This blog gains its name from the book Steele's Answers published in 1912. It began as an effort to blog through that book, posting each of the Questions and Answers in the book in the order in which they appeared. I started this on Dec. 10, 2011. I completed blogging from that book on July 11, 2015. Along the way, I began to also post snippets from Dr. Steele's other writings — and from some other holiness writers of his times. Since then, I have begun adding material from his Bible commentaries. I also re-blog many of the old posts.

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Leviticus 11:1-8: Beasts

"1 And the LORD spake unto Moses and to Aaron, saying unto them, 2 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, These are the beasts which ye shall eat among all the beasts that are on the earth. 3 Whatsoever parteth the hoof, and is clovenfooted, and cheweth the cud, among the beasts, that shall ye eat. 4 Nevertheless these shall ye not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the hoof: as the camel, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you. 5 And the coney, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you. 6 And the hare, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you. 7 And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you. 8 Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcase shall ye not touch; they are unclean to you." — Leviticus 11:1-8 KJV.


1.) The sacrifices have been instituted, the ritual of the altar has been ordained, the Aaronic priests have been consecrated, and under the supervision of Moses have performed their first official service. The nation, typically purged from sin, must be led along the path of holy living. To attain this end the people, unable through lack of intellectual and moral development to grasp broad principles and apply them to their own conduct, must be put into the school of manifold and minute rules of life. Fleshly ordinances were made, to a great extent, the channels of spiritual instruction, and for bringing perpetually into remembrance the grand distinctions of the law respecting good and evil. It was necessary that this should be spread out into a vast variety of forms, as the Mosaic dispensation admitted so very sparingly of direct instruction. The Israelite in the very food he ate must have something to remind him of the law of his God, and feel himself enclosed on every side with the signs and indications of that righteousness which it was his great duty, as a member of the covenant, to cherish and exemplify. Hence the nation in its childhood must be “under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the Father.” It must be thrust into “bondage to weak and beggarly elements” until the great Emancipator shall proclaim “the royal law of liberty.” As a man’s character is greatly affected by what he puts into his mouth, through the mysterious connexion between body and mind, the divine Lawgiver begins at the foundation and regulates the food of the chosen people. We cannot regard as wholly fanciful the suggestion of Wunderbar, that the animal element may only with great circumspection and discretion be taken up into the life of man, in order to avoid debasing that human life by assimilation to a brutal level, animalizing the affections and disqualifying the soul for drawing near to God. This should be regarded as a limitation to our Saviour’s announcement that “there is nothing from without a man that entering into him call defile him.” For the depression of the moral tone and the darkening of the spiritual intuitions by an improper treatment of the body are of the nature of a defilement.

2.) But the great purpose of Jehovah was to insulate the Hebrews from the surrounding idolatrous nations, that they might be witnesses to the unity of the Godhead and the worship of the one true and living God. Intercourse in ancient times, as now, was an interchange of hospitality. The banquet seals friendship. Hence it was most important that so strong a tie should not bind up into social unity the worshippers of Jehovah and the votaries of bloody and lustful gods. The natural effect of such association is not a matter of mere speculation. In Numbers 25:2, 3, we have an historical account of the moral and religious danger of accepting of the hospitality of idolaters. Nothing can be a more effectual barrier between nations than this legislation respecting the diet of the Israelites. It stood in the way of the unifying purpose of the Gospel of Christ, and it was removed from the heart of Peter only by a miraculous trance. Acts 10:9-18. Dietetic laws hedge about Mohammedanism, and keep the modern Jews, sojourning in all lands, from national absorption and extinction. This chapter treats of the clean and unclean cattle, fishes, fowls, wild beasts, and reptiles. It pronounces unclean the carcasses of all animals which have died a natural death. It enjoins upon Israel the duty of holiness, as the ground of the distinction in food. Hence the following dietary precepts are given without the assignment of any reasons, they being simple and requiring no exercise of the judgment in their application.


