Leviticus 11:30
And the ferret, and the chameleon, and the lizard, and the snail, and the mole.
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(30) And the ferret.—The ancient legal authorities explain this name (anâkâh), which only occurs here in the Hebrew Scriptures, by kipor or kipod, “an animal whose body is entirely covered with sharp prickles, and when touched the creature draws in its legs and rolls itself up in a ball.” Its skin in ancient days was tied round the udder of cows to prevent other reptiles sucking out their milk. There can, therefore, be no doubt that the administrators of the law took it to be the hedgehog. Some ancient versions, however, render it by shrew mouse, whilst some modern expositors make it the gecko.

And the chameleon.—The ancient versions agree that by this animal (khôach), which denotes “strength,” and which occurs nowhere else in the Bible as the name of a reptile, is meant the chameleon. Its power of enduring for a long time without food, which led the ancients to believe that it entirely subsisted upon air, may be the cause both of its Hebrew name (as specified above), and the name chameleon, i.e., “a lion on the ground,” a reptile with the strength of a lion, The belief that it lives upon the air had also given rise to its Aramaic name in the time of Christ (zekitha), which denotes the animal that fills itself with air. The perplexity which the administrators of the law experienced about its food, and the time of feeding this creature, may be gathered from the story in the Talmud attributed to one of the sons of Noah, of what happened in the Ark. Sem, the son of Noah, said, “We had much trouble with the chameleon, for whilst we fed the day animals by day and the night animals by night, we did not know what the chameleon fed on. One day, however, I broke open a pomegranate, and a worm fell out of it, which the creature immediately devoured. Afterwards I pounded together fruit, and when it bred maggots the chameleon ate them.” The common chameleon is found in Syria and Palestine, and some eastern tribes believe that its flesh when eaten boiled is a remedy for leanness, and if eaten dry cures fever. In Spain chameleons are kept in rooms to destroy troublesome flies.

And the lizard.—Though the ancient authorities agree that the creature here named (l’tââh) is lizard, yet the description which the administrators of the law give of it, does not enable us to define the species to which it belongs. The characteristics which they give of the lizard are as follows: It has a thick though soft and smooth skin, and lays eggs in which the yolk and the white are not separated. Its tail when cut off will move for some time afterwards, and the creature itself when apparently dead will sometimes revive by pouring cold water over it.

And the snail.—This meaning of the Hebrew name (chômet) is attested by the highest Jewish authorities of ancient times. It denotes the testaceous kinds, whilst the word (shabbel) in Psalm 58:8 describes the naked species. Snails abound in a great variety of species in the East, and some kinds were eaten by the ancients as a great luxury. It was believed that the slime which it constantly emits as it crawls along brings about its death by a process of dissolution. Hence the remark “and snail which melteth, let every one of them pass away” (Psalm 58:8).

And the mole.—The word (tinshemeth) here translated “mole” is the same which is used in Leviticus 11:18 for an unclean bird. That the Authorised Version, however, gives the correct rendering of the word is not only attested by the ancient versions, but by the following description, which the administrators of the law in the time of Christ give of the reptile here intended. It has no eyes, and burrows into the earth, and destroys the roots. For this reason, as well as for its carrying quantities of corn to its nest, it was ordained during the second Temple that the creature may be killed on the middle days of the two pilgrim festivals, i.e., of the Feasts of Passover and of Tabernacles. In Isaiah 2:20, however, which is the only other passage where the mole occurs in the Hebrew Scriptures, the name for it is cnâpar pêrah. We have already seen in the case of the snail that two different names for the same creature are used designedly to describe the different characteristics of the same animal.

Leviticus 11:30. And the mole — The Hebrew word is the same with that which (Leviticus 11:18) we translate swan. But it is plain, that there it signifies a sort of fowl, as, in all probability, it here does a sort of lizard. All the reptiles here mentioned, according to Dr. James, are extremely subject to putrefaction, as are reptiles of almost every kind; and the smell of these, when putrefied, is extremely offensive; from whence we must conclude that their salts are highly exalted, and their juices alkalescent to a great degree.

