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Deu 14:1 You are the children of Yahweh your God. You must not cut yourselves, nor make any baldness between your eyes for the dead-
Whilst there is nothing morally wrong with cutting the skin, the idea was that Israel weren’t to even appear associated with pagan rituals for the dead. We likewise should naturally not want to even appear like worshippers of any other god (of whatever kind) when Yahweh is our only God. RSV “sons of God” is a phrase used concerning men, especially those who know the true God (Dt. 14:1 (R.S.V.); Hos. 1:10; Lk. 3:38; Jn. 1:12; 1 Jn. 3:1), and doesn't have to refer to Angels. However the idea may be that "not cut yourselves" refers to not cutting hair; for to shave the head was a sign of mourning. The hair was understood as a person's glory; and this was to be given to the living God and not to the memory of dead men.

The prohibition of doing things "for the dead" doesn't simply refer to not memorializing the dead. Rather was the belief that the living could enter into some kind of covenant with the deceased, who were deemed to be still alive. But the Israelites were to accept death as unconsciousness, and not to accord any power to the supposed spirits of the dead.

Deu 14:2 For you are a holy people to Yahweh your God, and Yahweh has chosen you to be a people for His own possession above all peoples who are on the face of the earth-
We are to live out in practice what we have been made in status by our gracious Father. The very fact He counts us as in Christ, as the spotless bride of His Son, must be both felt and lived up to by us. The way He counts us like this is a wonderful motivation to rise up to it all. Consider how God told Israel that if they kept His commandments, then they would be His “peculiar treasure” (Ex. 19:5). This conditional promise is then referred to by Moses as having been fulfilled- Israel became His “peculiar treasure” by status even though they did not keep His commandments (Dt. 7:6; 14:2 s.w.; Ps. 135:4). Moses concludes by saying that “the Lord hath avouched thee this day to be his peculiar people [s.w.]… that thou shouldest keep all his commandments” (Dt. 26:18). See what’s happening here. God said that if they were obedient, then they would be His special people. Yet He counted them as His special people even though they were not obedient. And He did this so that they would be so touched by this grace that they would be obedient.

“You did not choose me, but I chose you… out of the world” (Jn. 15:16,19) corresponds to the oft repeated theme of Moses that God has chosen Israel “out of all peoples” (Dt. 7:6 RVmg.), by grace (Dt. 4:37; 10:15; 14:2).

Deu 14:3 You must not eat any abominable thing-
The word "abominable" has connections with idolatry. The reasons for defining certain animals as clear and others as unclean may be connected to the way in which the unclean animals were used in idol worship, especially by the Egyptians. There is a clear connection between unclean animals and idols in Is. 66:17; Ez. 8:10. There is nothing unclean of itself (Rom. 14:14), every creature is "good" and was made "very good" (1 Tim. 4:4); the differentiations were purely for teaching purposes, and therefore at the Lord's death the differences were collapsed. The unclean animals were only "unclean to you" (Lev. 11:6). Peter struggled to accept this, but was taught that the unclean animals had been intended to represent the Gentiles, the surrounding nations whom Israel were to differ from (:2)- and now they were to be accepted on an equal footing to the Jews, the supposedly "clean" animals. Again we see the temporary nature of the law of Moses; the animals were not of themselves unclean originally, nor were they after the Lord's death.

