Because their devastations are so formidable, as sometimes to cause general scarcity and famine. They have likewise swarmed in Europe. In 1748 they appeared, but did not propagate, in England. In 1650, a cloud of locusts entered Russia, and afterwards
PART IX. E spread over Poland and Lithuania, so as to darken the air and cover the earth, when dead, in some places, to the depth of four feet; the trees bent with their weight. In the year 591, an army of unusually large locusts ravaged Italy, and being at last cast into the sea, (as seems for the most part to be their fate) a pestilence, it is alleged, arose from their stench, which carried off nearly a million of men and beasts. In the Venetian territory, likewise, in 1478, more than 30,000 persons are said to have perished in a famine chiefly occasioned by the depredations of locusts.
Because they are the species so accurately described in the Bible. Thus, in Joel ii. 2, etc. " A fire devour-eth before them, and behind them a flame burneth : the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness ; yea, and nothing shall escape them. The sound of their wings is as the sound of chariots, of many horses running to battle ; on the tops of the mountains shall they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth stubble, as a strong people set in battle array. Before their faces the people shall be much pained ; all faces shall gather blackness. They shall run like mighty men; they shall climb the wall like men of war; and they shall march every one in his ways, and they shall not break their ranks; neither shall one thrust another."
Because the commentators have interpreted the former as the fruit of the cassia-fistula, or locust-tree, resembling tamarinds; and other substitutes. Dr. Clarke, the traveller, was one of the first to propagate this misconception. There is, however, no doubt of the insects being the food, since Hasselquist mentions locusts being eaten by the Arabs, so that probably this dish was used in the time of St. John. Mr. Forbes, the Oriental traveller, corroborates this account, and adds, " The wild honey is found in the clefts of the rocks of Judea, as abundantly as in the caves of Hindustan."