Deuteronomy 14

 

 

     HEATHEN CUSTOMS OF MOURNING TO BE AVOIDED (vs. 1-2)

 

Israel, as the people of God, chosen by Him to be His children by adoption, must

not only abstain from idolatry, but also avoid all heathenish usages and practices,

such as those connected with mourning for the dead and those pertaining to the

use of food.

 

1 “Ye are the children of the LORD your God:”  (compare Exodus 4:22). As

His children, it behooved them to avoid all that would be offensive to Him or

indicate distrust in Him - “ye shall not cut yourselves,” –  (Leviticus 19:28; 21:5;

Jeremiah 16:6; 48:36-37; Ezekiel 7:18; 27:31) - “nor make any baldness between

your eyes for the dead.”

 

2 “For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath

chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto Himself, above all the nations that are

upon the earth.”   (Compare ch.7:6.) The reason assigned here  is an emphatic

expansion of the statement in v. 1.

 

 

There Ought to be a Great Difference Between God’s People

         and Others In the Presence of Death (vs. 1-2)

 

In one sense, indeed, there is none; or, at least, none which can be discerned. One

event cometh alike to all, even to the righteous and the wicked, and the house of

the good man may be as frequently darkened by “the shadow of death” as

that of another who fears not God (Ecclesiastes 9:2-3).  But still, when death does

come, there may well be a very wide difference between those who are the children

of God and those who are not, especially when the departed one is a member of

the whole family in heaven and on earth.”  When the Christian expositor is

opening up the principle contained in these verses, he can do so from much higher

vantage-ground than one who confines himself to the Old Testament teaching. Some

such main lines of thought as the following will be the Christian unfolding of the

principles so long ago laid down.

 

  • There is a blessed relationship between God and His people. It is initiated

in the new birth by the Holy Ghost. Those thus born anew are children of

God — not merely under a national covenant, as sharing a common

privilege, but as brought into a personal covenant through the impartation

of a new life. The mark of this new birth is the saving reception of Christ

by faith, and the effect of it is to transfer men from the region of darkness

to that of light, “from the power of Satan unto God” (Acts 26:18) and

from being subjects of a kingdom, to their being citizens in God’s city and

sons in God’s family — “fellow-citizens of the saints and of the

household of God.”  (Ephesians 2:19)

 

  • This blessed relationship is sealed and made sure by “the blood of the

everlasting covenant” (Hebrews 13:20).  They are redeemed with the

precious blood of Christ.  (I Peter 1:19)

 

  • It is ratified by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He is the Firstborn out

of the dead, and has “opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers.”

(Matthew 27:52-53)

 

  • This blessed relation continues undisturbed by the accident of death.

“Christ died for us, that whether we wake or sleep we should live

together with Him” (I Thessalonians 5:10); “whether we live or die,

we are the Lord’s” (Romans 14:8);  “Christ both died, and rose,

and revived, that He might be Lord of the dead and of the living.”

            (Ibid. v. 9)

 

  • The resurrection of Christ’s own will as surely follow His as the harvest

follows the firstfruits. “Now is Christ risen from the dead, and become

the Firstfruits of them that slept.”  (I Corinthians 15:20)

 

  • The distinctive features of the resurrection of the body are laid down for

us by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15. Of these there are four:

 

Ø      That the body, as the seed, must be buried before it can rise again, (v.36)

Ø      That the body sown is not the body that shall be. (v. 37)

Ø      That to every seed there is its own body, (v. 38)

Ø      That the precise relation or connection between the body that is sown

and the body that will be raised is a secret in the mind of God. “God

giveth it a body as it hath pleased Him.” (Ibid.)  These things we

know:  we know no more. If we let our affirmations go beyond the

statements of Scripture, we shall plunge ourselves into inextricable

difficulties, and we shall be even risking the credit of Scripture, since

many will think that, in disposing of our affirmations, they demolish the

teaching of the Book. In confining ourselves to the four points named

by Paul in his great argument, we shall be remaining on ground that

will ever be firm, and that can never be invaded. No physical science

 can affirm or deny either one or the other.  (No doubt God did

this with a purpose, since men are often “too smart for their britches”

CY – 2012)  There never lived, there never will live, the man who on

scientific grounds can weaken either of them. Our holy and glorious

faith is beyond such reach.

