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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary


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עקרב , Deuteronomy 8:15; 1 Kings 12:11; 1 Kings 12:14; 2 Chronicles 10:11; 2 Chronicles 10:14; Ezekiel 2:6 , σκορπιος , Luke 10:19; Luke 11:12; Revelation 9:3; Sir_26:7; Sir_39:30 . Parkhurst derives the name from עק , to press, squeeze, and רב , much, greatly, or קרב , near, close. Calmet remarks, that "it fixes so violently on such persons as it seizes upon, that it cannot be plucked off without difficulty;" and Martinius declares: Habent scorpii forfices seu furcas tanquam brachia, quibus retinent quod apprehendunt, postquam caudae aculeo punxerunt: "Scorpions have pincers or nippers, with which they keep hold of what they seize after they have wounded it with their sting."

The scorpion, el-akerb, is generally two inches in length, and resembles so much the lobster in form, that the latter is called by the Arabs akerb d'elbahar, the "sea scorpion." It has several joints or divisions in its tail, which are supposed to be indicative of its age; thus, if it have five, it is considered to be five years old. The poison of this animal is in its tail, at the end of which is a small, curved, sharp-pointed sting, similar to the prickle of a buck-thorn tree; the curve being downward, it turns its tail upward when it strikes a blow. The scorpion delights in stony places and in old ruins. Some are of a yellow colour, others brown, and some black. The yellow possess the strongest poison, but the venom of each affects the part wounded, with frigidity, which takes place soon after the sting has been inflicted. Dioscorides thus describes the effect produced: "Where the scorpion has stung, the place becomes inflamed and hardened; it reddens by tension, and is painful by intervals, being now chilly, now burning. The pain soon rises high, and rages, sometimes more, sometimes less. A sweating succeeds, attended by a shivering and trembling; the extremities of the body become cold; the groin swells; the hair stands on end; the visage becomes pale; and the skin feels, throughout it, the sensation of perpetual prickling, as if by needles." This description strikingly illustrates Revelation 9:3-5; Revelation 9:10 , in its mention of "the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man."

Some writers consider the scorpion as a species of serpent, because the poison of it is equally powerful: so the sacred writers commonly join the scorpion and serpent together in their descriptions. Thus Moses, in his farewell address to Israel, Deuteronomy 8:15 , reminds them, that God "led them through the great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents and scorpions." We find them again united in the commission of our Lord to his disciples, Luke 10:19 , "I give you power to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy;" and in his directions concerning the duty of prayer, Luke 11:11-12 , "If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?"

The scorpion is contrasted with an egg, on account of the oval shape of its body. The body of the scorpion, says Lamy, is very like an egg, as its head can scarcely be distinguished; especially if it be a scorpion of the white kind, which is the first species mentioned by AElian, Avicenna, and others. Bochart has produced testimonies to prove that the scorpions in Judea were about the bigness of an egg. So the similitude is preserved between the thing asked and given. The Greeks have a proverb, αντι περκης σκορπιον , instead of a perch, or fish, a scorpion.

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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Scorpion'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. 1831-2.

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