Leviticus 11-12

Thursday Evening Bible Study

October 15, 2009


Leviticus is an instruction manual for the Levite priests.

The main theme is “Holiness”

(Lev 19:2 NKJV) …'You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.

Last week we saw the priests begin their work of offering sacrifices according to God’s prescriptions.

When Aaron had finished the first batch of sacrifices, God sent fire from heaven to consume the offerings.

Aaron's sons, Nadab and Abihu, came rushing into the holy place, and offered “profane fire”.  We’re not exactly sure what it was, except it was something that God had not asked for.

God sent fire again, this time to kill Nadab and Abihu.

At this point God pulls Aaron aside and gives some further important instruction to make sure that no more priests die:

(Lev 10:8-11 NKJV)  Then the LORD spoke to Aaron, saying: {9} "Do not drink wine or intoxicating drink, you, nor your sons with you, when you go into the tabernacle of meeting, lest you die. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations, {10} "that you may distinguish between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean, {11} "and that you may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the LORD has spoken to them by the hand of Moses."

We think that Nadab and Abihu were tipping the bottle a bit, they were unable to discern what was appropriate and what wasn't.
A priest needs to be able to discern between holy and unholy, unclean and clean.

It’s not a coincidence that we now launch into a chapter that begins to deal with unclean things.

No matter what had actually happened, it is apparent that Nadab and Abihu had not developed a very good sense of holiness, and they paid a high price for it.

I think it's because of this issue of abused holiness, that we get into the next chapter, dealing with clean and unclean practices.

Leviticus 11 – Clean and Unclean

11:1-8 Land animals

:1 Now the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying to them,

:2 "Speak to the children of Israel, saying, 'These are the animals which you may eat among all the animals that are on the earth:

:3 'Among the animals, whatever divides the hoof, having cloven hooves and chewing the cud; that you may eat.

:4 'Nevertheless these you shall not eat among those that chew the cud or those that have cloven hooves: the camel, because it chews the cud but does not have cloven hooves, is unclean to you;

:5 'the rock hyrax, because it chews the cud but does not have cloven hooves, is unclean to you;

:6 'the hare, because it chews the cud but does not have cloven hooves, is unclean to you;

:7 'and the swine, though it divides the hoof, having cloven hooves, yet does not chew the cud, is unclean to you.

:8 'Their flesh you shall not eat, and their carcasses you shall not touch. They are unclean to you.

Clean: A simple two part rule of what animals may be used for food:

Split hoof

No paws. Only split hooves.

Chew the cud

Only herbivorous animals that chew the cud. No carnivores allowed.

Some of those not qualified:

Camel, rock hyrax, hare, and pig.

These animals were not to be eaten because they were “unclean”


The implications of being “unclean”

Being unclean wasn’t quite like sinning, but very close.
There was a consequence to being unclean.
(Lev 7:21 NLT)  If anyone touches anything that is unclean, whether it is human defilement or an unclean animal, and then eats meat from the Lord’s sacrifices, that person must be cut off from the community.”
Fellowship was hindered.

If you were involved in unclean things, you could not participate in worship, and you could not participate in fellowship with God (the peace offering).

We might call this a “ceremonial” uncleanness.

It’s not just talking about germs and disease.

There was a distinction between clean and unclean all the way back to Noah, when he was told to collect animals for the ark:
(Gen 7:2 NKJV)  “You shall take with you seven each of every clean animal, a male and his female; two each of animals that are unclean, a male and his female;

God didn’t tell Noah a lot about which animals were clean and which were unclean. Apparently, this was something that Noah already understood.

Yet by Moses’ day, things weren’t so clear anymore.

Perhaps the Israelites had spent too much time in the worldly land of Egypt.

They no longer understood the differences between clean and unclean.


Too much in the world?
You lose your ability to discern what is pleasing to the Lord and what isn’t.
More about this later.

11:9-12 Water animals

Requirement for eating:  The animal must have both fins and scales.

Examples of those which don't qualify:  Shrimp, lobster, oysters, clams.  Rats!

:9 'These you may eat of all that are in the water: whatever in the water has fins and scales, whether in the seas or in the rivers; that you may eat.

:10 'But all in the seas or in the rivers that do not have fins and scales, all that move in the water or any living thing which is in the water, they are an abomination to you.

