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The Holy and the Profane

14 You are children[a] of the Lord your God. Do not cut yourselves or shave your forehead bald[b] for the sake of the dead. For you are a people holy[c] to the Lord your God. He[d] has chosen you to be his people, prized[e] above all others on the face of the earth.

You must not eat any forbidden thing.[f] These are the animals you may eat: the ox, the sheep, the goat, the ibex,[g] the gazelle,[h] the deer,[i] the wild goat, the antelope,[j] the wild oryx,[k] and the mountain sheep.[l] You may eat any animal that has hooves divided into two parts and that chews the cud.[m] However, you may not eat the following animals among those that chew the cud or those that have divided hooves: the camel, the hare, and the rock badger.[n] (Although they chew the cud, they do not have divided hooves and are therefore ritually impure to you.) Also, the pig is ritually impure to you; though it has divided hooves,[o] it does not chew the cud. You may not eat their meat or even touch their remains.

These you may eat from among water creatures: anything with fins and scales you may eat, 10 but whatever does not have fins and scales you may not eat; it is ritually impure to you.

11 All ritually clean birds[p] you may eat. 12 These are the ones you may not eat: the eagle,[q] the vulture,[r] the black vulture,[s] 13 the kite, the black kite, the dayyah[t] after its species, 14 every raven after its species, 15 the ostrich,[u] the owl,[v] the seagull, the falcon[w] after its species, 16 the little owl, the long-eared owl, the white owl,[x] 17 the jackdaw,[y] the carrion vulture, the cormorant, 18 the stork, the heron after its species, the hoopoe, and the bat.

19 And any swarming winged thing[z] is impure[aa] to you—they may not be eaten.[ab] 20 You may eat any winged creature that is clean. 21 You may not eat any corpse, though you may give it to the resident foreigner who is living in your villages[ac] and he may eat it, or you may sell it to a foreigner. You are a people holy to the Lord your God. Do not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.[ad]

The Offering of Tithes

22 You must be certain to tithe[ae] all the produce of your seed that comes from the field year after year. 23 In the presence of the Lord your God, in the place he chooses to locate his name, you must eat from the tithe of your grain, your new wine,[af] your olive oil, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks, so that you may learn to revere the Lord your God always. 24 When he[ag] blesses you, if the[ah] place where he chooses to locate his name is distant, 25 you may convert the tithe into money, secure the money,[ai] and travel to the place the Lord your God chooses for himself. 26 Then you may spend the money however you wish for cattle, sheep, wine, beer, or whatever you desire. You and your household may eat there in the presence of the Lord your God and enjoy it. 27 As for the Levites in your villages, you must not ignore them, for they have no allotment or inheritance along with you. 28 At the end of every three years you must bring all the tithe of your produce, in that very year, and you must store it up in your villages. 29 Then the Levites (because they have no allotment or inheritance with you), the resident foreigners, the orphans, and the widows of your villages may come and eat their fill so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work you do.


