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Leviticus 11:22 Commentary - Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers (Old and New Testaments)

(22) The locust after his kind.—Of the four species of locusts here specified as permitted to be eaten, this one called arbe is the most frequently mentioned in the Bible. It occurs no less than twenty-four times, and is in four instances wrongly rendered in the Authorised Version by “grasshopper” (Jdg. 6:5; Jdg. 7:12; Job. 39:20; Jer. 46:23). It is the locust which constituted the eighth plague of Egypt (Exo. 10:4-19); which is described as committing the terrible ravages (Deu. 28:38; Joe. 1:4; Joe. 2:25; Nah. 3:7); and which swarmed in such innumerable quantities that it became a proverb in the Bible, “like the locusts in multitude” (Jdg. 7:12; Jer. 46:23). From these characteristics the arbe is supposed to be the flying migratory locust. The administrators of the law in the time of Christ described the arbe by the name gubai, which is the species most commonly eaten, and ordained the following benediction to be recited before eating it: “Blessed be He by whose word everything was created.” The locusts which are still eaten by the Jews and other Eastern nations are prepared in different ways. Generally they are thrown alive into a pot of boiling water mixed with salt, and taken out after a few minutes, when the heads, feet, and wings are plucked off, and the trunks are dried in an oven or in the sun on the roofs of houses, and are kept in bags for winter use. They are also broiled or stewed, or fried in butter; or they are mixed with butter and spread on thin cakes of bread. In taste they resemble shrimps or prawns. There are shops in some Eastern towns where they only sell locusts, strung upon cords or by measure. The locusts thus form an antidote to the famine they create by the devastation which they commit. They formed, along with “wild honey,” the food of John the Baptist (Mat. 3:4).

And the bald locust.—This is the only place where salam, which is the name in the original, occurs as one of the edible kinds of leaping insects. Any attempt to identify the species is simply conjecture, since all which tradition tells us about it is that this kind of locust “has no tail but has a hump.”

The beetle.—Rather, the hopping locust. Though it is difficult to identify the exact species, as the name (chargol) does not occur again in the Bible, yet it is perfectly certain that a sort of locust is here intended, since the context clearly shows that four different kinds of the same insect are enumerated. This is moreover confirmed by the administrators of the law in the time of Christ, who assure us the chargol is a species of locust having both a hump and a tail, the eggs of which Jewish women suspended in the ear as a remedy against ear-ache. This shows that it must have been a very large kind, and as the name denotes the galloping or hopping one, it is evidently designed to describe an unwinged species.

The grasshopper.—Rather, the small locust. This name (chagab) occurs four times more in the Bible (Num. 13:33; 2Ch. 7:13; Ecc. 12:5; Isa. 40:22), and is only in one place rightly rendered by locust (2Ch. 7:13) in the Authorised Version. From the fact that it is described as laying waste the fields (2Ch. 7:13), and that its insignificant appearance is contrasted with giant men (Num. 13:33) and with the great God of heaven (Isa. 40:22), it is justly inferred that it denotes a small devastating locust which swarms in great quantities. According to the authorities in the time of Christ, it is a species which has a tail, but no hump. It was so common that the name (chagab) became a generic term for many of the locust tribe. Some kinds bearing this name were beautifully marked, and were eagerly caught by Jewish children as playthings, just as butterflies and cockchafers are sought after by children in the present day. Others again were caught in large numbers, sprinkled over with wine, and then sold. Hence the following two rules obtained during the second Temple: (1) No Israelite was allowed to buy them after the dealer had prepared them in this manner; and (2) he that vowed to abstain from flesh is not allowed to eat the flesh of fish and of (chagabim) locusts. Because the edible kinds of locusts are passed over in the parallel dietary laws in Deuteronomy, some have concluded that the eating of these insects was prohibited at the more advanced time when Deuteronomy was written. The fact, however, that John the Baptist ate locusts, and that a benediction was ordered during the second Temple to be recited at eating them, plainly shows the futility of the assertion. The Lawgiver never intended to repeat in Deuteronomy every particular point of legislation.

Consult other comments:

Leviticus 11:22 - Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible

Leviticus 11:22 - Joseph Benson’s Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Leviticus 11:22 - Adam Clarke's Commentary and Critical Notes on the Bible

Leviticus 11:22 - Companion Bible Notes, Appendices and Graphics

Leviticus 11:22 - Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers (Old and New Testaments)

Leviticus 11:22 - Geneva Bible Notes

Leviticus 11:22 - John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Leviticus 11:22 - English Annotations on the Holy Bible by Matthew Poole

Leviticus 11:22 - John Trapp's Complete Commentary (Old and New Testaments)

Leviticus 11:22 - The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Leviticus 11:22 - Whedon's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers (Old and New Testaments)