as thick as locusts

The Hebrew that is translated as “as thick as locusts” or similar in English is translated in Falam Chin as “as many as ants.”

Stephen Hre Kio explains (in The Bible Translator 1990, p. 210ff. ): “Sixteen years ago we were translating into Falam the story in Judges chapter 6 about the Midianites and the Amalekites, who had come in great numbers against the Israelites and were destroying their crops. The text says that their number was so great that it was beyond counting, ‘like locusts.’ In translating this passage we faced problems at both the literal and figurative levels of meaning. In our part of the world we have no locusts and the closest equivalent to the locust is the grasshopper. But even if this substitution was acceptable, and I believed that it was, we still had a problem: grasshoppers are so few in our region that they are not easy to find, and therefore to substitute grasshoppers for locusts to convey the meaning of “beyond counting” would not make sense. In fact the meaning would be the opposite: ‘as many as grasshoppers’ would mean very few! This led us to make a different adjustment: locusts would have to be replaced by ants, since we have ants in great numbers, and we also have a saying, ‘as many as ants.’ Thus in our rendering of the passage we literally had the following: ‘the Midianites and Amalekites were as many as ants.’ This in my view is an acceptable and meaningful translation, faithful to the meaning of the text.”