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SNAIL (שַׁבְּלוּל, H8671, snail, all Eng. VSS. [Ps 58:8]; חֹ֖מֶט, snail KJV; sand lizard, ASV, RSV [Lev 11:30]. חֹ֖מֶט is in the list of unclean reptiles and the RSV tr. is preferred [see Lizard for discussion]). The context of Psalm 58:8 confirms the identity. “The snail which dissolves into slime” (RSV) is preferred to “the snail which melteth” (KJV, ASV). The visible trail formed by the snail’s secretion was thought to show that the snail was melting away. Many snails, with a wide range of food habits, live in most regions of Pal. and some have become pests in the irrigated fields, where the added water allows them to be active for a longer part of the year.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)


((1) chomeT, the Revised Version (British and American) "sand-lizard," Septuagint saura, "lizard" (Le 11:30);

(2) shabbelul, Septuagint keros, "wax" (Ps 58:8)):

(1) ChomeT is 7th in the list of unclean "creeping things" in Le 11:30, and occurs nowhere else. "Snail" is not warranted by Septuagint or Vulgate (Jerome’s Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) the Revised Version (British and American) has "sand-lizard." It may be the skink or a species of Lacerta. See Lizard.

(2) Shabbelul is translated "snail" in Ps 58:8: "Let them be as a snail which melteth and passeth away." Mandelkern gives limax, "slug."

Gesenius derives shabbelul from balal, "to pour"; compare Arabic balla, "to wet," instancing leimax, "snail," or "slug," from leibo, "to pour." While Septuagint has keros, "wax," Talmud (Mo`edh QaTan 6b) supports "snail." The ordinary explanation of the passage, which is not very satisfying, is that the snail leaves a trail of mucus (i.e. it melts) as it moves along. This does not in any way cause the snail to waste away, because its glands are continually manufacturing fresh mucous. Two large species of snail, Helix aspersa and Helix pomatia, are collected and eaten, boiled, by the Christians of Syria and Palestine, especially in Lent. The Jews and Moslems declare them to be unclean and do not eat them.

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