:11 'They shall be an abomination to you; you shall not eat their flesh, but you shall regard their carcasses as an abomination.

:12 'Whatever in the water does not have fins or scales; that shall be an abomination to you.

11:13-19 Flying animals

No list of qualifications are given, just specific birds listed.

Note:  The unclean birds listed are scavengers generally.

No barbeque vulture.  No boiled bats.

:13 'And these you shall regard as an abomination among the birds; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, the vulture, the buzzard,

:14 'the kite, and the falcon after its kind;

:15 'every raven after its kind,

:16 'the ostrich, the short-eared owl, the sea gull, and the hawk after its kind;

:17 'the little owl, the fisher owl, and the screech owl;

:18 'the white owl, the jackdaw, and the carrion vulture;

:19 'the stork, the heron after its kind, the hoopoe, and the bat.

11:20-23 Flying Insects

Most are inedible with these exception of locusts, crickets, and grasshoppers.  Yum!

Note:  John the Baptist ate locusts and wild honey.

:20 'All flying insects that creep on all fours shall be an abomination to you.

:21 'Yet these you may eat of every flying insect that creeps on all fours: those which have jointed legs above their feet with which to leap on the earth.

:22 'These you may eat: the locust after its kind, the destroying locust after its kind, the cricket after its kind, and the grasshopper after its kind.

:23 'But all other flying insects which have four feet shall be an abomination to you.

11:24-28 Carcasses unclean

If you come across the carcass of an unclean animal, you can’t eat it.  You can’t even touch it.

Note:  Samson took honey out of the carcass of a lion, an unclean animal.

:24 'By these you shall become unclean; whoever touches the carcass of any of them shall be unclean until evening;

:25 'whoever carries part of the carcass of any of them shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening:

:26 'The carcass of any animal which divides the foot, but is not cloven-hoofed or does not chew the cud, is unclean to you. Everyone who touches it shall be unclean.

:27 'And whatever goes on its paws, among all kinds of animals that go on all fours, those are unclean to you. Whoever touches any such carcass shall be unclean until evening.

:28 'Whoever carries any such carcass shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening. It is unclean to you.

11:29-38 Creeping things

Creeping things are creepy.  You can’t eat them.

These include mice, lizards, and geckoes (vs.30).

If their dead carcass falls on anything, that too becomes unclean.

If you find a dead mouse in your flour bin, you have to throw out the flour.

:29 'These also shall be unclean to you among the creeping things that creep on the earth: the mole, the mouse, and the large lizard after its kind;

:30 'the gecko, the monitor lizard, the sand reptile, the sand lizard, and the chameleon.

:31 'These are unclean to you among all that creep. Whoever touches them when they are dead shall be unclean until evening.

:32 'Anything on which any of them falls, when they are dead shall be unclean, whether it is any item of wood or clothing or skin or sack, whatever item it is, in which any work is done, it must be put in water. And it shall be unclean until evening; then it shall be clean.

:33 'Any earthen vessel into which any of them falls you shall break; and whatever is in it shall be unclean:

:34 'in such a vessel, any edible food upon which water falls becomes unclean, and any drink that may be drunk from it becomes unclean.

:35 'And everything on which a part of any such carcass falls shall be unclean; whether it is an oven or cooking stove, it shall be broken down; for they are unclean, and shall be unclean to you.

:36 'Nevertheless a spring or a cistern, in which there is plenty of water, shall be clean, but whatever touches any such carcass becomes unclean.

:37 'And if a part of any such carcass falls on any planting seed which is to be sown, it remains clean.

:38 'But if water is put on the seed, and if a part of any such carcass falls on it, it becomes unclean to you.

11:39-40  Carcasses of clean animals

:39 'And if any animal which you may eat dies, he who touches its carcass shall be unclean until evening.

:40 'He who eats of its carcass shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening. He also who carries its carcass shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening.

If your cow dies before you slaughter it, you are unclean if you eat its meat.

11:41-47 Purpose of these laws

:41 'And every creeping thing that creeps on the earth shall be an abomination. It shall not be eaten.

:42 'Whatever crawls on its belly, whatever goes on all fours, or whatever has many feet among all creeping things that creep on the earth; these you shall not eat, for they are an abomination.

:43 'You shall not make yourselves abominable with any creeping thing that creeps; nor shall you make yourselves unclean with them, lest you be defiled by them.