2. These are the beasts which ye shall eat — See Genesis 7:2.

3. Whatsoever parteth the hoof — There is here no limit to the number of divisions, but in Deuteronomy 14:6 we find the words “cleft into two claws.” Thus also the Seventy in this verse. And cheweth the cud — Literally, Causeth what has been chewed to come up. This describes the method of rumination. The ruminant is endowed with four stomachs. The first receives the vegetables coarsely bruised by a first mastication, which pass into the second, where they are moistened and formed into little pellets, which are brought up again to the mouth to be chewed again, then swallowed into the third stomach, from which they pass into the fourth, for final digestion. The qualities required in this verse exclude all carnivorous, but do not include all graminivorous, animals.

4. The camel — Some think that this beast is not to be eaten because of his extraordinary usefulness as “the ship of the desert.” But Jehovah pronounces him unclean, and for this reason commands his people to abstain from his flesh, a food much esteemed by the Arabs. Many attempts have been made to explain the grounds of this interdict of camel flesh, none of which is satisfactory. Divideth not the hoof — He does not fully divide the hoof into two equal parts, the front part only being cleft; he was excluded by the very terms of the definition. Since the number of camels in the East is immense, and their flesh is very palatable — according to Tristram’s taste less savoury than horse flesh — their prohibition was a great privation. The Jews, no doubt, ate camels’ milk, which is excellent. Jacob presented Esau with thirty milch camels. Genesis 32:15.

5. The coney —
The שָּׁפָ֗ן (shaphan), erroneously translated coney, is a gregarious, thick-skinned animal, living in caves and clefts of the rocks in Palestine. Its scientific name is hyrax Syriacus. Aside from this verse and its concordant, Deuteronomy 14:7, it is mentioned only in Psalm 104:18 and in Proverbs 30:26. It is scarcely of the size of the cat, timid, yet easily tamed, gray on the back, white on the belly, with long hair, a very short tail, and round ears. It resembles the Alpine marmot, and is not now very common in Palestine, though occasionally seen among the hills. It is singular in its structure and anatomy, being neither a ruminant nor a rodent, but is classed by naturalists between the hippopotamus and the rhinoceros. See Robinson, 3:387. Because he cheweth the cud — From the motion of their jaws both the hyrax and the hare were long supposed to ruminate, even by Linnaeus and other eminent naturalists. It is the opinion of modern scientists that they are only apparent, not real ruminants. The popular view is evidently given here. The mention of rumination is merely incidental, since it was not sufficient to classify them as clean. According to Revelation J.G. Wood the coney and the rabbit are rodents, and have to be working their chisel-like incisive teeth continually, to keep them sharp and from growing too long.

6. The hare —
This is probably the species lepus Sinaiticus, seen by modern travellers in the Sinaitic Peninsula and in Mount Lebanon. Hares are hunted in Syria with falcon and greyhound. Only the Arabs eat their flesh.

7. The swine — The Jews are not alone in their abhorrence of swine’s flesh. It was forbidden to the Egyptian priests, disallowed by the Koran, and rejected by the Phenicians, Ethiopians and other Eastern nations. At the present day a hog is scarcely ever seen in Palestine. Native Christians abstain from pork out of a prudential regard for the scruples of their Moslem and Jewish neighbours. Besides being a non-ruminant it is probable that the swine was excluded from the diet of the Hebrew on hygienic grounds, as liable to induce cutaneous diseases, especially the leprosy. The intimate connexion between disorders of the skin and the eating of pork is found in the derivation of the word scrofula, from the Latin scrofa, a breeding-sow.

Sunday, October 8, 2023

Sanctified Parents

QUESTION: Why are not the children of entirely sanctified parents born without any bent toward sin?

ANSWER: This bent is derived from fallen Adam. His sin damaged the whole race. The perfected holiness of the parents is not a natural but an acquired quality, which cannot be transmitted any more than any manual dexterity of mental attainment can be transmitted by descent. There are mysteries in heredity. How can black-haired parents have a redhead among their children? How did it come down from some ancestors who lived centuries before? When these questions are answered we will try to answer how a depraved child can be born of holy parents. It is true that the parent may intensify or diminish the evil trend in their child, but they cannot wholly remove it. That is the work of God only.

