That which the palmer worm hath left hath the locust eaten,.... These, with the two following, are four kinds of, locusts as Jarchi observes; though it is difficult to fix the particular species designed; they seem to have their names from some peculiar properties belonging to them; as the first of these from their sheering or cropping off the fruits and leaves of trees; and the second from the vast increase of them, the multitude they bring forth and the large numbers they appear in:
and that which the locust hath left hath the canker worm eaten; which in the Hebrew language is called from its licking up the fruits of the earth, by which it becomes barren:
and that which the canker worm hath left hath the caterpillar eaten; which has its name from wasting and consuming all that comes in its way: now these came not together, but followed one another; not one one year, and another the second, and so on throughout four years, as Kimchi thinks; for though the calamity lasted some years as is manifest from Joel 2:25; yet it is not reasonable, that, for instance what the palmer worm left the first year should remain in the fields and vineyards, on the fig trees and vines till the next year for the locust to consume and is on:, but rather these all appeared in succession in one and the same year; and so what the palmer worm left having eaten up what was most agreeable to them, the locust came and devoured what they had left; and then what they left was destroyed by the canker worm, which fed on that which was most grateful to them; and last of all came the caterpillar, and consumed all the others had left; and this might be continued for years successively: when this calamity was, we have no account in sacred history; whether it was in the seven years' famine in the days of Elisha, or the same with what Amos speaks of, Amos 4:6; is not easy to say: and though it seems to be literally understood, as the drought later mentioned, yet might be typical of the enemies of the Jews succeeding one another in the destruction of them. Not of the four monarchies, the Babylonians, Persians, Grecians, and Romans, as Lyra and Abarbinel; since the Persians particularly never entered into the land of Judea and wasted it; though this is the sense of the ancient Jews, as Jerom relates; for he says the Hebrews interpret the "palmer worm" of the Assyrians, Babylonians, and Chaldeans, who, coming from one climate of the world, destroyed both the ten and the two tribes, that is, all the people of Israel: the locust they interpret of the Medes and Persians, who, having overturned the Chaldean empire, carried the Jews captive: the "canker worm" is the Macedonians, and all the successors of Alexander; especially King Antiochus, surnamed Epiphanes, who like a canker worm sat in Judea, and devoured all the remains of the former kings, under whom were the wars of the Maccabees: the "caterpillar" they refer to the Roman empire, the fourth and last that oppressed the Jews, and drove them out of their borders. Nor of the several kings of Assyria and Babylon, who followed one another, and wasted first the ten tribes, and then the other two, as Tiglathpileser, Shalmaneser, Sennacherib, and Nebuchadnezzar, so Theodoret; since this prophecy only relates to the two tribes. Rather therefore this may point at the several invasions and incursions of the Chaldean army into Judea, under Nebuchadnezzar and his generals; first, when he came up against Jerusalem, and made Jehoiakim tributary to him; a second time, when he carried Jehoiachin and his family into Babylon, with a multitude of the Jews, and their wealth; a third time, when he besieged Jerusalem, and took it, and Zedekiah the king, and carried him captive; and a fourth time, when Nebuzaradan came and burnt the temple, and the houses of Jerusalem, and broke down the walls of it, and cleared the land of its inhabitants and riches; see 2 Kings 24:1.