There are ten Hebrew words used in Scripture to signify locust.
In the New Testament locusts are mentioned as forming part of
the food of John the Baptist (Matt. 3:4; Mark 1:6). By the
Mosaic law they were reckoned "clean," so that he could lawfully
eat them. The name also occurs in Rev. 9:3, 7, in allusion to
this Oriental devastating insect.
Locusts belong to the class of Orthoptera, i.e.,
straight-winged. They are of many species. The ordinary Syrian
locust resembles the grasshopper, but is larger and more
destructive. "The legs and thighs of these insects are so
powerful that they can leap to a height of two hundred times the
length of their bodies. When so raised they spread their wings
and fly so close together as to appear like one compact moving
mass." Locusts are prepared as food in various ways. Sometimes
they are pounded, and then mixed with flour and water, and baked
into cakes; "sometimes boiled, roasted, or stewed in butter, and
then eaten." They were eaten in a preserved state by the ancient
The devastations they make in Eastern lands are often very
appalling. The invasions of locusts are the heaviest calamites
that can befall a country. "Their numbers exceed computation:
the hebrews called them 'the countless,' and the Arabs knew them
as 'the darkeners of the sun.' Unable to guide their own flight,
though capable of crossing large spaces, they are at the mercy
of the wind, which bears them as blind instruments of Providence
to the doomed region given over to them for the time.
Innumerable as the drops of water or the sands of the seashore,
their flight obscures the sun and casts a thick shadow on the
earth (Ex. 10:15; Judg. 6:5; 7:12; Jer. 46:23; Joel 2:10). It
seems indeed as if a great aerial mountain, many miles in
breadth, were advancing with a slow, unresting progress. Woe to
the countries beneath them if the wind fall and let them alight!
They descend unnumbered as flakes of snow and hide the ground.
It may be 'like the garden of Eden before them, but behind them
is a desolate wilderness. At their approach the people are in
anguish; all faces lose their colour' (Joel 2:6). No walls can
stop them; no ditches arrest them; fires kindled in their path
are forthwith extinguished by the myriads of their dead, and the
countless armies march on (Joel 2:8, 9). If a door or a window
be open, they enter and destroy everything of wood in the house.
Every terrace, court, and inner chamber is filled with them in a
moment. Such an awful visitation swept over Egypt (Ex. 10:1-19),
consuming before it every green thing, and stripping the trees,
till the land was bared of all signs of vegetation. A strong
north-west wind from the Mediterranean swept the locusts into
the Red Sea.", Geikie's Hours, etc., ii., 149.