Q: Leviticus 11:22 seems to indicate that it is permissible to eat beetles. Is this correct?


According to Adam Clarke’s Commentary, the word “beetle” here is a mistranslation. The Hebrew name indicates a leaping insect or locust. This word occurs only in this place. The beetle was never eaten by the Israelites.

The Bible Exposition Commentary states: “All insects were forbidden except those with jointed hind legs used for jumping, such as locusts, katydids, crickets, and grasshoppers. These creatures aren’t normally a part of the Western diet, but many peoples in the East eat parts of their bodies roasted. John the Baptist lived on a diet of locusts and wild honey (Matthew 3:4). The Jews would shun cockroaches, flies and other insects of that variety.”

Incidentally, the food colorants carmine and cochineal are made from ground-up tropical beetles (Dactylopius coccus). Common processed foods with this ingredient include certain brands of ruby red grapefruit juice, yogurts, strawberry milkshakes and maraschino cherries, to name a few.