HORNET (Heb. צִרְעָה), insect. Three times the Bible mentions that the hornet would be sent ahead of the Israelites to drive out the inhabitants of the land of Canaan before them (Ex. 23:28; Deut. 7:20; Josh. 24:12). Some contend that the reference here is not to actual hornets but to the pharaohs of Egypt, whose emblem was the hornet. However, it may also refer to the hornet Vespa orientalis which multiplies in time of war when fields are untilled, making its nest in burrows in uncultivated ground. When in mishnaic times hornets increased considerably, prayers were offered for their removal (Ta'an. 14a), and an instance is mentioned of death resulting from a hornet's sting. In Babylonia the danger of being stung by "a hornet in Nineveh" was stressed, it being permitted to kill one even on a Sabbath (Shab. 80b).
J. Feliks, Animal World of the Bible (1962), 121. add. bibliography: Feliks, Ha-Ẓome'aḥ, 273.
hor·net / ˈhôrnit/ • n. a large stinging wasp (Vespa and other genera) that typically nests in hollow trees. Its several species include the giant hornet (V. crabro) and the bald-faced (or white-faced) hornet (V. maculata). PHRASES: a hornets' nest a situation fraught with difficulties or complications.