clean locusts

Nancy Hensold hensold at ABIS.FMNH.ORG
Fri Nov 17 12:26:08 CST 1995

As long as this has turned into a tea-party...

Insects considered "clean" for consumption in Leviticus, were the locust,
the bald locust, the cricket, and the grasshopper. This was because they
hopped and did not walk or fly. According to the anthropologist Mary Douglas
in her classic work Purity and Danger, the animals which were OK for Jews to
eat were those which in their behavior/morphology seemed most "normal," or
stuck to their proper categories. Things with four legs were supposed to
walk or hop, and were not acceptable if they flew or slithered. Insects
which flew were bad because things that flew were supposed to have feathers.
Things with feathers that walked about were bad. Things which swam were
supposed to have fins and scales. Things with cloven hooves were supposed to
chew cud.

These people were not fearful, superstitious, or irrational. They were as
rational as taxonomists, and just as annoyed by intermediacy.

Nancy Hensold
Department of Botany
Field Museum
Chicago, IL 60605
hensold at

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