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Smith's Bible Dictionary

a species of lizard. The reference in (Leviticus 11:30) is to some kind of an unclean animal, supposed to be the lizard, known by the name of the "monitor of the Nile," a large, strong reptile common in Egypt and other parts of Africa.

ATS Bible Dictionary

Le 11:30, a kind of lizard. Its body is about six inches long: its feet have five toes each, arranged like two thumbs opposite to three fingers: its eyes turn backwards or forwards independently of each other. It feeds upon files, which it catches by darting out its long, viscous tongue. It has the faculty of inflating itself at pleasure with air; and of changing its color, from its ordinary gray to green, purple, and even black when enraged.

Easton's Bible Dictionary
A species of lizard which has the faculty of changing the colour of its skin. It is ranked among the unclean animals in Leviticus 11:30, where the Hebrew word so translated is coah (R.V., "land crocodile"). In the same verse the Hebrew tanshemeth, rendered in Authorized Version "mole," is in Revised Version "chameleon," which is the correct rendering. This animal is very common in Egypt and in the Holy Land, especially in the Jordan valley.
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
(n.) A lizardlike reptile, changeable in appearance, of the genus Chamaeleo, of several species, found in Africa, Asia, and Europe. The skin is covered with fine granulations; the tail is prehensile, and the body is much compressed laterally, giving it a high back.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

ka-me'-le-un (koach, the Revised Version (British and American) LAND CROCODILE (Leviticus 11:30); tinshemeth, the King James Version mole, the Revised Version (British and American) CHAMELEON (Leviticus 11:30)):

Koach, which in the King James Version is rendered "chameleon" and in the Revised Version (British and American) "land crocodile," means also "strength" or "power," as in Genesis 4:12 1 Samuel 2:9; Psalm 22:15 Isaiah 40:29, and many other passages. The Septuagint has chamaileon, but on account of the ordinary meaning of the word, koach, it has been thought that some large lizard should be understood here. The desert monitor, Varanus griseus, one of the largest of lizards, sometime attaining the length of 4 ft., is common in Palestine and may be the animal here referred to. The name "monitor" is a translation of the German warnen, "to warn," with which has been confused the Arabic name of this animal, waran or waral, a word of uncertain etymology.

The word tinshemeth in the same verse is rendered in the King James Version "mole" and in the Revised Version (British and American) "chameleon." The Septuagint has aspalax (= spalax, "mole"). Tinshemeth also occurs in the lists of unclean birds in Leviticus 11:18 and Deuteronomy 14:16, where it is rendered: the King James Version "swan"; the Revised Version (British and American) "horned owl"; Septuagint porphurion (i.e. "coot" or, according to some, "heron"); Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) cygnus, "swan." It appears to come from the root nasham, "to breathe"; compare neshamah, "breath" (Genesis 2:7 Job 27:3 the King James Version, etc.). It has therefore in Leviticus 11:30 been referred to the chameleon on account of the chameleon's habit of puffing up its body with air and hissing, and in the other passages to the pelican, on account of the pelican's great pouched bill.

The common chameleon is abundant in Palestine, being found also in North Africa and in Spain. The other species of chameleons are found principally in Africa and Madagascar. It is not only a harmless but a decidedly useful creature, since it feeds upon insects, especially flies. Its mode of capturing its prey is most interesting. It slowly and cautiously advances until its head is from 4 to 6 inches from the insect, which it then secures by darting out its tongue with great rapidity. The pigment cel ls in its skin enable it to change its color from pale yellow to bright green, dark green and almost black, so that it can harmonize very perfectly with its surroundings. Its peculiar toes and prehensile tail help to fit it for its life in the trees. Its prominent eyes with circular lids, like iris diaphragms can be moved independently of each other, and add to its striking appearance.


Alfred Ely Day

Strong's Hebrew
8580. tinshemeth -- (an animal) perhaps owl, chameleon
... 8579, 8580. tinshemeth. 8581 . (an animal) perhaps owl, chameleon. Transliteration:
tinshemeth Phonetic Spelling: (tan-sheh'-meth) Short Definition: owl. ...
/hebrew/8580.htm - 6k

3581. koach -- a small reptile (of unknown species)
... ability, able, chameleon, force, fruits, might, powerful, strength, Or
(Dan. 11:6) kowach {ko'-akh}; from an unused root meaning ...
/hebrew/3581.htm - 5k


Beasts Similarly Subject to the Law of Mutation.
... If, without previously knowing him, you hear tell of a chameleon, you will
at once apprehend something yet more huge united with a lion. ...
/.../tertullian/on the pallium/chapter iii beasts similarly subject to.htm

That Our Lawful Occupations do not Hinder us from Practicising ...
... yet he was indifferent to all employment, and different from them all, not receiving
the colour of his affairs and conversations, as the chameleon does that of ...
/.../francis/treatise on the love of god/chapter iv that our lawful.htm

The Unchangeableness of God
... They change as the chameleon, into several colours, but God is immutable. Use two:
See the vanity of the creature. There are changes in everything but in God. ...
/.../watson/a body of divinity/4 the unchangeableness of god.htm

