Heb. zebub, (Eccl. 10:1; Isa. 7:18). This fly was so grievous a pest that the Phoenicians invoked against it the aid of their god Baal-zebub (q.v.). The prophet Isaiah (7:18) alludes to some poisonous fly which was believed to be found on the confines of Egypt, and which would be called by the Lord. Poisonous flies exist in many parts of Africa, for instance, the different kinds of tsetse.
Heb. 'arob, the name given to the insects sent as a plague on the land of Egypt (Ex. 8:21-31; Ps. 78:45; 105:31). The LXX. render this by a word which means the "dog-fly," the cynomuia. The Jewish commentators regarded the Hebrew word here as connected with the word 'arab, which means "mingled;" and they accordingly supposed the plague to consist of a mixed multitude of animals, beasts, reptiles, and insects. But there is no doubt that "the 'arab" denotes a single definite species. Some interpreters regard it as the Blatta orientalis, the cockroach, a species of beetle. These insects "inflict very painful bites with their jaws; gnaw and destroy clothes, household furniture, leather, and articles of every kind, and either consume or render unavailable all eatables."
- (Verb; `uph petaomai, or, contracted, ptaomai): Used in preference to "flee" when great speed is to be indicated. "To fly" is used: (1) Literally, of birds, `uph (Gen 1:20
; Ps 55:6
); da'ah (Dt 28:49
), of sparks (Job 5:7
); of the arrow (Ps 91:5
); of the seraphim (Isa 6:2,6
); of an angel (Dan 9:21
, ya`aph, "to be caused to fly"); of swift action or movement (Ps 18:10
; Jer 48:40
); of people (Isa 11:14
); of a fleet (Isa 60:8
; 1 Sam 15:19
, `it; 14:32, `asah, "to do," etc.). (2) Figuratively, of a dream (Job 20:8
); of man's transitory life (Ps 90:10
); of riches (Prov 23:5
); of national glory (Hos 9:11
For "fly" the Revised Version (British and American) has "soar" (Job 39:26) "fly down" (Isa 11:14); for "flying" (Isa 31:5) the American Standard Revised Version has "hovering."
W. L. Walker
FLY; FLIES [ISBE]
- fli fliz `arobh (Ex 8:21
ff; Ps 78:45
; Septuagint kunomuia; "dog-fly"), zebhubh (Eccl 10:1
; Isa 7:18
; Septuagint muiai, "flies"); compare ba`al-zebhubh, "Baal-zebub" (2 Ki 1:2
ff), and beelzeboul, "Beelzebul," or beelzeboub, "Beelzebub" (Mt 10:25
; Lk 11:15,18,19
); compare Arabic dhubab, "fly" or "bee"; (Note: "dh" for Arabic dhal, pronounced like "d" or "z" or like th in "the"): The references in Psalms as well as in Exodus are to the plague of flies, and the word `arobh is rendered "swarm of flies" throughout, except in Ps 78:45
the King James Version, where we find "divers sorts of flies" (compare Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) omne genus muscarum). In Ex 8:21
we read, "I will send swarms of flies upon thee, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thy houses: and the houses of the Egyptians shall be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground whereon they are"; in Ex 8:24
, .... "the land was corrupted by reason of the swarms of flies"; in Ps 78:45
, "He sent among them swarms of flies, which devoured them." There has been much speculation as to what the insects were, but all the texts cited, including even Ps 78:45
, may apply perfectly well to the common house fly (Musca domestica). Some species of blue-bottle fly (Calliphora) might also suit.
The other word, zebhubh, occurs in Eccl 10:1, "Dead flies cause the oil of the perfumer to send forth an evil odor; so doth a little folly outweigh wisdom and honor"; and Isa 7:18, "And it shall come to pass in that day, that Yahweh will hiss for the fly that is in the uttermost part of the rivers of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria:" The house fly would fit perfectly the reference in each, but that in Isa would seem to suggest rather one of the horse flies (Tabanidae) or gad flies (Oestridae). Whatever fly may be meant, it is used as a symbol for the military power of Egypt, as the bee for that of Assyria.
Owing to deficiencies in public and private hygiene, and also for other reasons, house flies and others are unusually abundant in Palestine and Egypt and are agents in the transmission of cholera, typhoid fever, ophthalmia and anthrax. Glossina morsitans, the tsetse fly, which is fatal to many domestic animals, and Glossina palpalis which transmits the sleeping sickness, are abundant in tropical Africa, but do not reach Egypt proper.
Alfred Ely Day