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The meaning of Worm; Scarlet-worm in the Bible
(From International Standard Bible Encyclopedia)

wurm, skar'-let-wurm: (1) tola', tole'ah, tola'ath, tola'ath, from tala'; compare Arabic tala, "to stretch the neck"; usually with shani, "bright" (of Arabic sana, "a flash of lightning"), the term tola'ath shani being translated "scarlet" in English Versions of the Bible; also in the same sense the following: sheni tola'ath (Leviticus 14:4), tola' (Isaiah 1:18, English Versions of the Bible "crimson"), shanim (Proverbs 31:21; Isaiah 1:18, English Versions of the Bible "scarlet"), shani (Genesis 38:28; Joshua 2:18; Song of Solomon 4:3); also kokkos, and kokkinos (Matthew 27:23; Hebrews 9:19; Revelation 17:3-4; Revelation 18:12, Revelation 18:16). (2) rimmah, from ramam, "to putrefy" (Exodus 16:20); compare Arab ramm, "to become carious" (of bone). (3) cac (only in Isaiah 51:8); compare Arabic sus, "worm"; ses, "moth" (Matthew 6:19). (4) zochalim (Micah 7:17, the King James Version "worms," the Revised Version (British and American) "crawling things"), from zachal, "to crawl." (5) skolex (Mark 9:48), skolekobrotos, "eaten of worms" (Acts 12:23).

Besides the numerous passages, mostly in Ex, referring to the tabernacle, where tola'ath, with shani, is translated "scarlet," there are eight pasages in which it is translated "worm." These denote worms which occur in decaying organic matter or in sores (Exodus 16:20; Isaiah 14:11; Isaiah 66:24); or which are destructive to plants (Deuteronomy 28:39; Jonah 4:7); or the word is used as a term of contempt or depreciation (Job 25:6; Psalms 22:6; Isaiah 41:14). Rimmah is used in the same senses. It occurs with tola'ath as a synonym in Exodus 16:24; Job 25:6; Isaiah 14:11. In Job 25:6, English Versions of the Bible, rendering both tola'ath and rimmah by "worm," 'enosh and 'adham by "man," and introducing twice "that is a," makes a painfully monotonous distich out of the concise and elegant original, in which not one word of the first part is repeated in the second. Cac (Isaiah 51:8), English Versions of the Bible "worm," is the larva of the clothes-moth. See MOTH. In none of the cases here considered are worms, properly so called, denoted, but various insect larvae which are commonly called "worms," e.g. "silkworm," "apple-worm," "meal-worm," etc. These larvae are principally those of Diptera or flies, Coleoptera or beetles, and Lepidoptera or butterflies and moths.

Tola'ath shani, "scarlet," is the scarlet-worm, Cermes vermilio, a scale-insect which feeds upon the oak, and which is used for producing a red dye. It is called by the Arabs dudeh, "a worm," a word also used for various insect larvae. It is also called qirmiz, whence" crimson" and the generic name Cermes. This scarlet-worm or scale-insect is one of the family Coccidae of the order Rhynchota or Hemiptera. The female is wingless and adheres to its favorite plant by its long, sucking beak, by which it extracts the sap on which it lives. After once attaching itself it remains motionless, and when dead its body shelters the eggs which have been deposited beneath it. The males, which are smaller than the females, pass through a complete metamorphosis and develop wings. The dye is made from the dried bodies of the females. Other species yielding red dyes are Porphyrophora polonica and Coccus cacti. The last named is the Mexican cochineal insect which feeds on the cactus and which largely supplanted the others after the discovery of America. Aniline dyes have in turn to a great extent superseded these natural organic colors, which, however, continue to be unsurpassed for some purposes.

See COLORS.

Alfred Ely Day


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