Did You Know?
Who was “the captain of the temple,” and what was his role?
Among the Jewish religious leaders who had the apostles Peter and John arrested while they were preaching was “the captain of the temple.” (Acts 4:1-3) The Bible gives no description of the temple captain’s responsibilities, but some historical sources provide interesting background.
It seems that by the time of Jesus, that official position was held by a priest who was second in authority to the high priest. The temple captain maintained order in and around the temple in Jerusalem. He supervised temple worship as well as what may be called a temple police force. Subordinate captains under his command oversaw the watchmen who opened the temple gates in the morning and closed them at night, ensured that no one entered restricted areas, and guarded the temple treasury.
The priests and Levites who worked at the temple were organized into 24 divisions, each of which served for one week at a time in rotation, twice a year. Each division likely had its own captain.—1 Chronicles 24:1-18.
These temple captains were men of influence. They are mentioned along with the chief priests who conspired to have Jesus put to death, and they also employed the forces under their command to have Jesus arrested.—Luke 22:4, 52.
Matthew 3:4 says that John the Baptizer ate “locusts and wild honey.” Were locusts a common food at that time?
Some have doubted that John actually ate insects, claiming that Matthew was referring to pods of the locust tree, wild fruit, or even a variety of fish. However, the Greek word Matthew used designates a family of grasshoppers known today as Acrididae. The most common in Israel was the desert locust, known to form devastating swarms.—Joel 1:4, 7; Nahum 3:15.
Locusts were considered a delicacy by such ancient peoples as the Assyrians and the Ethiopians and are still eaten today by certain Bedouins and Yemenite Jews. In Israel, locusts were considered a food of the poor. After the head, legs, and abdomen were removed, the thorax was eaten raw or roasted or after being dried in the sun. Sometimes the locusts were salted or soaked in vinegar or honey. Historian Henri Daniel-Rops says that they taste somewhat like shrimp.
Since John preached in the wilderness, locusts would likely have been accessible to him. (Mark 1:4) As they contain about 75 percent protein, locusts, along with wild honey, made a highly nutritious meal.
[Picture on page 28]
Assyrian attendants carrying locusts and pomegranates
From the book Discoveries Among the Ruins of Nineveh and Babylon (1853)