You are on page 1of 11

In the first place, we must understand what it is that we have to explain.

The foregoing
discussion will, I hope, have already made it clear that an understanding that is perfectly
satisfactory as regards the mere fact that a society distinguishes between permitted and
forbidden foods may be unable to explain why any particular food is forbidden, or
permitted. Hence we need to distinguish in our reflections between the fact that food
avoidances exist and the particular avoidances that are practised. Since most societies
practise some form of dietary restriction, there are likely to be fairly general reasons for
this. One of these is the boundary-marking function that we have already observed in the
Jewish case. This certainly applies also to Hindu castes, who not only protect themselves
against the contamination of lower castes by elaborate purity rules applied to the
preparation and consumption of food (Douglas 1966: 32ff.), but also proclaim the purity of
their Hinduism over against outcastes by their care in the selection of foods, for example
by refusing all flesh-meat. There are other general explanations available, as we shall see;
but they cannot necessarily be expected to explain what it is about pork that excludes it
from the Jewish dinner table. Much more specific cultural associations may well be
involved.
This is not the only necessary distinction in what we are called on to explain. We are
confronted in the Old Testament not merely by a society that as a matter of fact avoids
certain foods, as nearly all do, but by a religiously based system of prohibitions, which is
not a universal feature, though most world religions have such a system. (Christianity is the
notable exception, no doubt because of that aspect of its early history that I have already
referred to.) There may in fact be any degree of formality in cultural features of this kind,
and any degree of consciousness. Some societies’ taboos may be said to be unconscious
(cf. Leach 1964: 31), but that does not make them any the less taboos.1 Marshall Sahlins
(1976: 170ff.) discusses preferences among Americans for some domestic animals as food
rather than others on these lines, quoting Franz Boas:
Supposing an individual accustomed to eating dogs should enquire among us for the
reason why we do not eat dogs, we could only reply that it is not customary; and he
would be justified in saying that dogs are tabooed among us, just as much as we are
justified in speaking of taboos among primitive people (Sahlins 1976: 173 n. 5, from
Boas 1965: 207).

Leach indeed considers that in all societies some potential food is unconsciously tabooed.
So far as animal food is concerned Leviticus 11 is an exception to this rule, if it is a rule: it
covers all animals explicitly and without exception. Some societies explicitly prohibit
certain foods and expect those who ignore the ban to suffer physical ill effects. Few
systematically define all animals as permitted or forbidden and invoke divine authority for
the instructions.
Now some anthropologists distinguish sharply between the study of behaviour and of
‘mental events’ (e.g. Harris 1979: 31), an expression that would cover all attitudes, rules,
statements, prohibitions or prescriptions about food. The rules of Leviticus 11 would count
under this rubric as the object of mental rather than behavioural study, as they are

1
Cf. however Halverson 1976, who argues that this is an illegitimate use of the
word ‘taboo’.
prescriptive rather than descriptive of the behaviour of Jews. The difference is a rather fine
one when dealing with a society that defines its behaviour before all else as obedience to
divine prescription. However, if we are seeking to understand the scriptural rules in their
original social setting, it may be important to make the distinction between the rules
themselves, which may be seen as the work of an educated and reflective class of priests,
the customs actually existing at the time, and the popular or unconscious attitudes on which
they may have been based.
A further example from biblical narrative may clarify the relevance of this point to the
biblical setting. Once again the setting is a time of crisis, a situation of extremity. The
prophet Ezekiel is being forced to bear symbolically upon his own person the physical and
psychological pain of exile (Ezek. 4), taking short rations of food and water; and he is told
to take his food in the form of a barley cake which he must bake using human excrement as
the fuel (v. 12). And the Lord adds, ‘That is how the Israelites will have to take their food,
unclean (ṭāmē’) among the nations where I am going to drive them’. Ezekiel replies, ‘Alas,
Lord Yahweh, I have never been defiled (meṭummā’â); carrion, or meat killed by wild
beasts, I have never eaten from the time I was a lad until now, and piggûl1 has never passed
my lips’.
Both Yahweh and Ezekiel use the root ṭm’, the most widely used technical term in the
priestly writings for everything that is ritually defiling; Ezekiel is a priest, and it is as a
priest that he protests his scrupulous avoidance of all pollution.2 Yet to all appearance they
are not using the word technically. No priestly passage in the Pentateuch attributes ritual
defilement to human excrement. It is true that one passage in Deuteronomy, 23:10–15
(Eng. 9–14) comes near to this. The passage is concerned with the purity of the military
camp in time of war, treating it effectively in the same way as the Temple, so that a man
who has had a nocturnal emission must stay outside the camp the whole day; the word
qādōš (‘holy’) is used of the camp (v. 15). Rather similarly the men are instructed to go
outside the camp to evacuate their bowels, and to cover the excrement behind them. But
the passage falls short of attributing technical uncleanness to it; it is simply described as
something ‘unseemly’, ‘offensive’ in the sight of Yahweh (‘erwat dābār, v. 15). In any
case, the fact remains that the seemingly systematic and comprehensive priestly treatment
of ritual pollution in the Pentateuch does not mention excrement as a possible source of
uncleanness. And none of the three types of unclean meat that Ezekiel protests that he has
never allowed to pass his lips are strictly relevant to the present case; all three are flesh,
and Ezekiel’s emergency rations are strictly vegetarian. Yet the passion of his protest, and
the conviction that the technical terms of unclean flesh are relevant by association or
analogy, as well as the Deuteronomic passage, make it clear that there was a strong
conviction of the unclean nature of human excrement that for some reason simply failed to
become part of the technical priestly system. Here is a taboo that does not appear to arise
out of or to be systematized within the sophisticated ritual and theological system of the