 

  • Therefore the reason for avoiding the hopeless sorrow of the pagan

world is even vastly deeper and stronger than it was under Moses. If Israel

might not sorrow as those without hope when they had the assurance, “I

am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,” how

much less should we, when earth has seen the Firstfruits of the great

resurrection from the dead! How much light is thrown by Christ’s grace

and love into the portals of the grave, and what a hallowed and

hallowing calm may pervade the chamber of death if OUR LORD

IS WITH US THERE!   Yea, (He is not the God of the dead, but the

God of the Living!  - Mark 12:24-27) there is no real death to the believer.

OUR SAVIOUR, JESUS CHRIST hath “abolished death” (II Timothy

1:10).  He hath said, “If a man keep my sayings, he shall never taste of

 death(John 8:52).  Then we may well bless our God that, amid the

changing scenes of earth, we stand on ground which can never be shaken.

There ariseth light in the darkness.

 

“With joy we tell the scoffing age,

     He that was dead has left His tomb;

He lives above their utmost rage,

    And we are waiting till He come.”

 

(One other note:  God “hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge

the world in righteousness by that man whom He hath ordained;

whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, IN THAT HE HATH

RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD!  (Acts 17:31)

 

 

NO ABOMINABLE THING TO BE EATEN (v. 4)

 

3 “Thou shalt not eat any abominable thing.”  Any abomination, i.e. anything

which is an abomination to the Lord, having been by him pronounced unclean

and forbidden; “anything which I have put far away from you (i.e. made to be

abominable to you)” (Targum Jonath.). “Every creature of God is good,”

and “there is nothing unclean of itself” (I Timothy 4:4; Romans 14:14);

but by the ordinance of God, certain creatures, meats, and drinks were made

unclean to the Jews and this taught them holiness in abstaining from the

impure communion with the wicked.

 

 

MEATS CLEAN AND UNCLEAN (vs. 4-21)

 

The regulations here concerning food, and the animals the use of which is

forbidden, are substantially the same as in Leviticus 2.  There are, however, some

differences between the two accounts which may be noticed:

 

o       In Deuteronomy, the mammals which may be used for food are

severally specified as well as described by the general characteristic

of the class; in Leviticus, only the latter description is given.

 

o       In the list of fowls which may not be eaten, the raah (glede) is

mentioned in Deuteronomy, but not in Leviticus; and the bird which

in the one is called da’ah, is in the other called dayyah (vulture).

 

o       The class of reptiles which is carefully described in Leviticus is

wholly omitted in Deuteronomy.

 

o       Winged insects are forbidden without exception in Deuteronomy;

in Leviticus, the locust and certain other insects of the same kind

are excepted.

 

o       Some slight differences in the order of enumeration appear.

 

4 “These are the beasts which ye shall eat: the ox, the sheep, and the goat,

5  The hart,” -  ayyal (lY;a"), probably the fallow deer, or deer generally - “and

the roebuck,” – tsebi (ybix]), the gazelle (Gazella Arabica) -  “and the fallow

deer,” - yachmur (rWmj]y), the roebuck - “and the wild goat,” - akko (wOQa"),

the ibex - “and the pygarg,” - dishon (ˆwOvydi), some kind of antelope, probably the

Gazella Dorcas.  and the wild ox,” - theo (wOat]), probably the bubale, or wild

cow of the Arabs (Alcephalus bubalis), a species of antelope - “and the chamois.” -

zamer (rm,z;), probably the wild sheep (Ovis Tragelaphus.)

 

6 “And every beast that parteth the hoof, and cleaveth the cleft into two claws,

and cheweth the cud among the beasts, that ye shall eat.  7 Nevertheless these

ye shall not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the cloven

hoof; as the camel, and the hare, and the coney: for they chew the cud, but

divide not the hoof; therefore they are unclean unto you.  8 And the swine,

because it divideth the hoof, yet cheweth not the cud, it is unclean unto you:

ye shall not eat of their flesh, nor touch their dead carcase.  9 These ye shall

eat of all that are in the waters: all that have fins and scales shall ye eat:

10 And whatsoever hath not fins and scales ye may not eat; it is unclean unto

you.  11 Of all clean birds ye shall eat.  12 But these are they of which ye shall

not eat: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the ospray,”

 

13 “And the glede,” - raah (ha;r;). This word occurs only here, and it is supposed

by some that, by an error of the copyist, substituting r for d, it has come instead of

ha;d;, as used in Leviticus 11:14. But it is more probable, as above suggested, that

the daah of Leviticus is represented by the dayyah of Deuteronomy, and that

consequently the reading raah should be retained. This word, derived from ha;r;,

to see, to look, would appropriately designate a bird of keen sight, one of the hawk

species. The bird intended may be a buzzard, of which there are now several kinds

in Palestine -“and the kite, and the vulture after his kind,  14 And every raven

after his kind,  15 And the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckow, and the

hawk after his kind,  16 The little owl, and the great owl, and the swan,

17 And the pelican, and the gier eagle, and the cormorant,  18 And the stork,

and the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat.  19 And every

creeping thing that flieth is unclean unto you: they shall not be eaten.

