Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Matthew 3:4

Now John himself had a garment of camel's hair and a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey.
New American Standard

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Camel;   Girdle;   Honey;   Leather;   Locust;   Minister, Christian;   Stoicism;   Scofield Reference Index - Gospel;   Holy Spirit;   Repentance;   Thompson Chain Reference - Agriculture;   Agriculture-Horticulture;   Asceticism;   Clothing;   Dress;   Food;   Food, Physical-Spiritual;   Girdle;   Honey;   John the Baptist;   Locusts;   Self-Indulgence-Self-Denial;   Victuals;   The Topic Concordance - Baptism;   John the Baptist;   Repentance;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Camel, the;   Garments;   Girdles;   Honey;   Locust, the;   Prophets;   Sackcloth;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Gird, Girdle;   Honey;   Locust;   Prophets;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Craft workers;   Food;   John the baptist;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Elijah;   John the Baptist;   Messiah;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Holy Ghost;   Hutchinsonians;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Apparel;   Camel;   Dress;   Dromedary;   Elijah;   Girdle;   Honey;   John the Baptist;   Kings, the Books of;   Leather;   Locust;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Bee;   Camel;   Dress;   Food;   Honey;   Prophet;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Girdle;   Hair;   Honey;   Insects;   John;   Leather;   Loins;   Matthew, the Gospel of;   Trinity;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Camel;   Dress;   Food;   Honey;   John the Baptist;   Jordan;   Levi;   Locust;   Mss;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Animals;   Camel, Camel's Hair;   Common Life;   Dress (2);   Food;   Hair (2);   Honey;   Husks;   John the Baptist;   Judaea;   Locust;   Locust ;   Sackcloth;   Sackcloth ;   Trades;   Wealth (2);   Weaving;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Fast, Fasting;   Girdle;   John the Baptist;   Leather;   Locusts;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Camel;   Food;   Handicraft;   Honey;   Kingdom of christ of heaven;   Kingdom of god;   Kingdom of heaven;   Levi;   Locust;   Weaving;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Camel;   Food;   Girdle,;   Handicraft;   Leather;   Shepherd;   Weaving;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Camel's Hair;   Eating;   Honey;   John the Baptist;   Prophets;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - John, the Baptize;   Jesus of Nazareth;   Kingdom or Church of Christ, the;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Arabia;   Camel;   Camel's Hair;   Crafts;   Dress;   Food;   Hair;   Honey;   Husks;   Locust;   Loins;   Matthew, the Gospel of;   Tanner;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Ascetics;   Baptism;   Bee;   Camel;   Christianity in Its Relation to Judaism;   John the Baptist;   Leather;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

His raiment of camel's hair - A sort of coarse or rough covering, which, it appears, was common to the prophets, Zechariah 13:4. In such a garment we find Elijah clothed, 2 Kings 1:8. And as John had been designed under the name of this prophet, Malachi 4:5, whose spirit and qualifications he was to possess, Luke 1:17, he took the same habit and lived in the same state of self-denial.

His meat was locusts - Ακριδες . Ακρις may either signify the insect called the locust, which still makes a part of the food in the land of Judea; or the top of a plant. Many eminent commentators are of the latter opinion; but the first is the most likely. The Saxon translator has grasshoppers.

Wild honey - Such as he got in the rocks and hollows of trees, and which abounded in Judea: see 1 Samuel 14:26. It is most likely that the dried locusts, which are an article of food in Asiatic countries to the present day, were fried in the honey, or compounded in some manner with it. The Gospel according to the Hebrews, as quoted by Epiphanius, seems to have taken a similar view of the subject, as it adds here to the text, Ου η γευσις ην του μαννα, ως εγκρις εν ελαιω . And its taste was like manna, as a sweet cake baked in oil.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Matthew 3:4". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/matthew-3.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

His raiment of camel‘s hair - His clothing. This is not the fine hair of the camel from which our elegant cloth is made called camlet, nor the more elegant stuff brought from the East Indies under the name of “camel‘s hair,” but the long shaggy hair of the camel, from which a coarse cheap cloth is made, still worn by the poorer classes in the East, and by monks. This dress of the camel‘s hair, and a leather belt, it seems, was the common dress of the prophets, 2 Kings 1:8; Zechariah 13:4.

His meat was locusts - His food. These constituted the food of the common people. Among the Greeks the vilest of the people used to eat them; and the fact that John made his food of them is significant of his great poverty and humble life. The Jews were allowed to eat them, Leviticus 11:22. Locusts are flying insects, and are of various kinds. The green locusts are about 2 inches in length and about the thickness of a man‘s finger. The common brown locust is about 3 inches long. The general form and appearance of the locust is not unlike the grasshopper. They were one of the plagues of Egypt Joel 1:4; Isaiah 33:4-5. “Some species of the locust are eaten until this day in Eastern countries, and are even esteemed as a delicacy when properly cooked. After tearing off the legs and wings, and taking out the entrails, they stick them in long rows upon wooden spits, roast them at the fire, and then proceed to devour them with great zest. There are also other ways of preparing them. For example: they cook them and dress them in oil; or, having dried them, they pulverize them, and, when other food is scarce, make bread of the meal. The Bedouins pack them with salt in close masses, which they carry in their leather sacks. From these they cut slices as they may need them. It is singular that even learned men have suffered themselves to hesitate about understanding these passages of the literal locust, when the fact that these are eaten by the Orientals is so abundantly proved by the concurrent testimony of travelers.

One of them says they are brought to market on strings in all the cities of Arabia, and that he saw an Arab on Mount Sumara who had collected a sackful of them. They are prepared in different ways. An Arab in Egypt, of whom he requested that he would immediately eat locusts in his presence, threw them upon the glowing coals; and after he supposed they were roasted enough, he took them by the legs and head, and devoured the remainder at one mouthful. When the Arabs have them in quantities they roast or dry them in an oven, or boil them and eat them with salt. The Arabs in the kingdom of Morocco boil the locusts; and the Bedouins eat locusts, which are collected in great quantities in the beginning of April, when they are easily caught. After having been roasted a little upon the iron plate on which bread is baked, they are dried in the sun, and then put into large sacks, with the mixture of a little salt.

They are never served up as a dish, but every one takes a handful of them when hungry” (Un. Bib. Dic. ). Burckhardt, one of the most trustworthy of travelers, says: “All the Bedouins of Arabia and the inhabitants of towns in Nejd and Hedjaz are accustomed to eat locusts.” “I have seen at Medina and Tayf locust-shops, where these animals were sold by measure. In Egypt and Nubia they are only eaten by the poorest beggars The Land and the Book, ii. 107). “Locusts,” says Dr. Thomson (The Land and the Book, ii. 108), “are not eaten in Syria by any but the Bedouin on the extreme frontiers, and it is always spoken of as an inferior article of food, and regarded by most with disgust and loathing tolerated only by the very poorest people. John the Baptist, however, was of this class either from necessity or election.” It is remarkable that not only in respect to his food, but also in other respects, the peculiarities in John‘s mode of life have their counterparts in the present habits of the same class of persons. “The coat or mantle of camel‘s hair is seen still on the shoulders of the Arab who escorts the traveler through the desert, or of the shepherd who tends his flocks on the hills of Judea or in the valley of the Jordan. It is made of the thin, coarse hair of the camel, and not of the fine hair, which is manufactured into a species of rich cloth. I was told that both kinds of raiment are made on a large scale at Nablus, the ancient Shechem. The ‹leathern girdle‘ may be seen around the body of the common laborer, when fully dressed, almost anywhere; whereas men of wealth take special pride in displaying a rich sash of silk or some other costly fabric” (Hackett‘s Illustrations of Scripture, p. 104).

