And John was clothed with camel's hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)And John was clothed. . . .—See Note on Matthew 3:4.Matthew 3:3, Matthew 3:5-6, Matthew 3:11. See Poole on "Matthew 3:4". Matthew 3:4, to which may be added, that it was usual for penitents, and men of austere lives, and of the first class for holiness and religion, to live in deserts, to fare hard, and wear coarse apparel. Mention is made of one man, who is called, (f), because he had on a garment of goat's hair, which cut his flesh, that so it might atone for him, for he was a penitent:
and with a girdle or skin about his loins; a leathern one, as in Matthew 3:4, not a golden one, such as the high priest wore, though the (g) Jews call John an high priest: he was indeed of the priestly race: his father was a priest, but he did not wear a priestly girdle, nor any of the priest's garments;
and he ate locusts and wild honey. The Ethiopic version renders it, "honey of earth bees": in Ethiopia was a sort of bees, little bigger than flies, and without a sting, which had their hives in the earth, where they produced honey of a white colour, very pleasant and wholesome; and this is thought, by the Ethiopians, to be the honey which John ate (h); but then there must have been the same in Judea, which does not appear. Moreover, in the land of Judea, there was , "the honey of palm trees"; and it is said (i), that it is the best honey; and therefore the Scripture calls, honey of the palm trees, honey; and the palm trees which grow in the plains and valleys, abound most with it; wherefore there was much of this about Jericho, the city of palm trees: there was also , "honey of figs"; which in some places was in great plenty:
"R. Jacob ben Dosthai says (k), it is three miles from Lud to Ono (see Ezra 2:33) one time I walked before break of day, and I went up to my ankles in honey of figs.''
Dr. Lightfoot thinks, this was the honey the evangelist speaks of, and John ate of. I have observed on Matthew 3:4 that with the Jews, the honey of bees was lawful to eat (l) though the bees themselves were not. So Jonathan ben Uzziel paraphrases, Leviticus 11:20,
"Let the species of bees be an abomination to you, but the honey of bees may be eaten;''
they being reckoned among reptiles that fly: and it may be further observed, that according to them, the honey of wasps and hornets was lawful to be eaten, as well as the honey of bees (m) and this may be truly called, as here, wild honey; for which they give these reasons (n), because it is not of the substance of their bodies, but they gather it from herbs; and because in the same manner as bees, they take it into their bodies, but do not produce it from them; though some of the doctors dissent, and think it not lawful (o).
(f) T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 56. 2. Vid. Buxtorf. not. in Sepher Cosri, p. 156, 157. (g) Gauz. Tzemach David, par. 1. fol. 25. 2.((h) Ludolph. Lex. Ethiop. p. 447. (i) Maimon. & Bartenora in Misn. Biccurim, c. 1. sect. 10. (k) T. Bab. Cetubot, fol. 111. 2.((l) Vid. Piske Tosephot Becorot, art. 13. (m) Misn. Macshirin, c. 6. sect. 4. T. Bab. Becorot, fol. 7. 2.((n) Maimon. Hilch. Maacalot Asurot, c. 3. sect. 3. Ib. & Bartenora in Misn. Macshirin, ibid. (o) In Piske Tosephot Becorot, art. 13. Maggid Misna in Maimon. Hilch. Maacolot ib.And John was clothed with camel's hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey;
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Mark 1:6 describes John’s way of life as in Mt., ἐνδεδυμένος standing for εἶχεν τὸ ἔνδυμα, and ἔσθων for ἡ τροφὴ ἦν.6. was clothed] The Evangelist draws our attention to three points in reference to the Baptist:
(a) His appearance. He recalled the asceticism of the Essene. His raiment was of the coarsest texture, such as was worn by Elijah (2 Kings 1:8) and the prophets generally (Zechariah 13:4). His girdle, an ornament often of the greatest richness in Oriental costume and of the finest linen (Jeremiah 13:1; Ezekiel 16:10) or cotton or embroidered with silver and gold (Daniel 10:5; Revelation 1:13; Revelation 15:6), was of untanned leather (2 Kings 1:8), like that worn by the Bedouin of the present day.
(b) His diet was the plainest and simplest. Locusts were permitted as an article of food (Leviticus 11:21-22). Sometimes they were ground and pounded, and then mixed with flour and water and made into cakes; sometimes they were salted and then eaten. For wild honey comp. the story of Jonathan, 1 Samuel 14:25-27.
(c) His message. (1) That the members of the Elect Nation were all morally unclean, and all needed moral and spiritual regeneration; (2) that One mightier than he was coming; (3) that He would baptize with the Holy Ghost.Verse 6. - Clothed with camel's hair. This was a rough, coarse garment, characteristic of the doctrine which John taught, namely, penitence and contempt of the world. Camels abounded in Syria. And a leathern girdle about his loins. Not only the prophets, but the Jews and the inhabitants of Syria generally, used a girdle to keep the long flowing garment more closely about them, so as to leave them more free for journeying or for labour. Thus our Lord says (Luke 12:35), "Let your loins be girded about, and your lamps burning." And he did eat locusts and wild honey. The insect called the locust (ἀκρὶς) was permitted to be eaten (see Leviticus 11:22). It was used as food by the common people in Judaea. The Arabs eat them to this day; but they are considered as a common and inferior kind of food. They are a sign of temperance, poverty, and penitence. The wild honey (μέλι ἄγριον) was simply honey made by wild bees, either in the trees or in the hollows of the rocks. Isidorus says that it was of an inferior flavour. Both these kinds of food were consistent with the austere life and the solemn preaching of the Baptist.
Lit., hairs. Not with a camel's skin, but with a vesture woven of camels' hair. Compare 2 Kings 1, 8.
"The innumerable fissures and clefts of the limestone rocks, which everywhere flank the valleys, afford in their recesses secure shelter for any number of swarms of wild bees; and many of the Bedouin, particularly about the wilderness of Judaea, obtain their subsistence by bee-hunting, bringing into Jerusalem jars of that wild honey on which John the Baptist fed in the wilderness" (Tristram, "Land of Israel"). Wyc., honey of the wood.
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