Leviticus 11:21
Yet these may ye eat of every flying creeping thing that goeth upon all four, which have legs above their feet, to leap withal upon the earth;
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(21) Of every flying creeping thing.—Rather, of all winged creeping things. Having laid down the general rule that those creatures which creep along upon their feet in the manner of quadrupeds, and which have also wings, must not be eaten, the Lawgiver now mentions those which form an exception.

Which have legs above their feet.—Better, which have knees above their hinder legs, that is, those which have the third or hindmost pair of legs much longer and stronger than ordinary insects. Those insects, therefore, in whose hindermost legs the second joint is much larger and stronger, whereby they are enabled to leap or raise themselves up with great force and leap a great distance upon the earth, are excepted. These are the locusts. The canonical law which obtained during the second Temple defines more minutely the characteristics of clean locusts. A clean locust we are told has (1) four front feet, (2) four wings, (3) two springing feet, and (4) the wings so long and broad that they cover the greater portion of the back body of the insect. If it possesses these four characteristics it is clean, whether it is with a tail or without it, and whether it has an oblong or round head.

11:1-47 What animals were clean and unclean. - These laws seem to have been intended, 1. As a test of the people's obedience, as Adam was forbidden to eat of the tree of knowledge; and to teach them self-denial, and the government of their appetites. 2. To keep the Israelites distinct from other nations. Many also of these forbidden animals were objects of superstition and idolatry to the heathen. 3. The people were taught to make distinctions between the holy and unholy in their companions and intimate connexions. 4. The law forbad, not only the eating of the unclean beasts, but the touching of them. Those who would be kept from any sin, must be careful to avoid all temptations to it, or coming near it. The exceptions are very minute, and all were designed to call forth constant care and exactness in their obedience; and to teach us to obey. Whilst we enjoy our Christian liberty, and are free from such burdensome observances, we must be careful not to abuse our liberty. For the Lord hath redeemed and called his people, that they may be holy, even as he is holy. We must come out, and be separate from the world; we must leave the company of the ungodly, and all needless connexions with those who are dead in sin; we must be zealous of good works devoted followers of God, and companions of his people.
]Legs above their feet, to leap withal upon the earth - The families of the Saltatoria, of which the common cricket, the common grasshopper, and the migratory locust, may be taken as types. 21, 22. Yet these may ye eat of every flying creeping thing that goeth upon all four, which have legs above their feet—Nothing short of a scientific description could convey more accurately the nature "of the locust after its kind." They were allowed as lawful food to the Israelites, and they are eaten by the Arabs, who fry them in olive oil. When sprinkled with salt, dried, smoked, and fried, they are said to taste not unlike red herrings. Which have legs above their feet. The truth of this translation may seem evident, both from the following clause, to

leap withal, and especially from the next verse, where one of this kind is the locusts, which, as it is manifest, have two legs wherewith they leap, besides the four feet upon which they walk. The adverb lo is here put for the pronoun lo, as it is also 1 Chronicles 11:20, compared with 2 Samuel 23:18. Others take the words as they lie, and read them negatively, which have not legs upon their feet, and so the sense may be this, That they might eat the locusts, grasshoppers, &c. when they were very young, and therefore more wholesome for food; for they are born without legs, Plin. Nat. Hist. 11.29, or their legs at first are very small, and scarce to be discerned, and in effect none. And the canon of the Jews in this matter is this, Those which yet have not wings and legs may be eaten, though they be such as afterward would have them.

Yet these may ye eat,.... Which are after described and named:

of every flying creeping thing that goeth upon all four; even though it is a creeping thing that flies and goes upon four feet, provided they be such:

which have legs above their feet, to leap withal upon the earth; there is a double reading of this clause; the textual reading is, "which have not legs", and is followed by several interpreters and translators; and the marginal reading, which we follow, is, "which have legs"; and both are to be regarded as true, and written by Moses, as Ainsworth observes; for locusts are born without legs, and yet creep low, as Pliny asserts (z), and they have them afterwards; and it is a canon of the Jews, that what have not legs or wings now, or have not wings to cover the greatest part of them, but shall have after a time when grown up, these are as free (to eat) now, as when grown up (a). Dr. Shaw thinks (b) the words may bear this construction, "which have knees upon" or "above their hinder legs, to leap withal upon the earth"; and applying this to the locust afterwards, and only instanced in, he observes, that this has the two hindermost of its legs and feet much stronger, larger, and longer than any of the foremost. In them the knee, or the articulation of the leg and thigh, is distinguished by a remarkable bending or curvature, whereby it is able, whenever prepared, to jump, to spring, or raise itself up with great force and activity. And these Aristotle (c) calls the leaping parts; and though he attributes to the locust six feet, as does also Pliny (d), yet he takes the two leaping parts into the account; whereas Moses distinguishes those two from the four feet; and so Austin (e) observes, that Moses does not reckon among the feet the two hinder thighs with which locusts leap, which he calls clean, and thereby distinguishes them from such unclean flying creatures which do not leap with their thighs, such as beetles; and so the Jewish writers always describe a clean locust as having four feet, and two legs, thighs, or knees. Maimonides (f) gives three signs of them, which are these, whatsoever has four feet and four wings, which cover the greatest part of its body in length, and the greatest part of the compass of it, and has two thighs or knees to leap with, they are of the clean kind; and although its head is long, and it hath a tail, if its name is "chagob" (a locust) it is clean.

