(chelebh, chelebh): The layer of subcutaneous fat and the compact suet surrounding the viscera and imbedded in the entrails, which, like the blood, was forbidden as food in the Mosaic code (Le 3:17). It was to be sacrificed to God by being burnt upon the altar (Le 3:16; 30). This had to be done on the very day on which a beast had been slaughtered, to remove temptation from the Israelite to use it otherwise (Ex 23:18). The law was probably a sanitary restriction, for, at an early date, leprosy, scrofula and disfiguring cutaneous diseases were thought to be caused by the use of fat as food. It was, moreover, an important pedagogical provision teaching the idea of self-denial, and the maxim that the richest and best meat of the edible animal belonged to Yahweh.
See also FATLING; FOWL,FATTED .
The expression "fat" is often used in figurative senses, e.g. abundant, exuberant, lusty, fertile, robust, outwardly successful (De 32:15; Ps 92:14 the King James Version; Ps 119:70; Pr 11:25; 13:4, etc.).
H. L. E. Luering