Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke, , at sacred-texts.com
The Israelites are not to adopt superstitious customs in mourning, Deu 14:1, Deu 14:2. The different kinds of clean and unclean animals, vv. 3-20. Nothing to be eaten that dieth of itself, Deu 14:21. Concerning offerings which, from distance cannot be carried to the altar of God, and which may be turned into money, Deu 14:22-26. The Levite is not to be forsaken, Deu 14:27. The third year's tithe for the Levite, stranger, widow, etc., Deu 14:28, Deu 14:29.
Ye are the children of the Lord - The very highest character that can be conferred on any created beings; ye shall not cut yourselves, i. e., their hair, for it was a custom among idolatrous nations to consecrate their hair to their deities, though they sometimes also made incisions in their flesh.
These are the beasts which ye shall eat - On Leviticus 11. I have entered into considerable detail relative to the clean and unclean animals there mentioned. For the general subject, the reader is referred to the notes on that chapter; but as there are particulars mentioned here which Moses does not introduce in Leviticus, it will be necessary to consider them in this place.
The ox - שור shor: Bos, fifth order Pecora, of the genus Mammalia, species 41. This term includes all clean animals of the beeve kind; not only the ox properly so called, but also the bull, the cow, heifer, and calf.
The sheep - שה seh: Ovis, fifth order Pecora, of the genus Mammalia, species 40; including the ram, the wether, the ewe, and the lamb.
The goat - עז az: Capra, fifth order Pecora, of the genus Mammalia, species 39; including the he-goat, she-goat, and kid. The words in the text, שה כשבים seh chesabim, signify the lamb or young of sheep; and שה עזים seh izzim, the young or kid of goats: but this is a Hebrew idiom which signifies every creature of the genus, as בן אנוש ben enosh and בן אדם ben adam, son of man, signify any human being. See Psa 144:3; Job 25:6.
The flesh of these animals is universally allowed to be the most wholesome and nutritive. They live on the very best vegetables; and having several stomachs, their food is well concocted, and the chyle formed from it the most pure because the best elaborated, as it is well refined before it enters into the blood. On ruminating or chewing the cud, see the note on Lev 11:3.
The hart - איל aiyal, the deer, according to Dr. Shaw: see the note on Deu 12:15.
The roebuck - צבי tsebi, generally supposed to be the antelope, belonging to the fifth order Pecora, genus Mammalia, and species 38. It has round twisted spiral horns, hairy tufts on the knees, browses on tender shoots, lives in hilly countries, is fond of climbing rocks, and is remarkable for its beautiful black eyes. The flesh is good and well flavoured.
The fallow deer - יחמור yachmur, from חמר chamar, to be troubled, disturbed, disordered: this is supposed to mean, not the fallow deer, but the bubalus or buffalo, which is represented by Dr. Shaw, and other travelers and naturalists, as a sullen, malevolent, and spiteful animal, capricious, ferocious, and every way brutal. According to the Linnaean classification, the buffalo belongs to the fifth order Pecora, genus Mammalia, species bos. According to Kg1 4:23, this was one of the animals which was daily served up at the table of Solomon. Though the flesh of the buffalo is not considered very delicious, yet in the countries where it abounds it is eaten as frequently by all classes of persons as the ox is in England. The yachmur is not mentioned in the parallel place, Leviticus 11.
The wild goat - אקו akko. It is not easy to tell what creature is intended by the akko. Dr. Shaw supposed it to be a kind of very timorous goat, known in the East by the name fishtall and serwee, and bearing a resemblance both to the goat and the stag, whence the propriety of the name given it by the Septuagint and Vulgate, tragelaphus, the goat-stag; probably the rupicapra or rock-goat. The word is found nowhere else in the Hebrew Bible.
The pygarg - דישן dishon. As this word is nowhere else used, we cannot tell what animal is meant by it. The word pygarg πυγαργος, literally signifies white buttocks, and is applied to a kind of eagle with a white tail; but here it evidently means a quadruped. It was probably some kind of goat, common and well known in Judea.
The wild ox - תאו teo. This is supposed to be the oryx of the Greeks, which is a species of large stag. It may be the same with the bekker el wash, described by Dr. Shaw as "a species of the deer kind, whose horns are exactly in the fashion of our stag, but whose size is only between the red and fallow deer." In Isa 51:20 a creature of the name of תוא to is mentioned, which we translate wild bull; it may be the same creature intended above, with the interchange of the two last letters.
The chamois - זמר zemer. This was probably a species of goat or deer, but of what kind we know not: that it cannot mean the chamois is evident from this circumstance, "that the chamois inhabits only the regions of snow and ice, and cannot bear the heat." - Buffon. The Septuagint and Vulgate translate it the Camelopard, but this creature is only found in the torrid zone and probably was never seen in Judea; consequently could never be prescribed as a clean animal, to be used as ordinary food. I must once more be permitted to say, that to ascertain the natural history of the Bible is a hopeless case. Of a few of its animals and vegetables we are comparatively certain, but of the great majority we know almost nothing. Guessing and conjecture are endless, and they have on these subjects been already sufficiently employed. What learning, deep, solid, extensive learning, and judgment could do, has already been done by the incomparable Bochart in his Hierozoicon. The learned reader may consult this work, and, while he gains much general information, will have to regret that he can apply so little of it to the main and grand question. As I have consulted every authority within my reach, on the subject of the clean and unclean animals mentioned in the law, and have detailed all the information I could collect in my notes on Leviticus 11, I must refer my readers to what I have there laid down.
The vulture after his kind - The word דאה daah is improperly translated vulture Lev 11:14, and means a kite or glede. The word דיה daiyah in this verse is not only different from that in Leviticus, but means also a different animal, properly enough translated vulture. See the note on Lev 11:14.
Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk - Mr.
Calmet thinks that this precept refers to the paschal lamb only, which was not to be offered to God till it was weaned from its mother; but see the note on Exo 23:19.
Thou shalt truly tithe - Meaning the second tithe which themselves were to eat, Deu 14:23, for there was a first tithe that was given to the Levites, out of which they paid a tenth part to the priests, Num 18:24-28; Neh 10:37, Neh 10:38. Then of that which remained, the owners separated a second tithe, which they ate before the Lord the first and second year; and in the third year it was given to the Levites and to the poor, Deu 14:28, Deu 14:29. In the fourth and fifth years it was eaten again by the owners, and in the sixth year was given to the poor. The seventh year was a Sabbath to the land, and then all things were common, Exo 23:10, Exo 23:11, where see the notes, Exo 23:11 (note), and see Ainsworth on this verse.
Or for strong drink - What the sikera or strong drink of the Hebrews was, see in the note on Lev 10:9 (note). This one verse sufficiently shows that the Mosaic law made ample provision for the comfort and happiness of the people.
And the Levite (because he hath no part nor inheritance - And hence much of his support depended on the mere freewill-offerings of the people. God chose to make his ministers thus dependent on the people, that they might be induced (among other motives) to labor for their spiritual profiting, that the people, thus blessed under their ministry, might feel it their duty and privilege to support and render them comfortable.