MOTH (Heb. עָשׁ, ash and סָס, sas; AV, JPS – "worm"), insect said to eat and destroy clothes (Isa. 51:8; cf. 50:9; Job 13:28).
The word ash is also used as a synonym for disintegration and destruction (Hos. 5:12; Ps. 39:12). These names refer to the clothes-moth Tineola, the larva of which feeds on wool. The metamorphosing larva (caterpillar) spins a cocoon, in which it develops into a chrysalis, to be transformed later into an imago. The tottering house of the wicked is compared to a cocoon (Job 27:18). Other species of moth that damage seeds, fruit, and trees are also to be found in Israel. The Talmud speaks of the sasa that infests trees (TJ, Ḥag. 2:3, 78a, according to the reading of Ha-Meiri; cf. Yoma 9b: the sas-magor which attacks cedars). The noses that destroys trees (Isa. 10:18) may be the sas, the reference here being to the moth which bores into trees, such as the larvae of the Zeuzera pirina, one of the worst arboreal pests in Israel.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.