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MOLE (תִּנְשֶׁ֫מֶת, H9491, meaning obscure. [See Lizard.] Swan; Heb. חְפֹּ֥ר פֵּרֹ֖ות, mole KJV, RSV; KJVmg. “conjectural,” Isa 2:20 only) “their idols...to the moles and to the bats.” This is a strange combination and the tr. mole is doubtful. No true mole (Insectivora) is found in this area, but the small heaps of soil pushed up by the mole rats are an obvious and frequent sight in all areas with a rainfall of over four inches. Moles are rodents of a specialized family. They spend most of their life underground and their eyes have disappeared; the ft., but mostly the enormous protruding incisor teeth, are used for burrowing. Mole rats are entirely vegetarian and feed on roots, bulbs, etc. The smallest is about four inches long, others reach eight inches. In the winter rainy season they build breeding mounds, like those of pocket gophers, that may be five ft. long and three ft. tall.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)


(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" (Le 11:30);

(2) choledh, English Versions of the Bible "weasel"; Septuagint gale, "weasel" or "pole-cat"; compare Arabic khuld, "mole-rat" (Le 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" (Isa 2:20):

(1) Tinshemeth is the last of 8 unclean "creeping things" in Le 11:29,30. The word occurs also in Le 11:18 and De 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 Isa 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.

See Lizard.

See also

  • Animals