Magazine article The Christian Century

Year of the Locust

Magazine article The Christian Century

Year of the Locust

Article excerpt

THIRTY-FOUR AND 17 summers ago, when the Marty family ate dinner on our Victorian porch, we sometimes had to move back indoors because we couldn't hear ourselves speak. The cicadas, which we called "17-year locusts," were back. They are returning again this year, and have been sighted and heard as far west as Indiana. Though they have not yet afflicted us, they have raised my curiosity.

Secular scientists know much, but not nearly enough, about them. In the New York Times (April 4), Henry Fountain reported on Brood X, five billion of which rose from their nymphal graves 17 years ago and beset Cincinnati. Biologist Gene Kritsky says that "their whole survival strategy is based on satiating predators; ... there's safety in numbers." Predators can't eat them all, so some of those sex-maniac, noisemaking males are able to mate before they die. Kritsky records their sounds and hears some "softly intoning the word 'pharaoh.'"

Their "predator satiation" policy depends upon their prime-numbered life cycles. They throw other number-favoring predators off their trail. So thinks Glenn Webb of Vanderbilt University (Economist, May 8). But enough of these scientists. Let's get to the truth.

How do I know the truth? From the Bible, of course. For one thing, the Bible has a thing about the number 17. The Fourth Gospel specifies that Peter and others caught 153 fish. 153? Make a triangle of dots, with 17 in each arm. Fill it all in with dots (next triangle with 16 each, etc.). See? You'll end up with 153.

Genesis 37:2 specifies that tattler Joseph was 17 when his brothers shipped him off to Pharaoh-land, where, later, locusts were one of the ten plagues. How do we know that those locusts were the same as our cicadas? We biblical scholars know this from the records of the 17-year reign of Rehoboam (2 Chron. …

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