Verse 46. He gave also their increase unto the caterpillar, and their labour unto the locust. Different sorts of devourers ate up every green herb and tree. What one would not eat another did. What they expected from the natural fertility of the soil, and what they looked for from their own toil, they saw devoured before their eyes by an insatiable multitude against whose depredation no defense could be found. Observe in the text that the Lord did it all -- "he sent," "he gave," "he destroyed," "he gave up," etc.; whatever the second agent may be, the direct hand of the Lord is in every national visitation.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 46. Caterpillar. (lysx), chasil, is rendered broucos by the LXX, in 2Ch 6:28, and by Aquila here, and also by the Vulgate in Chronicles and in Isaiah 33:4 , and is rendered by Jerome here, bruchas, "the chaffer," which everyone knows to be a great devourer of the leaves of trees. The Syriac in Joel 1:4 2:25, renders it (arwcrc) tzartzooro, which Michaelis, from the Arabic (rcrc) tzartzar, a cricket, interprets the mole cricket, which in its grub state, is also very destructive to corn, grass, and other vegetables, by cankering the roots on which it feeds. Editorial note to Calvin in loc.
Verse 46. Caterpillar, In former times, any destructive, crawling creature occurring in cultivated places was thus called; now, by general consent, we restrict the term to the second stage of insects of the Lepidopterous order, namely, butterflies and moths. These caterpillars, by the voracity with which they attack the leaves, the fruit, and sometimes the solid wood of plants and trees, are made conspicuous even to those who are little acquainted with natural history. "Biblical Treasury."
Verse 46. Locust. Their quantity is incredible to all who have not themselves witnessed their astonishing numbers; the whole earth is covered with them for the space of several leagues. The noise they make in browsing on the trees and herbage may be heard at a great distance, and resembles that of an army plundering in secret. The Tartars themselves are a less destructive enemy than these little animals. One would imagine that fire had followed their progress. Wherever their myriads spread, the verdure of the country disappears; trees and plants stripped of their leaves and reduced to their naked boughs and stems, cause the dreary image of winter to succeed in an instant to the rich scenery of spring. When these clouds of locusts take their flight, to surmount any obstacles, or to traverse more rapidly a desert soil, the heavens may literally be said to be obscured with them. F. C., Comte de Volney.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS