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HUSKS. This is the KJV tr. of three Biblical words, two Heb. and one Gr.: 1. זָג, H2293, (Num 6:4 KJV) used only here. It is some part of the product of the grapevine forbidden to Nazirites. The meaning is uncertain. Most modern VSS render “skin (of grape)” (so KB following Targ. and M.).

2. צִקָּלוֹן, H7638, (2 Kings 4:42), used only here. The word is unknown and doubtful. Most modern VSS either follow KJV, modernizing it to “in the ear,” or emend to “in his sack” or the like.

3. κεράτιον, G3044. This is the food, usually fed to animals, which the prodigal son in his hunger would willingly have eaten (Luke 15:16). It is the pod or bean of the Carob tree (Caratonia siliqua), also referred to as “locust bean” or “St. John’s bread,” the latter in the mistaken belief that it is the “locust” that John the Baptist ate in the wilderness (Matt 3:4=Mark 1:6). The tree is native to the whole E Mediterranean area. It bears the pod referred to in the text, from 3-12 inches long, bearing from 5 to 15 seeds in a sweet pulp. It is used primarily for fodder, but is also eaten by the poor, esp. in times of scarcity. When the pods are boiled a syrupy substance is obtained. Most modern trs. now render the word in Luke 15:16, RSV “pods.” (See also Pod.)

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

These are the pods of the carob tree (Revised Version, margin), also called the locust tree (Ceratonia siliqua). This tree flourishes all over Palestine, especially on the western mountain slopes toward the sea; by the Arabs it is called kharrub. It is dioecious, has dense, dark, evergreen foliage, glossy leaves and long, curved pods, like small horns (hence, the name). These pods which are from 4 to 9 inches in length, have a leathery case containing a pulpy substance in which the beans are imbedded; this pulp is of a pleasant, sweetish flavor and has a characteristic odor, and is much loved by children. The pods are sold in the markets, both as cattle food and for the poor, who extract by boiling them a sweetish substance like molasses. The tradition that the "locusts" of Mt 3:4; Mr 1:6 were carob pods is preserved in the name given to them, "St. John’s bread," but it has little to be said for it.

See also

  • Plants