Problem: The Bible says insects have four legs and four feet
Verses: Leviticus 11:20-23; Status: Minor

Leviticus 11:20-23 seems to say that some insects have four feet:

All winged insects that go on all fours are detestable to you. Yet among the winged insects that go on all fours you may eat those that have jointed legs above their feet, with which to hop on the ground. Of them you may eat: the locust of any kind, the bald locust of any kind, the cricket of any kind, and the grasshopper of any kind. But all other winged insects that have four feet are detestable to you. (ESV)

Insects, of course, have six legs and six feet. There seem to be two explanations:

  1. The author of Leviticus made a scientific error
  2. Two of the legs weren't regarded as real "legs" for some reason
(image) locust

To see why explanation 2 might be correct, here's a locust. The rear legs are much bigger and used for jumping rather than walking, so it's easy to see why they might not be considered the same sort of thing as the other four legs - in much the same way as our arms aren't considered legs, because we don't walk with them. The NIV Study Bible gives this explanation.

Updated: Summer 2008

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