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Leviticus 11:9 Commentary - Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers (Old and New Testaments)

(9) These shall ye eat.—The water animals, which, as we have seen, constitute the second division of the animal kingdom, now follow the land animals. They are discussed in Lev. 11:9-12. Like the clean quadrupeds, the salt-water and the fresh-water fish must comply with two conditions to bring them within the class of clean. They must have both scales and fins. It will be seen that in the case of the quadrupeds, not only are two criteria given by which the clean animals may be distinguished from the unclean, but that the law is illustrated by adducing ten land animals of the former kind (see Lev. 11:2), and four of the latter (see Lev. 11:4-7). In the case before us, however, not a single typical fish is given by name, and the law itself is expressed in the briefest and most generic manner possible. It was evidently left to those upon whom the administration of the law devolved to define it more minutely in order that it may be observed in practical life. Hence the following expanded definitions obtained during the second Temple:—(1) All fishes with scales have invariably also fins, but fishes which have fins have not always scales. Any fish, therefore, or even a piece of one exposed by itself for sale in the market, which exhibits scales may be eaten, for it is to be taken for granted that it had fins, or that the fins cannot be seen because of their extraordinary smallness. But, on the other hand, a fish with fins may exist without scales, and hence is unclean; (2) Clean fishes have a complete vertebral column, but the unclean have simply single joints, united by a gelatinous cord. To the former class belong, (a) “the soft fins,” or the salmon and trout, the capellan and grayling, the herring, the anchovy and the sardine, the pike and carp families, the cod, the hake and the haddock, the sole, the turbot, and the plaice; (b) “the spiny fins,” as the perch, the mackerel, and the tunny. To the latter class belong the shark tribe, the sturgeons with their caviare, the lamprey, and the nine-eyed eel; (3) The head of clean fishes is more or less broad, whilst that of the unclean kinds is more or less pointed at the end, as the eel, the mammalian species, &c.; (4) The swimming bladder of clean fishes is rounded at one end, and pointed at the other, whilst that of the unclean fishes is either rounded or pointed at both extremities alike. It is in allusion to this law that we are told in the parable of the fisherman, which is taken from Jewish life, that when they drew to shore the net with every kind of fishes, the fishermen sat down (i.e., to examine the clean and the unclean), and gathered the good (i.e., the clean), into the vessels, but cast the bad (i.e., the unclean) away (Mat. 13:48). The orthodox Jews to this day strictly observe these regulations, and abhor eating those fishes which are enumerated under the four above-named criteria of not clean. It is moreover to be remarked that fishes without scales are also still regarded in Egypt as unwholesome, and that the Romans would not permit them to be offered in sacrifice.

Consult other comments:

Leviticus 11:9 - Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible

Leviticus 11:9 - Joseph Benson’s Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Leviticus 11:9 - Calvin's Complete Commentary

Leviticus 11:9 - Adam Clarke's Commentary and Critical Notes on the Bible

Leviticus 11:9 - College Press Bible Study Textbook Series

Leviticus 11:9 - Expository Notes of Dr. Constable (Old and New Testaments)

Leviticus 11:9 - Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers (Old and New Testaments)

Leviticus 11:9 - Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary

Leviticus 11:9 - John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Leviticus 11:9 - Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary (Old and New Testaments)

Leviticus 11:9 - Matthew Henry's Whole Bible Commentary

Leviticus 11:9 - Jamieson, Fausset and Brown's Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Leviticus 11:9 - Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament

Leviticus 11:9 - The Popular Commentary on the Bible by Kretzmann

Leviticus 11:9 - Commentary Series on the Bible by Peter Pett

Leviticus 11:9 - English Annotations on the Holy Bible by Matthew Poole

Leviticus 11:9 - John Trapp's Complete Commentary (Old and New Testaments)

Leviticus 11:9 - The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Leviticus 11:9 - Whedon's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers (Old and New Testaments)