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What the gazam-locust left the ‘arbeh-locust consumed,[a]
what the ‘arbeh-locust left the yeleq-locust consumed,
and what the yeleq-locust left the hasil-locust consumed.[b]

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  1. Joel 1:4 tn Or “has eaten.” This verb is repeated three times in v. 4 to emphasize the total devastation of the crops by this locust invasion.
  2. Joel 1:4 tn The four Hebrew terms used in this verse are of uncertain meaning. English translations show a great deal of variation in dealing with these: (1) For גָּזָם (gazam) KJV has “palmerworm,” NEB “locust,” NAB “cutter,” NASB “gnawing locust,” NIV “locust swarm,” NKJV “chewing locust,” NRSV and NLT “cutting locust(s),”and NIrV “giant locusts”; (2) for אַרְבֶּה (ʾarbeh) KJV has “locust”; NEB “swarm”; NAB “locust swarm”; NASB, NKJV, NRSV, and NLT “swarming locust(s); NIV “great locusts”; and NIrV “common locusts”; (3) for יֶלֶק (yeleq) KJV has “cankerworm,” NEB “hopper,” NAB “grasshopper,” NASB “creeping locust,” NIV and NIrV “young locusts,” NKJV “crawling locust,” and NRSV and NLT “hopping locust(s)”; and (4) for חָסִיל (khasil) KJV has “caterpillar,” NEB “grub,” NAB “devourer,” NASB and NLT “stripping locust(s),” NIV and NIrV “other locusts,” NKJV “consuming locust,” and NRSV “destroying locust.” It is debated whether the Hebrew terms describe different species of locusts or similar insects, describe different developmental stages of the same species, or are virtual synonyms. While the last seems more likely, given the uncertainty over their exact meaning the present translation has transliterated the Hebrew terms in combination with the word “locust.”sn Four different words for “locust” are used in this verse. It is uncertain whether these words represent different life-stages of the locusts, or whether virtual synonyms are being used to underscore the severity of damage caused by the relentless waves of locust invasion. The latter seems more likely. Many interpreters have understood the locust plagues described here to be symbolic of invading armies that will devastate the land, but the symbolism could also work the other way, with real plagues of locusts described in the following verses as an invading army.