Deu 14:4 These are the animals which you may eat: the ox, the sheep, the goat-
"You may eat" [contrasted with "you may not eat"] invites us to see this as an echo of the commandment in Eden; God said that they "may eat" of all in Eden, apart from one tree (Gen. 2:16). The implication is that Israel was Eden, and the lesson of Adam and Eve was applicable in every human situation. Failure to make the division between clean and unclean was what led them into sin; they assumed that the unclean could in fact at times be dabbled with and participated in. The division into clean and unclean animals was not because some were intrinsically unclean; for there is nothing unclean of itself, "all things indeed are pure" (Rom. 14:14,20), every creature is "good" and was made "very good" (1 Tim. 4:4). Hence the creatures were only unclean "unto you" (see on :10). Neither was the reasoning primarily for hygienic reasons; for otherwise, why would the Lord have repeated these laws by declaring all food clean? In any case, some of the "clean" animals such as the goat are well known for the hygiene problems which easily arise from eating them. Goats are in many ways more unhygienic than pigs. The difference between clean and unclean is seen as applying to the separation between the people of God and those not of God, historically articulated in the division between Hebrews and Gentiles which was removed in the Lord's death. Thus Lev. 20:23-25 explained the need to "put difference between clean and unclean beasts" as being because "I have separated you from other peoples". The idea was not that some animals were intrinsically clean and others likewise not clean; for that would have implied that God's people were intrinsically clean and the Gentile world somehow unclean by nature. The difference was not that, for all are sinners and none are unclean of themselves by reason of being human; rather the difference is that God's people, like the "clean" animals, were chosen / set apart by God, for no particular reason, but purely because of the grace of His sovereign choice. In allusion to this, Isaiah laments that "we are all as one who is unclean [w. for "unclean" animals], and all our righteousness is as a polluted garment: and we all fade as a leaf" (Is. 64:6). The difference was in God's sovereign choice, as it was with the choice of some animals to be clean and others unclean. This was the point of the division of the animals; it seems somewhat disproportionate to try to teach the need to 'chew' our spiritual food by arranging for this continual division between clean [cud chewing] and unclean animals. Rather was there something more fundamental being taught- that the essential division is between those whom God chose by grace, and those He didn't. And this was to elicit in the believer a habit of dividing between clean and unclean in his own heart and life. All human thought and living was to reflect that division in moral terms between the light and the darkness.

So by taking away these technical distinctions between clean and unclean foods, the Lord was showing that they had been mere teaching mechanisms and were not ultimately meaningful of themselves. For the separation between clean and unclean was to be made within the human heart, and not in terms of physical separation from unclean persons. The comment that the Lord Jesus "made all foods clean" is made in the context of the record of His teaching that evil comes from the human heart, and not from anything external (Mk. 7:19). If our inner heart is clean, then we cannot be made unclean by external contact with the unclean. Lk 11:41 says as much: "But give for alms those things which are within, and behold, all things are clean to you". All things are therefore pure / clean to those with a clean heart; and all things are unclean to those whose internal worldview is unclean and defiled (Tit. 1:15). And the conscience can be cleansed, made clean, by the work of the spirit of Christ (Heb. 9:9,14; Ez. 36:25 cp. "create in me a clean heart", Ps. 51:10); we are washed by the greatest Priest, and the difference between clean and unclean is simply that some have accepted this cleansing and others haven't ("you are clean; but not all", Jn. 13:10). This has huge and far reaching implications; for so much religion, including the bylaws of the denominations of Christendom, is based around the perceived need to separate from unclean persons. The Lord Jesus lived out this teaching by eating with / breaking His bread with whores and gamblers, the most visibly sinful people. Yet He was personally "separate from sinners"; and that separation was therefore in His heart (Heb. 7:26). This was and is a brave new world for those who had grown up in a society where guilt came by association, and external image was everything. But modern society is no different. It was this internal separation which the clean / unclean distinction intended to teach. Obedience to the laws was a kind of practice of it in physical terms in everyday life. By having to "put a difference between clean and unclean" in daily life (Lev. 11:47), discerning between them (Ez. 22:26), they were taught the need to do this in their hearts. This is why spiritually mature people like the Lord Jesus and Paul had a very distinct internal separation between clean and unclean within them. They discerned good and evil clearly. Thus the account of the Lord's internal temptations in the wilderness sound as if the unclean thoughts of temptation were totally distinct from Him; and Paul in Rom. 7 speaks of how "I myself" serve God, and his fleshly mind was somehow separate to the real Paul.   

Deu 14:5 the hart and the gazelle, the roebuck, the wild goat, the ibex, the antelope, and the chamois-
Comparing the lists of clean and unclean animals in Lev. 11 and Dt. 14, we see the Deuteronomy list tends to be more specific. This is understandable; for the people were now going to enter the land, and there would be specific questions about specific animals.

