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14 Moses: You’re the children of the Eternal, your True God, so don’t cut yourselves or shave off the front of your hair to honor those who die. Remember you are people who have been set apart for Him; He has chosen you to be His own possession out of all the peoples on the earth.

Don’t eat anything that’s forbidden. Here are some examples of land animals you can eat: oxen from your herds; sheep and goats from your flocks; deer, gazelles, roebucks, wild goats, ibexes, antelopes, and mountain sheep, all from the wild. The rule is, you can eat any of the animals that has a divided hoof (that is, a hoof separated into two sections) and chews cud. You can’t eat an animal just because it chews cud or just because it has a divided hoof; both things have to be true. So, for example, the camel, the rabbit, and the rock badger are impure and can’t be eaten because even though they chew cud, they don’t have a divided hoof. The pig is also unclean and can’t be eaten because even though it has a divided hoof, it doesn’t chew cud. Don’t eat the meat of any ritually unclean animals. Don’t even touch their carcasses when they die.

You can eat anything that lives in the water if it has fins and scales, 10 but if it doesn’t have fins and scales, then don’t eat it; it’s unclean to you.

11 You can eat any clean bird. 12-18 But here are some examples of birds you shouldn’t eat: birds that hunt and kill, such as the eagle, the falcon, and all kinds of hawks; birds that eat dead flesh, such as the red kite and any other kind of kite, the vulture, the buzzard, and any kind of raven; things that fly around in the night instead of during the day, such as the horned owl, screech owl, little owl, great owl, white owl, and the bat; birds that feed in the water, such as the seagull, pelican, carrion vulture, cormorant, stork, and every kind of heron; and birds that dig in the ground for their food, such as the hoopoe. 19 And don’t eat anything that flies in swarms, such as insects, because they are unclean. 20 But you can eat anything that flies if it is ritually clean.

21 Don’t eat any meat from an animal you find dead of natural causes because its blood remains in the meat. You may give it to the foreigners in your city, and they may eat it, or you may sell it to a foreign merchant. But don’t eat it yourself; you are people who have been set apart for the Eternal your God. Don’t boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.

Behind these dietary restrictions there’s a moral ideal. The people are being told to set up their community life exactly as the Lord instructs, so that all the other nations will take notice and acknowledge Him (4:6). To do this, they must recognize their own special place in the world, stick to their own proper realms, and not deviate from the way they should live within it. This is another way the people are to express their exclusive loyalty to the Lord. In other words, the sacrificial food for God encompasses the daily food for the people. And the Israelites can only eat animals, birds, and insects that exemplify and support life and do not have characteristics and locomotive ability that blur them between these three habitations of land, sea, and sky.

Moses: 22 Every year, when the seeds you’ve sown in your fields have grown into crops, make sure you set aside a tenth of the produce. 23 Bring this tenth of the grain, oil, and new wine from that year’s crop, as well as all firstborn animals from your herds and flocks, to the place the Eternal your God will choose as a place for His name, and have a feast there in His presence. If you do this each year, you’ll learn to fear the Eternal your God always. 24 If the place where He chooses to put His name is far from where you live, and the distance is too great for you to carry a tenth of that year’s produce there—particularly if He has blessed you— 25 then sell everything you would have carried and bring the money yourself to the place the Eternal your God will choose. 26 When you get there, you can still have a celebration. Use some of the money to buy whatever you crave: cattle or sheep, wine or strong drink, or any other special thing you’d really like. You and your household can have a feast in His presence. 27 Be sure to invite any Levites who live in your city. Be especially generous to them because they won’t have any territory and property of their own to pass down to their children as you do.

28-29 But at the end of every third year, keep a tenth of the year’s produce in your own town instead and give it to the needy people there: the Levites—whose tribe won’t have any territory and property of its own to pass down—the foreigners, the orphans, and the widows. Let them come and take as much as they want to eat for as long as these supplies last. If you do this, the Eternal your God will bless you in everything you do.

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