Did John the Baptist eat carob tree fruits or bugs?

Locusts from the Carob Tree

Greek: keration

Ceratonia siliqua

Click here to see the Locust Tree and Carob fruit pods

Some Bible dictionaries and other references speak of an Arab stew made from the locust bug that is a pest to crops. Vine and Strong both write about roasted locusts with the head, wings and legs removed. They were salted and also cooked with butter. According to Strong, the Greek word for locust in Matthew 3 is akris. In other New Testament uses of akris, the pest is clearly implied, NOT a tree.

Winifred Walker (All the Plants of the Bible) writes about the fruit of the carob or locust tree. It is accepted by many in the East as the food on which John the Baptist fed, however, in my humble opinion, it is not the carob; it was the insect that John ate.

The carob fruit is known in that region as St. John's bread. It is a tree native to the eastern Mediterranean introduced by Greeks into their country as well as Italy. Spaniards carried it into Mexico and South America where it is established today.

A sturdy evergreen, it grows to fifty feet in height. In early spring the tree bears large clusters of pea-shaped blossoms. Brown fruits follow in the form of thick, eight inch long pods. These pods are filled with a sweet mucilage that protects flat bony seeds and are very nutritious.

Locust fruit is dried as a food for cattle and people. The seeds may be the ancient and original weight used by goldsmiths for a carat. One tree may yield as much as eight hundred pounds of husks per harvest.

"Carob is a unique substance that has an appearance similar to cocoa. It comes from the Ceratonia siliqua, an evergreen tree native to the Eastern Mediterranean area. This relatively wild tree, which grows up to 50 feet tall, bears fruit at the age of six to eight years with a greater abundance of fruit every other year. The average annual yield per tree is 200-250 lbs. of fruit.

Carob, or St. John's Bread, as it is commonly known, is a large (4-12 inch long) dried, bean-like pod. Pods are harvested from September to November. Inside the carob pods are tiny beans which are used to make locust bean gum, a stabilizer and thickener in foods. The carob pods themselves are roasted and ground into carob powder.

Carob powder can be used to replace cocoa at levels from 25-50%. While carob performs like cocoa, it differs in sugar and fat content. Cocoa may contain up to 23% fat and 5% sugar while carob has .7% fat and a natural sugar content of 42-48%.

Nutritionally, carob has none of the allergy-producing antibodies or the caffeine stimulant theobromine found in the cocoa bean. Carob contains as much vitamin B1 as asparagus or strawberries, the same amount of niacin as lima beans, lentils or peas and more vitamin A than eggplant, asparagus and beets. It is also high in vitamin B2, calcium, magnesium and iron.

In addition to being a delicious and healthful foodstuff, carob powder is used as a tobacco flavoring and in the production of some pharmaceuticals."


Matthew 3:1-6 (KJV) In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. 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. Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.

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