In addition to the recent hurricanes and earthquakes, at least one of the plagues of Egypt has returned as swarms of locusts descended en masse on two separate parts of the globe in recent weeks.
A plague of locusts attacked South Eastern Trinidad last week. “People are scared and are panicking because of the amount of locusts. I won’t say this is the first time we have seen locusts, but it is the first time seeing it in such a magnitude,” Chairman of the Mayaro/Rio Claro Regional Corporation Glenn Ram was quoted in the Trinidad Express as saying.
Ram said that the damage to crops has been limited by spraying, but the bugs are an incredible annoyance to residents, “getting into clothing, vehicles and anywhere else they can occupy.”
The residents of Trinidad are experiencing a taste of the eighth plague the Egyptians suffered when God was punishing them for enslaving the Jews.
For if you refuse to let My people go, tomorrow I will bring locusts on your territory.They shall cover the surface of the land, so that no one will be able to see the land. They shall devour the surviving remnant that was left to you after the hail; and they shall eat away all your trees that grow in the field.Moreover, they shall fill your palaces and the houses of all your courtiers and of all the Egyptians. Exodus 10:4-6
Trinidad was not the only location to be plagued by locusts recently. Huge swarms of locusts devastated farms throughout large areas of Southern Russia last month as well. Farmers were hard-pressed as the swarming insects devoured everything in sight. In one video, fisherman are seen struggling through clouds of locust, using nets to catch the bugs to use as bait.
A locust will eat its weight in food every day and swarms can strip entire regions bare but, for some (like the Russian fishermen), they are considered a mixed blessing . Locusts are, in fact, edible and considered a delicacy in some countries. While the consumption of most insects is forbidden under kosher laws, the Talmud identifies four species of locust that are kosher and permitted to be eaten by Jews. Since the identity of those species is in dispute, most Jews refrain from indulging.
It is important to emphasize that neither Russia nor Trinidad has Hebrew slaves and it would be an error to claim the appearance of the locusts was a sign of divine wrath. In a recent interview about the hurricanes that have struck America, Rabbi Yosef Dayan, a former member of the nascent Sanhedrin, told Breaking Israel News, “It is forbidden to attribute divine motivations to such disasters but an introspective process is clearly necessary.”
Locusts are not taxonomically different from grasshoppers. A plague occurs when species of short-horned grasshoppers enter a swarming phase in reaction to environmental conditions. The second half of the twentieth century has seen a dramatic decline in frequency, duration and intensity of locust outbreaks, making these recent attacks especially worthy of introspection.