December 09, 2002 Copyright © by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
- 1 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron,
- "Speak to the Israelites and tell them: Of all land animals these are the ones you may eat:
- any animal that has hoofs you may eat, provided it is cloven-footed and chews the cud.
- But you shall not eat any of the following that only chew the cud or only have hoofs: the camel, which indeed chews the cud, but does not have hoofs and is therefore unclean for you;
- 2 the rock badger, which indeed chews the cud, but does not have hoofs and is therefore unclean for you;
- the hare, which indeed chews the cud, but does not have hoofs and is therefore unclean for you; and the pig,
- which does indeed have hoofs and is cloven-footed, but does not chew the cud and is therefore unclean for you.
- Their flesh you shall not eat, and their dead bodies you shall not touch; they are unclean for you.
- "Of the various creatures that live in the water, you may eat the following: whatever in the seas or in river waters has both fins and scales you may eat.
- But of the various creatures that crawl or swim in the water, whether in the sea or in the rivers, all those that lack either fins or scales are loathsome for you,
- and you shall treat them as loathsome. Their flesh you shall not eat, and their dead bodies you shall loathe.
- Every water creature that lacks fins or scales is loathsome for you.
- 3 "Of the birds, these you shall loathe and, as loathsome, they shall not be eaten: the eagle, the vulture, the osprey,
- the kite, the various species of falcons,
- the various species of crows,
- the ostrich, the nightjar, the gull, the various species of hawks,
- the owl, the cormorant, the screech owl,
- the barn owl, the desert owl, the buzzard,
- 4 the stork, the various species of herons, the hoopoe, and the bat.
- "The various winged insects that walk on all fours are loathsome for you.
- But of the various winged insects that walk on all fours you may eat those that have jointed legs for leaping on the ground;
- 5 hence of these you may eat the following: the various kinds of locusts, the various kinds of grasshoppers, the various kinds of katydids, and the various kinds of crickets.
- All other winged insects that have four legs are loathsome for you.
- 6 "Such is the uncleanness that you contract, that everyone who touches their dead bodies shall be unclean until evening,
- and everyone who picks up any part of their dead bodies shall wash his garments and be unclean until evening.
- 7 All hoofed animals that are not cloven-footed or do not chew the cud are unclean for you; everyone who touches them becomes unclean.
- 8 Of the various quadrupeds, all those that walk on paws are unclean for you; everyone who touches their dead bodies shall be unclean until evening,
- and everyone who picks up their dead bodies shall wash his garments and be unclean until evening. Such is their uncleanness for you.
- "Of the creatures that swarm on the ground, the following are unclean for you: the rat, the mouse, the various kinds of lizards,
- the gecko, the chameleon, the agama, the skink, and the mole.
- Among the various swarming creatures, these are unclean for you. Everyone who touches them when they are dead shall be unclean until evening.
- Everything on which one of them falls when dead becomes unclean. Any such article that men use, whether it be an article of wood, cloth, leather or goat hair, must be put in water and remain unclean until evening, when it again becomes clean.
- Should any of these creatures fall into a clay vessel, everything in it becomes unclean, and the vessel itself you must break.
- Any solid food that was in contact with water, and any liquid that men drink, in any such vessel become unclean.
- Any object on which one of their dead bodies falls, becomes unclean; if it is an oven or a jar-stand, this must be broken to pieces; they are unclean and shall be treated as unclean by you.
- 9 However, a spring or a cistern for collecting water remains clean; but whoever touches the dead body becomes unclean.
- Any sort of cultivated grain remains clean even though one of their dead bodies falls on it;
- but if the grain has become moistened, it becomes unclean when one of these falls on it.
- "When one of the animals that you could otherwise eat, dies of itself, anyone who touches its dead body shall be unclean until evening;
- and anyone who eats of its dead body shall wash his garments and be unclean until evening; so also, anyone who removes its dead body shall wash his garments and be unclean until evening.
- "All the creatures that swarm on the ground are loathsome and shall not be eaten.
- Whether it crawls on its belly, goes on all fours, or has many legs, you shall eat no swarming creature: they are loathsome.
- Do not make yourselves loathsome or unclean with any swarming creature through being contaminated by them.
- For I, the LORD, am your God; and you shall make and keep yourselves holy, because I am holy. You shall not make yourselves unclean, then, by any swarming creature that crawls on the ground.
- Since I, the LORD, brought you up from the land of Egypt that I might be your God, you shall be holy, because I am holy.
- "This is the law for animals and birds and for all the creatures that move about in the water or swarm on the ground,
- that you may distinguish between the clean and the unclean, between creatures that may be eaten and those that may not be eaten."
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1 [1-3] These distinctions between edible and inedible meats were probably based on traditional ideas of hygiene, but they are here given a moral, religious basis: the inedible varieties are classified as "unclean" to remind the Israelites that they are to be a pure and holy people, dedicated to the Lord.
2 [5-6] According to modern zoology, the rock badger (hyrax Syriacus) is classified as an ungulate, and the hare as a rodent; neither is a ruminant. They appear to chew their food as the true ruminants do, and it is upon this appearance that the classification in the text is based.
3 [13-19, 30] The identification of the various Hebrew names for these birds and reptiles is in many cases uncertain.
4  The bat: actually a mammal, but listed here with the birds because of its wings.
5  The Hebrew distinguishes four classes of edible locust-like insects, but the difference between them is quite uncertain. Cf Matthew 3:4.
6 [24-28] This paragraph sharpens the prohibition against unclean animals: not only is their meat unfit for food, but contact with their dead bodies makes a person ritually unclean.
7  All hoofed animals that are not cloven-footed: such as the horse and the ass.
8  All those that walk on paws: such as dogs and cats.
9  Whoever touches the dead body: to remove the dead insect from the water supply.
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