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Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature

Hornet Wasp

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Hornet, Wasp (; ; ; Wisdom of Solomon 12:8, 'wasps'). The question has been raised whether in these passages of Scripture the word is to be taken as literally meaning this well-known and terrific insect, or whether it is to be understood in a metaphorical and figurative sense for diseases, supernatural terror, etc., by which Jehovah 'drove out the Hivites, Canaanites, and Hittites, from before Israel.' Among the moderns, Michaelis has defended the figurative sense. In addition to other reasons for it, he doubts whether the expulsion of the Canaanites could be effected by swarms of hornets, and proposes to derive the Hebrew from a root signifying 'scourges,' 'plagues;' but his reasons are ably refuted by Rosenmüller. In favor of the possibility of such an event, it is observed that Ælian relates that the Phaselitæ were actually driven from their locality by such means; and Bochart has shown that these Phaselitæ were a Phoenician people. Michaelis's doubt of the abstract possibility seems very unreasonable, when the irresistible power of bees and wasps, etc., attested by numerous modern occurrences, and the thin and partial clothing of the Canaanites, are considered. It is observable that the event is represented by the author of the book of Wisdom as a merciful dispensation, by which the Almighty, he says, 'spared as men the old inhabitants of his holy land,' and 'gave them place for repentance.' If the hornet, considered as a fly, was in any way connected with their idolatry, the visitation would convey a practical refutation of their error [see BAALZEBUB, under BAAL]. It may be remarked that the hornet, no less than the whole species of wasps, renders an essential service in checking the multiplication of flies and other insects, which would otherwise become intolerable to man; and that in regard to their architecture, and especially their instincts and habits, they do not yield to their more popular congener, the bee, but even in several respects greatly excel it.





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Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Hornet Wasp'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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