Rock Badgers/Hyraxes at En-Gedi, Israel

November 27, 2019

Proverbs 30:26 states, “hyraxes are not a mighty people, yet they make their homes in the cliffs” (CSB). The NASB retains the Hebrew term, “The shephanim are not mighty people, Yet they make their houses in the rocks.” ESV renders, “the rock badgers.” KJV has “conies.”

It is not unusual to see these animals in En-Gedi.

Rock badgers at En-gedi. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Ferrell Jenkins and I photographed these as we were walking up the trail to see the falls at En-gedi, while doing a personal study trip in Israel in 2009.

Rock badger at En-gedi. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

The NET Bible has this note:

This is the Syrian Hyrax, also known as the rock badger. KJV, ASV has “conies” (alternately spelled “coneys” by NIV), a term usually associated with the European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) but which can also refer to the pika or the hyrax. Scholars today generally agree that the Hebrew term used here refers to a type of hyrax, a small ungulate mammal of the family Procaviidae native to Africa and the Middle East which has a thick body, short legs and ears and a rudimentary tail. The simple “badger” (so NASB, NRSV, CEV) could lead to confusion with the badger, an entirely unrelated species of burrowing mammal related to weasels.

Further, “Modern scholars identify this creature with the rock badger (the Syrian hyrax), a small mammal that lives in the crevices of the rock. Its wisdom consists in its ingenuity to find a place of security” (NET Bible note).

En-gedi is known for its beautiful falls.

Waterfalls at En-gedi. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

En-gedi was an area where David and his men fled from King Saul.

Waterfall at En-gedi. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

I previously posted on the rock badger on our blog here.

In our home congregation we are completing a study of the Proverbs, with ch. 30 scheduled for Sunday. I find that visuals such as these can be very helpful in our understanding of the biblical text.

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Dietary Restrictions in Leviticus

January 2, 2012

We recently referenced the book of Leviticus and its theme of holiness here. Chapter 11 lists the dietary restrictions which Israel was to follow. The basic rule of thumb was this: an animal must have a divided hoof and chew the cud; both were required.

3 Whatever parts the hoof and is cloven-footed and chews the cud, among the animals, you may eat. 4 Nevertheless, among those that chew the cud or part the hoof, you shall not eat these: The camel, because it chews the cud but does not part the hoof, is unclean to you. 5 And the rock badger, because it chews the cud but does not part the hoof, is unclean to you (ESV).

Two examples of animals which met one requirement, but not both, were the camel and the rock badger.

Camel, forbidden in Israel's diet. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

This camel which I photographed in Bethany earlier this year would have been forbidden as food under Mosaic law because though it chews the cud it does not have a divided hoof.

The rock badger was also forbidden.

Rock Badgers at Ein Gedi. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

These rock badgers were at Ein Gedi, where such are commonly seen. Again, such was forbidden in ancient Israel’s diet. Like the camel, it chews the cud, but does not have a parted hoof.

On the other hand, the pig has the parted hoof, but does not chew the cud, so it was unclean also (Lev. 11:7). It occurs to me that I have not photographed any pigs in Israel.

Two observations:

1. God employed such means as these dietary restrictions to mold and shape a special people for His own possession. Such were not the end but the means to an end.

2. In the New Testament such distinctions have been removed.  Jesus said,

Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” ( Thus he declared all foods clean.) (Mark 7:18-19, ESV).

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