Rabbit, Hyrax and the Truth of the Bible

Why the rabbit is a friend of bible critics - and why they fail

von Andi
Ein Klippdachs im En Gedi Nationalpark in Israel

Critical publications refer often to one specific Bible passage about the rabbit (or hyrax in other translations). In the King James Translation you can read:

And the coney, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.

Leviticus 11, 5 (KJV)

Bible critics claim that this bible passage is a proof for errors in the Bible. “Coneys and rabbits are not ruminants”, they say.

Rabbit became Hyrax

Fact is that in the basic Hebrew text there is no mention at all of a coney or a rabbit. The translation error has already been corrected in more recent translations. Now the animal is translated as “hyrax” (Hebrew: Shaphan), a designation from South Africa. You can find out more about the animal in zoological works. And you will find out even more:

The Hyrax is a ruminant

In “Grzimek’s Tierleben”, a famous zoological work in Germany (Twelfth Edition, Mammals 3), which I bought specially to dispel the myth, we can read it: In a list of the animal’s characteristics, you will find the hyrax is a ruminant (page 516, 1979 edition). A few more explanations of the term “ruminant”: The Bible does not say “to ruminate”, but translated more precisely. It must mean “to bring up the chewed meat, ” which is precisely what this animal does. He brings up chewed and already swallowed food. Then he chews it again so that he can better utilize the vegetable food. It is interesting how alleged errors of the Bible are repeatedly brought up to feed doubts about it.

Again the Rabbit

But we want to restore justice to the rabbit, because rabbits are also ruminants, but in a different way than cattle: they eat their excrement in order to digest it again. This makes the food more digestible. Conclusion: Even with the wrong translation of King James (or even Luther), there is no way around the truth of the Bible.


I close with a quotation from Paul, with which he testifies to the governor Festus:

But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets.

Acts 24, 14 (ESV)

More about the credibility of the Bible on my website with a lot of hints: Is the Bible credible?

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