Wild honey - This was probably the honey that he found in the rocks of the wilderness. Palestine was often called the land flowing with milk and honey, Exodus 3:8, Exodus 3:17; Exodus 13:5. Bees were kept with great care, and great numbers of them abounded in the fissures of trees and the clefts of rocks. “Bees abound there still, not only wild, but hived, as with us. I saw a great number of hives in the old castle near the Pools of Solomon; several, also, at Deburieh, at the foot of Tabor: and again at Mejdel, the Magdala of the New Testament, on the Lake of Tiberias. Maundrell says that he saw ‹bees very industrious about the blossoms‘ between Jericho and the Dead Sea, which must have been within the limits of the very ‹desert‘ in which John ‹did eat locusts and wild honey‘” (Hackett‘s Illustrations of Scripture, p. 104). There is also a species of honey called wild honey, or wood honey (1 Samuel 14:27, margin), or honeydew, produced by certain little insects, and deposited on the leaves of trees, and flowing from them in great quantities to the ground. See 1 Samuel 14:24-27. This is said to be produced still in Arabia, and perhaps it was this which John lived upon.

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Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Matthew 3:4". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/matthew-3.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Matthew 3:4

Raiment of camel’s hair.
-We read of John the Baptist “having his raiment of camel’s hair,” and many have supposed that the dress of Elijah was similar. The hair of the camel, especially the coarser woolly tufts about the hump and back, is in some places torn off, but more generally, as I have observed, closely shorn once a year, and used for weaving into a coarse thick fabric by the Arab women. It is of this material that the “ black tents of Kedar “ are generally constructed, as it is much thicker and stouter than woollen stuff. It was very harsh and rough to the touch, and thus his dress was in accordance with the austerity of the rest of the Baptist’s mode of life. (
Canon Tristram.)

The modern Bedawin dress simply, their attire consisting of a cotton shirt, sometimes white, but oftener blue, whose loose folds descend to the ankles, and which is confined with a leathern girdle about the loins. Besides this girdle, both sexes wear from infancy a leathern girdle around the naked waist, adorned with amulets, and also with shells … A woollen cloak of camel’s hair, in broad stripes, brown and white, is thrown loosely over the shoulders of the desert Arab, and is his only covering at night (Exodus 22:26-27) … A thick cord of brown camel’s hair binds their handkerchief head-dresses around their heads … The Bedawin generally go barefooted, or else make sandals of camel’s skin, which they bind with thongs around their feet. These sandals are always made after one model, and appear to derive their form from high antiquity. (Dr. Van-Lennep.)

Locusts

These insects are found at all times, and in every part of Western Asia, in Arabia, and in Northern Africa. The full-grown locusts are from two to three inches in length, and differ from the common grasshopper in their regularly elongated bodies, their reddish colour, and the length of their wings, which enable them to rise to a considerable height above the ground, and to pass over a distance of several miles, by sailing before the wind. The statement that John the Baptist’s food while in the wilderness chiefly consisted of “locusts and wild honey,” best describes the habitual fare of those who at the present day lead a life of isolation and poverty in the same region, and we know that the Mosaic law allowed the Hebrews to eat the locust (Leviticus 11:22). The full-grown insect is extensively eaten by the poorer classes,… particularly by the Bedawin of the desert. When the locusts come down upon the face of the earth, crowds of people go forth and collect vast numbers of them in bags, even loading horses and cattle with the booty. They are roasted and eaten as butter upon loaves of bread, resembling shrimps in taste, or they are boiled in water with a little salt, dried in the sun, and, being deprived of their wings and legs, are packed in bags for use. They are also beaten to a powder, which is mixed with flour and water, made into little cakes, and used as a substitute for bread when flour is scarce. Dried locusts are generally exposed for sale in the markets of Medina, Bagdad, and even Damascus. (Dr. Van-Lennep.)

Wild honey.

The frequent description of Palestine as a land “ flowing with milk and honey,” points out the fact that the honey-bee, and, as a concomitant, wild flowers too, abounded in it anciently, as at the present day. The flowers are so various in Western Asia, that the honey of different districts assumes very marked peculiarities. The honey of Kirk-Aghai, near Pergamus in Asia Minor, chiefly made of the flower of the cotton plant, it is said, so closely resembles butter in appearance, that it can only be detected by the taste. The honey of Mount Hymettus is dark and disagreeable to persons unused to it; the Athenians prefer it to any other. In some parts of Asia Minor the hives which are kept in the villages are transported at a certain season of the year to the slopes and high plains of the mountains, where the bees feed upon the blossoms of the pine and of the mountain plants. Orientals are very fond of honey, and usually eat it in the comb. (Dr. Van-Lennep.)

When the Egyptians on the Upper Nile find that their bees obtain no more honey around their villages, they take their hives on boats, and sail down the river, stopping a| every green spot to let the bees collect honey from the flowers on the shore; so thus by the time they reach Cairo, which is their market, their hives are full of honey. (Poeocke.)

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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Matthew 3:4". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/matthew-3.html. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

Now John himself had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his food was locusts and wild honey.

John had evidently been schooled in the knowledge that he was to be another Elijah, and he promptly adopted the type of dress that would identify him as "Elijah." In 2 Kings 1:8, Elijah's garb is mentioned, especially the leather girdle. This type of clothing was worn by the prophet for another reason, and that was as a protest against the luxury of the ruling classes in Jerusalem. His austere manner of dress and the wilderness residence pointed the way to the self-denial and repentance which would be the burden of John's preaching.

Locusts and wild honey ... comprised the diet of the herald. The locusts were probably insects somewhat similar to large grasshoppers in the United States. Locusts are still considered edible in many parts of the world. Some believe the "locusts" refer to the pods of the carob tree, called "St. John's bread" by the Jews, and still sold in New York City markets. The prodigal son is represented as eating the pods of the carob beans; and certainly John the Baptist could have eaten such carob pods; however, we are confronted with the simple statement that what he did eat was locusts and wild honey!

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
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Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Matthew 3:4". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/matthew-3.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

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 TalmudistsF26Misn. Negaim. c. 11. sect. 2. & Kilaim, c. 9. sect. 1. Talmud, Bab. Menachot, fol. 39. 2. call צמר גמלים "camel's wool"; of which wool of camels and of hares, the Jews sayF1Bereshit Rabba, fol. 18. 2. 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 callF2T. Hieros. Nedarim, fol. 40. 3. חמילה, 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.

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 doctorsF3Misn. Cholin. c. 3. sect. 7. 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 חגב "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 commentatorsF4Maimon. & Bartenora in ib. on this passage observe; and very frequently do these writers speakF5Misn. Beracot, c. 6. sect. 3. Terumot. c. 10. sect. 9. & Ediot. c. 7. sect. 2. & 8. 4. of locusts that are clean, and may be eaten. MaimonidesF6Maacolot Asurot, c. 1. sect. 21. 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 EthiopiansF7Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 6. c. 30. Alex. ab Alex. l. 3. c. 11. Ludolph. Hist. Ethiop. l. 1. c. 13. , ParthiansF8Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 11. c. 29. , and LybiansF9Hieron. adv. Jovinian. fol. 26. Tom. 2. .

