Deuteronomy 14

Deuteronomy 14

Clean and Unclean Food

14 “You are the sons of the LORD your God. You shall not cut yourselves or make any baldness on your foreheads for the dead. For you are a people holy to the LORD your God, and the LORD has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.

“You shall not eat any abomination. These are the animals you may eat: the ox, the sheep, the goat, the deer, the gazelle, the roebuck, the wild goat, the ibex, the antelope, and the mountain sheep. Every animal that parts the hoof and has the hoof cloven in two and chews the cud, among the animals, you may eat. Yet of those that chew the cud or have the hoof cloven you shall not eat these: the camel, the hare, and the rock badger, because they chew the cud but do not part the hoof, are unclean for you. And the pig, because it parts the hoof but does not chew the cud, is unclean for you. Their flesh you shall not eat, and their carcasses you shall not touch.

“Of all that are in the waters you may eat these: whatever has fins and scales you may eat. And whatever does not have fins and scales you shall not eat; it is unclean for you.

“You may eat all clean birds. But these are the ones that you shall not eat: the eagle, the bearded vulture, the black vulture, the kite, the falcon of any kind; every raven of any kind; the ostrich, the nighthawk, the sea gull, the hawk of any kind; the little owl and the short-eared owl, the barn owl and the tawny owl, the carrion vulture and the cormorant, the stork, the heron of any kind; the hoopoe and the bat. And all winged insects are unclean for you; they shall not be eaten. All clean winged things you may eat.

“You shall not eat anything that has died naturally. You may give it to the sojourner who is within your towns, that he may eat it, or you may sell it to a foreigner. For you are a people holy to the LORD your God.

“You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.


“You shall tithe all the yield of your seed that comes from the field year by year. And before the LORD your God, in the place that he will choose, to make his name dwell there, you shall eat the tithe of your grain, of your wine, and of your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and flock, that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always. And if the way is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, when the LORD your God blesses you, because the place is too far from you, which the LORD your God chooses, to set his name there, then you shall turn it into money and bind up the money in your hand and go to the place that the LORD your God chooses and spend the money for whatever you desire—oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves. And you shall eat there before the LORD your God and rejoice, you and your household. And you shall not neglect the Levite who is within your towns, for he has no portion or inheritance with you.

“At the end of every three years you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce in the same year and lay it up within your towns. And the Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance with you, and the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, who are within your towns, shall come and eat and be filled, that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands that you do.


Deuteronomy 14 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

Holiness and practicality are two thoughts that are sometimes difficult to reconcile. Why did God not allow certain animals to be eaten? Why did the people have to tithe from their agriculture? The laws put into place were put there in order to produce a holy nation. God was setting them apart from the pagan nations around them. The word “holy” actually means “to be separate” or “to be distinct.” This is true for God’s people today as well. We are called to be different from the world around us.

Interestingly, both of these topics (food and tithing) are addressed in the NT and clarified for believers. This is because God’s heart stayed the same but, through Jesus, the law was completely fulfilled. Holiness comes, not through the law, but through faith in Christ and the continual work of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, even though there is freedom from the law, the standard of holiness has not changed. Actually, in many ways, it has been raised to a higher standard.

Some people’s faith allows them to eat anything, but the person who is weak in the faith eats only vegetables. 3 The person who will eat anything is not to despise the one who doesn’t; while the one who eats only vegetables is not to pass judgment on the one who will eat anything; for God has accepted that person.

Romans 14:2-3 GNB

In other words, when Jesus died on the cross, He satisfied the law. He accomplished what we couldn’t accomplish and then invited us to follow Him. We are free from bondage and able to live in that freedom through the power of the Holy Spirit. Since the Holy Spirit has taken up residence in believers today, we are capable of making decisions based on that conviction.

This is also true for tithing. As Hank has written, it comes down to a heart issue. Either you believe that your possessions and your money are God’s and are compelled to give freely back to Him, or, you don’t. It’s really as simple as that.

It is important to express our “set-apartness” with God in ways that also unify the body. We should have convictions, and we should strive to cooperate with the Holy Spirit’s promptings. But, we should also seek to live in unity with others being sensitive to their struggles. I am thankful today that God has given us the Holy Spirit who leads us to victory as opposed to the law which only illustrated our lack of holiness. When we read this chapter, we must remember that even though it seems foreign, it sets the foundation for our current relationship with God.

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