Deu 14:6 Every animal that has a split hoof-
Lev. 11:3 adds more detail: "Whatever parts the hoof, and is cloven-footed". The sense of the Hebrew is "Whatever parts the hoof, and completely divides it". Some animals part the hoof but don't completely divide it to the end, such as the camel. The lesson would be that there must be clear division between clean and unclean, good and bad, and that division must not be begun and not finished. The line dividing good from evil must run to the end through every part of our lives. 

And chews the cud among the animals, you may eat-
The Hebrew means to bring the food up again, to ruminate. The animals which ruminated had at least two stomachs, and processed their food at length. Perhaps this was to represent ruminating upon God’s word, rather than eating whatever is presented to us, as it is in this age of instant [apparent] information. Being cloven-footed perhaps speaks of being sure footed and walking stably in life. To chew the cud (ruminate on God’s word) but not walk the talk (not having a cloven foot) still makes us unclean. However, it may be that there is little significance in the chewing of the cud of itself, because doing so didn’t make the animal unclean of itself- it was just an exercise for Israel to teach them the concept of discernment, self control and obedience to God even when this meant practical inconvenience for them.

Deu 14:7 Nevertheless these you must not eat of those that chew the cud or of those which have a split hoof: the camel, the hare and the rabbit. Because they chew the cud but don’t have a split hoof, they are unclean to you-
Some animals part the hoof but don't completely divide it to the end (see on :6), such as the camel, which has a kind of ball at the back of their foot which means the hoof is not completely divided. The lesson would be that there must be clear division between clean and unclean, good and bad, and that division must not be begun and not finished. The line dividing good from evil must run to the end through every part of our lives. 

The hare was apparently thought to be avoided by demons ["jinns"] and so was worshipped; hare bones or skills were used as good luck charms, and still are among some Arab tribes. So the reason for having nothing to do with hares was religious rather than because hares are somehow more intrinsically unclean than other animals.

As with the language of demons in the New Testament, the Bible here speaks of things as they appear. For hares and rock badgers do chew the cud, but their munching movements, the lower jaw moving backward and forward, suggest they are chewers of the cud- but in fact they don't. 

Deu 14:8 The pig, because it has a split hoof but doesn’t chew the cud, is unclean to you-
Appearing to make a differentiation in our walk, our external life, is no good unless internally we are chewing the cud, masticating our food, ruminating upon God's word on a constant basis (:6). Many people appear to have made a division between themselves and society but this is no evidence that they are spiritual. Spirituality is about constant rumination on the things we are fed spiritually, rather than filling the mind with garbage and biting food in chunks.

Of their flesh you shall not eat and their carcasses you shall not touch-
The basis of the command to us in our age to “touch not the unclean thing” by being separate from sinful things (2 Cor. 6:17).

Deu 14:9 These you may eat of all that are in the waters: whatever has fins and scales may you eat-
All fish have fins and scales, it's just that some aren't evident. We see here how the Bible is written in places from the viewpoint of humans, and according to their understanding of things, even if that understanding is false. And this is why we find mental illness attributed to "demons" in the New Testament, even though demons don't exist.

Deu 14:10 Whatever doesn’t have fins and scales you must not eat; it is unclean to you-
The parable of the drag net pictures fishermen sitting down with their catch, throwing away the “bad” fish. These would’ve been the unclean sea creatures, e.g. crabs, which had got caught up in the net. This represented the ‘sitting’ of the final judgment at the last day (Mt. 13:48,49). We are to make that same division between good and bad in the choices we make today. Possibly the lack of fins and scales suggests a lack of visible guiding principles in life, living with no sense of clear direction towards the Kingdom.

We note the continual stress that these animals were "unclean unto you" (:7,8,10). There is nothing unclean of itself (see on :4); the animals were only clean or unclean "unto you", in that these laws were a practical exercises in the practice of 'making a separation' between clean and unclean. But the essence of that separation was to be in the human heart. When these laws failed to have the effect of teaching this, they were removed by the Lord Jesus.


