Subject and Keywords:
The article offers a survey of some general approaches to the dietary laws of Leviticus 11. It distinguishes between allegorical, rationalistic, arbitrary and anthropological readings. It also pointsout that those approaches have their flaws. A contextual reading of Lev. 11 suggests that the lawgiver could not have in mind allegorical characterisations of particular species of animals, nor medical reasons in regard to eating their meat. Although a wider context of Leviticus mentions that all laws of cleanness had the objective of distinguishing Israel from among other nations (cf. 20, 25-26), the same context allows one to view certain animals as symbols of human beings (cf. sacrificial animals in Lev. 4-8). Therefore it is proposed that although previous ‘symbolic’ readings had their problems, the text itself is open to symbolic interpretations. It is observed that certain mode of locomotion is a general characteristic of clean animals. It could, then, have some associations with the behaviour of men. However, it is remarked that symbolic readings should not go beyond those characteristics linked to locomotion and perhaps to two other matters expressed through the symbols of “chewing the cud” (land animals) and “scales” (fish).