Matthew 3:4

4 Now John wore clothing of camel's hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey.

Matthew 3:4 Meaning and Commentary

Matthew 3:4

The same John had his raiment
The Evangelist goes on to describe this excellent person, the forerunner of our Lord, by his raiment;

the same
John of whom Isaiah prophesied, and who came preaching the doctrine in the place and manner before expressed,

had his raiment of camel's hair;
not of camel's hair softened and dressed, which the Talmudists F26 call (Mylmg rmu) "camel's wool"; of which wool of camels and of hares, the Jews say F1 the coats were made, with which God clothed Adam and Eve; and which being spun to a thread, and wove, and made a garment of, they call


F2 (hlymx) , and we "camlet"; for this would have been too fine and soft for John to wear, which is denied of him, ( Matthew 11:8 ) but either of a camel's skin with the hair on it, such was the "rough garment", or "garment of hair", the prophets used to wear, ( Zechariah 13:4 ) or of camels hair not softened but undressed; and so was very coarse and rough, and which was suitable to the austerity of his life, and the roughness of his ministry. And it is to be observed he appeared in the same dress as Elijah or Elias did, ( 2 Kings 1:8 ) in whose spirit and power he came, and whose name he bore, ( Luke 1:17 ) ( Matthew 11:14 ) .

And a leathern girdle about his loins;
and such an one also Elijah was girt with, ( 2 Kings 1:8 ) and which added to the roughness of his garment, though it shows he was prepared and in a readiness to do the work he was sent about.

And his meat was locusts and wild honey;
by the "locusts" some have thought are meant a sort of fish called "crabs", which John found upon the banks of Jordan, and lived upon; others, that a sort of wild fruit, or the tops of trees and plants he found in the wilderness and fed on, are designed; but the truth is, these were a sort of creatures "called locusts", and which by the ceremonial law were lawful to be eaten, see ( Leviticus 11:22 ) . The Misnic doctors F3 describe such as are fit to be eaten after this manner;

``all that have four feet and four wings, and whose thighs and wings cover the greatest part of their body, and whose name is (bgx) "a locust."''

For it seems they must not only have these marks and signs, but must be so called, or by a word in any other language which answers to it, as the commentators F4 on this passage observe; and very frequently do these writers speak F5 of locusts that are clean, and may be eaten. Maimonides F6 reckons up "eight" sorts of them, which might be eaten according to the law. Besides, these were eaten by people of other nations, particularly the Ethiopians F7, Parthians F8, and Lybians F9.

And wild honey:
this was honey of bees, which were not kept at home, but such as were in the woods and fields; of this sort was that which Jonathan found, and eat of, ( 1 Samuel 14:25 1 Samuel 14:26 1 Samuel 14:27 ) now the honey of bees might be eaten, according to the Jewish laws F11, though bees themselves might not.

F26 Misn. Negaim. c. 11. sect. 2. & Kilaim, c. 9. sect. 1. Talmud, Bab. Menachot, fol. 39. 2.
F1 Bereshit Rabba, fol. 18. 2.
F2 T. Hieros. Nedarim, fol. 40. 3.
F3 Misn. Cholin. c. 3. sect. 7.
F4 Maimon. & Bartenora in ib.
F5 Misn. Beracot, c. 6. sect. 3. Terumot. c. 10. sect. 9. & Ediot. c. 7. sect. 2. & 8. 4.
F6 Maacolot Asurot, c. 1. sect. 21.
F7 Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 6. c. 30. Alex. ab Alex. l. 3. c. 11. Ludolph. Hist. Ethiop. l. 1. c. 13.
F8 Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 11. c. 29.
F9 Hieron. adv. Jovinian. fol. 26. Tom. 2.
F11 Moses Kotzensis Mitzvot Tora precept. neg. 132.

Matthew 3:4 In-Context

2 "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near."
3 This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, "The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: "Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.' "
4 Now John wore clothing of camel's hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey.
5 Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him, and all the region along the Jordan,
6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.