Deu 14:11 Of all clean birds you may eat-
LXX makes this a command: "Ye shall eat every clean bird". The reference may specifically be to the birds used in the ritual of the cleansing of the leper; as if this was the only time a bird may be eaten. For the basis upon which clean and unclean animals were divided [chewing the cud, cloven hooves] doesn't apply to birds. It could be that birds were not to be eaten, apart from those sanctified or "made clean" by the rituals which used birds.

Deu 14:12 But these are the ones you must not eat: the eagle, the vulture and the osprey-
These birds all hunt and eat other unclean animals, and many of them were totems of the idols believed in by the nations. Again the idea was to teach God’s people the need to keep away from association with things which resembled sin, which would put ideas in the mind which tended towards sin rather than righteousness. This principle is so relevant today in connection with what we watch or read, for by presenting ourselves continually with sinful associations we are the more likely to ourselves fall into sin.

Deu 14:13 the red kite, the falcon and the kite after its kind-
It is common in primitive societies for tribes and individuals to have totems, an animal or plant which they are associated with. This practice is common today in central Africa. Seeing there are no animals unclean of themselves, as the New Testament makes clear, one reason for the specific designation of some animals as "unclean" may be because they were associated with local tribes or individuals who were to be treated as unclean. The meaning of some of the names of the designated "unclean" animals are suggestive of individuals. 

Deu 14:14 every raven after its kind-
We note how Elijah was later to be made to depend upon food brought to him by unclean ravens (1 Kings 17:4-6). This was all part of God's program to educate him against exclusivity. God told Elijah that He had commanded unclean ravens to feed him; and thus He reminded Elijah of a basic fact, that God speaks to even unclean animals (Gen. 1:22)- and they obey him. The ravens not only obeyed Yahweh in going to Elijah, but in not eating the food they were carrying. Elijah likely considered that the fact God spoke to him meant that he must therefore have some automatic superiority over others. But not so. It’s the same with us. We can consider that because we have heard God’s true voice, we thereby are justified before Him. But He speaks to and uses all, clean and unclean.  

Deu 14:15 the ostrich, the owl, the seagull and the hawk after its kind-
The reference to seagulls shows that these laws were intended for Israel in the land, rather than whilst in the wilderness. We continually note the flexible nature of God's law given through Moses.

Deu 14:16 the little owl, the great owl and the horned owl-
The extensive stress upon not eating owls of any kind was because the local tribes considered that owls were the most human-like of all birds. They were therefore worshipped and considered as mediators between the gods and man. There was to be no even going near these birds, because association is the basis of so much downward sliding in spiritual terms.

Deu 14:17 the pelican, the vulture and the cormorant-
Some of the birds forbidden as unclean were thought to be good luck symbols, and their carcasses were used as medicines or potions used in idol worship. The vulture and pelican were amongst these. The take away lesson is that we are to avoid all associations with that which is paganic and anti-God.

 Deu 14:18 the stork and the heron after its kind and the hoopoe and the bat-
These animals, the bat especially, were associated with tombs and the dead. They were thought to carry messages to the dead, and to facilitate the passage of the supposed "immortal soul"- a false teaching which the Bible knows nothing of. Is. 7 speaks of the chirping and muttering of the dead, alluding to the sounds made by these animals. Quite simply, Israel were to have nothing to do with these wrong ideas and the animals associated with them. The "hoopoe" is better "lapwing", known as 'the doctor bird' and clearly associated with pagan beliefs about healing.


Deu 14:19 All winged creeping things are unclean to you; they shall not be eaten-
The idea may be that they had the potential to fly, but often preferred to crawl on earth. Refusing to use spiritual potential was seen as a bad thing, and Israel didn't need even the unconscious association with anything which resembled that. This is why so much which passes for entertainment would be better not viewed nor listened to by Christians; there is nothing unclean in itself, but the subliminal associations are what drag us down.  

Deu 14:20 Of all clean birds you may eat-
See on :11. But "birds" is not the same Hebrew word as in :11. The idea in the immediate context is "Of all clean winged things you may eat".

