Two Missing Legs

Did Moses say that insects have only four legs?

Leviticus 11:20–23
All flying insects that creep on all fours shall be an abomination to you. Yet these you may eat of every flying insect that creeps on all fours: those which have jointed legs above their feet with which to leap on the earth. These you may eat: the locust after its kind, the destroying locust after its kind, the cricket after its kind, and the grasshopper after its kind. But all other flying insects which have four feet shall be an abomination to you.

The Bible in Leviticus 11:21 indicates that the hind jumping legs are not included in the four “walking” or “creeping” feet. The feet are the four front limbs used for walking and look the same. The back two limbs are primarily for long hops.

Although today, people lump them all together and say there are six legs, the Bible distinguished them here. The Bible referred to them in more detail than perhaps expected. Notice how the feet and legs are separated in the verses and referred to separately. The Bible is being very precise as to distinguish the front four from the back two. So, there is no contradiction at all:

4 walking legs + 2 hind hopping legs = 6 total legs

Leviticus 11:20-23 refers only to the insects with these specific feet-leg combinations that have wings.1 Now, I know you’re wondering . . . did any Israelites actually eat these insects? Look up Matthew 3:4 and Mark 1:6!

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  1. Leviticus 11:41-43 excludes other insects, i.e., those that walk on six legs, arachnids, and myriapods.


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