11:1-47 What animals were clean and unclean. - These laws seem to have been intended, 1. As a test of the people's obedience, as Adam was forbidden to eat of the tree of knowledge; and to teach them self-denial, and the government of their appetites. 2. To keep the Israelites distinct from other nations. Many also of these forbidden animals were objects of superstition and idolatry to the heathen. 3. The people were taught to make distinctions between the holy and unholy in their companions and intimate connexions. 4. The law forbad, not only the eating of the unclean beasts, but the touching of them. Those who would be kept from any sin, must be careful to avoid all temptations to it, or coming near it. The exceptions are very minute, and all were designed to call forth constant care and exactness in their obedience; and to teach us to obey. Whilst we enjoy our Christian liberty, and are free from such burdensome observances, we must be careful not to abuse our liberty. For the Lord hath redeemed and called his people, that they may be holy, even as he is holy. We must come out, and be separate from the world; we must leave the company of the ungodly, and all needless connexions with those who are dead in sin; we must be zealous of good works devoted followers of God, and companions of his people.
]The identification of "the creeping things" here named is not always certain. They are most likely those which were occasionally eaten. For the "Tortoise" read "the great lizard," for the "ferret" the "gecko" (one of the lizard tribe), for the "chameleon" read the "frog" or the Nile lizard: by the word rendered "snail" is probably meant another kind of lizard, and by the "mole" the "chameleon." 30. the ferret—the Hebrew word is thought by some to signify the newt or chameleon, by others the frog.

the chameleon—called by the Arabs the warral, a green lizard.

the snail—a lizard which lives in the sand, and is called by the Arabs chulca, of an azure color.

the mole—Another species of lizard is meant, probably the chameleon.

No text from Poole on this verse.

And the ferret,.... Whatever creature is here meant, it has its name in Hebrew from the cry it makes; and so the ferret has but one note in its voice, which is a shrill, but small, whining cry: it is used to drive rabbits out of their holes: the Septuagint and Vulgate Latin versions render the word by "mygale", the weasel mouse, or "mus areneus" of the Latins, the shrew or shrew mouse: it has something of the mouse and weasel, from whence it has its name in Greek, being of the size of the one, and the colour of the other: but Bochart (b) is of opinion, that a sort of lizard called "stellio", an evet or newt, is meant; one sort of which, according to Pliny (c), makes a bitter noise and screaking:

and the chameleon; this is a little creature like a lizard, but with a larger and longer head; it has four feet, and on each foot three claws; its tail is long; with this, as well as with its feet, it fastens itself to the branches of trees; its tail is flat, its nose long, and made in an obtuse point; its back is sharp, its skin plaited and jagged like a saw, from the neck to the last joint of the tail, and upon its head it hath something like a comb; in other respects it is made like a fish; that is to say, it has no neck (d); what is said of its living on air, and changing colour according to what it is applied, are now reckoned vulgar mistakes: but whatever creature is here meant, it seems to have its name in Hebrew from its strength, wherefore Bochart (e) takes the "guaril" or "alwarlo" of the Arabs to be meant; which is the stoutest and strongest sort of lizard, and is superior in strength to serpents, and the land tortoise, with which it often contends:

and the lizard; so Jarchi interprets the word by a "lizard"; it has a larger letter than usual in it, that this creature might be taken notice of, and guarded against as very pernicious, and yet with some people it is eaten: Calmet says (f), there are several sorts of lizards, which are well known: there are some in Arabia of a cubit long, but in the Indies there are some, they say, of twenty four feet in length: in America, where they are very good, they eat them: one lizard is enough to satisfy four men: and so in the West Indies, says Sir Hans Sloane (g), I was somewhat surprised to see serpents, rats, and lizards sold for food, and that to understanding people, and of a very good and nice palate; and elsewhere (h), he says, all nations inhabiting these parts of the world (the West Indies) do the same: "Guanes" or "lizards" are very common in Jamaica, and eaten there, and were of great use when the English first took this island, being, as I was assured, says he, commonly sold by the first planters for half a crown apiece: Dr. Shaw (i) says, that he was informed that more than 40,000 persons in Cairo, and in the neighbourhood, live upon no other food than lizards and serpents, though he thinks (k), because the chameleon is called by the Arabs "taitah", which differs little in name from "letaah", here; that therefore that, which is indeed a species of the lizard, might, with more propriety, be substituted for it:

and the snail; so the word is rendered by Jarchi, on the place, and by Kimchi, and Philip Aquinas, and David de Pomis, in their lexicons; and these creatures, though forbid to the Jews, yet are not only used for medicine, but also for food by many: snails of several kinds, we are told, are eaten with much satisfaction in Italy and France: in Silesia they make places for the breeding of them at this day, where they are fed with turnip tops, &c. and carefully preserved for the market; and the Romans took care of them in the same manner (l): Bochart (m) thinks a kind of lizard is meant, which lies in sand, called by the Arabs "chulaca", or "luchaca", because the word here used signifies, in the Talmudic (n) language, sandy ground:

