Gr. ses, thus rendered in Matthew 6:19 Matthew 6:20 ; Luke 12:33 . Allusion is thus made to the destruction of clothing by the larvae of the clothes-moth. This is the only lepidopterous insect referred to in Scripture.
By the Hebrew word we are certainly to understand some species of clothes-moth (tinea ). Reference to the destructive habits of the clothes-moth is made in ( Job 4:19 ; 13:28 ; Psalms 39:11 ) etc. (The moth is a well-known insect which in its caterpillar state is very destructive to woollen clothing, furs, etc. The egg of the moth, being deposited on the fur or cloth, produces a very small shining insect, which immediately forms a house for itself by cuttings from the cloth. It east away the nap, and finally ruins the fabric. There are more than 1500 species of moths. --McClintock and Strongs Cyclopedia.)
moth (`ash; compare Arabic `uththat, "moth"; colloquial, `itt; cac, "worm" (Isaiah 51:8); compare Arabic sus, "worm," especially an insect larva in flesh, wood or grain; ses, "moth" (Matthew 6:19,20; Luke 12:33); setobrotos, "moth-eaten" (James 5:2)):
The moths constitute the larger division of the order Lepidoptera. Two of the points by which they are distinguished from butterflies are that they are generally nocturnal and that their antennae are not club-shaped. Further, the larva in many cases spins a cocoon for the protection of the pupa or chrysalis, which is never the case with butterflies. The Biblical references are to the clothes-moth, i.e. various species of the genus Tinea, tiny insects which lay their eggs in woolen clothes, upon which the larvae later feed. As the larva feeds it makes a cocoon of its silk together with fibers of the cloth on which it is feeding, so that the color of the cocoon depends upon the color of the fabric. The adult is only indirectly harmful, as it is only in the larval stage that the insect injures clothing. Therefore in Isaiah 51:8, "For the moth (`ash) shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm (cac) shall eat them like wool," both words must refer to the larva, the distich demanding such a word as cac to balance `ash in the first half. The word "moth" occurs 7 times in the Old Testament, in Job, Psalms, Isaiah and Hosea, always in figurative expressions, typifying either that which is destructive (Job 13:28; Psalms 39:11; Isaiah 50:9; 51:8; Hosea 5:12) or that which is frail (Job 4:19; 27:18).
Alfred Ely Day
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