After a wave of strange phenomena Egypt and Saudi Arabia are currently struggling to cope with swarms of locusts; and the plague promises to only get worse.
Unusually heavy rains this month are leading to the second generation born of a wave of locusts that first appeared in Sudan and Eritrea in December.
“Once vegetation begins to dry out, adult groups and a few swarms are likely to move north along the Red Sea coast in Eritrea to Sudan, and from the Red Sea coast of Sudan to the Nile Valley in northern Sudan,” said the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO). The agency monitors desert locust outbreaks, which can have devastating impacts on crops and regional food supplies. The FAO reported that in the past two weeks, there has been an escalation in second-generation hatching and hopper band formation along both sides of the Red Sea. One swarm arrived in Iran at the end of January. Ground and air crews are already hard at work in Egypt and Saudi Arabia trying to control the infestation.
Desert locusts are always present in the region but are typically solitary. Favorable breeding conditions generate swarms and their behavior changes as they form groups that can be miles long and contain a billion individuals.
“Swarms are often tens of square kilometers in size,” the FAO explained, warning that a swarm of just one square kilometer eats the same amount of food in one day as 35,000 people. “A swarm the size of Bamako (Mali) or Niamey (Niger) can consume what half the population of either country would eat in a single day.”
The swarms also can travel 93 miles a day making efforts to control an outbreak even more difficult. Officials warned that further rains in the region could lead to an even larger outbreak.
The last major locust outbreak happened between 2003 and 2005 when more than 12 million hectares of land had to be treated in Africa at a cost of $750 million.
For the Biblically inclined, swarms of locusts evoke images of pre-Exodus Egypt.
They covered the face of the whole land, so that the land was darkened, and they ate all the plants in the land and all the fruit of the trees that the hail had left. Not a green thing remained, neither tree nor plant of the field, through all the land of Egypt. (Exodus 10:15)
It may seem unlikely that a string of ten plagues might suddenly appear under the watchful eyes of scientists but this is precisely what seems to be happening. Five of the plagues reappeared around the globe in the last few months of 2018. Just last week, Breaking Israel News reported on the growing epidemic of Chronic wasting disease (CWD) infections in deer in the U.S. The disease, producing “zombie-like” symptoms, conforms to the Biblical description of the fifth plague.
Then the hand of Hashem will strike your livestock in the fields—the horses, the asses, the camels, the cattle, and the sheep—with a very severe pestilence. Exodus 9:3
This recent wave of locusts in Egypt comes just six weeks before the holiday of Passover focuses on the original appearance in the same location.
According to Jewish tradition, the ten-plagues will reappear before the Messiah. Rabbi Yosef Berger, the rabbi of King David’s Tomb on Mount Zion, explained this aspect of the Messianic process to Breaking Israel News, quoting the Prophet Micah.
“All of the miracles will reappear, all of the plagues, the entire story, in all its pain and all its glory,” Rabbi Berger said. “Our job in this generation is to speak about it, to pray for it, even while it is unfolding in front of our eyes.”
Though this seems like a simple task, Berger emphasized that this was the central theme of the holiday of Passover.
“Pesach in Hebrew means ‘the mouth that speaks,’” Rabbi Berger said. “The Jews were freed from Egypt just by virtue of calling out.”
The rabbi noted that the current generation is particularly gifted in this respect.
“The Internet is a powerful tool but it is merely an extension of our power of speech,” Rabbi Berger said. “On one hand, the power of evil uses it to spread lies. But a person who witnesses a plague or some other miracle can put it on the internet for the whole world to see in just a few seconds.”