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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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Flea occurs only ; , where David thus addresses his persecutor Saul at the cave of Adullam: 'After whom is the king of Israel come out? after whom dost thou pursue?—after a flea;' 'The king of Israel is come out to seek a flea!' In both these passages the Hebrew means to pursue after, to seek one or a single flea. David's allusion to the flea displays great address. It is an appeal founded upon the immense disparity between Saul as the king of Israel, and himself as the poor contemptible object of the monarch's laborious pursuit. Hunting a flea is a comparison, in other ancient writings, for much labor expended to secure a worthless result.

Although this insect has been used as a popular emblem for insignificance, yet, when considered by itself, it has high claims upon the attention of the naturalist. Even to the naked eye there is something pleasing in its appearance, and elegant in its postures; but it is indebted to the microscope for our acquaintance with the flexible, highly polished, and ever clean suit of armor in which it is encased cap-a-pie, its finely-arched neck, large beautiful eye, antennae, muscular jointed legs, its piercer and sucker—forming one most complicated instrument—the two long, hooked, sharp claws, in which its legs severally terminate. The agility of the flea places it at the head of all the leaping insects, when its strength is considered in relation to its size, it being able to leap, unaided by wings, 200 times its own length. Owing to the habits of the lower orders, fleas abound so profusely in Syria, especially during the spring, in the streets and dusty bazaars, that persons of condition always change their long dresses upon returning home. There is a popular saying in Palestine that 'the king of the fleas keeps his court at Tiberias;' though many other places in that region might dispute the distinction with that town (Kitto's Physical History of Palestine, p. 421).





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Bibliography Information
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Flea'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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