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Bible Encyclopedias

The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia


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Of all the insects the locust is most frequently mentioned in the Old Testament. It occurs under the following nine names, which probably denote different species but there is no certain clue by which the exact species intended by each name can be identified: (1) "arbeh" (A. V. sometimes "grasshopper"), the most common term, comprising the whole genus (2) "sol' am," derived by Ibn Ezra from "sela' " = "rock" (rock-locust A. V. "bald locust") (3) "ḥ argol" (A. V. "beetle" R. V. "cricket" Jewish exegetes, "grasshopper" comp. Arabic "ḥ arjal" = "a troop of horses," or "locust," from "ḥ arjala" = "to hop," "to jump") (4) "ḥ agab" (A. V. usually "grasshopper" seems likewise to be used in a general sense in Numbers 13:33 Isaiah 40:22 ) (5) "ḥ asil" (IKings 8:37 Psalm 78:46 ) (6) "gazam" (Joel 1:4 Amos 4:9 ), usually rendered "palmer-worm" (7) "yeleḳ " (Jeremiah 51:27 Nahum 3:15 LXX. and Vulgate, "bronchos" R. V. "canker-worm") (8) "ẓ elaẓ al" ( Deuteronomy 28:42 ) may be an onomatopœ ic designation of locusts in general (9) "gebim" and "gobai" (Nahum 3:17 Amos 7:1 A. V. "grasshopper" R. V. margin to the latter passage, "green worms") are probably also general terms. The first four species are enumerated among the "winged creeping things" which are allowed to be eaten, and are described as having "legs above their feet to leap withal upon the earth" ( Leviticus 11:21 et seq. ).

Upward of forty orthopterous insects have been discovered in Palestine. The Acrydium lineola , A. peregrinum , and the (Edipoda migratoria are counted among the most destructive, and are therefore the most dreaded.

The term "locusts" is sometimes used figuratively e.g. , for swarming hordes and mighty hosts (Judges 6:5 , 7:12 Jeremiah 46:23 Proverbs 30:28 ) for prancing horses (Joel 2:4 Job 39:20 ) as an emblem of voracious greed (Isaiah 33:4 Amos 7:1 ) of feebleness, insignificance, and perishableness (Numbers 13:33 Isaiah 40:22 Psalm 109:23 Nahum 3:17 ).

The Talmud points out as the marks of the clean locust: four feet, two hopping legs, and four wings which are large enough to cover the body (Ḥ ul. 59a). Besides the species mentioned in the Old Testament the Talmud refers to many others (comp. Ḥ ul. 65). Public prayers were instituted against the plague of locusts (Ta' an. 14a, 19a). Some locusts, probably variegated, were the playthings of children (Shab. 90b). The egg of the ḥ argol carried in the ear relieves earache (ib. 65a) while the left part of the "ẓ ipporat keramim" worn on the left side of the body preserves one's knowledge ( ib. 90b Tristram, "Nat. Hist." p. 306 Lewysohn, "Z. T." p. 285 Burckhardt, "Notes on the Bedouins," p. 269).

E. G. H. I. M. C.

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Bibliography Information
Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Locust'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. 1901.

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