A description of John (Mk 1:6-1:6)

“Now John was clothed

With camel’s hair.

He had

A leather belt

Around his waist.

He ate locusts

And wild honey.”


καὶ ἦν ὁ Ἰωάνης ἐνδεδυμένος τρίχας καμήλου καὶ ζώνην δερματίνην περὶ τὴν ὀσφὺν αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἔσθων ἀκρίδας καὶ μέλι ἄγριον.


Mark and Matthew, chapter 3:4, are very similar in their descriptions of John the Baptist, almost word for word.  Mark said that John was clothed with camel’s hair (καὶ ἦν ὁ Ἰωάνης ἐνδεδυμένος τρίχας καμήλου).  John had a leather belt around his waist (καὶ ζώνην δερματίνην περὶ τὴν ὀσφὺν αὐτοῦ).  He also ate locusts and wild honey (καὶ ἔσθων ἀκρίδας καὶ μέλι ἄγριον).  Matthew had this description before the preceding verses.  There was nothing special about this simple dull clothing and a weak sweet vegetarian diet of food.  This description is very reminiscent of the description of Elijah in 2 Kings, chapter 1:8, who also wore a garment of hair and a leather belt.  Thus, the comparison of John the Baptist with Elijah was only natural.

Description of John (Mt 3:4-3:4)

“Now John wore clothing

Of camel’s hair,

With a leather belt

Around his waist.

His food was locusts

With wild honey.”


Αὐτὸς δὲ ὁ Ἰωάνης εἶχεν τὸ ἔνδυμα αὐτοῦ ἀπὸ τριχῶν καμήλου καὶ ζώνην δερματίνην περὶ τὴν ὀσφὺν αὐτοῦ· ἡ δὲ τροφὴ ἦν αὐτοῦ ἀκρίδες καὶ μέλι ἄγριον.


Matthew’s description of John the Baptist’s clothes (Αὐτὸς δὲ ὁ Ἰωάνης εἶχεν τὸ ἔνδυμα αὐτοῦ) was taken directly from Mark, chapter 1:6. His clothing was camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist (ἀπὸ τριχῶν καμήλου καὶ ζώνην δερματίνην περὶ τὴν ὀσφὺν αὐτοῦ). His food was locusts and wild honey (ἡ δὲ τροφὴ ἦν αὐτοῦ ἀκρίδες καὶ μέλι ἄγριον). There was nothing special here. This was simple dull clothing and a weak sweet vegetarian diet of food. This description is very reminiscent of the description of Elijah in 2 Kings, chapter 1:8, who also wore a garment of hair and a leather belt. Thus, the comparison of John the Baptist with Elijah was only natural.



The failure of the gardens (Am 4:9-4:9)

“‘I struck you

With blight.

I struck you

With mildew.

I laid waste

Your gardens.

I laid waste

Your vineyards.

The locusts devoured

Your fig trees.

The locusts devoured

Your olive trees.

Yet you did not

Return to me.’

Says Yahweh.”

Amos has this oracle of Yahweh repeat the same theme, that despite the failure of their gardens and vineyards, they did not return to Yahweh. He had struck them with blight and mildew. Yahweh had laid waste their gardens and vineyards. Locusts devoured their fig trees and olive trees. Despite all this devastation, the Israelites of the northern kingdom did not return to Yahweh.

Yahweh will remove the plague of locusts (Joel 2:20-2:20)

“I will remove

The northern army

Far from you.

I will drive it

Into a parched land.

I will drive it

Into a desolate land.

Its front will be

In the eastern sea.

Its rear will be

In the western sea.

Its stench

Will rise up.

Its foul smell

Will rise up.”

Joel said that Yahweh was going to remove this northern army of locusts. He was going to drive them into a parched and desolate land. The grasshopper front would be in the eastern sea, the Dead Sea, while its rear would be in the western sea, the Mediterranean Sea. There would be a terrible smell coming from these dead locusts.

Restoration of Zion (Isa 33:3-33:6)

“At the sound of tumult,

People flee.

Before your majesty,

Nations scattered.

Spoil was gathered

As the caterpillar gathers.

As locusts leap,

They leaped upon it.

Yahweh is exalted.

He dwells on high.

He will fill Zion with justice.

He will fill Zion with righteousness.

He will be

The stability of your times,

The abundance of salvation,

The wisdom,

The knowledge.

The fear of Yahweh

Is Zion’s treasure.”

