Clean (טָהוֹר, tahor', καθαρός) and UNCLEAN (טָמֵא, tame', ἀκάθαρτος). These words are of frequent occurrence and obvious meaning in the sacred writings; but it is in their peculiar application, by the Mosaic law, to persons, animals, and things, that they are now to be considered. In order to partake of the privileges of the Jewish Church, and to engage acceptably in its outward worship, the individual must not only be circumcised, but he must bet ceremonially pure or clean; that is, he must be free from uncleanness. How the various kinds of uncleanness were contracted, what time it continued, and what was the process of purification, we find particularly described in Le 11-15; Nu 19. SEE PURIFICATION.
The division of animals into clean and unclean existed before the Flood (Ge 7:2), and was probably founded upon the practice of animal sacrifice. The regulations concerning clean and unclean animals are chiefly recorded in Leviticus, ch. 11, and Deuteronomy, ch. 14, where the following animals are pronounced unclean, and are consequently interdicted to be used as food:
(1.) Quadrupeds which do not ruminate, or which have uncloven feet.
(2.) Serpents and creeping insects; also certain insects which sometimes fly and sometimes advance upon their feet; but locusts, in all their four stages of existence, are accounted clean.
(3.) Certain species of birds; but no particular characters are given for dividing them into classes, as "clean" or "unclean." Judging from those that are specified, as far as the obscure character of the Hebrew names will admit, it will be found that birds of prey generally are rejected, whether they prey on lesser fowls, or on animals, or on fish; while those which eat vegetables are admitted as lawful; so that the same principle is observed, in a certain degree, as in distinguishing quadrupeds.
(4.) Fish without scales, and also those without fins.
(5.) Animals of any kind which had either died of disease, or had been torn by wild beasts (Ex 22:31). SEE ANIMAL.
The animal substances interdicted to the Hebrews were:
(1.) Blood (Le 17:10; Le 19:26; De 12:16,23; De 15:23).
(2.) The fat covering of the intestines, termed the net or caul.
(3.) The fat upon the intestines, called the mesentery, etc.
(4.) The fat of the kidney.
(5.) The fat tail or rump of certain sheep (Ex 29:13,22; Le 3:4-9; Le 9:19). SEE FOOD.
What was the design of these distinctions, and how they were abolished, may be learned with sufficient accuracy from a comparison of various passages of Scripture (Le 20:24-26; Ac 10:9-16; Ac 11:1-28; Heb 9:9-14). SEE DECREE (of the Apostles). It has been observed that one object of these appointments may have been to-make the Jews suspicious of Gentile customs and entertainments, and so induce them to abstain from all intercourse with them. We find in the New Testament that eating with Gentiles was regarded as a peculiar aggravation of the offense of associating with them (Mt 9:11; Ac 11:3). It may be remarked, also, that the flesh of many of the animals interdicted was unwholesome, and others were objects of idolatrous worship among the heathen. The chief design of the regulation, however, appears to have been, to establish a system of regimen which should distinguish the chosen people from all other nations. See the treatises De animalibus esu interdictis, by Danz (Jen. 1687) and Munster (in Menthenii Thes. diss. 2, 477 sq.); also Neumann, Ueb. d. Kastenl Noah (Wittenb. 1741). SEE UNCLEANNESS.