:44 'For I am the LORD your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy. Neither shall you defile yourselves with any creeping thing that creeps on the earth.

:45 'For I am the LORD who brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.

:46 'This is the law of the animals and the birds and every living creature that moves in the waters, and of every creature that creeps on the earth,

:47 'to distinguish between the unclean and the clean, and between the animal that may be eaten and the animal that may not be eaten.'"


No longer applicable

The dietary restrictions no longer apply to us.
Jesus’ disciples were being criticized by the Pharisees for not following the ceremonial washings before eating.  Jesus replied:
(Mark 7:15-23 NLT)  You are not defiled by what you eat; you are defiled by what you say and do!"  {17} Then Jesus went into a house to get away from the crowds, and his disciples asked him what he meant by the statement he had made. {18} "Don't you understand either?" he asked. "Can't you see that what you eat won't defile you? {19} Food doesn't come in contact with your heart, but only passes through the stomach and then comes out again." (By saying this, he showed that every kind of food is acceptable.) {20} And then he added, "It is the thought-life that defiles you. {21} For from within, out of a person's heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, {22} adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, eagerness for lustful pleasure, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. {23} All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you and make you unacceptable to God."
From the time of Jesus, it has become clear that it’s no longer what you eat that makes you unclean.  It’s what comes out of you that counts.
Paul wrote:
(Rom 14:17 NLT)  For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.


Health reasons

(Exo 15:26 NKJV)  and said, "If you diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who heals you."
Most of the animals on the “unclean” list were scavengers, carriers of disease.
In the middle ages, during the “black plague”, many people died from the bubonic plague, except the Jews.
Some believed this proved that it was a Jewish plot.
What it actually proved was the superiority of their way of life, demonstrated by these dietary laws, like not eating stuff that rodents have touched.
God wanted His people healthier than the rest.
In a way, some of these dietary laws aren’t all that bad for us!



This is the reason that God specifically gives.
(Lev 11:43 NKJV)  'You shall not make yourselves abominable …
Now we know the secret of the “abominable snowman”.  He must have ate the wrong thing for dinner…
He wants His people to be Holy, because He is Holy. Like Father, like son...
(1 Pet 1:14-16 NKJV)  as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; {15} but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, {16} because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy."
He wants us to be different, set apart from the ways of the world, and learning to eat what God asks us to eat is a way of teaching us to learn to depend on God for knowing what is right.  Look how the idea of “clean and unclean” is used in this passage:
(2 Cor 6:14 – 7:1 NKJV)  Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? {15} And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? {16} And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people." {17} Therefore "Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you." {18} "I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the LORD Almighty." (7:1) Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

Some people want to know just how much they can do, and still call themselves Christians.

God’s desire is that we learn to get as far away from sin as possible.



We have to be careful here, because this kind of talk can border on legalism if we’re not careful.
Some people will take Paul’s exhortation in 1Cor. 6 to such an extreme that they won’t allow themselves to get within ten miles of a non-Christian.
Jesus had to deal with Peter’s legalistic thinking in order to have Peter preach the gospel to the Gentiles:
(Acts 10:9-16 NKJV)  The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour. {10} Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance {11} and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth. {12} In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. {13} And a voice came to him, "Rise, Peter; kill and eat." {14} But Peter said, "Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean." {15} And a voice spoke to him again the second time, "What God has cleansed you must not call common." {16} This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again.
When Peter realized that Jesus wanted him to get past his Jewish racial discrimination tendencies and reach out to pagan Gentiles, Peter explained to these Gentiles:
(Acts 10:28 NKJV)  Then he said to them, "You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.

It’s one thing to enter into a type of relationship with an unbeliever where they will draw you away from the Lord.

Yet God always wants us to be around unbelievers to be able to share Jesus with them.

God’s desire is that we learn the sensitivity in the Spirit as to what is pleasing to Him and what isn’t.
I think this is the heart behind the God’s desire that the priests not be drinking alcohol when they are serving:

(Lev 10:10 NKJV)  "that you may distinguish between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean

Leviticus 12

12:1-8 Childbirth

Before launching into this next section, we need to set the mood by learning a little about childbirth … natural childbirth.  Play Cosby video.