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 now the honey of bees might be eaten, according to the Jewish lawsF11Moses Kotzensis Mitzvot Tora precept. neg. 132. , though bees themselves might not.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Matthew 3:4". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/matthew-3.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was f locusts and wild honey.

(f) Locusts were a type of meat which certain of the eastern people use, who were therefore called devourers of locusts.
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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Matthew 3:4". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/matthew-3.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

And the same John had his raiment of camel‘s hair — woven of it.

and a leathern girdle about his loins — the prophetic dress of Elijah (2 Kings 1:8; and see Zechariah 13:4).

and his meat was locusts — the great, well-known Eastern locust, a food of the poor (Leviticus 11:22).

and wild honey — made by wild bees (1 Samuel 14:25, 1 Samuel 14:26). This dress and diet, with the shrill cry in the wilderness, would recall the stern days of Elijah.

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Matthew 3:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/matthew-3.html. 1871-8.

John Lightfoot's Commentary on the Gospels

4. And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.

[His food was locusts.] He that by vow tieth himself from flesh, is forbidden the flesh of fish and of locusts. See the Babylonian Talmud (Cholin) concerning locusts fit for food.

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These files are public domain.
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Bibliographical Information
Lightfoot, John. "Commentary on Matthew 3:4". "John Lightfoot Commentary on the Gospels". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jlc/matthew-3.html. 1675.

People's New Testament

Raiment of camel's hair. See 2 Kings 1:8. Not the camel's skin with hair on it, but a garment made of the shaggier camel's hair, woven in a coarse fabric. It was recognized as a garb of the prophets (Zechariah 13:4), and is still worn in the East by the poor.

A leathern girdle about his loins. The "leathern {girdle}" may be seen around the body of the common laborer. It fastens the loose raiment of the East about the waist.

His meat. Food.

Locusts. Permitted to the Jews as an article of food (Leviticus 11:22), and still used by the poorer classes in Arabia, Egypt and Nubia. They are a large, voracious insect, much like the Rocky Mountain grasshopper.

Wild honey. Honey deposited by wild swarms of bees in the rocks. So abundant was it that Palestine was described as "flowing with milk and honey." John was no epicure, and used such food as the wilderness provided.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Original work done by Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
Bibliographical Information
Johnson, Barton W. "Commentary on Matthew 3:4". "People's New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pnt/matthew-3.html. 1891.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Now John himself (αυτος δε ο Ιωανηςautos de ho Iōanēs). Matthew thus introduces the man himself and draws a vivid sketch of his dress (note ειχενeichen imperfect tense), his habit, and his food. Would such an uncouth figure be welcome today in any pulpit in our cities? In the wilderness it did not matter. It was probably a matter of necessity with him, not an affectation, though it was the garb of the original Elijah (2 Kings 1:8), rough sackcloth woven from the hair of camels. Plummer holds that “John consciously took Elijah as a model.”

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The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Matthew 3:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/matthew-3.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.

John had his raiment of camels' hair — Coarse and rough, suiting his character and doctrine.

A leathern girdle — Like Elijah, in whose spirit and power he came.

His food was locusts and wild honey — Locusts are ranked among clean meats, Leviticus 11:22. But these were not always to be had. So in default of those, he fed on wild honey.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Matthew 3:4". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/matthew-3.html. 1765.

The Fourfold Gospel

Now John himself1 had his raiment2 of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his food was locusts and wild honey3.

  1. Now John himself. "Himself" indicates that John's manner of life differed from that of his disciples. He did not oblige them to practice the full measure of his abstinence.

  2. Had his raiment. John's dress and food preached in harmony with his voice. His clothing and fare rendered him independent of the rich and great, so that he could more freely and plainly rebuke their sins. Calling others to repentance, he himself set an example of austere self-denial. So much so that the Pharisees said he had a demon (Matthew 11:18).

  3. Of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his food was locusts and wild honey. See Matthew 11:18.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website. These files were made available by Mr. Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
Bibliographical Information
J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton. "Commentary on Matthew 3:4". "The Fourfold Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tfg/matthew-3.html. Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1914.

Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

This was food and clothing of the most humble kind. The idea of the verse is, that, like his great prototype Elijah, John the Baptist led a life of extreme austerity and self-denial.

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Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on Matthew 3:4". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ain/matthew-3.html. 1878.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

4 And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.

Ver. 4. And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair] Suitable to Elias (in whose spirit and power he came), who was thus habited. So those worthies, of whom the world was not worthy, wandered about in sheep skins and goat skins; {Hebrews 11:37} but they were like the ark, without, covered with goat’s hair; within, all of pure gold. God clothed our first parents in leather, when there was means of better clothing, to humble them, doubtless, and to shame all such as are proud of their clothes, which are the ensigns of our shame, and came in with sin as its cognizance. Saepe sub attrita latitat sapientia veste. Vestes sunt peccati testes. Vestium curiositas deformitatis mentium et morum indicium est. Bernard.

And a leathern girdle about his loins] So had Elias, and God takes notice of it, and records it, when the pomp and pride of many monarchs lie hidden in obscurity, buried in oblivion. Such love beareth the Lord to his people, that everything in them is remarked and registered. He thinks the better of the very ground they go upon, Psalms 87:2-6; their walls are ever in his sight, and he loveth to look upon the houses where they dwell, Isaiah 49:16.

And his meat was locusts] These creatures have their name in Greek from the top of the ears of grain ( ακριδες) which, as they fled, they fed upon. That they were man’s food in those eastern countries appears Leviticus 11:22, and Pliny testifieth as much (lib. xi. cap. 29). Coarse meat they were, but nature is content with little, grace with less. Cibus et potus sunt divitiae Christianorum, Food and dring are the wealth of Christians. saith Jerome. {a} Bread and water with the gospel are good cheer, saith another. Our Saviour hath taught us to pray for bread, not for manchet {b} or junkets, but downright household bread; and himself gave thanks for barley bread and broiled fishes. A little of the creature will serve turn to carry thee through thy pilgrimage. One told a philosopher, If you will be content to please Dionysius, you need not feed upon green herbs. He replied, And if you can feed upon green herbs, you need not please Dionysius; you need not flatter, comply, be base, &c. {c} The ancients held green herbs to be good cheer, and accounted it wealth enough, μη διψαν και μη ριγαν, not to be thirsty, nor cold, saith Galen. But what miscreants were those Jews, that for ακριδες, locusts, read εγκριδες, deserts, as Epiphanius noteth against the Ebionites. The best, we see, are liable to be belied.

And wild honey] Such as naturally distilled out of trees: as did that which Jonathan tasted with the tip of his rod, called honey of the wood, 1 Samuel 14:27. God made Jeshurun suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock, Deuteronomy 32:13. Hence Judea was called Sumen totius Orbis. breeding sow of the whole world. (Heidfeldius.) And Strabo, that spitefully affirmeth it to be a dry, barren country, had not so much ingenuity as that railing Rabshakeh, 2 Kings 18:32.

{a} Liba recuso,

Pane egeo, iam mellitis potiore placentis.

Hor. Epist. i. 10,11.

{b} The finest kind of wheaten bread. ŒD

{c} Adulator est qui ollam sectatus. Becman. Holus ab ολον. Prisci nihil obsonii sibi deesse existimabant, modo ne deesset holus.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Matthew 3:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/matthew-3.html. 1865-1868.

