Leviticus 11:42

Leviticus 11:42

Whatsoever goeth upon the belly
Jarchi's paraphrase is, "whatsoever goeth", as worms and beetles, and the like to them, "upon the belly", this is the serpent; and to go upon the belly is the curse denounced upon it, ( Genesis 3:14 ) this and every such creature are forbidden to be eaten; as there are others who either have no feet, or what they have so short, that they seem to go upon their belly; and yet, as horrible and detestable as the serpent is, it has been the food of some, and accounted very delicious, as by a people mentioned by the Arabic geographer F5. Mela F6 speaks of a people, who, from their eating serpents, were called Ophiophagi, serpent eaters; and Pliny F7 says of the Troglodytes, that the flesh of serpents was their food. The Spaniards, when they first found out the West Indies, going ashore on the isle of Cuba, found certain spits of wood lying at the fire, having fish on them, about one hundred pound weight, and two serpents of eight feet long, differing nothing from the crocodiles in Egypt, but not so big; there is nothing, says my author F8, among the delicate dishes (of the natives of that place), they esteem so much as these serpents, insomuch that it is no more lawful for the common people to eat of them, than of peacocks and pheasants among us; the Spaniards at first durst not venture to taste of them, because of their horrible deformity and loathsomeness; but the brother of Columbus being allured by a sister of one of the kings of the country to taste of them, found them very delicious, on which he and his men fell to, and ate freely of them, affirming them to be of more pleasant taste than either our pheasants or partridges; and that there is no meat to be compared with the eggs of these serpents F9. Diodorus Siculus F11 speaks of serpents in the island of Taprobane of great size, harmless to men, and whose flesh is eaten, and of a sweet savour:

and whatsoever goeth upon [all] four;
that is, whatsoever creeping thing; for otherwise there are beasts that go upon all four that are clean and fit to eat; but this is observed to distinguish this sort of creeping things from those that go upon their belly, and from those that have more feet, as in the next clause; Jarchi particularly instances in the scorpion:

or whatsoever hath mere feet among all creeping things that creep
upon the earth;
such as caterpillars, and particularly the Scolopendra, which the eastern people call Nedal; so Jarchi says, this is Nedal, a reptile which hath feet from its head to its tail, called Centipeda; and the Targum of Jonathan is,

``from the serpent, to the Nedal or Scolopendra, which has many feet.''

Some of then, have seventy two, thirty six on a side, and others eighty four; some fewer, but all have many:

them ye shall not eat, for they [are] an abomination;
abominable for food, and to be had in the utmost aversion.


FOOTNOTES:

F5 Clim. 1. par. 6.
F6 De Situ Orbis, l. 3. c. 8.
F7 Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 8.
F8 Peter Martyr de Angleria, Decad. 1. l. 3.
F9 Ib. l. 5.
F11 Bibliothec. l. 3. p. 141.
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