[b-hebrew] 1 Sam 5:6 ; Mice & Rats & Plague

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Thu Apr 29 13:50:38 EDT 2004

> Before rambling on about rats and fleas, does BH, or even
> Modern Hebrew have different words for rat and mouse?

Modern Hebrew uses 'akhbar for mouse. The word is also used in the Mishnah
and other rabbinic sources. For "rat" there are two words. The first is
'akhbarosh - that is: 'akhbar + rosh - "head mouse" (even though the "rosh"
is spelled without the aleph). As far as I know, this is a modern invention.
The other word is xuldah (Huldah, as in the name of the prophetess). This is
the fem. of xoled, which appears (only!) in Lev. 11:29, along side the
'akhbar, as one of the creepy-crawly earth animals that are impure. It is
usually understood to be a weasle of a mole - modern Hebrew uses it for mole
(BTW, might it not be related to "xeled" - "earth", as in Ps. 49:2; an
"earth digger"?). The form "xuldah", as far as I know, does not appear in
any ancient source (except as the name of the prophetess - so her name
apparently meant "mole-lady" rather than "rat-lady". "Huldah", by the way,
was also the name of the southern gate of the Temple Mount in the Herodian

So no, BH apparently does not have separate words for "mouse" and "rat". Our
next question should be - do other ANE languages, sich as Akkadian? WERE
there two different species in the Levant during the Iron Age? Does anyone


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