The Sin of Unbelief
... God should fulfill his promise. Unbelief hath more phases than the moon,
and more colors than the chameleon. Common people say of ...
/.../spurgeon/spurgeons sermons volume 1 1855/the sin of unbelief.htm

That Holy Complacency Gives Our Heart to God, and Makes us Feel a ...
... If it be true that the chameleon lives on air, wheresoever he goes in the air he
finds food, and though he move from one place to another, it is not to find ...
/.../francis/treatise on the love of god/chapter iii that holy complacency.htm

Epistle Catholic.
... But they, chameleon-like, changing their sentiments, endeavour to claim for themselves
that saying: "When the wicked cometh, then cometh contempt." [2462 ...
/.../ii epistle catholic.htm

The victory of Faith
... we overcome the world in one fashion, we have not half done our work; for the world
is a Proteus, changing its shape continually; like the chameleon, it hath ...
/.../spurgeon/spurgeons sermons volume 1 1855/the victory of faith.htm

God's Sovereignty and Prayer
... It ought to be apparent that there could be little or no comfort in praying to a
God that was like the chameleon, which changes its colour every day. ...
/.../pink/the sovereignty of god/chapter nine gods sovereignty and.htm

The Battle of Life
... Fresh forms of evil are generated in our own breasts, and this chameleon heart of
ours, which never seems of one colour but for a single moment, which is this ...
/.../spurgeon/spurgeons sermons volume 62 1916/the battle of life.htm

A Certain Trinity in the Sight. That There are Three Things in ...
... shape and color. One may see the little body of a chameleon vary with ready
change, according to the colors which it sees. And in ...
/.../augustine/on the holy trinity/chapter 2 a certain trinity in.htm

Chameleon (1 Occurrence)
... In the same verse the Hebrew tanshemeth, rendered in Authorized Version "mole,"
is in Revised Version "chameleon," which is the correct rendering. ...CHAMELEON. ...
/c/chameleon.htm - 11k

Lizard (3 Occurrences)
... lizard, from the toes of which poison exudes. (see CHAMELEON.). Noah Webster's
Dictionary. 1. (n.) Any one of the numerous species ...
/l/lizard.htm - 16k

Ferret (1 Occurrence)
... 4) 'anaqkah, the King James Version "ferret," the Revised Version (British and American)
"gecko"; (5) koach the King James Version "chameleon," the Revised ...
/f/ferret.htm - 11k

Mole (2 Occurrences)
... Easton's Bible Dictionary Hebrews tinshameth (Leviticus 11:30), probably signifies
some species of lizard (rendered in RV, "chameleon"). ...
/m/mole.htm - 12k

Land (19790 Occurrences)
... CROCODILE (Revised Version (British and American)) land-crok'-o-dil (koach; Septuagint
chamaileon, Leviticus 11:30; the King James Version Chameleon): Koach is ...
/l/land.htm - 21k

Crocodile (1 Occurrence)
... CROCODILE, LAND. See CHAMELEON. ... Leviticus 11:30 and the gecko, and the land-crocodile,
and the lizard, and the sand-lizard, and the chameleon. ...
/c/crocodile.htm - 7k

Chamois (1 Occurrence)

/c/chamois.htm - 9k

... Leviathan) CHELONIA: Tortoise OPHIDIA: Serpent, Fiery Serpent, Adder, Asp, Vipet
(sv SERPENT) LACERTILIA: Lizard, Great Lizard, Gecko, Chameleon, Land Crocodile ...
/z/zoology.htm - 18k

Land-crocodile (1 Occurrence)
... Land-crocodile (1 Occurrence). Leviticus 11:30 and the gecko, and the land-crocodile,
and the lizard, and the sand-lizard, and the chameleon. (ASV JPS). ...
/l/land-crocodile.htm - 6k

Gecko (1 Occurrence)
... Gecko (1 Occurrence). Leviticus 11:30 the gecko, and the monitor lizard, the wall
lizard, the skink, and the chameleon. (WEB JPS ASV NAS RSV NIV). ...
/g/gecko.htm - 7k

Bible Concordance
Chameleon (1 Occurrence)

Leviticus 11:30 the gecko, and the monitor lizard, the wall lizard, the skink, and the chameleon.



Chameleon: Forbidden As Food

Related Terms

Lizard (3 Occurrences)

Ferret (1 Occurrence)

Mole (2 Occurrences)

Land (19790 Occurrences)

Crocodile (1 Occurrence)

Chamois (1 Occurrence)


Land-crocodile (1 Occurrence)

Gecko (1 Occurrence)

Groaning (27 Occurrences)

Tortoise (1 Occurrence)

Reptile (3 Occurrences)

Monitor (1 Occurrence)

Climbing (3 Occurrences)

Chomet (1 Occurrence)

Skink (1 Occurrence)

Sand-lizard (1 Occurrence)

Swan (2 Occurrences)

Snail (2 Occurrences)

Sand (40 Occurrences)

Chambers (68 Occurrences)

Wall (227 Occurrences)

Arabia (9 Occurrences)

Red (124 Occurrences)

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