The word of the LORD that came to Joel the son of Pethuel.…
The Hebrew words arc the gazam, the arbeh, the yeleg, the chasil, and they seem to mean, in accordance with their etymology, the gnawer, the swarmer, the licker, and the consumer. But are they four different kinds of locusts? As there are eighty known species of this "gryllus migratorius," the supposition would be possible. But all known ravages of locusts are caused by successive flights of the same insect, not by different varieties. Are they then, as Credner argues, successive stages in the growth of the same insect, meaning the unwinged, the partially winged, the full-winged locust, and that changing in colour? Such is the view of Ewald, and he says that these four stages are well marked. There are insuperable difficulties in this theory. For if four successive stages had been intended in Joel 1:4, why is the order confused and altered in Joel 2:25, where the arbeh is put first, and the gazam last? This is inexplicable if, as Credner thought, the gazam in Joel 1:4 meant the mother-swarm, and the arbeh, yeleg, and chasil, its three metamorphoses. In point of fact, there are only two broadly marked changes in the development of the locust — from larva to pupa — and from pupa to the full-grown insect. In hot climates the creature can use its wings in about three weeks. It seems certain that the prophet is in no sense writing as a natural historian. The use of the four terms is only due to poetry and rhetoric, just as the Psalmist, in Psalm 78:46; Psalm 105:34, freely employs the words chasil and jeleg as interchangeable with the word arbeh, which used in the Pentateuch to describe "the Egyptian" plague.
(Dean Farrar, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: The word of the LORD that came to Joel the son of Pethuel.