The Popular Commentary by Paul E. Kretzmann

The appearance and habits of the Baptist should also be noted:

v. 4. And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.

John was an antitype of Elijah, the great prophet and preacher of Israel, both as to his personal appearance and bearing and as to the peculiar difficulties under which his message went forth, 2Ki_1:8; 1Ki_19:10. His raiment, his usual clothing, was not a complete dress or cloak, but a covering or garment thrown over the shoulder, woven out of camel's hair, a rough, uncomfortable protection against the elements. It was held together at the loins by a leathern girdle, without ornamentation. His main article of food was locusts, an edible species as named in Lev_11:22, still used as meat in the East: legs and wings stripped off, and the remainder boiled and roasted. To give at least some variety to the diet, or to serve for sustaining life when locusts were scarce, John used wild honey, such as was deposited by bees in trees and holes in the rocks, or the tree honey which exudes from fig-trees, palms, and other trees. The austere, ascetic appearance and mode of life of John corresponded with his message, which enjoined renunciation of the world and repentance.

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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Matthew 3:4". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/kpc/matthew-3.html. 1921-23.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Matthew 3:4. His raiment of camel's hair The Jews used to wear hairy or coarse garments in time of sorrow and humiliation. See Matthew 11:21. The Nazarites did the same till they had fulfilled their vow. It was also a dress sometimes worn by the prophets; Zechariah 13:4. 2 Kings 1:8. Revelation 6:12; Revelation 11:3. In all these respects it suited John the Baptist, as he preached repentance, as he was a prophet, and as he imitated the austerity which was practised by the Nazarites. He wore too a leathern girdle, as did some of the old prophets, and in particular Elijah, whom John the Baptist represented in habit, as well as in spirit and office. See 2 Kings 1:8 and compare Hebrews 11:37. Matthew 11:14. His food was locusts, the eating of which was allowed by the law, and customary in the eastern parts of the world, as we have shewn in our note on Leviticus 11:22. Sir Norton Knatchbull, and some others, not attending to this particular, have supposed that the original word ακριδες implies not locusts, but a plant, the buds of which in some degree resemble asparagus. But itis undeniable, that the word both in the LXX, and elsewhere, generally signifies the animal which we call a locust. See Mintert on the word. The wild honey was such as he found in the holes of rocks and trees; for bees were very numerous in Palestine. Josephus, speaking of the fountain by Jericho, says, "There are by it, many sorts of palm-trees, the better sort of which, when they are pressed, yield an excellent kind of honey, not much inferior in sweetness to other honey. The country also produces honey from bees." See Jewish War, book 4: chap. 8 sect. 3. Hence some have conceived, that the honey whereupon St. John fed, was of that kind which is found upon and pressed from the leaves of trees in Syria. St. John made use of clothing and food which were mean and easily procured, not through poverty, (for he was the only son of a priest,) but of his own free choice, that the severity of his manners might correspond with his doctrine, which enjoined frequent fastings and abstinence on his disciples, ch. Matthew 9:14 and also that by this means he might strengthen both his body and mind, and prepare himself to meet, with intrepidity, dangers, and death at the last. See Wetstein, Beausobre and Lenfant.

The camel's hair spoken of in this verse was not of the fine hair of that animal, whereof an elegant kind of cloth is made, which is thence called camlet, (in imitation of which, though made of wool, is the English camlet,) but of the long and shaggy hair of camels, which is in the east manufactured into a coarse stuff. It is only when understood in this way that the words suit the descriptionhere given of John's manner of life.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Matthew 3:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/matthew-3.html. 1801-1803.

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

The plainness of John the Baptist's habit and diet is here declared: He was habited in a plain suit of camel's hair, much as Elijah was before him; and as his habit was plain, so his diet was ordinary, feeding upon herbs, and such things as the wilderness affords.

Hence it was that Nazianzen said, He was all voice; a voice in his habit, a voice in his diet, and a voice in his whole conversation. His example teaches us, that the ministers of the gospel are not to affect bravery in apparel, or delicacy in diet; but having the necessary comforts and needful conveniences of life, to be therewith content.

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Burkitt, William. "Commentary on Matthew 3:4". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wbc/matthew-3.html. 1700-1703.

Golden Chain Commentary on the Gospels

And the same John had his raiment of camel"s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Having said that he is the voice of one crying in the desert, the Evangelist well adds, "John had his clothing of camel"s hair;" thus shewing what his life was; for he indeed testified of Christ, but his life testified of himself. No one is fit to be another"s witness till he has first been his own.

Hilary: For the preaching of John no place more suitable, no clothing more useful, no food more fitted.

Jerome: His raiment of camel"s hair, not of wool - the one the mark of austerity in dress, the other of a delicate luxury.

Pseudo-Chrys.: It becomes the servants of God to use a dress not for elegant appearance, or for cherishing of the body, but for a covering of the nakedness. Thus John wears a garment not soft and delicate, but hairy, heavy, rough, rather wounding the skin than cherishing it, that even the very clothing of his body told of the virtue of his mind. It was the custom of the Jews to wear girdles of wool; so he desiring something less indulgent wore one of skin.

Jerome: Food moreover suited to a dweller in the desert, no choice viands, but such as satisfied the necessities of the body.

Rabanus: Content with poor fare; to wit, small insects and honey gathered from the trunks of trees. In the sayings of Arnulphus [ed. note: Arnulphus, who visited Palestine 705; his travels to the Holy Land written from his mouth by Adamannus, Abbot of Lindisferne, are still extant.], Bishop of Gaul, we find that there was a very small kind of locust in the deserts of Judaea, with bodies about the thickness of a finger and short; they are easily taken among the grass, and when cooked in oil form a poor kind of food.

He also relates, that in the same desert there is a kind of tree, with a large round leaf, of the colour of milk and taste of honey, so friable as to rub to powder in the hand, and this is what is intended by wild honey.

Remig.: In this clothing and this poor food, he shews that he sorrows for the sins of the whole human race.

Rabanus: His dress and diet express the quality of his inward conversation. His garment was of an austere quality, because he rebuked the sinner"s life.

Jerome: His girdle of skin, which Elias also bare, is the mark of mortification.

Rabanus: He ate locusts and honey, because his preaching was sweet tot he multitude, but was of short continuance; and honey has sweetness, locusts a swift flight but soon fall to the ground.

Remig.: In John (which name is interpreted "the grace of God,") is figured Christ who brought grace into the world; in his clothing, the Gentile Church.

Hilary: The preacher of Christ is clad in the skins of unclean beasts, to which the Gentiles are compared, and so by the Prophets" dress is sanctified whatever in them was useless or unclean. The girdle is a thing of much efficacy to every good work, that we may be girt for every ministry of Christ. For his food are chosen locusts, which fly the face of man, and escape from every approach, signifying ourselves who were borne away from every word or speech of good by a spontaneous motion of the body, weak in will, barren in works, fretful in speech, foreign in abode, are now become the food of the Saints, chosen to fill the Prophets" desire, furnishing our most sweet food not from the hives of the law, but from the trunks of wild trees.

