DID JOHN THE BAPTIST REALLY EAT BUGS ?
At Least, Not For Long !
MUCH MORE LIKELY...
Much more likely, John The Baptist survived on the edible fruit of the locust TREE year-round.
MATTHEW, Chapter 3, Verse 4 (Last Half); "....and his food was locusts and wild honey." KJV
John The Baptist did NOT survive YEAR-ROUND by eating adult locusts, the flying grasshopper-like insect.
While the consumption of insect locusts was not completely unheard-of, it was most uncommon and highly unusual, relegated to last-ditch-options in stark survival situations. He certainly could have eaten those bugs in their short season, occasionally, whenever locust larva would pupate, mature into adults, and then emerge above ground en masse, swarm, mate (after which the males die), and lay new egg cases in the ground, after which the females also die.
It is quite possible that events surrounding the references in Matthew and Mark coincided with a time (a short season) when grasshopper-like locusts were available to John in abundance. Yielding him a bonanza of high protein sustenance, for many adult and larval insects are a wonderful source of "survival-chow".
And there is always the very realistic fact of God's Providence in the provision of sustenance, and the possibility that John The Baptist was not out in the wilderness, living on locusts and wild honey, for a long period of time but just for a short season.
While, in the Israel region, there are always some locusts available, it is during and shortly after the rainy seasons when they are seen in any abundance. Throughout the year, any available locusts are well scattered among the few lush, green, well-watered areas where either natural or agricultural vegetation predominates. The majority of the lands in that region are dry, rocky, barren and void of vegetation - and locusts do not hang-out in the sandy deserts or in true "wilderness" areas, like where John The Baptist was reportedly eking-out a meager existence. Locust TREES, however, naturally subsist and predominate in wilderness regions.
Under normal climatic conditions, locusts are solitary creatures. But occasionally, in times of scarce vegetation, whether caused by too many locusts - by a lack of rain - or by a combination of the two, locusts become agitated, begin flying about, then they begin to uncustomarily congregate in large masses. The release of chemical precursors, pheromones, induces a massive coordinated hatch of additional locusts, which further agitates the ever-growing mob of insects. And they begin to swarm, joining together with any other mobs, inducing each to also swarm. And although locusts can be agriculturally problematic whenever their numbers are great, they truly become a "Plague" when they swarm and produce ruin throughout entire regions. A plague of locusts will cause famine after they have ravaged flourishing crops, other plants and trees throughout a region.
Locust swarms are not even a dependable ANNUAL event, and if John The Baptist were so observant or so lucky as to discover an area where female locusts were, en masse, laying their egg cases in the ground, he could harvest the spent, dying, adult female locusts. But he would have to wait many months to dig-up and harvest any locust larva or pupae until after they had progressed from embryos into an edible stage of development. And, that assumes he observed an area where egg cases were being laid and knew where to later dig, expending much energy to cover a few acres.
Instead of feasting on insects, it is much more likely John The Baptist survived on a "bean-feast" of locust pods, year-round, since he was out in the wilderness for a great length of time.
Leguminous evergreen tree (Ceratonia siliqua) native to the E Mediterranean region and cultivated elsewhere. It is sometimes known as locust, or St. John's bread, in the belief that the "locusts" on which John the Baptist fed were carob pods. The tree, about 50 ft (15 m) tall, bears compound, glossy leaves with thick leaflets. Its red flowers are followed by flat, leathery pods that contain 5-15 hard brown seeds embedded in a sweet, edible pulp that tastes similar to chocolate.
The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th Edition. Copyright © 2002 Columbia University Press.
(krŽb) (KEY), leguminous evergreen tree (Ceratonia siliqua) of the family Leguminosae (pulse family), native to Mediterranean regions but cultivated in other warm climates, including Florida and California.
The large red pods have been used as food for animal and man since prehistoric times.
The pods and their extracted content have numerous common names, e.g., locust bean gum and "Saint Johns Bread" the latter from the belief that they may have been the "locust" eaten by John the Baptist in the wilderness (Matthew 3:4; Mark 1:6).
Carob is used also for curing tobacco, in paper making, and as a stabilizer in food products.
It has been claimed that the seeds were the original of the carat, the measure of weight for precious jewels and metals.
Carob is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Rosales, family Leguminosae.
The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th Edition. Copyright © 2002 Columbia University Press
LOCUST - lo·cust, n.
1 -- Any of numerous grasshoppers of the family Acrididae, often migrating in immense swarms that devour vegetation and crops.
2 -- The seventeen-year locust.
3 -- Any of several North American deciduous trees of the genus Robinia, especially R. pseudoacacia, having compound leaves, drooping clusters of fragrant white flowers, and durable hard wood.
3a -- Any of several similar or related trees bearing edible fruit, such as the honey locust or the carob, of the E. Med. area.
4 -- The edible fruit or the wood of one of these trees.
[Middle English, from Old French locuste, from Latin locusta. Sense 3a, probably from the resemblance of its fruit to a locust.]: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
There are ten Hebrew words used in Scripture to signify locust. In the New Testament locusts are mentioned as forming part of the food of John the Baptist (Matt. 3:4; Mark 1:6). By the Mosaic law they were reckoned "clean," so that he could lawfully eat them. The name also occurs in Rev. 9:3, 7, in allusion to this Oriental devastating insect.
Locusts belong to the class of Orthoptera, i.e., straight-winged. They are of many species. The ordinary Syrian locust resembles the grasshopper, but is larger and more destructive. "The legs and thighs of these insects are so powerful that they can leap to a height of two hundred times the length of their bodies. When so raised they spread their wings and fly so close together as to appear like one compact moving mass."
Locusts are prepared as food in various ways. Sometimes they are pounded, and then mixed with flour and water, and baked into cakes; "sometimes boiled, roasted, or stewed in butter, and then eaten." They were eaten in a preserved state by the ancient Assyrians.
The devastations they make in Eastern lands are often very appalling. The invasions of locusts are the heaviest calamites that can befall a country. "Their numbers exceed computation: the Hebrews called them 'the countless,' and the Arabs knew them as 'the darkeners of the sun.'
Unable to guide their own flight, though capable of crossing large spaces, they are at the mercy of the wind, which bears them as blind instruments of Providence to the doomed region given over to them for the time. Innumerable as the drops of water or the sands of the seashore, their flight obscures the sun and casts a thick shadow on the earth (Ex. 10:15; Judg. 6:5; 7:12; Jer. 46:23; Joel 2:10).
It seems indeed as if a great aerial mountain, many miles in breadth, were advancing with a slow, unresting progress. Woe to the countries beneath them if the wind fall and let them alight! They descend unnumbered as flakes of snow and hide the ground. It may be 'like the garden of Eden before them, but behind them is a desolate wilderness.
At their approach the people are in anguish; all faces lose their colour' (Joel 2:6). No walls can stop them; no ditches arrest them; fires kindled in their path are forthwith extinguished by the myriads of their dead, and the countless armies march on (Joel 2:8, 9). If a door or a window be open, they enter and destroy everything of wood in the house. Every terrace, court, and inner chamber is filled with them in a moment.
Such an awful visitation swept over Egypt (Ex. 10:1-19), consuming before it every green thing, and stripping the trees, till the land was bared of all signs of vegetation. A strong north-west wind from the Mediterranean swept the locusts into the Red Sea.", Geikie's Hours, etc., ii., 149.
Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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