(Heb. nemalah, from a word meaning to creep, cut off, destroy), referred to in Proverbs 6:6 ; 30:25 , as distinguished for its prudent habits. Many ants in Palestine feed on animal substances, but others draw their nourishment partly or exclusively from vegetables. To the latter class belongs the ant to which Solomon refers. This ant gathers the seeds in the season of ripening, and stores them for future use; a habit that has been observed in ants in Texas, India, and Italy.
(Heb. nemalah ). This insect is mentioned twice in the Old Testament: in ( Proverbs 6:6 ; 30:25 ) In the former of these passages the diligence of this insect is instanced by the wise man as an example worthy of imitation; in the second passage the ants wisdom is especially alluded to; for these insects "though they be little on the earth, are exceeding wise." (For a long time European commentators and naturalists denied that ants stored up grain for future use, as was asserted in Proverbs but while this is true of most of the 104 European species, two of those species do lay up food, and are called harvesting ants . Like species have been found in Texas and South America, and are known to exist in Palestine. They show many other proofs of their skill. Some of them build wonderful houses; these are often several stories high, sometimes five hundred times the height of the builders, with rooms, corridors, and vaulted roofs supported by pillars. Some species keep a kind of cows; others have a regular army of soldiers; some keep slaves --"No closer imitation of the ways of man could be found in the entire animal economy." (See Encyc. Brit. ) McCooks "The Honey Ants" gives many curious facts about the habits of this peculiar kind of ant, and of the harvesting ants of the American plains.--ED.)
(nemalah = Arabic namalah):
The word occurs only twice in the Bible, in the familiar passages in Proverbs 6:6; 30:25 in both of which this insect is made an example of the wisdom of providing in the summer for the wants of the winter. Not all ants store up seeds for winter use, but among the ants of Palestine there are several species that do so, and their well-marked paths are often seen about Palestinian threshing-floors and in other places where seeds are to be obtained. The path sometimes extends for a great distance from the nest.
Alfred Ely Day
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