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Aquinas, Thomas. "Commentary on Matthew 3:4". "Golden Chain Commentary on the Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gcc/matthew-3.html.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

4. αὐτὸς δὲ ὁ ἰω.] αὐτὸς recalls the reader from the prophetic testimony, to the person of John: now John himself.… As John was the Elias of prophecy, so we find in his outward attire a striking similarity to Elias, who was ἀνὴρ δασύς, καὶ ζωνὴν δερματίνην περιεζωσμένος τὴν ὀσφὺν αὐτοῦ. 4 Kings Matthew 1:8. The garment of camel’s hair was not the camel’s skin with the hair on, which would be too heavy to wear, but raiment woven of camel’s hair, such as Josephus speaks of (B. J. i. 24. 3), ἐσθῆτες ἐκ τριχῶν πεποιημέναι, as a contrast to ἐσθ. βασιλικαί. From Zechariah 13:4, it seems that such a dress was known as the prophetic garb: ‘neither shall they (the prophets) wear a rough garment ( δέῤῥιν τριχίνην, LXX, who, however, make it a garment of penitence for having deceived) to deceive.’

ἀκρίδες] There is no difficulty here. The ἀκρίς, permitted to be eaten, ref. Levit., was used as food by the lower orders in Judæa, and mentioned by Strabo and Pliny as eaten by the Æthiopians, and by many other authors as articles of food. Jerome, adv. Jovinian. ii. 7, vol. ii. p. 334, says, “Apud Orientales et Libyæ populos quia per desertam et calidam eremi vastitatem locustarum nubes reperiuntur, locustis vesci moris est: hoc verum esse Joannes quoque Baptista probat.” Shaw found locusts eaten by the Moors in Barbary. (Travels, p. 164) Epiphanius, Hær. xxx. 13, vol. i. p. 138, quotes this from the Gospel according to the Ebionites as follows: καὶ τὸ βρῶμα αὐτοῦ μέλι ἄγριον, οὗ ἡ γεῦσις ἦν τοῦ μάννα, ὡς ἔγκρις ἐν ἐλαίῳ, and adds, ἵνα δῆθεν μεταστρέψωσι τὸν τῆς ἀληθείας λόγον εἰς ψεῦδος, καὶ ἀντὶ ἀκρίδων ποιήσωσιν ἐγκρίδας ἐν μέλιτι.

μέλι ἄγριον] See 1 Samuel 14:25. Here, again, there is no need to suppose any thing else meant but honey made by wild bees; τὸ ἐν ταῖς τῶν πετρῶν σχισμαῖς ὑπὸ τῶν μελισσῶν γεωργούμενον. Euthym(20) Schulz (cited by Winer, Realw., and De Wette) found such honey in this very wilderness in our own time. See Psalms 81:16; Judges 14:8; Deuteronomy 32:13. The passage usually cited from Diodorus Siculus (xix. 94) to shew that μέλι ἄγριον exuded from trees, does not necessarily imply it; φύεται γὰρ παρʼ αὐτοῖς τὸ πέπερι ἀπὸ τῶν δένδρων, καὶ μέλι πολὺ τὸ καλούμενον ἄγριον, ᾧ χρῶνται ποτῷ μεθʼ ὕδατος. Suidas certainly makes it a gum: μ. ἄγ. ὅπερ ἀπὸ τῶν δένδρων ἐπισυναγόμενον, μάννα τοῖς πολλοῖς προσαγορεύεται. And Meyer prefers this view, on account of the predicate ἄγριον, which, he says, is a terminus technicus, pointing out this particular kind of honey. But he does not give any authority for this assertion: and it seems just as likely that ἄγριον might be applied to it as made by wild bees.

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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Matthew 3:4". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/matthew-3.html. 1863-1878.

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

Matthew 3:4. αὐτός] ipse autem Johannes, the historical person himself, who is intended (Matthew 3:3) by that φωνή of Isaiah.

εἶχεκαμήλου] He had his (distinctive, constantly worn) robe of camels’ hair. The reading is αὐτοῦ, which is neither to be written αὑτοῦ (it is used from the standpoint of the narrator, and without any reflective emphasis), nor is it superfluous. Whether are we to think of a garment of camels’ skin, or a coarse cloth of camels’ hair? Er. Schmid and Fritzsche are of the former opinion. But as hair alone is expressly mentioned as the material(378) (comp. also Mark 1:6), the latter is to be preferred. Even at the present day coarse cloth is prepared from camels’ hair for clothing and for covering tents. See Harmar, III. p. 356. Of clothes made from the hides of camels (probably, however, from sheep and goatskins, compare Hebrews 11:37) there is not a trace to be found among either ancient or modern Oriental saints (Harmar, III. p. 374 ff.).

δερ΄ατίνην] not of a luxurious material, but like Elijah, 2 Kings 1:8, whose copy he was (comp. Ewald, Gesch. d. Volks Isr. III. p. 529). Dress and food are in keeping with the asceticism of the Baptist, and thereby with the profound earnestness of his call to μετάνοια. “Habitus quoque et victus Johannis praedicabat,” Bengel.

ἀκρίδες] Several kinds of locusts were eaten, Leviticus 11:22. Comp. Plin. N. H. vi. 35, xi. 32, 35. This is still the custom in the East, especially amongst the poorer classes and the Bedouins. The wings and legs are torn off, and the remainder is sprinkled with salt, and either boiled or eaten roasted. Niebuhr, Reise, I. p. 402; Harmar, I. p. 274 f.; Rosenmüller, altes und neues Morgenl. in loco. The conjectures of the older writers, who, deeming this food unworthy of John, have substituted sometimes cakes ( ἐγκριδες),(379) sometimes crabs ( καρίδες), or fruits of the nut kind ( ἀκρόδρυα) and other articles, deserve no consideration.

μέλι ἄγριον] Commonly: honey prepared by wild bees, which in the East flows out of the clefts of the rocks. Euth. Zigabenus: τὸ ἐν ταῖς τῶν πετρῶν σχισμαῖς ὑπὸ τῶν μελισσῶν γεωργούμενον. Bochart, Hieroz. II. 4. 12; Suicer, Thes. II. p. 330; Ewald, Gesch. Isr. III. p. 50. It is still frequently found in abundance at the present day in the Jewish wilderness. Schulz, Leitungen d. Höchsten auf den Reisen durch Eur. As. Afr. V. p. 133; Rosenmüller, I. 1, p. 7; Oedmann, Sammlungen aus d. Naturk. zur Erkl. d. heil. Schr. VI. p. 136 f. Others (Suidas, Salmasius, Reland, Michaelis, Kuinoel, Fritzsche, Schegg, Bleek, Volkmar) understand tree honey, a substance of the nature of honey which issues from palms, figs, and other trees. Diod. Sic. xix. 94; Wesseling in loc.; Plin. N. H. xv. 7; Suidas, s.v. ἀκρίς. Comp. Heyne, ad Virg. Ecl. iv. 30. Similarly, Polyaenus, iv. 3. 32: τὸ ὕον μέλι, the Persian manna. This explanation of tree honey is to be preferred, as, according to Diod. Sic. l.c. and Suidas, the predicate ἄγριον, as terminus technicus, actually designates this honey, whilst the expression μέλι ἄγριον cannot be proved to be employed of the honey of wild bees (which, moreover, is the common honey).

