And every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth,
&c.] Nothing is called a creeping thing, as Jarchi says, but what is
low, has short feet, and is not seen unless it creeps and moves: and
"every creeping thing" comprehends, as Aben Ezra and Ben Gersom
observe, the eight creeping things before mentioned, (Leviticus 11:29,30)
and mention is made of them here, that they might not be eaten, which
is not expressed before; and being described as creeping things "on the
earth", is, according to Jarchi, an exception of worms in pease, beans,
and lentiles; and, as others observe, in figs and dates, and other
fruit; for they do not creep upon the earth, but are within the food;
but if they go out into the air, and creep, they are forbidden:
[shall be] an abomination;
detested and abhorred as food:
it shall not be eaten;
it shall not be lawful to eat such a
creature. This, as Jarchi, is binding upon him that causes another to
eat, as well as he that eats, the one is guilty as the other. And
indeed such are not fit to eat, and cannot be wholesome and nourishing;
for, as a learned physician observes F25, insects consist of particles
exceeding small, volatile, unfit for nourishment, most of them live on
unclean food, and delight in dung, and in the putrid flesh of other
animals, and by laying their little eggs or excrements, corrupt honey,
syrups… see (Ecclesiastes 10:1) and yet some sorts of them are eaten by
some people. Sir Hans Sloane, after having spoken of serpents, rats,
and lizards, sold for food to his great surprise at Jamaica, adds F26,
but what of all things most unusual, and to my great admiration, was
the great esteem set on a sort of "cossi" or timber worms, called
cotton tree worms by the negroes and the Indians, the one the original
inhabitants of Africa, and the other of America; these, he says F1,
are sought after by them, and boiled in their soups, pottages, olios,
pepper pots, and are accounted of admirable taste, like to, but much
beyond marrow; yea, he observes F2, that not they only, but the most
polite people in the world, the Romans, accounted them so great a
dainty, as to feed them with meal, and endeavour breeding them up. He
speaks F3 also of ants, so large as to be sold in the markets in New
Granada, where they are carefully looked after, and bought up for food;
and says, the negroes feed on the abdomen of these creatures: he
observes F4, that field crickets were found in baskets among other
provisions of the Indians.
F25 Scheuchzer. Physic. Sacr. vol. 2. p. 302.
F26 Nat. Hist. of Jamaica, vol. 1. Introduct. p. 25.
F1 Ib. vol. 2. p. 193.
F2 Introduct. ut supra. (F1) Vid. Plin. l. 17. c. 24. & Aelian. de Animal.
l. 14. c. 13.
F3 Ib. vol. 2. p. 221, 223.
F4 Ib. p. 204. Vid. Aristotel. Hist. Animal. l. 5. c. 30.