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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature


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appears in the Auth. Vers. in but one passage (Leviticus 11:30) as the rendering of לְטָאָה , letaah'; but different species of the animal seem to be designated by several Hebrew terms, variously rendered in the English translation. In the East numerous varieties of these reptiles are met with in great abundance, several of which are regarded as venomous (Hasselquist, Trav. pages 241, 344 sq.). Others, again, are used by the modern Arabs for food (comp. also Arrian, Matr. Eryth. page 17, ed. Hudson), whereas the Mosaic law (Leviticus 11) classes them among unclean animals.

(1.) KO´Ä CH (כֹּח, strength, Leviticus 11:30; Sept. χαμαιλέων, Auth. Vers. "chameleon"), prob. the Lacerta stellio, an olive-brown lizard, with black and white spots, and a tail about a span long, while the body itself is scarcely of this length (Hasselquist, Trav. page 352; figure in Ruppel, Atlas, tab. 2). Bochart (Hieroz. 2:493 sq.) understands this term to refer to the species called El-w-aral, which exhibits its great strength (hence its name) in combat with the crocodile and serpents, is disgusting in appearance. and said to be poisonous (Leon. Afric. Descript. Afric. 9:53). But Michaelis (Suppl. 2221) and Rosenmü ller have long since remarked that the derivation of the name koach is perhaps from a different root. According to the Arabic interpreters, it is the land crocodile, or a species of it, perhaps the Waran el-hard or skink (Lacerta scincus), which sometimes attains a length of six feet or more. (See CHAMELEON).

(2.) LETAAH´ (לְטָאָה, perh. so called from its hiding; Leviticus 11:30; Sept. χαλαβώτης, Vulg. stellio, Auth. Vers. "lizard"), perhaps the species called in Egypt Shechalit, described by Forskal (Descr. page 13) as a delicate little animal, about a span in length and of the thickness of the thumb, found in the neighborhood of houses. Bochart (Hieroz. 2:497 sq.) maintains that it is the wagrat of the Arabs, a kind of lizard that clings close to the ground (hence his derivation from an Arabic root, signifying to stick to the earth), to which also the Sept. alludes (comp. Oken, Naturgesch. III, 2:203). Geddes regards it as identical with the Lacerta gecko. (3.) CHO´ MET (חֹמֶט, so called from lying close to the ground; Leviticus 11:30; Sept. σαύρα, Auth.Vers. "snail") has been supposed by Bochart (2:500 sq.) to mean the Galkan, a species of lizard that burrows in the sand (on the precarious interpretation of the Talmud). The interpretation snail rests on no better foundation. Both the Arabic interpreters understand the chameleon. The I species intended is uncertain. (See Fuller, Miscell. 6:9.)

(4.) ANAKAH' (אֲנָקָה , a shriek; Leviticus 11:30; Sept. and Vulg. shrewmouse, Auth.Vers. "ferret") is regarded by the Arab. Erpen. as the Waral, considered by some as identical with the Lacerta Nilotica (Hasselquist, Trav. p. 361 sq.), but which last Forskal (Descrit. Animal. page 13) calls Waranz (comp. Robinson, 2:253). The Waral is described by those who have personally seen it (see Leo Afric. Descr. 9:51) as having a length of three or four feet, a scaly, very strong, grayish-yellow skin, and is regarded as poisonous in every part. (See Rosenmü ller, Alterth. IV, 2:256 sq.; Gesen. Thesaur. page 128.)

(5.) TSAB (צָב, prob. from its sluggishness; Leviticus 11:29; Sept. and Vulg. the crocodile, Auth.Vers. "tortoise") is doubtless the species of lizard still called by the Arabs Dhab (see Bochart, Hieroz. 2:463 sq.), a stupid creature tenanting rocky waters. According to Leo Afric. (9:52), it is about a yard long, without poisonous qualities, and incapable of drinking. They are caught and eaten in the desert. Forskal (Descript. Aninmal. page 13) and Hasselquist (Trasv. page 353 sq.) appear to have described it under the name of Lacertat, Egyptiaca (comp. Paulus, Samml. 2:263). According to Burckhardt (2:863 sq.), it has a scaly skin of a yellow color, and sometimes attains a length of eighteen inches.

(6.) TINSHE´ METH (תַּנְשֶׁמֶת, the hard breather; Sept., Vulgate, and Auth. Vers. mole; Leviticus 11:30; being the same Heb. word used in Leviticus 11:18; Deuteronomy 14:16, to describe a bird, rendered "swan") is (according to Saadias) a species of lizard, probably the Gecko (Hasselquist, Trav. page 356 sq.), a kind described as having a round tail of moderate length, and tufted feet, lamellated lengthwise on the bottom, said to be peculiar for exuding poison from the divisions of its toes, eagerly seeking spots imbued with salt, which it leaves infected with a virus that engenders leprosy (see also Forskal, page 13). Bochart (2:503 sq.) understands the chameleon, deriving the etymology from the ancient belief that this creature lived upon the air (Pliny, Hist. Nat. 8:33, 51), a notion probably derived from its long endurance of hunger. (See Hasselquist, Trav. page 348 sq.; Sonnini, Trav. 1:87; Oken, Naturgesch. III, 2:306 sq.; Russel, Aleppo, 2:128 sq.) (See CHAMELEON).

(7.) SEMAMITH´ (שְׂמָמַית, prob. as being held poisonous; Proverbs 30:28; Sept. καλαβώτης,Vulg. stellio, Auth. Vers. "spider") is mentioned as a small creature of active instincts; prob. the Arabic saum, a poisonous lizard with leopard-like spots (Bochart, Hieroz. 2:1084). Comp. Rosenmü ller, Alterth. IV, 2:268. (See SPIDER).

(8.) TANNIN' (תִּנַּין ) or TANNIM' (תִּנַּים ), otherwise TAN (תָּן ), seems occasionally to signify a huge land serpent or saurian. (See DRAGON).

(9.) LIVYATHAN' (לַיְיָתָן ) sometimes stands for the largest of the lizard tribe, the crocodile. (See LEIVIATHAN).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Lizard'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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