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Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Matthew 3:4". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/matthew-3.html. 1832.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Matthew 3:4. αὐτὸς δὲ ἰωάννης, κ. τ. λ., And the same John, etc.) A remarkable description. Even the dress and food of John preached, being in accordance with his teaching and office. Such as should be that of penitents, such was always that of this minister of penitence.—Cf. Gnomon on ch. Matthew 9:14, and Matthew 11:18.— ἀπὸ τριχῶν καμήλου, of camels’ hair) His dress was mean,(121) and rough, and coarsely woven.—Cf. Mark 1:6.— καὶ ζώνην δερματίνην περὶ τὴν ὀσφὺν αὐτοῦ, and a girdle of skin around his loins) Thus the LXX. in 2 Kings 1:8, of Elijah, καὶ ζώνην δερματίνην περιεζωσμένος τὴν ὀσφὺν αὐτοῦ, and girt around his loins with a girdle of skin. The girdle of John, like that of Elijah, was not of leather, but of skin rudely dressed. It is not without object that Scripture records the dress of many saints, of the Baptist, and of Jesus Christ Himself.— τροφὴ, food) We gather the nature of his drink from Luke 1:15.— ἀκρίδες, locusts) IN Leviticus 11:22, the LXX. render חגב (an animal which the Jews were permitted to eat), by ἀκρίς, locust.— μέλι ἄγριον, wild honey) flowing spontaneously.—See 1 Samuel 14:25.—Locusts might sometimes fail.

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Matthew 3:4". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/matthew-3.html. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

There are great and insignificant disputes about the habit and the diet of John the Baptist. The evangelists doubtless designed no more than to let us know, that John Baptist’s habit was not of soft raiment, like those who are in princes’ houses, but a plain country habit, suited to the place in which he lived; and his diet plain, such as the country afforded. In vain therefore do some contend that John wore watered stuff, fine and splendid, as art in our days hath improved camel’s hair; and others as vainly contend that he went in a camel’s skin raw and undressed: but he was habited in a plain suit of camel’s hair, such as ordinary persons of that country used, or else such a rough garment as is mentioned Zechariah 13:4, used by the prophets. Elijah had much such a habit, 2 Kings 1:8. There is likewise a variety of opinions about these locusts which John did eat; the most probable is, that they were true locusts, for locusts might be eaten, Leviticus 11:22. Nor is it to be thought that John did eat nothing else; all that is intended is, to let us know that John was a man not at all curious as to his meat or clothes, but was habited plainly, and fared ordinarily, as the men of that country fared; if there were any difference in his habit, it was to proportion himself to Elijah and the habit of prophets. In this the evangelist teacheth us what the ministers of the gospel should be and do. They should be men contemning the gaudery and delicacies of the world, and by their habit and diet, as well as other things, set an example of severity and gravity to others.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Matthew 3:4". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/matthew-3.html. 1685.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

имел одежду из верблюжьего волоса и пояс кожаный Практичная и прочная одежда, хотя далеко не удобная и не модная. Облик Иоанна напоминает Илию (4Цар.1:8), которого ждали израильтяне перед наступлением дня Господня (Мал.4:5).

акриды Они были разрешенной пищей (Лев.11:22).

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Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

4.Raiment of camel’s hair — Of the finer hair of the camel an elegant kind of cloth is manufactured in the East called camlet. Of this our European and American camlet is an imitation, made of wool. But John’s garment was a coarse stuff, woven of the long and shaggy hair of the camel, such as was anciently worn by monks and anchorites. It was not, therefore, as some imagine, the camel’s skin. So his type Elijah was a hairy man in his dress. 2 Kings 1:8. So the false prophets imitated him by wearing a rough garment to deceive. Zechariah 13:4. Elijah also was girt with a leathern girdle about his loins. 2 Kings 1:8. It was customary to wear a girdle around the waist, in order to confine the loose dress to its place.

Meat — Food. This sense of the word, like most of the peculiarities of phrase in the Scripture, is the old English mode in use when the Bible was translated. Locusts — The law of Moses gave permission to eat locusts. “These may ye eat, of every flying creeping thing that goeth upon all four’ the locust after his kind, and the bald locust,” etc. Leviticus 11:21. The Eastern locust is a food of a poor kind. On this subject Dr. Thomson says: “Do you suppose that the meat of John the Baptist was literally locusts and wild honey? Why not? by the Arabs they are eaten to this day. The perfectly trustworthy Burckhardt thus speaks on this subject: ‘All the Bedouins of Arabia, and the inhabitants of towns in Nejd and Hedjaz are accustomed to eat locusts.’ ‘I have seen at Medina and Tayf locust shops where these animals were sold by measure. In Egypt and Nubia they are only eaten by the poorest beggars.’ ‘The Arabs, in preparing locusts as an article of food, throw them alive into boiling water with which a good deal of salt has been mixed. After a few minutes they are taken out and dried in the sun; the head, feet, and wings are then torn off; the bodies are cleansed from the salt and perfectly dried, after which process whole sacks are filled with them by the Bedouin. They are sometimes eaten boiled in butter, and they often contribute materials for a breakfast when spread over unleavened bread mixed with butter.’ Thus far Burckhardt. Locusts are not eaten in Syria by any but the Bedouin on the extreme frontiers, and it is always spoken of as a very inferior article of food, and regarded by most with disgust and loathing — tolerated only by the very poorest people. John the Baptist, however, was of this class, either from necessity or election. He also dwelt in the desert, where such food was and is still used, and therefore the text states the simple truth. His ordinary ‘meat’ was dried locusts; probably fried in butter and mixed with honey, as is still frequently done. This honey, too, was the article made by bees, and not dibs from grapes, nor dates from the palm, nor anything else which ingenious commentators have invented. Wild honey is still gathered in large quantities from trees in the wilderness, and from rocks in the wadies, just where the Baptist sojourned, and where he came preaching the baptism of repentance.” Wild honey — The chance honey produced by wild bees in hollow trees or clefts of rocks. So 1 Samuel 14:25: “All they of the land came to a wood; and there was honey upon the ground. And when the people came into the wood, behold the honey dropped.”

This coarse and wild diet was intended by John, as well as by Elijah, to represent a perpetual fast.

John here presents the symbols of the repentance he preaches, according to ancient customs. The hair or sackcloth, the fasting and the solitude, were the ordinary outward signs of deepest humiliation. The whole process was a mode of saying: “We confess ourselves by sin unworthy of every blessing, even of food and raiment, and deserving to be sunk into humiliation and woe.” And John did not this for himself, but for the people. He was their representative. He was showing them by sign, as well as by word, what they ought to be and do. At the same time, by retreating from all society, he was protesting against the unutterable apostacy of the whole social system.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Matthew 3:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/matthew-3.html. 1874-1909.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

‘Now John himself had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leather girdle about his loins, and his food was locusts and wild honey.’

John is described in prophetic terms. His raiment of coarse camel’s hair, his leather (dried skin) girdle and his wilderness food all depict the prophet (compare 2 Kings 1:8; Zechariah 12:4). He is a man of the wilderness, separated to God, and away from the world, unfettered by the things of this life, seeking first the Kingly Rule of God and His righteousness. Locusts were regular desert food, and wild honey was freely available in the wilderness. John lived at the minimum.

There are a number of similarities between John and Elijah. Both appear suddenly, both live a solitary life, both wear ascetic clothing, both become objects of revenge from the king’s wife. As Jesus will explain (Matthew 11:14; Matthew 17:12), John is in fact the new Elijah spoken of by Malachi 4:5. John in fact also exemplifies the one who seeks first the Kingly Rule of God and His righteousness in preference to food and clothing (Matthew 6:33). He is an example to be followed.

