The answer is, that all the enactments of the Mosaic Law partook of the nature and character of the law, upon the principle that the parts or elements of a whole share in the constitution thereof.

Now the Mosaic Law in its entirety was

"the representation of the knowledge and the truth";

hence its parts, elements, or rudiments, were also individually representative of things pertaining to the truth, or substance, or "body which is of Christ." The New Testament sets forth "the revelation of the mystery"; or the exposition of the secret meaning of the law. The law was "the wisdom of God in a mystery"; which it was the business of the apostles and writers of the New Testament to expound.

From them we learn what was signified by the unclean animals of the law, who chewed not the cud. The mystery is revealed in Peter's vision upon the housetop. A sheet was lowered from heaven full of unclean animals, which he was ordered to kill and eat. But he refused, saying, that he had never eaten "anything common or unclean." He was told, however, that he was not to call that common or unclean which God had cleansed.

Now when Peter came to narrate the vission he had seen, he told his hearers, that it had taught him the lesson that he was to call "no man common or unclean; for that

"God was no respecter of persons; but in every nation he that feareth him and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him."

All those non-Israelitish nations were dogs and swine, lions, tigers, eels, eagles, vultures, and so forth; animals that chewed not the cud, without scales, and so forth, according to the law.

The bread of God, or the divine pasturage, had not been fed to them; so they could not chew, or ruminate upon it; but they lived upon the garbage of the flesh, served out to them by pagan philosophers and priests, as men do now, who are ignorant of the word.

But the time had come when Peter stood before Cornelius to afford men of all nations an opportunity of putting off the swine and putting on the sheep, which

"parteth the hoof and is cloven-footed, and cheweth the cud,"

in the green pastures and beside the still waters of God. The grass of these pastures is good and nourishing. They graze in the reading and hearing of the word; and in meditating upon what they have received, they bring up the cud, and chew it in detail, and so appropriate it to the growth of the inner man.—Acts 10:11; Lev. 11; Rom. 8:4; Col. 2:14–23.

When a Gentile obeys the truth, as we have said, he puts off the dog and the swine, and puts on the sheep; but

"if he turn again to the weak and beggarly elements of the law; and "turn from the holy commandment delivered to him; it has happened to him," says Peter, "according to the proverb, The dog has turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire."—2 Pet. 2:22.

This is as much as to say, that before the vomiting and the washing, they were separated by the law as dogs and swine.

Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Jun 1860

9 These ye shall eat of all that are in the waters: all that have fins and scales shall ye eat:

Scales and fins appear to sustain the same analogy to chewing the cud and dividing the hoof: the scales rendering the creature more accessible to the watery element of life around it than when clad in an impervious skin; and the fins giving greater power of guidance in "the paths of the seas" than where motion has to be obtained by contortion of the body.

10 And whatsoever hath not fins and scales ye may not eat; it is unclean [tameh] unto you.

The fishes forbidden are also those from which human appetite would naturally shrink; all those approaching the reptilian type in lacking fins and scales, and having therefore a heavy, greasy texture of flesh.

Law of Moses Ch 29

11 Of all clean [tahorah] birds ye shall eat.

All that is odious and unwholesome among the creatures is forbidden; all that is beautiful, innocent, and good for food, is allowed. We have only to apply this in the amplest way to see with new force the spiritual comeliness that is required at the hands of those whom God will take into His eternal fellowship.

Law of Moses Ch 29

12 But these are they of which ye shall not eat: the eagle [nesher], and the ossifrage [vulture], and the ospray [bearded vulture],

The birds forbidden are all those that are birds of prey and feed on carrion, such as the eagle, the vulture, the raven, the owl, the swan, etc., which would naturally stand as the types of men of low tastes and predaceous instincts.

Law of Moses Ch 29 

13 And the glede, and the kite, and the vulture [buzzard] after his kind,

14 And every raven after his kind,

15 And the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckow [seagull], and the hawk after his kind,

16 The little owl, and the great owl, and the swan [ horned owl],

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 [ger] that is in thy gates [she'arim], that he may eat it; or thou mayest sell it unto an alien: for thou art an holy people [Am Kadosh] unto the Yahweh thy Elohim. Thou shalt not seethe [boil] a kid in his mother's milk [cholov].

'..the law of Moses was not a hygienic system, though all its principles were in harmony with the best hygienic principles: it was a system of spiritual significances adapted to serve the double purpose of physical well being and spiritual education. Therefore, while forbidding the eating of the flesh of animals that had died a natural death or been slain by other animals, it could consistently allow the eating of flesh properly killed: because although the physical state of the flesh might be the same in both cases, the allegorical bearings were not the same.

Flesh dying of itself would be diseased, and flesh rent for the sustenance of beasts of prey would be flesh dying in animal wantonness or in accident--neither of which could prefigure the sinless Lamb of God laying down his life in obedience to the commandment of the Father.

So far as physical considerations were concerned, the meat in question was fit enough to be eaten. Hence, the Israelites were at liberty to "give it unto the stranger that is in thy gates, that he may eat it: or sell it unto an alien".

As for themselves, they were "an holy people unto the Lord thy God", and therefore bound by all that was involved in the law given to them.

Law of Moses Ch 29

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 Yahweh thy Elohim, 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 Yahweh thy Elohim 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 Yahweh thy Elohim shall choose to set his name there, when the Yahweh thy Elohim 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 Yahweh thy Elohim shall choose:

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 Yahweh thy Elohim, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household,

27 And the Levite [Levi] that is within thy gates [she'arim]; thou shalt not forsake him; for he hath no part [chelek] nor inheritance [nachalah] with thee.

28 At the end of 3 years [shalosh shanim] thou shalt bring forth all the tithe [ma'aser] of thine increase the same year, and shalt lay it up within thy gates [she'arim]:

29 And the Levite [Levi], (because he hath no part nor inheritance [chelek nor nachalah] with thee,) and the stranger [ger], and the fatherless [yatom (or orphan)], and the widow [almanah], which are within thy gates [she'arim], shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied; that Yahweh thy Elohim may bless thee in all the work of thine hand which thou doest.

The nation's attitude to the Levite (and so, by natural association of thought, to all others in the same defenceless and precarious position) would thus reveal what was its attitude to God Himself - hence the law,

"Take heed to thyself that thou forsake not the Levite as long as thou livest upon the earth" 

(Deut. 12: 19).

Law and Grace Ch 11