30:25 ants are creatures with little strength,
but they prepare 1 their food in the summer;
but they make their homes in the crags;
30:27 locusts have no king,
but they all go forward by ranks; 3
but it gets into the palaces of the king. 5
1 sn The wisdom of the ants is found in their diligent preparation (כּוּן, kun) of food supplies in the summer for times in the winter when food is scarce. See S. P. Toperoff, “The Ant in the Bible and Midrash,” Dor le Dor 13 (1985): 179-83. According to this, being prepared ahead of time is a mark of true wisdom.
2 tn Or “hyraxes.” This is the Syrian Hyrax, also known as the rock badger. KJV, ASV has “conies” (alternately spelled “coneys” by NIV), a term usually associated with the European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) but which can also refer to the pika or the hyrax. Scholars today generally agree that the Hebrew term used here refers to a type of hyrax, a small ungulate mammal of the family Procaviidae native to Africa and the Middle East which has a thick body, short legs and ears and a rudimentary tail. The simple “badger” (so NASB, NRSV, CEV) could lead to confusion with the badger, an entirely unrelated species of burrowing mammal related to weasels.
sn Modern scholars identify this creature with the rock badger (the Syrian hyrax), a small mammal that lives in the crevices of the rock. Its wisdom consists in its ingenuity to find a place of security.
3 sn The Hebrew term means “divided”; they go forward in orderly divisions, or ranks (C. H. Toy, Proverbs [ICC], 535). Joel 1:4 describes their order and uses it as a picture of a coming invasion (e.g., Joel 2:7, 8). Therefore the wisdom of the locust is in their order and cooperation.
sn The point of this saying is that a weak creature like a lizard, that is so easily caught, cannot be prevented from getting into the most significant places.
5 tn Although the Hebrew noun translated “king” is singular here, it is traditionally translated as plural: “kings’ palaces” (so KJV, NASB, NIV, NRSV).