20 But of all clean fowls ye may eat.”

 

21 “Ye shall not eat of anything that dieth of itself:”   (Leviticus 17:15) –

thou shalt give it unto the stranger that is in thy gates,” – .) “The uncircumcised

stranger that is in thy cities ‘(Targum), i.e. “a heathen who takes upon him that he

will serve no idol, with the residue of the commandments which were commanded

to the sons of Noah, but is not circumcised nor baptized -  “that he may eat it; or

thou mayest sell it unto an alien:” - Alien; a foreigner, one not resident in the land

of Israel - “for thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God. Thou shalt not

seethe a kid in his mother’s milk.” This precept, several times repeated in the Law

(Exodus 23:16; 34:26), the act was condemned as an outrage on the connection

Naturally subsisting between parent and offspring. It is thus related to the commands

forbidding the killing of a cow and a calf on the same day (Leviticus 22:28), or the

taking a bird with its young (ch. 22:6), and to the precepts enjoining a scrupulous

regard for natural distinctions — not sowing a field with mingled seed (Leviticus 19:19).

It suggests:

 

  • THE DUTY OF CHERISHING THE FINER INSTINCTS OF OUR

NATURE. The act here forbidden could hardly be called cruelty, the kid

being dead, but it was unnatural. It argued a blunted state of the

sympathies. A finer instinct, alive to the tenderness of the relation between

parent and offspring, would have disallowed it. It is beautiful to see the

ancient Law inculcating this rare and delicate fineness of feeling — this

considerateness and sympathy even for dead animals. The lesson is that

everything is to be avoided which would tend to blunt our moral

sensibilities (Compare Isaiah 66:1-3).  The act has its analogue in higher

 relations. Not infrequently has the affection of a parent been used by the

ingenuity of cruelty to inflict keener tortures on a child; or, conversely, a

child has been betrayed into disclosures afterwards used to injure the parent.

 

  • THE DUTY OF CONSIDERATION IN DEALING WITH

IRRATIONAL CREATURES.

 

Ø      It is right that irrational creatures should be treated kindly. And if the

Law required that this delicate consideration should be shown towards

dead animals, how much more does it require of us kindly treatment of

them while living!

 

Ø      Our behavior towards irrational creatures, as seen above, reacts upon

ourselves. In certain cases, this is readily perceived. Most people would

shrink from the wanton mutilation of a dead animal, even in sport, and

would admit the reactive effect of such an action in deadening humane

instincts in him who did it. But it is the same with all cruelty and

unfeelingness. Any action which, in human relationships, would be

condemned as unsympathetic, will be found, if performed to animals,

 to have a blunting effect on the sensibilities of the agent. A man’s

dog is more to him than a brute. He is a friend. We can carry into our

behavior towards the irrational creatures many of the feelings which

actuate us in our personal relations, and the more we do it, the better

for ourselves.

 

Clean and Unclean (vs. 3-21)

 

The distinction of clean and unclean appears to have rested:

 

  • ON NATURAL GROUNDS. It is based to some extent on natural

preferences and repugnances — an index, often, to deeper correlations. We

instinctively recognize certain creatures to be unfit for food. The Law of

Moses drew the line practically where men’s unguided instincts have

always drawn it. A lesson of respect for natural order. In diet, as in higher

matters, we do well to follow Nature’s guidance, avoiding violations of her

laws, and refraining from obliterating her distinctions.

 

  • ON CEREMONIAL GROUNDS. The prohibition against eating of

blood had consequences in the region of cleanness and uncleanness of

food. All flesh-eating and blood-eating animals — all beasts and birds of

prey — were of necessity excluded. Ceremonially unclean themselves, they

could not be clean to those eating them.

 

  • ON SYMBOLIC GROUNDS. The symbolic traits observable in

certain animals may have had to do with their rejection. We can see reason

in the exclusion of creatures of cruel and rapacious habits, of those also in

whose dispositions we trace a reflection of the human vices. It may be

pushing the principle too far to seek recondite meanings in the chewing of

the cud (meditation) and the dividing of the hoof (separation of walk), or in

the possession of fins and scales in fishes (organs of advance and

resistance). But a Law impregnated with symbolism could scarcely reckon

as clean a filthy and repulsive creature like the sow. The accursed serpent,

the treacherous fox, the ravenous jackal, even had they been suitable for

food in other respects, could scarcely on this principle have been admitted.