(z) Nat. Hist. l. 11. c. 29. (a) Maimon. ib. c. 1. sect. 23. (b) Travels, p. 420. (c) De Part. Animal. l. 4. c. 6. (d) Nat. Hist. l. 11. c. 48. (e) Retract. l. 2. c. 15. (f) Maacolot Asurot, c. 1. sect. 22.

Yet these may ye eat of every flying creeping thing that goeth upon all four, which have legs above their feet, to leap withal upon the earth;
21–23. Four kinds of these swarming things which may be eaten are mentioned. The first and last of these occur frequently in the O.T., the second and third only here.

The first is ’arbeh, the general term for a locust, and from the passages in which it occurs (e.g. Exodus 10:4, of the plague of locusts, Jdg 6:5; Jdg 7:12, of invading troops) is clearly a highly destructive insect.

The fourth, ḥâgâb, is translated ‘grasshopper’ except in 2 Chronicles 7:13, where both R.V. and A.V. render ‘locust.’ From the words which follow, ‘to devour the land,’ it is clear the grasshopper is not meant, but one of the locust family. The rendering ‘beetle’ of A.V. for the third is certainly wrong. The Heb. word probably means a galloper, and the characteristic of the four kinds is that they ‘have legs … to leap withal.’

That they were actually eaten appears from Matthew 3:4; Mark 1:6.

Leviticus 11:21(cf. Deuteronomy 14:19). To the birds there are appended flying animals of other kinds: "all swarms of fowl that go upon fours," i.e., the smaller winged animals with four feet, which are called sherez, "swarms," on account of their multitude. These were not to be eaten, as they were all abominations, with the exception of those "which have two shank-feet above their feet (i.e., springing feet) to leap with" (לא for לו as in Exodus 21:8). Locusts are the animals referred to, four varieties being mentioned with their different species ("after his kind"); but these cannot be identified with exactness, as there is still a dearth of information as to the natural history of the oriental locust. It is well known that locusts were eaten by many of the nations of antiquity both in Asia and Africa, and even the ancient Greeks thought the Cicades very agreeable in flavour (Arist. h. an. 5, 30). In Arabia they are sold in the market, sometimes strung upon cords, sometimes by measure; and they are also dried, and kept in bags for winter use. For the most part, however, it is only by the poorer classes that they are eaten, and many of the tribes of Arabia abhor them (Robinson, ii. p. 628); and those who use them as food do not eat all the species indiscriminately. They are generally cooked over hot coals, or on a plate, or in an oven, or stewed in butter, and eaten either with salt or with spice and vinegar, the head, wings, and feet being thrown away. They are also boiled in salt and water, and eaten with salt or butter. Another process is to dry them thoroughly, and then grind them into meal and make cakes of them. The Israelites were allowed to eat the arbeh, i.e., according to Exodus 10:13, Exodus 10:19; Nahum 3:17, etc., the flying migratory locust, gryllus migratorius, which still bears this name, according to Niebuhr, in Maskat and Bagdad, and is poetically designated in Psalm 78:46; Psalm 105:34, as חסיל, the devourer, and ילק, the eater-up; but Knobel is mistaken in supposing that these names are applied to certain species of the arbeh. סלעם, according to the Chaldee, deglutivit, absorpsit, is unquestionably a larger and peculiarly voracious species of locust. This is all that can be inferred from the rashon of the Targums and Talmud, whilst the ἀττάκης and attacus of the lxx and Vulg. are altogether unexplained. חרגּל: according to the Arabic, a galloping, i.e., a hopping, not a flying species of locust. This is supported by the Samaritan, also by the lxx and Vulg., ὀφιομάχης, ophiomachus. According to Hesychius and Suidas, it was a species of locust without wings, probably a very large kind; as it is stated in Mishnah, Shabb. vi. 10, that an egg of the chargol was sometimes suspended in the ear, as a remedy for earache. Among the different species of locusts in Mesopotamia, Niebuhr (Arab. p. 170) saw two of a very large size with springing feet, but without wings. חגב, a word of uncertain etymology, occurs in Numbers 13:33, where the spies are described as being like chagabim by the side of the inhabitants of the country, and in 2 Chronicles 7:13, where the chagab devours the land. From these passages we may infer that it was a species of locust without wings, small but very numerous, probably the ἀττέλαβος, which is often mentioned along with the ἀκρίς, but as a distinct species, locustarum minima sine pennis (Plin. h. n. 29, c. 4, s. 29), or parva locusta modicis pennis reptans potius quam volitans semperque subsiliens (Jerome (on Nahum 3:17).

(Note: In Deuteronomy 14:19 the edible kinds of locusts are passed over, because it was not the intention of Moses to repeat every particular of the earlier laws in these addresses. But when Knobel (on Lev. pp. 455 and 461) gives this explanation of the omission, that the eating of locusts is prohibited in Deuteronomy, and the Deuteronomist passes them over because in his more advanced age there was apparently no longer any necessity for the prohibition, this arbitrary interpretation is proved to be at variance with historical truth by the fact that locusts were eaten by John the Baptist, inasmuch as this proves at all events that a more advanced age had not given up the custom of eating locusts.)

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