Continuing in Leviticus 11 we read, "All fowls that creep (winged
insects), going upon all four (four feet plus two hands, making
six appendages), shall be an abomination unto you. Yet these may
ye eat of every flying creeping thing (winged insect) that goeth
upon all four, which have legs above their feet, with which to
leap upon the earth; Even these of them ye may eat: the LOCUST
after its kind, and the BALD LOCUST after its kind, and the
beetle (CRICKET) after its kind, and the GRASSHOPPER after its
kind. But all other flying creeping things (winged insects),
which have four feet (and two hands), shall be an abomination
unto you" (11:20-23).
The N.I.V. renders verse 22 this way, "Of these you may eat any
kind of LOCUST, KATYDID (a green cricket-like insect), CRICKET or
The T.E.V. says, "All winged insects are unclean, except those
that hop. You may eat LOCUSTS, CRICKETS, or GRASSHOPPERS"
But a word of caution should be given since "MORMON CRICKETS,
CAMEL (CAVE) CRICKETS, MOLE CRICKETS, and JERUSALEM CRICKETS are
not considered true crickets" (p.908, vol. 4, World Book
Encyclopedia, copyright 1985). The CAMEL (CAVE) CRICKET is a
wingless scavenger! It cannot fly and consequently is unclean!
The MORMON and JERUSALEM CRICKETS don't have any wings either, so
are also unclean! MOLE CRICKETS have only very short, stubby
wings. Instead of leaping on the earth, they burrow under it!
Many CAVE and CAMEL CRICKETS are also subterranean. Also, some
kinds of LOCUSTS and GRASSHOPPERS are wingless.
Leviticus 11:29-30 says, "These also shall be unclean unto you
among the creeping things that creep upon the earth: the WEASEL,
and the MOUSE, and the TORTOISE after its kind, And the FERRET,
and the CHAMELEON, and the LIZARD, and the SNAIL, and the MOLE."
"Whatsoever goeth upon the belly, and whatsoever goeth goeth upon
all four, or whatsoever hath many feet among all creeping things
that creep upon the earth, them ye shall not eat; for they are an
abomination" (11:41-42). Other members of this list include the
FROG, SALAMANDER, ASP, COBRA, BOA CONSTRICTOR, ALLIGATOR,
CROCODILE, RATTLESNAKE, SPIDER, CENTEPEDE, MILLIPEDE, RAT, SLUG,
Most people have common sense enough to avoid the members of this
group as food, yet even here the SNAIL is eaten as ESCARGOT, and
CANNED RATTLESNAKE can be found in the delicacy section of some
food stores. FROG'S LEGS are especially popular in France and
MAGUEY BUTTER (made from yellow worms) is eaten in Mexico! TURTLE
SOUP is available in some parts of the United States!
But why are grasshoppers permitted? Part of the answer
undoubtedly lies in the fact that, "Except for mantids, which
capture living insects, and some cockroaches, crickets and
katydids, which are scavengers, omnivores and occasionally
predators, MOST ORTHOPTERA ARE HERBIVOROUS" (p.1129, vol. 16,
Encyclopedia Britannica, copyright 1973). From the eleventh
edition, volume 12, page 377, article "Grasshoppers," we read
that "All are vegetable feeders." The large, Old World species of
locusts are "phytophagous" (plantfeeders) (volume 16, p.857,
article "Locust"). Many of these Orthoptera insects are so
selective in their eating habits that they consume the same foods
as man, vegetable gardens and grain fields! This is why swarms of
LOCUSTS and GRASSHOPPERS, unlike all other insects, can be so
detrimental to man! But at the same time, farmers who have read
their Bibles can benefit from locust plagues, at least in a small
way, by catching vast numbers of these insects in nets, drowning
them in water, and preserving them as food.
Interestingly, GRASSHOPPERS have a crop, gizzard, gastric caeca
and a stomach, in that order, from front to back. Truly, they
could be classified as "clean birds" according to the Mishnah!
