Three articles appear below:

1 Hornets
2 Hornets – An Analysis of A's Argument
3 Military Hornets Plausible



(Investigator 113, 2007 March)


When the Israelites invaded the "Promised Land" they had help: "I will send hornets before you which shall drive out the Hivite." (Exodus 23:28)

The Bible critics G. W. Foote and W. P. Ball (1921) referred to this as "military hornets" and called it a "Bible Absurdity".


Bees, wasps and hornets belong to the Order Hymenoptera (membranous, winged insects).

Unlike bees, which siphon nectar from flowers, hornets are carnivorous. They are 4cm long – five times as big as bees can fly 40 miles per day, and have a stinger 7mm long. Unlike bees, which sting once and die, hornets can sting repeatedly. A few hornets raiding a beehive can kill thousands of bees. Hornet venom also breaks down human tissue and is life threatening.

Four species occur in Palestine including the deserts by the Dead Sea. Two of these species nest underground or among rocks. The other two build large, round nests suspended from trees or shrubs.


Hornets kill forty people yearly in Japan with further attacks in Brazil and other countries.

In the Australian ABC TV program Foreign Correspondent (May 6, 2003) Mark Simkin reported on "Killer Hornets". In Japan these are eaten – "It tastes like prawn" – and brewed into "hornet sake", a drink which gives athletes extra energy. 

The television program continued:

SIMKIN: The hornets are ferocious killers. A handful of the creatures can slaughter an entire hive of bees in a matter of minutes. Their venom is powerful enough to dissolve human flesh. They kill 40 people each year.

Misao Inoue knows that better than most. Last year, her husband was picking mushrooms in the Nagano countryside when he stumbled across a hornet nest. The 61 year old was stung twice and was dead within a few hours.



If a nest of hornets is disturbed they quickly become active and descend on the source in large numbers. Herds of cattle or horses in this situation will stampede.

G. S. Cansdale (1970) writes:

The Times in January 1953 listed modern instances of the use of bees as weapons. A Turkish ship saved itself by hurling skips of bees into the pirates’ boats. From N. Nigeria came the account of native hives being overturned to deter pursuit through a village. It was also reported that in the 1914/1915 Cameroon campaign columns advancing along narrow paths were seriously held up when hives were upset by distant trip-wires. (p. 246)
An ancient army lured so as to march through hornets-nests and attacked by thousands of furious hornets might well degenerate into a fleeing rabble. The Bible does not describe this, but it does mention that two Amorite kings were defeated for Israel by hornets. (Deuteronomy 7:20; Joshua 24:12)

The Bible statement dismissed by Foote and Ball as "military hornets" and "absurdity" is probably literal and also plausible.


Cansdale, G. S. 1970 Animals of Bible Lands, Paternoster Press.

Foote, G. W. and Ball, W. P. 1921 The Bible Handbook For Free Thinkers and Inquiring Christians, Pioneer press, p. 63.  

Hornets –
An Analysis of Anonymous' Argument

Kirk Straughen

(Investigator 114, 2007 May)

In Investigator No. 113 Anonymous attempts to make a credible case for certain passages of Scripture, claiming they are "probably literal and also plausible." (p. 47)

Is this conclusion justifiable? First, let us consider the passages under consideration, which are as follows (in the RSV):

* And I will send hornets before you, which shall drive out Hivite and Canaanite, and Hittite from before you. (Exodus 23:28)

* Moreover the Lord your God will send hornets among them, until those who are left and hide themselves from you are destroyed. (Deuteronomy 7:20)

* And I sent the hornet before you, which drove them out before you, the two kings of the Amorites; it was not by your sword or by your bow. (Joshua 24:12)

Anonymous suggests that an army lured through a nest of hornets might "degenerate into fleeing rabble." Who, then, is doing the luring? A logical answer would be the Israelites who are advancing into the Promised Land. However, the above passages of Scripture make it quite clear that it is God who is sending the hornets.

If these passages of Scripture are to be considered both literal and plausible, then we would need proof that there exists a god capable of performing these actions.

Unfortunately, Anonymous has offered no such proof.

Secondly, we would need independent verification from other ancient records confirming that the Canaanites and so on were in fact defeated by such means. Again, Anonymous has offered no such proof.

Therefore, Anonymous' claim concerning the literalness and plausibility of these passages of Scripture is not justifiable.


(Investigator 115, 2007 July)

When the Israelites invaded Canaan they had help, says the Old Testament, from hornets.

In response to a 1921 reference which called the idea of "military hornets" an "absurdity" I showed that:

1. Hornets are dangerous and kill people every year, in Japan alone about forty;

2. Bees are less dangerous than hornets and only 1/5 the size, but have been used in warfare in recent centuries.

Based on these two facts I concluded that the biblical statements are plausible rather than "absurdity". (#113)

Mr Straughen (#114) makes the further objections that:

1. We do not have independent records of any Canaanites being defeated by military use of hornets;
2. The three references to hornets say that "God" or the "Lord" will "send hornets", but I did not show there is a God capable of doing this.

We do not need confirming records from Canaanites since I merely argued that hornets as a weapon are "plausible" – I did not say it's historically confirmed. That it's "plausible" is shown by the modern-day examples of the military use of bees.

The "LORD's" involvement we cannot presently test. When I investigate the Bible I "test what is testable" and supernatural input cannot be tested.