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which devour all they meet with, and then go
farther. CHAGAB is also a locust known at Maskat. Rijelin are the two hind legs: kiraim are the joints.” By these terms, I understand the joints of the hinder leg, those very conspicuous ones, which unite the muscular thigh with the slender leg. The distinction, I presume, is this; the locust has usually, beside his wings, sir legs; four for crawling, and two for leaping. Such as may have four legs only, are forbidden, since they only creep with such feet, though they also fly with their wings: but if they have two hind legs also, with which they leap, then, as they leap and fly, as well as creep, they are allowed. It will follow that the locusts named in the following verse have six legs. This principle excludes other insects, flies, &c. which use their two fore feet as paws, but do not leap with any.
“ The ARBEH, after its kind; the solam, after its kind; the CHARGOL, after its kind; and the chaGAB, after its kind.” Strange as this permission to eat locusts may appear to the mere English reader, yet nothing is more certain than that several nations, both of Asia and Africa, anciently used these insects for food, and that they are still eaten in the East. Diodorus Siculus, lib. xxiv. c. 3, mentions a people of Ethiopia who were so fond of eating them that they were called Acridophagi, eaters of locusts. They made large fires, which intercepted the flight of the locusts, which they collected and salted; thus preserving them palatable till the season for again collecting them returned 55. Ludolphus, Dr. Shaw, and all the modern travellers, mention the custom of eating them, fried and salted 56.
“ Locusts (says Jackson in his account of Marocco, p. 52) are esteemed a great delicacy, and, during the time of their swarming, dishes of them are generally served up at the principal repasts. There are various ways of dressing them; that usually adopted is to boil them in water half an hour, then sprinkle them with salt and pepper, and fry them, adding a little vinegar. The head, wings, and legs are thrown away, the rest of the body is eaten, and resembles the taste of prawns. As the criterion of goodness in all eatables among the Moors is regulated by the stimulating qualities which they possess, so these locusts are preferred to pigeons, because supposed to be more invigorating. A person may eat a plate full of them, containing two or three hundred, without any ill effects.”
III. The dire armies of these invading destroyers are magni
55 See also Strabo, lib. xvi. Plin. N. H. I. xvii. c. 30. Agatharcides, periplus de rubro mari. Ælian, lib. vi. c. 20. Athenæus, l. xlix. Jerom, who lived in the fifth century, speaks of the Orientals and inhabitants of Libya, as eating locusts.
56 Ludolphus, p. 67. Dr. Shaw's Trav. p. 419, ed. 4to. Mariti, v. ii. p. 189. Russell, N. H. of Aleppo, p. 62. Hasselquist, 231, 419. Niebuhr, Description de l'Arabie, p. 150.
ficently described in Scripture. I select the sublime description of the prophet Joel, and accompany it with some illustrations and notes.
Hear this, ye old men ;
Yea, and nothing shall escape them. They consume like a general conflagration. « Wheresoever they feed (says Ludolphus), their leavings seem as it were parched with fire 57.” Though the land before their coming shall appear
beautiful for its verdure and fruitfulness as the garden of Eden; yet, after the ravages they have made on it, it shall look like a desolate and uncultivated wilderness. Neither herbage, nor shoots, nor leaves escape them. So Adanson, in his voyage to Senegal, says, “ After devouring the herbage, with the fruits and leaves of trees, they attacked even the buds and the
very bark: they did not so much as spare the reeds with which the huts were thatched.” And Ludolphus,“ Sometimes they corrode the very bark of trees; and then the spring itself cannot repair the damage."
Their appearance shall be like the appearance of horses,
And like horsemen shall they run. Many writers mention the resemblance which the head of the locust bears to that of the horse 58 ; whence the Italians call them “cavalette.” But I do not apprehend the prophet here describing the shape of the insect, but rather its properties, its fierceness, and swift motion : and thus, in Rev. ix. 7, the locusts are compared to horses prepared for the battle ; furious and impatient for the war.
Like the sound of chariots, on the tops of the mountains shall they leap:
They shall be like a strong people set in battle array. The noise of their coming shall be heard at a distance, like the sound of chariots passing over the mountains. When they fall on the ground and leap from place to place and devour the
57 Hist. Æthiop. 1. i. c. xiii. So Pliny, xi. 29, “ Multa contactu adurentes.”
58 Theodoret in Joelem. Albertus, lib. xxvi. So Ray, on Insects, “ Caput oblongum, equi instar, prona spectans.”
fruits, the sound of them will resemble the crackling of the stubble when consuming by the flames; or the din and clamour of an army ready prepared to engage in battle.
How this description agrees to the locusts is shown abundantly by Bochart; who tells us, from several authors, that they fly with a great noise; as St. John has also described them, Rev. ix. 9, The sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots, of many horses running to battle; that they may be heard at six miles distance; and that when they are eating the fruits of the earth the sound is like that of a flame driven by the wind 59.
Before them shall the people be much pained;
All faces shall gather blackness. Their approach shall be heard with consternation, their ravages observed with distress : every face shall wear the marks of the most dreadful fear 60.
They shall run like mighty men ;
They sholl march each in his road. Many writers mention the order of locusts in their flight and march, and their manner of proceeding directly forward, whatever obstacles were interposed. Jerom, who had seen them in Palestine, gives a very particular account of it; and Bochart quotes other authorities from Cyril, Theodoret, and Sigebert.
Though they fall on the sword, they shall not be wounded. Their outward coat being so hard and smooth that they are not wounded though they alight upon the edge of the sword. So Rev. ix. 9, “ They had breast-plates, as it were breast-plates of iron.”
