A means or device for catching an animal, usually having a snare or spring that, when triggered, seizes, imprisons, or kills the animal. As a rule, it is hidden, camouflaged, or disguised in some manner so as to deceive the victim; bait is often used. A number of different Hebrew words are rendered variously as “trap,” ‘snare,’ and ‘net.’ (Ps 141:9, 10) Though the Bible does not provide detailed descriptions of the kinds of animal traps and snares used in ancient times, passages such as Job 18:8-10; Psalm 10:9; 140:5; and Jeremiah 18:22 give a general idea of how some of these were employed. For information regarding their construction and use, see BIRDCATCHER; HUNTING AND FISHING.
Figurative or Illustrative Use. As they bring captivity, harm, or death to animals caught in them, snares and traps can represent causes of loss of freedom, or calamity, ruin, or death. Thus, after Moses announced the coming of a severe locust plague on Egypt, Pharaoh’s servants asked: “How long will this man prove to be as a snare to us?” (Ex 10:7) The previous plagues had all come at the announcement of Moses, and therefore, he had proved to be as a snare, that is, a cause of calamity or ruin to the Egyptians. So that they would not fall into the trap of idolatry, Jehovah repeatedly warned the Israelites about allowing the Canaanites to remain in the Promised Land. (Ex 23:32, 33; 34:12; De 7:16, 25; Jos 23:13) Idolatry was a trap, or an insidious cause of calamity, for the Israelites in that it resulted in their losing Jehovah’s favor and protection and led to oppression and restraint at the hands of their enemies. It was also deceptive, was baited with the pretense of bringing benefits and pleasures. (Jg 2:2, 3, 11-16; 8:27) Similarly, King Saul used his daughter Michal in a scheme, saying: “I shall give her to [David] that she may serve as a snare to him.” (1Sa 18:21) Saul secretly hoped that David would lose his life in the venturesome exploit needed to obtain a hundred foreskins of the Philistines to give to the king instead of “marriage money.”—1Sa 18:25.
Another feature of traps alluded to in figurative terms is the speed with which they can operate, catching one unawares. The fall of Babylon to the Medes and Persians, for example, came so suddenly and unexpectedly that it was as if Jehovah had sprung a snare or trap on her.—Jer 50:24; compare Lu 21:34, 35.
An individual must carefully examine and be cautious about what he vows or guarantees to do so that he does not find himself trapped in a situation from which escape may be difficult or virtually impossible. (Pr 6:1-3; 20:25) Companionship with a person given to fits of anger can cause one to become just like him. This is a snare, for it leads to entanglement in quarrels, ruinous complications, and sin. (Pr 22:24, 25; compare 1Co 15:33.) On the other hand, fear of God and striving to keep His way aids the wise one to avoid being enticed into wrongdoing (such as involvement with prostitutes) that might become a trap leading to death.—Pr 13:14; 14:27; compare 5:3-8; 7:21-23.
In the first century C.E., some Christians, attracted by the allurement of riches, fell into a snare that brought spiritual ruin. (1Ti 6:9, 10) Others are said to have fallen into “the snare of the Devil.” Evidently this means that they had been misled and had deviated from the truth and thus had become victims of the Adversary. Timothy was urged to instruct such persons with mildness so that they might come to their senses and repent, thereby getting free from the Devil’s snare.—2Ti 2:23-26; compare 1Ti 1:3, 4; Tit 3:9.
Though it is common for schemers to try to trap an innocent person, Jehovah can reverse things and “rain down upon the wicked ones traps, fire and sulphur.” (Ps 11:6) He can trap them, cutting off all means of escape, and then execute judgment upon them.—Compare 1Th 5:1-3.