  1. Deuteronomy 14:1 tn Heb “sons” (so NASB); TEV, NLT “people.”
  2. Deuteronomy 14:1 sn Do not cut yourselves or shave your forehead bald. These were pagan practices associated with mourning the dead; they were not to be imitated by God’s people (though they frequently were; cf. 1 Kgs 18:28; Jer 16:6; 41:5; 47:5; Hos 7:14 [LXX]; Mic 5:1). For other warnings against such practices see Lev 21:5; Jer 16:5.
  3. Deuteronomy 14:2 tn Or “set apart.”
  4. Deuteronomy 14:2 tn Heb “The Lord.” The pronoun has been used in the translation for stylistic reasons to avoid redundancy.
  5. Deuteronomy 14:2 tn Or “treasured.” The Hebrew term סְגֻלָּה (segullah) describes Israel as God’s choice people, those whom he elected and who are most precious to him (cf. Exod 19:4-6; Deut 14:2; 26:18; 1 Chr 29:3; Ps 135:4; Eccl 2:8 Mal 3:17). See E. Carpenter, NIDOTTE The Hebrew term translated “select” (and the whole verse) is reminiscent of the classic covenant text (Exod 19:4-6) which describes Israel’s entry into covenant relationship with the Lord. Israel must resist paganism and its trappings precisely because she is a holy people elected by the Lord from among the nations to be his instrument of world redemption (cf. Deut 7:6; 26:18; Ps 135:4; Mal 3:17; Titus 2:14; 1 Pet 2:9).
  6. Deuteronomy 14:3 tn The Hebrew word תּוֹעֵבָה (toʿevah, “forbidden; abhorrent”) describes anything detestable to the Lord because of its innate evil or inconsistency with his own nature and character. See note on the word “abhorrent” in Deut 7:25. Cf. KJV “abominable”; NIV “detestable”; NRSV “abhorrent.”sn This verse acts as a header for several short lists that describe what may and may not be eaten: land animals (vv. 4-8), water creatures (vv. 9-10), birds and bats (vv. 11-18), other winged creatures (vv. 19-20). Each set refers to clean and unclean animals.
  7. Deuteronomy 14:5 tn The Hebrew term אַיָּל (ʾayyal) may refer to a type of deer (cf. Arabic ʾayyal). Cf. NAB “the red deer.”
  8. Deuteronomy 14:5 tn The Hebrew term צְבִי (tsevi) is sometimes rendered “roebuck” (so KJV).
  9. Deuteronomy 14:5 tn The Hebrew term יַחְמוּר (yakhmur) may refer to a “fallow deer”; cf. Arabic yahmur (“deer”). Cf. NAB, NIV, NCV “roe deer”; NEB, NRSV, NLT “roebuck.”
  10. Deuteronomy 14:5 tn The Hebrew term דִּישֹׁן (dishon) is a hapax legomenon. Its referent is uncertain but the animal is likely a variety of antelope (cf. NEB “white-rumped deer”; NIV, NRSV, NLT “ibex”).
  11. Deuteronomy 14:5 tn The Hebrew term תְּאוֹ (teʾo; a variant is תּוֹא, toʾ) could also refer to another species of antelope. Cf. NEB “long-horned antelope”; NIV, NRSV “antelope.”
  12. Deuteronomy 14:5 tn The Hebrew term זֶמֶר (zemer) is another hapax legomenon with the possible meaning “wild sheep.” Cf. KJV, ASV “chamois”; NEB “rock-goat”; NAB, NIV, NRSV, NLT “mountain sheep.”
  13. Deuteronomy 14:6 tn The Hebrew text includes “among the animals.” This has not been included in the translation for stylistic reasons.
  14. Deuteronomy 14:7 tn The Hebrew term שָׁפָן (shafan) may refer to the “coney” (cf. KJV, NIV) or hyrax (“rock badger,” cf. NAB, NASB, NRSV, NLT).
  15. Deuteronomy 14:8 tc The MT lacks (probably by haplography) the phrase וְשֹׁסַע שֶׁסַע פַּרְסָה (veshosaʿ shesaʿ parsah, “and is clovenfooted,” i.e., “has parted hooves”), a phrase found in the otherwise exact parallel in Lev 11:7. The LXX and Smr attest the longer reading here. The meaning is, however, clear without it.
  16. Deuteronomy 14:11 tn According to HALOT the Hebrew term צִפּוֹר (tsippor) can to a “bird” or “winged creature” (HALOT 1047 s.v.). In this list it appears to include bats, while insects are put in their own list next. Hebrew terminology seems to have focused on the mode of movement or environment rather than our modern zoological taxonomies.
  17. Deuteronomy 14:12 tn NEB “the griffon-vulture.”
  18. Deuteronomy 14:12 tn The Hebrew term פֶּרֶס (peres) describes a large vulture otherwise known as the ossifrage (cf. KJV). This largest of the vultures takes its name from its habit of dropping skeletal remains from a great height so as to break the bones apart.
  19. Deuteronomy 14:12 tn The Hebrew term עָזְנִיָּה (ʿozniyyah) may describe the black vulture (so NIV) or it may refer to the osprey (so NAB, NRSV, NLT), an eagle-like bird subsisting mainly on fish.
  20. Deuteronomy 14:13 tn The Hebrew term is דַּיָּה (dayyah). This, with the previous two terms (רָאָה [raʾah] and אַיָּה [ʾayyah]), is probably a kite of some species but otherwise impossible to specify.
