Yet these may ye eat…
Which are after described and
of every flying creeping thing that goeth upon [all] four;
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 F26, 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 F1.
Dr. Shaw thinks F2 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 F3 calls the leaping parts; and though he
attributes to the locust six feet, as does also Pliny F4, yet he takes
the two leaping parts into the account; whereas Moses distinguishes
those two from the four feet; and so Austin F5 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 F6 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.
F26 Nat. Hist. l. 11. c. 29.
F1 Maimon. ib. c. 1. sect. 23.
F2 Travels, p. 420.
F3 De Part. Animal. l. 4. c. 6.
F4 Nat. Hist. l. 11. c. 48.
F5 Retract. l. 2. c. 15.
F6 Maacolot Asurot, c. 1. sect. 22.