1
Used in Lev. 7:18 and 19:7 of sacrificial flesh which has been left until the
third day.

2
In the Priestly Code (Lev. 11:40 and 17:15) carrion is not forbidden to lay
people, provided they purify themselves of the pollution.
priestly code. Is there not a strong possibility that the animal taboos that we find
systematized in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 existed prior to that systematization in a
similar way?
But Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 are not the product of a primitive society, but of
a literate and learned elite. This distinction remains a useful one, though it must be used
with care (cf. Eilberg-Schwartz 1990: 1ff.); it does not imply superiority in modes of
thought, morals or motives, but rather in the techniques available and the complexity of the
intellectual operations that can be performed. Jack Goody in The Domestication of the
Savage Mind (Goody 1977) has studied the effect of writing on culture.
Making explicit the hierarchies of classification implicit in linguistic usage and in
man’s perception of the world, and developing these systems into more elaborate, and
sometimes more precise and ‘accurate’ classifications, is certainly an important activity
in early literate societies, and one that leads both to the type of scholastic
preoccupation with the classification of food, prohibited and allowed, exemplified in
Leviticus 11, as well as [sic] to the classification that laid the basis for the development
of zoology and botany (p. 103).

C.R. Hallpike’s magisterial examination of The Foundations of Primitive Thought


(Hallpike 1979) deals in detail (pp. 169–236) with classification in primitive societies. To
put it very briefly, this is typically based on associative categories (‘complexes’), linked
with concrete imagery, or else on an analogical procedure based on prototypes, rather than
on criteria that define the logical intension of the class as in the Aristotelìan classification
typical of ‘modern’ thought.1 This may help us to distinguish the learned, literate element
in the classifications of Leviticus 11 from its customary inheritance, though it cannot of
itself show us whether the distinctions between clean and unclean are the creation of the
authors or of more ancient origin.
Edwin Firmage, in his recent very significant article on the subject of the dietary laws
(Firmage 1990), has made the point that, regardless of any possible basis for the
distinctions in ancient or popular attitudes, any explanation must begin from the criteria
that we find in the text.
We must discover whether in fact the present criteria can be explained as indicating a
coherent purpose behind the definitions of animal purity. Only having done that is it
admissible to speculate about the prehistory of the present law. The text before us must
be the starting point for any discussion of the issue (p. 177).

It is not permissible to begin, as scholarship did before Mary Douglas’s work (in particular
Douglas 1966: 41ff.), by assuming that the criteria in Leviticus 11 are merely a secondary

1
Hallpike has a tendency to contrast ‘primitive’ thought over-rigidly with the
cognitive categories of ‘modern’ societies, without paying attention to the
continuous spectrum which extends between them, but in the present
instance he makes it clear that everyday classification in all societies,
whether ‘primitive’ or ‘modern’, is not the same as ‘Aristotelian’
classification, and that this in turn is not the model used by the biologist.
systematization of a distinction that was already opaque to the priests who drew them up.
Even if the priests took over old customs, they could have reinterpreted them and given
them new meaning. If we can see sense in their criteria, that is the sense that they have, and
the system must be explained, as both Douglas and Firmage attempt to do, on the basis of
the values and beliefs of the priestly writers themselves.
Whatever version of the prehistory of the dietary law we accept, there remain a number
of important questions whose answers must largely come from the present text, the
organizing principles of which are precisely those neglected criteria, for which modern
scholarship has had no use (Firmage 1990: 178).

