Monday, January 11, 2010


Chapter 14
Summary:Moses' speech continues:
"You all are the blessed children of the Lord your God and therefore you shall not cut yourselves, nor make any baldness between your eyes, for the dead - for you are a holy people to the Lord your God, and the Lord has chosen you all to be a peculiar people to himself, above all nations that are upon the earth.

"You shall not eat any abominable thing. These are the animals which you may eat: the ox, the sheep, the goat, the hart, the roebuck, the fallow deer, the wild goat, the pygarg, the wild ox, and the chamois - and any animal with parted hooves, clefted pairs of claws, or that chews the cud. However, you are not to eat animal that either chews the cud or has divided hooves - such as the camel, the hare*, and the coney, for they chew the cud, but do not have cloven hooves; therefore they are unclean to you. The swine, because of its cloven hoof, despite that it doesn't chew the cud, is unclean to you - you shall not eat of their flesh, nor touch their dead carcass.

"Of the animals that live in the waters you may eat all that have fins and scales; whatsoever has no fins or scales, you may not eat, for they are unclean to you.

"Öf all clean birds you may eat, but these are the birds you may not: the eagle, the ossifrage, the osprey, the glede, the kite, the vulture and its kind, the raven and its kind, the owl, the night hawk, the cuckow, the hawk and its kind, the 'little owl', the 'great owl', the swan, the pelican, the grier eagle, the cormorant, the stork, the heron and its kind, the lapwing, the bat*, and every creeping thing that flies is unclean to you; they shall not be eaten. But of all clean fowl, you may eat.

"You shall not eat any animal that dies on its own - although you may give it to the stranger in town to eat, or you may sell it to a foreigner - for you are a holy people to the Lord your God. You shall not boil a baby goat in his mother's milk.

"You shall tithe all of your crops that your field brings forth each year. You shall eat before the Lord your God - in the sanctuary that he will pick out in the land - the tithes of your crops, wine, olive oil, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks; that you may learn the fear the Lord your God always.

"If the sanctuary is too far away from where you live, that you are unable to carry your tithes there, then you may sell them for money and purchase whatever your souls lusts after - oxen, sheep, wine, strong drink, or whatever your soul desires - that you may bring and eat before the Lord your God, to rejoice amongst you and your household.

"You are not to forsake the Levite within your community, for he has no crops, property, or inheritance as you have. At the end of three years, you shall bring forth all of the the tithes for that year and are to divide the tithes amongst the Levites, the strangers, the orphaned, and the widows within your community - who shall eat and be satisfied, that the Lord your God may bless you in all that you do."
Notes:1.) The hare does not chew its cud.
2.) The bat obviously is not a bird, but rather a flying mammal.
Thoughts:Moses begins this chapter echoing a commandment that he first made in Leviticus: Chapter 19 - forbidding the cutting of the skin in regards to funeral customs, adding in that shaving your eyebrows ("mak[ing] any baldness between your eyes") is also a no-no as a funeral custom. Moses explains that because God considers the Israelites are a "holy people" and are better than all the other nations upon the earth that (perhaps) follow these sorts of customs.

Simply put, this is a law simply because "inferior" people have these customs, and nothing more(!) To see how arrogant, ridiculous, and nonsensical this "commandment" is, imagine a modern law that bans the wearing of feathers because the Native American wear them, and they're not "God's people" like Americans with European ancestry are, and therefore we have to strive to not be like those "heathens" - Or perhaps laws banning the wearing of wooden shoes because the Dutch do; the eating of rice because the Chinese do; the eating of pasta because the Italians do. It isn't difficult in this context to see how ridiculous, arrogant, and bigoted these types of laws are - the "you're not allowed to do this solely because this other group of people do it" laws, and only serves to reinforce stereotypes and superiority complexes.

Next Moses recaps the laws from Leviticus: Chapter 11 concerning which types of animals are considered "clean" enough to eat, and which are "unclean" and may not be eaten. While the argument can be made that there are all sorts of inaccuracies about Moses' classifications of animals (rabbits are not ruminants, bats are mammals not birds, etc.) it may be partially a limitation of the Hebrew language as well as a lack of biological knowledge. However, unlike Leviticus: Chapter 11, Moses does not make an exception for jumping four legged insects being permissible to eat.

Moses does add though, that although the Israelites may not eat any animal that has died on its own of natural causes, they may sell it to a foreigner or give it to a stranger in town. Moses also repeats a rather "charming" law from Exodus: Chapter 23 - don't boil a baby goat in its mother's milk.

Moses explains to the Israelites that when God picks out his "sanctuary", they will have to bring the tithes from their crops, wine, and the firstborn animals from their flocks and herds to the "sanctuary" and have to feast there "before God". However, Moses allots that if the sanctuary is too far away from where they live, or they are unable to carry the full amount of their tithes, then they may be allowed to sell their tithes and use the money to buy crops, wine, or livestock when they arrive at the sanctuary.

Moses reminds them that they'll have to invite the Levites in their communities to come tag along for the feast when they pay their tithes, due to their lack of property ownership and lack of their own crops.

Finishing out the chapter on a rare pleasant note (not unlike the tone found in Leviticus: Chapter 19) Moses tells the Israelites that every third year they will have to divide up that years tithes to give to the poor, the orphans, the widowed, and the strangers in town.

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