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Bible Encyclopedias

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

Scorpion

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skôr´pi - un ( עקרב , ‛aḳrābh ; compare Arabic ‛aḳrab , "scorpion"; עקרבּים מעלה , ma‛ălēh ‛aḳrabbı̄m , "the ascent of Akrabbim"; σκορπίος , skorpı́os . Note that the Greek and Hebrew may be akin; compare, omitting the vowels, ‛krb and skrp ): In Deuteronomy 8:15 , we have, "who led thee through the great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents (nāḥāsh sārāph ) and scorpions (‛aḳrābh )." Rehoboam (1 Kings 12:11 , 1 Kings 12:14 ; 2 Chronicles 10:11 , 2 Chronicles 10:14 ) says, "My father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions." Ezekiel is told to prophesy to the children of Israel (Ezekiel 2:6 ), and "Be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns are with thee, and thou dost dwell among scorpions." "The ascent of Akrabbim," the north end of Wâdi -ul -‛Arabah , South of the Dead Sea, is mentioned as a boundary 3 times (Numbers 34:4 ; Joshua 15:3 ; Judges 1:36 ). Jesus says to the Seventy (Luke 10:19 ), "Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions," and again in Luke 11:12 He says, "Or if he shall ask an egg, will he give him a scorpion?"

Note that we have here three doublets, the loaf and the stone, the fish and the serpent, and the egg and the scorpion, whereas in the passage in Matthew (Matthew 7:9 f) we have only the loaf and stone and the fish and serpent. Encyclopedia Biblica (s.v. "Scorpion") ingeniously seeks to bring Lk into nearer agreement with Matthew by omitting from Luke the second doublet, i.e. the fish and the serpent, instancing several texts as authority for the omission, and reading ὄψον , ópson , "fish," for ᾠόν , ōṓn , "egg."

In Revelation 9:2-10 there come out of the smoke of the abyss winged creatures ("locusts," ἀρίδες , akrı́des ) like war-horses with crowns of gold, with the faces of men, hair of women, teeth of lions, breastplates of iron, and with stinging tails like scorpions. In Ecclesiasticus 26:7 it is said of an evil wife, "He that taketh hold of her is as one that graspeth a scorpion." In 1 Macc 6:51 we find mention of "pieces σκορπίδια , skorpı́dia , diminutive of skorpios to cast darts." In Plutarch skorpios is used in the same sense (Liddell and Scott, under the word σκορπίος , skorpı́os .

In the passage cited from Deuteronomy, and probably also in the name "ascent of Akrabbim," we find references to the abundance of scorpions, especially in the warmer parts of the country. Though there is a Greek proverb, "Look for a scorpion under every stone," few would agree with the categorical statement of Tristram ( NHB ) that "every third stone is sure to conceal one." Nevertheless, campers and people sleeping on the ground need to exercise care in order to avoid their stings, which, though often exceedingly painful for several hours, are seldom fatal.

Scorpions are not properly insects, but belong with spiders, mites and ticks to the Arachnidae . The scorpions of Palestine are usually 2 or 3 inches long. The short cephalothorax bears a powerful pair of jaws, two long limbs terminating with pincers, which make the creature look like a small crayfish or lobster, and four pairs of legs. The rest of the body consists of the abdomen, a broad part continuous with the cephalothorax, and a slender part forming the long tail which terminates with the sting. The tail is usually carried curved over the back and is used for stinging; the prey into insensibility. Scorpions feed mostly on insects for which they lie in wait. The scorpion family is remarkable for having existed with very little change from the Silurian age to the present time.

It does not seem necessary to consider that the words of Rehoboam (1 Kings 12:11 , etc.) refer to a whip that was called a scorpion, but rather that as the sting of a scorpion is worse than the lash of a whip, so his treatment would be harsher than his father's.


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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Scorpion'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/isb/s/scorpion.html. 1915.

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Friday, January 17th, 2020
the First Week after Epiphany
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