Deu 14:21 You must not eat of anything that dies of itself; you may give it to the foreigner living among you who is within your gates, that he may eat it, or you may sell it to a foreigner, for you are a holy people to Yahweh your God-
Ex. 22:31 says they were to throw such food to the dogs and not eat it. Perhaps "dogs" meant Gentiles. This command wasn’t only for hygienic reasons. God wished to encourage His people to have a healthy work ethic, not taking short cuts, but eating animals they had raised themselves for that purpose. We live in a society where laziness and trying to live for free has become almost an art form. We cannot ultimately get around the curse, that we shall eat only as a result of the sweat of our own labour. We have to accept our humanity and our fallen condition, looking for the lifting of the curse in God’s future Kingdom.

We note that whilst on the wilderness journey, the people were allowed to eat such carcasses although they would be unclean until evening (Lev. 17:15). We recall how they complained at the boredom of the manna, and longed for meat. It's as if God cut them some slack in allowing them to eat such carcasses, although it would make them unclean. But once settled in the land, they were not to do so at all. God's concession to human weakness is a constant theme in His dealings with man. But we are not to presume upon it, and if we love God we will seek to rise up higher levels rather than having a spirit of minimalism in our relationship with Him.

You must not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk-
This was likely a pagan ritual which Israel weren’t to follow. It may also be that God’s sensitivity to the feelings of animals is coming out here; and He wishes us to live lives regulated by sensitivity to all of creation. See on Dt. 20:19. The laws in the "Book of the Covenant" abruptly end with this, as if it summed up the spirit of all the others (Ex. 23:19; 34:26). Kid goats were thought to be most tasty when boiled in their mother’s milk. It seems that God considered this narcissistic and absolutely over indulgent, and without thought to the feelings of the mother goat; even though goats (rather than sheep) are at times a symbol of sinners and the unclean. The Mosaic law sought to inculcate a culture of kindness and extreme sensitivity to all, even animals. Read like this, it is similar to the prohibitions of killing on the same a cow and a calf, or a ewe and her lamb (Lev. 22:28). It is likely that this was also related to a paganic fertility ritual, performed at harvest time (which is the immediate context of the prohibition); and God didn't want His people to even remotely be associated with that. For He alone was the source of all fertility.

Deu 14:22 You must surely tithe all the increase of your seed which comes forth from the field year by year-
The Levites had their own land on which to grow crops, and the seed was to come from these tithes. It was Israel's refusal to support the Levites which left them without teachers of God's law, and resulted in the Levites having no time to study that law.

Deu 14:23 You shall eat before Yahweh your God, in the place which He shall choose to cause His name to dwell there, the tithe of your grain, of your new wine and of your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and of your flock, that you may learn to respect Yahweh your God always-
LXX "the place which the Lord thy God shall choose to have his name called there", that is, the place which Yahweh chose as the place where men would call upon His Name in worship. And again we note that the commandments were not random tests of obedience; the process of taking time out of life to go that place and eat the tithes there, presumably as part of a peace offering, was "that you may learn". God's law is not a chain, a burdensome leash restraining human behaviour; but rather inculcates a self reinforcing upward spiral of spirituality and closeness to Him.

Deu 14:24 If the way is too long for you, so that when Yahweh your God shall bless you, you are not able to carry it because the place which Yahweh your God shall choose to set His name there is too far from you-
The blessing which would result in their being too far from the sanctuary is defined in Dt. 12:20 as being "When Yahweh your God enlarges your border". We never read of the land being enlarged, indeed their territory was progressively "cut short" (2 Kings 10:32) after Solomon's time and frequently in the time of the Judges, immediately after their entry into the land. There was never any signal from God that He had now enlarged the land and therefore this change of the law was allowed. If Israel had been obedient, then “the Lord your God shall enlarge thy border” (Dt. 12:20). Thus “blessed be He that enlarges Gad” (Dt. 33:20). Who knows the height and depth, length and breadth of what could have been for God’s people? And the same is true for us today. According to Israel’s perception of the land, so it was defined for them.

