The Legs of Grasshoppers Lev. 11:20-23 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
The question of how many feet grasshoppers have concerns Lev 11:20-23. The question is raised by skeptics who do not believe that the Bible is scientifically accurate and inerrant. In fact, with a little study, it can be seen that the Bible is actually very accurate in this description and leaves no doubt about the classifications of flying insects the Lord allowed the Jews to eat and the ones he called an abomination.
(Lev 11:20) All fowls that creep, going upon all four, shall be an abomination unto you.
(Lev 11:21) Yet these may ye eat of every flying creeping thing that goeth upon all four, which have legs above their feet, to leap withal upon the earth;
(Lev 11:22) Even these of them ye may eat; the locust after his kind, and the bald locust after his kind, and the beetle after his kind, and the grasshopper after his kind.
(Lev 11:23) But all other flying creeping things, which have four feet, shall be an abomination unto you.
The passage deals with “fowls that creep” in verse 20, which are described as “flying creeping things” in verse 21. Grasshoppers, locusts and beetles all fit the category of “flying creeping things,” and they are mentioned by name in verse 22.
The problem is that grasshoppers, locusts and beetles all have six legs, not four. And they actually use all six legs to walk. They walk as a tripod, with the front and back leg on one side and the middle leg on the other side on the ground at the same time.
So, why did God describe them as going upon all four in verse 20? We are alerted to the answer in the next verse. Verse 21 further describes them as “flying creeping thing that goeth upon all four, which have legs above their feet, to leap withal upon the earth.”
Here there are two types of legs described, four for going and the other ones for leaping. There are actually scientific names given for these two types of legs in the glossary of terms used by entomologists [zoologists who study insects]. The walking feet are called ambulatory. The jumping feet are called saltatory. There are also cursory feet for running (like cock roaches) and natatory feet for swimming.
So, the flying creeping things that God classifies in this section of the clean and unclean foods are flying creeping things with four ambulatory feet and two saltatory feet. These feet are visible and readily recognizable by anyone whether or not they have had any scientific or entomologic training whatsoever.
The insects in this category that the Jews could eat were locusts, bald locusts, beetles and grasshoppers. The ones in this category that they couldn’t eat were insects like crickets and katydids. Crickets and katydids both have four ambulatory legs and two saltatory legs, but they are not locusts, grasshoppers or beetles. Crickets and katydids, for example, are classified as the other flying creeping things which have four feet in verse 23. These were an abomination.
As you can see from the text, from scientific examination and from visible examination, there is not a thing wrong with the way the Lord described the flying insects that were to be eaten in this text. It would be very easy for anyone to distinguish between those that were clean and those that were unclean based upon the descriptions given. And, after all, the descriptions were given for ease of identification and no one has ever had trouble with that.
The skeptics were simply looking for a reason to raise doubts about the Bible in this passage so that they could justify not obeying the Bible’s other passages. Many of them that we studied laughingly accused God and Moses of not knowing how to count. We accuse the skeptics of refusing to believe. Their problem will have eternal consequences (Jn 16:8-9; Jn 3:18, 36; 1 Jn 5:10).
Don’t let skeptics talk you or your children out of faith in the Bible. Believe what you are reading. Search through apparent contradictions and ask the Lord to show you his reconciliation. You will be amazed how careful study and belief in the words of God will strengthen your faith.