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Fausset's Bible Dictionary


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(Proverbs 6:6-8; Proverbs 30:25; "provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.") So Hesiod, Works and Days, 776; Horace, Sat., 1:1, 33; Virgil, AEneid, 4:402; Plautus, Trinummus, 2:4, 1, 7; AElian, Natura Animal., 2:25, 6:43; AEsop's Fables, 92 (Tauchnitz edition). Ants in northern Europe lie dormant in winter; and do not feed on grain, but flesh of other insects, worms, birds, the honeydew of aphides, and saccharine matter, exuding from trees. But in southern Europe there are species which feed on grain and store it for winter use. Solomon implies, the ant providently and diligently uses the proper seasons for obtaining her food, though she has "no guide, overseer, or ruler," such as man has in parents, teachers, and masters; therefore men are inexcusable in sluggishness. "Redeem the time" (Greek favorable season) is the spiritual lesson (Ephesians 5:16).

There is no monarch, such as the queen is among bees; but ants labor together as a republic, having "no ruler" as Solomon describes. Moggridge (Harvesting Ants) has by observation proved that there are four harvesting ants on the Riviera, namely,: Atta barbara, under two forms, the one wholly black, the other red headed; Atta structor, claret brown colored; and Atta megacephala or Pheidole, a minute bodied, yellow ant, with great head, which works chiefly at night. The Atta barbara, mounting the stem of a fruiting plant as shepherd's purse, and seizing a green pod in its jaws, and fixing its hind legs as a pivot, turns round and round and strains the fibers until they snap. Ants sometimes allow the capsules which they have cut to drop, and their companions below carry them away. Neither the Atta barbara nor the structor bring aphids into their nests.

A host of ants seek and bring in the grain; others sort the materials, strip off the useless envelopes of seed or grain, and carry them out to throw away. Moggridge found masses of seeds stored in chambers and long subcylindrical galleries prepared in the soil. The granaries on a rock covered with earth lay horizontally from one and a half to six inches below the surface. The ants have some mysterious power which checks germination. The few seeds which may germinate the ants prevent from further growth by cutting off the end of the radicle. Hebrew "ant," nemalah , is derived by some from Arabic for" clever." The Arabs put one in the new-born infant's hand, saying, "May he prove clever!" Others take it from namal , Hebrew "cut off," the body being cut into segments, joined by but a slight thread. Similarly in Proverbs 30:25 the ants' wisdom is set forth as making up for the absence of the strength of larger creatures.

They belong to the family formicidae, and order Hymenoptera. The mutual affection between the members of the republic is conspicuous in ants. In northern Europe ants strike with their antennae and so make the aphids discharge the juice extracted by their suckers from vegetables; the ants in fact make the aphids their milk cows, imprisoning a number in their nests to serve as a supply in winter (Huber). Both the insect masters and the insect cows are torpid in winter in northern Europe; but in warm winters both at times come to life. The Indian ant (Atta, providens), according to Colossians Sykes, raises up heaps of grass seed in January when they ripen, in store for the season of need.

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Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Ant'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. 1949.

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