— From Steele's Answers pp. 13, 14.

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

The Books Beyond the Gospels

QUESTION: Why should I receive the epistles of Paul, John and other apostles as authorities equal to the words of Jesus Christ?

ANSWER: Because he announced the incompleteness of his teachings and that the Holy Spirit would teach them truths which they could not bear to receive from his lips, such as the atonement, justification by faith, the in-gathering of the Gentiles, the change of the Sabbath from the seventh to the first day, the substitution of baptism for circumcision, the abolition of the whole Levitical law.

— From Steele's Answers p. 13.

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

What is the Best Book of Illustrations for a Preacher?

QUESTION: What is the best book of illustrations for the pulpit?

ANSWER: The best three are: (1) the Bible, (2) Nature and (3) experience. A thorough study of those will furnish you with abundant illustrations pertinent and instructive. Cultivate the habit of seeing spiritual truths in the natural world and in the events of daily life. As for cyclopedias of illustration, the less you use them the better for your sermons and your self-respect. In my youthful ministry I cumbered my library with them, but I got rid of them so long ago that I have forgotten the names of their compilers. Become your own cyclopedia. Jesus often said, "The kingdom of heaven is like." Keep on the lookout for likes. If you wish to know what attractiveness they give to a sermon when the preacher is the discoverer of the likeness, read a volume of Rev. Louis Albert Banks, as a modern instance.

Steele's Answers pp. 102, 103.

Monday, October 2, 2023

Leviticus 10:12-20

"12 And Moses spake unto Aaron, and unto Eleazar and unto Ithamar, his sons that were left, Take the meat offering that remaineth of the offerings of the LORD made by fire, and eat it without leaven beside the altar: for it is most holy: 13 And ye shall eat it in the holy place, because it is thy due, and thy sons’ due, of the sacrifices of the LORD made by fire: for so I am commanded. 14 And the wave breast and heave shoulder shall ye eat in a clean place; thou, and thy sons, and thy daughters with thee: for they be thy due, and thy sons’ due, which are given out of the sacrifices of peace offerings of the children of Israel. 15 The heave shoulder and the wave breast shall they bring with the offerings made by fire of the fat, to wave it for a wave offering before the LORD; and it shall be thine, and thy sons’ with thee, by a statute for ever; as the LORD hath commanded. 16 And Moses diligently sought the goat of the sin offering, and, behold, it was burnt: and he was angry with Eleazar and Ithamar, the sons of Aaron which were left alive, saying, 17 Wherefore have ye not eaten the sin offering in the holy place, seeing it is most holy, and God hath given it you to bear the iniquity of the congregation, to make atonement for them before the LORD? 18 Behold, the blood of it was not brought in within the holy place: ye should indeed have eaten it in the holy place, as I commanded. 19 And Aaron said unto Moses, Behold, this day have they offered their sin offering and their burnt offering before the LORD; and such things have befallen me: and if I had eaten the sin offering to day, should it have been accepted in the sight of the LORD? 20 And when Moses heard that, he was content." —  Leviticus 10:12-20 KJV.


12. Take the meat offering — The appalling stroke of Jehovah’s wrath had disconcerted Aaron so that he had forgotten the prescribed order of the sacrifices. Moses reminds him that the meat offering follows the burnt offering consumed by celestial fire. Leviticus 9:24. See The Order of the Levitical Sacrifices. And eat it — The eating by the priest symbolizes the full acceptance of the oblation. See Leviticus 6:16, note, and Concluding Note (1) of the same chapter. Beside the altar — This was the altar of incense in the priests’ apartment, called the holy place, within the first veil. See chap. 4:7.

13. Thy due, and thy sons’ due — In addition to the meat offering there were other sources of revenue to the priests, enumerated in Numbers 5:9. For so I am commanded — “Moses was not the fountain of authority. God has no dead letters in his law book. The law is alive — tingling, throbbing in every letter and at every point. The commandment is exceeding broad; it never slumbers, never passes into obsoleteness, but stands in perpetual claim of right and insistence of decree. It is convenient to forget laws; but God will not allow any one of his laws to be forgotten.” — Joseph Parker.

