(Heb. 'arnebeth) was prohibited as food according to the Mosaic law (Lev. 11:6; Deut. 14:7), "because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof." The habit of this animal is to grind its teeth and move its jaw as if it actually chewed the cud. But, like the cony (q.v.), it is not a ruminant with four stomachs, but a rodent like the squirrel, rat, etc. Moses speaks of it according to appearance. It is interdicted because, though apparently chewing the cud, it did not divide the hoof.
There are two species in Syria, (1) the Lepus Syriacus or Syrian hare, which is like the English hare; and (2) the Lepus Sinaiticus, or hare of the desert. No rabbits are found in Syria.
- har ('arnebheth (Lev 11:6
; Dt 14:7
); compare Arabic 'arnab, "hare"): This animal is mentioned only in the lists of unclean animals in Leviticus and Deuteronomy, Where it occurs along with the camel, the coney and the swine. The camel, the hare and the coney are unclean, `because they chew the cud but part not the hoof,' the swine, "because he parteth the hoof .... but cheweth not the cud." The hare and the coney are not ruminants, but might be supposed to be from their habit of almost continually moving their jaws. Both are freely eaten by the Arabs. Although 'arnebheth occurs only in the two places cited, there is no doubt that it is the hare. Septuagint has dasupous, "rough-footed," which, while not the commonest Greek word (lagos), refers to the remarkable fact that in hares and rabbits the soles of the feet are densely covered with hair. 'Arnab, which is the common Arabic word for "hare," is from the same root as the Hebrew 'arnebheth.
Lev 11:4-7: verse 4, English Versions of the Bible "camel"; Septuagint ton kamelon; Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) camelus; Hebrew ha-gamal. Lev 11:5, English Versions of the Bible "coney"; Septuagint ton dasupoda; Vulgate, choerogryllus; Hebrew ha-shapan. Lev 11:6, English Versions of the Bible "hare"; Septuagint ton choirogruillion Vulgate, lepus; Hebrew ha-arnebeth. Lev 11:7, English Versions of the Bible "swine"; Septuagint ton hun; Vulgate, sus; Hebrew ha-chazir.
Dt 14:7: English Versions of the Bible "camel"; Septuagint ton kamelon Vulgate, camelum; Hebrew hagamal; English Versions of the Bible "hare"; Septuagint dasupoda; Vulgate, leporem; Hebrew ha'arnebeth; English Versions of the Bible "coney"; Septuagint choirogrullion; Vulgate, choerogryllum; Hebrew hashaphan.
Dt 14:8: English Versions of the Bible "swine"; Septuagint ton hun Vulgate, sus; Hebrew hacheziyr.
It is evident from the above and from the meanings of dasupous and chorogrullios as given in Liddell and Scott, that the order of Septuagint in Lev 11:5,6 does not follow the Hebrew, but has apparently assimilated the order of that of Dt 14:7,8. In Ps 104:18, Septuagint has chorogrullios for shaphan; also in Prov 30:26.
Since the word "coney," which properly means "rabbit," has been applied to the hyrax, so, in America at least, the word "rabbit" is widely used for various species of hare, e.g. the gray rabbit and the jack-rabbit, both of which are hares. Hares have longer legs and ears and are swifter than rabbits. Their young are hairy and have their eyes open, while rabbits are born naked and blind. Hares are widely distributed in the Northern Hemisphere, and there is one species in South America. Rabbits are apparently native to the Western Mediterranean countries, although they have been distributed by man all over the world.
Lepus syriacus, the common hare of Syria and Palestine, differs somewhat from the European hare. Lepus judeae is cited by Tristram from Northeastern Palestine, and he also notes three other species from the extreme south.
Alfred Ely Day