What makes something clean or unclean? What gives one thing value over another? Is it its color, its shape, its size? How about its purpose, the way it’s used, or how strong it is? What gives you and i value?
We live our lives day after day giving value to one thing over another. We set priorities in our lives. Yes, i will take that call. No, i don’t have time for that meeting. Will i rise early and do my devotions, or will i shut off the alarm and get some much needed extra sleep. In everything we do we are giving things, people, and situations value and purpose in our lives.
In this chapter, YHWH is doing the same thing. God is saying, these kinds of animals have value when it comes to what you eat. These others are not worth keeping around. If you eat these animals it’s alright, if you even touch the carcasses of these you will be unclean. You should definitely not touch them to eat them. They are forbidden.
It’s interesting to me seeing what makes the clean different from the unclean. The clean animals are all herbivores. None of them purposefully eat another living creature. Thus the carrion birds are forbidden. Those who eat unclean things are forbidden. Thus pigs are rejected. Insects that have jointed legs with which to jump are clean. So grasshoppers and locusts are clean, but spiders and ants are not.
One of the things that really interests me is understanding the very nature of these kinds of animals for food. For instance, sheep, the most common animal used for meat for the Israelites, are the healthiest meat there is other than buffalo. Meanwhile, fish with scales and fins are very healthy for you with oils that are very good for you. What YHWH has called the “clean” animals have time and again proven to be the best meats nutritionally and health wise.
It’s almost like God’s rules about food and meats actually work to help keep you healthy! Imagine that! I wonder how many other of His rules and regulations benefit man in the same kinds of ways?