Deu 14:25 then you must turn it into money and take the money in your hand and go to the place which Yahweh your God shall choose-
The law given in Dt. 12:20-22 about what was to happen when the land was enlarged doesn't feature this provision. We note that the law of Moses was flexible and open to change. That it should later be abrogated is therefore no surprise. The argument that each Mosaic law was eternal is therefore lacking in careful attention to the text of the law itself.   

Deu 14:26 and you may spend the money on whatever your soul desires, cattle or sheep, wine or strong drink, or whatever your soul asks of you, and you may eat there before Yahweh your God, and rejoice, you and your household-
There was to be joy in giving to God rather than any sense of resentment; and the families (“your household”) were to have this explained to them so that even the children learnt to rejoice in giving rather than being selfish. Again we see God’s emphasis on the need for giving to be done cheerfully; He simply loves cheerful giving (2 Cor. 9:7).

Deu 14:27 The Levite who is within your gates you must not forsake, for he has no portion or inheritance with you-
God's ideal was that the Levites would live from the tithes given by Israel (Dt. 14:27); but He foresaw that this ideal level wouldn't be reached by them, therefore the Levites were given land on which to grow their own crops for survival. However, it must be noted that by opting to make use of God's concessions to human weakness, real spirituality became harder to achieve. Thus it was harder to accept Yahweh as King if they had a human king demanding their allegiance.

Deu 14:28 At the end of every three years you must bring forth all the tithe of your increase in the same year and store it within your gates-
There were three separate tithes commanded under the Law of Moses. Yet the tithing churches have simply said: ‘There’s something about tithing in the Old Testament. So, hey, give us 10% of your money!’. The first was the Levitical tithe of 10% on 100% of the produce for the first six years and was destined for the Levites and priests (see too Dt. 12:19). The second tithe was the Festival tithe of 10% on the 90% remaining produce after the Levitical tithe. This tithe had to be eaten in the presence of the Lord and was collected on the 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 5th years only. The third tithe was the tithe of the poor to be collected on the 3rd and 6th years only (Dt. 14:22-29; 26:12-15; Am. 4:4-5). No tithe was collected on the 7th year or Sabbatical year. The farmers were to let the land rest in that year. The tithe consisted of fruit, grain, wine and later animals that are treated as produce from the land. It never consisted of money. Tithes were conducted annually and were based upon one’s produce increase for the year. This just isn’t talking about putting paper money or cheques on an offering plate each week as demanded by the tithing churches.

Deu 14:29 and the Levite, because he has no portion nor inheritance with you, and the foreigner living among you and the fatherless and the widow, who are within your gates, shall come and shall eat and be satisfied, that Yahweh your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do-
The early church began by having all things common, in imitation of  how the priests had "like portions to eat" (Dt. 18:8). Notice the stress on the equality of the priests and the studied irrelevance of their personal wealth (1 Chron. 24:31; 25:8; 26:12). The Law was geared around the assumption that the priests would be so caught up in Yahweh's work that they would never be rich (consider Dt. 14:29), and the wonder of doing His work would compensate for their lack of physical possessions (Num. 18:23). Yet the early church couldn't sustain the intensity of their initial realization of these things.

We came into this world with nothing and can carry nothing out. In Isaiah’s image we are as ragged prisoners in dark cells awaiting death, but set free by the light of the Gospel. We are all, in a sense, ‘fatherless’ and ‘widows’. This is why Israel were given specific instruction to take care of such (Dt. 14:29) for in so doing they were to recognize their own needs.  Realizing this, knowing it deep within the fiber of our beings, we ought to be able to respond with the simple abandonment and “uncomplicated totality” of the desperate.

Israel were given manna in the wilderness, and they ate it and were full (Ex. 16:8,12). But they were promised that in the promised land of the Kingdom, they would likewise eat and be full, again from blessing given by God (s.w. Dt. 8:10; 11:15; 14:29; 26:12; 31:20). After our Red Sea baptism, we are now in the wilderness; but by feeding on the manna, the word of God in the Lord Jesus, we have a foretaste of the Kingdom experience. But the curse for disobedience was that they would eat and not be full / satisfied (Lev. 26:26).