Clearly Yahweh was in charge. People and nations were fleeing before his majesty and the sound of tumult. They were gathering the spoils of the fleeing people like caterpillars, slow but sure. They were like locusts over everything. Yahweh was exalted on Mount Zion because of justice and righteousness. Yahweh brought stability to Mount Zion. There was an abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge. There was a final emphasis on the fear of the Lord as the great treasure at Mount Zion.

The northern cold wind snow (Sir 43:17-43:20)

“At the Lord’s will,

The storm

From the north comes.

The whirlwind comes.

He scatters the snow

Like birds flying down.

Its descent is

Like locusts alighting.

The eye is dazzled

By the beauty

Of its whiteness.

The mind is amazed

As it falls.

He pours frost

Over the earth

Like salt.

When it freezes,

Icicles form

Like pointed thorns.

The cold north wind blows.

Ice freezes on the water.

It rests upon every pool of water.

It settles on every pond of water.

The water puts it on

Like a breastplate.”

Everything happened according to God’s will. Thus, according to Sirach, the cold north wind with bird like snow is sent by the Lord. Sometimes the snow storm looks like locusts descending on a field. However, we are dazzled by the soft gentle beautiful white snowflakes. Sometimes the snowflakes are like salt that forms pointed thorn icicles. This northern wind freezes the ponds, so that they look like they have a protective breastplate shield on them. This is very beautiful descriptive language about snow and frost.

Four small animals (Prov 30:24-30:28)

“Four things on earth are small.

Yet they are exceedingly wise.

The ants are a people without strength.

Yet they provide their food in the summer.

The badgers are a people without power.

Yet they make their homes in the rocks.

The locusts have no king.

Yet all of them march in rank.

The lizard can be grasped in the hand.

Yet it is found in kings’ palaces.”

The next mention is about 4 wise small animals: 1) ants, 2) badgers, 3) locusts, and 4) lizards. There are 2 that are actually insects, ants and locusts. The ants and the badgers are called people. There seems to have been a preoccupation with ants since they were able to get their food in the summer. The badgers make their homes in rocks even though they are not powerful. The locusts obviously do not have a king, but they march like in army ranks. In fact, the ants are also organized. Finally, the small lizards can be found in the palaces of kings. All of these small animals and insects can teach us humans a lesson about working together without much individual strength.

Moses and the plagues (Ps 105:26-105:36)

“Yahweh sent his servant Moses whom he had chosen.

He sent Aaron whom he had chosen.

They performed his signs among them.

They performed miracles in the land of Ham.

He sent darkness.

He made the land dark.

They rebelled against his words.

He turned their waters into blood.

He caused their fish to die.

Their land swarmed with frogs,

Even in the chambers of their kings.

He spoke.

Then there came swarms of flies.

There were gnats throughout their country.

He gave them hail for rain.

He gave them lightning that flashed through their land.

He struck their vines.

He struck their fig trees.

He shattered the trees of their country.

He spoke.

Then the locusts came.

There were young locusts without number.

They devoured all the vegetation in their land.

They ate up the fruit of their ground.

He struck down the entire first born in their land.

He struck down the first issue of all their strength.”

This section is based on Exodus, chapters 3-10. First, Yahweh chose Moses and Aaron. Then he performed signs and miracles in the land of Ham, Egypt. He sent darkness. He turned waters into blood so that the fish died. He sent swarms of frogs, flies, and gnats throughout the country, even in the royal chambers. He sent hail and lightning instead of gentle rain. He struck down the vines, fig trees, and shattered all the trees. He then sent numerous locusts that ate all the vegetation and fruits of the land. Finally, he struck down the first born through the country, both among humans and animals. This was just about total destruction to the land of Ham, the Egyptians.

The power of God in Egypt (Ps 78:42-78:51)

“They did not keep in mind his power.

They did not remember

The day when he redeemed them from their foe.

He displayed his signs in Egypt.

He displayed his miracles in the fields of Zoan.

He turned their rivers to blood.

They could not drink of their streams.

He sent swarms of flies among them.

The flies devoured them.

He sent frogs among them,

The frogs destroyed them.

He gave their crops to the caterpillar.

He gave the fruit of their labor to the locust.

He destroyed their vines with hail.

He destroyed their sycamores with frost.

He gave over their cattle to the hail.

He gave their flocks to thunderbolts.

He let loose on them his fierce anger.

He let loose on them his wrath.

He let loose on them his indignation.

He let loose on them his distress.

He let loose a company of destroying angels.

He made a path for his anger.

He did not spare them from death.

He gave their lives over to the plague.

He struck all the first-born in Egypt.

He stuck the first issue of their strength

In the tents of Ham.”

