Home >> Encyclopedia Americana, Volume 27 >> Twelfth Night to United States And Macedo >> Uncleanness


unclean, birds and animals

UNCLEANNESS, a ceremonial in various religious systems, symbolizing the lack of ritual purity of fitness. In the Brahmanic system food cooked by a Sudra or by an outcast is unclean to the Brahman; he loses caste if he eats of it ; and he contracts ceremonial unclean ness if he consorts with unclean persons, as the Pariah, the Mahar or other outcasts. The hieratic law of Judaism pronounced certain animals unclean and, therefore, not to be eaten. Of animals that °chew the cud" all might be eaten, with exception of four; but of the four excepted — the camel, coney, hare and swine the first only is of the class of the ruminants. Among birds declared to be unclean are the eagle, ossifrage, vulture, kite, etc., of which several cannot be positively identified; but at all events the birds of prey are certainly in cluded among the unclean birds, while most of the grain-feeding birds are allowed as articles of food. Among fishes or aquatic creatures, those are unclean which have neither fins nor scales. Except the leaping orthoptera — locust,

grasshopper, etc.— most insects are unclean, as also all creeping things, from vertebrate reptiles to molluscous snails. And not merely were un clean animals to be rejected as food, their car casses were to be avoided, and whoever touched them became thereby unclean. The laws of ceremonial uncleanness were never of obligation in the religion of Jesus Christ, who taught that "not that which entereth into the mouth de fileth the man; but that which proceedeth out of the mouth, this defileth the man"; and with regard to persons, Saint Peter, after the vision of the sheet let down, would no longer call any man common or unclean. Consult Benzinger, I., (Hebraische Archaologie) (2d ed., Tubin gen 1907), and Stade, B.,