Heb. tinshameth ( Leviticus 11:30 ), probably signifies some species of lizard (rendered in RSV, "chameleon"). In Leviticus 11:18 , Deuteronomy 14:16 , it is rendered, in Authorized Version, "swan" (RSV, "horned owl").
The Heb. holed ( Leviticus 11:29 ), rendered "weasel," was probably the mole-rat. The true mole (Talpa Europoea) is not found in Palestine. The mole-rat (Spalax typhlus) "is twice the size of our mole, with no external eyes, and with only faint traces within of the rudimentary organ; no apparent ears, but, like the mole, with great internal organs of hearing; a strong, bare snout, and with large gnawing teeth; its colour a pale slate; its feet short, and provided with strong nails; its tail only rudimentary."
In Isaiah 2:20 , this word is the rendering of two words _haphar peroth_, which are rendered by Gesenius "into the digging of rats", i.e., rats' holes. But these two Hebrew words ought probably to be combined into one (lahporperoth) and translated "to the moles", i.e., the rat-moles. This animal "lives in underground communities, making large subterranean chambers for its young and for storehouses, with many runs connected with them, and is decidedly partial to the loose debris among ruins and stone-heaps, where it can form its chambers with least trouble."
(1) tinshemeth, the King James Version "mole," the Revised Version (British and American) "chameleon"; Septuagint aspalax = spalax, "mole," Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) talpa, "mole" (Leviticus 11:30);
(2) choledh, English Versions of the Bible "weasel"; Septuagint gale, "weasel" or "pole-cat"; compare Arabic khuld, "mole-rat" (Leviticus 11:29);
(3) chaphar-peroth, English Versions of the Bible "moles"; from chaphar, "to dig"; compare Arabic chafar, "to dig," and perah, "mole" or "rat," for pe'erah, from the root pa'ar, "to dig"; compare Arabic fa'rat, or farat, "rat," "mouse," from the root fa'ar, "to dig"; Septuagint tois mataiois, "vain, idle, or profane persons" (Isaiah 2:20):
(1) Tinshemeth is the last of 8 unclean "creeping things" in Leviticus 11:29,30. The word occurs also in Leviticus 11:18 and Deuteronomy 14:16, translated the King James Version "swan," the Revised Version (British and American) "horned owl," Septuagint porphurion, "coot" or "heron." See CHAMELEON.
(2) Choledh is the first in the same list. The word occurs nowhere else, and is translated "weasel" in English Versions of the Bible, but comparison with the Arabic khuld has led to the suggestion that "mole-rat" would be a better translation. See WEASEL.
(3) In Isaiah 2:20, "In that day men shall cast away their idols .... to the moles and to the bats," chaphar-peroth, variously written as one word or two, is translated "moles" in English Versions of the Bible, but has given rise to much conjecture.
The European "mole," Talpa europea, is extensively distributed in the temperate parts of Europe and Asia, but is absent from Syria and Palestine, its place being taken by the mole-rat, Spalax typhlus. The true mole belongs to the Insectivora, and feeds on earth-worms and insect larvae, but in making its tunnels and nests, it incidentally injures gardens and lawns. The mole-rat belongs to the Rodentia, and has teeth of the same general type as those of a rat or squirrel, large, chisel-shaped incisors behind which is a large vacant space, no canines, and praemolars and molars with grinding surfaces. It is larger than the mole, but of the same color, and, like the mole, is blind. It makes tunnels much like those of the mole. It is herbivorous and has been observed to seize growing plants and draw them down into its hole. In one of its burrows a central chamber has been found filled with entire plants of the chummuc or chick-pea, and two side chambers containing pods plucked from the plants in the central chamber. While the mole digs with its powerful and peculiarly shaped front feet, the mole-rat digs with its nose, its feet being normal in shape.
Alfred Ely Day
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