haruvim and hagavim (locusts)

Jacqueline Soule soule at WSUNIX.WSU.EDU
Sun Nov 19 12:26:26 CST 1995

> Robert Mill wrote:
> Also, JTB was in the Desert of Judaea (Matthew 3: 1); the carob is
> more a plant of the coastal plain of Israel and in Galilee and
> Samaria. It is unlikely there would have been many carob trees there....

Please remember that 2000 years ago the Mediterranian and Middle East were
an entirely different habitat.  2000 years of unlimited grazing by goats
and sheep have radically altered the landscape (see also what has happened
to Greece and Turkey), not to mention several Jihads, Crusades, and other
holy wars.  Add this to the fact that the entire globe has experienced a
several degree rise in temperature (e.e., VanDevender and others 1984,
1985, etc.)  My point is that perhaps locust trees were found everywhere
then.  The term "desert" was applied because 2000 years ago the natives
herded CATTLE.  If a cow could not forage there, it was a desert, usable
only by goats, camels, etc.

> >The Hebrew words for carob and locust (insect) are very similar:
> >haruv, haruvim (with dot under the h) for Ceratonia siliqua, hagavim
> >(with dot under h) for locust insects (source: Zohary op. cit.; yes,

If you wish to trace the etiology of the two words further, in fact they
are related.  Most hebrew words consist of three root letters.  The
letters in fact are ideoglyphs.  Thus by combining three letters you are
describing the object or action.  [this fits hand in glove with the
ancient hebrew saying "truth is the intersection of three lies."  Indeed,
the word for truth is the first, middle, and last letter of the alphabet,
thus it encompasses everything.  The saying is also one of the underlying
basis for the Shield of David, being the symbol for truth from two
directions..... but I stray from the topic]

The two objects, the tree fruit and the locust, were seen as related, thus
they share two letters.  The animal however has a letter in it which
indicated its motile, animal status (the gimel), while the plant has a
letter in it denoting its stationary, plant status (rosh).

If you have eaten haruv (or CHaruv, dot under the h), the plural of which
is haruvim, you would know that they can be just as palatable or
unpalatable as hagavim, both of which are ok either toasted or stewed.
And both of which still occur in the wilds near Elat in the south of

>> But I do not understand what that matters, as to my best knowledge Matthew
>> was not written in Hebrew; am I malinformed?

You are correct, I believe Matthew was written in Greek, or am I

Sorry this is so long, but I am fascinated with etiology, and always
astounded at how absolutely descriptive and ANCIENT hebrew actually is.

-- Jacqueline A. Soule

<                                                               >
<  Jacqueline Soule                                             >
<  Department of Botany                                         >
<  Washington State University                                  >
<  Pullman WA 99164-4238                                        >
<  U.S.A.                                                       >
<                                                               >
<  Fax:   509 335 3517                                          >
<  Phone: 509 335 3500                                          >
<  Email: soule at wsunix.it.wsu.edu                               >
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