I am back after a much needed break.
I thought I was going to skate through Leviticus by just doing reaction posts to the verses that are normally quoted from this book. However, I found that this chapter is actually interesting in that it shows how people observed the natural world and made inferences.
This chapter deals with clean and unclean foods. God is setting down the rules of what is good to eat and what isn’t. Animals with divided hooves and cleft-footed and chew the cud are considered clean. Camels are unclean because they do not have split hooves. The rock badger and the hare are both named as unclean because they chew the cud, but they don’t have split hooves. Let’s stick a pin in that and come back to it. Finally, in this section, pigs have split hooves, but they don’t chew the cud, so they are unclean.
OK, back to that pin. Rock badgers and hares do not chew the cud, but they are coprophages which means that they eat their own poop, which is kind of along the same lines as chewing the cud. These animals, though, are herbivores. By the way, in talking to my girlfriend about this chapter, we both wondered if badgers were even native to that area. The rock badger is. I can understand the pig being on this list since they are omnivores and tend to eat anything and everything. Eating pork in those days without cooking it through and through would have resulted in some nasty parasites.
Then we move into sea life. Only those things that have fins and scales may be eaten. That means fish, plain and simple. If it doesn’t have fins and scales, it shall not be eaten. That means no shrimp cocktail, surf and turf, oysters on the half shell, or calamari.
Again, this makes some sense. Crustaceans like shrimp, prawns, and lobsters are bottom feeders and eat the waste of the other sea life. Bivalves like oysters, clams, and mussels are filter feeders which is much the same. Naturally, it seemed like a bad idea to eat things that ate other things’ waste. But they’re so, so good.
The birds that are listed are exactly what one would expect, all scavenger types. Then the directive on insects. All winged insects that walk on all fours are unclean unless they have jointed legs above their feet. I can see some desert dweller picking up a bug and squinting his eyes to see the bug’s legs. Clean insects include locusts, crickets, and grasshoppers. All other insects that have four feet are detestable. Except that insects have six legs.
The rest of the chapter details what one should do if made unclean by any of these animals. Becoming unclean can happen through touching, carrying, maybe even just looking at them (ok, I made that up).