The Lord gives laws to the people through MosesProphet who led Israel out of Egypt to the Promised Land and received the law at Sinai More and AaronMoses' brother and spokesman, and Israel's first high priest. More about which animals are “clean” (that is, lawful for eating) and which are “unclean” (not to be eaten).
This chapter establishes dietary laws for the Israelites, specifying which animals can be eaten by them and which cannot be eaten. It is difficult to discern the reasoning behind the distinctions. For instance, clean land animals are those that have divided hoofs, chew the cud, and are cleft-footed. Any animal that meets only two of these three criteria is uncleanIn Hebrew law many regulations warned against impurity. Unclean things were numerous and included leprosy, menstruating women, dead bodies, shell fish, and pigs. More (11:1-8). Scholars speculate that in the priestly mind-set, animals of each distinct group (land animals, fish, birds, insects) must exhibit certain characteristics emblematic of that group. For instance, a fish must have fins and scales in order to be “clean.” Those water animals that do not have fins and scales (like crustaceans) are “unclean” (that is, they do not fit within their category) and are therefore unlawful to be eaten (11:9-12).
These laws illustrate the priestly concern with boundaries and distinctions, particularly between “clean” and “unclean” (see Genesis 1, Leviticus 10:10). In a similar vein, the Israelites are forbidden to sow their fields with two kinds of seed, or to wear garments made with two kinds of material, or to allow any of their animals to breed with a different species (19:19). This priestly concern with boundaries is present throughout the book, so that holiness might be maintained in the sanctuaryA sanctuary is the consecrated area around the altar of a church or temple. It also means a place of safety where one can flee for protection. In the Old Testament, especially in the Psalms, God is referred to as a sanctuary, a refuge from... More and in the people.
Observant Jews still follow the dietary laws set out in Leviticus and in other parts of the PentateuchThe Pentateuch is a Christian term the first five books of the Old Testament. These books contain stories of Israel's early history, God's covenants, and many laws such as the Ten Commandments). More. Christians do not follow these laws, pointing to Acts 10, the story of PeterThe disciple who denied Jesus during his trial but later became a leader in proclaiming Jesus More and CorneliusAn early Gentile convert to the Christian faith. More, where God instructs Peter in a vision to eat unclean animals. JesusJesus is the Messiah whose life, death, and resurrection are God's saving act for humanity More says, in MatthewA tax collector who became one of Jesus' 12 disciples More 15:11: “It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.”