With this there can be no quarrel, and one aim of the present work is to answer those
questions, and from that source. Certainly, if there were food avoidances in the society in
which the present law was developed, they may have been entirely different from those in
the present law, or if they were similar they may have been entirely reinterpreted. Is
Firmage right, however, in implying that they would in any case be essentially irrelevant to
the interpretation of the rules as they now exist? I believe not. Theological and legal
systems such as that of the Priestly Code do not emerge out of a void; they must be seen in
the context of the social realities of their time; and these realities cannot necessarily be read
off from the system itself. In particular, if the system uses animals symbolically, it would
seem advisable to inquire what symbolic and material associations animals had in the
contemporary world, lest we miss significant connections.

3. Kinds of Explanation
In part it is a question of what is to count as explanation. Marvin Harris has promoted the
distinction between ‘etic’ and ‘emic’ accounts, meaning accounts of the features in
question as viewed respectively from the point of view of the observers and of the
subjects.1
The test of the adequacy of emic analyses is their ability to generate statements the
native accepts as real, meaningful or appropriate … The test of the adequacy of etic
accounts is simply their ability to generate scientifically productive theories about the
causes of sociocultural differences and similarities (Harris 1979: 32).

This rather crude typology highlights an obvious divergence between those social
theories that do and those that do not give a significant place to the intentions and
perceptions of the subjects. Thus, among ‘etic’ accounts, which may adopt any kind of
aetiology that the observer regards as relevant, we might include the hygienic theory which