It has been suggested that John was connected with the Qumran community. However, while he would almost certainly have had contact with them he was not inward looking and aiming to start a closed community. He did not try to gather a community around him but rather encouraged an open and more loose community where people returned home to live out their lives there, in contrast with the Qumranis inward looking attitude. Nor did he establish a series of ritual washings, or produce detailed regulations for the conduct of their lives. There is thus no real reason why we should connect him too closely with them. Like Jesus after him, he was content that the people continued to hear the teaching of the Scribes. What they had to do was avoid their tendency to hypocrisy (Matthew 23:2).

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Matthew 3:4". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/matthew-3.html. 2013.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

Matthew 3:4. How John himself. The dress and habits of John confirm the statement of Matthew 3:3. His dress, like that of Elijah, corresponded with his preaching. The resemblance to Elijah was possibly in the mind of the Evangelist, since our Lord in his public teaching (chap. Matthew 11:14; Matthew 17:12-13), referred the prophecy of Malachi (respecting Elijah) to John.

Camel’s hair. The coarse cloth woven of the hair shed each year. The fine cloth called camlet, is made of the softer hairs. Zach. Matthew 14:3, suggests that this was the distinctive dress of the Old Testament prophets, but this is not certain. Elijah was thus distinguished (comp. 2 Kings 1:8).

A leathern girdle, such as Elijah wore, of undressed hide. The austere dress befitted the austere preacher of repentance, whose ministry, like that of Elijah, aimed at bringing back the people to the spirit of their fathers (see Matthew 3:8-9).

His food. A more exact rendering than ‘meat.’

Locusts are still eaten in the East by the poorest class, and were allowed to be eaten by the Mosaic law (Leviticus 11:22). The older expositors, not aware that locusts were eaten, give conjectural explanations: Shrimps, cakes, etc.—Wild honey. Abundant in Palestine, which is described as ‘flowing with milk and honey.’ The term is, however, used by other ancient authors, of a kind of honey which issued from fig trees, palms, and other trees. A still more meagre diet.—Thus John came ‘neither eating nor drinking,’—a Nazarite. He probably did not enjoin this mode of life upon others. His position demanded it of him, and his actual self denial had a symbolical meaning, pointing to the repentance he preached. John was the forerunner of Christ; repentance the practice of baptizing proselytes, but this is uncertain, as is also the antiquity of this practice. The objection to this view of the derivation of John’s baptism, is that it would have presented him as the founder of a new sect, rather than as the restorer of the ancient ways. There is no hint that he was thus regarded. Only on this theory can the baptism of John be identified with Christian baptism. The children of proselytes were also baptized. A better view is that John, by his preaching of repentance, declared the uncleanness of the Jewish people, and baptized the individual Jew upon confession, as a sign of purification. Thus the rite was essentially a Jewish one, the final preparatory rite of the Old Testament economy, and hence not identical with precedes the assurance of salvation in our consciousness, but the coming of salvation is the great motive to repentance: ‘Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Matthew 3:4". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/matthew-3.html. 1879-90.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Matthew 3:4. . The story returns to the historical person, John, and identifies him with the herald of prophecy. “This same John.” Then follows a description of his way of life—his clothing and his food, the details conveying a life-like picture of the manner of the man: his habits congruous to his vocation.— : his characteristic ( ) piece of clothing was a rough rude garment woven out of camel’s hair, not as some have thought, a camel’s skin. We read in Hebrews 11:37, of sheep skins and goat skins worn by some of God’s saints, but not of camel skins. Fritzsche takes the opposite view, and Grotius. Euthy., following Chrysostom, says: “Do not ask who wove his garment, or whence he got his girdle; for more wonderful is it that he should live from childhood to manhood in so inhospitable a climate”. John took his fashion in dress from Elijah, described (2 Kings 1:8) as “an hairy man, and girt with a girdle of leather about his loins”. It need not be doubted that the investment is historical, not a legendary creation, due to the opinion that John was Elijah redivivus. The imitation in dress does not imply a desire to pass for Elijah, but expresses similarity of mood.— : his diet as poor as his clothing was mean.— : the last of four kinds of edible locusts named in Leviticus 11:22 (Sept[13]), still it seems used by the poor in the east; legs and wings stripped off, and the remainder boiled or roasted. “The Beduins of Arabia and of East Jordan land eat many locusts, roasted, boiled or baked in cakes. In Arabia they are sold in the market. They taste not badly” (Benzinger, Hebraische Archäologie). Euthy. reports to the same effect as to his own time: many eat it in those parts (pickled). Not pleasant food, palatable only to keen hunger. If we may trust Epiphanius, the Ebionites, in their aversion to animal food, grudged the Baptist even that poor diet, and restricted him to cakes made with honey ( ), or to honey alone. Vide Nicholson’s Gospel according to the Hebrews, p. 34, and the notes there; also Suicer’s Thesaurus, sub. v. .— : opinion is divided between bee honey and tree honey, i.e., honey made by wild bees in trees or holes in the rocks, or a liquid exuding from palms and fig trees. (On this also consult Nicholson, Gospel of Hebrews, p. 35.) Both were used as food, but our decision should incline to vegetable honey, on the simple ground that it was the poorer food. Bee honey was a delicacy, and is associated with milk in Scripture in descriptions of a fertile land. The vegetable product would suit best John’s taste and state. “Habitatori solitudinis congruum est, non delicias ciborum, sed necessitatem humanae carnis explere.” Jerome.

[13] Septuagint.

 

 

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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Matthew 3:4". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/matthew-3.html. 1897-1910.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Matthew 3:4. And the same John — The following description of John is added, that it might appear he did not live in obscurity, but was sufficiently known to all: had his raiment of camel’s hair — Not, as some have supposed, a camel’s skin, raw and undressed, but a kind of sackcloth, coarse and rough, made of the raw long hair of camels, and not of their fine and soft hair, dressed and spun into thread. The difference between these two is as great as that between flax rude or unprepared, and the same dressed or spun; or between that which we now call hair cloth, made of undressed hair, and camlet, that is made of it when it is softened, and spun, and prepared; in imitation of which, though made of wool, is the English camlet. Elijah seems to have wore a similar garment, and therefore was called a hairy man; which expression is supposed to refer to his clothing rather than his body. Most of the ancient prophets wore such garments, whence we read of the false prophets putting on a rough garment to deceive, Zechariah 13:4; and of the witnesses prophesying in sackcloth, Revelation 6:12; and Revelation 11:3. And a leathern girdle about his loins — In this respect, also, being like Elijah, in whose spirit and power he came, Malachi 4:5; Luke 1:17. Hereby, as also by his spare diet, he gave an example of repentance, and of his expectation of a heavenly kingdom. And his meat was locusts — The insects called locusts are undoubtedly intended, a kind of large-winged grasshoppers. See Revelation 9:3; Revelation 9:7; Revelation 9:9. It is true, according to Sandys (Trav. p. 183) and many others, it appears there is, in these parts, a shrub termed the locust tree, the buds of which resemble asparagus; yet it is not probable that this is here meant, nor the wild fruits of any trees, nor the tops of herbs and plants, as some, both ancients and moderns, have supposed; because the original word here used, in the LXX. and elsewhere, generally signifies the animal which we call a locust, which it is certain the law allowed the Jews to eat, and which, Pliny assures us, made a considerable part of the food of the Parthians and Ethiopians. Dr. Shaw tells us that when sprinkled with salt and fried they taste much like the river cray-fish. See his excellent Travels, p. 258. And wild honey — Such as, in those parts, was often found in hollow trees, or in the clefts of the rocks, 1 Samuel 14:26; 14:8; Psalms 81:16. John used such a diet and such clothing as was cheap and easily obtained. He drank no wine, and frequently fasted, not through poverty, for he was the only son of a priest, but of his own free-will, as well that his severe and mortified manner of life might correspond with his doctrine, which enjoined frequent fasting to his disciples, as that in this way he might fortify both his body and mind, and prepare himself to undergo dangers, imprisonment, and death undauntedly. As the months of April and May are the time when locusts abound, it has been conjectured that John began his ministry about that season of the year, which might also seem more convenient for receiving, and especially for baptizing, so great a number of people, than the winter could have been.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Matthew 3:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/matthew-3.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

