Leviticus 11:30

And the ferret, and the chameleon, and the lizard, and the snail, and the mole.

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 hajl, "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.