The reptile tribes generally, and all tribes of vermin, were similarly unclean

by a kind of natural brand. A lesson of seeing in the natural a symbol of

the moral. Nature is a symbolic lesson-book, daily open to our inspection.

The distinction once ordained, and invested with religious significance,

observance of it became to the Jews a sign and test of holiness. The general

lesson taught is that of sanctification in the use of food. Holiness, indeed,

is to be carried into every sphere and act of life. Eating, however, is an act

which, though on its animal side related to the grossest part of us, is yet,

on its spiritual side, of serious religious import. It is the act by which we

supply oil to the flame of life. It has to do with the maintenance of those

vital functions by which we are enabled to glorify God in the body. There

is thus a natural sacredness about food, and it is to be received and used in a

sacred fashion. That it may be “clean” to us, it is to be “sanctified by the

Word of God and prayer,” being “received with thanksgiving of them

which believe and know the truth” (I Timothy 4:3-5). It is to be

remembered, too, that in the sphere of the higher life, if not in the lower,

clean and unclean are distinctions of abiding validity. Intellect, heart, spirit,

etc. — the books we read, the company we keep, the principles we imbibe.

 

 

TITHES (vs. 22-29)

 

A tithing of each year’s produce of the cultivated ground was to be made; and this tithe

was to be brought to the place which the Lord should choose, as also the firstling of the

herds and flocks; and there a sacrificial meal was to be partaken of, that Israel might

learn to fear Jehovah their God always, reverencing Him as their Ruler, and

rejoicing in Him as the Giver of all good.

 

 

 

22 “Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed,” -  Seed” here refers to

plants as well as what is raised from seed (Jeremiah 2:21; Ezekiel 17:5-6). The

reference is to the second or festival tithe which was exclusively of vegetables - “that the

field bringeth forth year by year.  23  And thou shalt eat before the LORD thy

God, in the place which He shall choose to place His name there, the tithe of thy

corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks;

that thou mayest learn to fear the LORD thy God always.”

 

The fellowship with God is the crown of true religion.  A feast with God, He

taking the best portions, His priests the next best, and the offerer joyful over the

remainder of the sacrifice, constituted the glory of the Jewish ritual. All the

sin offerings, burnt offerings, and meat offerings were valueless if not crowned by

the peace offering and its feast of fellowship. No wonder our Lord makes out

fellowship to be the substance of eternal life, when in His prayer He says, “And this

 is life eternal, TO KNOW THEE, THE ONLY TRUE GOD, AND JESUS

CHRIST, WHOM THOU HAST SENT” (John 17:3). If we are not led up into this

knowledgeable relationship, our religion is a name and not a reality.

 

24 “And if the way be too long for thee, so that thou art not able to carry it;

or if the place be too far from thee, which the LORD thy God shall choose to

set His name there, when the LORD thy God hath blessed thee:  25 Then shalt

thou turn it into money, and bind up the money in thine hand, and shalt go unto

the place which the LORD thy God shall choose:”  In the land of Canaan, as the

people would be dispersed over a wide tract, it might happen that the place which the

Lord should choose was at such a distance from the usual residence of many that to

observe this injunction would be to them very difficult, if not impossible. To meet

this, therefore, it was enacted that the tithe might be commuted into money, and with

this the things required for the sacrificial meals at the sanctuary might be purchased.

 

26 “And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after,

for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink,” - shecar (rk"ve).

“Any drink which can inebriate, whether that is made from grain, or the juice of apples,

or when honey is boiled into a sweet and barbarous potion, or the fruit of the palm

[dates], is expressed into liquor, and the duller water is colored by the prepared

fruits” (Jerome, ‘De Vit. Cler.’) -“or for whatsoever thy  soul desireth: and

thou shalt eat there before the LORD thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou,

and thine household,  27 And the Levite that is within thy gates; thou shalt

not forsake him; for he hath no part nor inheritance with thee.”

 

Provided that religious motives predominate, and other duties are not neglected,

the enjoyment of what we have is pleasing to God.  (v.26.) True religion is not ascetic.

It does not frown on our joy. It regulates, but does not seek to banish, the pleasures

of the festive board, and the flow of the soul connected therewith (John 2:1-12;

I Corinthians 10:27;  I Timothy 6:18). The sanctuary services were associated with

feasts, in which, of course, religious motives were expected to predominate. The

eating was before the Lord,” and the guests were invariably to include the

Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow. This would give a high-toned

character to the feast, and would preclude coarse debauchery.  Festivities should

be so conducted that God’s presence can be invoked, and His blessing asked

 on all that is said and done.

