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ANT (נְמָלָה, H5805, ant, all Eng VSS). The name ant is technically and popularly given to insects, forming a family of the order Hymenoptera (membranous wings) containing over 10,000 species; only the sexual forms are winged, the great bulk of each colony being sexless workers and soldiers. Their most important feature is that all kinds are social, and form colonies ranging from a few dozen to perhaps a million. They vary greatly in size, and range from wholly carnivorous to wholly vegetarian. Some are entirely arboreal; others nest underground but travel widely in search of food. Palestine has many species, including some which are now house pests.

The context of both occurrences (Prov 6:6-8; 30:25) suggests the harvester ant. Many species can be said to “provide their food in the summer,” but few so obviously as the harvester ant, which is found widely, though not completely in the desert. The nest is underground, with its entrance made conspicuous by a series of well-worn paths leading to it from several directions. The ants are nearly one quarter inch long, and during spring and early summer they spend the day collecting seeds from a wide area around the nest. Seeds with a loose kernel are dehusked after delivery at the nest; the husks are thrown out and carried down wind, making the entrance even more obvious.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

The word occurs only twice in the Bible, in the familiar passages in Pr 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.

See also

  • Animals