Daily Archives: March 13, 2013

Locusts still plague the Bible lands

References to locusts in the Bible are scattered from the time when the Israelites were in Egyptian bondage to the book of Revelation. Several Hebrew terms are used to describe locusts, perhaps of different species, or because of the various stages through which the locusts grow.

The prophet Joel uses the illustration of a locust invasion upon the land.

What the cutting locust left, the swarming locust has eaten. What the swarming locust left, the hopping locust has eaten, and what the hopping locust left, the destroying locust has eaten. (Joel 1:4 ESV)

Was he speaking of literal locusts, or of the invasion of a foreign enemy?

The prophet Amos speaks of the punishments brought by the LORD upon the northern kingdom of Israel prior to the Assyrian invasion.

“I struck you with blight and mildew; your many gardens and your vineyards, your fig trees and your olive trees the locust devoured; yet you did not return to me,” declares the LORD. (Amos 4:9 ESV)

Notice that Amos makes specific reference to the fig trees and the olive trees. We have examples of this same thing happening during the 1915 locust plague. It was documented for National Geographic magazine by the photographs of Lewis Larson with a descriptive article by John D. Whiting. Here is a fig tree prior to the Locust plague.

Fig tree before the 1915 locust plague.

Fig tree before the 1915 locust plague.

And here is the way the same tree looked after the plague.

Fig tree after the 1915 locust plague.

Fig tree after the 1915 locust plague.

These two images are from the collection of 4,000 high-resolution photographs taken by resident photographers at the American Colony in Jerusalem from 1898 to the 1940s. The full set is available at Life in the Holy Land here. In addition to the photos in the collection, the photos are included in PowerPoint presentations. Descriptive information is included with many of them.

Several articles have appeared in the past week or so about a modern locust plague that affected Egypt and southern Israel. See here for Egypt. Some Jews, especially those from Yemen, gathered the photos [it was late; I meant locusts] for eating (see here). Some rabbis warned that the locusts may not be kosher (see here).

Just a reminder that some species of locusts were acceptable for the Israelites to eat.

Of them you may eat: the locust of any kind, the bald locust of any kind, the cricket of any kind, and the grasshopper of any kind. (Leviticus 11:22 ESV)

I know you can’t forget the diet of John the Baptist.

Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. (Matthew 3:4 ESV)

Seth Rodriquez provides more info about the 1915 plague here.