Here the psalmist recalls the powerful acts recorded in Exodus, chapters 7-12, about the great plagues in Egypt. He wanted to recall the great events that God did in Egypt for them against their foes. He lists the various signs or miracles that took place in the Egyptian fields of Zoan or Ramses in order to save them and bring them out of Egypt. First he turned all their streams to blood. Then he let loose swarms of flies, frogs, caterpillars, and locusts that destroyed their crops. Then he let loose with hail and thunder that destroyed their cattle and herds. He then let loose the destroying angels that brought death. They struck down all the first born people and animals that were living in Ham, another word for Egypt based on Genesis. Clearly the plagues of Egypt were part of Israelite folklore built into the Israelite psyche.

The eighth plague – locusts (Ex 10:1-10:20)

“Then Yahweh said to Moses, ‘Go to Pharaoh.  I have hardened his heart and the heart of his officials, in order that I may show these signs of mine among them.  You may tell your children and grandchildren how I have made fools of the Egyptians and what signs I have done among them, so that you may know I am Yahweh.”

Yahweh said to Moses that his children and grandchildren will learn how he made fools of the Egyptians.  They will learn about the many signs that Yahweh did in Egypt.  He is Yahweh, the all powerful God.

“So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh, and said to him, ‘Thus says Yahweh, the God of the Hebrews, how long will you refuse to humble yourself before me?  Let my people go, that they may worship me.  If you refuse to let my people go by tomorrow I will bring locusts into your country.  They shall cover the surface of the land, so that no one will be able to see the land.  They shall devour the last remnant left to you after the hail.  They shall devour every tree of yours that grows in the field.  They shall fill your houses, and the houses of all your officials and of all the Egyptians.  Something that neither your parents nor your grandparents have seen, from the day they came on earth to this day.’  Then he turned and went out from Pharaoh.”

Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and told him that tomorrow locusts would cover the land, a not uncommon occurrence in the Middle East.  The locusts would finish off whatever was left over from the hail destruction.  This would be worse than anything their parents or grandparents ever saw.

“Pharaoh’s officials said to him, ‘How long shall this fellow be a snare to us?  Let the people go, so that they may worship Yahweh their God.  Do you not yet understand that Egypt is ruined?’  So Moses and Aaron were brought back to Pharaoh.  He said to them, ‘Go, worship Yahweh your God!  But which ones are to go?’  Moses said, ‘We will go with our young and our old.  We will go with our sons and daughters and with our flocks and herds, because we have Yahweh’s festival to celebrate.’   He said to them, ‘Yahweh indeed will be with you, if ever I let your little ones go with you!  Plainly, you have some evil purpose in mind.  No, never!   Your men may go and worship Yahweh, for that is what you are asking.’  They were driven out from Pharaoh’s presence.”

Now the officials of Pharaoh, were saying, let this guy go and leave us alone.  There is grumbling among Pharaoh’s officials.  Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron. Who should go to worship in the wilderness?  Moses wanted everybody to go, but Pharaoh said that the men may go and worship Yahweh, but not the others.  No solution yet, so they were driven out of Pharaoh’s presence.

“Then Yahweh said to Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand over the land of Egypt so that the locusts may come upon it and eat every plant in the land, all that the hail has left.’  So Moses stretched out his staff over the land of Egypt, and Yahweh brought an east wind upon the land all that day and all that night.  When morning came, the east wind had brought the locusts.   The locusts came upon all the land of Egypt, and settled on the whole country of Egypt, such a dense swarm of locusts as had never been before, nor ever shall be again.  They covered the surface of the whole land, so that the land was black.   They ate all the plants in the land and all the fruit of the trees that the hail had left.  Nothing green was left, no tree, no plant in the field, in all the land of Egypt.  Pharaoh hurriedly summoned Moses and Aaron and said, ‘I have sinned against Yahweh, your God, and against you.  Do forgive my sin just this once, and pray to Yahweh your God that at least he might remove this deadly thing from me.’  So he went out from Pharaoh, and prayed to Yahweh.  Yahweh changed the wind into a very strong west wind, which lifted the locusts and drove them into the Red Sea.  Not a single locust was left in all the country of Egypt.  But Yahweh hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let the Israelites go.”

Moses stretched out his staff over the land of Egypt, and Yahweh brought an east wind that brought the locusts.  These locusts devastated the land so that Pharaoh called Moses and Aaron and said that he was sinner against Yahweh and them.  Moses said okay and asked Yahweh to send a west wind to take all the locusts away.  Guess what, the hard hearted Pharaoh would not let the Israelites go.