[Heb., ʽaq·ravʹ; Gr., skor·piʹos].
A small animal (an arachnid, not included by biologists as among insects) classified in the same group as spiders. But, unlike other arachnids, the female scorpion gives birth to living offspring instead of depositing eggs.
The scorpion is equipped with eight walking legs; a long, narrow, segmented tail terminating in a curved, poisonous stinger; and a pair of pincers resembling those of a lobster and studded with hypersensitive hairs. The tail is usually carried upward and curved forward over the creature’s back and waves in all directions. The scorpion uses its stinger in defense and also to procure its prey. The victim is seized by the nippers and then, if necessary, stung to death. A nocturnal animal, the scorpion spends the day hidden under stones, in cracks and crevices of buildings, and even under mats and beds, coming out at night to feed on spiders and insects.
Of the over 600 varieties of scorpions, generally ranging in size from less than 2.5 cm (1 in.) to 20 cm (8 in.), about a dozen types have been encountered in Palestine and Syria. Although the scorpion’s sting is usually not fatal to humans, there are several varieties with venom proportionately more potent than that of many dangerous desert vipers. The most poisonous of the kinds found in Israel is the yellow Leiurus quinquestriatus. The great pain caused by a scorpion’s sting is noted at Revelation 9:3, 5, 10, where symbolic locusts are described as having “the same authority as the scorpions of the earth” and as having the capability of tormenting men just as “a scorpion when it strikes a man.”
Scorpions were common in the Wilderness of Judah and the Sinai Peninsula with its “fear-inspiring wilderness.” (De 8:15) An ascent on the SE frontier of Judah, located SW of the southern end of the Dead Sea, was even called Akrabbim (meaning “Scorpions”).—Nu 34:4; Jos 15:3; Jg 1:36.
At 1 Kings 12:11, 14 and 2 Chronicles 10:11, 14, the Hebrew term ʽaq·rab·bimʹ, which is rendered “scourges,” literally means “scorpions.” The instrument of punishment alluded to may have been a scourge equipped with sharp points.
In illustrating that his heavenly Father would give holy spirit to those asking him, Jesus Christ pointed out that a human father would not hand his son a scorpion if he requested an egg. (Lu 11:12, 13) To the 70 disciples he sent out, Jesus gave authority over injurious things, represented by serpents and scorpions.—Lu 10:19; compare Eze 2:6.