Proverbs 6:8

Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.

Provideth her meat in the summer,.... Against the winter, of which it is mindful, when it never comes out of its place, having in the summer time got a sufficiency laid up in cells for its use: she toils in the heat of summer to get in her provision for the winter, being sensible that nothing is to be gotten then; she works at it night and day while the season lasts; so diligent is it in laying up its stores at the proper opportunity {l};

and gathereth her food in the harvest; the time when corn is ripe, and is shed on the earth; this it gathereth, and lays up in its repositories against a time of need. The seeds it gathers and lays up; it bites off the chit or bud end of them, that they may not grow, as Pliny {m} and others observe, but be a winter store; hence its name in Hebrew is "nemalah", from "namal", "to cut off"; it being done by biting. Yea, according to Aelianus {n}, it seems to have some sense of futurity with respect to famine, which being near, it will work exceeding hard to lay up food, fruits, and seed; and, according to Virgil {o} and others, it seems to presage old age, and therefore provides against it. An instruction this to work, while persons are in health, and have youth on their side; that they may have not only a sufficiency for present use, but to lay up against a time of sickness and old age. The Septuagint and Arabic versions add,

"or go to the bee, and learn what a worker she is, and what an admirable work she performs; whose labours kings and private persons use for health: she is desirable to all, and famous; and though weak in strength, honouring wisdom is advanced.''

But this is not in the Hebrew text; but perhaps being written in the margin of some copy of the Septuagint as a parallel instance, was by some unskilful copier put into the text of the Greek version, from whence the Arabic version has taken it; it crept in very early, for Clemens of Alexandria makes mention of it {p}.

{l} "Ac veluti ingentem formicae farris acervum", &c. Virgil. Aeneid. l. 4. v. 402, &c. So Horat. Satyr. 1. v. 36.
{m} Nat. Hist. l. 11. c. 30. Plutarch. vol. 2. de Solert. Animal. p. 968.
{n} Vat. Hist. l. 1. c. 12.
{o} "Inopi metuens formica senectae", Georgic. l. 1. v. 186. So Horace, ut supra. Juvenal. Satyr. 6. v. 360.
{p} Stromat. l. 1. p. 286.