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

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Thu Apr 29 13:27:13 EDT 2004

On 29/04/2004 10:50, Yigal Levin wrote:

>>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
According to the UBS book "Flora and Fauna of the Bible" (pp.54-55), 
XOLED cannot mean "mole" because "the European _talpa_ does not live in 
Palestine". "The Syrian mole rat [which] belongs to the rodents", Spalax 
ehrenbergi, is suggested as the identification of xaparpara in Isaiah 
2:20. Also (p.57): "1 S[amuel] 6 probably refers to the Levant vole 
(_Microtus guentheri_) as it eats up the crops in the fields".

Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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