Chapter 4 –Beetles and Flies
In ancient Egypt the beetle was revered. The scarab beetle was a metaphor for the entombing and resurrection of their mummies and hence became a symbol of rebirth. The beetle is only mentioned once in the entire Bible, in Leviticus, as something we are allowed to eat. Yuck.
Flies, however, are mentioned several times.They were one of the ten plagues that God sent to Egypt to pressure Pharaoh to let the Israelites go. Have you ever heard the expression “a fly in the ointment”? It means that something small has ruined something great. Where did this phrase come from? The Bible, of course. Ecclesiastes 10:1:
Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour.
That last phrase is a little harder to understand. I like the New International Version translation for a clearer understanding:
As dead flies give perfume a bad smell, so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.