Why do the spies compare themselves to grasshoppers Bamidbor 13 (33)

we saw the Nephilim there—the Anakites are part of the Nephilim—and we looked like grasshoppers to ourselves, and so we must have looked to them.”

and why does Isaiah compare humans to grasshoppers 40(22)?

It is He who is enthroned above the vault of the earth, So that its inhabitants seem as grasshoppers; Who spread out the skies like gauze, Stretched them out like a tent to dwell in.

Proverbs 6 (6) certainly knew about ants which are smaller.

Lazybones, go to the ant; Study its ways and learn.

What's special about grasshoppers?

  • According to Chazzal, the giants in Canaan did actually refer to them as ants. It was the spies themselves who changed the phrase to grasshoppers. – user6591 Jul 5 '16 at 22:50
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    Yeshaya only used the words like grasshoppers because he was echoing the spies. See Radak there. – user6591 Jul 5 '16 at 23:01
  • wild guess. they're really cool to look at with their tiny but intricate limbs – ray Jul 6 '16 at 10:58

There's a Gemara about the Kohen who described the size of his sacrificial bread in terms of "a lizard's tail." That was considered uncouth, as lizards aren't kosher. So we may prefer to compare people to kosher animals.

Grasshoppers -- well technically they're white locusts --are the smallest kosher animal you'd encounter on land.

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    Just because we compare kosher food (sacrificial no less) to kosher food, doesn't mean we only compare humans to kosher food as well. What about יתגבר כארי? – Double AA Jul 5 '16 at 17:54
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    @DoubleAA On the other hand, see P'sachim 3b, that Rav would not speak to a student who compared himself disparagingly to a "tired pig," while he did speak to the one who compared himself to a "tired goat." I don't think lions were generally thought of as food (the story with Shimshon notwithstanding), unlike pig and lizard meat which would both have been characteristic examples of offensive, non-kosher meats (re. lizard meat, see, for e.g., P'sachim 88b, "ושוב פעם אחת נמצאת הלטאה בבית המטבחים ובקשו לטמא כל הסעודה כולה"). – Fred Jul 5 '16 at 20:24
  • @kouty What do you mean please? (1) That for non-Jews mosquitoes are casher or (2) as information for non-Jews, mosquitoes also are Casher (for Jews) and if you mean (2) can you please give a source? – Avrohom Yitzchok Jul 5 '16 at 20:59
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    @kouty I think the main point is from the previous phrase that explains how the spies viewed themselves: "וַנְּהִי בְעֵינֵינוּ כַּחֲגָבִים". – Fred Jul 5 '16 at 21:35
  • @Fred you are right 100% thank you! – kouty Jul 6 '16 at 3:59

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