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[BIBLIOGRAPHY]

St. Hierom. [St. Jerome] lib. 2. con. Jovin. tom. 4. part. 2. p. 201. Orientales, et Libyæ populos . . . locustis vesci, moris est. Theophylactus by Greek: akrides, understands buds of trees.

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Matthew 3:4". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/matthew-3.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

had his raiment, &c. Compare 2 Kings 1:8.

leathern girdle. Worn to-day by peasants in Palestine.

meat = food.

locusts. Locusts form the food of the people today; and, being provided for in the Law, are

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Matthew 3:4". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/matthew-3.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.

And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair [that is, woven of it] and a leather girdle about his loins}-the prophetic dress of Elijah (2 Kings 1:8; and see Zechariah 13:4).

And his meat was locusts - the great well-known eastern locust, a food of the poor (Leviticus 11:22).

And wild honey - made by wild bees (1 Samuel 14:25-26). This dress and diet, with the shrill cry in the wilderness, would recall the stern days of Elijah.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Matthew 3:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/matthew-3.html. 1871-8.

The Bible Study New Testament

4. Camel’s hair. See 2 Kings 1:8. Clothes made from the hair of a camel woven into a coarse cloth. The poor of the East have worn such for centuries. It was the uniform of a prophet (Zechariah 13:4). Leather belt. Used to fasten the loose clothes of the East. Ate locusts and wild honey. Not what we call locusts, but a kind of giant grasshopper, still eaten by the poor in the East, and kosher to the Jew (Leviticus 11:22). Bees nested in the rocks, and wild honey was plentiful. John lived off the land.

 

 

 

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Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Matthew 3:4". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ice/matthew-3.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(4) His raiment of camel’s hair.—The dress was probably deliberately adopted by the Baptist as reviving the outward appearance of Elijah, who was “a hairy man, and girt with a girdle of leather” (2 Kings 1:8); and the “rough garment,” that had been characteristic of the prophet’s life even at a later period (Zechariah 13:4), as contrasted with the “long garments” of the Pharisees (Mark 12:38), and the “gorgeous apparel” of the scribes who attached themselves to the court of Herod (Luke 7:25). The Nazarite vow of Luke 1:15 probably involved long and shaggy hair as well.

Locusts and wild honey.—Locusts were among the articles of food permitted by the Law (Leviticus 11:21), and were and are still used by the poor in Palestine and Syria. They are commonly salted and dried, and may be cooked in various ways, pounded, or fried in butter, and they taste like shrimps. It is needless, when the facts are so clear, to go out of the way to seek the food of the Baptist in the sweet pods of the so-called locust-tree (Ceratonia Siliqua), with which it has been sometimes identified. The “wild honey” was that found in the hollows of trees (as in the history of Jonathan, 1 Samuel 14:25), or in the “rocks” (Deuteronomy 32:13; Psalms 81:16). Stress is laid on the simplicity of the Baptist’s fare, requiring no skill or appliances, the food of the poorest wanderer in the wilderness, presenting a marked contrast to the luxury of the dwellers in towns. The life of Banus, the hermit-master of Josephus, who lived only on herbs and water (Life, c. 2) presented analogous though not identical features.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Matthew 3:4". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/matthew-3.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.
his raiment
11:8; 2 Kings 1:8; Zechariah 13:4; Malachi 4:5; Mark 1:6; Luke 1:17; Revelation 11:3
and his
11:18; Leviticus 11:22
wild
Deuteronomy 32:13; 1 Samuel 14:25-27
Reciprocal: 1 Kings 18:7 - he knew;  Proverbs 24:13 - eat;  Isaiah 7:15 - Butter;  Isaiah 7:22 - butter and honey;  Isaiah 20:2 - the sackcloth;  Luke 7:25 - A man;  Luke 7:33 - came;  Hebrews 11:37 - in sheepskins

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Matthew 3:4". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/matthew-3.html.

E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

In Zechariah 13:4 a false prophet Is described as wearing a rough garment to deceive the public. indicating that such a garment was an article of clothing peculiar to a prophet. It was appropriate that John the Baptist, who was a true prophet, wear such a piece made from the hair of eamels. The girdle served as a belt to hold the loose garment close to the body. Leviticus 11:22 included the locust among clean foods that the Jews were permitted to eat. Wild honey is so called because it was made by wild bees and deposited in hollow trees or crevices of rocks. Honey Is one of the purest ot foods in the vegetable class, and locusts could be classed with the animal kind. John the Baptist, therefore, had a somewhat balanced though simple diet.

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Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Matthew 3:4". E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/znt/matthew-3.html. 1952.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

Matthew 3:4.And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair The Evangelist does not desire us to reckon it as one of John’s chief excellencies, that he followed a rough and austere way of living, or even that he avoided a moderate and ordinary degree of elegance: but, having already stated that he was an inhabitant of the mountains, he now adds, that his food and clothing were adapted to his residence. And he mentions this, not only to inform us, that John was satisfied with the food and dress of the peasants, and partook of no delicacies; but that, under a mean and contemptible garb, he was held in high estimation by men of rank and splendor. Superstitious persons look upon righteousness as consisting almost entirely of outward appearances, and have commonly thought, that abstinence of this kind was the perfection of holiness. Nearly akin to this is the error, of supposing him to be a man who lived in solitude, and who disdained the ordinary way of living; as the only superiority of hermits and monks is, that they differ from other people. Nay, gross ignorance has gone so far that, out of camel’s hair they have made an entire skin.

Now, there can be no doubt, that the Evangelist here describes a man of the mountains, (252) widely distant from all the refinement and delicacies of towns,—not only satisfied with such food as could be procured, but eating only what was fit to be used in its natural state, such as wild honey, which is supplied by that region in great abundance, and locusts, with which it also abounds. Or he may have intended to point out that, when a man of mean aspect, and without any polite accomplishments, appeared in public life, it was attended by this advantage, that the majesty of God shone alone in him, and yet struck all with admiration. For we must observe what is added, that there was a great concourse of people from all directions; from which we infer, that his fame was very widely spread. (253) Or the Evangelist may have signified the design of God, to present, in the person of John, a singular instance of frugality, and, in this manner, to fill the Jews with reverence for his doctrine, or at least to convince them of ingratitude, according to that saying of our Lord, John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, (Luke 7:33.)

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Matthew 3:4". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/matthew-3.html. 1840-57.