Even the Bible itself seems to include winged insects in the bird
category just as much as in the "creeping thing" category. They
are called "fowls" (Lev. 11:20-21) the same as all the birds we
normally consider to be fowls (11:13-19). Of course, the word in
Hebrew merely comes from a root meaning of "to cover" (with
wings) which would apply equally to insects or feathered birds!
But nobody can dispute the fact that verses 20 to 23 (discussing
winged insects) come immediately after verses 13 to 19
(discussing feathered birds) rather than in verses 29 and 30
(discussing "creeping things").
Also like their clean counterparts in the beast category, they
CHEW their food with two powerful grinding jaws called mandibles.
All of the insects that PIERCE and SUCK are the unclean type! A
person can't help but compare their chewing mandibles with the
broad, flat teeth of ruminants that are constantly engaged in
chewing vegetation! But unclean dogs gulp down their food!
"Snakes swallow their food whole.... Sharp, pointed teeth, poorly
adapted for chewing, generally characterize meat eaters such as
SNAKES, DOGS and CATS" (p.784, vol. 5, Encyclopedia Britannica,
Furthermore, the GRASSHOPPER uses its antennae to examine food.
It even has fingerlike projections "on both sides of the mouth
and on the lower lip. They contain the insect's 'taste buds.'"
(p.317, vol. 8, World Book Encyclopedia).
But, in contrast, the unclean "creeping things" don't seem to
care what they eat! They're carnivores, predators, and
scavengers! In addition to these undesirable characteristics,
many of these unclean creatures are also poisonous. SPIDERS,
TICKS, SCORPIONS, SNAKES, WASPS, BEES, ANTS, TOADS and FROGS all
have their poisonous varieties that infect man via bite, sting,
or just plain contact as is the case between the "warts" (poison
glands) of TOADS and a person's mouth or cut hand! The skin of
Fire-bellied TOADS is so poisonous that just "looking into a bag
of freshly caught specimens causes fits of sneezing and watering
of the eyes" (p.566, vol. 6, Encyclopedia of the Animal World).
Incidentally, even though BEES are unclean, the HONEY they
produce is fit to eat since it is pollen from flowers in another
form and not actually from the BEES themselves.
Other unclean "creeping things" are notorious diseasecarriers!
MOSQUITOS transmit Malaria, Yellow Fever, Dengue* and Filariasis.
FLIES transmit Trypanosome Diseases*, Tularemia, Pappataci Fever
and Leishmaniasis*. "SNAILS convey flukes, but not by ingestion"
(p.821, M. Rosenau). TICKS can transmit germs of Rocky Mountain
spotted fever*, Q Fever, and other diseases. RATS host fleas
which carry Bubonic plague. Rat-bite Fever* can be transmitted to
man by the bite of an infected RAT or MOUSE. Lassa Fever* is also
transmitted to humans by contact with infected rodent urine,
feces and saliva. Infectious Jaundice, Endemic Typhus*,
Trichinosis*, and Food Infection can all be transmitted to man,
one way or another, by RATS! RATS and MICE "may harbor eleven
species of internal parasites which also occur in man" (p. 278,
Finally, notice that these four categories of beasts, fish, birds
and "creeping things" are not based on modernday classification
criteria which use such categories as "Mammals," "Reptiles,"
"Invertebrates" and "Insects," but instead are based on the
creature's environment and visible characteristics, making it
easy to tell on sight whether or not the creature is edible. When
buying packaged, processed foods, it is still possible to tell on
sight whether or not the food is edible, or "kosher." Just look
for a "K" on the label. Sometimes, instead of a "K" for Kosher, a
"U" is used which stands for Union of Orthodox Jewish
Congregations (well I would not count on the Jews all the time
for "kosher" food - Keith Hunt).
Written 1987 (all capital letter words were Hemenway's)