They shall run to and fro in the city;
59 “Quand ces insectes volent en société ils font un grand bruit. Elles s'élevent avec un bruit semblable à celui d'une tempête. Elles engloutissent, devorent, recherchent, rongent, et pelent toute la verdure des champs avec un si grand tintamare, qu'elles se font entendre de loin.” Encyclop. voc Sauterelle.
“ La plupart des sauterelles autant plus qu'elles ne volent; et leur saut est telle qu'ils s'elancent en decrivant, dit on, un espace qui a deux cent fois la longueur de leur corps.”
Cyril says of them, that while they are breaking their food with their teeth, the noise is like that of a flame driven about by the wiud.
“ Transeuntes grylli super verticem nostrum sono magnæ cataractæ fervebant." Forskal, Descript. Animal. quæ in Itinere Orientali obs. p. 81. 60 Virgil gives the epithet of black to fear :
“ Caligantem nigra formidine lucum.” Georg. iv. The same expression with this of Joel is used by the prophet Nabum, ii. 10, to denote the extremity of sorrow and pain; The knees smite together, and much pain is in all loins, and the faces of them all gather blackness.
“ the sun, moon,
Kimchi, upon the place, says, “ They are not like other enemies, against whom you may shut the gate ; for they enter the house by the window as a thief.” And Jerom himself tells us,
Nothing is unpassable to locusts; since they get into the fields, the trees, the cities, the houses, and most secret chambers.” And Theodoret, who was himself a witness, tells us, “ No height of walls is sufficient to prevent their entrance; for they easily get over them, and, like thieves, enter into houses by the windows, not only by flying, but by creeping up the walls.”
Before them the earth quaketh, the heavens tremble ;
And the stars wilhdraw their shining. Kimchi tells us, that all these expressions are by way of similitude, to denote the greatness of the affliction occasioned by these locusts, according to the usual custom of Scripture; and Jerom agrees with him, and adds that we are not to imagine that the heavens moved, or the earth shook; but that these things seemed to be so through the greatness of their affliction and terror. Others expound the metaphor in a different way; "the earth,” that is the common people;
and stars," their nobles and great men; all ranks and degrees should be in the utmost consternation. But I see not why these expressions may not have a more literal meaning, at least most of them. “The earth shall tremble,” really appear to do so, through the continual motion of these insects invading houses, fields, trees, and corn: or the earth may be said to move through the excessive fear and trembling of those who dwell in it. "The heavens shake,” or as the word may signify, move, because the locusts should obscure the very light of them: and thus Jerom himself explains it, though he declares for the figurative sense : “through the multitude of the locusts covering the heavens, the sun and moon shall be turned into darkness.” Bochart has brought many instances to prove that this was often literally the case. Dr. Chandler quotes a remarkable one that happened in Germany, from the Chronicon of Hermanus Contractus, under the year 873; which is thus translated. “So great a multitude of locusts, of an unheard of size, coming in swarms from the east, like an army, passed over these countries, that, during the space of two whole months, they oftentimes, by their flight, obscured the rays of the sun for the space of one whole mile; and when they alighted in one hour consumed every thing that was green upon a hundred acres or more: and being afterwards driven into the sea by the wind, and thrown back by the waves, they corrupted the air by their stench, and produced no small pestilence 61.” Lundius also, one of the commentators upon the Mischna 62,
61 Canisii Thesaur. Monum. Eccless. V. 3. ed. Antw. 1725.
tells us, that while he was in the University of Jena in Saxony, there came a prodigious swarm of locusts, which seized upon all the fields near the city, and devoured all the growing berbage; and when they rose upon the wing, intercepted like a cloud the very heavens from their sight; and that they are so dreaded by the Jews, that when they make their appearance they immediately sound the trumpet for a fast.
Dr. Shaw 63, by whose excellent zoological remarks in his travels, so many passages in the sacred writings have been elucidated, has shown, from the testimony of his own observation, that these poetical expressions are scarcely hyperbolical with respect to this formidable insect. And Pliny, the Roman naturalist, gives a description of its migratory swarms almost equally sublime with that of the eastern poet. “This plague,” says be, “is considered as a manifestation of the wrath of the gods. For they appear of an unusual size; and fly with such a noise from the notion of their wings that they might be taken for birds. They darken the sun. And the nations view them in anxious suspense; each apprehensive lest their own lands should be overspread by them. For their strength is unfailing: and, as if it were a small thing to have crossed oceans, they pervade immense tracts of land, and cover the harvests with a dreadful cloud : their very touch destroying many of the fruits of the earth, but their bite utterly consuming all its products, and even the doors of houses 64.”
The account which M. Volney gives of these insects and of their devastations, is a wonderful illustration of this passage of the prophet 65. Syria, as well as Egypt, Persia, and almost all the south of Asia, is subject to a calamity no less dreadful than that of the volcanos and earthquakes I have mentioned, I mean those clouds of locusts so often mentioned by travellers. The quantity of these insects is incredible to all who have not themselves witnessed their astonishing numbers; the whole earth is covered with them for the space of several leagụes. The noise they make in browsing on the trees and herbage may be heard at a great distance, and resembles that of an army in secret. The Tartars themselves are a less destructive enemy than these little animals. One would imagine that fire had followed their progress. Wherever their myriads spread, the ver
63 Travels into the East, p. 256, &c. fol. edit. 64 Nat. Hist. I. xi. c. 29.
As extraordinary as the latter circumstance may appear, Mr. Adanson mentions a very similar one to which he was witness; “ a swarın of locusts at Senegal devoured even the dry reeds with which the huts were thatched.” Voyages à Senegal.
The Sieur de Bauplan gives a very particular description of the devastation these destructive creatures made in the Ukraine. His narrative would of itself be a good commentary upon Joel's prophecy. See Churchill's Collection of Voyages, Vol. i. p. 471.
65 Trav. V. i. State of Syria, ch, i. sect. v. p. 188.