The spider taketh hold with her hands
On the thread she spins, or on the flies and bees she catches in her web. This is a small creature, yet very wise; what a curious thread does she spin! what a fine web does she weave! with what exactness and proportion is it framed! as if she understood the rules of mathematics and architecture; and is in kings' palaces;
as well as in the houses of poor people, and in temples also; we read F25 of one in the temple of Ceres, which drew its web over the face of the image: and though her webs are oftentimes destroyed, especially in kings' palaces; yet such is her constancy and assiduity, and her unwearied application to business, that, as fast as they are destroyed, she attempts to restore them. This creature is an emblem of diligence in things temporal and spiritual; which those that use in the former sense shall stand before kings, and not before mean men; and in the latter sense shall have the presence of the King of kings, and dwell in his palace here and hereafter: also of worldly minded men, who labour to be rich; spend their time, and take a great deal of pains for mere trifles; weave curious webs, and, after all, only catch flies; and those they cannot hold, uncertain riches, which make themselves wings and fly away. Likewise this creature may resemble hypocrites, whose hope and trust are as the spider's web, built upon their own righteousness, spun out of their own hearts; a fine, thin, slender thread, which cannot bear one stroke of the besom of divine justice; such as these are in the palaces of Christ the King, are in his churches, hypocrites in Zion; see ( Job 8:13 Job 8:14 ) . Aben Ezra interprets it of the ape: the same David de Pomis F26 observes, and Mr. Weemse F1, who seems to incline to this sense; and this creature King Solomon, no doubt, had in his palace, since his navy brought many of these, every three years, from those parts to which it was sent, ( 1 Kings 10:22 ) ; and to these hands more properly belong than to spiders, and are taken into king's palaces for their pleasure and diversion; but to these there is one objection, that this creature is not a little one. Others understand it of the "lizard", that sort which is called "stellio"; but it is a question whether this is to be found in king's palaces. Bellonius F2 makes mention of a kind of lizard, which creeps into walls and catches flies, and is called by the Greeks "samiamiton", a name very near the Hebrew word here used: and Pliny F3 speaks of the "stellio", or lizard, as being in doors, windows, and chambers; and as a very fraudulent and deceitful creature to men, none more so; and also as poisonous, as this creature in the text by its name seems to be: and Austin F4 makes mention of the lizard as a domestic animal; which catches flies as the spider, with whom he joins it. The Targum, Jarchi, and Gersom, take it to be the spider, as we do; which may be thought most likely, since the creature here meant seems to have its name from the Arabic word "sam", which signifies poison F5; though it is affirmed F6 the spider is not poisonous; as is well known by persons who have frequently swallowed them, without any more harm than happens to hens, robin red breasts, and other birds, who make them their daily food; and so men have been bit by them, without any ill consequence: wherefore it is still thought by some that the lizard is more probably meant; since some sorts of them are poisonous F7, though not all, for some are eatable; (See Gill on Leviticus 11:30).
F25 Aelian. Var. Hist. l. 12. c. 57.
F26 Lexic. fol. 216. 1.
F1 Exercitat. l. 1. exercitat. 4. p. 31.
F2 Apud Dieteric. Antiqu. Biblio. p. 470.
F3 Nat. Hist. l. 3o. c. 10.
F4 Confess. l. 10. c. 35.
F5 Golius, col. 1208. Hottinger. Smegin Oriental. l. 1. c. 7. p. 199.
F6 Philosoph. Transact. abridged, vol. 2. p. 800. and vol. 5. part. 1. p. 24.
F7 Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 22. c. 25. & l. 29. c. 4.