CHAMELEON kə me’ li ən (כֹּחַ, H3947, koch; chameleon KJV; land crocodile RSV). (See Lizard for fuller discussion.) This is found once only in a section that some authorities regard as a list of lizards (
It is remarkable that no more specific reference is made to it, for its many strange features make it the object of intense dread in many parts of Africa. It is unique in having independent eyes, with colored lids fused over the eyes and moving with them; a tongue that is projected to roughly the body’s length to catch prey; and a skin of which the color can be varied, in part only to match the background, for other factors also can cause a change. The chameleon feeds on small insects.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
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
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
The common chameleon is abundant in Palestine, being found also inand 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.
See LAND-CROCODILE; MOLE; SWAN; OWL; PELICAN.