Hey, it’s the kosher laws again! Only not quite the same! Don’t you love contradictory stuff? Well, I do, because it gives me something to write about!
Leviticus laid out the rules for which animals you could eat (cloven hooves + chewing cud). Deuteronomy first lists a number of creatures that you can eat before explaining the rules. This gets fun because nobody’s 100% sure what these animals actual refer to, which is why the rules are more helpful.
Birds don’t get any rules at all, just a long list, the same as in Leviticus. And again, because nobody’s completely certain which animals these names go with, translations get rather different. The NCT continues its thing of favoring animal translations that are for species Japanese readers would be more familiar with, regardless of whether they live in the Middle East. Part of me is bothered by that, but part of me feels, why not? If you don’t know which bird species they are exactly (some of them must be clear because they’re the same in the NRSV and NCT, mostly vultures and ravens), why use the obscure names of foreign birds? So long as they stay within the “rules” given, why not use examples your reader will know?
The insect rules are different here than in Leviticus, which allows the consumption of some kinds of locust. Here, all insects are banned. There’s also no separate discussion of reptiles, but you can infer they’re not allowed from the rules on four-legged animals.
The rest of the chapter is about tithes, and this is, I believe, the first time these have been mentioned in the Bible. Tithes have to be brought directly to “the place [God] will choose as a dwelling” (v 23), i.e. the temple, but recognizing that it might be too far to carry an entire tenth of your harvest, you’re allowed to render it into money, carry it to the temple, and then buy items for sacrifice and feasting. This is another sign that these are later additions, because coins didn’t even exist until around 700 BC, centuries after Moses is said to have lived. These adjustments would have been necessary, though, with a focus on centralizing worship at the temple. While the law may be strict, it’s trying not to be impossible.
What’s more, every third year, the tithe doesn’t go to the sanctuary, instead being diverted to local storage where it will be used for feeding “the Levites (…) the resident aliens, the orphans, and the widows in your town,” (v 29) the people who can’t provide for themselves because they either don’t (in the case of Levites, aliens, and orphans) or might not (in the case of widows) own land. Land = wealth, and those who don’t have it must be provided for. It’s a proto-welfare system, and no, there are no demands that the people who get it “earn” it by proving they’re trying to get work. The only requirement is that they need it.
The Japanese: soriageru “to shave off” (v 1), reiyou “antelope,” ookamoshika “eland” (v 5), hidzume “hoof,” hansuu suru “to ruminate, to chew cud” (v 6), iwadanuki “hyrax” (v 7), higewashi “bearded vulture,” kurohagewashi “Cinereous vulture” (12), washimimizuku “Eurasian eagle owl,” komimizuku “short-eared owl,” torafuzuku “long-eared owl” (v 15), morifukurou “tawny owl,” ookonohazuku “Sunda Scops owl,” kokinmefukurou “little owl” (v 16), konohazuku “Eurasian Scops owl,” misago “osprey,” uomimizuku “tawny fish owl” (v 17), kou no tori “oriental stork,” aosagi “gray heron,” yatsugashira “hoopoe,” (v 18), konchuu “insect” (v 19), takuwaeru “to save up, to put aside, to store” (v 28).