1
These barbarous expressions are derived from the use of ‘phonetic’ and
‘phonemic’ in linguistics, pertaining respectively to the study of the sounds
of a language, their production and articulation, without reference to the
meaning of the utterances in which they are employed, and the way in
which sounds are recognized by the speakers of the language as different
and as capable of being opposed to one another to create meaning.
was popular at one time as an explanation of the dietary laws (see Chapter 3, §1.a); neither
those who drew the laws up nor those who observe them had any such thought in their
minds (unless some very devious priestcraft is presupposed). While this theory has lost its
appeal in educated circles, functional explanations that purport to show how particular
social arrangements serve to support the structure and power-relationships of the society,
whether or not that is how they are viewed by the people themselves, have been very
significant in social anthropology since the time of Durkheim. But the main ‘etic’
approaches with which we shall have to reckon in relation to the dietary laws are that of
cultural materialism, as seen in Harris’s work (Harris 1979 etc.; cf. Chapter 3, §2.c), which
regards the material requirements of a people for food and other necessities as prior to, and
determinative of, their culture; and historical approaches, which see a society as invariably
being to some extent the prisoner of its past, so that cultural features that at one time were
functional or meaningful, or both, may now be mere survivals, or else may have been
given new meaning in new circumstances. This was the characteristic approach of the
nineteenth century, which so far as Semitic religion is concerned was classically expressed
by William Robertson Smith (W.R. Smith 1894).
In contrast, anthropologists who aim at accounts of ritual phenomena that Harris would
describe as ‘emic’ characteristically see themselves as interpreters. They are faced with
what seems to them to be a system of communication, different from language, yet
presumably equally meaningful; the task of the anthropologist as interpreter is to make the
meaning that the native takes for granted plain to the stranger. So Clifford Geertz, who
entitles his collected essays (Geertz 1973) The Interpretation of Cultures. But there are
many ways of going about such a task, as Geertz makes plain. Victor Turner emphasizes
the conscious meaning attributed to the symbols by their users, particularly the specialists.
The aim in writing about (for example) Ndembu ritual is ‘to explore the semantics of ritual
symbols … The first step in such a task is to pay close attention to the way the Ndembu
explain their own symbols’ (Turner 1969: 10). Others use other information about the
structures of thought in the society, such as myth and cosmology, to deduce the meaning of
the ritual. Structuralists like Leach (Leach 1976) place the accent on the formal structures
that they believe the symbols create by their mutual relationships. This is plainly true of
Douglas (see below, Chapter 3, §2.d). (It has to be said that many such structuralist
accounts cannot been seen as ‘emic’ in the proper sense: it is unlikely that ancient Israelites
would recognize the acounts given by Leach and Aycock [Leach 1983] as representing
their own belief or experience.) Others see it as more important to investigate the meanings
of the symbols individually, which are seen as ‘motivated’, to use the technical language:
there is a reason for their meaning what they do, unlike linguistic signs, which are quite
arbitrary so far as the existing linguistic system is concerned (this is really only true of
basic, underived terms like ‘dog’, not words like ‘doghouse’). This is strongly argued by
Hallpike in the book already referred to, who points out, among much else, that many
symbols are cross-cultural—unkempt hair is a common symbol for wild nature or being
outside or on the margins of society (Hallpike 1979: 151–52).
Although the ‘etic/emic’ distinction thus points to a significant empirical divergence
between theories, which is useful for this study, the way in which Harris defines it is far
from neutral: for it implies no less than that only ‘etic’ theories are scientifically valid and
have explanatory power, while ‘emic’ accounts are merely descriptive. Similarly exclusive
claims are made on the other side by those who believe that ritual and symbolic systems do
not need to be explained but only ‘understood’. But, as W.G. Runciman argues (Runciman
1983: 183–84), there are no special rules which apply when meaning is brought into a
scientific argument; there is no essential difference between a causal explanation and a
‘hermeneutic’ or ‘structuralist’ one; meanings and perceptions may figure as scientific
explanations as well as more impersonal processes.1 With dietary customs, it would be
surprising if material factors such as ecology had nothing to do with them; our use of the
material world must be constrained by its possibilities, and tends to be constrained by our
methods of production, our class relationships and so forth. But ‘the decisive quality of
culture’ is ‘not that this culture must conform to material constraints but that it does so
according to a definite symbolic scheme which is never the only one possible’ (Sahlins
1976: viii). Thus the meaning that the rules have, consciously or unconsciously, for those
who drew them up and those who observe them must be relevant.
But it seems equally one-sided to insist that the only significant understanding that can
be achieved of a symbolic system is in terms of its conscious meaning to its practitioners,
which Firmage appears to come close to asserting. In the present case it seems particularly
difficult to arrive at the understanding that we are seeking by this route. The focus of our
study is the rules of the Torah, but the Torah itself is remarkably sparing in explanation of
its rules of ritual; we shall find ourselves therefore using the accounts given by Jews of the
rules that they observe. The difficulty is that these tend to be no less diverse than those
given by outsiders, and the privileged status that they ought to have in explanation of the
rules therefore seems largely valueless. Is it really true that the rules are opaque even to
those who observe them? The truth is rather that in their normal function the rules are by
no means opaque, but rather quite explicit; we have already looked at Lev. 20:24–6, though
we have not yet exhausted its meaning. But as we have seen, the clarity of function does
not prevent the detail of the rules from appearing arbitrary.
But this is remarkably similar to the case of language. No one could begin to explain
even the function of language in general, let alone the purpose of any particular utterance,
without reference to meaning. But there is, as I have noted, an element in language that is
arbitrary from the point of view of meaning—and yet not totally inexplicable. There is no
other way of explaining why a dog is called ‘dog’ (or its equivalent in any other language)
than by reference to the history of the language. The same may well be true of ritual
systems. The question that we, like countless others, have been asking in this chapter is
comparable to that kind of question about language. There is no real problem about the
significance and function of the rules; they are spelt out very clearly in Leviticus and
Deuteronomy. The question is why they mean what they do, and in particular what is the
origin of the significance of the individual units of meaning, the ‘words’ of the symbolic
language; for example, why does ‘pig’ mean ‘unclean’? It seems likely that such questions
can only be answered by giving attention to origins as distinct from function. Our study
must therefore have a diachronic (and therefore ‘etic’) aspect; it will investigate the dietary