  21. Deuteronomy 14:15 tn Or “owl.” The Hebrew term בַּת הַיַּעֲנָה (bat hayyaʿanah) is sometimes taken as “ostrich” (so ASV, NAB, NASB, NRSV, NLT), but may refer instead to some species of owl (cf. KJV “owl”; NEB “desert-owl”; NIV “horned owl”).
  22. Deuteronomy 14:15 tn The Hebrew term תַּחְמָס (takhmas) is either a type of owl (cf. NEB “short-eared owl”; NIV “screech owl”) or possibly the nighthawk (so NRSV, NLT).
  23. Deuteronomy 14:15 tn The Hebrew term נֵץ (nets) may refer to the falcon or perhaps the hawk (so NEB, NIV).
  24. Deuteronomy 14:16 tn The Hebrew term תִּנְשֶׁמֶת (tinshemet) may refer to a species of owl (cf. ASV “horned owl”; NASB, NIV, NLT “white owl”) or perhaps even to the swan (so KJV); cf. NRSV “water hen.”
  25. Deuteronomy 14:17 tn The Hebrew term קָאַת (qaʾat) may also refer to a type of owl (NAB, NIV, NRSV “desert owl”) or perhaps the pelican (so KJV, NASB, NLT).
  26. Deuteronomy 14:19 tn The term עוֹף (ʿof) refers to winged creatures more broadly than “birds” and is repeated in v. 20. Here “swarming winged things” (שֶׁרֶץ הָעוֹף, sherets haʿof) most likely refers to “insects.”sn It is debatable whether vv. 11-20 form one list (e.g. NASB) or two (e.g. NIV) as it is taken here. Verses 11 and 20 each say “you may eat any clean X” and refer to flying creatures. The terms עוֹף (ʿof) and צִפּוֹר (tsippor, see v. 11) can both refer to birds, but are not limited to birds. Verse 12 begins and v. 19 ends with a clause saying what may not be eaten, while specific animals or classes of animals are listed in between. This has the appearance of a chiastic structure for one list. On the other hand, the lists of land animals and fish are simply divided into what one may eat and may not eat, suggesting that vv. 11-18 and 19-20 (each including both kinds of statements) are separate lists. Also an issue, the phrase in v. 19 “it is unclean” might refer back to v.12 and the singular זֶה (zeh, “this,” but translated “these in most English versions for stylistic reasons). This would help tie 12-19 together as one list, but the closer referent is “any…winged thing” earlier in v. 19. Verses 19 and 20 are also tied by the use of the term עוֹף.
  27. Deuteronomy 14:19 sn Lev 11:20-23 gives more details about unclean insects allowing locusts and grasshopper to be eaten. Cf. Matt 3:4; Mark 1:6.
  28. Deuteronomy 14:19 tc The Vulgate and fragments from the Cairo Genizah read “it shall not be eaten.” The LXX and Smr read “you shall not eat from them” (cf. 14:12). The MT, reading the Niphal (passive), is less likely to have been harmonized and the harder reading should stand.
  29. Deuteronomy 14:21 tn Heb “gates” (also in vv. 27, 28, 29).
  30. Deuteronomy 14:21 sn Do not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk. This strange prohibition—one whose rationale is unclear but probably related to pagan ritual—may seem out of place here but actually is not for the following reasons: (1) the passage as a whole opens with a prohibition against heathen mourning rites (i.e., death, vv. 1-2) and closes with what appear to be birth and infancy rites. (2) In the other two places where the stipulation occurs (Exod 23:19 and Exod 34:26) it similarly concludes major sections. (3) Whatever the practice signified it clearly was abhorrent to the Lord and fittingly concludes the topic of various breaches of purity and holiness as represented by the ingestion of unclean animals (vv. 3-21). See C. M. Carmichael, “On Separating Life and Death: An Explanation of Some Biblical Laws,” HTR 69 (1976): 1-7; J. Milgrom, “You Shall Not Boil a Kid In Its Mother’s Milk,” BRev 1 (1985): 48-55; R. J. Ratner and B. Zuckerman, “In Rereading the ‘Kid in Milk’ Inscriptions,” BRev 1 (1985): 56-58; and M. Haran, “Seething a Kid in its Mother’s Milk,” JJS 30 (1979): 23-35.
  31. Deuteronomy 14:22 tn The Hebrew text uses the infinitive absolute for emphasis, indicated in the translation by the words “be certain.”
  32. Deuteronomy 14:23 tn This refers to wine in the early stages of fermentation. In its later stages it becomes wine (יַיִן, yayin) in its mature sense.
  33. Deuteronomy 14:24 tn Heb “the Lord your God.” See note on “He” in 14:2.
  34. Deuteronomy 14:24 tn The Hebrew text includes “way is so far from you that you are unable to carry it because the.” These words have not been included in the translation for stylistic reasons, because they are redundant.
  35. Deuteronomy 14:25 tn Heb “bind the silver in your hand.”