11:1–47 Moses instructs the Israelites regarding the principles of cleanness, showing them that, though all corpses are unclean (vv. 24, 27, 31–40), some perfectly healthy creatures are also stated to be unclean in a milder sense and therefore must not be eaten. Although some of the forbidden animals posed a possible health threat (e.g., pigs as carriers of trichinosis), this classification is not based simply on health grounds. Rather, the principle teaches basic moral and spiritual truths. Carnivorous animals and birds of prey eat flesh with blood in it, something forbidden to human beings (7:26). Such animals also contact corpses, which are unclean. The clean creatures here symbolize Israelites, while unclean animals symbolize Gentiles. Only domesticated clean animals may be offered in sacrifice, for the sacrificial animal represents the offerer. In restricting his diet to clean animals, the Israelite was reminded that God had chosen Israel alone among the nations. Only when the new covenant admitted Gentiles to the community of God were the food laws abrogated (Mark 7:19; Acts 10:15).
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