15. The heave shoulder… wave breast —
See Leviticus 7:14, 30, notes. “All the members of the priestly family, daughters, as well as sons — all, whatever the measure of energy or capacity — are to feed upon the breast and the shoulder, the affections and the strength of the true Peace Offering as raised from the dead and presented before God.” — McIntosh.

16. The goat of the sin offering — This was the people’s sin offering which had been slain and offered by Moses, (Leviticus 9:15,) or by the two younger sons of Aaron, to whom this part of the ritual had been intrusted by Moses. And he was angry — No softer word will import into English the strength of the Hebrew יִּקְצֹף (katzaph)to snort, to storm. Anger is not a sin when it arises not from personal feeling, but purely in the interest of justice, truth, order, and humanity. The soul which cannot be angry at great wrongs Plato compares to an arm with the chief sinew cut asunder. We do not accept that weak defence of the imprecatory Psalms which explains them as simply declaratory of future judgments upon David’s enemies. They are the proper expression of a righteous indignation breathed out in behalf of God and his righteousness. Hence, the sinless Jesus on one occasion looked around with anger upon his foes lurking in ambush for his life. Mark 3:5. It remains for us to inquire whether Moses had sufficient provocation to just anger. We reply that stupidity and gross carelessness in handling interests of vast importance are such a provocation. The sins of the whole Hebrew nation were to be taken away by virtue of their incorporation into the priests by eating the people’s sin offering. Such was the sanctifying power of the priests’ office that by this act they were enabled to bear away the iniquity of the congregation. By the blunder of these young priests the people’s sins were still resting upon them. See chap. 6:26, note. Heedlessness in respect to our own interests is culpable, but in respect to the well-being of others it is criminal.

17. To bear the iniquity — The Hebrew שֵׂאת֙, he bore, with its derivatives, occurs in the Old Testament eight hundred and ninety-five times, or about once to every chapter. In relation to sin it occurs sixty-four times. It may be interpreted by portare peccatum, to bear or suffer the penalty of sin, or by auferre peccata, to remove sins. The predominant signification is that of removal; yet the other, of bearing, is by no means excluded thereby; rather was the bearing in this case a removal. “When the priests ate they incorporated sin, as it were, and the people received forgiveness unto themselves, that it might be prefigured that at some time the priest and the victim would be one person, namely, the Messiah, a prediction exactly fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth.” — Deyling. This singular episode between Moses and Aaron sheds much light upon the sacrifices. The goat of the sin offering and whatever touched it were most holy. The priests were to eat it, and thus the sins of the people, having been transferred through the animal to the priests, were representatively borne. See Numbers 9:13, note. Atonement — Leviticus 1:4, and 4:20, notes.

18. Blood… not brought — See Leviticus 6:30, note. In the passage referred to it will be seen that it was a law of the sin offering that it should not be eaten when the blood was brought into the tabernacle, for this is the meaning of the holy place in this place. This verse proves the converse to be true, namely, that every sin sacrifice shall be eaten whose blood was not brought into the holy place. In the first case the sprinkled blood expiated, and in the second, the eaten flesh removed sin.

19. Such things have befallen me — “Aaron here supplies the ‘one touch of nature’ which ‘makes the whole world kin.’ The deeper laws assert themselves against the more superficial statutes and ordinances.” — Joseph Parker. Aaron, forbidden to mourn in public, could not restrain his grief. His bursting heart finds relief in this one sentence whispered in the ear of his irate brother as an apology for his own neglect to eat the sin offering. He had been deterred by his sense of unworthiness and by his fear of committing an impropriety which might call down still greater judgments. This soft answer turned away wrath, for when Moses heard… he was content. “They were all, in a sense, unclean, even though the anointing oil of the Lord was upon them. They might eat the meat offering which was their due, but could not make atonement for the sins of the people.” — Bib. Sac. It is far better to be real in our confession of failure than to put forth pretensions to spiritual power without foundation. This chapter opens with positive sin, and closes with negative failure, the former dishonouring God, and the latter forfeiting his blessing.