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.

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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.