One of my goals, with Sunday morning Bible class, is to not only develop the children's Bible knowledge, but excite them about the Bible so much that they really want to understand the Word of God. Kids are curious, why not feed their curiosity by not only teaching them the stories, but, also helping them ask the hard questions and not being afraid to search for the answers. Unfortunately, I find myself saying "I don't know" a little more often these days, until I have time to go home and check it out for myself. Because, what I have learned, is what I do know is not always the whole story. As I tell kids, that is why it is so important to keep studying the Bible, to never believe that we know it all.
We had one of those questions a few weeks ago from a teacher when we talked about the food John the Baptist ate. We know from Scripture that he ate locust and wild honey. So, we think of locust as the bug. However, if you know a little about the ecology of the land, locust trees grow abundantly and produce seed pods, which, was used as food, possibly even by John. Does it matter? Probably not. But, the curiosity in wanting to know helped us dig deeper into the Scripture, history, and environment of that period of Biblical history, to better understand the Scripture.
So, today, we were playing a game which identified one of the ten plagues as a plague of "lice". Immediately, several teachers said "no, it's gnats not lice". They are right. In the NIV, the translation we use the most often in class, it is gnats. I made a note to come home and check out, because, surely the makers of the game got the word "lice" from somewhere and I wanted to know why. Sure enough, several translations use the word "lice", most notably, the KJV. A great tool to compare translations can be found at Bible Study Tools.
At home, I don't have any study resources other than the internet. There are probably more authoritative resources than the one I found. One site explained that there were many bugs in that area that match the description given in the Bible, some gnats, others lice or fleas. We don't have the history to know exactly which bug it was. We know from Scripture that bugs being referred to were numerous and attracted to man and animal. Good enough for me for the time being.
"Gnat" or "lice" probably doesn't matter all that much. However, what a great opportunity to practice some research skills, and show your kids how to use those same skills, to understand the Word of God more fully.