Art Maier: Pests in the Bible
What did scorpions, lions, and insects we call locusts all have in common, to Bible people? These animals were considered pests – often serious pests.
As pests, they figure in some of the history documented by the Bible. Of course, these animals are often considered pests, now. Old fame doesn’t make them any more liked.
The Bible shows in accurate detail the ordinary, daily lives of many historical personalities. Inevitably, we encounter some animals that made daily life then difficult, or even hazardous.
Locusts could be pests, indeed. The translated Bible term for locust indicates an insect we may also call a grasshopper. Every once in a while, crops in Africa and also America are ravaged by locust hordes. Modern science has given us some insect controls. But in ancient times, people had to face such locust raids and resulting food shortages with almost complete helplessness.
In about 1450 B.C., Egyptians were helpless against a great locust raid. The Egyptian ruler had refused to obey the command Moses gave from God to let the enslaved Israelites leave. God sent a series of disasters. One was a huge influx of locusts. A disaster description, surely based on eyewitness reporting, is given in the Old Testament book of Exodus, chapter 10.
The Old Testament book of First Samuel, chapter 6, has a reference to mice, which could damage stored food. The events happened about l080 B.C.
The animal we may call the African lion often threatened livestock and people. In Bible times, the range of this big cat species included Africa, the Mideast and perhaps southern Europe. It could be a serious pest. The Bible tells of some lion attacks.
Other pests of Bible lands included foxes, scorpions and venomous snakes.
In spite of trouble they could cause, the Bible never actually labels such animals as "all bad." Many scholarly Israelites apparently had a sophisticated understanding of what we call ecology. They could realize that even so-called pests have a place in the general life scheme. This smart understanding showed in the Bible writings, with God’s message.
We also find that the Bible shows that people are moral mixtures. With historical honesty and accuracy, the Bible tells of good accomplishments by some rather unlikable -- even horrid -- men and women.
An example is King Saul, who certainly disobeyed God more than once. For some time Saul was a persecuting pest to the hero David. Still, the Bible basically compliments Saul's military skill, in defense of the nation of Israel.
The Bible does condemn sin, totally. The Bible message says that, in spite of our best efforts, we all sin. Because of sin we deserve death, and punishment forever, after this earth.
The same message also tells us that God came to earth as Christ, and took away the sin penalty for our souls.
Anyone who believes in Christ and his work has free forgiveness of sin, and life forever in heaven. Put faith in Christ now. Then, in this faith, look forward to the vast glories and happiness of heaven, your home at eternity.
Art Maier is a semi-retired teacher, environmental science specialist and calligrapher. He is a regular columnist for the Boonville Daily News in Boonville, Mo. He can be contacted at email@example.com.