1
Since Runciman clearly says this, it is strange that Mayes (1989: 124)
criticizes him on the grounds that ‘the beliefs of individuals are effectively
excluded as causative factors in the development of the level of
explanation’. Mayes seems to have misunderstood Runciman’s insistence
on the distinctness of the task of description from that of explanation (see
below) as excluding subjective factors from explanation.
and related ritual customs likely to have been observed by the Israelites and their
neighbours during the time in which the priestly torah on the subject was in process of
formation. Whether its rules were formed in opposition to current customs, as many
believe, or rather following them, or indeed both in different ways, is one of the questions
that need to be resolved. Both ‘etic’ and ‘emic’ aspects then take their own appropriate
place in a full account.
Runciman (1983: 15ff.) divides the work of the social scientist into four distinct tasks,
four levels of understanding to be achieved. The first is the statement of the facts
(‘reportage’), which is not proper reportage unless it defines the facts as the agents
understood them, but should avoid the implication of any explanatory theory,1 and the
second is explanation, which should depend on a testable theory subject to the normal
requirements of scientific validity. The third type of understanding he calls ‘description’,
using this word in a specialized sense designating an account of things as they are
perceived and experienced by the people themselves. It is the answer to the question,
‘What did they think they were really doing (or suffering)?’, in our case, ‘What did they
think it meant?’ And there is a fourth task: that of evaluation, or saying whether whatever it
was a good or bad thing; on the one hand this may be alleged not to be part of scholarship,
but on the other it is constantly indulged in by scholars who are ostensibly describing,
explaining or even reporting. Runciman’s concern is that the four tasks should be kept
distinct, but he is of course also aware that in practice they are constantly running into one
another. At least writers should make it possible for their readers to distinguish them. I
shall therefore try to sketch the structure of this work in terms of his typology, in the hope
that it may be of some help to the reader in assessing the value of the work.
The next chapter, Chapter 2, is intended as reportage: I attempt as precise as possible a
statement of the rules through a detailed study of the source texts. The next three chapters
are devoted to the problem of explanation. Chapter 3 looks at and evaluates some of the
more important explanations that have been offered over the centuries, and particularly, in
awareness of the ethnographic parallels, in the present century. This will lead to the
formation of a hypothesis that will be tested in the following two chapters through an
investigation of the evidence for the use of animals for food and sacrifice in the Syria-
Palestine area in the last two millennia BC (with some use of literary evidence from later
times), and of some of their symbolic associations. In Chapter 6 we return to the texts and
engage in the descriptive task of trying to sketch an understanding of their significance in
this broader context. The final chapter has an inevitable evaluative aspect. It is an attempt
to understand the rejection of the purity law about diet in Christianity, my own faith,
closely related as it is to the Old Testament and Judaism.

1
Mayes (1989: 123) may here well be right in objecting that there can be no
theory-free reportage, since reportage depends on the selection of facts, and
the selection will be guided in advance by theoretical considerations such as
the values of the reporter and an explanatory framework. But it is at least
possible to separate these levels in thought, and that is all that matters here.
Chapter 2
THE LAW OF UNCLEAN FLESH

The acknowledged source of the distinction between clean and unclean species in Judaism
is to be found in the partially parallel texts Leviticus 11 and Deut. 14:3–20, whatever
background there may possibly be in their environing culture. The object of this chapter is
therefore essentially to set out as clearly as possible what these texts say, with due regard
to context and to form-critical considerations—that is to say, to social context. As a major
instrument to this end I offer my own translations of the texts set out in lines in order to
exhibit the structure clearly. Some existing translations of Leviticus 11 are misleading in
that they have either misunderstood the structure at one or two points or failed to show it
clearly. I shall also briefly offer some considerations that may help us to understand the
relation between the two texts, and their origin and growth. I shall leave to a later stage any
attempt to assign dates to the material and its development.

1. Leviticus 11
a. Form and Setting
The genre and outline structure of this text are relatively easy to define. It is a priestly
torah, or to be more precise a group of toroth, formulated in the second1
chapter can be assumed to be priestly, both because of the general assertion in Lev. 10:10–
11 of the responsibility of the priests for distinguishing between clean and unclean and
giving instruction on Yahweh’s commandments, and because of the specific reference to
Aaron in the heading of the chapter. We shall have to consider, obviously in relation to the
point in the last paragraph, why diet should be a specifically priestly concern. One may
assume that the chapter is the written form of a tradition governing oral deliverances on the
subject over a long period; as we go on we shall discuss the growth of the instruction in a
more detailed way.
b. Translation and Structure
I have not aimed at elegance of English style in these translations, but at exhibiting clearly
the structure of the passage, both in the large and in small details. The rhetoric of the
priestly writers has usually been overlooked, but is unmistakable if simple. Notice, for
example, in the first paragraph here, the effect achieved by the inversions in every verse
and by the elegant variation in vv. 4, 5 and 6, where the participle, the imperfect tense and
the perfect tense of the verb are used successively to convey exactly the same idea. I have
tried to convey something of the flavour of these variations, obviously without being able
to match them grammatically.
Translation choices that I comment on below are marked with an asterisk. I have left
untranslated most of the names of birds in vv. 13–19, all the names of locusts in v. 22, and
most of the names of teeming things in vv. 29–30. To have given translations would have
given a totally spurious impression of certitude as to the identification of these creatures;

