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LEECH (עֲלוּקָ֨ה, HORSE-LEACH KJV, ASV). The meaning of the word in this context (Prov 30:15) is uncertain (RSVmg.), but the tr. could be correct, for the Heb. root means “sucking.” Leeches are found in many places. In the wet tropics they are found on land, sometimes in great numbers, but in most regions they are confined to water. They feed mostly on blood, which is sucked until the leech’s body is grossly distended. Leeches normally fasten on the skin, but some can invade the throat and nasal passages after being imbibed with water, perhaps with fatal results. Both men and animals are attacked. Since early times physicians have used leeches to “let blood,” and until about the mid-19th cent. great numbers still were being used, esp. to remove blood from swellings.

Some commentators have identified עֲלוּקָ֨ה with an Aram. word tr. blood-sucking vampire bat. This is not acceptable, for the only bats known to feed on blood are found in Central and South America.

See also

  • Animals