Clean and Unclean Meats.* 1a The LORD said to Moses and Aaron: 2Speak to the Israelites and tell them: Of all land animals these are the ones you may eat: 3Any animal that has hoofs you may eat, provided it is cloven-footed and chews the cud. 4But you shall not eatb any of the following from among those 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; 5the rock hyrax,* which indeed chews the cud, but does not have hoofs and is therefore unclean for you; 6the hare, which indeed chews the cud, but does not have hoofs and is therefore unclean for you; 7and the pig,c which does indeed have hoofs and is cloven-footed, but does not chew the cud and is therefore unclean for you. 8You shall not eat their meat, and you shall not touch their carcasses; they are unclean for you.
9Of the various creatures that live in the water, you may eat the following: whatever in the seas or in river waters that has both fins and scales you may eat.d 10But of the creatures that swarm in the water or of animals that otherwise live in the water, whether in the sea or in the rivers, all those that lack either fins or scales are loathsome for you, 11and shall always be loathsome to you. Their meat you shall not eat, and their carcasses you shall loathe. 12Every water creature that lacks fins or scales is loathsome for you.
13Of the birds,* these you shall loathe; they shall not be eaten, they are loathsome: the griffon vulture, the bearded vulture, the black vulture, 14the kite, the various species of falcons, 15the various species of crows, 16the eagle owl, the kestrel, the long-eared owl, the various species of hawks, 17the little owl, the cormorant, the screech owl, 18the barn owl, the horned owl, the osprey, 19the stork, the various species of herons, the hoopoe, and the bat.
20The various winged insects that walk on all fours are loathsome for you. 21But of the various winged insects that walk on all fours you may eat those that have legs jointed above their feet for leaping on the ground; 22hence of these you may eat the following: the various kinds of locusts, the various kinds of bald locusts, the various kinds of crickets, and the various kinds of grasshoppers.e 23All other winged insects that have four legs are loathsome for you.
24You become unclean by the following—anyone who touches their carcasses shall be unclean until evening,f 25and anyone who carries any part of their carcasses shall wash his garments and be unclean until evening— 26by all hoofed animals that are not cloven-footed or do not chew the cud; they are unclean for you; anyone who touches them becomes unclean. 27Also by the various quadrupeds that walk on paws; they are unclean for you; anyone who touches their carcasses shall be unclean until evening, 28and anyone who carries their carcasses shall wash his garments and be unclean until evening. They are unclean for you.
29Of the creatures that swarm on the ground, the following are unclean for you: the rat, the mouse, the various kinds of lizards, 30the gecko, the spotted lizard, the agama, the skink, and the chameleon. 31Among the various swarming creatures, these are unclean for you. Everyone who touches them when they are dead shall be unclean until evening. 32Everything on which one of them falls when dead becomes unclean, including any article of wood, cloth, leather or goat hair—any article of which use can be made. It must be immersed in water and remain unclean until evening, when it again becomes clean. 33Should any of these creatures fall into a clay vessel, everything in it becomes unclean, and the vessel itself you must break. 34Any food that can be eaten which makes contact with water, and any liquid that may be drunk, in any such vessel become unclean. 35Any object on which any part of their carcasses falls becomes unclean; if it is an oven or stove, this must be broken to pieces; they are unclean and shall always be unclean to you. 36However, a spring or a cistern for collecting water remains clean; but whoever touches such an animal’s carcass becomes unclean. 37If any part of their carcasses falls on any sort of grain that is to be sown, it remains clean; 38but if the grain has become moistened, it becomes unclean to you when any part of their carcasses falls on it.
39* g When one of the animals that you could otherwise eat dies of itself, anyone who touches its carcass shall be unclean until evening; 40and anyone who eats any part of its carcass shall wash his garments and be unclean until evening;h so also, anyone who carries its carcass shall wash his garments and be unclean until evening.
41All the creatures that swarm on the ground are loathsome and shall not be eaten. 42Whether it crawls on its belly, goes on all fours, or has many legs—any creature that swarms on the earth—you shall not eat them; they are loathsome. 43Do not make yourselves loathsome by any swarming creature nor defile yourselves with them and so become unclean by them.i 44For I, the LORD, am your God. You shall make and keep yourselves holy,* because I am holy.j You shall not make yourselves unclean, then, by any swarming creature that crawls on the ground. 45Since I, the LORD, am the one who brought you up from the land of Egypt that I might be your God, you shall be holy, because I am holy.
46This is the instruction for land animals, birds, and all the creatures that move about in the water, as well as any animal that swarms on the ground, 47that you may distinguish between the clean and the unclean, and between creatures that may be eaten and those that may not be eaten.k
* [11:1–15:33] Priestly legislation manifests two types of impurity or uncleanness: tolerated and prohibited. Prohibited impurity arises from various sins (e.g., 4:1–5; 5:2–3; 18:6–23; 20:2–5; Nm 5:13–14; 6:6–7). Tolerated impurity has three main sources: certain dead bodies (animal and human; cf. Lv 11 and Nm 19), various regular and abnormal genital discharges (Lv 12; 15), and diseases (specifically “scaly infection,” chaps. 13–14). An additional tolerated impurity is that generated by the cult in order to rectify the effect of these impurities or sins (cf. chap. 4; 16:26, 28).
* [11:1–47] Apart from the introduction and conclusion (vv. 1–2a, 46–47), this chapter has three sections: (1) prohibitions against eating certain land, water, and air animals (vv. 2b–23); (2) consequences of contact with various animals (vv. 24–41); (3) a prohibition against eating small land animals, which is motivated by the requirement that Israel be holy as God is holy (vv. 41–45). These animals are impure only when dead. Cf. Dt 14:3–21.
* [11:5–6] According to modern zoology, the rock hyrax (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.
* [11:13–23, 30] Birds: the term is broader, including all animals that fly (including bats, v. 19, and flying insects, vv. 20–23). The identification of the various Hebrew names for these birds and reptiles is in many cases uncertain.
* [11:39–40] These animals create uncleanness, but are not prohibited as food (cf. 17:15–16). Priests who have a higher degree of holiness than other Israelites may not eat these animals (22:8; cf. Ez 44:31). Cf. Ex 22:30; Dt 14:21.
* [11:44–45] Keep yourselves holy…you shall be holy: a similar idea is expressed in 20:25–26. There, distinguishing between the animals is compared to God’s distinguishing between the peoples and choosing Israel.