1
Houston, W. (1993). Purity and Monotheism: Clean and Unclean Animals in
Biblical Law (Vol. 140, pp. 16–26). Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press.
the majority of the names only appear here, or at most also in the Deuteronomic parallel,
and with most of them it is sheer guesswork what they mean. I do comment on some of the
more notable suggestions below. Obviously it is of some importance to try to identify the
general type of creature implied in each case, if possible.
[Introduction]
1 And Yahweh spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying to them:
2 Speak to the sons of Israel, saying:
I. These are the living creatures* you may eat:
A. Of all the beasts* that live on land:*
3 X. Every one that:
(a) is hoofed*
(a´) and makes a cleft in the hooves;
(b) chews the cud,
among the beasts, you may eat it.
4 Y. However, these you may not eat
(a) among those that chew the cud
(b) and among those that are hoofed:
[a] (i) the camel, because it chews the cud but hoofed it is not:
it is unclean to you;
5 [a] (ii) and the hyrax,1 because it chews the cud but hooves it has not:
it is unclean to you;
6 [a] (iii) and the hare, because it chews the cud but hooves it does not have:
it is unclean to you;
7 [b] and the pig, because it has hooves and makes a cleft in the hoof but the cud
it does not chew;
it is unclean to you.
8 Of their flesh you may not eat
and their dead bodies you may not touch:
they are unclean to you.
9 B. These you may eat of all that is in the water:
X. everything that has fins and scales
in the water—in the seas or in the streams—
you may eat;
10 Y. but everything that does not have fins or scales in the seas or in the streams
among all that teems in the water, and among all the living creatures in the water an
abhorrence* are they to you [11] and an abhorrence they shall be to you; of their flesh you
may not eat
and their dead bodies you shall abhor.
12 Everything that does not have fins or scales in the water is an abhorrence to you.
13 C. And these you shall abhor among winged creatures; they shall not be eaten; they are an
abhorrence to you:
Y. the nešer, the peres, the ‘ozniyyâ, [14] the dā’â, the ’ayyâ with its kinds, [15] every
kind of crow, [16] the daughter of ya‘anâ, the taḥmās, the šaḥap, the hawk with its
kinds, [17] the kōs, the šālāk, the yanšûp, [18] the tinšemet, the qā’āt, the rāḥām, [19]

1
Or ‘rock-badger’ or ‘daman’ (Hyrax capensis).
the stork, the ’anāpâ with its kinds, the hoopoe and the bat.
20 Y. Every teeming winged creature that goes on all fours is an abhorrence to you;
21 X. However, these you may eat of all teeming winged creatures that go on all fours,
that have1* a pair of legs over their feet to hop with on the ground, [22] these you may
eat among them:
the ’arbe with its kinds,
the sol‘ām with its kinds,
the ḥargōl with its kinds
the ḥāgāb with its kinds.
23 Y. But every other teeming winged creature that has four feet is an abhorrence to you.
24
II. By these creatures you will be made unclean;
everyone who touches their dead bodies will be unclean until the evening,
25 and everyone who picks up the dead body of any of them must wash his clothes, and will
be unclean until the evening.
26 (a) All beasts that are hoofed
but do not have cloven hooves
or do not chew the cud
are unclean to you; everyone who touches them will become unclean.
27 (b) Every one that goes on its paws* among creatures that go on all fours
is unclean to you:
everyone who touches their dead bodies will be unclean until the evening
28 and everyone who picks up their dead bodies must wash his clothes and will be
unclean until the evening;
they are unclean to you.
29 (c) And these are the unclean ones among all the teeming creatures that teem
on the ground:
the ḥōled, and the mouse, and the sāb with
its kinds, [30] and the ’anāqâ and the kōaḥ,
and
the ḥōmeṭ, and the tinšemet.
[31–38 omitted]
39
IIa. When any of the beasts dies that are permitted to you for food:
A. anyone who touches its dead body will be unclean until the evening;
40 B. whoever eats from its dead body must wash his clothes and will be unclean until the
evening;
C. anyone who picks up its dead body must wash his clothes and will be unclean until the
evening.
41
III. All teeming things that teem on the ground are an abhorrence; they may not be eaten:

1
It does not seem to be grammatically possible to read the Ketib ‫ לא‬in this

verse, which must be taken to be a simple mistake for the Qere ‫לו‬.
42 from everything that goes on its belly
and everything that goes on all fours
to everything that has many legs:2

2
Houston, W. (1993). Purity and Monotheism: Clean and Unclean Animals in
Biblical Law (Vol. 140, pp. 28–31). Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press.