I think Bill Cosby had the best way of describing what a woman goes through when she gives birth – this is the time when your wife is in such great pain and she wants to try to convey to you just how much pain she’s in.  So she grabs you by the lower lip, pulls it up and wraps it around your head and yells as you, “You did this to me!”

:1 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,

:2 "Speak to the children of Israel, saying: 'If a woman has conceived, and borne a male child, then she shall be unclean seven days; as in the days of her customary impurity she shall be unclean.

This first period of uncleanness is a total separation from others, a mother is not to come into contact with a lot of people in the first week.

:3 'And on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.

:3 eighth day – The male child was to be circumcised on the eighth day.

Studies have shown that it’s by the eighth day that a child’s blood reaches the ability to clot properly on its own.  In a pre-medical society, this would be the safest time to circumcise a boy.

In today’s society, a boy may be circumcised even on the second day, but that’s only because of today’s medical abilities, because a baby is given a shot of Vitamin-K, which helps the blood to clot.

Circumcision was to be a sign between God and His people, a way of telling they were His.

Circumcision began with Abraham.

It was a picture of the “cutting away of the flesh”, that God’s people were not to live after the flesh but after the Spirit.


Imparting spiritual values.

It starts from the very beginning.
You don’t wait until they’re a full grown heathen to start teaching your children God’s ways.
Note:  Jesus was circumcised on the eighth day:
(Luke 2:21 NKJV)  And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called JESUS, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.

The baby’s name was given at circumcision.

:4 'She shall then continue in the blood of her purification thirty-three days. She shall not touch any hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary until the days of her purification are fulfilled.

:4  thirty-three days – The mother was then to continue for another 33 days in a state of uncleanness.

This makes a total of forty days of separation.

Why uncleanness at childbirth?

Some possibilities:

1.  At least some aspects are probably hygienic.
A woman continues with a flow of blood after childbirth, and it may have to do with keeping infection from setting in, protecting the mother, or from cleanliness with the germs that can be spread through blood.
2.  It may be actually a blessing for the mother in allowing her a chance to recuperate from the birth of her child.

:5 'But if she bears a female child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her customary impurity, and she shall continue in the blood of her purification sixty-six days.

:5 sixty-six days – When the baby was a girl, the time was lengthened.

The initial complete separation was two weeks instead of one, and the total time of separation 80 days instead of 40.

Why a difference for the girls?

There doesn't seem to be any kind of medical explanation to this, even though the ancient Greeks at the suggestion of their physician Hippocrates  had a mother lay up for 42 days for a girl, and 30 days for a boy.

Some have suggested that the shorter time for the boy had something to do with the fact that the boy had been circumcised, and had paid a kind of price on his own.

Another suggestion has been that it would give a mother and her daughter a longer time to bond, perhaps being a greater blessing to the girls.

Who knows?

:6 'When the days of her purification are fulfilled, whether for a son or a daughter, she shall bring to the priest a lamb of the first year as a burnt offering, and a young pigeon or a turtledove as a sin offering, to the door of the tabernacle of meeting.

:6  sin offering

Why a sin offering?

Had a mother sinned in giving birth?  No.

One commentator said it might have been for any rash words the mom might have spoken while giving birth, such as cursing the father, calling him names, a la Bill Cosby.  ("You did this to me!")
Perhaps it was just a lesson about getting back into fellowship, just like the priests had to present sin offerings from time to time before performing their ministry.

:7 'Then he shall offer it before the LORD, and make atonement for her. And she shall be clean from the flow of her blood. This is the law for her who has borne a male or a female.

:8 'And if she is not able to bring a lamb, then she may bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons; one as a burnt offering and the other as a sin offering. So the priest shall make atonement for her, and she will be clean.'"

:8  two turtledoves  It didn't matter if a family was rich or poor, everybody is able to do it God's way.

If you were too poor to afford a lamb to sacrifice, you could always buy two turtledoves or two pigeons for the sacrifice.

This is what Jesus’ family did at His birth:

(Luke 2:21-24 NKJV)  And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called JESUS, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb. {22} Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord {23} (as it is written in the law of the Lord, "Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the LORD"), {24} and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, "A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons."

This gives us a little clue to the family of Jesus.
They were simple, poor folks.
(2 Cor 8:9 NKJV)  For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.

He gave up the riches of heaven to become a poor man on earth, so that we might have the riches of heaven one day.