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HARE (אַרְנֶ֗בֶת, hare, all Eng. VSS). “The hare, because it chews the cud but does not part the hoof, is unclean” (Lev 11:6; cf. Deut 14:7). This context of the only two occurrences was once considered contradictory, but recent work confirms the apparently strange statement. Hares, like rabbits, are now known to practice “refection”: at certain times of the day, when the hare is resting, it passes droppings of different texture, which it at once eats. Thus the hare appears to be chewing without taking fresh greens into its mouth. On its first passage through the gut, indigestible vegetable matter is acted on by bacteria and can be better assimilated the second time through. Almost the same principle is involved as in chewing the cud. Hares, somewhat like the European Hare or American Jack Rabbit (which is a true hare) but rather smaller, are found in many parts of Pal.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

(’arnebheth (Le 11:6; De 14:7); compare Arabic ’arnab, "hare"): This animal is mentioned only in the lists of unclean animals in Leviticus and Deuteronomy, Where it occurs along with the camel, the coney and the swine. The camel, the hare and the coney are unclean, `because they chew the cud but part not the hoof,’ the swine, "because he parteth the hoof .... but cheweth not the cud." The hare and the coney are not ruminants, but might be supposed to be from their habit of almost continually moving their jaws. Both are freely eaten by the Arabs. Although ’arnebheth occurs only in the two places cited, there is no doubt that it is the hare. Septuagint has dasupous, "rough-footed," which, while not the commonest Greek word (lagos), refers to the remarkable fact that in hares and rabbits the soles of the feet are densely covered with hair. ’Arnab, which is the common Arabic word for "hare," is from the same root as the Hebrew ’arnebheth.

Le 11:4-7: verse 4, English Versions of the Bible "camel"; Septuagint ton kamelon; Vulgate (Jerome’s Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) camelus; Hebrew ha-gamal. Le 11:5, English Versions of the Bible "coney"; Septuagint ton dasupoda; Vulgate, choerogryllus; Hebrew ha-shapan. Le 11:6, English Versions of the Bible "hare"; Septuagint ton choirogruillion Vulgate, lepus; Hebrew ha-arnebeth. Le 11:7, English Versions of the Bible "swine"; Septuagint ton hun; Vulgate, sus; Hebrew ha-chazir.

De 14:7: English Versions of the Bible "camel"; Septuagint ton kamelon Vulgate, camelum; Hebrew hagamal; English Versions of the Bible "hare"; Septuagint dasupoda; Vulgate, leporem; Hebrew ha’arnebeth; English Versions of the Bible "coney"; Septuagint choirogrullion; Vulgate, choerogryllum; Hebrew hashaphan.

De 14:8: English Versions of the Bible "swine"; Septuagint ton hun Vulgate, sus; Hebrew hacheziyr.

It is evident from the above and from the meanings of dasupous and chorogrullios as given in Liddell and Scott, that the order of Septuagint in Le 11:5,6 does not follow the Hebrew, but has apparently assimilated the order of that of De 14:7,8. In Ps 104:18, Septuagint has chorogrullios for shaphan; also in Pr 30:26.

Since the word "coney," which properly means "rabbit," has been applied to the hyrax, so, in America at least, the word "rabbit" is widely used for various species of hare, e.g. the gray rabbit and the jack-rabbit, both of which are hares. Hares have longer legs and ears and are swifter than rabbits. Their young are hairy and have their eyes open, while rabbits are born naked and blind. Hares are widely distributed in the Northern Hemisphere, and there is one species in South America. Rabbits are apparently native to the Western Mediterranean countries, although they have been distributed by man all over the world.

Lepus syriacus, the common hare of Syria and Palestine, differs somewhat from the European hare. Lepus judeae is cited by Tristram from Northeastern Palestine, and he also notes three other species from the extreme south.

See also

  • Animals