4 What the cutter has left, the locust has devoured; What the locust has left, the grub has devoured; And what the grub has left, the hopper has devoured.
YE-ter ha-ga-ZAM a-KHAL ha-ar-BEH v’-YE-ter ha-ar-BEH a-KHAL ha-YA-lek v’-YE-ter ha-YE-lek a-KHAL he-kha-SEEL
ד יֶתֶר הַגָּזָם אָכַל הָאַרְבֶּה וְיֶתֶר הָאַרְבֶּה אָכַל הַיָּלֶק וְיֶתֶר הַיֶּלֶק אָכַל הֶחָסִיל׃
1:4 What the cutter has left, the locust has devoured
In Israel and the Middle East, swarms of locusts are not uncommon. The insects appear in the spring, sweeping across northern Africa into Egypt, and from there across the Sinai Peninsula into Israel. Today, we can predict their arrival and control the damage they cause, but in ancient times, they could wreak havoc and cause massive devastation, even destroying an entire year’s crop. In this verse, Yoel describes a plague of four different species of locusts, each one more destructive than the one that preceded it. Some commentators understand this prophecy literally. Others see it as a metaphor for the different enemy nations that attack the people in their land. Indeed, the prophet Amos writes about a plague of locusts devouring the crops of the northern kingdom (Amos 7:1-3). Either way, Yoel calls upon the people to wake up from their drunken stupor (verse 5) to meet the threat, recognizing that it is a result of their sins.