PORCUPINE [ISBE]PORCUPINE - por'-ku-pin (qippodh (Isa 14:23; 34:11; Zeph 2:14) the King James Version "bittern," the Revised Version (British and American) "porcupine"; Septuagint echinos "hedgehog"; qippoz (Isa 34:15), the King James Version "great owl," the English Revised Version "arrow-snake," the American Standard Revised Version "dart-snake"; Septuagint echinos; compare Arabic qunfud, or qunfudh, "hedgehog" or "porcupine." qippodh, is referred to the root qaphadh, "to draw one's self together" or "to roll oneself up," while qipoz is referred to the root qaphaz, and the root qaphats, "to draw together in order to spring." The resemblance between all these words, including the Arabic is obvious, and it is to be noted that the Septuagint has echinos in all the places cited):
The Greek echinos is the hedgehog. The Arabic kunfudh is used in some localities for the hedgehog and in others for the porcupine, which is also called nis. The hedgehog is also called kibbabat-ush-shauk, or "ball of spines." These two animals are both found in Syria and Palestine, and, while both have spines, they are very different animals, though often confounded. The hedgehog, Erinaceus europeus, is one of the Insectivora. It eats not only insects but also snakes and other small animals, as well as fruits and roots. It is about 10 inches long, covered with short spines, and rolls itself into a ball when attacked. It inhabits the countries bordering the Mediterranean. The porcupine, Hystrix cristata, is a rodent, about 26 inches long, having long spines. It is herbivorous. It backs rapidly at its foes, thrusting its sharp spines into their flesh, not shooting its spines, as is often stated. It inhabits most of Europe and Asia. It is very different from the Canadian porcupine, Erethizon dorsatus, as well as from the tree porcupines of Mexico and Central and South America.
As to the rendering "bittern" for qippodh (Isa 14:23; 34:15; Zeph 2:14), while the etymology favors "hedgehog," the context favors a bird, especially in Isa 34:11, though it cannot be said that in any of the passages the context makes "hedgehog" an impossible rendering.
In Isa 34:15, for qippoz, most modern authorities (compare the Revised Version (British and American)) have some sort of serpent, referring to the Arabic root qafaz, "to spring." (See notes above on qaphaz and qaphats.) In this passage also the context is not unfavorable to a bird (compare the King James Version "great owl").
Alfred Ely Day
Also see definition of "Porcupine" in Word Study