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THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW - Chapter 3 - Verse 4
Verse 4. His raiment of camel's hair. His clothing. This is not the fine hair of the camel from which our elegant cloth is made, called eamlet; nor the more elegant stuff, brought from the East Indies, under the name of camel's hair; but the long, shaggy hair of the camel, from which a coarse, cheap cloth is made, still worn by the poorer classes in the East, and by monks. This dress of the camel's hair, and a leathern girdle, it seems, was the common dress of the prophets, 2 Ki 1:8; Zec 13:4.
His meat was locusts. His food. These constituted the food of the common people. Among the Greeks, the vilest of the people used to eat them; and the fact that John made his food of them is significant of his great poverty and humble life. The Jews were allowed to eat them, Le 11:22. Locusts are flying insects, and are of various kinds. The green locusts are about two inches in length, and about the thickness of a man's finger. The common brown locust is about three inches long. The general form and appearance of the locust is not unlike the grasshopper They were one of the plagues of Egypt, Ex 10:1. In eastern countries they are very numerous. They appear in such quantities as to darken the sky, and devour in a short time every green thing. The whole earth is sometimes covered with them for many leagues, Joe 1:4; Isa 33:4.
"Some species of the locust are eaten at this day in eastern
countries, and are even esteemed a delicacy when properly
cooked. After tearing off the legs and wings, and taking out
the entrails, they stick them in long rows upon wooden spits,
roast them at the fire, and then proceed to devour them with
great zest. There are also other ways of preparing them.
For example: They cook them and dress them in oil; or, having
dried them, they pulverize them, and when other food is scarce
make bread of the meal. The Bedouins pack them with salt, in
close masses, which they carry in their leathern sacks. From
these they cut slices as they may need them. It is singular
that even learned men have suffered themselves to hesitate
about understanding these passages of the literal locust,
when the fact that these are eaten by the orientals is so
abundantly proved by the concurrent testimony of travellers.
One of them says, they are brought to market on strings in all
the cities of Arabia, and that he saw an Arab on Mount
Sumara, who had collected a sack full of them. They are
prepared in different ways. An Arab in Egypt, of whom he
requested that he would immediately eat locusts in his presence,
threw them upon the glowing coals; and after he supposed they
were roasted enough, he took them by the legs and head, and
devoured the remainder at one mouthful. When the Arabs have
them in quantities, they roast or dry them in an oven, or boil
them and eat them with salt. The Arabs in the kingdom of
Morocco boil the locusts; and the Bedouins eat locusts, which
are collected in great quantities in the beginning of April,
when they are easily caught. After having been roasted a
little upon the iron plate on which bread is baked, they are
dried in the sun, and then put into large sacks, with the
mixture of a little salt. They are never served up as a dish,
but every one takes a handful of them when hungry. "
Un. Bib. Die
Bees were kept with great care and great numbers of them abounded in the fissures of trees and the clefts of rocks. There is also a species of honey called wild-honey, or wood-honey 1 Sa 14:27, or honey-dew, produced by certain little insects, and deposited on the leaves of trees, and flowing from them in great quantities to the ground. See 1 Sa 14:24-27. This is said to be produced still in Arabia; and perhaps it was this which John lived upon.
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