Leviticus 11: Clean and Unclean Foods

Here is the post I was going to write for Leviticus 11:

So I moved into my new apartment and haven’t gone shopping yet. I have no food. I am also getting very hungry. Oh somebody, somebody, somebody, somebody. Can anybody find meeeeeeeeeeeeee some clean food to eat?

But that was about all I was able to do before I ran out of ideas.

Luckily the chapter was chock-full of super interesting things that I just can’t wait to share with you!

Does anyone know the origin of the phrase “chock-full?”

Count This!

It is difficult to miss the repetition of certain phrases that show up in Leviticus 11. The two that stood out the most to me were the following:

  • Carcass: 13x
  • Unclean: 29x

Twenty nine times! For a culture that is still thousands of years away from “copy” and “paste” functions, that is a lot of repetition!

That probably means it is important or something.

Don’t Eat This!

Are you ready for this? I am going to list every single animal the Israelites are commanded not to eat. Here we go (I am going to do this in one breath, trust me).

Camels, rock badgers, hares, pigs, any sea creature without fins and scales, eagles, vultures, ospreys, buzzards, kites, ravens, ostriches, nighthawks, sea gulls, hawks, little owls, cormorants, great owls, water hens, desert owls, carrion vultures, storks, herons, hoopoes, bats, any winged insects that walk on all fours (or sixes), weasels, mice, great lizards, geckos, crocodiles, not-as-great lizards, sand lizards, chameleons, anything that moves on its belly.


I can’t quite figure out why some of these things are unclean, but a lot of them, especially the birds, eat things that are unclean. So if you eat something that ate something unclean, that would be bad.

Oh, also don’t touch its carcass. Gross.

Eat This!

The list of edible foods for the Israelites is actually quite short. Want a formula to remember? Great!

  • Divided Hoof + Cleft foot + chews the cud = chow down.
  • Scales + Fins = Seafood night.
  • Insect with jointed legs for hopping = Gross. But at least you won’t be unclean.

That’s about it.

But I was able to make some inferences from the lists. Such as . . .

Most birds of prey are off limits. But that means chickens, turkeys, songbirds, waterfowl, and most importantly, penguins, can be eaten.

Actually, that was it. I just wanted to say that you could eat penguins.


5 responses

  1. From “the Word Detective” –
    I also could never figure out what “nuts” Chock Full O’ was supposed to be full of, but the phrase “chock full” has meant “completely full, with no room to spare” since it first appeared in English (as “chokkefulle”) around 1400 A.D. The second part of the word, “full,” is certainly no mystery, but there are a variety of theories as to where “chock” came from and what it might mean.

    One possibility is that the “chock” in “chock full” meant in the beginning what it still means today — a chunk or block of wood, from the Old Northern French word “chuque,” meaning “log.” This theory would have “chock full” meaning essentially “stuffed full of blocks of wood,” which is pretty weird but not absolutely impossible.

    It’s also possible, and slightly less weird, that the “chock” is related to “cheek,” and that the original sense of “chock full” was “to be full up to the cheeks,” a metaphorical image we still use today in phrases such as “up to the eyeballs” and “up to your neck in trouble.” Or it might have meant that your cheeks were already stuffed full and you couldn’t take another bite.

    Yet another possibility is that “chock” is related to “choke,” making “chock full” equivalent to “choke full,” or “full to the point of choking.”

    Evidence for any of these theories — cheeks, choking or chunks of wood — is very sparse, so the “chock” mystery may never be definitively solved. And a better answer than that, I’m afraid, even Bill Gates’ money can’t buy.

    Source: http://www.word-detective.com/030600.html
    See also: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/chock-full

    I’m sure that’s just what you were looking for! 😉

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