 

Every third year the whole tithe of the year’s produce was to be set apart, not to

be brought to the sanctuary to be eaten before the Lord, but as a portion in their

towns for the Levite, the stranger, the widow, and the fatherless.

 

28 “At the end of three years” - i.e. as the third year expired, consequently, in

the last year of the triennium (ch.26:12-15); just as “the end of seven years” means

each seventh year (ch.15:1; 31:10; Jeremiah 34:14) - “thou shalt bring forth all

the tithe of thine increase the same year, and shalt lay it up within thy gates:

29 And the Levite, (because he hath no part nor inheritance with thee,)

and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, which are within thy gates,

shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied; that the LORD thy God may bless

thee in all the work of thine hand which thou doest.”  This was not an additional

tithe, but the former differently applied; the tithe of the first and second years was to

be eaten before the Lord at the sanctuary; the tithe of the third year was for the poor

and needy.

 

 

  • THE EMPLOYMENT OF GOD’S TITHE. The tithe here spoken of

is not the tithe of all profits, which was due to the Levite, but a second

tithe. The first tithe was regarded as an equivalent to the tribe of Levi, for

Levi’s share in the allotted possessions. Each man in the twelve tribes

received, in the original distribution of land, one-twelfth more than his due,

from the fact that Levi did not participate. In return for this increment of

property, each proprietor paid to the tribe of Levi yearly one-tenth of the

produce of the land. This was due as a legal right, and as a just equivalent

for non-participation in the territory. But this second tithe was peculiarly

THE LORD’S.  Nevertheless, it was returned, with added blessing, into

Their own bosoms. Its first use was to afford a banquet for the offerers

themselves. The temple was to be the scene of sacred feasting. The guests

might select such viands as pleased their taste. The overshadowing

presence of Jehovah would serve as a sufficient check against excess.

To this banquet, in which the entire household shared, they were to invite the

Levite, the stranger, the widow, and the orphan. The essential idea thus

embodied was philanthropy. The institution was intended to foster a spirit

of benevolence and charity. The presence of the poor in their midst was to

be accounted a benefit. It offered scope for the exercise of noblest

dispositions. There was to be no niggardly stint in this provision, for IT WAS

AT JEHOVAH’S COST and the occasion was to be characterized by

UNRESTRAINED JOY

 

  • THE MORAL ADVANTAGES WHICH ENSUED.

 

Ø      It served as a practical reminder of Gods proprietorship in them

and in their possessions. Nothing is more easy than to forget our

obligations; and such forgetfulness is an immeasurable loss. Not an

item was there in their persons, property, or enjoyments, but

 came  from the hand of a GENEROUS GOD!

 

Ø      It was a potent check upon their worldly-mindedness. The

Propensity for selfish avarice is indigenous in human nature. Every

wise man will welcome any breakwater that will withstand this

mischievous tide of cupidity. Thus GOD, WITH WONDEROUS

FORETHOUGHT  provided a safeguard against the abuse

of prosperity. He designs to make even worldly gain serve as a

stepping-stone to piety. Money is nothing more than means to an

end. Reconciliation with God, and personal holiness, — these

are to be the aims of human life.

 

Ø      It fostered kindly dispositions among all classes of the people.

Though, as the children of Abraham, they enjoyed great external

privileges, they were not to despise the stranger. Yea, he too might be

admitted to a full share in their blessings. Brotherly love is a

reciprocal boon: both parties are blessed. The fountain of love is

replenished in the very act of giving. The helped today may become

the helper tomorrow. We are only stewards of God’s possessions.

 

Consider that the enjoyment of what we have is enhanced by sharing it with others.

(v. 29.) This is a truth recognized in all festivity. But the Law gave the truth a peculiar

turn when it bade the Jew seek his guests among the classes who were most in need.

The Savior would have us recall our feasting to the like pattern (Luke 14:12-14).

Each feast of the kind prescribed would be an invaluable education of the disinterested

affections in their purest exercise. How far we have departed from this idea may be

seen in the stiff, exclusive, and ceremonious, if often superb and stately, dinner-parties

and public feasts of modern society.  Which type of feast contributes most to happiness?

And is it not in fulfilling the duties of a warm-hearted love that we are most entitled to

expect blessing from our Maker (v. 29)? When Jesus made His great supper, He

acted on His own principle, and invited the “poor, and the maimed, and the

halt, and the blind,” to come and sit down at it (Luke 14:21).

 

 

 

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