and the mole; and so it is interpreted by Onkelos and Jarchi here, and by David de Pomis, and Philip Aquinas, in their lexicons: the same word is used for a certain sort of fowl, which we translate the "swan"; Leviticus 11:18 but here of a creeping thing: whatever is intended by it, it seems to have its name from its breath; either in a contrary signification, if understood of the mole, which either holds its breath, or breathes not while under ground; or from its breathing more freely, wherefore Bochart (o) takes it to be the "chameleon"; which, as Pliny (p) says, is always gaping with its mouth for air; and it has been a vulgar notion, though a wrong one, that it lives upon it: the Targum of Jonathan interprets it by the "salamander"; now whoever ate any of the above eight creeping things, according to the Jewish canons, was to be beaten (q). (b) Ut supra, (Hierozoic. par. 1.) l. 4. c. 2.((c) Nat. Hist. l. 29. c. 4. (d) Calmet, in the word "Chameleon". (e) Ut supra, (Hierozoic. par. 1. l. 4.) c. 3.((f) Dictionary, in the word "Lizard", Vid. Hieron. adv. Jovinian. l. 2.((g) Natural History of Jamaica, vol. 1. Introduct. p. 25. (h) Ibid. vol. 2. p. 333. (i) Travels, p. 412. (k) Ibid. p. 178. (l) Sir Hans Sloane's Nat. Hist. ib. p. 23, 24. (m) Ut supra, (e)) c. 5. (n) T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 31. 1. Gloss. in fol. 54. 1.((o) Ut supra, (Hierozoic. par. 1. l. 4.) c. 6. (p) Nat. Hist. l. 8. c. 33. (q) Maimon. Maacolot Asurot, c. 2. sect. 7.

And the ferret, and the chameleon, and the lizard, and the snail, and the mole.
30. For the four words which follow see R.V. mg. They occur only in this verse.

chameleon] mole A.V. following the versions. The same Heb. word is translated horned owl in Leviticus 11:18.

It seems strange that so many kinds of lizards are mentioned; also that the same Heb. word should have two such different meanings in the same chapter.

Leviticus 11:30The early translators tell us nothing certain as to the three following names, and it is still undecided how they should be rendered. אנקה is translated μυγάλη by the lxx, i.e., shrew-mouse; but the oriental versions render it by various names for a lizard. Bochart supposes it to be a species of lizard with a sharp groaning voice, because אנק signifies to breathe deeply, or groan. Rosenmller refers it to the lacerta Gecko, which is common in Egypt, and utters a peculiar cry resembling the croaking of frogs, especially in the night. Leyrer imagines it to denote the whole family of monitores; and Knobel, the large and powerful river lizard, the water-waral of the Arabs, called lacerta Nilotica in Hasselquist, pp. 361ff., though he has failed to observe, that Moses could hardly have supposed it possible that an animal four feet long, resembling a crocodile, could drop down dead into either pots or dishes. כּוח is not the chameleon (lxx), for this is called tinshemeth, but the chardaun (Arab.), a lizard which is found in old walls in Natolia, Syria, and Palestine, lacerta stellio, or lacerta coslordilos (Hasselquist, pp. 351-2). Knobel supposes it to be the frog, because coach seems to point to the crying or croaking of frogs, to which the Arabs apply the termkuk, the Greeks κοάξ, the Romans coaxare. But this is very improbable, and the frog would be quite out of place in the midst of simple lizards. לטאה, according to the ancient versions, is also a lizard. Leyrer supposes it to be the nocturnal, salamander-like family of beckons; Knobel, on the contrary, imagines it to be the tortoise, which creeps upon the earth (terrae adhaeret), because the Arabic verb signifies terrae adhaesit. This is very improbable, however. חמט (lxx), σαῦρα, Vulg. lacerta, probably the true lizard, or, as Leyrer conjectures, the anguis (Luth. Blindschleiche, blind-worm), or zygnis, which forms the link between lizards and snakes. The rendering "snail" (Sam. Rashi, etc.) is not so probable, as this is called שׁבלוּל in Psalm 58:9; although the purple snail and all the marine species are eaten in Egypt and Palestine. Lastly, תּנשׁמת, the self-inflating animal (see at Leviticus 11:18), is no doubt the chameleon, which frequently inflates its belly, for example, when enraged, and remains in this state for several hours, when it gradually empties itself and becomes quite thin again. Its flesh was either cooked, or dried and reduced to powder, and used as a specific for corpulence, or a cure for fevers, or as a general medicine for sick children (Plin. h. n. 28, 29). The flesh of many of the lizards is also eaten by the Arabs (Leyrer, pp. 603, 604).
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